Gender issues and the right to choice
Drawing on my experience teaching anthropology in the Greek university as well as on everyday interaction, I note a shift whereby gender increasingly pertains to issues concerning the right to sexual self identification. This shift accords with the understanding of the modern subject as agent of choice. However, mainstream gender performances are less likely to be attributed to individual choice than performances departing from hetero-normative standards. Hence, the latter are viewed as entailing risks which individuals undertake knowingly and costs which they must endure alone. Conversely, attributions of dire circumstance to external necessities and constraints imply disavowal of personal responsibility and are likelier to generate sympathy. Turning my attention to the solidarity discourse that emerged during the crisis, I suggest that awareness of the universal human survival needs was reinforced by the externally imposed austerity measured and that this awareness served as the background against which concern over gender issues appeared to concern choices and thus to amount to luxury.
Alexandra Bakalaki is a social anthropologist. Much of her teaching, research and published work has focused on gender. She is Associate Professor (retired) of Social Anthropology and Folklore in the Department of History and Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.