Coordinated by Aurelian GIUGĂL

 

 

Performative acts and gender politics

 

Dr. Helen MARGARITOU-ANDRIANESSI      

University of Athens

                   

   Abstract: Gendered discourses convey new meaning of subjectivity, confirming or challenging ideas of identification, oneness, wholeness, gender roles, self-realization, equality, etc. in order to indicate alternatives for moral and political choices and literary interpretations and evaluations. Necessities that concern the nature of beings and the structures of properties, determine the modal versions of our arguments about gender politics. Gender politics is performed: Individuals choose the version of gender they wish to practice and transform power relations of women and men in teaching and in processes of socialization considered as “modes” of thought beyond dualism, monism and reductionism.

 

Keywords: gender roles, self-reflexive creativity, inter-subjectivity, gender performance, gender and modality.

 

 

  1. SOURCES OF GENDER CHARACTERISTICS SOCIALLY

CONSTRUCTED

 

      Performative acts[i] concern gender conventions and social political and aesthetic contestations. Men have occupied the highest echelons of political power around the world. The dominant discursive politics, as affirmative action, is associated with a methodological pluralism in which a range of political and social interests and options has involved changes in public life in order to remedy violation of human rights and violence against women emphasizing impartial principles of justice and qualifying the merit principle[ii]. Scientific views on gender similarities and differences express a) intrinsic values and means values of human and non-human life, distinguished from gender desires, and preferences (qualities of human being like honesty), b) behavioural differences (natural tendencies, self-determination and self-realization, true manhood and womanhood, gender fluidity) distinguished from legal standards,  c) significantly different political thoughts between men and women (struggles for domination and emancipation), d) true meaning of thinking preferences (roles, jobs) and e) societies by their very nature unstable.

       Gender differences regard a bipolar view of the world. I am referring to the theories of gender held by the philosophers of human being:

Philosophers           Masculine Mode                         Feminine Mode  

Rousseau               Modern natute (Emile)          Physical appearance (Sophie)

Kant                        Sublime (Law)                                 Beautiful (Law)   

Hegel                      Public-Universal                              Private-Particular

Engels                     Patriarchy, Historical                Matriarchy, Prehistorical

                                   Class, Domination                    Primitive Domination

Nietzsche                   Logic, Language                  Body, Expression, Feelings

       Against a bipolar view of the world, the modern rationalized life world must be regarded as tragic imperfection of human access to the world rather than established categorization, through the differentiated models of a sociological descriptive phenomenology, value-signs, particular interests, cultures, attitudes, individual and common characteristics[iii]:

 Gender roles: Underlying similarities can often be discovered across differences of political or cultural views, affiliations to or dissent from the feminist movement, the birth control movement, the psychoanalysis theory etc. A project of gender politics articulates opinions and paradigms about the ways that men and women compete with each other for power.  Gender equality/inequality: The study of gender relations signifies important psychodramatic structures of gender politics through new social expressive language: explanations of the transition from inequality to equal opportunity of choices/activities. It is the transition from homogenation (forms) of natural paradigms (terrible uniformity) to naturalized particular female and male interests: attitudes of “concretists” to be faced with the “invention of natural relations”[iv]. Gender stereotype (fixed ideas). Beyond categorizations of differences we must disengage gender behaviours from fixed-ideas and organize the system of representation, statistics and range of roles through pragmatic reasons (the struggle to institutionalize equality for women, the active steps to deal with the problem of homelessness in the city, motherhood and its “enemies”, public male homosexual behaviour etc.).Gender-based affirmative action secures advantages for women and groups underrepresented and equal opportunity for men and women by removing deep-seated, long-lasting and acrimonious inequalities[v]. Against luck egalitarianism[vi] which equalize outcomes with respect to luck, a conception of justice, pertaining to groups rather than individuals, is necessary in discriminatory practices, in order to build different dimensions of equality that fit with and draw upon one another.  We must arrive at a pragmatist aspect of gender equality by looking at how “we choose for ourselves” based on innovative approach to individuality: individuals encourage ecumenical “ethos” regarding comprehensive critique of various distinct positions/identities in society as distinct types of conflicting interests of different classes in order to interpret the fundamental inequality of capitalistic antagonism, resolve differences without force and handle their detachment and fears: the awareness of globality implies gender interactions by means of technology and new citizenship, redefinitions of similarities/differences and dependence/independence through common needs in work and migration, rights and care ethics. Gender interactions provide plans of exaggeration and equivalence that produce new asymmetries and inequalities: collective identities[vii] imply dissimulation and dissidence, although social incorporations support the construction of selfhood and gendered identities that articulate discourses of change and continuity, while a reinvention of gender values secures legitimacy[viii].   

