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Posts Tagged ‘gender performance’

Wrap-Up: The Endless Potential of Gender Performance

 

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Cross-dressing can help us see beyond gender binaries, and studying other cultures in a respectful way can help us understand more about how gender expression varies from culture to culture. We endeavored to provide a brief history of ideas about gender and cross-dressing in Japanese culture as well some general gender theory to create a framework for discussing the characters and tropes in manga and anime. (more…)

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Part 4: Gender Trouble and Phantom Femininities

In the final thematic section of our essay, we’re going to move on to some of the more serious issues surrounding cross-dressing, specifically those involving social consequences and identity construction. We’ll begin by focusing on men who habitually crossdress as women before focusing on queer and transgender issues in manga involving characters cross-dressing against sex instead of gender. Part 3 here.

Content warning: this section contains discussions of transphobia, transmisogyny, and sexism. 

 

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Part Three: Humor(?)

In Part 3 of this series, Kathryn and I will be examining cross-dressing in comedies and comedic tropes about cross-dressing. Can cross-dressing be treated as more than the butt of a joke? Yes!

Part 2 here. All images safe for work. Mild spoilers for the works discussed; some larger spoilers for Ouran.

Via Gagging on Sexism.

Haruhi Fujioka has no time for your gender nonsense. Via Gagging on Sexism.

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Part Two: The Theatre

A novel by Rosalie Lamorlière. (Joyce Farmer discovers Ingrid Bergman's Joan of Arc in No Straight Lines, p. 25.

How can she be a girl if I love her so much?: A novel by Rosalie Lamorlière.
(Joyce Farmer discovers Ingrid Bergman’s Joan of Arc in No Straight Lines, p. 25.)

In this section, my co-author and I explore cross-dressing in the theatre, specifically all-male kabuki and all-female Takarazuka Revue, how these productions queer our views of the gender binary, and how the main character of The Rose of Versailles disrupts tropes about women cross-dressing as men. Part 1 here.

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Today I’m pleased to bring you an essay version of the panel I gave with Dr. Kathryn Hemmann of Contemporary Japanese Literature on cross-dressing in anime and manga at Sakura-Con in Seattle on April 19, 2014. Because we’re no longer limited to 70 minutes and a projector, we’re able to include more notes, resources, and a proper discussion of Ôoku, which we unfortunately had to cut short at the panel. Enjoy!

Oscar Françoise de Jarjeyes: cross-dressing BAMF. Ikeda Riyoko, The Rose of Versailles, vol. 3, p. 296.

Oscar Françoise de Jarjeyes: hero, soldier, noble, woman of the people. Ikeda Riyoko, The Rose of Versailles, vol. 3, p. 296.

Introduction

Gender bending is often cited as one of the defining themes of contemporary anime and manga, which are filled with examples of handsome women and beautiful men, not to mention cross-dressing characters who never fail to steal the spotlight. What is cross-dressing? How does it challenge and reinforce gender roles? What role has cross-dressing historically played in popular entertainment in Japan? Does a female character cross-dressing as a man mean something different than a male character cross-dressing as a woman? In this essay, we’re going to discuss ideas about gender, provide some terminology, and examine a few examples of how cross-dressing is used by characters in anime and manga as a means of exploring gender issues in contemporary Japanese society.

This essay is divided into seven parts in four themes. In the first part, we’re going to outline several terms and issues related to gender fluidity. In the second part, we’ll discuss Japanese theatrical traditions, specifically those of kabuki and Takarazuka, which continue to inform contemporary popular culture in Japan. In the third part, we’ll talk about cross-dressing as it appears in comedies, romantic or otherwise, to demonstrate how laughter can both undermine and bolster personal agency in choices relating to gender identity. In the final part, we’ll move on to cross-dressing in anime and manga that are more serious in tone and content in order to explore the more transgressive and more potentially transformative aspects of gender fluidity.

Content note: This essay contains minor spoilers for the anime and manga series we discuss. Although we’ll be focusing on stories and characters we love, our discussion will include issues relating to transphobia, misogyny, sexism, and bullying.

The Superpositionality of Gender

We’d like to start off our discussion with a serious topic: cats. And by “cats,” I obviously mean “quantum physics” by way of the famous thought experiment often referred to as Schrödinger’s cat. (more…)

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One of first things I learned in my very first gender studies class was the distinction between sex and gender. I feel like it was useful at the time, but that the narratives about biology vs culture have changed in the last 10 years. For example, if we assume that sex is purely biological, where does that leave trans and intersex people? If you feel strongly that you are male or female, it’s not just choosing pink or blue and that’s it–there are so many ways to do gender (boi, hard femme, soft butch, androgyne) that the personal performance of what society expects vs what we want to do begins to make the assignment of fashions, mannerisms and interests seem ridiculous. Enjoying contact sports might be “aggressive” or “athletic” but there’s no reason to assign those attributes to a gender, and, ultimately, to praise what society deems masculine and ridicule what society deems feminine. And if gender expression is dangerously conflated with ideas of biological sex, wouldn’t using self-identity for gender help dismantle the biological-cultural complex? It seems very simple and yet very radical, and I am really interested in seeing how this new idea develops in sociology.

Family Inequality

Or, the sex/gender distinction which is not one?

sexgendermaze

(This post includes research from my excellent graduate assistant, Lucia Lykke.)

Recently I was corrected by another sociologist: “Phil – ‘female’ and ‘male’ refer to one’s sex, not gender.”

Feminists — including feminist sociologists — have made important progress by drawing the conceptual distinction between sex and gender, with sex the biological and gender the social categories. From this, maybe, we could recognize that gendered behavior was not simply an expression of sex categories — related to the term “sex roles” — but a socially-constructed set of practices layered on top of a crude biological base.

Lucia informs me we can date this to Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex. In 1949 she wrote:

It would appear, then, that every female human being is not necessarily a woman; to be so considered she must share in that mysterious…

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