Gender Studies

Gender studies is a field of interdisciplinary study and academic field devoted to gender identity and gendered representation as central categories of analysis. This field includes Women's studies (concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics), Men's studies, and LGBT studies. Sometimes Gender studies is offered together with Study of Sexuality. These disciplines study gender and sexuality in the fields of literature and language, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, cinema and media studies, human development, law, and medicine. It also analyses race, ethnicity, location, nationality, and disability.

Gender study has many different forms. One view exposed by the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir said: "One is not born a woman, one becomes one". This view proposes that in gender studies, the term "gender" should be used to refer to the social and cultural constructions of masculinities and femininities, not to the state of being male or female in its entirety. However, this view is not held by all gender theorists. Other areas of gender study closely examine the role that the biological states of being male or female (anatomical, physiological, and genetical explanations of male and female body parts, structure and nature of functions of body organs, genetic carriers etc.) have on social constructs of gender. Specifically, in what way gender roles are defined by biology and how they are defined by cultural trends. The field emerged from a number of different areas: the sociology of the 1950s and later (see Sociology of gender); the theories of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan; and the work of feminists such as Judith Butler.

Gender is an important area of study in many disciplines, such as literary theory, drama studies, film theory, performance theory, contemporary art history, anthropology, sociology, psychology and psychoanalysis. These disciplines sometimes differ in their approaches to how and why they study gender. For instance in anthropology, sociology and psychology, gender is often studied as a practice, whereas in cultural studies representations of gender are more often examined. In politics, gender can be viewed as a foundational discourse that political actors employ in order to position themselves on a variety of issues. Gender studies is also a discipline in itself: an interdisciplinary area of study that incorporates methods and approaches from a wide range of disciplines.

Each field came to regard "gender" as a practice, sometimes referred to as something that is performative. Feminist theory of psychoanalysis, articulated mainly by Julia Kristeva (the "semiotic" and "abjection") and Bracha Ettinger (the feminine-prematernal-maternal matrixial Eros of borderlinking and com-passion, "matrixial trans-subjectivity" and the "primal mother-phantasies"), and informed both by Freud, Lacan and the Object relations theory, is very influential in gender studies.

Read more about Gender Studies:  Responses, Other People Whose Work Is Associated With Gender Studies

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    Anthropologists have found that around the world whatever is considered “men’s work” is almost universally given higher status than “women’s work.” If in one culture it is men who build houses and women who make baskets, then that culture will see house-building as more important. In another culture, perhaps right next door, the reverse may be true, and basket- weaving will have higher social status than house-building.
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