How important is gender in the construction of life stories? Refer to specific life stories or films in your answer. “There is no engendered reality or perspective, but rather the power to declare one universal and the other partial. ” (Catharine Mackinac 1989) My auntie was born in 1925. Since I was a child she always insisted on teaching me, recalling and using her personal life story as a respectable and orthodox example to follow.
How a proper woman supposed to behave within the domestic domain or how a proper daughter had to obey her father. I have always asked myself why my two rooters did not receive the same treatment or why I was the only one been told so much about family memories. She is nowadays 86 years old and every time I go to visit her is the same story, the same request and the same gender-meaning but with a small difference, now I understand her message.
According to Faculty, narrative is the tool through which the process of the subject construction occurs because it allows the exploration and a better understanding of the subjectivity. Using his own words, life stories cannot be comprehended without taking into account those raciest of the self, the gender: It seems to me, that all the so-called literature of the self – private diaries, narratives of the self, etc. – cannot be understood unless it is put into the general and very rich framework of these practices of the self. 1991 , IPPP) Bearing in mind my auntie’s construction of life story and taking into account the meaning of gender for Judith Butler, namely the product of repetitive actions, suddenly I would think of it as the main active element that creates a great deal of prospective addressed in multiple directions. It seems to me that without those cyclic actions life stories would be built in the absence of that specific talking subject and, for this reason, lacking of real essence. What is the main question of a life story? What is people trying to address in telling stories?
Up to what extent, gender can be considered important in the construction of life stories? My understanding would say that telling life stories allows people to give specific and personal meanings to their existence over space and towards in time. It also helps to keep their memory alive in order not to lose any important moment or knowledge that could be highly valuable or the next generations. Producing and transmitting a life story may seems a way of teaching others about one’s personal life in terms of the way he/she lives or behaves, also expressing his/her personality, desires and individual representation in the world.
The reason why I consider gender as a relevant tool in the construction of life stories is because each individual elite course might be, one way or another, detected and influenced by it. The following examples of life stories formed by sex and gender analyses by researchers like Sophie Day, Carolyn Statesman, Michael Gilligan, Julie Cruickshank and Frances Pine highlight in different manners and contexts some of the most particular situations that may occur when narrative and gender merge together.
Before exploring single cases, it is pertinent to bring back to memory that women’s narratives have been obscured by the men’s ones for a long time; women life stories have been silent on the matter roughly until the advent of the feminism. From the ass’s feminists began on highlighting and giving much more relevance to women’s stories than before. This new decision eventually displaced men from the enteric and authoritarian position and also put into practice the main feminist criticism towards the marshalling of gender carried out by the postmodernism.
In “Life lived like a story’ Julie Cruickshank demonstrates how different perspectives and ways of thinking may create different stories and how, consequently, these stories transmit the following generations important notions such as: what is good and what is not, the appropriate behavior, the most respectable style of life. In chapter 1, “My roots grow in Keeping roots: culture, history and narrative practice in he Yukon” she gives essential historical backgrounds on the Yukon people intertwined with the life stories of the elderly and the ways their history is attached to the land.
The life stories appearing in the southern Yukon territory tell us, at the same great extent, about the present and the past, about the idea of community and individual experiences. Her fieldwork in Yukon territory is greatly focused on how stories might be used by these people to establish connections between themselves and the environment, the present and the past: “The endurance of oral tradition in the Yukon speaks to the persistence and adaptability of narrative as a framework for bridging social fractures that threaten to fragment human relationships. (pop) Moreover, she looks at how narratives are used by the ancestors to pass the new generations significant pieces of history and memory. Doing so, events are told and retold highlighting and selecting particular moments or actions from the past and, at the same time, the most horrible or insignificant parts are restrained or hidden by the speaker’s choice.
According to the narrator’s gender the life story will be characterized by his/her individual natural instinctive state of mind, taking different rouses and carrying specific meanings; this way each life story will be constructed in a completely different style from another whether transmitting the same historical event or not. Bearing in mind storytelling as a universal historical activity, Cruickshank sees it as the expression and transmission of notions, especially in societies like Yukon, where knowledge and culture rely on oral traditions.
Differences in the construction of life stories may also be defined by the generational gap; for example, in one of Crankshaft’s interviews an elder man, nearly hundred years old, claimed hat new generations are not keener in listening and understanding stories from the past, stories they should know. Another unintentional aspect in the structure tot a elite story is the gender- I d torrent person. For gender-different narratives I mean those cases where the author is an individual whose models to follow are thought as unfamiliar and uncommon in societies; or a confused character split by his/her own inner identities.
