The aim of this chapter is to explore the inconsistency that lies between the heterosexual matrix of patriarchal society and the overt incompatibility of play norms among boys and girls. Through a narrative analysis of popular media for children (the Disney and Marvel magazines), the chapter seeks to discover whether the popular stories for girls and for boys construct two separate sets of stereotypical gender identities; it targets narratives of love and how they position the opposite sex. A narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with 28 children (aged between 4–8, resident in Istanbul, middle-class Turkish nationals) examines how these representations of femininity, masculinity and love affect gender construction among little girls and boys. In doing so, I argue that children construct their identities in a narrative form; the stories they adopt from popular culture create an infrastructure of emotion and communication and the way they present their stories becomes their reality. The basis of narrative identity is power and both sexes have more agency and power in their own genres. This affects their relationships with the opposite sex and leads to a segregated social life. The study aims to answer the questions: How can we explain the inconsistency between the gendered narratives, incompatible play norms and segregated social life of boys and of girls? And what are the societal consequences of this inconsistency? The results challenge existing scholarship on gender because the incompatible narrative identity constructions of boys and girls contradict the standard objective of cultural discourse: to secure reproduction.
Love is often considered a positive emotion and an ethical relationship between people. The representations of love in contemporary culture usually emphasise its beneficial, even empowering effects. However, the fluidity of the concept also enables other kinds of representations of love to flourish. For example, the advocates of traditional gender order – masculinists or male rights activists (mras) – use idealistic images of heterosexual love, often intertwined with the idealised heterosexual nuclear family, to promote repressive ideologies such as misogyny and antifeminism. This is increasingly done with the help of internet sites. In this chapter I wish to show that the fluidity of the concept of love enables various strategic uses of the ideal of love. I deconstruct love as a utopian force by critically analysing its strategic usages on the internet. Inspired by multidisciplinary cultural studies and feminist studies, I apply rhetorical analysis in close reading of discourses about love on a male activist site. My hypothesis is that love is used as a repressive, heteronormative ideology in an attempt to re-position women and men within the traditional, rigid gender order. In my reading of the Angry Harry website, which is explicitly linked with the international male activist and antifeminist movement, I wish to show that although performing gender is at the very core of the site, it always intersects with other hierarchical differences. In addition to that, I aim to demonstrate how love is used to justify restoration of a traditional, patriarchal gender order in which the white heterosexual Western male dominates, subordinating people of any other gender, sexuality or ethnic background.
Deirdre C. Byrne
Conventional views of heterosexual union understand it, mainly, as the triumph of unity over diversity, with complementarity the dominant quality of the relationship. In this paradigm, men and women each bring particular knowledges to the connection. These knowledges and qualities cluster around the view of men as active but emotionally limited, while women are passive and yet emotionally sophisticated. The two gendered binary oppositions: active/passive and rational/emotional form the focus of my chapter, which examines literary representations of true love in two trilogies: Murakami’s IQ84 and Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games. Aomame, the female lead in IQ84, and Katniss Everdeen, her counterpart in the Hunger Games trilogy, both transgress gender norms in significant ways. Aomame is a sports instructor, obsessed with fitness and care of the body, whose spare time is occupied by killing men who abuse women. Katniss Everdeen is a hunter and killer, both by choice and, as the series progresses, in order to ensure survival. These two protagonists violate stereotypes of women as passive objects of male desire. Their male partners, Tengo Kawana and Peeta Mellark, display corresponding degrees of emotional vulnerability and passivity, thus also transgressing hegemonic constructions of masculinity. The unions of Aomame and Tengo, and Katniss and Peeta, take place under highly romanticised circumstances, and within the larger literary frame of locations that lie at a tangent to consensus reality. In this way, these two texts espouse a pessimistic view of love and gender performativity, despite a degree of gender rebellion.