Gender identity and transformations

INPUTS

           The power of woman

 and the subversion of the community          

Female ====>Female + Male/cultural gender roles/objects/awareness/gender power

           Identity crises                     necessity, fragility, gender trouble, modest/immodest

         =========> Gender and Society: Gender Symbols in Public Relations, habits,  

                       attitudes, the feminist character  versus social engineering

                         free agent, free-floating intellectual, free thinker, freelance writer etc.

    Figure 1 by H. Margaritou-Andrianessi                                                       OUTPUTS

                                         

Cross-gender casting interactions of literary characters:

a) Gender issues. The earlier women’s movement “subscribed to conventional morality” and  more concerted actions and effort to change political and social situations[ix] enrich thematic semantics and selection process of issues about marriage, divorce, female desires, pleasure and satisfaction, sex relationships, abortion, sexual ignorance and sex education, hygiene views, depression and wars, emancipated persons, division of labour etc.  b) Gender politics and permissive society. Authors with experiences of alerting people to issues in responsibilities in society elaborate “images” of males and females in collaboration with portrait painters and performers; so we find authors to draw males with certain “feminine” characteristics and female with certain “masculine” characteristics. They “delegate” female roles and male roles/behaviours/duties to make “preparations” for performance of our most basic responsibilities.  These aspects indicate alternatives for moral and political choices and literary interpretations and evaluations.

 

 

2. FINDING THE MEANING OF SELF-REFLEXIVE CREATIVITY (CONSTRUCTING ROLES)

 

      Modern philosophers attempt to incorporate multicultural concepts into political science in order to reform political movements (to make the goals of movements realisable), focusing on the whole range of human activities. Further, the justification for fostering friendship between peoples and cultural viability reflects concern about rights. At the most basic level we must find the meaning of development of certain habits concerning nature and culture, interests, legal reforms and conventions. In identifying gender politics with the examination of the concepts of friendship, interventions in the politics and the standards of “good will”, I want try to indicate that gender intervention in politics is primarily a reminder of our limitations rather than a substantive guide to political choice; key words: femininity and maternal instinct, masculinity, sexual practices, evolutionary anthropology, gendered virtue (mutual advantage).

      “After identity crisis, environmental crisis and legitimation crisis” (because the process of identification with living beings led us to see much cruelty in nature and in society), the fundamental sources of semiotic gender power (actual needs, influences, power centers, mass media, interests, binding agreements) and the politicization of protection of  life provide the semantic content (multi-valued orientation) of the associated propositions of self-reflexive creativity[x] and the “bindingness of reflexivity”[xi].

       Comprehensive and coherent interpretation of sexual behaviour, mental representation of gender activities and social reality are planned as comparative views of lifeworld (i.e. modern girl’s volte-face in post-communist or capitalist countries). In the postmodern age alternative “lifestyles” highlight the importance of being able to interpret binary oppositions: nature versus science, exploitation versus conservation, political versus domestic, human characteristics versus biological/animal characteristics, in order to establish equivalent and complementary activities between male and female. From this point of view we must focus on mental representations of male and female achievements and levels of authority, i.e. gender stereotypes, female victim and male hero, rescued, villain, helper etc. reproduced from popular video games, and postmodern social reality that concerns nonhierarchical relations regarding race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientations etc. Then we can discuss the implication of interactive teaching methods and equivalent activities in non-discrimination policies: male and female specialists are working to their mutual benefit[xii].

