Author Judith Krantz pioneered what you could call the sex and shopping PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: Reading Judith Krantz is like playing. By Judith Shulevitz. June 27 THIS is a strange moment for sex in America. But the more casual sex becomes, the more we demand that our. Request PDF | On Dec 1, , Sara F. Matthews-Grieco and others published Judith: Sexual Warrior. Women and Power in Western Culture | Find, read and.
By Judith Shulevitz. June 27 THIS is a strange moment for sex in America. But the more casual sex becomes, the more we demand that our. Judith Pamela Butler (born February 24, ) is an American philosopher and gender theorist . Butler distinguishes "between sex, as biological facticity, and gender, as the cultural interpretation or signification of that facticity." Butler argues. Request PDF | On Dec 1, , Sara F. Matthews-Grieco and others published Judith: Sexual Warrior. Women and Power in Western Culture | Find, read and.
Request PDF | On Dec 1, , Sara F. Matthews-Grieco and others published Judith: Sexual Warrior. Women and Power in Western Culture | Find, read and. The Old Testament story of the widow Judith―the irresistible siren who lured her people's deadly enemy, Holofernes, to his death, beheading him in his own. In so doing, they distinguished sex (being female or male) from gender .. Judith Butler critiques the sex/gender distinction on two grounds.
Food, Sex, and Redemption in M Because of this there is a custom to eat cheese [on Hanukkah]. It is clearhoweverthat the medieval rabbis cited connected the story judith Judith to women and to food in particular. In this paper I shall analyze these two connections in one medieval version of the storyMegillat Yehudit.
Howeverthere is other food instead. I shall analyze both its material reality and its literary functions. Celebration of the festival of Hanukkah is real and earthly.
However, food in Judaism is also a marker of boundaries between Jews and non-Jews. Megillat Yehudit also stresses social boundaries, using food, as we shall see later.
Sex Yehudit also ends with honeyin a list of Hanukkah foods which Judith commands should ssx sent as gifts from one Jew to another. This verse was also recited jufith teacher and child. Sometimes this ceremony would take place on Shavuotthe festival of the Giving of the Torah. This verse is judith in the introduction to Megillat Yehudit : God is also testing jdith people through food.
Megillat Yehudit also ends with honey: the circular structure underlines the message. We shall follow the action now with its significant foods. The author has compiled a text thick with biblical allusions. Tracing these allusions to their sources will show that they form a coherent subtext, commenting on the action of the Megillah. In her conversation with Holofernes, we saw that Judith appeared to accept his demands, but put him off till evening, as Esther put off Ahasuerus.
Megillat Esther does not say what was eaten at the banquet, but here the food is meaningful. At the Feast of Judith the ever-present danger of rape is underlined by this biblical connection.
Vashti refused, and was deposed, and even, according to the midrash, beheaded Est ; and see Midrash Judith Rabbah ; Here things are reversed: the beheading is reserved for Holofernes, not the queen. Judith Judith in the apocrypha, this Judith is not a widow but a wife. She is painted as a sexual being, to whom sexual approaches are made.
Megillat Yehudit also includes many other intertextual allusions to biblical women, particularly women in situations of dubious sexuality. We could almost claim that it contains a reference to every seduction scene in the Bible. Like the apocryphal book, 18 Megillat Yehudit is written on two levels: the story is comprehensible to a reader without knowledge of the biblical texts mentioned, but allusion to these sex extra, tantalizing depth.
Some of the allusions come from the Torah, or parts of the Bible read aloud in the synagogue e. There are many general biblical allusions in Megillat Yehuditbut the references to women — particularly seductive women — appear mostly after the appearance of Judith.
We shall look at them one by one. The scene is being set for sexual temptations with a hint of outlandish sexual practices. Samson escaped from his new ropes, and the counsellor too will eventually be released. When Judith wants to leave the besieged city of Jerusalem, the gatekeeper is convinced she has an ulterior motive.
Seex words are taken from one of the most terrible passages of the Bible, the story of the concubine on the jufith Jgs The biblical concubine was gangraped and then carved into pieces: the gatekeeper seems to be warning Judith of the fate awaiting her if she betrays her people.