Gender in these conditions is, without doubt, the best piece of cake in building a life story. A very interesting research taking into account ‘queer subjects’ is offered by Sophie Day tit the story of sex workers in London in ass’s. I use the word ‘queer’ with its denotation of an adjective used to describe people out of the ordinary life, unconventional individuals. Sophie Day’s main emphasis is to address the fact that the traditional perspective used in biographical stories is not entirely true and quite often not in accordance with ordinary people’s life courses.
She discusses that every biography is not Just the simple reflection of memories and kinship practices but it is also made from them. Women in the industry of sex live ‘in a world where there is no sat and no future’, where the informal links between colleagues and clients create their ‘invisible’ work connections and, at the same time, make possible the establishment of a ‘known and visible market’. Sex workers create many different identities for themselves which they use rationally within the two opposite domains, public and private.
They do so by associating a specific history and a particular name to each identity; this way women know exactly who they have to be in that particular moment, space or for that precise customer: “for everywhere that I have used in the past for advertising, I have used a different name. So as soon as they call up and ask for Martha I know exactly where they are calling from…. Just by that first hello, my brain starts ticking and I know how much, roughly how long ago it was, because I might have changed names a few times since then. (2001, IPPP) The vast meaning carried by each name, always connected to fixed identities, is what gives to these life stories a sense. Names are the threads and the organizers of women’s narratives, relationships and memories across time and space. Using various names sex workers are able to present more than one person into the same environment. A woman called Caroline admits in an interview how, even though she loved her Job a lot, the desire off ‘normal’ life became so badly present in her thoughts that she eventually decided to leave the sex work industry.
Carolina’s life story is strongly marked by her gender in both identities, first as a prostitute and after as a mother and a wife. Reconstructing her narrative, during the interview, Caroline achieves to analyses herself bringing back some thoughts from her first character: “I hate to be dependent on others, I suppose I’m a feminist. ” (IPPP) In her case, like in others interviewed by Day, the memory of a domestic past pushes any women into leaving sex work. The desire of a family and a ‘normal’ life brings to their minds important images from the past, helping these women to start a new and deterrent construction tot their lives.
For this reason, Day concludes by indicating sex workers’ difficulties in reaching a normative, continuous and integrated biography attributable to their fragmented and discontinuous life stories. Nevertheless, life history, narrative and biography give the impression to researchers of being one of the main methods of analysis and data collections, in which both, gender and sex, lay a significant role. A deeper analysis of queer stories can be find in “Gay Liberation and Post war Movements for Sexual Freedom in the United States”.
During the post war in the United States life stories are dominated by homosexuals’ life stories; specifically in chapter 2 “History, Narrative, and Sexual Identity’, narratives of queer sexuality are reviewed and discussed. The construction of life stories during those moments was strongly linked to gender. Especially in the ass’s, when the advent of the AIDS start to spread out across the people, narratives of queer subjects easily commence carrying heavy messages and misleading statements. For example the image of homosexuals was often intertwined with images of illness.
Since then, queer narratives has become a critical object of actual debates about gender and sex. Moving a little bit from the thinking of gender as the most important tool in the construction of life stories, I would like to analyses and discuss the example reviewed in Frances Pine’s article “Memories of Movement and the Stillness of Place: Kinship Memory in the Polish Highlands”, focusing on how memories of places are used by he Pothole villagers as narratives of specific moral ways of kinship. People remember their kin, their marriages, and to a great extent the major and the minor events of their lives, through memories of land and place. (IPPP) More than referring to gender as a fixed tool, in this case, life stories are constituted considering the history of spaces and places; memories are told and retold following the movement of people, describing the places they passed through and contemplating the specific space they inhabited.
In doing so, the Pothole inhabitants create the path towards the making of kinship. Additionally, they emphasis whatever is similar or appropriate to their relationships in order to transform what is considered coming from the outside world into something that becomes shared and used within the inside domain. Besides making kinship, by telling stories the oldest villagers provide the future generations with opinions and suggestions about right or wrong relationships, also on genuine or inappropriate behaviors.
