Gender is a process, a journey. It is in constant change, built up and altered by people who live itSaltering them. In this process, material culture is used both as an agent and as an object of representation.
Gotlandic picture stones are the point of departure for this particular gender journey. In human figures on the stones, gender is constructed by body languages – body line, gesture, hairdo, dressS- and relations to other figures in the image. Feminine gender is primarily represented by a certain body line a slightly S-shaped curve and gestures held tightly to the upper body. Different kinds of femininity are expressed in variation in attributes and relations to other figures while the body line is almost always acknowledged. A non-figurative femininity can be seen in the border of the stones, where textile ornaments bind the image together.
These constructions form norms and contradictions, changing over time and varying in space within a clearly seen common framework the engendered language of the body. There are strictly acknowledged limits between female and male genders on the picture stones. Androgynity exists however, but is clearly constructed out of these two, and there is usually no doubt which gender the figure is ascribed to even if overtones from the opposite gender are added. Over time femininity disappears in the images when runic inscriptions take the place of the earlier textile ornaments in the borders. Now femininity is only represented in runes, telling the name of the woman who got a stone erected after her. Masculinity stays a little longer, but is intertwined and hidden in snake loops, functioning as a disguise for the often pagan associated motifs.
In textile images this language is similar to that on the picture stones, recognisable but different items are stressed. This I relate to the genders of the image-producers; out of archaeological finds and literary sources I assume that picture stones are made by men and textile images are made by women. Men stress an aggressive, war-associated masculinity, a servile but noble femininity and a ceremonial androgynity built on dress in their images. Women, on the other hand, stress femininity built on wealth in property - animals, serfs and clothing - and important roles in religious ceremonies, a masculinity that protects this feminine wealth, and a mythical, warrior-like androgynity built on action in their images.
The gender constructions in Old Norse poems and sagas have both similarities and differences compared to the above. Here the change over time is most obviously seen in the different forms of femininity; pagan practices changing places with Christian ones together with more constant forms like the housewife. The femininity of the völva, the pagan sorceress, is seen as the bearer of this transformation.
The gender journey continues in an analysis of women and femininity in society as a whole during the conversion. The survey ends up in a theoretical discussion on subordination, the end of serfdom and new attitudes to life, women and femininity. The images of women and femininity are seen as representations of this process, actively influencing people´s life when the Scandinavian Viking Age met the Middle Ages.
Stockholm: Stockholm University , 1999. , 332 p.