Paperback ↠ Masculine Domination MOBI Ú

Paperback ↠ Masculine Domination MOBI Ú

10 thoughts on “Masculine Domination

  1. Trevor Trevor says:

    This is the third time I have started this review. The problem is that mostly I write reviews without really thinking too much about what other people might think of them. Look, that’s only ever partly true, as I guess one never writes purely for one’s self – but in my reviews I just like chat about books – pretty much to say, I read this, this is what I thought of it. The problem is that with some books it is harder to just ‘write’ about them. Over the last week or so I’ve been corresponding with someone off-line here on Good Reads about the nature of gender and to what extent this is based in our genes or is socially determined. So, that makes writing this review a bit harder than normal, as it will look to the person I’ve been corresponding with like I’m continuing that conversation here. That isn’t really my intention, but it is impossible not to do that too, in a way. Or, at least, it is impossible to pretend that the fact of that other conversation isn’t going to colour what I’m going to say here. Oddly enough, needing to write this review has also stopped me replying to that conversation – strange how these things get in the way of each other.

    But that isn’t the only reason why writing this review has been difficult for me. The other reason is that one of my three female PhD supervisors has repeatedly said to me about Bourdieu, ‘he’s good on class, but he tried to be a gender theorist and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” In fact, I attended a conference thing in my first year that Raewyn Connell attended and my associate supervisor asked her about Bourdieu on gender and she agreed that he (as the Irish like to say) didn’t really know his arse from his elbow when it came to gender.

    Now, this causes me lots and lots of trouble. Not least because after having read this, I quite like what Bourdieu has to say about gender and, having read other stuff by him, can’t imagine how he could really have said anything else. That is, what he has pretty much done here is the same thing he did with class, but he has applied it to gender. If he is okay with class, I think you need to start by explaining why he is so crap with gender. That is, if ideas like habitus and symbolic violence work when you are talking about class, why don’t they work when you are talking about gender?

    So, what is it that he says about gender? In some ways I think the real question here is what is it that he is trying to counter about gender. In part what he is saying is to counter two notions – one is that gender is something that is determined biologically, and the other that gender is a performance (in Judith Butler’s sense) and that it can be put on or taken off much like a garment. Let me say this in a way that makes clear what could be seen as a paradox of Bourdieu’s point of view. He doesn’t want gender to be ‘in our genes’ but he certainly does want it to be embodied. For Bourdieu, how attributes become embodied is through our social habitus – and our social habitus is the dispositions that we acquire over a lifetime. These dispositions are reinforced by the social interactions we have until they become both automatic and ‘natural’. We rarely question these dispositions because the people around us that we interact with both share these with us and reinforce them in their interactions with us. This makes it sound like change is impossible, but that is only because we often overly stress the ‘closed system’ nature of our interactions. However, change occurs when someone who has a different habitus from the standard habitus and moves into a particular field and so disrupts what is otherwise considered ‘normal’. There is always resistance to such change, and not only because those with power in a particular situation are likely to loose some or all of that power if there is change, but also because the people who have been interacting according to the old rules don’t see those old rules as arbitrary or conditional – they seem them as natural, common sense and right. These rules are seen as an expression of natural law – rather than what they really are, what Bourdieu calls the ‘cultural arbitrary’.

    Now, ‘arbitrary’ sounds much more random than Bourdieu actually means. The stuff that is arbitrary in cultural interactions is, say, one class of people’s preference for ballet over, say, plays. In certain cultures ballet may be considered the highest of the arts, while in another it might be regarded as ‘just dancing’ and plays would be more highly regarded. This bit is arbitrary. But what isn’t arbitrary, and what all societies do once they have decided on a ‘cultural arbitrary’ is to make an appreciation of a particular cultural activity depend on a deep understanding of that activity. Someone acquires social distinction by having this deep understanding, and acquiring such an understanding involves having particular quantities of cultural capital. In much the same way that appreciating music is made easier of you have learnt to play an instrument, and that learning to play an instrument is made easier the more money your family has: so as to buy the instrument in the first place, to get musical tuition, spend time practicing, to have a parent that has the time to sit with you and to offer encouragement, discipline and guidance – and so on. Now, despite what people might say, learning to play a musical instrument isn’t really a completely natural thing to do, but once you have learnt to play, it feels completely natural. And then, once you are confronted with someone who cannot play they seem like barbarians. To give a case in point, I went to a friend’s house once in high school and his mother had just bought a new piano. She asked me to play. I told her I couldn’t play. She told me I could. I looked at her uncomprehending – I wasn’t being polite or shy or something – and it wasn’t that I didn’t know what I was talking about, I had sat at a piano before, I knew that my touching the keys was not going to make music come out. However, she played and her son played – it was incomprehensible to her that someone wouldn’t be able to make some sort of music come from the instrument. She said to me that her son had also never learnt to play the piano either, but could play basic twelve-bar blues on it.

