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Sexed bodies, gendered bodies: Children and the body in Vietnam
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Child Studies.
2002 (English)In: Women's Studies: International Forum, ISSN 0277-5395, Vol. 25, no 3, 359-372 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines how local Vietnamese ideas about female and male bodies, the patrilineage, and morality intersect with one another and influence girls' and boys' different social positions. In the rural commune of Thinh Tri, the meaning of patrilineal ancestor worship is salient. It is perceived to be a person's moral obligation to provide male progeny in order to continue either one's own or one's husband's patrilineage. Because only sons are thought to be able to continue their father's lineage, their genitals (i.e. the Phallus) and by extension, their bodies are imbued with symbolic meaning. Therefore, males hold a special position within the local community. Since daughters are not assumed to be able to reproduce their father's lineage, their bodies are not celebrated in similar ways as boys'. Hence, a child's body is construed as a powerful socio-symbolic and material sign that reflects local life in terms of hierarchies, positions, and power. Local understandings of female and male bodies crystallize the ways in which a child's body simultaneously is wrought socially (i.e. in terms of 'gender') and biologically (i.e. in terms of 'sex'), both the notions of sex and gender have a history, which is constructed discursively. In other words, both notions address the same question, which is namely, how female and male bodies are rendered meaningful in time and space. Since the notions of sex and gender are overlapping one another, this article suggests that we approach the human body as an analytical category that can substitute the notions of sex and gender. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 25, no 3, 359-372 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-46920DOI: 10.1016/S0277-5395(02)00261-3OAI: diva2:267816
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2011-01-13

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Rydström, Helle
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