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Essentialism - Feminist Disputes

woman sex social essence

Essentialism is a contested topic within feminist discourses. Feminist theorists critique traditional, essentialist accounts of woman. One could argue that contemporary Western feminism began with the publication of Simone de Beauvoir's (1908–1986) The Second Sex (1949). De Beauvoir asserts that woman is made, not born, and proceeds to delineate recurrent attempts within Western culture to reduce woman to her putative, biological essence. Since at least Aristotle, philosophers have claimed that woman has an essence and that this essence is a material one. Woman is matter; she is defined by her unique physical property (reproduction). The identity of each individual, actually existing woman is ultimately and necessarily determined by this essence.

Feminist discourse extends this critique into an investigation of the interdependence of gender arrangements, gender-based asymmetries, heterosexism, and the "essential" or natural, factual meanings of body, matter, nature, and sex. Judith Butler's work is especially influential. Butler argues that "sex" is an effect of gender and heterosexism. How we understand bodies and matter and what is assigned to categories of "natural" and "social" fact, indeed these very categories, must be deconstructed into the social and linguistic practices and power relations that generate them. An adequate response to essentialist constructs of woman requires a strategy different from disconnecting the social (gender) and the biological (sex) and claiming that the biological does not determine the social. To claim that woman is made is still to assume that "woman" exists. Furthermore, it leaves sex undisturbed as a natural kind, inaccessible to genealogical investigation.

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almost 6 years ago

Essentialism is a contested topic within feminist discourses. Feminist theorists critique traditional, essentialist accounts of woman. One could argue that contemporary Western feminism began with the publication of Simone de Beauvoir's (1908–1986) The Second Sex (1949). De Beauvoir asserts that woman is made, not born, and proceeds to delineate recurrent attempts within Western culture to reduce woman to her putative, biological essence. Since at least Aristotle, philosophers have claimed that woman has an essence and that this essence is a material one. Woman is matter; she is defined by her unique physical property (reproduction). The identity of each individual, actually existing woman is ultimately and necessarily determined by this essence

Read more: Essentialism - Feminist Disputes - Woman, Sex, Essence, and Gender - JRank Articles http://science.jrank.org/pages/9219/Essentialism-Feminist-Disputes.html#ixzz1bqXAB7o7

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over 6 years ago

feminism