    So, after a lifetime of learning we become embodied to be what we are and after that lifetime we believe that we could have become nothing other than what we have become. But what about the fact that certain groups in society are clearly much worse off than other groups? There has been lots of discussion, for example, about the raising levels of inequality in society, with the poor getting much less since the 1970s and the rich getting so very much more. Naturally, the same can also be said for women in our society. In the early 1970s in Australia the government passed legislation to make it the law that men and women doing the same work be paid the same amount. This year, since records of the disparity between the wages of men and women have been measured, the gap in earnings in Australia is the worst ever recorded. If women (and poor people) are so clearly disadvantaged in our society – and it is probably easier to see this with women in some ways, given they are paid less for doing ‘the same’ work – then why do they put up with it? This isn’t about blaming the victim – but it is something that needs to be explained. Bourdieu’s answer is ‘symbolic violence’.

    Symbolic violence is a bit like the ‘cultural arbitrary’ – another term that doesn’t necessarily mean what you might think it means. Whenever I hear it I think of that Monty Python sketch The Spanish Inquisition where they start poking people with cushions as a way to torture them. This isn’t quite what he means. For someone to have more and someone to have less in society implies that some sort of violence has been applied so that that imbalance can be maintained. But a society that depends on the literal application of violence to maintain all inequities would not really last very long. So, society needs to impose ‘symbolic violence’ – that is, it needs to be able to convince some people that they are worse off, but for a really good reason. That is, that they deserve to be worse off. The mistake, again, is to assume that this kind of symbolic violence involves some sort of conspiracy with the people having the power somehow pulling the wool over the eyes of those without the power. Such a conspiracy isn’t necessary, because these inequities have been going on for such a long time, they are ‘how we understand’ the world. Up until very recently women’s inferiority simply wasn’t questioned. That they received less than men not only wasn’t questioned, it was perceived by the whole of society as natural. As Bourdieu points out here, it is very hard to fight against something that appears completely natural. It isn’t just a matter of ‘raising consciousness’ – we can be aware of injustice and yet be part of the problem ourselves. We can ‘get it’, but still help to perpetuate it. And this isn’t just a matter of ‘bad faith’ – it is, again, habitus. We have been so programmed to behave in certain ways over a lifetime that these ways of being seem natural – and they seem natural because those ways of behaving are ‘second nature’ in the sense we have been programmed throughout a lifetime of experience to automatically respond in certain ways. Rational debate about these responces is not enough. Bourdieu isn’t saying that change is impossible – but rather that we need to know what it is that we are seeking to change. And if it is the habits and ways of being of an entire culture – habits and ways of being that are ‘non-rational’ in that they are our programmed responses to life in general. That is going to take much more effort than just convincing people that what we have been doing up until now isn’t nice. It means literally finding ways to change our ways of being in the world.

    Bourdieu spends a lot of the start of this book discussing the Kabyle – the people of Algeria that he studied as an anthropologist in the 1950s. This book is, in part, a kind of quick and dirty summary of his Outline of a Theory of Practice. What is particularly interesting in this is his reliance on binaries. There has been a strong movement away from binaries in modern (or post-modern) theory. But Bourdieu strongly defends them and goes so far as to say that such a movement away from binaries is a mistake. His point is that a lot of how we ‘understand’ the world is through these binaries and how they link up with other binaries we take equally for granted – not just male/female, but a series of other binaries that end up getting linked to these and which then ‘explain’ the differences between men and women. So that, in our culture, men are associated with the sun and women with the moon – which also then links men to reason and women to intuition, and men to technology and women to technique. The point isn’t that we need to stress the binary nature of the world, rather that we need to know that sexism runs deep not just in how we understand men and women, but in how we understand ‘the world’. All binaries have some form of connection between male and female and thinking you can ‘ignore’ binaries doesn’t diminish their power, but rather reinforces it by making that power invisible.

