- Subject index
Gender and women's studies is one of the most challenging fields within the social sciences-the dynamics of gender relations and the social and cultural implications of gender constructions offer a lively forum of debate. The Handbook of Gender and Women's Studies presents a comprehensive and engaging review of the most recent developments within the field, including the study of masculinity, the feminist implications of postmodernism, the 'cultural turn' and globalization. The authors review current research and offer critical analyses of women's and gender studies in work, the welfare state, family, education, religion, violence and war and feminist global politics. Edited by three leading academics from Europe and the United States, and with 25 chapters written by scholars based throughout the world, the Handbook situates the most important debates in the field within a uniquely international and interdisciplinary context. The Handbook is a useful introduction to gender theory and an exciting starting-point for fresh debates.
Chapter 21: 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 ...