Working Out: New Directions For Womens Studies

Working Out: New Directions For Women's Studies
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Judith Kegan Gardiner has assembled some of the most distinguished practitioners of both masculinity studies and feminist theory working in universities today, and they have collectively thought through the different ways in which feminist theory and masculinity studies are related. In many ways, Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory explores the insights of three decades of feminist theory on the construction of masculinities.

This project is politically important because it demonstrates that, although it is not self-evident, masculinity studies is a significant outgrowth of feminist studies and an ally to its older sister in a complex and constantly shifting relationship. Masculinity studies is not necessarily the reactionary defensive rage of the men's rights groups, the mythic cross-cultural nostalgia of mythopoetry, nor even the theologically informed nostalgic yearning for separate spheres of Promise Keepers.

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Rather, masculinity studies can be informed by a feminist project to interrogate different masculinities, whether real as in corporeal or imagined as in representations and texts. These essays are about men. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page.

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If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. From my perspective, what's unique about women's studies is that it can investigate the limitations of feminism as a historical phenomenon and social force without risking the accusation that it is indifferent to the questions that gender raises. Dialogue: How is the field being changed by doctoral programs, and do you have plans to develop a Ph. Wiegman : The Ph. This is not disciplinary reproduction as most fields know it, and it raises all kinds of questions about how to conceive of women's studies as a field separate from the disciplines.

Our program faculty has not been eager to jump into the development of the Ph. But in this context, we've made the requirements for our graduate certificate program more rigorous. We currently have 30 graduate students on track to get a certificate, which I think is a somewhat smaller number than we've had in the past, but we are now asking more of them. The new certificate seems to be working out well for both faculty and students. Dialogue: Would you describe what's happening in women's studies as being part of a normal life cycle of a new field? Wiegman : Yes to a certain extent. Institutionalization of any field is always an engine for defining its distinct intellectual identity.

In our case, tenure lines and doctoral programs are profoundly changing how people belong to women's studies programs, and this has far reaching implications for governance structures and research agendas. That's why it's such a fabulous field to be in right now.

Prof Jackie Stacey research profile - publications | The University of Manchester

I find that the most generative moment in any given discipline is when its basic assumptions are being critically discussed and one is no longer able to take anything for granted. That's true of all fields and has historically been the case within the academy -- in anthropology, in history, in literary studies, in the biological sciences, etc. Moments of "crisis" in the humanities, and the social and natural sciences are really generative in that they are the points at which we are pushed to engage the most basic questions that constitute our fields.

Questions such as: Who defines that status of culture? What is a text? What constitutes knowledge? A second limitation observed is that many of the studies relied on a home-based yoga practice for logistical reasons, and, therefore, depended on self-report diaries and phone calls to assess adherence [ 28 , 31 — 33 ]. None of the studies that monitored compliance reported any results on frequency or engagement of participants' yoga practice and only two listed this methodology as a limitation [ 31 , 33 ].

A third limitation is that the use of a prenatal yoga program was primarily evaluated in populations of Asian nationalities Taiwanese, Indian, and Thai ; research is needed to evaluate the efficacy of yoga for pregnancy in populations from other continents. Cultural and demographic variables should also be considered in the interpretation of some results; it has been suggested that low birth weight and premature birth are persistent problems with no current solution and that prenatal yoga programs may prevent poor outcomes for these factors [ 29 , 30 ].

Cultural context and health related issues of infant weight should be considered in the interpretation of the effects of a yoga program on infant weight.

Lastly, the majority of the women in the reviewed studies were of middle-to-high socioeconomic status, presenting a selection bias of participants [ 28 , 32 , 33 ], thus reducing generalizability. In light of the limitations of existing research, we recommend several methodological improvements for future studies, including a more rigorous statistical approach when evaluating multiple outcome measures, use of more intensive self-report measures to monitor adherence such as interactive web-based monitoring systems, and inclusion of more diverse samples in terms of ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Future studies evaluating the effects of a yoga intervention on pregnancy-related outcomes should strive to use an RCT design, and, where possible in the research protocol, use methodology to prevent chance outcomes, allocation biases, and both researcher and participant expectancy effects.

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There is also a need to evaluate the efficacy of yoga for high-risk pregnancy populations, such as women with pregnancy-induced hypertension or diabetes and for women over the age of 35 years. The present paper evaluated the components of the various yoga interventions postures, breathing exercises, meditation, deep relaxation, anatomy, lectures, and chanting , which provides useful information on the quality, depth, and scope of each program. There is a debate in the field regarding the utility of a dismantling approach, as it does not acknowledge that yoga is inherently a holistic health practice and that such an approach will fail to capture its essential features or core mechanisms.

This conflict reflects the different paradigms of yoga and science and their emphasis on holism and reductionism, respectively. From a research perspective, there is interest in better understanding which of the components are responsible for the observed effects and to uncover their putative mechanisms. It is possible that a dismantling approach, if done appropriately, may have theoretical and clinical value in that it may provide important information about the specific components that lead to particular psychological and physiological effects.

On the other hand, dismantling yoga into various components presents both theoretical and practical challenges.

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Nevertheless, this is an empirical question that can be tested by ensuring that any dismantling study incorporates as a control group a true yoga condition. Another challenge of the dismantling approach is the logistical difficulty of matching interventions based on the various elements of yoga; classes based upon meditation or chanting may differ in length from classes of asana, making them difficult to compare. Finally, there is a risk for the dismantling approach to be conducted ad infinitum, in which types or sequences of asanas or forms of pranayama may be compared.