    There is a really interesting aside here about how American rich people name their sons with long-standing family names, while their daughters are often given French girl’s names, as France is associated with fashion and seduction.

    Like I said, what I liked about this was that Bourdieu is seeking to answer a fairly fundamental question – how is it that male domination goes mostly unchallenged in society, even after it has been acknowledged as both bad and unfair – but he is also seeking to show that if one where to challenge male domination, it is not going to be enough to prove it is irrational or unfair – too many of the ‘taken for granted’ structures of our society make the reproduction of gender differences appear natural – even genetic. Change needs to change what will we know from what parts of our bodies feel like, and not just in ways of thinking about the world. So, change isn’t impossible, but it isn’t at all easy either.

  2. Roxana Chirilă Roxana Chirilă says:

    Before saying anything else, I'd like to mention that the Romanian translation of this book is terrible. I think that there are a few Romanians out there who believe you must Work Hard in order to gain Access To Culture, and they do their best to discourage all those who are unworthy from reading.

    The English translation is actually comprehensible, so I switched to that one.

    But what about the contents of the book in itself, right?

    Masculine Domination is a non-fiction book written by French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu. The topic should be immediately obvious from the title - but unfortunately, the context of the book is not. As I was reading, I realized Bourdieu had decided to apply some of his older theories in a new context, which means I had to google some terms and ideas to figure out what he was going on about.

    The basic points are thus:
    1. It's pretty difficult to understand something that you yourself are part of. As everyone is part of the what gender are you? game, understanding genders is pretty damned hard.
    2. There are things we take for granted and which we perceive as natural, because we project our beliefs regarding them on nature, then draw on nature (now infused with our beliefs) to reinforce those ideas. Traits that we associate with genders tend to go through such a process.
    3. Our view of the world will often be in line with the dominant view of the world, even if we are dominated. Women perceive the world through the lens of men, for example - if 'decisiveness' is male and 'nurturing' is female, and men see the first as more valuable than the latter, women will borrow that, too - and they may value decisiveness in women more than they value nurturing in women.
    4. This view of the world informs the way people act, including the dominated, including in the absence of legal constraints. Back to the 'decisiveness' example: women can shy away from that trait because it's not for them, it's not feminine.
    5. We haven't come as far as we think we have from a feminist point of view, because these internalized mechanisms still guide us.

    The book is interesting, but I have a few issues with it:
    - Bourdieu talks about Kabyle society for a large part of this book, because it's traditional Mediterranean, but he often switches back to Western society - I feel that the connection doesn't follow (especially since he doesn't motivate it much).
    - he doesn't touch on the obvious objection that some traits might really be innate and natural, rather than accepted at such a deep level that they seem to be that way (I mean it: it's an obvious objection, people make it, Bourdieu doesn't discuss it).
    - it feels a bit incomplete, especially on its own.

    Maybe the book made more sense the way it is when it was published 20 years ago, or maybe it was never meant to be a larger, deeper work. Either way, it's food for thought, but not as good as I'd hoped.

  3. Celine Celine says:

    Why do men always seem to have the upper hand over women? What is it that keeps them in this position of power over centuries? These are questions Bourdieu pours over in Masculine Domination. I found his argument very interesting, because he seeks his answers beyond qualities in women and men. What we need to focus on, he argues, is how assumptions become seen as fact, or natural. I admire his broad analysis that touches on everything from honour, chastity, passive and active sexuality, men and women in the work force, fashion, cosmetics, etcetera.

    Bourdieu is not an easy-to-read author, especially because of his perchance for lengthy sentences. The content of Masculine Domination is worth the occasional rereading of sections to fully understand his point.

