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There is an extensive vernacular conduct literature of the twelfth and thirteenth century that has barely been used by social historians. This is all the more surprising as it has a considerable amount to say on central social issues, not least gender. This chapter analyses what several conduct tracts have to say about just one such aspect, femininity, beginning with the earliest conduct tract of all, addressed to women by the aristocratic Occitan author Garin lo Brun in the first half of the twelfth century. We find that Garin and other authors, notably the prolific thirteenth-century social commentator Robert de Blois, described and defined an idealised superior woman: the preudefemm or biderbe wip who summed up in herself the contemporary gender expectations of the female of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Importantly, it is an ideal of femininity generated within lay society and not out of the Latin literature of the schools previously used for the purpose by scholars, tainted with clerical misogyny as it is. The result goes a long way to explain the potential and limits of the female agency recent gender scholarship has suggested was to be found in medieval society.
This chapter explores the genealogies between Surrealism’s quest to express or represent the unconscious unrestrained by rational thought, and the pursuit in 1970s avant-garde feminism of a new language – an “écriture féminine” – that would be uncontaminated by phallocentric logic. Through a reading of selected works by two figures situated at the intersection of these two aesthetic and theoretical movements – feminist theorist Xavière Gauthier and artist and writer Dorothea Tanning – the chapter demonstrates that these links are not unidirectional but a dynamic dialogue. This dialogue signals not only an allegiance to Surrealism at the heart of poststructuralist/psychoanalytic feminism but also a germinal feminist poetics in historical Surrealism – that would come to full fruition in 1970s Surrealist activity.
Chapter 2 examines US survivors’ layered belonging as it played out on Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s ground zero in 1945. In partucular, the chapter argues that their cross-nationality remained persistent as their culture – clothes, medicines, and food – became the essential means of surviving, rescuing, and caring in the bomb’s immediate aftermath. Despite the enormous destruction that appeared to erase any human distinctions, cultural diversity and gender differences came back powerfully in the hours and days after the bomb’s explosion. Women emerged as chief caretakers of the ill and injured in the utter absence of hospitals, doctors, and nurses, crafting what might be called improvisational practices of folk medicine. Men, in contrast, felt as if it was their duty to rescue others at any cost, sometimes at the sacrifice of their own safety. Not only universality of nuclear destruction, but also uniqueness of individuals and cultures affected by it, came to light. Altogether, US survivors’ experiences are explored as a cross-cultural history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which became the basis of US survivors’ memory, identity, and activism after the war.
This chapter looks at the influence of “decorative orientalism,” in which Asian objects and images inspired acts of consumption, display, and performance in American homes, on the literary imagination of a persistent racial type: the “Butterfly.” This figure of submissive and suicidal Asian femininity was central to a set of popular stories of interracial romance between Asian women and white European or American men, including Pierre Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème (1887), John Luther Long’s story Madame Butterfly (1898), and Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Madama Butterfly (1904). These works have been interpreted as pointed indictments of Western colonialism, as grossly racist misrepresentations, or both. My objective here is less to monitor the degree of accuracy within these representations than to consider how they articulate and manage anxieties about not only intercultural desire, but also consumption and excess. I conclude by examining how Winnifred Eaton’s interracial romance, A Japanese Nightingale (1901), subtly but significantly varies the terms of decorative orientalism in order to provide a biracial heroine with a measure of lasting value.
Laure Humbert explores how humanitarian aid in occupied Germany was influenced by French politics of national recovery and Cold War rivalries. She examines the everyday encounters between French officials, members of new international organizations, relief workers, defeated Germans and Displaced Persons, who remained in the territory of the French zone prior to their repatriation or emigration. By rendering relief workers and Displaced Persons visible, she sheds lights on their role in shaping relief practices and addresses the neglected issue of the gendering of rehabilitation. In doing so, Humbert highlights different cultures of rehabilitation, in part rooted in pre-war ideas about 'overcoming' poverty and war-induced injuries and, crucially, she unearths the active and bottom-up nature of the restoration of France's prestige. Not only were relief workers concerned about the image of France circulating in DP camps, but they also drew DP artists into the orbit of French cultural diplomacy in Germany.
