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The Veiled Muslim, the Anorexic and the Transsexual

[journal article]

Gressgård, Randi

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Abstract The Muslim woman wearing the veil, the female anorexic and the from-male-to-female transsexual constitute three different figures that, despite their striking differences, have a common symbolic ground. By focusing on the similarity between the veiled woman and the other two figures, the article sheds a different light on the debate about the Muslim veil in western societies. It is argued that the western notion of woman is based on a structural ambivalence of transcendence and immanence. On the one hand, woman is expected to be liberated, in control and active in public life and in all ways just as free as the man, on the other she represents a deficiency compared to the man; it is expected of her that she takes up a complementary, subordinate position in relation to the man. The subordinate position, however, is seldom pronounced. Officially, the gender hierarchy is not a part of egalitarian societies, that is, the modern configuration that formally rejects a hierarchical worldview. Is this the reason why the three figures are regarded as pathological? Does their way of demonstrating extraordinary transcendence combined with extraordinary immanence make them monstrous?
Free Keywords body-spirit dualism; gender construction; hierarchy; modern ambivalence; the monstrous; symbolic structures;
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 325-341
Journal European Journal of Women's Studies, 13 (2006) 4
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)