M1: Unit 3: Chapter 2 – Gender and Translation

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Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 5: Gender Oriented Approaches
Chapter 2: Gender and Translation Text 1: Ensler
Chapter 3: Gender and Language Text 2: Sappho
Chapter 4: Gender-related Metaphorics on Translation

Chapter 2 – Gender and Translation

The concept of gender, although now prevalent both within and outside the academia, still deserves a brief explanation here.

Biological sexual difference (the fact that some of us happen to have certain reproductive organs, while others have other reproductive organs) is not enough to explain the differences in women’s and men’s societal roles. Babies are turned into women and men in response to the expectations of the societies in which they happen to be born. Certain attitudes ‘typical’ of a given society at a given time begin to shape the children – through the different ways parents talk to them, through education, religion, media, etc.

Early feminist use of the term ‘gender’ referred to the result of this social process. The argument was that one was not a woman only because she had been born as a baby girl. She had become a woman during the process of growing up. In the 1960s, ‘gender’ came to refer to the socio-cultural construction of both sexes, as men were not exempt from this process of ‘becoming’. In later years, this ‘gender duality’ was criticised mainly by the gays and lesbians. There were, after all, only two types of encultured gender corresponding to the two biological sexes. Today gender can be envisaged more as a continuum – not as a primary identity emerging out of the depths of the self, but a discursive construction enunciated at multiple sites.

The concept of gender intersects with translation in many different ways. First of all, there is the relationship between gender and language: How gender is reflected in the language and how it is constructed by language. This will be discussed in chapter 3 . Then there are the gender-related metaphors within the traditional thinking about translation and the consequences of these metaphors, which will be the subject of chapter 4. Finally, in chapter 5, we will look at the gender-oriented approaches to translation.