Gender in American Literature and Culture introduces readers to key developments in gender studies and American literary criticism. It offers nuanced readings of literary conventions and genres from early American writings to the present and moves beyond inflexible categories of masculinity and femininity that have reinforced misleading assumptions about public and private spaces, domesticity, individualism, and community. The book also demonstrates how rigid inscriptions of gender have perpetuated a legacy of violence and exclusion in the United States. Responding to a sense of 21st century cultural and political crisis, it illuminates the literary histories and cultural imaginaries that have set the stage for urgent contemporary debates.
The present research focused on how environmental harshness may affect heterosexual women's preferences of potential male mates’ facial characteristics, namely masculinity–femininity. The evidence on this issue is mixed and mostly from Western samples. We aimed to provide causal evidence using a sample of Turkish women and Turkish male faces. A video-based manipulation was developed to heighten environmental harshness perceptions. In the main experiment, participants were primed with resource scarcity, pathogen prevalence or neither (control). They then saw masculinised vs. feminised versions of the same faces and indicated the face that they would prefer for a long-term relationship and separately rated the faces on various dimensions. In general, masculinised faces were perceived as slightly more attractive, slightly healthier and much more formidable. A multilevel Bayesian model showed that pathogen prevalence lowered the preference for masculinised faces while resource scarcity weakly elevated it. The overall drop in attractiveness ratings in cases of high perceived pathogen prevalence, one of the strongest effects we observed, suggests that during epidemics, the formation of new relationships is not a favourable strategy. Implications for evolutionary theories of mate preference are discussed.
As Americans’ trust in their government—most specifically Congress—has declined over the past half century, it has become increasingly important to answer the question of who does or does not trust government and why. Trust research tends to take for granted that sex affects trust—most studies control for it—but results have been mixed. This could be because researchers have been looking at the wrong aspect of gender, relying on the traditional distinction of sex rather than an alternative—the non-sex-specific distinction of feminine personality traits. These traits are communal in nature, and as such, they may lead to higher levels of trust in government. This article analyzes the potential effect of femininity, demonstrating that feminine personalities are significantly more trusting of our governing institutions than nonfeminine personalities.
Mary Wollstonecraft challenges the social disablement of women by promoting a vigorous and curative feminism that establishes women’s qualifications for equality by virtue of their capacities. She associates female weakness with inutility and social degradation and promotes bodily and physical independence as ideals. Misogynistic cultures weaken the bodies and minds of women, Wollstonecraft asserts, and she petitions for women to develop (and be permitted to develop) their physical and intellectual abilities rather than to perpetuate a culture that is focused on the aesthetics of women’s bodies. Significantly, she suggests that it is absurd that weakness is treated as something aesthetically desirable in women. She concludes that society cannot maintain women’s social inutility as an aesthetic, as it is detrimental to social progress. Wollstonecraft’s implied theory of deformity (which links it to moral degradation) is articulated through its acknowledged opposite, beauty. These views are, however, incompatible with the compassion, sympathy, and sensibility Wollstonecraft expresses when considering deformity more directly.
Victorian culture encouraged the identification of women readers with male narrators and characters as a vehicle for female submission to male representation through marriage. This chapter argues that wayward women readers were not appeased by masculine identification, but rather inspired by it to act beyond the domestic sphere. In contrast with women authors such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charlotte Brontë, and George Eliot, who were criticized for adopting conventionally masculine styles or subject matter, women readers were exhorted from girlhood in conduct guides and John Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies lectures to prepare for absorption into their husbands’ legal identities through identification with male characters and activities. Written during the debates on the reform of marriage law that would continue through the end of the century, and published on the eve of the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act, Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh promotes a distinctively literary rather than marital mode of identification with masculinity. Instead of identifying herself with her future husband, an action she associates with self-erasure, Aurora models a wayward identification with male poetic muses that allows her to maintain her integrity as an artistic subject.
