Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

Role of the Dutch Students: Towards an Understanding of the Socio-cultural Context

  • Page ID
    81088
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    My expectations of the role of the Dutch students had been that the English students would be more to the point in their answers, because they had experience of discussing texts in previous classes, albeit not using an explicit framework. As it turned out, it worked the other way round. The inclusion of the Dutch students in the lesson immediately raised the level of discussion, as their responses prompted more dialogic responses from the other students.

    In giving their first responses to the text, both Dutch students straight away took an evaluative stance to the text and considered, without being prompted, what might lie behind the stereotypical representation of women in the text:

    G: Wat is jullie eerste reactie op de tekst... puur persoonlijk en waar ging de tekst over naar jouw gevoel?

    Yasmin: Heel herkenbaar, ja. Als je naar programma’s kijkt als ‘Sex in the city’ en ‘Ally McBeal’ dan gaat het echt daarover. En dit artikel, ja dat was niet iets nieuws... ik herkende alles.

    G: Je herkende, wat precies?

    Yasmin: Nou zeg maar die hoger opgeleide vrouwen die een man wil om haar leven, zeg maar, compleet te maken en dat lees je ook in tijdschriften als Cosmopolitan en normale kranten ook en dergelijke, voorgekauwd spul was dit... ja dat heb ik heel vaak gelezen.

    Translation

    G: What is your first reaction to the text… purely personal reaction and what was the text about, you feel?

    Yasmin: Very recognizable, yes, when you look at programs like ‘Sex in the city’ and ‘Ally McBeal’ then it is really about that. And this article, yes it was nothing new… I recognized everything.

    G: You recognized what exactly?

    Yasmin: Well, those well-educated women who want a man to make their life, well, complete. You read that also in magazines like ‘Cosmopolitan’ and also normal newspapers, hackneyed stuff this was, yes I have read this often.

    The dialogue continues:

    Marijke: Dat was mijn reactie ook wel. Om nou te zeggen… ja, ik herken het natuurlijk ook wel, ik heb ook artikelen gelezen dat je ook over al die series op tv over vrouwen...

    Claire: Ja, dat stereotiepe ook.

    Marijke: Ja en als ik dan denk van... ja, ik herken het omdat ik er vaker over heb gelezen, ik herken het niet als verschijnsel in de maatschappij... ik heb dit soort vrouwen nog nooit gezien. Ja, eigenlijk vind ik het een beetje belachelijk dat mannen vernielen, ik vind dat heeeel kinderachtig. Zijn er echt vrouwen... is er een hele beweging van vrouwen die dat soort dingen serieus doen?

    Yasmin: Ja, je leest er wel verhalen over, maar gebeurt het ook op grote schaal? Ik ken persoonlijk niemand die zo is.

    Translation

    Marijke: That was my reaction as well. Well… yes, I recognize it, of course, I have also read articles like that and all those series on tv about women…

    Claire: Yes, the stereotypes…

    Marijke: Yes and when I think… yes, I recognize it because I have read about it more often, but I don’t recognize it as a phenomenon in society… I have never seen these women. Yes, actually I think it is a bit ridiculous... that ‘destroying men’ thing, I find it veeeery childish. Are there really women… is there really a whole movement of women who are really doing that kind of thing?

    Yasmin: Yes, you read about it, but does it really happen on a large scale? I personally don’t know anyone who is like that.

    Yasmin first responds by saying she recognized the issue of highly educated women who want a man to make their life complete. But she immediately made explicit that she recognized the ideas by having read about them in glossy magazines as well as in ‘normal’ newspapers. So Yasmin located the article in an intertextual relationship with global media discourses. The Dutch students were not just criticizing the article for using stereotypes (although they did that too), but they were at the same time relating the article to the wider issue that these stereotypes indeed existed and were not only recognizable, but were hackneyed (Yasmin). This was a collaboration: Yasmin initially felt that the article portrayed something very recognizable, but Marijke takes her point further; she recognizes the stereotypes because she has read about them so often, but she considers that these stereotypes do not relate to reality. Marijke, then, separated the ‘cultuurtekst’ (the underlying ideas in the text) from actual reality.

