Rosemary A. Joyce
This chapter unpacks the multiple definitions of fashion as social process, status dynamic, practice, and industry. The chapter begins with an overview of the historical emergence and spread of fashion, mapping the changing associations of fashion from frivolity and femininity to major global industry and urban branding mechanism. To understand fashion as simultaneously a concept, behavior, and market, the chapter employs a gendered lens. Gender, as well as class, is central to understanding fashion from both lenses of consumption and production, illustrated with two cases of gendered fashion labor: women fashion models and their paradoxical wage gaps, and women workers in the garment industry.
Studies on the development of fat stigma in the United States often consider gender, but not race. This chapter adds to the literature on the significance of race in the propagation of fat phobia. I investigate representations of voluptuousness among “white” Anglo-Saxon and German women, as well as “black” Irish women between 1830 and 1890—a time period during which the value of a curvy physique was hotly contested—performing a discourse analysis of thirty-three articles from top newspapers and magazines. I found that the rounded forms of Anglo-Saxon and German women were generally praised as signs of health and beauty. The fat Irish, by contrast, were depicted as grotesque. Building on the work of Stuart Hall, I conclude that fat was a “floating signifier” of race and national belonging. That is, rather than being universally lauded or condemned, the value attached to fatness was related to the race of its possessor.
Caroline Dodds Pennock
Aztec culture has often been regarded as patriarchal but, although men controlled many traditional markers of influence in Tenochtitlan, women were powerful and effective figures, possessing tangible rights and responsibilities that were recognized as essential to society’s collective success. Two alternative models now dominate analyses of Aztec gender: parallelism or complementarity duality and fluidity. Although arguably women’s influence was gradually reduced by an increasing focus on military issues, scholars are now largely agreed that male and female roles were arranged into a binary system, each with its own sphere of responsibility and activity. Gender was socially conditioned from birth in Aztec culture and throughout the life cycle, while masculine/feminine pairings strongly shaped social, political, and religious structures. In a practical sense Aztec gender systems probably combined parallelism with a degree of hierarchy within which men and women were structurally equivalent rather than equal.
Although often understood as frivolous, women’s shopping was anything but. By the late nineteenth century, almost all households had to purchase daily necessities. Women’s paid work was often in retail or consumer goods manufacturing. Thus, even as men also bought goods and services, women’s responsibilities as purchasers and wage earners made consumption particularly crucial to their daily labor. Thus, consumption reinforced gender ideology. Fashions, food, and public performance helped to “make” gender. In so doing, they also reinforced racial and class hierarchies. From the first advertisements, “mass” consumption equated real women with white, young, slender, and middle-class bodies. However, specialized products, commercial districts, and fashions also made consumption important to nonwhite, queer, and working-class identities. Moreover, both policymakers and everyday consumers increasingly sought economic stability and also political change in stores and shopping; “consumer” movements and less organized, recurrent protests raised the possibility, and the threat, of women’s political authority.
This chapter examines the relationship between Iron Age gender and society, viewed from the mortuary evidence. It distinguishes an early Iron Age masculine west, an increasingly female-authored salt trade, and a generation of mobility (620–580 BC) ushering in new social forms. Discussing recent work on gender identities, the relationship between daggers and swords is examined. Linked, gendered lineages are identified—increasingly male-authored, and opulent, with Greek connections, in south-west Germany; alongside female authority in eastern France. Beginning in Germany, male-authored violence is attested (550–450 BC, aligning with Livy), followed by radical social change (400–350 BC), as disproportionate deposition signifies the ritual end to Hallstatt traditions; alongside development of martial, ‘egalitarian’ La Tène communities. Sex was a common, divergent, structuring principle in regional Hallstatt C–D societies. Further, a reading for gender in the texts reveals differences between western European Iron Age and late classical Mediterranean gender norms.
This article traces approaches to social space back to the 1950s and the subsequent pursuit of the ‘rise of privacy’. It then delivers a historiography of late medieval gender and space since the 1990s under three main themes: sacred spaces (churches, nunneries, and monasteries), vernacular architecture, and high-status residences including gardens and deer parks. It is noted that from the mid-1990s the impulse to make women ‘visible’ was largely replaced by an emphasis on differences—and similarities—among and between women, men, and other social categories and contexts, such as urban and rural, and that recent studies have moved on to explore the transgression of gendered boundaries. Methodologies such as access analysis are discussed and suggestions are made for future research, including the opportunities afforded by GIS.
Kathleen M. Brown
Gender frontiers are but one starting point for comparing cultural contact zones and analyzing imperialism and racial formation in the early modern Atlantic. Recent scholarship on Native American and African encounters with Europeans suggests a need for a more complex analytical framework. Africans and Native Americans participated actively in creating this cultural frontier—by persisting in, adjusting, or transforming precontact practices or by assuming that the uninvited newcomers might share enough core beliefs and desires to be incorporated or vanquished. Europeans who participated in producing colonialism engaged in creative and destructive processes, but they remained connected to elite people in imperial centers that were buffered—by distance, money, and power—from such changes. The significance of gender frontiers is best understood as one phase in the longer historical processes they gave rise to: the emergence of new, syncretic cultures and populations, and the racialized and reactive cultures that quickly followed.
Dayo F. Gore
“Cold War” traditionally refers to the foreign policy, military, and ideological contestation between the power blocks of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the Western powers of Europe and the United States. This chapter examines the ways women’s experiences and debates over gender, race, and sexuality were central to the US Cold War anticommunist policies and practices on the homefront and globally. This perspective reveals the ways the global Cold War reshaped decolonizing struggles in the Global South as well as domestic culture, social relations, and ideals of the family through domestic containment. The chapter charts the roots of civil rights politics and social movements of the 1960s in sustained resistance to Cold War anticommunism and its politics of conformity. Centering women’s experiences negotiating Cold War strategies of domestic containment, the chapter reveals the US Cold War as a multifaceted period of contestation as much as conformity.
This chapter brings together the histories of American beauty culture and disability to identify overlaps between the fields and encourage women’s and gender historians to engage disability studies in their scholarship. “Unruly bodies,” bodies that fall outside the norm because of race, ethnicity, or disability, became the object of social and cultural derision and labeled ugly, abnormal and disabled. The techniques women, surgeons, fashion designers, and beauty culturists used to manage, fix and discipline these “unruly bodies” through cosmetics, diet, exercise, surgery, and rehabilitation contain striking similarities, which this chapter explores in historical context. Although experts projected beauty ideals and medical standards onto women’s bodies, American women embraced body modifications on their own terms and imbued them with their own meanings.