Sworn_virgins_male_and_female_berdaches.pdf - VOLUME 1(1 2013 ISSN print 2309-9704 Content Editorial note Jessica Murray and Elbie van den Berg 1

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Unformatted text preview: VOLUME 1 (1) 2013 ISSN print: 2309-9704 Content Editorial note Jessica Murray and Elbie van den Berg.......................................................................................... 1 Articles Bodies of technology: Performative flesh, pleasure and subversion in cyberspace Tisha Dejmanee............................................................................................................................. 3 The construction of gender through discourse on the social network Badoo: Exploring virtual interaction María Martínez Lirola..................................................................................................................... 18 The make-up and performances of Turkish-German homosexuality: A reading of Kutluğ Ataman’s Lola und Bilidikid (1999) Kendall Petersen ........................................................................................................................... 33 Case study narrative accounts of gender and sexual orientation in young black women from an Eastern Cape township in South Africa Mzikazi Nduna and Rachel Jewkes............................................................................................... 45 From kitchen to corridor of power: Yoruba women breaking through patriarchal politics in south-western Nigeria Aderemi Suleiman Ajala and Olarinmoye Adeyinka Wulemat ..................................................... 58 The politics of heteronormativity for Indonesian waria in YouTube videos Jennifer L. Epley............................................................................................................................. 83 Homosexuality in Cameroonian prisons: Perspectives of female inmates, prison staff and NGO representatives Helen Namondo Linonge-Fontebo ............................................................................................... 98 Sworn virgins, male and female berdaches: A comparative approach to the so called ‘third gender’ people Armela Xhaho................................................................................................................................ 112 Book reviews Jane Bennett and Charmaine Pereira, eds. 2013. Jacketed women: Qualitative research methodologies on sexualities and gender in Africa Deirdre Byrne................................................................................................................................. 126 Graeme Reid. 2013. How to be a real gay: Gay identities in small-town South Africa Kendall Petersen............................................................................................................................ 128 Brenna M. Munro. 2012. South Africa and the dream of love to come: Queer sexuality and the struggle for freedom Gibson Ncube............................................................................................................................... 131 Julia T. Wood. 2013. Gendered lives: Communication, gender and culture Beschara Karam............................................................................................................................ 134 Gayle S. Rubin. 2011. Deviations: A Gayle S. Rubin reader Jeanne Ellis....................................................................................................................................136 Open Rubric gender questions 1.1.2013 layout.indd 1 2013/11/26 14:08:01 gender questions 1.1.2013 layout.indd 2 2013/11/26 14:08:01 Gender Questions Volume 1 (1) 2013 pp. 1–2 Copyright: Unisa Press ISSN print 2309-9704 Editorial note Jessica Murray and Elbie van den Berg Editors ([email protected]; [email protected]) From being a marginalised field of study, gender has become part of the mainstream of academic interest and endeavour. Gender studies academics are delighted with this shift in the status of our discipline, and the establishment of Gender Questions – a new journal in the field of gender studies – is a visible sign of the prominence that gender has acquired. We are delighted to welcome you to this first issue, which showcases the theoretical sophistication and scholarly rigour that we will infuse into all subsequent volumes of the journal. At the same time, the diversity of articles in this issue testifies to the wide range of interests that are encompassed by gender studies. The articles are not, in the main, concerned with the ‘big questions’ of gender theory and how we understand the relationship between gender and identity. They are, rather, scholarly engagements with particular instances of culture, society and relationships in which gender is a key aspect. There is a definite emphasis on the way gender is performed and enacted within the field of digital and popular culture, as, for example, in Tisha Dejmanee’s article on ‘Bodies of technology’ and in Maria