Gender studies is a field for interdisciplinary study devoted to gender identity and gendered representation as central categories of analysis. This field includes women's studies (concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics), men's studies and queer studies. Sometimes, gender studies is offered together with study of sexuality.
These disciplines study gender and sexuality in the fields of literature, language, geography, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, cinema, media studies, human development, law, public health and medicine. It also analyzes how race, ethnicity, location, class, nationality, and disability intersect with the categories of gender and sexuality.
Regarding gender, Simone de Beauvoir said: "One is not born a woman, one becomes one." This view proposes that in gender studies, the term "gender" should be used to refer to the social and cultural constructions of masculinities and femininities and not to the state of being male or female in its entirety. However, this view is not held by all gender theorists. Beauvoir's is a view that many sociologists support (see Sociology of gender), though there are many other contributors to the field of gender studies with different backgrounds and opposing views, such as psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and feminists such as Judith Butler.
Gender is pertinent to many disciplines, such as literary theory, drama studies, film theory, performance theory, contemporary art history, anthropology, sociology, sociolinguistics and psychology. However, these disciplines sometimes differ in their approaches to how and why gender is studied. For instance in anthropology, sociology and psychology, gender is often studied as a practice, whereas in cultural studies representations of gender are more often examined. In politics, gender can be viewed as a foundational discourse that political actors employ in order to position themselves on a variety of issues. Gender studies is also a discipline in itself, incorporating methods and approaches from a wide range of disciplines.
Each field came to regard "gender" as a practice, sometimes referred to as something that is performative. Feminist theory of psychoanalysis, articulated mainly by Julia Kristeva (the "semiotic" and "abjection") and Bracha L. Ettinger (the feminine-prematernal-maternal matrixial Eros of borderlinking and com-passion, "matrixial trans-subjectivity" and the "primal mother-phantasies"), and informed both by Freud, Lacan and the object relations theory, is very influential in gender studies.
According to Sam Killermann, Gender can also be broken into three categories, gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex. These three categories are another way of breaking down gender into the different social, biological, and cultural constructions. These constructions focus on how femininity and masculinity are fluid entities and how their meaning is able to fluctuate depending on the various constraints surrounding them.
A number of theorists have influenced the field of gender studies significantly, specifically in terms of psychoanalytic theory. Among these are Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Bracha L. Ettinger, and Mark Blechner.
Gender studied under the lens of each of these theorists looks somewhat different. In a Freudian system, women are "mutilated and must learn to accept their lack of a penis" (in Freud's terms a "deformity"). Lacan, however, organizes femininity and masculinity according to different unconscious structures. Both male and female subjects participate in the "phallic" organization, and the feminine side of sexuation is "supplementary" and not opposite or complementary. The concept of sexuation (sexual situation), which posits the development of gender-roles and role-play in childhood, is useful in countering the idea that gender identity is innate or biologically determined. In other words, the sexuation of an individual has as much, if not more, to do with their development of a gender identity as being genetically sexed male or female.
Julia Kristeva has significantly developed the field of semiotics. She contends that patriarchal cultures, like individuals, have to exclude the maternal and the feminine so that they can come into being. Mark Blechner expanded psychoanalytic views of sex and gender. He has argued that there is a "gender fetish" in western society, in which the gender of sexual partners is given enormously disproportionate attention over other factors involved in sexual attraction, such as age and social class.
Bracha L. Ettinger transformed subjectivity in contemporary psychoanalysis since the early 1990s with the Matrixial feminine-maternal and prematernal Eros of borderlinking (bordureliance), borderspacing (bordurespacement) and co-emergence. The matrixial feminine difference defines a particular gaze and it is a source for trans-subjectivity and transjectivity in both males and females. Ettinger rethinks the human subject as informed by the archaic connectivity to the maternal and proposes the idea of a Demeter-Persephone Complexity.
