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Sharyn Anleu

In: Handbook of Gender and Women's Studies

Chapter 21: Gendered Bodies: Between Conformity and Autonomy

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Gendered Bodies: Between Conformity and Autonomy
Gendered bodies: between conformity and autonomy

A major challenge for feminist scholars is to articulate the continual tension between individual women's choices to present, maintain, alter, or use their bodies in certain ways and the social requirement to conform to gender norms, which often reinforce women's inequality and powerlessness and limit the capacity for individual autonomy. Feminist research indicates that social norms and cultural values governing women's bodies, behaviour, and appearance generally are far more restrictive and repressive than those regulating men's bodies. The chapter illustrates these theoretical issues first, with a discussion of the medicalization of women's bodies. It then discusses the relationship between the ways women manage and alter their bodies and the dominant ideals limit feminine beauty ...

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