Gender Studies in France
Gender studies refers to the social and cultural constructions of masculinities and femininities as opposed to the state of being male or female. It is a multi-disciplinary subject which delves into race, ethnicity, sexuality, location and history. Introduced in the 1970s in American universities, Gender Studies have been slow to develop in France .
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Lost in Translation?
In France Gender studies have been coined as “Etudes de genre” or “Etudes sur le genre” though neither term is fully satisfying. Translation from English to French has proven problematic for the subject. The term “sex” in English translates into “sexe” in French which relates to both the sexual organ and the gender female or male. The word thus combines the sexual organ with sexual identity, neglecting the processes surrounding sexual identity. The issue, as highlighted by Ann Oakley in “Sex, Gender and Society”, presupposed that gender is natural, underestimating the social dimension which affects sexual identity.
The unfortunate irony is that it was French philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir , who first claimed, “One is not born a woman, one becomes one”Simone de Beauvoir, Deuxième sexe : Les Faits et les mythes, t. 1, Gallimard, Paris, 1949, 400 p. Yet France remains persistently slow in incorporating this notion into its education.
“Etudes de genre”
Centre Louise Labé, Université Lumière Lyon 2
Centre d’Enseignement, de Documentation et de Recherche pour les Etudes Féministes (CEDREF), Université Paris 7-Denis Diderot
Groupement de recherche européen Marché du travail et genre en Europe (MAGE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) Paris
PPF Genre et Sciences Sociales, L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)
Sciences Po, Programme de Rechercher et d’Enseignement des SAvoirs sur le GEnre (PRESAGE).
Centre d’études féminines et d’études de genre, Université de Paris-VIII, Saint-Denis
Réseau Inter-universitaire et inter-disciplinaire National sur le Genre (R.I.N.G.)
Association Nationale des Études Féministes (ANEF)
Portail GENRE, L’Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail
L’équipe d’accueil Simone-SAGESSE, L’Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail
Problematic link to Feminism
As the viewer may notice, they are often linked to Feminism studies. This relates to one of the common criticisms geared towards Gender studies. As argued by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, “gender” in gender studies often times becomes synonymous with “women”. It seems this is particularly true in France’s perception of the domain.