The text of Judges writes that the concubine left her man: vatizneh alav sex. However, she convinces the gatekeeper of her good faith and he sex her pass with a blessing. In the biblical story, Sarah was taken juditth Pharaoh for him to have sex with her. She was eventually rescued by God sending a plague on Pharaoh: the author is alluding to a background of sex and fear, with eventual redemption through divine aid. When Judith comes to Holofernes, she falsely prophesies to him that he will prevail over Israel.
To deceive him still further, she uses the words of Rahab the harlot to Joshua in Jericho. Judith also asks Holofernes to spare her father, her mother and her brothers. By giving her the words of Rahab, judkth author judith alluding to her sexuality, but also to her virtue in saving Joshua. The reader is left uncertain as to the eventual outcome.
This expression appears in several places in the Bible, including sex story of Lot, who escaped from Sodom with juduth daughters, while Sodom was destroyed with judith and brimstone. Thus they make their father drunk and lie with him, to get themselves pregnant. Other phrases used in Megillat Yehudit here also allude to this story.
Megillat Yehudit is referring here to judirh story of seduction preceded by making the male victim drunk. There are also three allusions to Joseph, the victim of a seduction attempt by the wife of Potiphar. Virtue and seduction once again go hand in hand. When Tamar refused, Amnon raped her.
Thus the author introduces further tension into the story — if Amnon succeeded in raping Tamar, having cleared away all witnesses, how will Judith judkth The story of Bathsheba and King David the parents of Solomon is once again a story of sexual temptation and ambiguous virtue 2 Sm The agenda of the author is clear: intermarriage with the surrounding majority is not to be tolerated.
Jews must keep to their own truths within their own boundaries. Our author is keeping the readers guessing, tantalizing them with sexually loaded allusions. Will Holofernes succeed in raping or seducing Judith? And if he does, will his fate be like that of Shechem, or like the fate of his own brother who was beheaded by Judah? Judith takes the pancakes and brings them to Holofernes in his room, sex as Tamar brought her pancakes to the room where Amnon lay.
At this point the biblical allusions to the story of Amnon and Tamar cease. Judith is not raped by Holofernes, but outwits him. This outcome is also foreshadowed by references to the story of Jael and Sisera. We noted above that the pieces of cheese, haritzei halavallude to Judgeswhere Jael made Sisera sleepy with halavmilk, before she killed him. Almost all the references to her ambivalent sexuality are contained in biblical references — the author is playing games with his audience.
Not so in Megillat Yehudit. Here she rises to become redeemer, queen, and judge jhdith Israel. Judith, too, this implies, is endowed with divine wisdom in the execution of justice. The royal House judigh David has the highest importance in Jewish traditionfor from this house will come the future Messiah.
There are also allusions to women saviors: EstherDeborahMiriam21 Rahab. Ruth is referred to more than onceancestor of the House of David and the future Messiah.
Bethulia of the apocryphal Judith becomes Jerusalem, besieged, threatened, but finally redeemed. Food and victory are real. Celebration of Hanukkah was real and earthly, as opposed to the Christian symbolic. Megillat Yehudit also ends with food, dough baked with honey. This is reminiscent of manna, heavenly honey-bread, given to the Jews in the wilderness, and used by God as the means sex which he tests their faithfulness.
Manna is remembered when eating honey cake in the medieval rite of sez conducted when a Jewish child was first taken to learn Torah. From New Testament times, manna was a subject of Christian polemic against Jews. Jesus as bread was a polemical response to manna. And Jesus as bread was eaten by Christians as the Eucharist. In beginning and ending his account with the honey of the words of God in the eaten scroll, the author of Megillat Yehudit was setting up a polemic with Christian interpretations.
In the apocryphal bookshe had been a chaste widowliving in seclusion judigh, and returning to it at the end of the booknever remarrying. Thus Jerome writes in his Preface to his translation of Judith in the Vulgate: Accipite Iudith viduamcastitatis judith take Judith the widowan iudith of chastity. She is not a widow but a wife. His Jewish audience were allowedindeed encouragedto enjoy food sex sex se the right contexts. Mary was seen as an expansion of Evefor she was able to go to battle sex defeat the devil.