Veenu Kakkar and Aanchal Kapur
In India’s cultural context, son preference has now graduated to daughter aversion. A woman’s body is “not hers” even to bear in the womb “her own kind,” but is solely for the purpose of reproducing sons. Besides socio-cultural and economic factors, the “two-child norm” promoted by the government has contributed to girls being unwanted children. According to the Census of India, the overall sex ratio has declined from 972 women per 1000 men in 1901 to 940 in 2011. The decreasing sex ratio is part of, and leads to, a vicious cycle of discrimination and exclusion for women and girls – they are confined to domestic chores and denied any form of recreation and leisure, their mobility and educational opportunities are restricted and there are fewer women in public spaces. The concern for the safety and security of their daughters is increasingly being used by families and communities as the main “excuse” for not having a girl child. Reality, however, speaks otherwise and the increasing numbers of ‘missing women’ has grave implications in terms of the nature and extent of violence against women in different forms. One of them is a trend towards men of marriageable age (in some states of India) “buying” women from other states – primarily to bear a male child to carry their lineage and family name forward. Efforts at challenging and changing this practice across India are being made at the grassroots and policy levels – targeting families, communities, the medical fraternity, governance structures and the media. One such state of India where focussed attention is being given to preventing and ending gender-biased sex selection is Haryana. Campaigns and programmes by civil society, government and media agencies are working independently and collaboratively to change mindsets and behaviours so that no girl is “lost” at conception or birth.
Julie d’Aubigny (known as La Maupin) was a French swordswoman and opera singer – a superstar of the seventeenth century, celebrated as much for her crossdressing, her duels and her affairs with famous men and beautiful women as for her prodigious talents. She has been portrayed in fiction, on stage and screen, and transformed into an icon of Romanticism in one of the world’s most banned books, Mademoiselle de Maupin. But how might she have seen herself? How would others have conceived of her? And how can a twenty-first century fictional representation of the woman and her voice fit into an ongoing cultural narrative about gender and love? In writing the historical novel Goddess, a new version of La Maupin’s life, I not only imagined the woman and the world in which she lived, but also had to reach an understanding about the ways in which La Maupin and women like her were perceived and portrayed in literature, history, theatre and in life. In an era before queer, before Freud, before feminism, before notions of identity, how did a few transgressive women come to be celebrated, when others were punished? How did this acclaimed stage performer perform gender and engage with love beyond the stage? And how does a fictional version of her life perform gender on the page? This chapter examines a literary and historical tradition stretching from the Amazons and Sappho through to cross-dressing “military maids” and picaras, through the works of writers from ancient Greece to the playwrights of Paris and London – to the moment in 1690 when Julie d’Aubigny made her debut with the Paris Opéra. It examines, in particular, narratives of love between women in fiction and in history writing, and the impact of that lineage on Goddess, a twenty-first century interpretation of one remarkable woman.
Edited by Deirdre C. Byrne and Wernmei Yong Ade
Deirdre C. Byrne and Wernmei Yong Ade
This introduction serves as a brief outline of the chapters that are contained within this volume on Fluid Gender, Fluid Love. The chapters are based on the papers that were delivered at the fourth international conference on “Gender and Love,” which was held at Mansfield College in Oxford, United Kingdom, in 2014. The conference attracted a wide range of delegates, from whose number twelve were selected to contribute to this book. In the process of producing this volume, we have worked with the authors to extend a selection of the papers that were delivered at a thoroughly scholarly and enjoyable conference. The chapters cover a wide range of topics, ranging from historical and theoretical views of gender to representations of love in postmodern literary culture. The cognitive and scholarly fields of gender and love are almost impossible to define, but, in our view, this volume covers a wide section of current thinking on these important subjects.
Wernmei Yong Ade
Central to the myth of Eros and Psyche is the theme of love and knowledge. Jungian psychologist and philosopher Erich Neumann’s reading of the myth centres on the light-bringing as the point of Psyche’s death and rebirth: death of her dependence, ignorance and passivity, and rebirth into womanly initiative, and most significantly, into agency and subjecthood. For Neumann, the two-fold wounding of Psyche and Eros that first gives rise to love, “creates the possibility of an encounter, which is prerequisite for love between two individuals” (1956, 86). These sentiments, published in his 1956 book Amor and Psyche: The Psychic Development of the Feminine, bear out the conditions necessary in thinking of love as a discourse of alterity, conditions outlined in the philosophical writings of Luce Irigaray. Indeed, the only way to recuperate love as a positive experience for men and women, is a vision of love in which both partners move away from the totalising realm of sameness, towards otherness and alterity. Irigaray’s treatment of gender identity has often been accused of being essentialist, a charge familiar to Jung and his followers, including Neumann. The processes of separation and individuation necessary for an encounter between lovers as two (self and other) as described by Neumann are not without their problems. He says, for instance, that “[Eros’] manifestation is dependent on her, he is transformed with Psyche and through her” (1956, 107), which reduces the feminine to the mere conduit and medium for masculine development. This paper argues that despite objections to the gendered Jungian archetype, Neumann’s reading of the tale of Eros and Psyche can indeed contribute something of value towards thinking of love as a means of living ethically, especially where gender relations are concerned.