Gender Change the Way We Think Term Paper

Pages: 2 (690 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

¶ … gender change the way we think and write about the past? Are there differences between social historians and feminist historians? Do gendered readings of the past necessarily focus on women and women's issues?

One theoretical paradox is that while attempting to 'undo' the damage that gender constructions have done to bodies sexed as female (and male), feminist historians may unintentionally and accidentally reinforce such social categories. Because incidents in history deemed to be relevant, such as wars, diplomacy, and 'high' policy tend not to specifically reference relations between the sexes, so-called women's history has been relegated to a subservient status within the academy, mirroring (ironically) women's place in society. In such a narrow understanding of women's history, gender becomes a synonym for women, while general history becomes 'about' men (Scott 32).

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According to Joan Wallach Scott's essay "Gender: A useful category of analysis," in the past, women's history has been treated as separate from men's history (and thus, less important, given that it is seen as merely about the family) or subsumed into male history. In an attempt to provide a more meaningful analysis of gender relations, feminist historians have either attempted to find a way to 'explain' the development of patriarchy; have subsumed gender as a category in a more general Marxist analysis of economic relations; or embraced deconstructionism as a way to understand gender as a historical category (Scott 33). Finding a unifying explanation across all historical eras for the perpetuation of patriarchy or a material explanation for female oppression in a Marxist sense has proved elusive. Attempts often simply reinforce the definitions of femininity that feminism is trying to escape. Gender is seen as an eternal and static, cross-cultural category. Scott clearly prefers a deconstructionist mode that attempts to explain why the category of 'woman' became so important in defining identity.

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According to Scott's analysis, there is no need for a divide to exist between social and feminist historians, because the ways in which human life is conceptualized and organized into categories is an essential part of social history. Both… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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