Thus Eve is conspicuous by her absence from the long list of sexually ambiguous women alluded to in Megillat Yehuditwhereas Judiththe virtuous wifenot virgin or widowbecomes queen and judges Israel. Thus the judth of Judith, the victorious Jewish judith, with David, can be seen sex part of the Jewish polemic of Megillat Yehuditwhich presents the true Davidic redeemer against Christian claims. Whether through the fault of author or copyistit is poorly written with ungrammatical Hebrew and confused phraseology made up of strings of biblical quotations.
But it is precisely this sort of work which can perhaps help to shed light on the thoughts and feelings of medieval Jewsa beleaguered minority in triumphantly Christian Europestriving to preserve their own customs and way of lifeand doing it here by reclaiming Judiththe Jewessas their own.
Neubauer Catalogue no. The second part of the manuscript only, with the story of Judith, was published by A. Dubarle: Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes Rome,pp. There is a microfiche of the whole manuscript in the National Library in Jerusalem. My male Greek teacher used to say of translations that they are like women: if they are beautiful they are unlikely to be sdx, and if they are faithful they are unlikely to be beautiful.
I fear this translation is neither: it is certainly not scientific. My excuse is that this is a preliminary translation, aimed at giving readers who are not familiar with the original Hebrew some idea of Megillat Yehudit. Judith the writer Shai Agnon said, reading a Hebrew work in translation is like kissing a bride through her veil.
Hebrew words carry with them a biblical load, all the more so when the work is written, as here, almost entirely as a string of biblical quotations and allusions. I have noted over three hundred scriptural citations, shown in italicsand I am sure there are more.
Skip to main content. Women and Power in Western Culture. Description Reviews. In this original and provocative book, Margarita Stocker explores the Western fascination with the image of Judith and the abundance of interpretations that have surrounded her at different times between the early Middle Ages and the present day.
In dealing with the threatening image of a powerful femme fatale who is also a saint, the vested interests of Western culture have deliberately, often deviously, subverted images of sex and death as a way of marginalizing women and protecting traditional notions of masculinity.
The book investigates the periodic resurgence of the Judith legend and how the myth and history become confused.
An ambiguous figure, Judith has served symbolic purposes for such diverse groups as Protestant partisans during the Wars of Religion and their Catholic counterparts, aristocratic women supporters of the Protestant Reformation, opponents of the French Revolution, Nazi myth- makers, filmmakers obsessed with gun-toting girls, freedom fighters, partisans in the former Yugoslavia, and many others.
In exploring the theme of Judith, an alternative history of Western attitudes emerges. Depending on the state, these can include notifying the community when an offender moves into the neighborhood; restrictions against living within 2, feet of a school, park, playground or school bus stop; being required to wear GPS monitoring devices; and even a prohibition against using the Internet for social networking.
In a letter to the American Law Institute, Ms. Smith listed several disturbing statistics: roughly one person in behind bars, one in 31 under correctional supervision — more than seven million Americans altogether. They cite studies estimating that fewer than one-fifth of even violent rapes are reported; 1 to 5 percent are prosecuted and less than 3 percent end in jail time. Moreover, Stephen J. Schulhofer, the law professor who co-wrote the model penal code, told me that he and his co-author have already recommended that the law do away with the more onerous restrictions that follow from being registered as a sex offender.
I visited Mr. He understands that the law will have to bring a light touch to the refashioning of sexual norms, which is why the current draft of the model code suggests classifying penetration without consent as a misdemeanor, a much lesser crime than a felony.
This may all sound reasonable, but even a misdemeanor conviction goes on the record as a sexual offense and can lead to registration. An affirmative consent standard also shifts the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused, which represents a real departure from the traditions of criminal law in the United States.
SO far, no one seems sure how affirmative consent will play out in the courts. According to my informal survey of American law professors, prosecutors and public defenders, very few cases relying exclusively on the absence of consent have come up for appeal, which is why they are not showing up in the case books.
