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Lecture 20

PHIL 259 Lecture 20: Sex and Gender

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PHIL 259
David Boutland

Lecture 20: Sex and Gender Biological Determinism Ones biology determines the kind of person you can or will be o Schopenhauer, others? De Beauvoir and others reject this view o One is not born, but rather becomes a woman If gender is strictly social, and socially reinforced, what has shaped current gender roles and expectations MacKinnons Suggestion Sexuality is the key o Masculinity is defined by sexual dominance o Femininity as sexual submissiveness Men and women are not naturally inclined to sexual dominance or submissiveness, rather they are socially conditioned Gender equality is nonsensical for MacKinnon, as gender is necessarily hierarchical Gender Realism MacKinnon and others support the metaphysical position known as gender realism o Women as a group are assumed to share some characteristic feature, experience, common condition or criterion that defines their gender and the possession of which makes some individuals women. (SEP) Biological or social Particularity Argument Gender realists mistakenly try to isolate gender from race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientations o Females become not simply women but particular kinds of women A key criticism from the third wave of feminism, criticizing feminisms focus on a narrow group of women as representative of all others There is no characteristic that can ground the category of woman Normativity Argument Judith Butler agrees that unitary gender notions fail to take into account the multiplicity of cultural, social, and political intersections in which the concrete array of women are constructed. In an attempt to refute biological determinism, feminists mistakenly created a false, socially constructed account of femininity Gender realist accounts like this are normative, implying that there is a correct way to be a gendered woman 1
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