Gender, Culture, and Physicality

Paradoxes and Taboos

By (author) Helen M. Sterk, Annelies Knoppers

Hardback - £78.00

Publication date:

30 December 2009

Length of book:

160 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739134061

Although a plethora of scholarship analyzes gender dynamics, this book seeks to explore the paradoxes and taboos associated with gendered meanings given to human bodies in action, or "physicality." Physicality provides a particularly clear playing space for developing concepts of gender identity, structures, and cultural meanings. When people think about gender differences, they often refer to those associated with physicality, such as giving birth or playing contact sports. Helen M. Sterk and Annelies Knoppers attend to the meanings and values given to human bodies in motion that reflect cultural respect-or disrespect-for what is seen as "womanly" in particular times and places. In doing so, they show how these meanings can reinforce or challenge common ways of doing gender that, at first glance, may not seem to be related to physicality.

Grappling with gender-based paradoxes and questioning gendered taboos, two goals animate the book: to reveal how gender continues to be enacted in ways that dehumanize women and men, and to stimulate thinking and action toward a fuller realization of human potential and partnership. Operating from an ethic of care, in which all people are understood as being created equal, Sterk and Knoppers argue that as long as women and all that is associated with them are devalued, cultural practices will remain implicitly gendered and humanity itself, reduced.