When one is dealing with the ideologies of different thinkers within the gender studies, it is very easy to fall into the trap of needing a label. Has anyone noticed that this is part of the compartmentalisation of patriachal society that we need these labels to denote who we are and where we stand within society? Mother, daughter, wife, grandmother, aunt, spinster, bitch, rampaging wenchbeast, Lilith, Eve, Maenad, lesbian, father, son, husband, grandfather, uncle, bachelor, bastard, misogynist, gay. These are all labels that hold linguistic connotations to keep people in their appropriate places.Why should we give into these constraints?
Through using these labels we are confining ourselves to society's values; this does not necessarily mean that society should have no values but when considering a label, we must remember that it was put there by men. How can we describe ourselves by the values of men? Men can not be mothers, so how can they push the role of mother to be so important within society without fully comprehending the implications it has on one's career, one's physical and one's emotional well-being?
Nobody can truly ever describe the differences between men and women as the logic behind these titles have been laid in place by society. The labels masculine and feminine are no different to our names. What is masculinity? What is femininity? How do we go about understanding these titles when we only have society's language to describe their functions? The only concrete proof that we have is that men have an xy chromosones and women have an xx chromosones. This is our only true difference without looking at what it is to be masculine or feminine within the patriachy.
If we start by looking at the Kinsey Reports of the fifties i.e.
- 0. Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
- 1. Predominantly heterosexual, only incidental homosexual
- 2. Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
- 3. Equally heterosexual and homosexual
- 4. Predominantly homosexual but more than incidentally heterosexual
- 5. Predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual
- 6. Exclusively homosexual.
In regard to sexual behaviour, it has been possible to maintain this dichotomy only by placing all persons who are exclusively heterosexual in a heterosexual category and all persons who have any amount of experience with their own sex, even including those with the slightest experience, in a homosexual category... The attempt to maintain a simple dichotomy on these matters exposes the traditional biases which are likely to enter whenever the heterosexual or homosexual classification of an individual is involved"
This problem, is after all, part of the broader problem of choices in general: the choice of the road that one takes, of the clothes that one wears, of the food that one eats, of the place in which one sleeps, and of the endless other things that one is constantly choosing. A choice of a partner in a sexual relation becomes more significant only because society demands that there be a particular choice in this matter, and does not so often dictate one's choice of food or of clothing.
Even regarding labels through the medium of sexual orientation does not even begin to describe what it is to be masculine or feminine so would it not be better to disregard labels as a categorization by the patriachy. Through disregarding this, are we not being feminist in its purest form?
Newly added information
Due to several messages received, I thought that I would try to clarify some points that I made.
This has been written as an analysis of linguistic connotations rather than question of biological background. Women have been found to carry the xy chromosones and are still female in appearance. The concept that I was trying to relay that this was the most reliable method of diffrentiating between male and female.
A linguistic connotation is a form of stereotyping. For example, the word mother on a basic level will conjur up an image of a woman who has given birth. On a secondary level, the concept of her role within society comes into be questioned, i.e. someone who provides a nurturing, caring rolemodel. If someone does not conform to these linguistic forms, then they will outcast by the society that developed the format. In Western society, this is the patriachy.
I hope that this clears up any confusion generated by my w/u.
"Language does not reflect a reality, but rather creates it according to the structures and limits permitted by the language of a given culture...We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation"
A P Foulkes, "Literature and Propaganda"