By Aihwa Ong, Michæl G Peletz
Contributors reduce throughout disciplinary limitations and draw on clean fieldwork and textual research, together with newspaper bills, radio stories, and feminist writing. Their topics variety largely: the writings of feminist Filipinas; Thai tales of widow ghosts; eye-witness debts of a beheading; narratives of bewitching genitals, recalcitrant husbands, and industry girls as femmes fatales. Geographically, the essays conceal Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The essays carry to this sector the theoretical insights of gender conception, political economic system, and cultural studies.
Gender and other kinds of inequality and distinction end up altering structures of symbols and meanings. our bodies are explored as websites of political, financial, and cultural transformation. the problems raised in those pages make very important connections among habit, our bodies, domination, and resistance during this dynamic and colourful region.
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This outstanding array of essays considers the contingent and transferring meanings of gender and the physique in modern Southeast Asia. by way of studying femininity and masculinity as fluid tactics instead of social or organic givens, the authors supply new methods of figuring out how gender intersects with neighborhood, nationwide, and transnational different types of wisdom and gear.
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Additional info for Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia
Although one hears complaints on both sides-the wife grumbling that her husband keeps more for himself than he should, while the husband feels that his wife demands too much from him-this financial arrangement is generally accepted as the proper one between husband and wife. At a wedding that I attended in a village in Central Java, the village headman delivered a typical lecture of fatl_lerly advice to the bride and groom, amplified through the public address system for all the guests present to hear, during the course of which he drew attention to "the notion that we Javanese have of 'female money,'" (dhuwit wedok).
Whether or not women actually do engage in ascetic practice is an issue to which I shall return presently. What is clear, however, is that women rarely make the extreme effort that men do to suppress strong affect and emotion, or to present an ever cool, refined demeanor to others. Hence it is less common for them to adhere to the codes of outward behavior that are portrayed by the dominant ideologies as reflective of high status and an inner spiritual strength. When visiting a marketplace in Solo, I witnessed an especially amusing bout of bargaining between two experienced traders that brought home to me the difference between women's and men's styles of interaction, especially where self-control and refinement are concerned.
CONCLUSIONS Aihwa Ong has noted that gender is a "potentially contradictory configuration of meaning that codes alternative structures of morality, control, and power" (Ong 1990:422). In this paper, I have attempted to demonstrate that Javanese discourses and practices of gender embody contradictory representations that sometimes confound the ideological association of males with a higher degree of self-control, potency, and morality than females. Why is this important? It is important, I propose, because the dominant ideologies of male potency serve to legitimate male control over women and over the society more broadly.