Identity, Cross Gender, Gender Performativity

In this weeks session in connection with last weeks session, we looked at how we are controlled by our identity and gender.


In 1999, Spanish artist Santiago Sierra paid six unemployed young men in Cuba to take part in one of his installation pieces. The men were offered $30 each to participate, and stripped to their shorts to become a part of  its human experiments, this time in the Espacia Aglutinador, Havana’s oldest art space.Santiago Sierra had the men tattooed, one straight, horizontal line reaching across each of their backs.

Having a tattoo is normally a personal choice. But when you do it under ’remunerated’ conditions, this gesture becomes something that seems awful, degrading—it perfectly illustrates the tragedy of our social hierarchiesThe tattoo is not the problem. The problem is the existence of social conditions that allow me to make this work. You could make this tattooed line a kilometer long, using thousands and thousands of willing people.”

-Santiago Sierra

We looked at an extract from Identity: Sociological Perspectives, Steph Lawler, 2008 which looks at sociology and anthropology in regards to identity and how its hard to define is due to the fact that there isnt a single over arching definition of what it is. Jackson (2002) says that, “one’s humanity is simultaneusly shared and sigular” (p. 142) which implies that we similarities and differences with each other which makes us identical with ourselves.

There are various forms of identity with which people identify. You may identify with a wider category, being a woman, but overstating the case you may dis-dentify from certain features of being a woman. Perhaps identity with some features attributed to a man. Lawley goes to argue, “identity must be managed”. One simply does not have one identity and the combinations of these “identities impact on each other”. For example how does a white woman compare in terms of meaning or experiences to a black woman? I would argue that these differences should be seen as dynamic and a way to celebrate life and its differences. Lawley says that there are identity categories which are understood as being oppositional which are the examples of binaries of man/woman, black/white, homosexual/heterosexual, in which the context, “identifications rely on their own dis-identifications”.

Looking at Obama and Cameron, even though we see shared identities such as being men and being leaders of countries they share also singular identities such as race and nationality.

People can further be categorised into smaller identities or groups, such as names, colours, , styles, body art, music, things people do, which are constructs we as a society follow.

Warner, 1991. “Belief that society is built upon such strict norms of different genders, and that heterosexuality is the ‘norm’.” From this I get that when a thing is defined as a norm, anything outside that definition transgresses the norm such as homosexuality and transsexuals.

Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble explained with cats:

We went to further discuss Cross Gender/ Cross Genre, Mike Kelley, 2000 in which an extract intrigued me in which discusses the unfairness on the sexes when it come to cross gender and ways they dress and are viewed by society, “In Western culture,men who dress in female clothes are considered funny,while the opposite is generally not the case. A woman dressed in male clothes has little comedic value. The sexism at the root of this difference is obvious, for why else should the adoption of feminine characteristics a man be abject.”

Connell (2005) describes how there are different types of masculinity, hegemonic masculinity in which men enjoy high social economic and cultural status which is portrayed globally and on the other hand, subordinate masculinity which is described as the marginalisation of some men despite their high social, cultural and economic status in general, for example homosexual men and black men.

I have learnt that identity is not fixed but its embodies. It is also a way that we read, judge and know people. Sexuality however in society is mostly fixed. Gender though is not fixed and is a cultural construction. Really interesting new information that could be potentially be explored furthermore.



Published by


BA (Hons) Final Year Ceramics student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Love experimenting with material and techniques and work on a range of medium.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s