Gender and Tobacco in (Globalizing) Asia – Exorcizing the Ghosts of Dualistic Thought?
Article first published online: 2 DEC 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 5, Issue 12, pages 1018–1028, December 2011
How to Cite
Tan, Q. H. (2011), Gender and Tobacco in (Globalizing) Asia – Exorcizing the Ghosts of Dualistic Thought?. Sociology Compass, 5: 1018–1028. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00425.x
- Issue published online: 2 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 2 DEC 2011
This paper investigates the intersections between tobacco, gender and globalizing Asia. I argue that binary tropes like modernity/westernization-tradition and masculinity–femininity are incessantly invoked in a burgeoning tobacco-control literature focused on Asia. This tends to reify discursive and material gendered smoking stereotypes, as well as their underlying asymmetrical power relations. Responding to this I chart out three ways in which dualistic gender ideologies can be rethought. Firstly, I attend to varieties within gender categories to account for more nuanced articulations of gender identities. I do this by demonstrating the co-imbrication between polyvalent masculinities and smoking practices. Secondly, I am attuned to intersecting facets of smoking subjectivities – situated within a specific Asian cultural fabric – that complicate the easy conflation of masculinity with power, and femininity with disempowerment. Lastly, I contend that fleshing out the embodied aspects of gendered smoking practices can assist us in confounding polarized gender categories and their associated attributes. I conclude my paper with a discussion on the uneasy relationships between Asia, Westernization, gender and a possible move away from a Western-centric dualistic thinking.