Cultures can have very different norms of maleness and masculinity. Blechner identifies the terror, in Western males, of penetration. Yet in many societies, being gay is defined only by being a male who lets himself be penetrated. Males who penetrate other males are considered masculine and not gay and are not the targets of prejudice. In one particular culture in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea for example, receptive fellatio is the norm for early adolescence and seen as a requirement for developing normal manliness.
Feminist theorists such as Juliet Mitchell, Nancy Chodorow, Jessica Benjamin, Jane Gallop, Bracha L. Ettinger, Shoshana Felman, Griselda Pollock, Luce Irigaray and Jane Flax have developed a Feminist psychoanalysis and argued that psychoanalytic theory is vital to the feminist project and must, like other theoretical traditions, be criticized by women as well as transformed to free it from vestiges of sexism (i.e. being censored). Shulamith Firestone, in "The Dialectic of Sex" calls Freudianism the misguided feminism and discusses how Freudianism is almost completely accurate, with the exception of one crucial detail: everywhere that Freud writes "penis", the word should be replaced with "power".
Critics such as Elizabeth Grosz accuse Jacques Lacan of maintaining a sexist tradition in psychoanalysis. Others, such as Judith Butler, Bracha L. Ettinger and Jane Gallop have used Lacanian work, though in a critical way, to develop gender theory.
According to J. B. Marchand, "The gender studies and queer theory are rather reluctant, hostile to see the psychoanalytic approach."
For Jean-Claude Guillebaud, gender studies (and activists of sexual minorities) "besieged" and consider psychoanalysis and psychoanalysts as "the new priests, the last defenders of the genital normality, morality, moralism or even obscurantism".
Judith Butler's worries about the psychoanalytic outlook under which sexual difference is "undeniable" and pathologizing any effort to suggest that it is not so paramount and unambiguous ...". According to Daniel Beaune and Caterina Rea, the gender-studies "often criticized psychoanalysis to perpetuate a family and social model of patriarchal, based on a rigid and timeless version of the parental order".
Psychoanalytically oriented French feminism focused on visual and literary theory all along. Virginia Woolf's legacy as well as "Adrienne Rich's call for women's revisions of literary texts, and history as well, has galvanized a generation of feminist authors to reply with texts of their own". Griselda Pollock and other feminists have articulated Myth and poetry and literature, from the point of view of gender.
The emergence of post-modernism theories affected gender studies, causing a movement in identity theories away from the concept of fixed or essentialist gender identity, to post-modern fluid or multiple identities. The impact of post-structuralism, and its literary theory aspect post-modernism, on gender studies was most prominent in its challenging of grand narratives. Post-structuralism paved the way for the emergence of queer theory in gender studies, which necessitated the field expanding its purview to sexuality.
In addition to the expansion to include sexuality studies, under the influence of post-modernism gender studies has also turned its lens toward masculinity studies, due to the work of sociologists and theorists such as R. W. Connell, Michael Kimmel, and E. Anthony Rotundo.
These changes and expansions have led to some contentions within the field, such as the one between second wave feminists and queer theorists. The line drawn between these two camps lies in the problem as feminists see it of queer theorists arguing that everything is fragmented and there are not only no grand narratives but also no trends or categories. Feminists argue that this erases the categories of gender altogether but does nothing to antagonize the power dynamics reified by gender. In other words, the fact that gender is socially constructed does not undo the fact that there are strata of oppression between genders.
The history of gender studies looks at the different perspectives of gender. This discipline examines the ways in which historical, cultural, and social events shape the role of gender in different societies. The field of gender studies, while focusing on the differences between men and women, also looks at sexual differences and less binary definitions of gender categorization.
