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November 04 , 2008

The Embodied Performance of Gender


Norms of embodied behaviour for males and females, as promoted in mainstream Western public arenas of popular culture and the everyday, continue to work, overtly and covertly, as definitive and restrictive barriers to the realm of possibilities of embodied gender expression and appreciation. They serve to disempower and marginalize those not inclined to embody according to such dichotomous models. This book explores the ramifications of the way our gendered, sexed and culturally constructed bodies are situated toward notions of difference and highlights the need to safeguard the social and emotional well-being of those who do not fit comfortably with dominant norms of masculine/feminine behaviour, as deemed appropriate to biological sex. The book interrogates gender inequitable machinations of education and performance arts disciplines by which educators and arts practitioners train, teach, choreograph, and direct those with whom they work, and theorizes ways of broadening personal and social notions of possible, aesthetic, and acceptable embodiment for all persons, regardless of biological sex or sexual orientation. The author’s own struggles as a performance artist, educator, and person in the everyday, as well as the findings of empirical fieldwork with educators, performance arts practitioners, and high school students, are employed to illustrate and advocate the need for self reflexive scrutiny of existing and hidden inequities regarding the embodiment of gender within one’s own habitual perspectives, taste, and practices.

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