Conference Agenda

RN33_06b: Gender Struggles, Places and Bodies
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Shalva Weil, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and UNISA
Location: BS.3.15
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


"I am a Human Being, a Body and an Emotion that Cannot be Oppressed": Druze Women in Israel and their Gender Struggle Strategies

Ebtesam Hassan Barakat

Bar-Ilan University, Israel

The lecture will discuss the strategies of resistance of Druze women, from the double marginality, against the patriarchy.

The main argument despite the marginal location of Druze women on the economic, political, national and social-religious, and even though there is no established framework for women in the Druze society against the patriarchy, many Druze women perform daily gender struggles on basic rights, struggles that cause a change in social behaviors, some of the struggles done in secret and some visible. Social behaviors, according to Bourdieu, are not "natural" but have become such, as a result of social construction processes that camouflage their arbitrariness and present them as necessary and natural (Bourdieu, 1991). I will focus on two main areas in which women conduct gender struggles, the struggle for the right to exercise their personal choices, on issues such as the realization of their sexuality, as well as the right to expand their mobility in space.

Semi-structured interviews with academic educated and uneducated Druze women, in the framework of a doctoral thesis, show that Druze women who maneuver and subverting in a hidden space against patriarchy often use non-conformist strategies. Therefore, both conformist and nonconformist strategies work against the habitus of the social-religious field and produce cracks within.

In summary, the intersection of the circles of oppression places Druze women in a double marginal place, being both minorities and women. Nevertheless, this intersection does not restrictive women in narrow spaces, but rather some women resist and strive for the direct oppressive force - realms of patriarchal oppression –due to expanding their 'freedom' space, to a some extent

Body in Transition: leisure Sports, Gender and Place among Palestinian women citizens of Israel.

Suzan Ben Dori

Tel Aviv University, Israel

This study explores how Palestinian women, citizens of Israel, constitute their decision to practice sports in Jewish-Israeli sports spaces and how do they experience it. Leisure sports is mostly discussed on an individual level and in liberal terms of ‘free choice’, ‘individualism’, ‘life-style’ and the ‘neoliberal self’. But the complexity of a minority decision, whose national belonging is constantly questioned, to practice sports among the Jewish majority raise a sociological interest Vis-a-vis: The increasing racism and ‘Othering’ the ‘Arab’ in the public discourse on one hand and Vis-a-vis what is perceived as the Arabic “hegemonic” concepts of "embodied" behavior of the Palestinian woman in general and in the public sphere in particular. Through in-depth interviews with 15 Palestinian women in Israel, I examined their decision and coping practices in the movement between the distinct material and cultural spaces. The findings reveal that the active decision of the women to practice sports in Jewish-Israeli spaces stems from a combination of structural and cultural barriers of an indigenous conservative minority as well as structural and cultural cracks that characterize society in change. The women’s experience has also shown constant tension in the movement between the distinct spaces, and concern if, where and when space will become a 'place'. The tension illuminates the complexity of an ethno-national minority group’s life and the Palestinian women’s life in particular and enables us to observe the array of strategies and practices involved in their sports activity as a result of an active agency.

Crafting Weight Stigma in Slimming Classes: a Case Study in Ireland

Jacqueline Anne Marie O Toole

Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland

Since the 1960s, commercial group slimming classes have emerged as popular spaces where people gather to attempt to lose weight. Such classes operate from the premise that sustained weight loss is best achieved and sustained through processes of group identification. In Ireland, the first commercial organisation to endorse this approach to weight loss was established in 1972. This paper is framed by the promulgation of the ‘obesity as epidemic’ thesis, and the widespread pathologising and stigmatising of fat and fatness. Informed by the work of Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault and based on the findings from a one year narrative ethnography of slimming classes in Ireland, and narrative interviews with 14 women engaged in the weight loss programme, it asserts that the crafting and narrating of weight stigma is central to the dominant weight loss story-line constituted in the classes, itself underpinned by an explicit fat oppression narrative. Through the careful use of narrative devices, the slimming classes articulate weight loss as a ‘quest’ involving a linear, progressive temporality generated in the classes via a narrative arc of weight loss. However, I argue that this produces a set of limited narrative resources embedded in discourses of health, appearance and responsible citizenship. Concluding the paper with vignettes from the personal narratives of the women participants, I illustrate the significance of deploying narrative inquiry to reveal the profound implications of weight stigma in women’s everyday lives.

Masquerading in Modern Tehran; the Case of Female Body

Mahsa Alami Fariman

Goldsmith, University of London, United Kingdom

If Tehran’s streets in the 1979 Revolution witnessed the presence of a new woman; the traditional woman, eighteen years after the Revolution, in 1997, the same streets encountered a new form of the female presence; the preformative body. After the emergence of the reform period (1997–2005) in Tehran and in Iran at large, Tehrani women fashionalised hijab in order to reject and mediate, if not change, the Islamic dress codes defined by the state. They occupied and re-invented urban/virtual public realms and their bodies became a mannequin to carry and exhibit their new created codes of presence in the city. If dressing up and face disguises were the festive occasions characterised by the reversal of hierarchical societies through the tradition of masquerade in eighteenth century, then it is safe to say that facial make up and the resistant form of clothing in the streets of Tehran is a new form of masquerade in which the individual becomes bold and, therefore, she, as a public persona forms a ‘false impression as the presented self’. Inspired by Efrat Tseëlon’s theories on masquerade and identity, this paper suggests a new way of understanding the act of presence, visibility, and recognition of the female preformative body in the streets of Tehran. This will be followed by a chronological investigation on how Tehrani women have established a kind of nafarmani-ye madani (literally, civil disobedience) through their bodily impressions and facial masks since 1979.