After the universal suffrage revolution of the twentieth century, the women's liberation movement of the 1960 and 1970s promoted a revision from the feminists to "actively interrogate" the usual and accepted versions of history as it was known at the time. It was the goal of many feminist scholars to question original assumptions regarding women's and men's attributes, to actually measure them, and to report observed differences between women and men. Initially, these programs were essentially feminist, designed to recognize contributions made by women as well as by men. Soon, men began to look at masculinity the same way that women were looking at femininity, and developed an area of study called "men's studies". It was not until the late 1980s and 1990s that scholars recognized a need for study in the field of sexuality. This was due to the increasing interest in lesbian and gay rights, and scholars found that most individuals will associate sexuality and gender together, rather than as separate entities.
Although doctoral programs for women's studies have existed since 1990, the first doctoral program for a potential PhD in gender studies in the United States was approved in November 2005.
Women's studies is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to topics concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics. It often includes feminist theory, women's history (e.g. a history of women's suffrage) and social history, women's fiction, women's health, feminist psychoanalysis and the feminist and gender studies-influenced practice of most of the humanities and social sciences.
Men's studies is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to topics concerning men, masculism, gender, and politics. It often includes feminist theory, men's history and social history, men's fiction, men's health, feminist psychoanalysis and the feminist and gender studies-influenced practice of most of the humanities and social sciences. Timothy Laurie and Anna Hickey-Moody suggest that there 'have always been dangers present in the institutionalisation of "masculinity studies" as a semi-gated community', and note that 'a certain triumphalism vis-à-vis feminist philosophy haunts much masculinities research'.
Certain issues associated with gender in Eastern Asia and the Pacific Region are more complex and depend on location and context. For example, in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, a heavy importance of what defines a woman comes from the workforce. In these countries, "gender related challenges tend to be related to economic empowerment, employment, and workplace issues, for example related to informal sector workers, feminization of migration flows, work place conditions, and long term social security". However, in countries who are less economically stable, such as Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Laos, Cambodia, and some provinces in more remote locations, "women tend to bear the cost of social and domestic conflicts and natural disasters".
One issue that remains consistent throughout all provinces in different stages of development is women having a weak voice when it comes to decision-making. One of the reasons for this is the "growing trend to decentralization [which] has moved decision-making down to levels at which women's voice is often weakest and where even the women's civil society movement, which has been a powerful advocate at national level, struggles to organize and be heard".
East Asia Pacific's approach to help mainstream these issues of gender relies on a three-pillar method. Pillar one is partnering with middle-income countries and emerging middle-income countries to sustain and share gains in growth and prosperity. Pillar two supports the developmental underpinnings for peace, renewed growth and poverty reduction in the poorest and most fragile areas. The final pillar provides a stage for knowledge management, exchange and dissemination on gender responsive development within the region to begin. These programs have already been established, and successful in, Vietnam, Thailand, China, as well as the Philippines, and efforts are starting to be made in Laos, Papua New Guinea, and Timor Leste as well. These pillars speak to the importance of showcasing gender studies.
The concept of gender performativity is at the core of philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler's work Gender Trouble. In Butler's terms the performance of gender, sex, and sexuality is about power in society. She locates the construction of the "gendered, sexed, desiring subject" in "regulative discourses". A part of Butler's argument concerns the role of sex in the construction of "natural" or coherent gender and sexuality. In her account, gender and heterosexuality are constructed as natural because the opposition of the male and female sexes is perceived as natural in the social imaginary.
Historian and theorist Bryan Palmer argues that gender studies' current reliance on post-structuralism – with its reification of discourse and avoidance of the structures of oppression and struggles of resistance – obscures the origins, meanings, and consequences of historical events and processes, and he seeks to counter current trends in gender studies with an argument for the necessity to analyze lived experiences and the structures of subordination and power. Authors Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge propose in the book Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies that the attempt to make women's studies serve a political agenda has led to problematic results such as dubious scholarship and pedagogical practices that resemble indoctrination more than education.
