Gender and the Body Language of Power
We’re celebrating the end of the year with our most popular posts from 2013, plus a few of our favorites tossed in. Enjoy! Philosopher Sandra Lee Bartky once observed that being feminine often means using one’s body to portray powerlessness. Consider: A feminine person keeps her body small and contained; she makes sure that it doesn’t take up to much space or impose itself. She walks and sits in tightly packaged ways. She doesn’t cover the breadth of the sidewalk or expand herself beyond the chair she occupies. Likewise, burping and farting, raising one’s voice in an argument, and even laughing loudly are considered distinctly unfeminine. Stunningly, when you think about it, these features of feminine body comportment are, in fact, not uniquely feminine, but associated with deference more generally. Acting feminine, then, overlaps with performances of submissiveness. New evidence suggests that this is not pure theory.
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