Somehow, the Pothole people, and in part also the Yukon inhabitants, give memories and life stories a similar role: the transmission of wise messages from the past to the future, he sharing of fundamental knowledge that otherwise would not be remembered. Despite the fact that the Pothole society may appears, from a first analysis, not carrying any trace of gender meaning in their construction of life stories, a deeper understanding shows they are related with much more significant issues such as gender inequality, roles’ divisions within the domestic environment and the critical dualism between what happens indoors and what occurs outdoors. See Frances Pine, Pl 12) Through the story of Mart, a migrant woman who left her daughter and ere husband to go to work in America, Pine brings to the attention tot the reader now, apart from gender, many other circumstances may affect the story of somebody’s life and how each person has got a own personal story to tell: “In her personal, emotional interior, and in her own aesthetic, the mountains represented a backwards and dirty place, the sociality of kinship and community was an oppressive, consuming and Judgmental cage that trapped her, and local culture lacked style. (Pl 17) The main difference in the construction of Mart’s story from the usual village is the throng presence of her individual memory, her personal way of thinking or looking at things, which makes her thoughts strongly embodied. Much more gender-stories are the ones discussed by Hakes in her research developed between Check Republic and Slovakia in 1968, right after the end of Communism. She was looking at how women, from that tough period, could not tell any story related to violence or sad issues.
Women were using their domestic domains to explain their lives instead of talking about historical or political accounts happened to them in those specific moments. These domesticated accounts are highly gender-minded and are full of ideas about how a good family should be or what a normal life looks like. This kind of stories are told by women who choose what to tell and what to transmit to their generations; and every time something is considered to be too violent or too horrible to be told they transmit it in silence.
With a totally different point of view but with the same considerable presence of gender in the construction of life stories “Lords of the Lebanese Marches: violence and narrative in an Arab society’ is presented as a deeply hard book exploring the Eileen, miserable and fatigued life of men, constantly in competition for power or hunger, in a rural area of Lebanon.
The book was written after the researcher spent a long and significant time in those places and the goal of Collegian’s achievement was demonstrated by telling the reader how much control, competition and hierarchy meant to the main basement of life for both the ‘Fellatio’ and the ‘Sagas’. Especially in chapter 9 “Fellatio and Famine”, he looks at those narratives of hunger and sufferance placed in a specific dramatic historical and environmental setting: My grandfather was bought for a pail of milk in the time of the First World War hunger. (IPPP) What is so well described in these few words is the striking story of a man who, trespassing his given limits, rises to eventually become somebody completely different from his grandfather, a bee. It is a story of transformation, a gender-life story to be proud of and to take into account by all those men looking for a dramatic change. The reading of the four life stories, first of all, brings to mind the cruel behavior of Arab leaders towards their people and, secondly, tries to explain the instantly despotic nature of their states.
Due to the fierce presence of the autocratic state in people’s lives and to its clear and strong implications in their daily elite, men relationships in the villages of Lebanon have a ruthless condition and are badly dominated by anger, as it happens with all the writing of that time, going from biographical to narrative stories. Completely different from all the stories Just presented, “Landscape for a Good Woman” is an autobiographical analysis which examines the working class education and breeding in ass’s in London.
The distinctive theme of Statesman’s work is the ink she builds between class and sexual identity, and the distinction between feminine and masculine. Carolyn Statesman’s interest is, firstly, about the centrality of some stories and the restricted state of others, and secondly, about the stories we tell ourselves to give an explanation of our existence. By some meaner, her annotations could easily remind to the Crankshaft’s objections concerning the use people do of the past to tell stories regarding their lives but then she focuses more on the differences between herself and her mother.
Interesting is the comparison between ere mother’s educational model and the traditional model of mother-child relationship. Telling her life story, Statesman’s mother shows and transmits to her daughter the childhood she lived, where the unfairness of things and the terrible feeling of longing for what one can never have are merged together in the society’s culture. Her mother’s stories are profoundly gender-notions about what is appropriate behavior or what is better to do; ideas that take me back to my personal experience.
In her book, Statesman tells the stories that greatly affected her mother’s childhood and, consequently, hers one; remembering how much ‘she shaped her holding by the stories she carried from her own, and from an earlier family history’. One of the traditional stories Statesman’s mother was been told during her childhood, and which the author describes as important for working class girls is the tale that “tell you that goose-girls may marry kings. It is clear to understand how strong is the presence of gender in the construction of those life stories, the meaning and the message carried by them is highly relevant to the shaping of new generations. “My mother’s longing shaped my own childhood. From a Lancashire mill town and a irking-class twenties childhood she came away wanting: fine clothes, glamour, money; to be what she wasn’t. However that longing was produced in her distant childhood, what she actually wanted were real things, real entities, things she materially lacked, things that a culture and a social system withheld from her. Victoria Wood’s movie, Housewife 49, is a domestic wartime drama based on a true story. It is about a housewife who, after Joining in the government’s Mass Observation scheme, starts writing a diary, in which she supposed to record her personal life story, expresses all her feelings, thoughts and daily frustrations. The scheme’s reasoning was that governors were feeling to faraway from the common man’s life and these diaries could be helpful for their understanding on what was occurring in the real world.