There may be many reasons for this. The main one is probably that most sexual assault cases — actually, most felony cases — end in plea bargains, rather than trials. These sub-groups are themselves diverse: for instance, some working-class white women in Northern Ireland are starkly divided along religious lines. So if we accept Spelman's position, we risk ending up with individual women and nothing to bind them together.
And this is problematic: in order to respond to oppression of women in general, feminists must understand them as a category in some sense. Some, then, take the articulation of an inclusive category of women to be the prerequisite for effective feminist politics and a rich literature has emerged that aims to conceptualise women as a group or a collective e.
Articulations of this category can be divided into those that are: a gender nominalist — positions that deny there is something women qua women share and that seek to unify women's social kind by appealing to something external to women; and b gender realist — positions that take there to be something women qua women share although these realist positions differ significantly from those outlined in Section 2.
Below we will review some influential gender nominalist and gender realist positions. Before doing so, it is worth noting that not everyone is convinced that attempts to articulate an inclusive category of women can succeed or that worries about what it is to be a woman are in need of being resolved.
Instead, Mikkola argues for giving up the quest, which in any case she argues poses no serious political obstacles. Young holds that women are not bound together by a shared feature or experience or set of features and experiences since she takes Spelman's particularity argument to have established definitely that no such feature exists , 13; see also: Frye ; Heyes Instead, women's category is unified by certain practico-inert realities or the ways in which women's lives and their actions are oriented around certain objects and everyday realities Young , 23—4.
For example, bus commuters make up a series unified through their individual actions being organised around the same practico-inert objects of the bus and the practice of public transport. Women make up a series unified through women's lives and actions being organised around certain practico-inert objects and realities that position them as women. Young identifies two broad groups of such practico-inert objects and realities.
First, phenomena associated with female bodies physical facts , biological processes that take place in female bodies menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and social rules associated with these biological processes social rules of menstruation, for instance.
Second, gender-coded objects and practices: pronouns, verbal and visual representations of gender, gender-coded artefacts and social spaces, clothes, cosmetics, tools and furniture. So, women make up a series since their lives and actions are organised around female bodies and certain gender-coded objects.
Although Young's proposal purports to be a response to Spelman's worries, Stone has questioned whether it is, after all, susceptible to the particularity argument: ultimately, on Young's view, something women as women share their practico-inert realities binds them together Stone Natalie Stoljar holds that unless the category of women is unified, feminist action on behalf of women cannot be justified , Stoljar too is persuaded by the thought that women qua women do not share anything unitary.
This prompts her to argue for resemblance nominalism. This is the view that a certain kind of resemblance relation holds between entities of a particular type for more on resemblance nominalism, see Armstrong , 39— Stoljar relies more on Price's resemblance nominalism whereby x is a member of some type F only if x resembles some paradigm or exemplar of F sufficiently closely Price , For instance, the type of red entities is unified by some chosen red paradigms so that only those entities that sufficiently resemble the paradigms count as red.
The type or category of women, then, is unified by some chosen woman paradigms so that those who sufficiently resemble the woman paradigms count as women Stoljar , Semantic considerations about the concept woman suggest to Stoljar that resemblance nominalism should be endorsed Stoljar , It seems unlikely that the concept is applied on the basis of some single social feature all and only women possess.
Nonetheless, she holds that since the concept woman applies to at least some MTF trans persons, one can be a woman without being female Stoljar , The cluster concept woman does not, however, straightforwardly provide the criterion for picking out the category of women. Rather, the four clusters of features that the concept picks out help single out woman paradigms that in turn help single out the category of women. First, any individual who possesses a feature from at least three of the four clusters mentioned will count as an exemplar of the category.
That is, what delimits membership in the category of women is that one resembles sufficiently a woman paradigm. In a series of articles collected in her book of , Sally Haslanger argues for a way to define the concept woman that is politically useful, serving as a tool in feminist fights against sexism, and that shows woman to be a social not a biological notion.
More specifically, Haslanger argues that gender is a matter of occupying either a subordinate or a privileged social position. In some articles, Haslanger is arguing for a revisionary analysis of the concept woman b; a; b. Elsewhere she suggests that her analysis may not be that revisionary after all ; Consider the former argument first.
