chapter  13
14 Pages

Keep Moving

Place and Gender in a Post-Apocalyptic Environment
WithChrista Grewe-Volpp

As with race, class, and gender, place is also socially constructed. It is, as David Harvey argued in the 1990s, produced by social processes which include “imaginaries,” “institutionalizations,” “social relations,” “material practices,” “power” and “discourse” (294). As all these elements change over time, place is constantly evolving, never permanent or fixed. For cultural geographer Doreen Massey, place and space are also gendered. Whereas time is coded masculine in Western culture, aligned with history, progress, civilization, politics and transcendence, space is regarded as feminine and associated with passivity, stasis, and depoliticization (Massey 6). Place, defined as a more concrete geographical entity than space, is equally coded feminine. These codifications are an inherent part of power relations because of the values attributed to them. 1 The notion of place as bounded or as an enclosure is interpreted by feminists as a masculine strategy which stresses the need for the security of boundaries, designed for dominance (Massey 7). Furthermore, place is derogated because of its associations with terms such as “local, specific, concrete, descriptive,” which are set in opposition to the more highly valued terms “general, universal, theoretical/abstract/conceptual” (9). This dichotomy has had and still has very concrete consequences for the construction of gender relations. It has culturally relegated women to the ‘home’ and denied them access to public space and to mobility. Although one can no longer generalize about the separation of the spheres in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, “some culturally specific symbolic association of women/Woman/local does persist” (10).