Gender Studies : Natural, Kinds, And Constructed By John Locke

1340 Words Apr 3rd, 2016 6 Pages
As Connell suggests, gender is something recognisable but is often registered on an unconscious level. From the moment we are born we are placed into the binary division of male or female, the defining feature of our subjectivity. This distinction organises and informs our entire lives – from the bathrooms we use to the sports we’re expected to play. These arrangements are often so engrained into our way of interacting with the world that ‘they can seem part of the natural order’ (Connell 2015, p.5).

English philosopher John Locke posited that everything could be divided into two categories: ‘natural’ kinds, and constructed, ‘artificial’ kinds. In the case of gender studies, people who view gender as a natural kind accept that there are characteristics that are essential to the ‘essence’ of being a man or woman. These characteristics dictate our predispositions to behave in a certain way and our experiences and interactions with the world (Alsop, Fitzsimmons, & Lennon 2002, pp.14-15). The constructed kinds include things like social processes (cultural rituals, competition), and social institutions (e.g. universities, marriage). If we consider gender a constructed kind we cannot rely on biology to inform our ideas of being a man or a woman, we must look at our social practices. In addition, these social practices can be changed and modified to reflect our interests and purposes.

As gendered human beings we are expected to perform in ‘gender appropriate’ ways. Men should…

Related Documents