Lecture January 20, 2009 From last time: Gender as difference Socially constructed: we attribute meaning to biological difference; males and females-> masculine and feminine We "do" gender through social and cultural practices But what about differences within gender? Race shapes the experience of gender "the definition of women is constructed differently for white women and women of color, though gender is the marking mechanism through whish the subordination od each is maintained" Hurtado (p. 845) Like gender, RACE is socially constructed No biological evidence for a small number of biologically discrete racial groups. Humans vary on gradients Definition change through history Definitions vary around the world Women who are not white share the experience of discrimination based on race or ethnicity This doesn?t mean race isn?t real Sojourner Truth: ain't I a woman? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? Femininity is racialized Hairstyles and body type discussed as different from other players Described as aggressive and manish; pummeling, overwhelming and overpowering opponents. Similar language was used to describe Althea Gibson (fierce, unfeminine) Example of reproductive choice Reproductive choice has been a key site of feminist movement How might considering circumstances of diverse women (race, class, disability, etc.) complicate the idea of "choice"? Loretta Ross Sister song Person is political Sterilization abuse Reproductive justice includes the right to have children Like gender and race, disability is socially constructed "Handicap" arises from interaction of bodies and environments. Obstacles ( to education, employment, etc) arise not from one's inability to walk stairs, but from the existence of stairs. Context gives biological fact meaning 13-20% of the non-institutionalized US population have serious disability (1997) Anyone can become a member of this category Disability is gendered Women with disabilities experience same sexism as other women withoutthe "pedestal" Most research has discussed on those disabled by war or work Men with disabilities much more likely to work than women: women with disabilities have higher poverty rate Isolation compared to men with disabilities. Women more likely to be single, to not drive, to be depressed. Adrienne Asch Bioethicist How do we value different individuals' lives? How does this change our view of choice? All women don?t have access to the same reproductive choices, but this isn?t always visible in the debates. Some kinds of choice are emphasized Broader definition of choice would change the movement Ash hopes women could use their experience of gender discrimination to understand discrimination against people with disabilities Intersections are opportunities for empathy, coalition Why complicate gender in this way? Everybody has multiple identities! If we think of "women" as only suffering gender disadvantage, we're assuming they are privileged in every other way. Race, disability, social class, heterosexuality Can lean to more complete knowledge Opportunities for coalitions Key Ideas Race- and other social identities-shape the experience of gender. e.g. gender is racialized, disability is gendered Essentialist definitions of women make assumptions about other identities Thinking about the category "woman" as encompassing people with diverse experiences gives us better knowledge about how oppression works.
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