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Pre-modern feminists start by making a distinction between sexand gender. “sex”: is determined by biological and physical factors.i.e.: whether you’re male or female is determined by chromosomes, physical attributes, and so on. “gender”: is determined by cultural and social factors.i.e.: it refers to the cultural roles accorded to men and women. Therefore, your culture and upbringing determines what you see as the appropriate role for men and women. THAT is why the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of bothsex and gender. It is also why post-modernfeminists regard statements like “all men are like this or that” and “all women are like this or that” as nonsense! Essentialist claims about the nature of masculinity and femininity are regarded as more “grand narratives” that are no longer accepted. Men and women act the way they do –because they are conditioned by societyto regard that as appropriate behaviour. Masculinity and femininity is therefore not a product of biology, but of social conditioning. What’s more, these social constructions of gender are neither universal nor eternal.The view of what is feminine differs from society to society and from time to time. That is why it’s impossible to maintain an essentialistunderstanding of gender in post-modern feminism.
35of 39You cannot speak of a single “women’s experience” –because that inevitable turns out to be the experiences of white, straight, and socio-economically privileged women. THEREFORE: this kind of feminism relies on manyexperiences of womeninstead of a single “different voice”.One of the unforeseen consequences of this new way of understanding gender has been the fragmentation of feminist theory. Legal theorists insist that, for example, a white middle-class Afrikaans woman’s experience cannot be the same as that of a poor black rural woman. And, since feminism insists that all women’s experiences are equally valid and valuable –the white woman cannot speak on behalf of all women. THIS has led to the rise of various schools of feminist legal theories. e.g.: the Global Critical Race Feminists, the Cultural Feminists, and the Radical Feminists. All of these approaches can and do provide important insights into and criticism of legal rules and institutions. A good example of post-modernfeminist legal thinkingcan be found in the work of Mary Joe Frug. She uses a post-modern analysis to highlight problems with rape and prostitution. She argues that law “encodes” the female body with meaning.By this, she means that the law attaches certain meanings to women’s bodies for the purpose of legal analysis. This happens in three ways:i. Legal rules mandate the terrorisationof the female body. This is done by inadequately protecting women and, at the same time, encouraging women to seek refuge against this terror.