Fishing businesses, women's entrepreneurship and the performance femininity

Authors: Madeleine Gustavsson*, Ruralis
Topics: Gender, Rural Geography
Keywords: entrepreneurship, femininity, fishing
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In fisheries scholarship, it is often understood that work is gendered along a land/sea boundary. Although recent work has examined how male fishers perform masculinities through their fishing practices, less attention has been paid to femininity in fisheries. This study will focus on women’s entrepreneurial fisheries work and how women’s performances of femininities is shaped by, and shape, their entrepreneurialism. I draw on Schippers’ (2002; 2007) concepts of ‘gender hegemony’, ‘gender maneuvering’ and three forms of femininities: hegemonic femininity, pariah femininity and alternative femininity in exploring women entrepreneurs’ gender performances. I found that women’s performances of femininities are versatile as women adapted their gender performances to particular situated, relational and spatial contexts. All women performed a type of hegemonic femininity that supported, confirmed and upheld the hegemonic masculinity. Yet, through their entrepreneurial work in male-dominated fishing spaces, women also performed a form of pariah femininity which incorporated many features of the hegemonic masculinity – such as getting dirty, smelly, working hard and displaying strength. In food spaces, innovation and creativity, women performed a type of alternative femininity which was not predicated on their subordination to that of men. Women found joy and pride within this work. The wider significance of these findings is that women fisheries entrepreneurs maneuver their gender by adopting versatility in their performance of femininities as a strategy to simultaneously be ‘good’ women and partners of fisher-men whilst also carving out a space for themselves in food entrepreneurship which was more liberating, enjoyable and self-fulfilling.

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