Is feminism as a social movement obsolete? Or should we speak of the return of sexism (Natasha Walter)? One commentator has published a study suggestively entitled The Second Sexism, detailing the gender-specific issues which affect men rather than women (David Benatar). Alternatively, as another commentator has suggested, it’s high time women exploited their full “erotic capital” (Catherine Hakim). On another level, what are we to make of Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill’s polemical interventions into debates about transexualism? This is a time when all manner of new arguments about and perspectives on gender are emerging: more and more of the assumptions of modern-day feminism are being challenged, but those challenges on another level provide an opportunity for feminist thinkers to rearticulate what they understand as long-term feminist goals and strategies.
Today’s crucible-like situation is the result of a number of developments. In brief: 1) the rise of anti-essentialism (more generally, “social constructionism”) and the slow but detectable critical response to it on the part of a number of natural scientists and even social scientists and humanists, 2) the burgeoning and persistence of the Men’s Movement in the works of authors such as Robert Bly, Warren Farrell, et al., concomitant with the achievement of high standards of living for (some) women in Western societies, 3) Third Wave feminism, which, amongst many other factors, has raised questions about the extent to which the female subject of feminist discourse is actually a privileged white, middle-class, Western woman, 4) the emergence of debates surrounding what defines a man as a man and a woman as a woman – in the U.K. today, the Gender Recognition Act allows a person to have the sex on his/her birth certificate changed if he/she has lived as a member of the other gender for two years, whether sexual reassignment surgery has taken place or not, and, 5) the continuing battle between conservative and liberal over issues such as pornography, prostitution and abortion – the latest event to stoke passions over social attitudes is the launch of the academic journal Porn Studies.
This situation, such as it is described here, has all kinds of resonances in the articles collected in this issue.
Robert W. Rix New Discussions of Gender in English Romantic Studies. Over the past few decades, gender studies have reinvigorated the way in which we talk about romanticism. This article discusses some of the key developments and their critical consequences. Critical interventions have not only redirected our reading of familiar texts, but also fundamentally destabilized the canon and even made us question the validity of the label “romanticism” itself. Recent critical work is beginning to uncover a mobile syntax of gender roles. Rix’s article focuses on how criticism is beginning to discern an unstable distribution of gender characteristics across the spectrum of literary writing.
Steen Ledet Christiansen Of Male Bondage: Violence and Constraint in Only God Forgives.
Classical Hollywood melodrama, often referred to as “women’s films,” are defined through their heightened emotional intensity and their confrontation of social issues. While usually regarded as finished by the late 1950s, in the past decade melodrama has returned in the different form of the male melodrama, articulating a concern with and anxiety of male frailty. In Nicolas Winding Refn’s delirious male melodrama Only God Forgives (2013), violence takes the place of crying as the expression of emotional intensity. The movie’s primary deviance from classical melodrama comes through in its emphasis on the body in pain as the locus for contemporary male gender trouble. This paper will investigate the gender negotiations of the movie through its reactualization of melodrama as a male gender form.
Maria Nilson “I am Girl. Hear me Roar”. Girlpower and Postfeminism in Chick lit jr. Novels. The article focuses on an example of chick lit jr., Meg Cabot’s Airhead-trilogy, and how feminism, postfeminism and girlpower are discussed in this text. The novels portray a conflict between the generations, where the daughter rejects her mother’s version of feminism. There is an interesting ambiguity in the text concerning feminist ideals which makes Cabot’s novels, along with many other examples of chick lit jr., difficult to define. But even if there’s a remnant of feminism in these novels, that version of feminism stays on the individual plane and never influences society as a whole.
Jørgen Riber Christensen The Concept of the Gentleman. PSY’s “Gentleman M V”. The ideal of the gentleman has been globally reborn in PSY’s colossal YouTube hit “Gentleman M V”. This video thematizes the concept of the gentleman, but it is also a reformulation of gentlemanly behaviour. The article analyses the ideal of the gentleman in the light of its gender aspects and its class connotations. The hypothesis of the article is that the insecure status of masculine identity in an age of post-second-generation feminism demands the seemingly parodic treatment of the concept of the gentleman, as in this video. Yet this hypothesis is also a research question. Why is there this strong element of parody in the video? The answer to the question may depend on a consideration of contemporary male identities. It may also be based on a reading of how the music video incorporates these types. Three such types are described in the article: the new man, the metrosexual male and the new lad. It is the conclusion of the article that “Gentleman M V” incorporates the last two of these.
Mads Møller Andersen De kvindefokuserede dramedieserier. Mads Møller Andersen’s article discusses the representation of female roles in TV dramedy shows by exploring previous dramedies such as the glamorous Sex And The City and comparing them to the more unconventional dramedies of today: HBO’s Girls and Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. The central thesis of the article is that there has been a certain trend during the latest two decades within the dramedy genre where a group of dramedies have focused on female protagonists, female issues, and a female audience. But this trend in the dramedy genre also stands as a testament to a development in female TV characters because recent dramedies seem to dismiss the conventional values of the previous dramedy shows. Girls and Orange Is The New Black choose to push the boundaries and exemplify how women on TV can be chubby, self-destructive and even dangerous.