The aim of this article is to examine whether and how diplomacy may be gendered, symbolically and rhetorically, using US representations of diplomacy as a case. Prior scholarship on gender and contemporary diplomacy is sparse but has shown that the symbolic figure of ‘the diplomat’ has come to overlap tightly with ‘man’ and be associated with traits often attributed to masculinity. Inspired by queer international relations methods, relying on the concept of ‘figuration’ and focused on US news media and biographies of diplomats from the past decade, this article uncovers and examines a palette of feminised figurations also at play in US representations of diplomacy, including the diplomat as ‘the “soft” non-fighter’, ‘the relationship builder’, ‘the gossip’, ‘the cookie-pusher’, and ‘the fancy Frenchman’. These feminised figurations alternate between configuring the diplomat as a woman and – more commonly – a (feminised) man. The analysis complicates rather than displaces existing claims, highlighting the importance of attention to slippages and challenges to dominant masculinised subject positions.
The British premiere of Carmen in May 1878 was an instant hit with both critics and the opera-going public, who were entranced by Bizet’s music and Minnie Hauk’s representation of the title role. This chapter focuses on the reception of Hauk’s performances, and on representations of Carmen by her immediate successors, Zelia Trebelli, Emily Soldene and Selina Dolaro. In an era when operatic heroines were expected by British audiences to be meek, virtuous and adoring, Carmen’s passion and sensuality subverted expectations, posing challenges for the singers who played her and redefining the character of the prima donna for Victorian audiences.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undermined the division between the private sphere of the home and the public sphere of politics that has traditionally disadvantaged women political leaders. Whereas male political leaders historically drew on their traditional role as the male head of household to display forms of masculine protectionism toward citizens, women leaders are now able to draw on their traditional motherly role—for example, as the member of the household who traditionally cares for the sick—to display forms of feminine protectionism. As a result, international women leaders have managed to leverage women's role in the home to their advantage in the political sphere. Significantly, an appreciation of traditionally feminine attributes in women political leaders has been displayed in much media coverage, providing more favorable coverage of female political leaders than was previously the case.
The overall increase of female alcoholism is supposed to be associated with the change of the traditional female role, and it is especially seen as a consequence of role convergence or gender-role conflicts. The aim of the present pilot study is to explore whether the approach of gender-role orientation would be empirically useful in contributing to these hypotheses.
One hundred twelve patients with alcohol dependence meeting DSM-III-R criteria were explored after detoxification; gender-role orientation was measured by a German version of the ‘Extended Personal Attributes Questionnaire’, categorising gender-role orientation into four subgroups: masculine, feminine, androgynous, and undifferentiated.
In comparison with a population-based sample, there are significant differences in the distribution of the four subgroups of gender-role orientation, showing a predominance of the undifferentiated self-concept in the alcoholic sample (49%). Alcoholic females describe themselves as rather undifferentiated, and rather feminine than masculine. Low masculinity and low femininity, as well as high femininity, correlate positively with distress, depressiveness, social anxiety, insecurity and concomitant personality disorders.
Our data do not support the convergence hypothesis related to gender-role orientation, but support the traditional feminine self-concept as an unspecific risk factor for vulnerability. The question whether an undifferentiated self-concept could be a specific risk factor for alcoholism is discussed.
In more ways than critics have mentioned, Ryan Coogler’s critically acclaimed Black Panther (2018) holds a vibrant conversation with Wole Soyinka’s mythopoetic orientation. But apart from Ryan Coogler’s ventriloquist reference to “The Fourth Stage,” Black Panther confers with Soyinka in many other interesting ways. In this article, I explore the mythic patterns in the movie by reading it alongside Soyinka’s densely mythic essay, “The Fourth Stage,” in order to pry the movie open for analysis. I posit that reading Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther side-by-side Soyinka’s “The Fourth Stage” amplifies the dialogic tension between violence and justice in both works, on the one hand, and exposes the strategies by which female subjectivity is reimagined in Black Panther’s radical universe, on the other hand. I also note that, in particular, Black Panther emerges from the comparative reading as somewhat inadvertently attempting a redefinition of tragedy.
