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The state, gender and sexual politics / R. W.

Connell
Goal: To illustrate the public dimension of power relations and to incorporate the issue of
gender explicitly into the discourse of state theories.
1. Exploration of the main ways of thinking about gender, sexuality and the state
(English-language sources in 90s
2. !ro"iding a generali#ed framework for theori#ing the interplay of gender
relations and state dynamics.
Gender in this context$ is a collecti"e phenomenon, an aspect of social
institutions and is internal and external in relation to the state.
Sexuality is part of the domain of human practice organi#ed (in part by gender
relations.
Sexual politics is the contestation of issues of sexuality by the social interests
constituted within the gender relations.
The state is a part of a wider social structure of gender relations.
States include local go"ernment, regional, pro"incial, national and international
le"els (%&'T&, E(, (%
The state is the set of institutions currently sub)ect to coordination (by
administrati"e or budgetary means by a state directorate.
The state is a process (not a thing, its form and realm change historically.
State institutions:
taxation, departments, courts
medical associations, uni"ersities, unions, welfare agencies* (+ealm of the
state
,
Lieral !e"inis":
-tresses rights and e.uality.
/pposes pre)udice.
The state should be neutral. 0t is gendered.
1en run the go"ernments, armies etc.
/perates with a theory of 2sex roles2.
3iscusses sexism (e.g. women in the military is a positi"e mo"e
#"plications:
!atriarchy is treated as an accident.
1en are understood as a category.
'ailure to see gender as an institutional or moti"ational system.
'ailure to pro"ide coherent analysis of the state apparatus and its links to a social
context.
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Radical !e"inis":
5hallenges social system62patriarchy2.
$atriarchy: historically produced situations in gender relations where men7s
domination is institutionali#ed (i.e. men7s o"erall supremacy is generated by the
economy and reproduced in the family, work, school, media and 2churches2.
Socialist !e"inis":
-tresses the link between the family and the economy
The state can appear gender-neutral and this is "ital for its legitimation.
The state is an indirect oppressor of women
(through regulating systems such as the family and wage labour.
The state is central in social reproduction.
The state constitutes the categories of social structure.
'emininity and masculinity are produced as effects of state policies and structures
(schools, families.
%e& !e"inist !ocus on sexual 'iolence:
The state itself is the oppressor (men as a category are not constituted outside of
it.
-tate institutions are patriarchal through the way the entire structure of laws
operates (the more ob)ecti"e they are in procedure, the more patriarchal they are,
e.g. rape in the courts.
!atriarchy is embedded in the state7s way of functioning, in procedure.
!uts sexual politics in the realm of action.
0n"ites a focus on state apparatus.
Connell(s theoretical !ra"e&or):
,. The state is constituted within gender relations as the central institutionali#ation of
gendered power. 5on"ersely, gender dynamics are a ma)or force constructing the state,
both in the historical creation of the state structures and in the contemporary politics.
The state is a structure of power, institutionali#ation of power relations.
embodies "iolence or other means of control.
laws set limits to the use of personal "iolence, protects property, criminali#es
stigmati#ed sexuality, embodies masculini#ed hierarchy, organi#es collecti"e
"iolence (policing, prisons, war.
The hegemonic masculinity of the old regime * rationality, calculation,
orderliness
The state historically underestimated women7s economic acti"ity
4. &s a result of this history of the state is a bearer of gender. Each empirical state has a
definable 2gender regime2 that is the precipitate of social struggles and is linked to the
wider gender order of society.
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Gender regi"e: women and men tend to occupy particular positions within the state,
and work in ways structured by gender relations.
& gender di"ision of labour (at the collecti"e le"el
& structure of power
The structure of cathexis (the gender patterning of emotional
attachments
8. The way state embodies gender gi"es it cause and capacity to 2do2 gender. &s the
central institutionali#ation of power the state has a considerable, though not unlimited,
capacity to regulate gender relations in the society as a whole.
legislation on women7s work
indirect control of di"ision of labour through education system etc.
obscures marriage as an institution that generates "iolence
9. The state7s power to regulate reacts on the categories that make up the structure being
regulated. Thus the state becomes in"ol"ed in the historical process generating and
transforming the basic components of the gender order.
+egulates sexuality (creates new categories and historical possibilities
e.g. 2prostitute2 as socio-legal category
:. ;ecause of it is power to regulate and its power to create, the state is a ma)or stake in
gender politics< and the exercise of that power is a constant incitement to claim the
stake. Thus the state becomes the focus of interest-group formation and mobili#ation of
sexual politics.
'amily policy, population policy, labour force and labour market
management, housing policy, regulation of sexual beha"iour and
expression, pro"ision of child care, mass education, taxation, income
distribution, creation and use of military forces
=. The state is constantly changing< gender relations are historically dynamic< the state7s
position in gender politics is not fixed. 5risis tendencies de"elop in gender order,
which allow new political possibilities.
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