Gender theory and its future written Dr. Gulshoda Urazalieva

Eurasia News

Persistent and multi-sided attempts to define the status of gender research and to include gender theory into academic education are being made in all post-soviet countries. These attempts are only occasional, and practices of teaching gender, learning gender and academic research of gender stimulate the tendency. 

Therefore, it is very important to construct the image of the future of gender theory. Forecasting on the development of theory is a thankless business, as the future is not a result of a simple and pure extrapolation of the current tendencies. At the same time, an attempt to perceive an image of the future of this very science or study is a top priority and important task, as this project may also have an influence upon the future of gender study in our countries.
1. The existing attempt to integrate the elements of gender study into the disciplinary subject space gathers momentum. As the gender factor may be considered among the causes of social inequality, causes of basic (fundamental) inequality, the integration of the gender theory reflects the empirical adequacy of one or another science. Now we already may speak about integration and strengthened positions of gender in sociology, anthropology, and integration of the gender theory into history and political science.
At the same time, gender has penetrated only through “soft” sciences, and it has been unclear so far whether physics, for example, may change depending on the way people think of the material matters, giving maximum of encouragement to the every subject’s activity. An actual, urgent question appears thereupon, if there are any chances for the gender theory and gender study to be further developed, without scientific autonomy, being an inter-disciplinary paradigm of comprehension of the present in the academic world ruled by disciplinary values. But, if gender research and gender theory may and must possess scientific autonomy, with its specific theory, history and methodology, then how will its subject and main scientific categories be formulated, and how will researchers identify the leading trends?
I would like to express my own attitude towards the attempts to obtain a scientific autonomy: this way seems to have less prospects. Gender theory encouraged by the powerful women’s movement has proven its full value to the masculinized sciences not at once. Until now gender theory cannot overcome the skepticism and discussions around the implication of the theoretical approach. That is why, having obtained a status of scientific autonomy, gender theory will find itself segregated in a certain way. The scholars who are forced today to study gender problems, will then dissociate themselves from it, and declare this is out of the subject frameworks of their science.
2. Scientists representing many social sciences have long ago stated impossibility to keep the robust lines of demarcation between the sciences. Taking all that into account, we guess that escalation of gender theory will be one of the most important factors of loosening borders between the social disciplines. The main object of gender analyses will be given another understanding. What theoretical constructs or basic sections of the theory? It is clear that gender theory possesses a certain categorical apparatus consisting of its scientific exclusiveness, and prerogative. At the same time, there takes place a methodological union of gender with many other sciences (mainly the social sciences). However, what is unclear so far, is if the traditions of “masculine rationality as essence of science” may be supported. What we must keep in mind is: will gender theory be constructed to the model of all other sciences with their intrinsic dichotomy, theory of verifiability of knowledge, axiomatic nature of the basic postulates and causality? Very important are the points of view that gender theory as such stands against the materialistic approach in its essence, as it starts from “what the people – men and women – are, but not from their relations with material objects or what the material objects are”. That is why gender theory as such may not dissolve in the traditions and schools of cultural research, sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc.
At the same time, it is not clear how history of feminism and women’s studies will be included and accounted for, as well as those of the gay-lesbian movement. Along with that, it is evident that gender theory is to overcome the feminist separatism, and the dichotomy, representing not paired category but a unit (availability/ absence). In other words, gender theory has a chance to eliminate domination of male subjectivity from the process of cognition.
4. Gender theory will be forced to gradually lose the touch of historical development of the social sciences. It is evident today that the project of the present is impossible without gender theory. Key definitions in the cultural dimension of the present world are the essences and ways of cultural representation of the genders. The very future of the world is dependent upon the oppositions of the male and the female, if those are surmountable, or subject to metamorphoses, dichotomy of the science, and if thinking is possible at all without Marx’s principles. It is possible to forecast that the tendency to overcome the domination of the Marxist (Neo-Marxist) theory will become more and more steady.
5. Gender theory must be risen to the Macro-Level processes. This tendency is directly connected to the post-modernist project, and return from micro-level studies to the macro-level is characteristic not only for gender theory. Methodology of research is also relevant to that: what should be predominating: “construction of a theory” rising above “stupid empiricism” or generalization, synthesis of the social world phenomena on the basis of labor-intensive empirical research? At the same time, account must be taken of retaining plural approaches in the gender theory for the future. And gender theory will not reach a consensus in relation to gender theory and interpretation of the results of gender studies.
6. Involvement of the gender theory in the social practice forming will gather momentum. Until now, the social practices (the social movements of the present) predominate in the development of gender theory. But right now there exist a tendency manifesting itself rather consistently – a tendency of reversed influence of the gender science to the social practice. In other words, gender theory is a growing power reconstructing the reality, and now as before it arouses discussions and skepticism as gender asymmetry of power roots so deeply in the course of history in all cultures, that attempts to abolish it had to run into heavy opposition, inevitably.


Writer Dr. Gulshoda Urazalieva is Associate Professor in Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration, Uzbekistan