“Women” as the subject of
Feminist theory has assumed that there is an existing
identity of women which represents feminist interests
Representation is a controversial term:
it can work within a political process to “extend visibility,
legitimacy to women as political subjects.”
Function of language to either reveal or distort women.
There is now controversy around what constitutes the
category of women.
So if women are the subject of feminism; the
construction of feminism in politics was formed by the
patriarchal society to which they are supposed to be
The subject of feminism is crucial for politics and
It becomes impossible to separate out gender from the
political and cultural intersections in which it is
produced and maintained.
The compulsory order of sex,
gender and desire
“Originally the distinction between sex and gender
serves the argument that whatever biological
intractability sex appears to have; gender is culturally
When gender is radically separated from sex gender
becomes a “free-floating artifice” with the consequence
that “man and masculine might just as easily signify a
female body as a male one” This poses more problems
Gender: the circular ruins of
“When the relevant culture that constructs gender is
understood in terms of such a law or sets of laws then it
seams that gender is as determined and fixed as it was
under the biology-is-destiny formulation”.
For Beauvoir, gender is constructed but can arguably
take on other genders “the one who becomes a woman
is not necessarily female” (transgender)
For Beauvoir women are the negative of men, for
Irigaray women are represented falsely as the subject
and the other.
Identity, sex and the
metaphysics of substance.
Identity is assured through the stabilizing concepts of
sex, gender and sexuality.
There are very different ways in which the category of
sex is understood depending on how the field of power
“The category of sex would its self disappear and
dissipate through the disruption and displacement of
The lesbian emerges as a third gender that promises to
transcend the binary restriction on sex imposed by the
system of compulsory heterosexuality.
Gender can denote a unity of experience of sex gender