Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

By Ephraim Das Janssen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
GENDER AND INDIVIDUATION

IN FEMINIST AND gender theory, social construction theory is almost universally invoked. The essentialist position (to which the constructionist model is a very strong response) is that there is something essential to femininity, to femaleness, and to women. This stance persists in some feminist theory and certainly endures in the medical field.1 This essential “something” might be conceived of as being seated in biological difference or, as in Freud, in psychological difference; or it might be taken to be primarily social, yet peculiar to women, as in Irigaray’s or Noddings’s understandings of mother love and caring.2 Wherever the locus of the feminine is understood to be in essentialist theory, it is taken to be identifiable and stable, one feature that is common to all who are identifiable as female and feminine and that can act as the basis for a complex of feminist theory, legislation, and social policy. It is certainly the case that feminist thinkers do need to ground their theories in some feature or aspect of human experience by which those whose value is being defended can be identified. In essentialist theory, this takes the form of one definition or another of “the feminine.”3 There is a difficulty, however: nobody has ever identified one feature in which to seat “the feminine” that is universal to all women and exclusive of all men.

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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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