        Gender roles depend on constant interactions and indicate that men are not merely “organism in space” but consciousness as well: evolutionary anthropology and sociobiology support equal opportunities for all beings, namely the equal right to live and blossom. This quality depends in part upon the deep pleasure and satisfaction we receive from partnership with other forms of life. The attempt to establish a master-slave role has contributed to the alienation of man for himself. We find portrayed differently women and men in literature, in films, in comics etc. as action characters, as “damsel in distress” and sex-objects: the portrayal of women in advertisements, woman’s place in the home etc. Mental representations and effective self-determination (sense experience[xiii], the behaviour of “objects” in the natural world) emerge when animal bodies of a certain complexity have been evolved[xiv]. Personal preferences, viewpoints and portrayed men (performances) express different signs of diversity of life. The flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth has intrinsic values as basis of a total view of unity and diversity. “Intrinsic value” in itself is rather suspicious: it means rather a cognitive basis of symbiosis, a desire for the benefit of other living beings and a dialogue with ethics and history (Marguerite Yourcenar, Un homme obscur, Le Temps, ce grand sculpteur and Mémoires d’Hadrien).

 

 

3.     GENDER AND SUBJECTIVITY: A MORE ADEQUATE UNDERSTANDING  OF INTERSUBJECTIVITY

 

       Gendered nature of individual concerns political agency, public world of work, radical and social feminism, political activism, functional reproduction, gender ideology gender discourse and effects-“modes” of gendered socializations. Political agency regards gender roles of representations: “We compete for power”, “We compete against the world’s best”, “We compete with others” (Gender discourses modify representionism);  and b) contemporary political strategies are associated with them in the sense of reformulation of spaces, roles and identities concerning new subjects with individual responsibility. Beyond reductionism the struggles for legitimacy generate pluralism and psychic and social elements of new subjectivity and intersubjectivity.

       The modern interpretation of the “ego-cogitans” concerns the order reflected in the nature of beings; Rosminian subject[xv] unfolds itself as self-reflection of the objective spirit (not absolute) which crystallizes the form of intersubjective relations. The functions of the consciousness regard the possibility of knowing itself; the relation upon our own states of mind is the way to the discovery of the first principles, of the inner relations among the three fundamental functions (intellect, will and self-conscious memory) and of the interaction of mind and body in order to describe and explain casts of interventions of human minds and hands beyond determinism and creationism. Gendered analysis of intersubjective relations led us to answer questions about their powerful influences on other beings, mechanism of their socialization and the gendered limits of their institutionalization; i.e. gender mainstreaming as strategy for the promotions of equal opportunities for women and men (was enshrined in the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam) and CEDAW (The UN Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).

 

Gender interactions (differences   as   relations)

INPUTS (Gender roles can be potent symbols of cultural change or cultural continuity)

                                           Symbolic level           Physical level (face to face)    

   Mothering roles                  “phallus”                          energy/passions

 interacting with child     }   “mana”         }    intense engagement                           

    Fathering roles                     “father”                   divisions (i.e. division

                                                  “mother”                               of labour)                                                          

                                                                        biopolitical

        Psychological level       (non-symbolic) level-Gender politics level

                                                                                   (i.e. education policies)

        Intrinsic values               self-realization             initiatives for gender equality   

}    system value and  }   instrumental norms } democratic institutions                                                 

  the cultural “fabric” of          relationships                    ensure that everyone

          every society             between human being         has a share in power

                                               and surroundings                                                                      OUTPUTS[xvi]

                                        Figure 2 by H. Margaritou-Andrianessi

 

