Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bringing the Classroom to my Blog

We're reading about Female Masculinity in my women's studies class. I really applaud much of the readings we are doing because they give voice and power to many women who do not fit traditional female roles and gender stereotypes. My big problem comes in when the scholars we read all seem to code certain behaviors as "masculine" or "feminine" and do not extract them from male or female. My books all seem to say that the characteristics I and my teammates express are masculine, manly. I hate that.

Why can't strength and confidence, drive, competitiveness, strategy, toughness be HUMAN traits? Why must they be mascunline, to imply that a woman who exhibits them is less of a real woman and more of a masculine one? It makes me upset. Shari Dworkin succinctly sums up my thoughts when she says the following on page 72 of BUILT TO WIN. (The chapter is called "A New Look at Female Athletes and Masculinity"):

"Not real. Not a real woman. Real women aren't that strong. Don't train that hard. Don't study that hard. Don't know strategy or competition so well. Are more obsequious, don't have so much to say, don't climb for or hunger for the top so profoundly. Real women don't sound so confident in job interviews or at conferences. Real women wear tutus and dance. Play with Barbie. Don't threaten anyone. If that's the definition of 'women,' then we are both real men, I suppose."


ninny said...

i should have known when you wouldn't play with dolls that you weren't real - chewed their faces right off!!

Em said...

Highly recommended (if you haven't read them already):

The Frailty Myth
The Body Project
Female Masculinity (yes, you captialized this in the post, but I couldn't tell by the context if you meant Halberstam's work or not)
Myths of Gender
Transgender Warriors

And as an aside, although Butler is supposed to be a good theorist, she's also supposed to be hell to read, and I've avoided her work for that reason alone. So if you're so inclined to read her, be forewarned.

Katy said...

i actually find butler easier to read than halberstam. i'm really into leslie heywood recently, but will totally check out your suggestions, too!

Em said...

Hmm. If you can get through Butler, I can too. I'm so backlogged with reading already though. Argh.

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