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Gender studies

Gender studies is a theoretical work in the social sciences or humanities that focuses on issues of sex and gender in language and society, and often addresses related issues including racial and ethnic oppression, postcolonial societies, and globalisation. Work in gender studies influences and is influenced by the related fields of Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Latino/a Studies, and Native American Studies.

Work in gender studies is often associated with work in feminist theory, queer studies, and other theoretical aspects of cultural studies. While work in gender studies is principally found in humanities departments and publications (in areas such as English literature and other literary studies), it is also found in social-scientific areas such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology.

Gender in Psychology

The aggregate body of literature in the field of psychology says little about gender in certain and absolute terms. An enormous number of pages exist exploring the practical differences between men and women at present, but few if any provide un-contradicted information on the exact cause of those differences.

There is an ongoing debate concerning Nature versus nurture that shows no sign of being resolved in the near future; while the issue of whether certain characteristics are determined by genetic factors or by exposure to environmental factors is important in general, it is particularly important in light of modern feminist concerns.

In general, personality and behavioural differences are believed to be due to learning and conditioning or modelling and imitation rather than purely biologically-based tendencies, although a small yet noticeable portion of research indicates some differences in brain size and structure that may be relevant to functionality.

It is widely believed that the environment that a person experiences has a much greater impact upon the development and personality of that person than genetic factors (except in the case of some disorders which have well-documented genetic risk factors such as bipolar disorder; some types of mental development problems like Down’s Syndrome; and schizophrenia).

Criticism

Rosi Braidotti (1994), interviewed by Judith Butler, criticized gender studies as, “the take-over of the feminist agenda by studies on masculinity, which results in transferring funding from feminist faculty positions to other kinds of positions. There have been cases…of positions advertised as ‘gender studies’ being given away to the ‘bright boys’. Some of the competitive take-over has to do with gay studies. Of special significance in this discussion is the role of the mainstream publisher Routledge who, in our opinion, is responsible for promoting gender as a way of deradicalizing the feminist agenda, re-marketing masculinity and gay male identity instead.” Calvin Thomas (2000) counters that, “as Joseph Allen Boone points out, ‘many of the men in the academy who are feminism’s most supportive ‘allies’ are gay,'” and that it is “disingenuous” to ignore that mainstream publishers such as Routledge, and their marketing strategies, have helped feminist theorists.

See also

Literature

  • Thomas, Calvin, ed., “Introduction: Identification, Appropriation, Proliferation”, Straight with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality. University of Illinois Press, 2000
  • Butler, Judith (1994). “Feminism in Any Other Name”, differences 6:2-3: 44-45.
  • Boone and Cadden eds. (). “Of Me[n] and Feminism”, Engendering Men, p.23.
  • Oyewumi, Oyeronke , ed., African Gender Studies: A Reader, Palgrave MacMillan, 2005

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