Martinez Lirola’s article on ‘Exploring virtual interaction’. Likewise, Jennifer L. Epley deals with the representation of the Indonese waria on YouTube. These three articles demonstrate that gender studies are alive and well in the digital age, and that, despite the much-vaunted anonymity of cyberspace, gender has a role to play in the construction of virtual identities. Other articles demonstrate equally effectively that gender studies have, thankfully, moved away from a consideration of ‘grand narratives’ to a concern with the micro-narratives of the personal and the local. At the same time, there is a synchronous emphasis on gender as boundary transgression, on the porousness of borders and the subversion of received wisdom concerning social and personal roles. Thus Kendall Petersen’s article on Lola und Bildikid explores boundarycrossing gender identities in Turkish-German film; Mzikazi Nduna and Rachel Jewkes examine the role of narrative discourse in the construction of gender and sexual identity in black women in the Eastern Cape. Aderemi Suleiman Ajala and Olarinmoye Adeyinka Wulemat are also concerned with the lived realities of resistance to patriarchy, as practised in Nigeria. Helen Namondo LinongeFontebo and Armela Xhaho, no less, explore the ways in which queer studies, and queer identities, can be used to challenge received categories for acceptable identities. gender questions 1.1.2013 layout.indd 3 2013/11/26 14:08:02 2 Editorial In this issue the five book reviews focus on publications dealing with qualitative research methodologies on sexualities and gender; gay identities in small-town South Africa; queer sexuality and the struggle for freedom; communication, gender and culture; and a Gayle Rubin reader respectively. Gender Questions is committed to publishing cutting-edge scholarship across the broad reach of gender studies, and to the establishment of gender equality in society more generally. We invite you to enjoy reading this first issue as much as we have enjoyed compiling it. gender questions 1.1.2013 layout.indd 4 2013/11/26 14:08:02 Gender Questions Volume 1 (1) 2013 pp. 3–17 Copyright: Unisa Press ISSN print 2309-9704 Articles Bodies of technology: Performative flesh, pleasure and subversion in cyberspace Tisha Dejmanee University of Southern California [email protected] Abstract This article contextualises the body in cyberspace, using the specific examples of the performative body and the social networking site Facebook. Technology is established as a process which continually unfolds and illuminates new understandings of subjectivity, unfurling in parallel with the performative body – and gendered identities – that Judith Butler articulates. Here, the author conducts a close analysis of the technological affordances of Facebook as a site that fosters the construction of a phantasmic, performative subject that Butler describes. This argument relies on an understanding of technology and the body as having their meaning dynamically constituted through mutual interconnection – an understanding of interface that is taken from the theoretical work of Donna Haraway and Vicki Kirby. The purpose of seeking out the performative body in cyberspace is to explore the possibility of technologically-derived, subversive bodies. This is done by examining the emergence of pleasure in human engagement with technology. This pleasure suggests that subjects are enticed by the creative possibilities which technology offers, as it leads to regenerations that, under the right conditions, yield subversive bodies. Keywords: body, corporeal subversion, cyberspace, dualism, Facebook, gender, performativity Introduction Cyberspace provides a new forum for exploring embodied subjectivity, and in turn addressing the problematic dualisms and restrictive social practices that produce heteronormative gender identities. While not supporting the position that cyberspace is utopian, it can nevertheless be acknowledged that digital technologies – particularly those that encourage the creation and continual recreation of anchored, online identities – offer a new visibility of the self that can be informative, inspiring and confronting. First, the dualisms that are inherent in locating the body in cyberspace are discussed, building on the foundations of key theorists of the human/technology interface: Donna Haraway and Vicki Kirby. While there is a much longer lineage of philosophers and digital humanists who have explored the human relationship with technology – notably Walter Benjamin (1936) who was the first to comment on human–machine inter-reliance – it is appropriate to focus on Haraway and Kirby due to the overt feminist project guiding their work and their exploration of the interface as a site of potential. Kirby’s concept of ‘mutual constitutiveness’ (1997) is used to elucidate an understanding gender questions 1.1.2013 layout.indd 3 2013/11/26 14:08:02 4 Tisha Dejmanee of the online body, through close analysis of the way Judith Butler’s notion of