How can assumptions about gender and registers of gender difference, as well as nature/culture dichotomies, inform meaning and the production of geographical knowledge. Geographers use poststructuralist and feminist ideas in order to study human environment, society and geogrpahical space. Feminism and poststructuralism encourage us to question the set of assumptions and socially constructed meanings that give rise to knowledge claims.
Poststructuralism is a popular critique that challenges our representation between relationship and reality and is a direct response to the percieved ridgeties and certanties that are the main characteristics of strutualism. The main contributors to the poststructuralist critique were Jacques Derrida and Michel Faucault. In Geography poststructuralists adopt a critical stance towards all knowledge claims, and expose the conceptual scoffolding upon which knowledge claims rest.
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It states that meaning is created by discourse in that a specific series of representations through which meanings are produced generate knowledge, they insist that knowledge is situated and limited they have recognised and been honest about the contingency of geographical claims while they consider they way they ahv e been socialised to view the world and realise that knowledge is based on experience.
Feminism similarly has a profound impact on how assumptions can influence opinions or perspective on gender binaries and nature/culture dichotomies. Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing and defending equal political, economical and social rights for women. Feminism focuses on the distinctions society holds between genders and in particular on the discrimination of women in society. The feminist theory aims to develop the understanding of gender inequality.
Feminist Geographers have challenged the exclusion of women in society “the assumption held by many male geographers that women that women should not really be interested geographical topics – one of the first discussions of the male domination of geography described it as result of stubborn, persistent descrimination against women trying to enter the profession” (G. Rose, pg2). It is clear that there is a type of sex bias in geography “…through omission of any consideration of women, most geographic research as in effect been passively, often inadvertently, sexist” (Monk and Hanson 1982:11). It is obvious that male perspective has caused much problems for women in the profession. The maindifficulty that feminist geography had to overcome is the fact the geographical knowledge has been primarily based on male experiences. “Clearly, women have been and continue to be marginalised as producers of geographical knowledge” . (G. Rose, pg2). It was of the opion that mens lives adequately described entire populations as data on husbands was used to describe wives.
However in more recent years there has been significant advances in the development of feminist geographers. ”over the decade feminist geographers have addressed three of the central concepts of the disciplinespace, place and nature- and the ways in which these implicated in the structure of gender divisions in different societies, as well as in the case of nature being gendered itelf. ” (Mc Dowell, pg, 159) It is obvious why geographers have used poststruturalist and Feminist ideas in geography.
They act is influencial critiques of geographical knowledge and contribute heavily to the constructed frameworks for providing geographical knowledge. Furthermore they allow us to scrutinise the sets of assumptions and socially constructed meanings that cause knowledge to emrege. To do this we must deconstruct the represention of this knowledge which could be written statments, images, landscapes and many lother things. For instance hidden meanings, internam logics abd narratives could support these images and enable them to make sense.
For instance hidden meanings, internal logics and narratives could support these images and enable them to make sense. Secondly, we must determine the assumptions are naturalised or made look normal through the construction of the image in relation to cultural norm, or phenomena. This could involve the use of symbols and icongraphy or even the use of binaries and dichtomies. The first image I have found on the website Kidport. com. The website was in conjunction with the social standing that resulted from the II World War. The image highlights the former lack of social rights for women.
It is good example of trying to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining male perspective on women’s social roles and lived experiences. It is based on Germany during the second world war, world war II which resulted in a major victory for women’s rights advocates. During the war, the government of every country drafted men to serve in the army. Since men had held most of the jobs at the time, the military draft left behind a vacuum in factories, offices and farms. This vacuum was filled by women, many of whomhad never worked before.
As the war progressed, these women developed their self-confidence and gained a strong sense of independence. By the time the fighting ended and the men returned, the women refused to give up their jobs; many of them enjoyed making their own living and not having to depend on their husbands or brothers or sons for money. The government was forced to allow women to work and to increase equality in pay (through pay is not completely equal even today). Women continue to fight for complete equality, but World War 11 helped them considerably on the way.
This image could be used by women In order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender and inequality. Previously in Germany women’s social roll was to be a house wife and that they could only perform household tasks while their husbands or partners are performing the more sophisticated social roles . This image illustrated that when women achieved equality and disregarded the stereotypical assumption that women. ‘Women should only be housewives’ and that they are just as capable of achieving high political or social roles as any man.
Therefore, assumptions about gender and registers of gender difference are obviously key aspects of the portrayal of this image. ‘Ive found the job where I fit best’ shows us that women given the oppertunity women were more than capable of opperating these jobs vacated by their opposite sex. We can see through her expression that she is very thrilled and that she is also encouraging other women to persue war jobs. This image is striking due to the fact just a few months previously were unable to vote or perform many other roles which they can perform this day and age.
In my second chosen image we can explore the role of nature/ culture dichotomies in establishing meaning and producing geographical knowledge. In this image we can see the Three time Olympic gold medallist, Usain Bolt as he welcomed former all Ireland winning team tipperary to Jamaica during their winter break in the Caribbean. In the image Bolt tries to prove his all round sporting ability as he tries his hand at our own national sport hurling. The image supports a narrative telling the reader’s all about the Tipparary teams encounter with this sporting icon as they experience a totally different culture during their trip.
This image reflects nature/ culture dichotomies in that we witness two contrasting cultures in the one representation. Former player of the year Lar Corbett was thrilled to have met one of the world’s greatest sporting icons as he called Bolt a ‘true Athlete’. We also hear Bolt’s appreciation of the Irish sport as he was impressed with the difficulty level of skills and the high tempo to which the game was played at. Here we see two opposite cultures partaking in the same traditional Irish pass time.
The reason that this image is so significant is because we know that this would not be a regular occurrence that a African would partake in this sport as it would be diverse for their culure. Hurling and Gaelic football profoundly lodged in our culture but It would be unlikely that most other cultures have ever heard or withnessed these sports in action. However, the Irish men that he is surrounded by are well accustomed to this ritual. Another differing aspect between these two sets of people that we can evidently see is the difference in skin colour.
The African is surrounded by the stereotypical white Irish men this defines the boundaries that separate them even more. This representaion of such an icon enjoying what us Irish would call ‘the craic’ shows us that people from different environments can still enjoy themselves with one another. It is trying to normalise the relationship between the sporting icon and these normal Irish citizens through one thing both contrasting cultures have in common, their love of sport. In this image the the hurl and tipperary jersey which Bolt is wearing is used as a symbol to represent Ireland while the Bolt naturally represents Africa.
This image proves that people from such contrasting and diverse cultures can still bond and communicate and enjoy eachothers company. In conclusion poststructuralism and feminism are most certainly influential in human geography. They encourage us to question the sets of assumptions and socially constructed meanings that give rise to knowledge claims. Therefore throughout my deconstruction of these two images to discover how assumptions about gender and registers of gender difference, as well asnature/culture dichotomies, inform meaning and the production of eographical knowledge, both of these critiques have contributed in many different ways. In my first image feminist geography highlights the male/female binaries and itshows how relations of power are created and preserved by allowing normality, rationality and naturalness to the dominant half of any binary. In my second image poststructuralist geography demonstrates nature/ culture dichotomies and highlights the opposite cultures and the relations of power present in this representation. Both of these critiques also attempt to move beyond what is known and understood in these images.