        Subjective ability is not confused with gender subjectivity. The «I» is able by the power of its reflection to generate the first elements as form of the act of reasoning. Man has the possibility of infinite realization of intrinsic values into the life in completion of its limited determinations (genetic account-genesis of natural possibilities). What is related to the dialectical principles (gender process) is distinguished from it itself.                                                                (intention of natural reasons[xvii] and gender performance).  In Hegel's philosophy beings exist in relation with "other"; the absolute being validates the undifferentiated relations among the beings. The Hegelian concept of “relation” is not a relation between the form and the matter; it is a self-relation: the absolute relation, the necessity and the indifference. The idea of being appears in a multitude of forms. The powers (or faculties) which transform any current form reduce the reality to thoughts, to the rationality of objectivity. The qualities of the knowledge or the Kantian subjective standards of all judgment are the natural limits of the knowledge because the Hegelian conscience is not able to find the modes of the “otherness”. We can eliminate or negate or create a thing by the act of representation, or symbolization (language, art), or formation of its reality (the first elements). It is the grasp and the expression of the ultimate truth as substantial form (defining relation of the subjective elements to “other”). The Rosminian “otherness” is designed. The latter is a part of the "whole" but the process of becoming depends on the process of relations between the limits of the in power being and the conditions of the in act being.  The Hegelian process of becoming is an appearance of the absolute in opposition between the determination of selfsameness and otherness (male and female): it is the beginning of a self-completing mediation in the shape of reflection. The reflection determines the subjectivity (the dialectical movement thesis, antithesis, synthesis=mediation).The understanding is the mediating factor between natural consciousness and social and political science. Mediation signifies negativity (opposition) as exigency of the inequality of substance with itself: the Hegelian power of negativity converts the determinacy of substance into dissolution as opposition  to the self, belonging to the rational self as qualitative “leap” of the spirit that becomes common sense and possibility of new knowledge.  Rosmini’s  mediation signifies the relation between natural possibilities and the “ways”/modes of approach to a “continued” unity of  beings, system of representations, statistics, reactions in order to signify important psychodramatic structures of gender politics through modern social expressive language(toward a greater integration of gender performance).

Female/male profiles through images/interventions/performances of “otherness”:

 

INPUTS 

 Male/female   }   internal conversations       } semantic variation by language

                              (body language/emotions/             culture and gender- dreams                                                            

                             gestures/Lacan’s language

 

} “I and you”: co-subjects into generalized “otherness” } intrasubjective thoughts

                            Allied/modes of reactions                           (thoughts about gender 

                                                                                                          thoughts)

                            }interpersonal relations (conversations)

                                           

or modes of reflexivity and various spheres of culture via the other

      forms of “looping”  (they always have a recursivity, i.e. memories)

       forms of back-bending (reflexivity based on fallacy of logical circularity, i.e. 

                                         when arguments about cultural production of gender are

                                         based on different ways in which sexual differences are

                                        produced, although biological and social reductionism is

                                        denied)

       forms of recoiling(reflexivity based on dislike for capitalism, communism etc.)

       forms of dialecticizing (from solidarity of communities)                        

                                                                                                   OUTPUTS[xviii]

Figure 3 by H.Margaritou-Andrianessi

 

