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The Uses and Misuses of Misogyny

A Critical Historiography of the Language of Medieval Women's Oppression

Paula M. Rieder

This article examines the development of language used to describe the oppression of medieval women—particularly the terms patriarchy and misogyny—and its connection with the women's movement of the late twentieth century. It argues that the broad application of the word misogyny by medieval historians to describe a wide spectrum of anti-feminine attitudes and the tendency to understand misogyny and patriarchy as coterminous are inaccurate and problematic. The article supports this position first with an analysis of medieval clerical texts that use the common medieval linkage of women with sex and pollution. The analysis suggests that the usage of this negative linkage is not always misogynistic. The article then analyzes three medieval sermon collections intended for preaching to lay audiences and suggests that the sermons, though androcentric or paternalistic and so in some sense patriarchal, are not misogynistic.

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Mihaela Miroiu

I shall appeal to a concept I consider regulative for political, moral, and cultural feminism: women’s autonomy. When autonomy is undermined by patriarchy, there is no gender-fair competition, nor a real gender partnership. It means that feminism can only attain its goals when women have the capacity to rule over their own welfare, freed from oppressive patriarchal, androcratic, and andromorphic cultural, moral, and political constraints.

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The Relational Ethics of ‘Never . . . Too Much’

Situating and Scaling Intimate Uncertainties in an Adriatic Harbour

Jelena Tošić

This article explores how a specific pattern of relational ethics – referred to as ‘never . . . too much’ – figures as a way of coping with intimate uncertainties in close relationships. The concept of relational ethics refers to the historically embedded ways in which people live and cultivate ethical values through relations and, as such, also represents an ethnographically grounded conceptual contribution to ongoing anthropological debates on moral economy. My research unfolds ethnographic insights into three variations of the relational ethics of ‘never . . . too much’, three respective sets of social actors and relational scales: ‘never feel too much’/local women and their relationship to their marital partner; ‘never own too much’/local men and their relationship to property; ‘never settle too much’/female migrants from Russia and their relationship to the place of settlement. The article’s analysis is developed against the background of a particular spatial and temporal location – a border minority town with a history of (forced) migration, and is a contemporary focal point of migration, marginalisation by the state and patriarchy.

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Privatization and Patriarchy

Prisons, Sanctions, and Education

Nili Cohen

Examining two Israeli cases, this article addresses the highly controversial question about the privatization of state authority. The first concerns the Supreme Court decision that prohibits private prisons, a ruling that reflects the deep-rooted assumption that criminal punishment is a matter of state authority. The second case refers to the Israeli religious organization Takana Forum, which seeks to handle sexual offenses committed by authoritative figures within its community. The relation between privatization, privacy, and multiculturalism is presented as potentially perpetuating patriarchal authority in family life, education, and punishment. Following this discussion, different models of privatization based on the nature of the respective privatized authority are presented. The article concludes with an analysis of the conflict between communal and state law and its potential effect on Israel's collective co-existence.

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Belinda Cooper

Public debate in Germany, particularly in the western German

media, grew heated in 1991 and 1992 over the role of intellectuals in

East German society and their collaboration with or resistance to the

Stasi. Sparks flew with particular intensity when Wolf Biermann,

former East German dissident musician and poet, accused Sascha

Anderson, erstwhile East German dissident poet, of being a Stasi

informant and an “asshole” (while there was some disagreement

over the latter charge, the former, at least, turned out to be accurate).

As the debate raged, some observers commented that it seemed

more a clash of male egos than a serious attempt to analyze the past.

In a 1993 book on the dissident literary community, a West German

commentator suggested the Stasi debate was a conflict among “three

egomaniacs … [Wolf] Biermann, [writer Lutz] Rathenow, [Sascha]

Anderson.” East German author Gabriele Stötzer-Kachold had

made a similar suggestion in 1992.

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Esther Hertzog

In this essay, I refer to two documentaries demonstrating some common features of male violence against women in the Jewish and Palestinian societies in Israel. Abeer Zaibak Haddad’s film about ‘honor killing’ illustrates the profound threat on girls’ and women’s physical safety. Yael Katzir’s film is about Jewish women’s struggle for religious rights. It is argued that being subjugated to patriarchal control, both Arab and Jewish women are denied fundamental rights. This understanding implies that, despite basic differences in socio-economic conditions and civil rights, women’s oppression is present in cultures that are perceived as ‘modern’ and ‘advanced’ just like in those that are perceived as the opposite. Both films point to the failure of the state to ensure women’s rights and safety and to women’s compliance to men’s oppression.

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Mofeyisara Oluwatoyin Omobowale, Offiong Esop Akpabio and Olukemi Kehinde Amodu

Masculinity, as an identity signifier along gender lines, varies from one society to another. The nature, definition, and expression of masculinity (dominance, oppression, violence, and aggression) through social interactions may breed bullying, as found in the Agbowo community of Ibadan, Nigeria. The data for the study were collected through mixed methods and revealed that patriarchal constructed masculinity allows for hegemonic dominance, aggression, oppression, and violent acts that foster bullying among adolescent males in Agbowo. Hence, to address bullying-related problems among adolescents, an understanding of the societal context in which it is carried out is required.

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Capitalism, Kinship, and Fraud

The Case of Bernie Madoff

Sherry B. Ortner

Investment broker Bernie Madoff ran what is still considered the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding thousands of investors over a 20-year period of more than $20 billion. He worked his game almost entirely through kinship connections—relatives, friends of relatives, and relatives of friends. The relationship between kinship and capitalism has drawn renewed attention by anthropologists, part of a broader effort to rethink capitalism not as a free-standing ‘economy’ but as deeply embedded in a wide range of social relations. In this article I use the Madoff case to illustrate, and develop further, several aspects of the kinship/capitalism connection. I also consider briefly the boundary between fraud and ‘legitimate’ capitalism, which many economic historians consider a fuzzy boundary at best.

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The Kids Are All Right But the Lesbians Aren't

The Illusion of Progress in Popular Film

Vicki L. Eaklor

The film The Kids Are All Right, centered on a lesbian couple and their two teenage children, was released in 2010 following a media blitz selling it as a groundbreaking film. Many queer viewers (like this author) eagerly awaited this supposed step forward in lesbian representation, only to be disappointed once again by mainstream stereotypes and tropes. This article takes a close look at the film against the backdrop of lesbian images and themes in “Hollywood“ films, particularly in the last twenty years, and argues that continuities, while sometimes more subtle, override the illusion of progress in portraying lesbians. Finally, there is speculation about why genuine change in mainstream film may be impossible under current societal and economic systems.

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Irina Kosterina

In this article I examine the situation of girls in the North Caucasus, a region that combines features of both a traditional society with its emphasis on the value of religion, family, and older generations, and a modernized society with its emphasis on the economic emancipation of women, and the pursuit of self-development and individual life strategies. The research model used interviews with girls and an analysis of essays written by girls in high school to explore their life values, priorities, and the impact of religion and traditions on their lives. The research also sought to identify girls' place in the gender, age, and status hierarchies of local societies.