    During the next exchange, Emma considered what could be behind the creation of such stereotypes in the media, and how these ideas could become dominant, considering they do not relate to reality. And again in the ensuing dialogue, a collaboration takes place between Emma and one of the Dutch students, Marijke, who helped to make a more explicit link with the cultural context of the article:

    Emma: Misschien dat soort benoemingen dan, van mannen – of vrouwen vernielers, misschien is dat ooit een keer gezegd als grapje, en is dat gewoon opgenomen in de maatschappij en is dat opgenomen door mannen, of ja, door wie, en misschien van daar is het een verschijnsel in de geschreven... eh pers geworden, want ja, ik denk, ja, er zijn vaak genoeg vrouwen inderdaad die toch gewoon gelukkig zijn om alleen te zijn en die inderdaad op een beetje fun uit zijn, die wel eens een man versieren. ‘t Is niet zozeer dat ze een man willen vernielen, maar net als mannen, die willen verder niks... (onverstaanbaar)... ja, en daar houdt het dan mee op.

    Marijke: Ja, ‘t kan ook best wel dat je... want het is natuurlijk een heel interessant onderwerp, iets zoals dit, dus als je er ook maar een klein beetje aan ruikt of iets opvangt wat een beetje in die trant zit van vrouwen die een man gaan vernielen, dat klinkt heel interessant en dan kun je daar ook een prachtig artikel over schrijven wat al die mannen ook als een gek gaan zitten te lezen... ik bedoel, ‘t blijft gewoon een ontzettend interessant onderwerp, man versus vrouwen.

    Emma: Ja precies, kijk wat een man doet, als een man uitgaat en een vrouw versiert, nou dat is gewoon normaal, niemand kijkt daar van op, maar als een vrouw dat doet, dat wordt nog steeds gewoon beoordeeld.

    Marijke: Misschien is dat dan wel de waarde of het beeld dat je eruit kunt halen, hè, dat ‘t van vrouwen niet… dat ‘t niet bij ons beeld van vrouwen past om uit te gaan en mannen te versieren.

    Translation

    Emma: Maybe that those kinds of labels: ‘destroying men/male-bashing’ or women, maybe that has been said once as a joke and that label has just been taken over in society and taken over by men or yes, and maybe from there it became a phenomenon in the press, because yes, I think there are often enough women who are indeed just happy to be on their own and who indeed are out to have some fun, who would like to get it off with a man, not that they want to destroy a man, but who just like men... and who do not want anything more than that (inaudible) and… well that’s all there is to it.

    Marijke: Yes, it is also possible that you… because it is of course a really interesting topic, something like this, so if you sniff at it only a little or if you catch something in the sense of women who are going to destroy a man, that sounds very interesting and then you can write a wonderful article about it which all those men are going to read like mad… I mean, it remains such an interesting topic: men versus women.

    Emma: Yes, exactly, look what a man does… when a man goes out and gets it off with a woman, that is just normal, it is expected. But when a woman is doing that it is still being criticized.

    Marijke: Maybe that is the value or the image you can recognize, that it doesn’t fit in the image we have of women to go out and pick up a man.

    Emma’s initial suggestion that the description of women as ‘mannenvernielers’ (‘destroyers of men’/’male-bashers’) had come into use purely by accident, through a joke that then became part of an accepted notion in society, does not consider in any way its social or cultural origins, ideologies or power relations. Emma’s suggestion does not really refer to any previous knowledge or experience either, it seems. It is an attempt at explaining an existing and recognizable discourse as not located within a particular socio-cultural context, but as a chance happening. Marijke then takes Emma’s suggestion on board, but instead of accepting Emma’s version, she locates the emergence of ‘labels’ within the commercial text-producing environment; the magazine needs to attract readers, and gender relations, after all, constitute a very interesting topic, Marijke says.

    Emma builds further on this and this time she does make a link with the socio-cultural context. She relates the representation of women as being sexually aggressive to cultural conventions: what is ‘normal’ behaviour for a man is not deemed acceptable in a woman. It is Marijke who makes this even more explicit and brings this back to what the text then might signify as a whole; that ‘chasing men’ is not part of the acceptable image of women in our society. Marijke is already referring to discourse here: the implicit conventions and assumptions of how women should behave.

    So Emma, even though she thought she was agreeing with Marijke, approaches the text initially from a perspective outside society. Marijke tries to formulate it from a socio-cultural perspective and tries to engage with the values underpinning the text straight away, which Emma then responds to. The students then are starting to engage with the notion of how gender is constructed in the article; they have started to ‘map’ the discourses through their dialogic interaction. In the set of data I discuss below, Claire takes the mapping of discourses further still.


    This page titled Role of the Dutch Students: Towards an Understanding of the Socio-cultural Context is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gerdi Quist (Ubiquity Press) .

    • Was this article helpful?