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Mean Girls: A Theory of Women's Violence and Gender Subordination in Global Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  The complex construction of gender does not mean that it is artificial; quite the opposite is true. Genders are lived by people throughout the world. 18 Still, it would be unrepresentative to characterize a gendered experience as if there was something that all those perceived to be men or all those perceived to be women shared the same life experiences. Instead, each person categorized as a woman is different: she has her own culture, body, language, identity, and personality. Gender is lived differently in different places, bodies, and locations. Genderings are diverse, as are their mechanisms and processes. 19 Gender is a set of discourses that represent, construct, change, and enforce meaning. 20 Even though gender representations differ, the prevalence of gendered discourses in global politics shows the importance of gender as an analytical concept. Gender discourses surround current developments in global politics, including the increasing recognition of and concern for women’s violence. Deviant women are set up in opposition to idealized gender stereotypes. Western notions of gender hold women in the place that classical political used to. Gender norms establish women as naturally nurturing, emotionally sensitive and domesticated. These qualities associated with women and femininity have been traditionally characterized as inferior to those associated with men and masculinity. 21 Gender norms seem antiquated, but are sustained throughout the ages to stabilize social relationships and uphold 18 Dimen, Muriel and Virginia Goldner, eds. 2002. Gender in Psychoanalytic Space. New York: Other Press; Stoller, Susan and C Nielsen. 2005. Asymmetrical Genders: Phenomenological Reflections on Sexual Difference. Hypatia. 20(2): 7-26. 19 Hooper, Charlotte. 2001. Manly states: masculinities, international relations, and gender politics. New York: Columbia University Press, p.25. 20 Connell, R.W. 1995. Masculinities. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press; Gibson-Graham, J. K. 1994. ‘Stuffed If I Know!’: Reflections on post-modern feminist social research. Gender, Place, and Culture 1, n.2: 205-224. 21 Stone, Carolyn. 1996 Gender Values and Identity: Carol Gilligan’s Work on Women’s Moral Development. In Women, Power and Resistance: An introduction to Women’s Studies, edited by Tess Cosslet, Alison Easton and Penny Summerfield. Buckingham: Open University Press. pp. 165 and 171. 7

Authors: Sjoberg, Laura.
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background image
The complex construction of gender does not mean that it is artificial; quite the
opposite is true. Genders are lived by people throughout the world.
Still, it would be
unrepresentative to characterize a gendered experience as if there was something that all
those perceived to be men or all those perceived to be women shared the same life
experiences. Instead, each person categorized as a woman is different: she has her own
culture, body, language, identity, and personality. Gender is lived differently in different
places, bodies, and locations. Genderings are diverse, as are their mechanisms and
processes.
Gender is a set of discourses that represent, construct, change, and enforce meaning.
Even though gender representations differ, the prevalence of gendered discourses in
global politics shows the importance of gender as an analytical concept. Gender
discourses surround current developments in global politics, including the increasing
recognition of and concern for women’s violence.
Deviant women are set up in opposition to idealized gender stereotypes. Western
notions of gender hold women in the place that classical political used to. Gender norms
establish women as naturally nurturing, emotionally sensitive and domesticated. These
qualities associated with women and femininity have been traditionally characterized as
inferior to those associated with men and masculinity.
Gender norms seem antiquated,
but are sustained throughout the ages to stabilize social relationships and uphold
18
Dimen, Muriel and Virginia Goldner, eds. 2002. Gender in Psychoanalytic Space. New York: Other
Press; Stoller, Susan and C Nielsen. 2005. Asymmetrical Genders: Phenomenological Reflections on
Sexual Difference. Hypatia. 20(2): 7-26.
19
Hooper, Charlotte. 2001. Manly states: masculinities, international relations, and
gender politics. New York: Columbia University Press, p.25.
20
Connell, R.W. 1995. Masculinities. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press; Gibson-Graham, J. K.
1994. ‘Stuffed If I Know!’: Reflections on post-modern feminist social research. Gender, Place, and
Culture
1, n.2: 205-224.
21
Stone, Carolyn. 1996 Gender Values and Identity: Carol Gilligan’s Work on Women’s Moral
Development. In Women, Power and Resistance: An introduction to Women’s Studies, edited by Tess
Cosslet, Alison Easton and Penny Summerfield. Buckingham: Open University Press. pp. 165 and 171.
7


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