The 4th International Conference on Gender Studies attracted scholars from Canada, China, UK, Germany, USA, Israel, India, South Africa and Switzerland. The participants debated issues such as gender and education, gender and social media, LGBTIQ issues, gender and literature and gender and patriarchy.
As with previous years, the conference was held in January (this time the 19th) and it featured a full day of presentations and discussions on the gender politics, discrimination and the way forward. Some very original research has been presented and some important issues have been raised.
For example, Natalie Quinn Walker from Wolverhampton University debated the position of male domestic abuse victims and the patriarchal discrimination they face. As all feminists know, in a patriarchal society both men and women face expectations and thus men are expected to be strong and not show emotions whilst women are expected to be caregivers and caring. As soon as someone does not fit into this role, problems emerge and in this case, the problem emerged with healthcare professionals who do not always know how to handle male domestic abuse victims and provide them adequate support.
Other participants raised other interesting issues such as
drag queen performance, or the abortion support network and its inclusive work
in providing services to both cis and trans individuals.
The conference was covered in live social media coverage, which
can be found on our social media accounts. The call for the 5th
conference on Gender Studies (January 2021) will be released soon.
It has become quite common to use the term gender for sex, albeit this is incorrect. The infants are assigned male or female sex, while gender is more complicated because it encompasses not just biological sex but also personal sense of being male, female, both or neither actually. Self-perception of gender then affects gender representation, or how one presents themselves (e.g. the way they behave, dress, talk, etc.).
The incorrect use of gender is particularly prominent in Western societies where it became some sort of PC talk, and not many question this incorrect use of the term gender. Nevertheless, all recent research on gender and women studies demonstrates that patriarchy is alive and well, and that both men and women suffer from patriarchal perceptions of expected roles. For example, women still face difficulties in equality of opportunities for all jobs, and when equality is achieved and they enter a certain industry; they face difficulties in being promoted to managerial positions (glass ceiling). On the other hand, men face difficulties in embracing roles traditionally seen as feminine such as staying at home with children or applying for paternal leaves, which are still approved more to women than men.
When it comes to gender perceptions the situation becomes even more complicated because if one refuses to identify with sex assigned at birth and chooses to express gender differently, patriarchy kicks in even stronger and these individuals face not just discrimination in access to employment but also public mocking and in some countries even assaults. It is stating the obvious to say that many countries in the world still ban homosexuality and that LGBT individuals and couples are not just discriminated but also targets of public campaigns to ban them ever having the same rights as heterosexual couples such as marriage and adopting children (before they even asked for these rights), assaults, threats and intimidation, etc.
The question we can ask is how far have we got in achieving not just gender equality (for vast amount of research testifies we have indeed not got far albeit lots of progress has been made), but how far have we got in achieving understanding of gender? What kind of culture needs to be created to embrace diversity beyond positive laws (that exist only in some countries), but a true diversity where nobody will think they should have the right to question someone’s self-perception and self-expression, and a culture where all sexes and genders will be equal?
These and other issues were subject of the conference.
Photos are available on our Facebook page and our Twitter account.