Lecture 5- Concepts and Approaches

All is full of love: photography and gender

Gender, sexuality, race, representation, feminism, post-feminism, difference, cyborg


  • Gender is a social construct.
  • Gender is not simple ‘male’ or ‘female’, but additionally all the spaces and ambiguities between these two ‘normative’ social constructs.
  • Gender is fluid
  • Short history- late 1960’s
  • Development triggered by second wave feminism
  • Inequalities in personal relationships and academic structures etc.
  • Pre 1970’s women were almost invisible in sociology- gender blind
  • Inequalities in gender were not recognised as a problem

First wave feminism

  • Started approx. 1790 (the French revolution, the publication of Wollstonecraft’s the vindication of the rights of women)- 1960’s- the point where gender began to be studied academically
  1. The vote for women
  2. Access to professions for women
  3. Women’s right to own property
  • Bessie Rayner Parkes- the world of art 1855

Second wave feminism

  • 1960s- 1990s
  • Key 20th century ideas were formed
  • Concerned with:
  1. Liberation from the oppressiveness of the patriarchy
  2. Rights for women in family and home life as well as in the public sphere
  3. The female body as a site for struggle
  • ‘One is not born, but rather becomes a woman’- Simone de Beauvoir
  • Gender is constructed, things in society forms you
  • Henri Cartier- Bresson- Portrait of Simone de Beauvoir, Paris

Third wave feminism

  • 1990s- present
  • Concerned with:
  1. Second wave feminism was too white and middle class- need a diversity in race and background
  2. Popular culture and fashion is a site of activism and can be embraced
  3. Needs to be more global and incorporate the views of me (men and heterosexuality aren’t always a subject of criticism)

Post feminism

  • Following/existing with third wave feminism
  • Influence of post-modern thinking
  • Increasingly impossible to lay identity to ‘woman’
  • Have to acknowledge gender is a fluid thing
  • A social contract but at the same time we need to have words to group people e.g. ‘woman’


  • Equality is not a straight foreward aim
  • Feminists have accepted that there is not one model of equality
  • Equal access to power that all men have
  • Breaking down tradition gender binaries- that women were incapable of certain tasks
  • Are woman trying to be equal to men? Doesn’t completely gel with feminism politics- don’t want to become men and have the same traits but what the same power with different traits
  • Lots of people identify as neither male or female

Queer theory

  • 10 or 20 years later than gender studies (1980s)
  • Gay and lesbian activist groups
  • Using ‘queer’ as a more positive word- not negative like it was before- deliberate use of the word, reclaiming it

50 key concepts in gender studies- Jane Pilcher and Imelda Whelehan


  • Race and ethnicity used interchangeably
  • No scientific basis for the concept of race- mid 20th century
  • Contradiction between scientific knowledge and common sense that groups people on appearance


  • Simon Crundwell, kate moss as a cyborg
  • Intended to encapsulate to which the intended of technological advances have attempted to blur the boundaries between natural human bodies and technological robotics
  • Machines
  • Communication systems
  • Nature, bodies and culture- difference
  • Technological advances
  • Controlled labour (all is full of love video), labour of existence