      These theses and the debate surrounding them have been enormously influential: post-Marxism developments in the gender theory offer an opportunity for gender analysis. The question about the gender politics issues of its historicity produces alternative views of realization/accomplishment of its knowledge. Knowledge depends on subject’s ability. Subject embraces all possible forms of life and  endorces any valid inference from “concrete discussions” about  gender relations(beings and their permanent and semi-permanent categories):  “Mode”, way,  means a systematic selection of questions and informations about powers/forces/views/choices/stream of thoughts in order to be clear gender relations, the real meaning of them, competitions, logical “bridges”, a plurality of competing conjectures, similarities, representativities, varieties, reflections, progressive consolidation, continuity of parallel series and pragmatic aims. These modes are open to modifications in the light of criticism. They can be neither verified nor probabilified; only the necessary modifications must be verified (realizable aims and the criterion of demarcation between facts and ideal “opportunity” for youngsters to get training in the “standards” of a free and democratic society): virtually all feminist thought is intensely political expression but it is explicitly eager to promote women’s entry into the political arena for the sake of participation both as a means and as end in itself regarding transformation of power[xix] in the sense of group membership as group consciousness of forms of morality, religiosity etc. Self-transformation depends on capacity for critical reflection (the capacity to take up a critical perspective on traditional  sciences of human beings and normalize power relations by means of counterbalance against the entanglement between power (mechanisms of subordinations) and the true realization of freedom with respect to laws) :  “Modes”  of counterbalance as politics of our selves[xx] (p.e. between  traditional theories and modern humanization of sciences, mind-dependent and  non-mind dependent facts under conditions,  ideal and real being, interrogation and   explanation, subjective and objective sense).   Gender politics is performed: Individuals choose the version of gender they wish to practice and transform power relations of women and men in teaching and in processes of socialization[xxi] considered as “modes” of thought beyond dualism, monism and reductionism: gender and modality differences in experience and systems of power become separated from the actors (subjects) themselves[xxii]:  1) Modality of sentences (Aristotles, Pr. An., I, 2, 25a) and the unit of gender analysis;  2) “Modes” of the objective attitude of subject: the subject must only organize the results of criticism;  3)  “Modes” of describing (“What laws can describe?”); 4) Modality of reasoning (Kant: Möglichkeit-Unmöglichkeit, Dasein-Nicht sein-Notwendigkeit-Zufälligkeit. Is it possible to justify gender theories or beliefs by giving reasons?  No, because it is a closer approximation to the truth); 5) “Modes” of real application (real meaning) of the fundamental elements of being (substantive gender equality, forms of gendered citizenship, their relation, time and space). We can use deductive systems on the one hand and  gender legal  instruments); 6) The processes of socialization are connected with political geography(nation, territory, elections, trade, citizenship, resistance, social movements, quotidian practices and identities) regarding an eclecticism that involves antagonisms and gender powers associated with private (types of individualism) and public spheres. i. e. distinct understandings are incorporated constructing a feminist geopolitical image; from this point of view “incorporation” means “modes” of relations between phenomenon  and noumenon and “modality” of parts in relation to universal. ( The development  of  the  universal  spirit  is  reflected  in  the development  of  the  particular  forms  of  life  in the sense of integration  of  life)[xxiii].    7)  “Modes” of beliefs and the tragic abandonment and disappointment (a demand of realism: after identity crisis we organize semiotics of gender relations. According to Habermas, social “gaps” are closed and group and gender ethics evolve to a higher level only when transformations of choices occur with respect to their normative structures. True sex-love and legitimacy qualify ethical perspective of gender value orientation: common good and utilities. Gendered ethics concerns men and women’s approaches to positive differentiation and dialectics between their opinions and final decisions that advance multiple goals of each community (care ethics, social services). Gendered discourses convey new meaning of subjectivity, confirming or challenging ideas of identification, oneness, wholeness, self-realization etc. 8) Modification of operative principles (principles of common sense and principles of social innovations, ethical business practices etc.[xxiv]):

   Conceptions and passions modify our actual relations with external world (rational manageable planes).

•    Mutual actions are modified mutually.

•    The intellective perception does not modify its terms.

•    A modification after communication is new information, a new meaning, a new decision, a new activity (i.e. the execution of duties).

•    The modification means prevalent conditions (i.e. prevalent impressions, prevalent interests or prevalent restrictions: South Asians tend to integrate secular European cultural elements with their culture[xxv]).

•    The modifications concern the languages, the choices (gender and modality), but they don’t concern the nature of gender in sé.

•    The modifications of feelings concern the subjective development of feelings (i.e. the love of a man). The modifications of feelings have not to do with objective development of feelings (i. e. the love of divine justice).