The movie itself, a bit unusual for that period, is the illustration of an immensely gender-story clouded by humanity, desperation and vulnerability Knell’s elite story, the 49-year-old main character, can be seen as the representation of many middle age women who, experiencing depressive tendencies, look for a new meaning in their lives, a new aim to achieve, a different emotional state. In this example, the construction of the life story rely on Knell’s diary, so on her personal writings. It is gender important?
I highly believe so, gender in this occasion is what fill in the diary’s pages; Knell’s personality, her social relations and cyclic actions in the world she lives, are the foundation of all the narrative. Watching the movie I realized, through the analysis of Victoria Wood’s dramatic life, what life was for women during war years. Life that seems, in my opinion, being considered differently Just because they were women and moreover with slight mental disorders. At the end of the movie, I was thinking on how important has been the diary my mother gave me for Christmas, when I was 6 years old.
I always loved writing about everything I was experiencing, about my life story; but maybe I have never gave it the right importance. I always thought was a ‘female’ thing, something to keep in secret or to be embarrassed from, something really dangerous in my brothers’ hands. Since then, I have written a total of 4 following diaries, each of them representing different stages of my life, disparate identities I was encountering and various environments I was living into.
The reading, after years, of the pages of my history has showed me how much my family has influenced me in all my thoughts, how they contribute to the construction of my narrative, especially my gender construction. I was the only girl in the family, I was asked to clean after my brothers, to help in the household duties and to go to church regularly. Saying that gender was not important in my life story’s creation is a lie. I was bred in a small village, my mother was working far from home for the first three years of my life, my grandmother and my auntie were the ones who notably marked my existence.
After discussing all the different examples of narrative, I eventually reached the conclusion that each life story is an open diary, begun and continued without a clear direction or idea of what its final shape will turn out to be; and it is crucially related to the person’s gender, sex and ability of living his/her own existence. Every time we bump into new stories our life’s course changes, putting under revision all the knowledge or experiences we had since then, and for these reasons we unquestionably transform the understanding of what our lives mean.
Nevertheless, my final remarks try to go ended the gender-influence occurring in the creation of life stories. I think lots of other elements are playing, at the same time, a big part in the game of our lives: environment, cultural, historical or political events, personal accounts or family issues, etc. If I was born in my auntie’s time, likely, I would have been much more limited in choices and greatly stricter in terms of the way I behave or I act in the world.
If I was born as a man, the story of my life would have been totally different from what is nowadays; same thing if I was born in a different country or from a different family. The construction of one’s life is too unpredictable to be taken for granted as soon as a person is born and his/her sex has been shown, and so his/her existence been predetermined. If we are what we behave within our domains, the narrative of our lives will be, in all probability, gradually affected by our practices of the self in accordance with culture. From my diary: “Another brother is coming soon to Join the Tamil.
I am telling nappy but I k already what is going to mean for me. I will need to be even more good to my parent’s and try to help my mum in all the household’s duties. I am going to be the one who ill take care of him when mum will need to go out or whenever she will ask for my presence. Anyway, I am prepared for this, I know already how to be a good sister and a good mum. ” (1989) I was 6 years old when my younger brother was born and I was already feeling like having all the appropriate manners a ‘proper’ sister and mother’s help should have.
Our society has changed a lot and really fast in the last ten years in terms of humans behaviors; always more new circumstances are arising in the world that we live: new ways of reproduction, new ways of living our sexuality and even new forms of ivies, cowboys. At this point my question is, for how long gender is going to be significant in the creation of our life stories and how much is going to be affecting our society’s culture.
According to Intuit people, the real child’s gender is constructed by the identity of the ancestor which is penetrated into the mother’s body to reborn. The baby’s gender is declared by the shaman as soon as he/she is born and, although it can be opposite to his/her biological sex, it is something fixed for the whole existence. Said that, people’s body appears to be not Just a biological reality but a culturally instructed entity whose gender may change completely from being part of a culture or another.
I referred to the Intuit because I wanted to conclude my report saying that, even if for my personal experience and for all the previously examined cases gender plays a significant role in the construction of their life stories, and also being gender a social and cultural construction of the self; I strongly believe that the extreme importance of gender in life stories is determined by one’s culture.