Gender And Sexuality In Contemporary Cultural Studies

2002 Words 8 Pages
The concept of gender is central the construction of the body and sexuality in contemporary cultural studies. Gender is a complex matter, as modern representations of what it means to be a gendered and sexed body is internalized and acted upon differently depending on one’s culture and upbringing. Across cultures, gender and identity are intimately tied as something that should be viewed as an expression of ones individuality. However, this is rarely the case. Through the use of sociological theories of gender I will observe how the body is prescribed with masculine and feminine identities through cultural processes and socialisation. Then I will construct the argument that gender is not likely to be defined by ones construction of their own …show more content…
First I will observe how gender is defined through the cultural expectation of a coherent notion of gender that is performed and repeated in the behaviours that eventually came to be viewed as socially acceptable. Then, I will observe how gender and sexuality is regulated through a series of exclusions, sanctions and taboos resulting in a form of compulsory heterosexuality. Observing how the framework of cultural ideologies has been applied to laws I will stress how cultural norms eventually become the law. Finally, I will contend that this is illustrated through the employment of pollution powers in cultural representations of feminist, transgender and queer people in the media. Uncovering how the body is given worth through the cultural interpretation ones actions I will argue that sexuality and identity are fundamentally governed by the social construction of gender.

In order to discuss gender we must first place the ideological framework of gender and gender roles in the history of culture. Throughout history, cultures have defined gender through prescribed gender roles, which are rooted in tradition. And despite moving the notion that modern culture has shifted beyond the archetypal necessity to adhere to these certain
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This is due to the distinct presentation of what can be seen as more permissible in culture. People who do not fit within the boundaries defined by societal expectations of male and female sexuality will often become ostracized from a cultural standpoint. This is exemplified in Mary Douglas’ concept of pollution powers. Throughout history only certain social classes were allowed to touch excrement, this made the association of dirt to be paired with certain social stigmas and taboos, which stipulate how one must police their bodies from pollution. Douglas’ theory is at the fore of debunking myths on sexuality and gender and how they regulate sexuality and the body. Pollution powers are a concept that can be linked to the governance of compulsory heterosexuality and thus, the outlawing of homosexual behaviours and identities. As, “reflection on dirt involves reflection on the relation of order to disorder, being to non-being, form to formlessness, life to death” (Douglas, 1990: 5). Pollution powers can be defined as powers that adhere to ideals which ‘punish a symbolic breaking of that which should be joined or joining of that, which should be separate’ (Douglas in Butler, 2007: 374). It follows from the notion that pollution is a form of danger that is not likely to occur except where the lines of structure meet. In Mary Douglas’ purity and danger she describes the body as the boundary of the

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