Gender Theory and its Impact

This week appears to be ‘gender week’.  At University, today’s Research Skills seminar was on feminism and gender studies; tonight’s inaugural Popular Culture lecture is on masculinity (amongst other things) in James Bond.  On the radio on Monday there was a (lighthearted) discussion about male and female brains.  Via Twitter yesterday I read an article about language and gender: interesting moreso because our Research Skills class is for ‘language’ students (well, students in Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, so predominantly language students of some sort).

In exciting news, it does appear there is a ‘term’ or two for who I am, but it’s problematic outside of the academic sphere.  Also problematic was a fellow (non-native English speaker) postgrad’s use of the term ‘deviant’, although that in itself led to an exciting discussion about language use, lack of language capable of describing things and even the use of language to include as a means to degrade.

The first article I read was by Halberstam on female masculinity.  Unsurprisingly, I immediately picked up on the tomboy parts of the article and would now like to refer to myself as a perpetual tomboy (as if perpetual student was not enough): Halberstam talks about tomboyishness as avoiding adultness, specificlally adult feminism.  The fields I operate in (roleplayers, SF addicts etc.) are full of people who don’t want to ‘grow up’ in many varied ways, and it is also a very accepting, diverse field, which I think helps.

So, now you’re prepared as my stereotyped diversity-accepting public, here’s my other identifier: queer.  Not queer in the ‘popular’ sense (non-heterosexual), but queer in the ‘academic’, gender sense.  Nonconformist.  Contrary.  More than ‘a bit’ different.  It’s nice to know someone’s thought of me and I’m not the only one: sometimes it’s nice to have a pigeonhole to go to.  I like the German language explanation (same root) using quer, across, which is pretty accurate: just because I like planes and wargaming, and usually dress in men’s clothes and enjoy power doesn’t mean I’m attracted to women or don’t enjoy looking like a woman sometimes (although, again, that’s a power thing because it shocks).

Halberstam did go on to say (s)he* was not going to investigate heterosexual female masculinity in the article I read as there wasn’t much of it about, so I’m still in the ‘a bit weird’ category for some things!  But at least I don’t have to suffice with describing myself merely as ‘heterosexual female’ anymore, although maybe I will stick with ‘perpetual tomboy’ outside of academia…

So what about gender in my research?  That’s got to be important, right?  Oh yes, and I did come up with lots of interesting stuff while doing the reading for the seminar, not least from Flax.  I am not, however, going to attempt to include much in my research for the following reasons:

  1. It’s only a Masters and I can’t afford to include too much beyond the direct topic: it risks taking over.
  2. I have more personal interest than professional interest so I’ll leave the gender theorising to more qualified people.
  3. It is something I don’t know much about in the Russian context, nor am I sure where I’d even begin to find out.

I’m not going to ignore it: that would be stupid.  But I think it is important to not dwell on it too long as I don’t want to get sidetracked.  It is important, and there are so many aspects to it in Western metal (female participation, female fans, androgyny, homosexual lyrics…), but it’s not something I can afford much time on and I know I would be horribly unfocussed, as I often am when I’m interested in something from a personal level but not really as an academic.

So, now I have reviewed feminism and it’s James Bond reference (GoldenEye), let’s see what Nathan Waddell has to say about Bond and masculinity.

* Halberstam was a woman when the article I read was written, and is now a man.

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