Haslanger's analysis is, in her terms, ameliorative: it aims to elucidate which gender concepts best help feminists achieve their legitimate purposes thereby elucidating those concepts feminists should be using Haslanger b, In particular, they need gender terms to identify, explain and talk about persistent social inequalities between males and females.
Haslanger's analysis of gender begins with the recognition that females and males differ in two respects: physically and in their social positions. And this generates persistent sexist injustices. With this in mind, Haslanger specifies how she understands genders:.
These are constitutive of being a woman and a man: what makes calling S a woman apt, is that S is oppressed on sex-marked grounds; what makes calling S a man apt, is that S is privileged on sex-marked grounds. Haslanger's ameliorative analysis is counterintuitive in that females who are not sex-marked for oppression, do not count as women.
At least arguably, the Queen of England is not oppressed on sex-marked grounds and so, would not count as a woman on Haslanger's definition. And, similarly, all males who are not privileged would not count as men. This might suggest that Haslanger's analysis should be rejected in that it does not capture what language users have in mind when applying gender terms. However, Haslanger argues that this is not a reason to reject the definitions, which she takes to be revisionary: they are not meant to capture our intuitive gender terms.
In response, Mikkola has argued that revisionary analyses of gender concepts, like Haslanger's, are both politically unhelpful and philosophically unnecessary. Note also that Haslanger's proposal is eliminativist: gender justice would eradicate gender, since it would abolish those sexist social structures responsible for sex-marked oppression and privilege.
If sexist oppression were to cease, women and men would no longer exist although there would still be males and females. Not all feminists endorse such an eliminativist view though. Stone holds that Haslanger does not leave any room for positively revaluing what it is to be a woman: since Haslanger defines woman in terms of subordination,.
But according to Stone this is not only undesirable — one should be able to challenge subordination without having to challenge one's status as a woman. Feminism faces the following worries among others :.
Commonality problems : 1 There is no feature that all women cross-culturally and transhistorically share. He thus proposes that women make up a natural kind with a historical essence:.
In short, one is not a woman due to shared surface properties with other women like occupying a subordinate social position.
Rather, one is a woman because one has the right history: one has undergone the ubiquitous ontogenetic process of gender socialization. More worryingly, trans women will count as men contrary to their self-identification. Both Bettcher and Jenkins consider the importance of gender self-identification. Rather than trans women having to defend their self-identifying claims, these claims should be taken at face value right from the start.
In addition to her revisionary argument, Haslanger has suggested that her ameliorative analysis of woman may not be as revisionary as it first seems , Although successful in their reference fixing, ordinary language users do not always know precisely what they are talking about.
Although her gender terminology is not intuitive, this could simply be because oppressive ideologies mislead us about the meanings of our gender terms. Our everyday gender terminology might mean something utterly different from what we think it means; and we could be entirely ignorant of this.
If this is so, Haslanger's gender terminology is not radically revisionist. This would require showing that the gender terminology we in fact employ is Haslanger's proposed gender terminology.
But discovering the grounds on which we apply everyday gender terms is extremely difficult precisely because they are applied in various and idiosyncratic ways Saul , Haslanger, then, needs to do more in order to show that her analysis is non-revisionary. Uniessentialism attempts to understand and articulate this.
However, Witt's work departs in important respects from the earlier so-called essentialist or gender realist positions discussed in Section 2: Witt does not posit some essential property of womanhood of the kind discussed above, which failed to take women's differences into account. Further, uniessentialism differs significantly from those position developed in response to the problem of how we should conceive of women's social kind. It is not about solving the standard dispute between gender nominalists and gender realists, or about articulating some supposedly shared property that binds women together and provides a theoretical ground for feminist political solidarity.
Rather, uniessentialism aims to make good the widely held belief that gender is constitutive of who we are. Uniessentialism is a sort of individual essentialism. Traditionally philosophers distinguish between kind and individual essentialisms: the former examines what binds members of a kind together and what do all members of some kind have in common qua members of that kind.
The latter asks: what makes an individual the individual it is. We can further distinguish two sorts of individual essentialisms: Kripkean identity essentialism and Aristotelian uniessentialism. The former asks: what makes an individual that individual? The latter, however, asks a slightly different question: what explains the unity of individuals? What explains that an individual entity exists over and above the sum total of its constituent parts?