the performative body is illuminated on Facebook. This exploration of the online body leads to an understanding, in the Butlerian sense, of the construction of gendered identities and their relationship to embodiment. Ultimately, locating performativity on Facebook speaks to the Heideggerian ‘unconcealing’ capacity of technology (1977), as new understandings of subjectivity arise from human interactions with the machines and processes that structure quotidian life. Specifically, the argument can be made that while the discourse guiding Butler’s performativity purposefully disguises its effect on the flesh,1 aspects of the construction of the social body are physically visible when digitally inscribed on a Facebook wall. This new visibility is deemed a factor in the potential subversion of gendered identities, which remains a perhaps underexplored footnote to Butler’s articulation of performativity. While it is not claimed that technology necessarily yields subversive bodies, this technological illumination of gendered identities, and the pleasures of engaging with such technologies, can facilitate an agentive understanding and the emergence of subversive identities. The multiple interfaces of subject and screen A contemporary feminist understanding of the human–machine interaction commences with the work of Donna Haraway (1991, p. 151), who envisions the postmodern human subject as a cyborg: ‘By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.’ The cyborg is ‘oppositional, utopian, and completely without innocence’ (1991, p. 151), all irrevocably ambiguous qualities that encourage the transgression of boundaries and the subversion of categories of identity. The technological relation to embodiment is explicitly referred to by Haraway (1991, p. 180): ‘The machine is not an it to be animated, worshipped, and dominated. The machine is us, our processes, an aspect of our embodiment’, and this contamination of categories across the interface of nature and technology is envisioned as a mutual, ‘disturbingly and pleasurably tight coupling’ (1991, p. 152). This allows the cyborg to be considered a technological body, in and of itself, an ‘ether, quintessence’ (1991, p. 153) in which the ethereal lightness of microelectronics allows it to be actually inhaled as organic matter. This understanding of cyborg subjectivity can be extrapolated to a theory of embodiment in the online era by considering the broader framework of dualism, and the violence, hierarchies, oppression and divisions with which they have traditionally been attended. Kirby (1997) seeks to rewrite binary oppositions as terms that are implicated in a relationship of differential value, wherein meaning is ascribed not through positive associations but through the incorporation of negative lack within a sign. Taking gender as an example, differential value casts femininity as simply that which is not masculine, and vice versa. At first glance, this definition suspiciously reappropriates the hierarchies of binary opposition, within which woman has long been conceived in terms of lack or as an empty reflection of masculinity. The key difference, however, is that with differential value, oppositions are inextricably contained within each other in a joint and reciprocal enterprise. The boundary captures both dichotomous elements simultaneously, and Kirby suggests that while each side of the opposition remains distinguishable from the other, it is their continual, gender questions 1.1.2013 layout.indd 4 2013/11/26 14:08:02 Bodies of technology: Performative flesh, pleasure and subversion in cyberspace 5 multiple connections which dynamically constitute their properties at any given point in time. This relationship emphasises ‘the differential within unity, a copulating enmeshment that is never not pregnant in the delirium of becoming other’ (Kirby 1997, p. 144). Using this formulation, on the one hand, new technologies are seen as mere vessels for recycling issues of identity and subjectivity, which have always been present and precede the technology of Facebook, the Internet or computers. Kirby (1997, p. 140) traces back concerns regarding subjectivity to at least the technology of writing: ‘Cybernauts regard the letter as dead because it seems inert. But, the inherent instability of textuality, the involvements of identity and the life of the letter, have become the very stuff of contemporary intellectual inquiry.’ On the other hand, new technologies by definition reveal new objects, processes, routines and facilities, which create new subjectivities through human interaction. Kirby (1997, p. 144) regards these contradictory representations of old and new within technology as endemic to the dualist logic of linear time, ‘a logic that fetishizes differences as something extraneous and detachable ... [where t]idy borders delimit time from space, origins from ends, causes from effects, then from now, and one from two’. Linear time distinguishes past and present within discrete, measured units of seconds, minutes and years. According to Kristeva (1993), linear time is also anathema to the cyclical and recursive motion of ‘women’s time’. Aside from the violent divisions that the false boundaries of linear time perpetuate, they provide an awkward and inadequate fit for the dynamic and unfolding operations of technology. Kirby draws on Derrida’s (1974) speech/writing distinction, from Of grammatology, in which he argues for the need to understand time as iterative. Iterative time might be understood as replacing a perpetual ‘folding out’ with a past, present and future that are intrinsically integrated in a continual folding over. As a process, then, iterativity still encompasses perpetual motion but without set direction or determination; it dredges up history and future to irrevocably confuse them within a murky understanding of the present. This dynamic en/(un)folding yields generativity, a process that describes the interfacing of the body and technology in iterative temporality to produce infinite permutations and combinations of online embodiment. Realising the performative body on Facebook Embodiment has always had an intimate relationship to inquiries of human subjectivity. Descartes ([1641] 1960), for example, highlighted the significance of the body to subjectivity by expressing it in terms of irrelevance. This understanding of the irrelevant body has left indelible traces on the progression of philosophies of subjectivity which, in the 20th century, Elizabeth Grosz (1995, p. 82) explains as ‘largely motivated by an attempt to devise an ethics and politics adequate for nondualist accounts of subjectivity’. What is interesting is the realisation of embodiment in cyberspace. In line with theorists who have refuted the early, dominant discourses that posited virtual reality as a utopian realm for the disembodied (Marwick 2005; O’Brien 1999), the argument is made here for a recontextualisation of the body as uniquely temporally and spatially realised through cyberspace, computers and social networking sites, due to the way technology illuminates the construction of gendered performances gender questions 1.1.2013 layout.indd 5 2013/11/26 14:08:02 6 Tisha Dejmanee through the compulsory maintenance work required to achieve online embodiment, and engages the individual in pleasurable and creative resignifications of self. Judith Butler’s (1990) articulation of performativity is an appropriate theory for guiding these discussions of the technologically situated body. Although performativity is commonly conceived of as a theory on the limits and structures of gender identity, rather than a theory of the body, one of Butler’s ultimate revelations is that sex and gender, identity and flesh are one and the same, as she situates the performative body at the collapse of a falsely imposed sex/gender separation. There is utility in exploring her ideas on the body within a technological context, as the illuminating capacity of social networking technology elucidates key features of performativity which are not readily visible within the cloaked operations of discourse that Butler describes. Butler’s articulation of the performative body in Gender trouble begins at the binary chasm which emanates from Simone de Beauvoir’s (1949, p. 267) argument that ‘one is not born a woman, but, rather, becomes one’. As the body is culturally posited at the origin as static and selfevident matter, it assumes an authoritative facticity that prevents its interrogation. Butler’s aim is to discredit a number of assumptions which flow from this statement: that the binary sex of bodies is self-evident; that binary gender oppositions are causally linked to biological anatomy; that sex and gender are separable; and that the subject has agency in accepting, rejecting or reconstructing a cultural gender identity. In response, performativity uncovers the body as a ‘reality effect’ that is produced through a series of stylised, repeated performative acts which congeal to produce the illusions of sexual truth and stable gender. Ultimately, Butler argues that sex and gender are synonymous, but are perceived as separable through a discourse which simulates a separation between surface and depth and then erases all traces of its formative input. Finally, in order for these illusions to take hold, performative acts must be continually repeated. It is within these repetitions that stable gender is realised and the subject comes into being, as Butler argues that there is no pre-performative agency. Butler also investigates the operation of discourse in shaping and maintaining binary gender identities. She surmises that the hegemonic discourse which produces these rigid binary gender roles is one which is invested in perpetuating the heterosexual matrix, where compulsory heterosexuality reduces bodies to their sexual reproductive function. The prohibitions of this heterosexual matrix are enforced through fear and punishment, as the non...
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