Is gender a social construct?

1 Oct, 2021 at 16:15 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | 6 Comments

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Judith Butler’s theory of identity rests on the idea that there is nothing between the Scylla of the metaphysical ‘modernist’ subject and the Charybdis of the totally deconstructed identity where the subject becomes nothing but a fictitious fantasy. But this can’t be right. The social constructivist anti-essentialism is unsatisfactory and ends up in a idealist ‘slippery slope.’ Just shifting a biologically over-determined concept with a discursively over-determined  concept is not enough to make us understand or explain gender. Merely inverting a reduction and redescribing it do not re-make it. If social science is to have an emancipatory potential it has to go beyond a purely discursive level and get in touch with the structures and powers that operate in the world in which we live. From that critical realist perspective we can also see that there is a middle ground between Scylla and Charybdis where gender/sex/identity are something both biological and socially constructed.

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  1. “From that critical realist perspective we can also see that there is a middle ground between Scylla and Charybdis where gender/sex/identity are something both biological and socially constructed.”
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    This is shocking – such a rare example of Lars compromising his critical reality values. 🙂

  2. See my papers that include critique of Butler along the same lines.
    ‘Metaphors of power: ontologies of gender, love & marriage’
    https://www.academia.edu/4446058/Metaphors_of_power_ontologies_of_gender_love_and_marriage
    And
    ‘Objectivist and essentialist ontologies of gender & love’
    https://www.academia.edu/11678787/Objectivist_and_essentialist_ontologies_of_gender_and_love

  3. 《 But this can’t be right. 》
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    Does this say more about you, than about how things can be?

    • Nope — basic logic

      • Is this sentence a lie?


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