The standard feminist debate over gender nominalism and gender realism has largely been about kind essentialism. Being about individual essentialism, Witt's uniessentialism departs in an important way from the standard debate. From the two individual essentialisms, Witt endorses the Aristotelian one.
On this view, certain functional essences have a unifying role: these essences are responsible for the fact that material parts constitute a new individual, rather than just a lump of stuff or a collection of particles.
Witt's example is of a house: the essential house-functional property what the entity is for, what its purpose is unifies the different material parts of a house so that there is a house, and not just a collection of house-constituting particles a, 6. Due to this, gender is a uniessential property of social individuals. It is important to clarify the notions of gender and social individuality that Witt employs. Second, Witt distinguishes persons those who possess self-consciousness , human beings those who are biologically human and social individuals those who occupy social positions synchronically and diachronically.
These ontological categories are not equivalent in that they possess different persistence and identity conditions. Social individuals are bound by social normativity, human beings by biological normativity. Thus, being a social individual is not equivalent to being a human being. Further, Witt takes personhood to be defined in terms of intrinsic psychological states of self-awareness and self-consciousness. However, social individuality is defined in terms of the extrinsic feature of occupying a social position, which depends for its existence on a social world.
So, the two are not equivalent: personhood is essentially about intrinsic features and could exist without a social world, whereas social individuality is essentially about extrinsic features that could not exist without a social world. Witt's gender essentialist argument crucially pertains to social individuals , not to persons or human beings: saying that persons or human beings are gendered would be a category mistake.
But why is gender essential to social individuals? For Witt, social individuals are those who occupy positions in social reality. However, qua social individuals, we occupy multiple social positions at once and over time: we can be women, mothers, immigrants, sisters, academics, wives, community organisers and team-sport coaches synchronically and diachronically. Now, the issue for Witt is what unifies these positions so that a social individual is constituted.
After all, a bundle of social position occupancies does not make for an individual just as a bundle of properties like being white , cube-shaped and sweet do not make for a sugar cube. For Witt, this unifying role is undertaken by gender being a woman or a man : it is. The sets of norms can conflict: the norms of motherhood can and do conflict with the norms of being an academic philosopher.
However, in order for this conflict to exist, the norms must be binding on a single social individual. Witt, then, asks: what explains the existence and unity of the social individual who is subject to conflicting social norms? The answer is gender. Gender is not just a social role that unifies social individuals. Witt takes it to be the social role — as she puts it, it is the mega social role that unifies social agents. First, gender is a mega social role if it satisfies two conditions and Witt claims that it does : 1 if it provides the principle of synchronic and diachronic unity of social individuals, and 2 if it inflects and defines a broad range of other social roles.
Gender satisfies the first in usually being a life-long social position: a social individual persists just as long as their gendered social position persists.
Further, Witt maintains, trans people are not counterexamples to this claim: transitioning entails that the old social individual has ceased to exist and a new one has come into being. And this is consistent with the same person persisting and undergoing social individual change via transitioning. Gender satisfies the second condition too. It inflects other social roles, like being a parent or a professional.
The expectations attached to these social roles differ depending on the agent's gender, since gender imposes different social norms to govern the execution of the further social roles. Now, gender — as opposed to some other social category, like race — is not just a mega social role; it is the unifying mega social role. Cross-cultural and trans-historical considerations support this view.
Witt claims that patriarchy is a social universal a, By contrast, racial categorisation varies historically and cross-culturally, and racial oppression is not a universal feature of human cultures. Thus, gender has a better claim to being the social role that is uniessential to social individuals. This account of gender essentialism not only explains social agents' connectedness to their gender, but it also provides a helpful way to conceive of women's agency — something that is central to feminist politics.
Linda Alcoff holds that feminism faces an identity crisis: the category of women is feminism's starting point, but various critiques about gender have fragmented the category and it is not clear how feminists should understand what it is to be a woman , chapter 5. Alcoff holds that there is an objective basis for distinguishing individuals on the grounds of actual or expected reproductive roles:. Further, this differential relation to the possibility of reproduction is used as the basis for many cultural and social phenomena that position women and men: it can be.