The program to eliminate female prostitution (1959–1966) is the subject of Chapter 3, which examines the broad negotiation that occurred amongst revolutionary representatives, leadership, and prostitutes themselves, all of whom made claims to women’s bodies and labor. The chapter also argues that regional reformers helped initiate the anti-prostitution campaign, operating freely and without state support until 1962, when the Ministry of the Interior assumed greater control. These revolutionary representatives adopted a flexible definition of prostituta, one that allowed them to target for reform the behavior and labor of all Cuban women. Furthermore, the methods for reforming these women were premised on a belief in the superiority of elite, white cultural norms and contrasted with the more repressive methods for reforming marginalized men, at least until 1966. During the five years of the campaign, this chapter shows, the government transitioned from viewing prostitutes as victims of capitalism to “criminal manifestations” who rejected the Revolution’s economic opportunities. When Fidel announced the successful end of the campaign in 1966, his pronouncement overlooked the persistence of prostitution and the continued resistance of women who challenged government claims that citizenship was to be earned by subverting economic autonomy to the state (or to their husbands).
Renaissance thinkers affirmed that also in terms of justice and friendship the relationship between the human couple reflected what it was that held together the citizens in the city. This chapter examines the immense importance of thinking about friendship and love for political reflection, and it shows the relationship of civic concord and friendship with the domestic sphere, and particularly with the conjugal relationship. This chapter studies early modern commentaries on Cicero’s De officiis as well as celebrated works of the ‘civic tradition’, namely Leon Battista Alberti’s Della Famiglia and Matteo Palmieri’s Della Vita Civile, showing that the learned Aristotelian tradition we have so far studied found its echoes also in the Ciceronian tradition as well as in the volgare. These commentaries and vernacular writings serve as part of the context necessary to understand more fully Niccolò Machiavelli’s thought on family, friendship, and sociability, which has so far not found adequate attention in historical scholarship. Re-examining some of the ways that Machiavelli constructed masculinity and femininity, and setting them into their intellectual context, this chapter aims to show that Machiavelli’s political thought was characterised by a remarkable openness towards the idea of women as dominant agents in the political sphere and by a sense of what we can term, in a postmodern manner, ‘fluidity’ of gender conceptions, in which ‘biology’ was certainly no determining factor. The chapter thus contributes to the question of the nature of Machiavelli’s stato.
The third chapter, “Life After the Marriage Plot,” examines how the women of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford preserve a temporal zone from the dual threat of patriarchy and modernization. The late-life romance between Miss Matty and Mr. Holbrook—a marriage plot without the possibility of marriage—generates narrative interest because it follows a set of temporal rules that originate from within Cranford rather than conforming to conventions about age and romantic love from outside the community. The superannuation of persons relates to a similar crisis in the marriage plot, which no longer reflects the experience of the older characters it purports to organize. Thus, I read Cranford’s representation of other forms of media—such as storytelling, the newspaper, and the letter—as a reflection on the formal obsolescence that takes place within the larger narrative economy of the novel. What emerges is a reconceptualization of the utility of what is “old,” insofar as the women of Cranford reterritorialize the obsolete as a particularly feminine challenge to the temporality of modernity.
This study examines the masculinity of Chinese male migrants who earn their living as “dance hosts.” Dance hosts partner middle-aged women in dance halls, sell experiences of intimacy and engage in ongoing romantic relationships with their female clients. This article seeks to capture an intimate and “up-close” portrait of (heterosexual) male dance hosting, and then further addresses dance hosts’ masculine subjectivity by examining the coping strategies they use to overcome the stigma attached to their profession and to assert their masculinity. Ultimately, the article argues that the process of masculine subjectivity formation in the case of male dance hosts is structured by dominant norms of Chinese masculinity. Although seemingly highly subversive, the relationship between dance hosts and clients in fact fulfils conventional gender ideals and encourages the perpetuation of traditional gender roles in China's patriarchal society. This work seeks to offer an understanding of traditional gender norms (or ideals) through the lens of normative Chinese masculinity within the context of a stigmatized occupation.