Rosi Braidotti (1994) has criticized gender studies as "the take-over of the feminist agenda by studies on masculinity, which results in transferring funding from feminist faculty positions to other kinds of positions. There have been cases... of positions advertised as 'gender studies' being given away to the 'bright boys'. Some of the competitive take-over has to do with gay studies. Of special significance in this discussion is the role of the mainstream publisher Routledge who, in our opinion, is responsible for promoting gender as a way of deradicalizing the feminist agenda, re-marketing masculinity and gay male identity instead." Calvin Thomas countered that, "as Joseph Allen Boone points out, 'many of the men in the academy who are feminism's most supportive 'allies' are gay,'" and that it is "disingenuous" to ignore the ways in which mainstream publishers such as Routledge have promoted feminist theorists.
Gender studies, and more particularly queer studies within gender studies, were repeatedly criticized by the Vatican. Pope Francis spoke about "ideological colonization", by which he meant that "gender ideology" threatens traditional family and fertile heterosexuality. France was one of the first countries where this claim became widespread when Catholic movements marched in the streets of Paris against the bill on gay marriage and adoption. Bruno Perreau has shown that this fear has deep historical roots. He argues that the rejection of gender studies and queer theory expresses anxieties about national identity and minority politics. Jayson Harsin studied the French anti-gender theory movement's social media aspects, finding that they demonstrate qualities of global right-wing populist post-truth politics.
Teaching certain aspects of gender theory was banned in public schools New South Wales after an independent review into how the state teaches sex and health education and the controversial material included in the teaching materials.
In Russia gender studies are at the moment tolerated, however state support practices that pushes gender agenda related to perspectives on gender of those in power – e.g. law solving in detail specifics of domestic violence was abolished in 2017. Since 2010 the Russia has also been leading a campaign at the UNHRC to recognise so-called ‘traditional values’ as a legitimate consideration in human rights protection and promotion.
Gender studies programs were banned in Hungary in October 2018. In a statement released by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's office, a spokesperson stated that "The government's standpoint is that people are born either male or female, and we do not consider it acceptable for us to talk about socially constructed genders rather than biological sexes." The ban has attracted criticism from several European universities which offer the program, among them the Budapest-based Central European University, whose charter was revoked by the government, and is widely seen as part of the Hungarian ruling party's move towards totalitarianism.
The Central People's Government supports studies of gender and social development of gender in history and practices that lead to gender equality. Citing Mao Zedong's philosophy, "Women hold up half the sky", this may be seen as continuation of equality of men and women introduced as part of Cultural Revolution.
The last decade has seen the number of women's studies PhD programs grow to at least 10 – most of them relatively new. Last week, Indiana University's board approved the creation of a program that will be both similar and different from those 10: the first doctoral program in the United States exclusively in gender studies.
Cisgender (sometimes cissexual, often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. Someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is, for example, a cisgender woman. The term cisgender is the opposite of the word transgender..
Related terms include cissexism and cisnormativity.Difference feminism
Difference feminism or gender feminism holds that there are differences between men and women but that no value judgment can be placed upon them and both genders have equal moral status as persons.The term "difference feminism" developed during the "equality-versus-difference debate" in American feminism in the 1980s and 1990s, but subsequently fell out of favor and use. In the 1990s feminists addressed the binary logic of "difference" versus "equality" and moved on from it, notably with postmodern and/or deconstructionist approaches that either dismantled or did not depend on that dichotomy.Difference feminism did not require a commitment to essentialism. Most strains of difference feminism did not argue that there was a biological, inherent, ahistorical, or otherwise "essential" link between womanhood and traditionally feminine values, habits of mind (often called "ways of knowing"), or personality traits. These feminists simply sought to recognize that, in the present, women and men are significantly different and to explore the devalued "feminine" characteristics.Some strains of difference feminism, for example Mary Daly's, argue not just that women and men were different, and had different values or different ways of knowing, but that women and their values were superior to men's. This viewpoint does not require essentialism, although there is ongoing debate about whether Daly's feminism is essentialist.Friendship
Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields such as communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.
Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of such bonds. Such characteristics include affection; kindness, love, virtue, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, loyalty, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other's company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one's feelings to others, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.Gender
Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex (i.e., the state of being male, female, or an intersex variation), sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gender identity. Traditionally, people who identify as men or women or use masculine or feminine gender pronouns are using a system of gender binary whereas those who exist outside these groups fall under the umbrella terms non-binary or genderqueer. Some cultures have specific gender roles that are distinct from "man" and "woman," such as the hijras of South Asia. These are often referred to as third genders.
Sexologist John Money introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word gender to refer to anything but grammatical categories. However, Money's meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the concept of a distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender. Today, the distinction is followed in some contexts, especially the social sciences and documents written by the World Health Organization (WHO).In other contexts, including some areas of the social sciences, gender includes sex or replaces it. For instance, in non-human animal research, gender is commonly used to refer to the biological sex of the animals. This change in the meaning of gender can be traced to the 1980s. In 1993, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started to use gender instead of sex. Later, in 2011, the FDA reversed its position and began using sex as the biological classification and gender as "a person's self representation as male or female, or how that person is responded to by social institutions based on the individual's gender presentation."The social sciences have a branch devoted to gender studies. Other sciences, such as sexology and neuroscience, are also interested in the subject. The social sciences sometimes approach gender as a social construct, and gender studies particularly do, while research in the natural sciences investigates whether biological differences in males and females influence the development of gender in humans; both inform debate about how far biological differences influence the formation of gender identity. In some English literature, there is also a trichotomy between biological sex, psychological gender, and social gender role. This framework first appeared in a feminist paper on transsexualism in 1978.Gender binary
Gender binary (also known as gender binarism, binarism, or genderism), is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite, and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief.
In this binary model, sex, gender, and sexuality may be assumed by default to align, with aspects of one's gender inherently linked to one's genetic or gamete-based sex, or with one's sex assigned at birth. For example, when a male is born, gender binarism may assume the male will be masculine in appearance, character traits, and behavior, including having a heterosexual attraction to females. These aspects may include expectations of dressing, behavior, sexual orientation, names or pronouns, preferred restroom, or other qualities. These expectations may reinforce negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination towards people who display expressions of gender variance or nonconformity or whose gender identity is incongruent with their birth sex.Gender expression
A gender expression is a person's behavior, mannerisms, interests, and appearance that are associated with gender in a particular cultural context, specifically with the categories of femininity or masculinity. This also includes gender roles. These categories rely on stereotypes about gender.Gender history
Gender history is a sub-field of history and gender studies, which looks at the past from the perspective of gender. It is in many ways, an outgrowth of women's history. The discipline considers in what ways historical events and periodization impact women differently from men. For instance, in an influential article in 1977, "Did Women have a Renaissance?", Joan Kelly questioned whether the notion of a Renaissance was relevant to women.
Gender historians are also interested in how gender difference has been perceived and configured at different times and places, usually with the assumption that such differences are socially constructed. These social constructions of gender throughout time are also represented as changes in the expected norms of behavior for those labeled male or female. Those who study gender history note these changes in norms and those performing them over time and interpret what those changes say about the larger social/cultural/political climate.Koekchuch
Koekchuch is an extinct gender identity recorded among the Itelmens of Siberia. These were male assigned at birth individuals who behaved as women did, and were recorded in the late 18th century and early 19th century.Masculism
Masculism or masculinism may variously refer to advocacy of the rights or needs of men and boys; and the adherence to or promotion of attributes (opinions, values, attitudes, habits) regarded as typical of men and boys.Men's studies
Men's studies, often called men and masculinities in academic settings, is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to topics concerning men, masculinity, feminism, gender, and politics.