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It may be most effective, from a clinical perspective, to compare yoga interventions to other commonly used approaches to treatment, such as aerobic exercise, pharmacological management, or other mind-body practices such as Tai Chi and Qi-Gong. An active ingredient in a yoga program may be mindfulness, which has been effective in symptom reduction and general health improvement in a variety of conditions that are relevant to pregnancy, such as anxiety, depression, back pain, and stress [ 36 ].

Moreover, preliminary research from a mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting education adaptation of a traditional mindfulness-based Stress reduction program found improvements in measures of anxiety, depression, and positive affect in women participating in their third trimester of pregnancy [ 37 ]. Similarly, an RCT evaluating a psychosocial mindfulness-based intervention administered in the second half of pregnancy found reductions in anxiety and negative mood when compared to waitlist control, indicating mindfulness-based interventions are a possible mental health approach to managing stressors associated with pregnancy [ 38 ].

The evaluation of mindfulness and endocrine, immune, or neurological variables in an integrated prenatal yoga program or in dismantled components may provide valuable insight regarding the key components responsible for generating change. In addition to evaluating mindfulness as a construct within a yoga intervention, we also recommend that future research compare the effects of a prenatal yoga program with the effects of traditional mindfulness-based stress reduction programs, mindfulness based therapies, and other mind-body practices, such as tai chi, on maternal and infant prenatal outcomes.

The reviewed studies provide empirical support for the efficacy of integrative yoga programs for pregnant women, but we know little about how the specific components of yoga may impact maternal pain, physiological, and psychosocial variables as well as fetal or infant parameters. A dismantling design may provide valuable information regarding the ways that different components of yoga may alter maternal nervous system functioning and in turn influence fetal neurophysiology or behaviour.

For instance, paced breathing exercises, which might be comparable to a yogic breath practice pranayama , have been shown to be associated with acute changes in fetal heart rate in response to uterine stimulation [ 39 ]. In addition, fetuses of mothers who had received an intervention consisting of relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery, had higher long-term heart rate variability than controls, and women who had received progressive muscle relaxation had significantly more uterine activity than the guided imagery or control groups [ 8 ].

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It is possible that elements commonly included in a yoga practice, such as breathing exercises or deep relaxation, may affect both fetal heart rate and fetal movement. We recommend evaluating the effects on the fetus of maternal breathing exercises or deep relaxation when done as part of a comprehensive yoga program.

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Pregnancy can be a stressful time for expectant mothers, and it has been suggested that pregnancy associated stress can have adverse effects on fetal development during critical periods, resulting in poor outcomes for length of gestation, fetal growth, birth weight, fetal development, and general programming of the nervous system [ 5 , 8 ].

For instance, elevated levels of maternal cortisol, a stress hormone, in the second and third trimester of pregnancy are associated with an increased response of infant cortisol to a heel-prick procedure after birth [ 40 ]. These results point to the importance of evaluating the effects of a prenatal yoga intervention on the relationships between 1 maternal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sympathomedullary pathway and 2 changes in stress levels of the fetus by measuring variety of stress related maternal e.

It is possible that alteration of maternal sympathetic nervous system functioning, as demonstrated by reduced levels of stress-related hormones such as cortisol, may be one of the mechanisms through which yoga initiates psychophysiological change in pregnant women. An integrated yoga program, including asana , pranayama , and dharana , guided relaxation, and yogic theory in application to pain states, has been shown to alter cortisol levels in a sample of females with chronic pain due to fibromyalgia [ 41 ].

Yoga has also been shown to reduce inflammatory markers, decrease heart rate, and produce improvements in physical fitness variables, all of which may work in concert with behavioural change and psychosocial functioning to improve reactivity to stress and pain [ 2 ]. Our search strategy did not yield a single published paper examining how a prenatal yoga program affects maternal adjustment to demands in the postnatal period, such as breast feeding, physical healing and recovery from birth, and sleep deprivation, amongst others. Follow up evaluation of these variables or other stress-related measures such as cortisol, at one month or six months after birth may provide insight into the lasting impact of a yoga program.

It would also be useful to evaluate stress, pain, cognition, and physiological variables in infants at follow-up time periods in order to better understand the implications of a prenatal yoga program on development in certain domains during the early years of life. In addition, yoga interventions in the postpartum period may be effective in addressing these areas of concern as well as in the treatment or prevention of specific maternal conditions associated with this time period, such as postpartum depression.

Given the specific physical needs of women during pregnancy, a tailored and specialized yoga protocol that uses a variety of elements of a yoga practice is best indicated. Several of the reviewed studies provide a holistic approach to health promotion and stress management, providing participants with a framework with which to integrate the lecture material on yogic philosophy, positive lifestyle change, mindful awareness, stress reduction, and pregnancy and labour into their daily lives.

It is recommended that future research studies use yoga interventions that fall under the general category of Hatha yoga or use programs in line with a particular school of yoga that emphasizes a specialized, gentle and modified asana programs, such as Iyengar or restorative yoga. Research-based interventions should not use types of yoga that emphasize a physical demanding, strength-based, or heated practice for safety precautions for both the mother and fetus.

Masculinity Studies & Feminist Theory: New Directions

The present paper has several limitations. Because of the sparse number of RCTs and the absence of double blind RCTs in the literature, we included studies that were randomized but not double-blinded and also controlled trials that lacked randomization. Due to the relatively few articles included in the paper, the findings outlined are preliminary and not conclusive or generalizable. In conclusion, the present paper suggests that a prenatal yoga program results in benefits during pregnancy as well as throughout labour and on birth outcomes.