Empowering Translation: Gender and Voice Politics

Naeema Abdelgawad


Traditionally, translation was valued to the extent that it created a subservient equivalence to the ideas and meanings of the original text; translation was deemed no more than impersonal, transparent activity. This status of subalternity was metaphorically emphasised through sexualised tropes invoking gender variable roles in a manner reflecting cultural values. Translation was depicted as secondary and derivative; hence, it was ‘feminine.’ Originality, creativity and authority, depicted ‘masculine,’ had patriarchal authority empowering them to relegate whatever was female to secondary roles. By deconstructing this perspective and eroticising translation, converting it into a semiotic sign representing femininity and subordination, this article proposes a discourse of empowerment that attempts to assert translation as a visible and creative process possessing an authoritative role and, thus, in a position of power. The concepts of gender and cultural identity are scrutinised to help explain power asymmetries and reveal the autonomous as well as communicative character of translated texts that are also indicative of the socio-political and cultural factors that grant any translated text a distinctive voice. Through reference to Judith Butler’s notion of ‘performativity,’ Michelle Lazar’s gender power asymmetries and Sherry Simon’s perspective of gender and cultural identity, the article aspires to harbinger reconciliation between the process of gendering translation and the role of translator.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.


University of Sunderland

ISSN 2057-2042 (Print)
ISSN 2057-2050 (Online)



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.