  4. Ty Ty says:

    This is one of Bourdieu's later work and it shows thoughtful reflection on criticism made on his earlier works. I wish LG(B) had not be relegated to an appendix and I think he could have made many of his cases much stronger if he had added transsexuality and transgender people in his analysis.

    Still definitely worth a read.

  5. Tanya Twombly Tanya Twombly says:

    While I appreciate the topic and generally agree with much of Bourdieu's theory, his writing is so hard to slog through, that you have to be a very determined reader to do it. Sometimes I wonder if it's just the academic style in France, then I remember that Adorno and Jameson are just as bad and realize, no, it's just pomposity.

  6. Isabella Isabella says:

    I don't feel like it's fair to give it a rating. I read it because I had to, in a bad mood. It was pretty useful to my paper, though

  7. Fatim Gulbahar Fatim Gulbahar says:

    I must admit that I had troubles digesting some of the concepts outlined in the book mainly due to poor translation. After some research about the book, I found out that it's one of the author's later work and it presents as a criticism on his earlier work. The book highlights the symbolism and philosophy behind masculine domination and tries to answer two main questions, why men have the upper hand over women? What is it that keeps them in this position of power over centuries?
    He broadly analyzes topics such as chastity, honor, males and females in work force, fashion, passive and active sexuality and etc.

    I haven't read much else for Bourdieu, his writing is quite hard to slog through and I can't tell if the Arabic language here fell short in clarifying / translating some terminologies or that I needed to go over his earlier work prior to this one.

  8. Charlie Charlie says:

    I took a star down because Bourdieu could have really tried to simplify his language and shorten his sentences in parts to make it accessible to a wider audience. Nonetheless, this is an absolutely necessary and important feminist book that I highly suggest you read if you wish to further understand how and why gender roles came to be and how strong of an influence sexism or the masculine domination has of an impact on all of our lives.

  9. Osmo Osmo says:

    Science has never really given any valid reason to legitimate the superiority of men over women, even though naturalists contributed to building this belief with their works. Pierre Bourdieu states that this is an arbitrary social construction, a magic trick to reverse cause and effect. It is with the purpose to enforce masculine domination, that supposed female inferiority turns into fact, and that we are made to consider ingeniosity or force as masculine attributes, and pettiness or fondness for domestic tasks as feminine attributes. We all internalize this sham, in our bodies and minds, because from birth we are conditioned. The State, the School, and the Church continuously perpetuate these stereotypes. That's why women's oppression becomes invisible. Its effects are in line with the way we think and feel. For instance, some women want their partners to be taller than them or to earn more money. Of course, this also has an impact on men. Men who are neither fine, trendy, muscular, nor wealthy can feel a lot of pressure too.

  10. Caro Caro says:

    Difficult but enlightening. For a non-fiction book on feminism, this sociologist approach is both envigorating and bleak. Many of the observations in this little book are very much my own opinions as well and I do think that Bourdieu adds a number of very valid points to the discourse of equality.

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Masculine Domination ❮PDF / Epub❯ ✅ Masculine Domination Author Pierre Bourdieu – الهيمنة الذكورية مترسّخة في لاوعينا حتى أننا لم نعد نعقلها، وهي متوافقة مع انتظاراتنا حتى أننا نصاب بمرارة لد الهيمنة الذكورية مترسّخة في لاوعينا حتى أننا لم نعد نعقلها، وهي متوافقة مع انتظاراتنا حتى أننا نصاب بمرارة لدى وضعها موضع تساؤلإن الوصف الإثنوغرافي للمجتمع القبائلي، وهو كونسرفاتوار حقيقي لللاوعي المتوسطي، يوفّر أداة فعّالة للغاية لحلّ البداهات ولاستكشاف البنى الرمزية لذلك اللاوعي المركزي الذكورة الذي يعيش عند الرجال والنساء اليوملكن اكتشاف أوجه الدوام يُجبِر على قلب الطريقة المعتادة في طرح المشكلة: كيف يتم العمل التاريخي لانتزاع اللاتاريخانية؟ وما هي الآليّات والمؤسّسات، مثل العائلة والكنيسة والمدرسة والدولة، التي تكمل عمل إعادة الإنتاج؟ وهل يمكن تحييدها لتحرير قوى التغيير التي تعوق تحقيقها؟.