This week’s reading addressed the ways in which race, gender and the identities of people were defined and utilized by authoritarian regimes and democratic societies to further a nationalistic agenda. All three of them share the notion that within each specific context, gender identities became tools to “advance” or improve the well-being of the state overall.
Can we observe the same kind of ideas if we were to assess gender roles and race today? What about in modern populism? This is something worth discussing in the present.
A concurrent theme from the readings was the concept of national value in regard to how one self-identified or was identified. Be it:
- The feminized or masculine homosexual in early 20th century Germany (Claudia Bruns)
- The linear success, male-dominated and non-individualistic discourse around people in postwar Japan (Rio Otomo)
- The warlike, hardworking and socially committed “New Man” of interwar Romania (Valentin Săndulescu)
These ideas made me begin to think about what a democratic society such as ours today perhaps hold similar to these examples. The Bruns reading shows how in German life today, female or gay descriptions are still sometimes used in a derogatory manner and that the German LGBT(QI) community may exhibit racist discourses towards Muslim immigrants.
But can we think of other ways in which gender identities today continue to shape our collective thought processes? Terms like, “be a man,” or “act like a lady” come to mind. Could it be that we still subconsciously use the gender roles that are ascribed today to further our own conception of national value?