It draws upon feminist theory in order to analyze different ideologies having to do with masculinity, and through such analysis to examine the multiple masculinities contained in the idea of masculinity itself. Men's studies also academically examine what it means to be a man in contemporary society.The concept of plural masculinities was proposed by R.W. Connell in her influential book Masculinities (1995); thus the academic field is today often known as men and masculinities.Neofeminism
Neofeminism describes an emerging view of women as becoming empowered through the celebration of attributes perceived to be conventionally feminine, that is, it glorifies a womanly essence over claims to equality with men. It is a term that has come into use in the early 21st century to refer to a popular culture trend, what critics see as a type of "lipstick feminism" that confines women to stereotypical roles, while it erodes cultural freedoms women gained through the second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s in particular.Outline of critical theory
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to critical theory:
Critical theory – the examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism. This has led to the very literal use of 'critical theory' as an umbrella term to describe any theory founded upon critique.Transfeminine
Transfeminine is an umbrella term describing individuals who were assigned male at birth but align more closely with the female side of the gender spectrum. A transfeminine individual may identify with many aspects of femininity but not describe themselves as "a woman",University of Newcastle (Australia)
The University of Newcastle (UoN), informally known as Newcastle University, is an Australian public university established in 1965. It has a primary campus in Callaghan, a suburb of Newcastle, New South Wales. The university also operates campuses in Ourimbah, Port Macquarie, Singapore, Newcastle CBD and Sydney CBD.Historically, the University of Newcastle Medical School has implemented the problem-based learning system for its undergraduate Bachelor of Medicine program – a system later mandated for use by the Australian Medical Council throughout Australia. It pioneered use of the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) in the early 1990s. UMAT has since been accepted widely by different medical schools across Australia as an additional selection criteria.The University of Newcastle is a member of Universities Australia and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.Women's History Review
Women's History Review is a bimonthly peer-reviewed academic journal of women's history published by Routledge. The editor-in-chief is June Purvis (University of Portsmouth).Women's studies
Women's studies is an academic field that draws on feminist and interdisciplinary methods in order to place women’s lives and experiences at the center of study, while examining social and cultural constructs of gender; systems of privilege and oppression; and the relationships between power and gender as they intersect with other identities and social locations such as race, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, and disability.Popular theories within the field of women's studies include feminist theory, standpoint theory, intersectionality, multiculturalism, transnational feminism, social justice, affect studies, agency, biopolitics, materialisms, and embodiment. Research practices and methodologies associated with women's studies include ethnography, autoethnography, focus groups, surveys, community-based research, discourse analysis, and reading practices associated with critical theory, post-structuralism, and queer theory. The field researches and critiques societal norms of gender, race, class, sexuality, and other social inequalities.
Women's studies is closely related to the fields of gender studies, feminist studies, and sexuality studies, and more broadly related to the fields of cultural studies, ethnic studies, and African-American studies. Women's studies courses are offered in over seven hundred institutions in the United States, and globally in more than forty countries.Women in Andorra
Legally, women in Andorra have equal rights under the laws of the Principality of Andorra. Politically, Andorran women won 15 seats during their country's parliamentary election of 2011; for this reason, Andorra became the first nation in Europe and the second country internationally to have elected a "majority female legislature".Écriture féminine
Écriture féminine translates from the French as "women's writing". The theory, which unpacks the relationship between the cultural and psychological inscription of the female body and female difference in language and text, is a strain of feminist literary theory that originated in France in the early 1970s through the work of theorists including Hélène Cixous, Monique Wittig, Luce Irigaray, Chantal Chawaf, Catherine Clément, and Julia Kristeva and has subsequently been extended by writers such as psychoanalytic theorist Bracha Ettinger, who emerged in this field in the early 1990s.Écriture féminine as a theory foregrounds the importance of language for the psychic understanding of self. The theory draws on the foundational work in psychoanalysis about the way that humans come to understand their social roles. In doing so, it goes on to expound how women, who may be positioned as 'other' in a masculine symbolic order, can reaffirm their understanding of the world through engaging with their own outsiderness.