Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

By Ephraim Das Janssen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
GENDER IN ITS HISTORICAL SITUATION

GENDER, AS IT is traditionally understood in the West, unravels and starts showing some interesting lacunae and confusions when examined closely. This chapter is about how these inconsistencies have led to the way gender is thought today. A broad survey of the history of the West reveals some significant transitions in the conception of “gender” since the Greeks, along with some revolutions in the way biological sex is conceived in myth, medicine, law, and religion. These revolutions, while interesting in themselves as historical phenomena, are even more interesting when examined in relation to one another in order to trace the variances in perception that have shaped the world. The phenomenon of gender is more mutable and more grounded in social and political concerns than is generally believed.

In gender theory, the nexus of debate is social construction theory, rather than biological essentialism, but the field of medicine still largely operates under an essentialist model. The historical account of how biological sex is assigned and conceived shows that science itself is a social construction, even given its essentialist leanings. Science is a project largely concerned with classificatory systems, and classificatory systems are not found in nature but are constructed by human thought. It is not that bodies are formed male or female or intersex in the womb and language reflects that. It is that bodies are

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Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Chapter 1 - The Question of Gender 1
  • Chapter 2 - Gender in Its Historical Situation 43
  • Chapter 3 - Heidegger Trouble- Gendered Dasein and Embodiment 67
  • Chapter 4 - Gender and Individuation 97
  • Chapter 5 - Gender, Technology, and Style 125
  • Bibliography 139
  • Index 147
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