Gender theory…theories….

I’m very much enjoying being an Open University student once more, reading the second year of my Masters in Philosophy. I’ve been reading a lot in order to find a research topic that really grabs me and I find myself coming back to the same areas of interest, namely, meaning, the body, power, collective action, compassion, consciousness and social constructionism. I think there is an old Woody Allen joke in there somewhere but, yes, it certainly looks like I’m going to be writing a lot about Foucault.

What I pick out of this – at least, what interests me – and what seems very relevant to the present zeitgeist is the interaction between the issues of gender and identity. What exactly do we mean when we talk about ‘gender’? What is its relation to ‘sex’? What part do either of these concepts have to play in our sense of ourselves? We also need to ask why we are thinking about this now. Is it largely because we can or is it because the idea of being ‘non-binary’, for instance, represents something important in the history of humanity, across many cultures? Some people have asked the question of how we balance the rights of the individual to self-definition with a collective wish to speak a common language, to know exactly what we mean when we use certain terms: what does it mean to both you and me when you, my reader, or anyone, defines him or herself as ‘gender-fluid’, ‘gender-neutral’, ‘sis’, ‘non-binary’ or ‘queer’?

I will post more on this. Very happy to hear from anyone about their experience and/or constructive thoughts on the issue…

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