Between Old Dependencies and New Independencies. What Can a Gendered Approach Can Offer to Politics?
Many works from Social Sciences have shown how gender deal with politics and power (de Beauvoir 1971: 301; Deleuze and Guattari 1983; Molyneux 1985b; Flax 1990; Caroll and Dodson 1991; Foucault 1993; Butler 1999: 59-62; Butler 2008; Foucault 2011….). Some alert us on the effect of hegemonic masculinity and how women have succeeded in gaining power in some field and not in some others, as well as in some places of the World and not in others. Others, on the contrary, discuss the experiences of men when they enter occupations that were predominantly held by women (Williams 1991, 1992) around the sense of expertise based on universal skills (being a nanny, a nurse...).
This first volume of Alternatif Politika on gender studies brings together a number of experts who explore conceptual, cultural and policy challenges, as well as empirical realities, associated with gender based social exclusion in male-gendered societies (Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey). The need to more systematically address this gendered experience is in the core of the discussions that unfold in this special issue. The issue chapters address also a number of critical questions in relation to the representation of women and LGBTs as ‘outsiders' in diverse societies (Erdoğan and Köten 2015: 143-167). In doing so, the volume pays particular attention to hegemonic masculinity, with its strong heterosexual component.
Gendered hegemony is a key concept to understand the relationships we have to identity and as a consequence, to social exclusion in societies. Roy JREIJIRY article’s (32-55) proposes to explore forms of representation of women through media cartoons in Lebanon: This study covers the dynamics of the production process of otherness on one hand, and the production process of domination on the other. In particular, this study identifies gendered discourses and stereotypes developed via media cartoons regarding the construction and deconstruction of gender, and, the very justification of media and information literacy once it comes to domestic violence. By doing so, this study establishes an analytical and
interpretive gendered approach on media and information literacy as a tool of access to equal citizenship.
Regarding the position of women in relation to men, and about men domination in societies, Canan ASLAN AKMAN (56-86) provides fruitful information on MENA societies: Today, five years after the Arab Spring, do MENA societies really differ in their attitudes towards women? Do gender friendly outcomes exist? Has feminism and feminist research contributed to an evolution of modes of representation? Is there ethical reflection on this issue in politics? Put another way; does women’s active participation to the Arab Spring influence public policies? Are women content with their place in today’s MENA countries (in family, professional, educational or political context).
Aylin DİKMEN ÖZARSLAN (118-142) does not only focuses on ‘women issues’ she highlights also the difficulties faced by men. Particularly once it comes to gendered professions linked conventionally to motherhood. Men face serious social pressure in the practice and implementation of their professional skills.
DİKMEN ÖZARSLAN’s work is an attempt to better understand the sociological contours of this gendered way of looking at professions, in order to measure possible evolution. Using the metaphor of the circle and the spiral to reflect this social phenomenon in a gramscian, historical and dynamic perspective, DİKMEN ÖZARSLAN tries to think out loud about the following questions: What is a gendered profession? What are its properties? Why is it heuristic to understand professions in terms of social relations? How to study hegemonic masculinity in the nursing labour? Concretely, how to analyse it?
More than ever, societies need to face problems related to situations that involve shaping and reshaping of identities. Two major mechanisms contribute to the political construction process of gendered identity:
•The structure of membership and political power;
•The content of public policies; regarding especially educational institutions, work environment and public life.
Those who are in a powerful position in a given society, by being in that position validate and impose their own definitions of normality, and set boundaries to exclude, enclose, or exploit Others. It is inside the –scientific and the political- debate on recognition (or not) of LGBT youth in the public sphere that Barış ERDOĞAN and Esra KÖTEN (143-167) bind their article. The influence of masculinity patterns in society -codes, standards and mechanisms of rules-, even if they can appeal to universalism, represent social interests of male dominant groups. It constitutes a considerable force in the process of gendered attributions, including intimacy. Masculinity is conceived as a central actor in the creation, reproduction and mobilisation of power relations. Moving outside its bounds is going hand in hand with social exclusion.
The discussions that unfold in this special issue of Alternatif Politika demonstrate some of the ways in which personal and group experiences and understandings of
gender are located in historical, sociological and political contexts. As explained by Georgiou (2012), a gendered approach does not just observe and report on the context of political and policy debates. It often provides frames for understanding what these gendered categories mean, and what consequences it has on people. It channels authority to speak and rights to be heard. And sometimes it also leaves space for voices to be heard when they otherwise get no access to the public sphere. As such, a focus on gender is not peripheral but core to understanding the challenges associated with governance and cultural life in societies.
Assoc. Prof. Şirin DİLLİ,
University of Giresun,
Faculty of Science and Litterature,
Department of Sociology
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Alternatif Politika Dergisi
(The Journal of Alternative Politics)