Reproduction, then, is an objective basis for distinguishing individuals that takes on a cultural dimension in that it positions women and men differently: depending on the kind of body one has, one's lived experience will differ.
And this fosters the construction of gendered social identities: one's role in reproduction helps configure how one is socially positioned and this conditions the development of specifically gendered social identities. But, with the benefit of hindsight. That is, her view avoids the implausible claim that sex is exclusively to do with nature and gender with culture.
Rather, the distinction on the basis of reproductive possibilities shapes and is shaped by the sorts of cultural and social phenomena like varieties of social segregation these possibilities gives rise to. For instance, technological interventions can alter sex differences illustrating that this is the case Alcoff , Women's specifically gendered social identities that are constituted by their context dependent positions, then, provide the starting point for feminist politics.
This entry first looked at feminist arguments against biological determinism and the claim that gender is socially constructed. Next, it examined feminist critiques of prevalent understandings of gender and sex, and the distinction itself. In response to these concerns, the final section looked at how a unified women's category could be articulated for feminist political purposes and illustrated at least two things.
First, that gender — or what it is to be a woman or a man — is still very much a live issue. Second, that feminists have not entirely given up the view that gender is about social factors and that it is in some sense distinct from biological sex. The jury is still out on what the best, the most useful or even the correct definition of gender is.
Beauvoir, Simone de feminist philosophy, approaches: intersections between analytic and continental philosophy feminist philosophy, topics: perspectives on reproduction and the family feminist philosophy, topics: perspectives on the self homosexuality identity politics speech acts. I am very grateful to Tuukka Asplund, Jenny Saul, Alison Stone and Nancy Tuana for their extremely helpful and detailed comments when writing this entry. Gender as socially constructed 2. Women as a group 4.
With this in mind, Haslanger specifies how she understands genders: S is a woman iff [by definition] S is systematically subordinated along some dimension economic, political, legal, social, etc.
S is a man iff [by definition] S is systematically privileged along some dimension economic, political, legal, social, etc.
Stone holds that Haslanger does not leave any room for positively revaluing what it is to be a woman: since Haslanger defines woman in terms of subordination, any woman who challenges her subordinate status must by definition be challenging her status as a woman, even if she does not intend to … positive change to our gender norms would involve getting rid of the necessarily subordinate feminine gender.
Stone , But according to Stone this is not only undesirable — one should be able to challenge subordination without having to challenge one's status as a woman.
In order to exemplify this relational property, an individual must be a reproduction of ancestral women, in which case she must have undergone the ontogenetic processes through which a historical gender system replicates women. Bach , In short, one is not a woman due to shared surface properties with other women like occupying a subordinate social position. For Witt, this unifying role is undertaken by gender being a woman or a man : it is a pervasive and fundamental social position that unifies and determines all other social positions both synchronically and diachronically.
It unifies them not physically, but by providing a principle of normative unity. Alcoff holds that there is an objective basis for distinguishing individuals on the grounds of actual or expected reproductive roles: Women and men are differentiated by virtue of their different relationship of possibility to biological reproduction, with biological reproduction referring to conceiving, giving birth, and breast-feeding, involving one's body.
Further, this differential relation to the possibility of reproduction is used as the basis for many cultural and social phenomena that position women and men: it can be the basis of a variety of social segregations, it can engender the development of differential forms of embodiment experienced throughout life, and it can generate a wide variety of affective responses, from pride, delight, shame, guilt, regret, or great relief from having successfully avoided reproduction.
Alcoff , Reproduction, then, is an objective basis for distinguishing individuals that takes on a cultural dimension in that it positions women and men differently: depending on the kind of body one has, one's lived experience will differ. But, with the benefit of hindsight we can see that maintaining a distinction between the objective category of sexed identity and the varied and culturally contingent practices of gender does not presume an absolute distinction of the old-fashioned sort between culture and a reified nature.
Alcoff , That is, her view avoids the implausible claim that sex is exclusively to do with nature and gender with culture. Conclusion This entry first looked at feminist arguments against biological determinism and the claim that gender is socially constructed.