Clara Juncker Global Gender. In Global Woman (2004) Barbara Ehrenreich has problematized the focus in the 1960s and 70s feminist movement on Western gender issues and changed the emphasis on white, middle-class men and women to their others in terms of race, class and topography. Michel Foucault has also, with his work on heterotopoi, uncovered the hidden aspects of modernity, the residual spaces far from centers of power, whose inhabitants have recently found western publishers and audiences and changed Western discussions of gender already begun. Inside and outside China, writers have offered glimpses of rural Chinese heterotopias, and of gendered experiences both in their native China and in the United States. This paper, “Global Gender”, focuses on gender issues in recent Chinese and Chinese American fiction and engages with Foucault and other theorists to uncover hidden network of relations, the interdependencies between men and women with and without power that now await attention, or, if global inequalities turn into violence, explosion.
Lotte Dam “Mother-in-law, my, we know her!”. The role of personal pronouns in constructions of a female identity. Language constructs and reproduces different types of generalizations, for example concerning gender categories. By way of certain linguistic choices speakers construct or reproduce identities for men and women and other categories. Specific lexical and functional items are used for this purpose, consciously and unconsciously. One linguistic item that is used for this purpose is the personal pronoun. This article provides an analysis of data extracts taken from a Danish magazine with the aim of illustrating how personal pronouns contribute to the construction of identities related to particular categories, mainly a female identity, and serve a particular purpose in interaction with other elements in context.
Louise Fjordside Mary in the Middle. The use and function of a female character in the policing of a male-male relationship in BBC’s Sherlock. The addition of Mary Morstan to Series 3 of the BBC’s Sherlock is analysed through the application of Eve Sedgwick’s theory of homosociality as well as performativity theory to shed light on how a female character can be used not to only police a male-male relationship, but also create a safe space for them to express sentiment. The analysis of Mary’s role in BBC’s Sherlock suggests that she is mainly used to ensure that the performance of sexuality in BBC Sherlock was mainly heterosexual, although the performative level of the program leans towards a homosexual reading in regards to John and Sherlock. The main thesis of this article is that female characters are used to police male-male relationships, ensuring that heterosexuality is the true sexuality of the main characters; though homosocial and homosexual tendencies might be expressed.
Brian Russell Graham Paglia’s Central Myth. This piece aims to rescue Camille Paglia from waves of unsympathetic critics. The article asks what it is that she actually stands for. Employing the religious metaphors of “fallen” and “restored”, as well as the idea of “sacraments”, it argues that what is uppermost in the work of Paglia is a concern with a fallen state connected to sex and gender alignment (disempowering for both men and women) and a risen state in which self-fulfilment is effected by transgenderism. For Paglia, Graham argues, the social purpose of literature is to help individuals understand their own transgender destiny: writers provide models for that “migration”.
Kim Ebensgaard Jensen Representations of Intercourse in American Literature. Gender, Patiency, and Fuck as a Transitive Verb. This article investigates representations of sexual intercourse in American literature expressed via the use of fuck as a transitive verb. Its goal is to identify possible trends in the differentiation between men and women’s roles and power relations in such literary representations. Drawing on theoretical notions from cognitive poetics, the present article assumes that literary representations of intercourse reflect and replicate in readers cultural-cognitive models of intercourse and the roles of, and power relations between, men and women therein. The analysis presented here is quantitative and falls under the rubric of corpus stylistics, and it is based on data from the FICTION component of the Corpus of Historical American English. The analysis measures the preference of male or female passive participants in propositional scenarios denoted by transitive fuck, thus allowing for the identification of large-scale patterns in sexual objectification of men or women in American literature.
Joseph Goddard Still Waiting for Madame President. Hillary Clinton and the Oval Office. This essay investigates gender in politics through the prism of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. It looks at the reactions to that campaign in the media, both in 2008 and as a probable second Clinton campaign emerges for 2016. Topics explored include whether the reactions to Clinton’s campaigns are generic or specific to Clinton herself, and whether gender remains a limiting force in American political life.
Bent Sørensen The Well-Accessorized Philosopher. The Vincent F. Hendricks Debacle. A 2012 photo spread in a life-style men’s magazine, featuring young women clad in sexualized pastiches of school uniforms, was used by a Copenhagen University Professor of Philosophy to create what he thought of as light-hearted publicity for his Logics course that semester. This article analyses the images of the photo spread (contextualizing them with insights from humour theory), their reception in the philosophy community and the public at large, and discusses the implications of the ensuing chain of events in a gender debate perspective.