Introduction: Theorizing Femininities and Masculinities

Susan Brownell and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom

in Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520211032
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935303 | DOI:
Introduction: Theorizing Femininities and Masculinities

Show Summary Details


This chapter discusses theorizing Chinese femininities and masculinities. There is an ongoing tension within academic feminism between two basic approaches, which are represented as oversimplified extremes. One approach begins with the problem of inequality and then proceeds to critique patriarchy. This inequality-patriarchy approach takes for granted the immutable existence of two biologically differentiated sexes and asks how power is divided between those on opposite sides of the divide. The other approach begins with the issue of difference and then proceeds to focus on constructions of gender. Furthermore, the chapter provides an overview of the study. The study explores questions related to gender while treating gender as more than simply a collection of roles, symbols, and behaviors that are always attached to two incommensurable sexes. It approaches gender as an important organizing principle of an entire worldview. Apart from providing a wealth of interesting detail, it also illustrates the plural nature of femininities and masculinities. Its focus is on the interplay between ideas and practices associated with femininity and masculinity.

Keywords: femininity; masculinity; inequality; gender; sexuality

Chapter.  19730 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.