Women’s Studies 151
Essay question #1: Give 5 examples of negative stereotypes of feminism mentioned from the text and videos throughout this course. Where do these stereotypes come from? How do these stereotypes serve to perpetuate the dominant social order (give a 3 examples including citations)?
In the Women Images & Realities text Western concepts of femininity include a combination of ideas about female good and evil that feminists have identified as the Madonna/whore dichotomy. Female virtue has traditionally been presented as pure, selfless, and maternal while female evil has been presented as deceitful, dangerous, and sinful. In a society which is racist as well as sexist, it is frequently the white woman who appears as pure and selfless while women of racial and ethnic minorities are seen as deviant. In the United States, ideas about femininity have been inextricably linked with ideas about race and class (pg. 42). In the century, for example, urban, white middle-class women were told it was “woman’s nature” to be frail and demure while slave women worked alongside men in the fields. For these reasons, women’s studies scholars often describe gender norms as racial zed. Thus, we often hear of African-American women’s domineering nature, the exotic, mysterious sensuality of Asian-American woman; the Chicana woman’s stereotyped as evil, sexually uncontrollable, and betrayer of her race; and the status conscious Jewish American woman. Stereotypes of women’s mental capability give rise to snap judgment that women are not as qualified as men for certain positions requiring what are presumed to be masculine attributes (e.g., intelligence, decisiveness, and logical reasoning skills). In general, stereotypes are tightly woven into social fabric of this culture, and reinforce dichotomies notions of “femininity” and “masculinity” (pg. 43). In the article, “I’m Not a Feminist, But…”: Popular Myths About Feminism Feminists are perceived as radical, which means, according to their notes, too radical, against tradition, too liberal, wanting to change everything, wanting too much. Society does not condone outspoken women; feminists will be outcasts in a male-dominated society; they will be rejected by men and/or society; they will end up arguing, will lose men’s respect, will be perceived as pushy bitches, and might lose their jobs. There are raised issues around sexuality, noting that feminists are identified as lesbians. One group using gay rather than lesbian, perhaps acknowledge the possibility that men might be feminist too, and those men would be perceived as homosexual. It is important to be clear here about who find feminism unacceptable. What was most often mentioned by my students was that power structure, such as those in the world of paid labor, and people with power, namely men, would reject feminist women. Much of what is called feminism is in fact fear of men, of what men might do or not do to women who somehow don’t comply. The widespread existence of this fear is indicative of women’s more vulnerable social and economic status, their dependence on males and male approval. This fear is all too real. The problem however, is not the horror or the unacceptability of feminism itself, but the horrible power of the status quo to punish what it deem unacceptable so that it may maintain itself.
Essay question #2: Describe dominant notions of masculinity and femininity in U.S. culture discussed throughout this course, and include how these notions differ across race, class, ethnicity, etc. How do these dominant notions help maintain systems of inequality? Give 5 examples and explain why for each example.
Women Images & Realities say that we learn about gender---ideas about what it means to be female and male---in a variety of subtle ways. Images of women are communicated through the language we use, median depictions of...
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