    After Kant (“The laws of nature are imposed by us upon the world”): the subject determines the conditions of its objective attitude by means of distinctions - connections of noumenon-phenomenon. In actual fact natural idealized-realized ideas (bound and tied) “have” sensations and emotions connected and modified with them. Mind discloses itself in a first way (awaking of mind) through a “release” of thinking realized by the spiritual activity (a pathway to cognitive way) into:

a) particularized existences, and b)  parallel series of shapes of cognitive  qualified “modes” (as laws of eclectic and modificative progress/alternative choices - the modification of  G. Vico’s  criterion  verum-factum) towards  the completeness of new forms of  knowledge/action   with respect to “fundamental  asymmetry”  (K. Popper) under conditions: we don’t equate our arguments/shapes with moral/social values or with natural idealized-realized  ideas, although they are not incommensurable as  conditions of cybernetic models and cybernetic consciousness (gender risk  and  the  “modes” of  adoption  of  a  hypothesis and alternative virtues evolved from feminist writings about social subjectivity). Thus facts correspond to our morals; opinions, thoughts and public standards are established through gender discursive interactions[xxvi] (i.e. the investigation of principles of correspondence in order to use an artificial formalized language, when we compare constitutive values with epistemonic basis and idiosyncratic values):

•    Men have pointed out empirical facts in parallel to invisible facts or feminist fictions (criterion of demarcation as eclectic approach to poststructural feminism).

   A study asks for structures of facts in parallel to  our conceptual structures in order to prove ontological commitments; gender analysis is integral to the construction of new subjectivity  by focusing on possible transformations of communicative power (eclectic and open-minded approach to gender politics): 1) Comparative Degrees of habitual dispositions (i.e. feminist groups of actions-choices: «When women make a difference»[xxvii]); 2) Degrees of confidence and testability in order to offer a better and more defensible account of social problems; 3) Degrees of logical proximity (different conditions of information and justifications), in order to address more normative structures(i.e. degrees of woman’s dependence).   

       Eclectic and modificative conditions of cybernetic reality depend on ideal and psychological structures; parallel structures (parallel series of ideas and facts) produce questions-answers in order to discern: aspects of modified principles/ideas/ individual and social emotions, transformed terms of languages, forms of contingency, forms of historical and social consciousness, new emergent acceptable gender behaviours, the falsifiability criterion of meaning (K. Popper) etc.

 

 

4. CONCLUSION

 

        The consciousness of the global asymmetry produces ambivalences but mutual influences and successive activities regard arguments that are presented against “minimal realism” and rigorous reductionism and they support pragmatic grounds of realities. The independent entities influence the less independent entities: we should accept the best available explanation of these influences. We must indicate 1) what is superfluous to our theoretical modulation and transformation 2) what is reducible to vital necessities; 3) what is a chance, and 4) what is primitive virtue. Nothing is essentially private. We must associate different thoughts, different occasions, and different beliefs in order to compose a publicly accessible meaning[xxviii] .

       A realist embraces the optimistic alternative to the old-fashioned ideas. The comprehensive realism is established by informative ways: 1) what is interest? 2) what is applicable (with a given “fragment”/limit  of  truth) ? Necessities that concern the nature of beings and the structures of properties, determine the modal versions of our arguments about gender politics. Moral, social and economic facts are reducible to informative links between our current situation and natural, semantic and technical facts/values.  Against gender scepticism we can modify gender arguments in order to not be exclused from our regular conceivability and to choose the best in the current reality.  Humans have no right to reduce gender power to an economic and an ideological level.

 

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[i] Judith BUTLER, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory”, in Carolyn G. HEILBRUN and Nancy K. MILLER (eds.), Writing on the Body, Columbia University Press, 1997, pp. 401-417.

[ii] Christopher MCCRUDDEN, “Merit Principles”, Journal of Legal Studies, Oxford, Vol. 18, No. 4, 1998, pp. 543-579.

[iii] E. DIAMOND (ed.), Performance &Cultural Politics, Routledge, 1996.

[iv] Hélène VARIKA, “Coutume tyrannique, pourquoi obéir? L’égalité des sexes dans l’utopie de la révolution anglaise”, Michèle RIOT-SARCEY (ed.), L’utopie en questions, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, Paris, 2001.

[v][v] Council Recommendation 84/635/EEC of 13/12/1984 on the promotion of positive discriminations for women.

[vi] Ronald DWORKIN, “Equality, Luck and Hierarchy”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2003, pp. 190-198.

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