Issues Of Gender And Gender Roles Sociology Essay

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Issues Of Gender And Gender Roles Sociology Essay

In the previous chapter I have defined the Victorian feminine ideal and I argued that different gender roles were ascribed to women and men because of their gender differences In the Victorian period things were clear in the sense that if one was born a female and thus woman she belonged to the domestic sphere and performed the gender roles associated with that sphere while if one was born a male and thus man he had to perform the activities associated with his gender and perform certain gender roles that required physical strength intelligence resolution etc In the twentieth century conceptions regarding sex sexuality gender and gender roles have changed In this chapter I shall present Judith Butlers theory on gender performativity and gender identity Afterwards in the second chapter of this thesis I shall use her theories to analyze the character of Marian Halcombe

She does not agree that the term women denotes a common identity 6 because if one is a woman that is surely not all one is 6 Her explication makes sense since gender is culturally constructed and it intersects with racial class ethnic sexual and regional modalities of discursively constituted identities Butler 6 Another point that she makes is that women are different and the insistence upon the coherence and unity of the category of women has effectively refused the multiplicity of cultural social and political intersections in which the concrete array of women are constructed 1920 In her opinion to say that all women can be united in the same group is wrong because this in a way entails exclusivity and the fact that there is surely diversity among women is precisely what makes this idea of the unity of the category of women Butler 21 unfeasible She sustains this idea at the end of Gender Trouble too by saying that

The feminist we is always and only a phantasmatic construction one

that has its purposesbut which denies the internal complexity and

indeterminacy of the term and constitutes itself only through the

exclusion of some part ofthe constituency that it simultaneously seeks

to represent Butler 181

In Gender Trouble Butler constructs upon Simone de Beauvoirs claim that One is not born but rather becomes a woman de Beauvoir 281 her famous theory of gender performativity She criticizes Beauvoir and says that There is nothing in her account that guarantees that the one who becomes a woman is necessarily female 12 According to Butler gender is unnatural 49 so there are no restrictions between ones body and ones gender and man and masculine might just as easily signify a female body as a male one and woman and feminine a male body as easily as a female one Butler 10 If feminine men can exist and masculine women as well then the gender boundaries are blurred and this can mean only one thing as I will show further on it means that gender identities are not fixed and that there are more than one identity A person can perform both femininity and masculinity and still maintain the integrity of the gender Butler 32

For Butler gender proves to be performativethat is constituting the identity it is purported to be In this sense gender is always a doing 33 So gender is an ongoing process it is what we do what acts we perform rather than what we are If gender is performative then it is not necessary to have a doer behind the deed and she continues by saying that There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender that identity is performatively constituted by the very expressions that are said to be its results 33 To reinforce the idea that gender is what one does that it is unnatural and performative and a process without end she argues that

Gender is the repeated stylization of the body a set of repeated acts within a

highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the

appearance of substance of a natural sort of being A political genealogy

of gender ontologies if it is successful will deconstruct the substan

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