The following text has been automatically reproduced by an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithm. It may not have been checked over by human eyes. For matters of precision please consult the original pdf.

Do We Need a Sex/Gender Distinction?

Do We Need a Sex/Gender
Distinction?

Val Plumwood
We live an embodied life; we live with those genital and
reproductive organs and capacities, those hormones and
chromosomes, that locate us physiologically as male or
female …. We cannot know what children would make of
their bodies in a nongender or non sexually organized
world, what kind of sexual structuration or gender identities would develop. But it is not obvious that there would
be major significance to biological sex differences, to
gender difference, or to different sexualities. There might
be a multiplicity of sexual organizations, identities, and
practices, and perhaps even of genders themselves. Bodies would be bodies (I don’t think we want to deny people
their bodily experience). But particular bodily attributes
would not necessarily be so determining of who we are,
what we do, how we are perceived, and who are our
sexual partners.

Nancy Julia Chodorow, ‘Gender, Relation, and Difference in Psychoanalytic Perspective’.1

This passage seems to sum up much of what the women’s
movement has been about: the escape from biology treated as
destiny, from sex as a ‘cosmic fate’, from the organisation of
inequality around reproductive difference, and a vision of a
future in which gender is liberated from these constraints. But to
put up this vision, we seem to need, crucially, a distinction
between sex and gender, a notion of gender as having some
degree of freedom from biological determination.

Recently, however, the distinction between sex and gender
has been under attack. The distinction has been, and continues to
be, a major tool and bulwark of feminist theory. It appears to
have been crucial to the statement of the major recent theses of
feminist theory, both political and academic. Yet recent major
criticism of the distinction has come not from the anti-feminist
camp but from some feminists themselves, especially from some
identifying as cultural feminists or theorists of difference.

The distinction is accused of a variety of faults, from incorporating a rationalist account of mind and body to incorporating an
implicitly male account of the subject, but there has been little
discussion of these claims or arguments, and critics have not
faced the issue of how much remains if the distinction is abandoned. Critics have not usually supplied a replacement or looked
at how or whether the distinction might be reformed.

The implication seems often to be that we can get by with an
undifferentiated cover-all category of sexual ‘difference’ ..2
Whether and how much of the body of work of the last fifteen
years this would allow to be saved is unclear. At issue at the same
time, along with the concept of gender, is the question of how it

2

is possible to change gender, of ‘degendering’ or ‘regendering’,
if it is possible to change it, and of what sorts of political
strategies for feminism are viable. At issue too is the question of
difference, of whether the distinction presupposes an underlying
neutral subject, and/or a norm of male experience and subjectivity.

In what follows, I examine some of the arguments against the
distinction, look at some of the consequences of eliminating it,
and survey some of the surrounding issues. I mount a limited
defence of the distinction – limited, because I do not want to
defend all uses of it, some of which are rightly criticised. But I do
suggest that it still has a point,· and that some of the arguments
against it miss their mark badly or apply only to some ways of
construing it. I want to accept some of the criticisms of it, which
have made an important contribution to clarifying the distinction
and which have provided a useful antidote to the shallower forms
of equality theory. But my claim is that in some form the
distinction is both necessary and defensible. In particular, I look
at some of its implications for the concepts of difference and of
degendering and for different male and female subjectivities. A
good deal of my later discussion will centre around two pieces of
Australian work of strongly opposed tendencies, one a paper by
Moira Gatens, ‘A Critique of the Sex/Gender Distinction’ and
the other R. W. Connell’s recent book, Gender and Power.3

1. The Context of the Distinction
The original context of the distinction was given by Robert
Stoller:

With a few exceptions there are two sexes, male and
female. To determine sex one must assay the following
conditions – chromosomes, external genitalia, internal
genitalia, gonads, hormonal states, and secondary sex
characteristics…. One’s sex, then, is determined by an
algebraic sum of all these qualities, and as is obvious,
most people fall under one of the two separate bell curves,
the one of which is called ‘male’, the other ‘female’.

Gender is a term that has psychological and cultural rather
than biological connotations; if the proper terms for sex
are ‘male’ and ‘female’, the corresponding terms for
gender are ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, these latter being
quite independent of (biological) sex. Gender is the
amount of masculinity and femininity found in a person,
and obviously, while there are mixtures of both in many
humans, the normal male has a preponderance of
masculinity and the normal ‘female’ a preponderance of
femininity.4

Ann Oakley, whose book Sex, Gender and Society helped popularise the distinction, sums up: ‘Sex is a biological term; “gender” a psychological and cultural one. ‘s
The concept was developed further by sex-role theory, in
terms of ‘sex-role stereotyping’. If sex is given in terms of the
biological characteristics set out above, one’s gender is given by
one’s sex-role, that behaviour which forms a role or is deemed
appropriate for a person of a given sex. Such a notion is both
heavily normative (although the role notion is neatly ambiguous
between a normative and descriptive sense of role6) and relative
to a particular society, place and time where the deeming is done.

This notion of gender assumes a simple set of uniform social
expectations for gender apparently taken as shared by all members of society, and neglects or fails to invite questions about
social dynamics, power, and whose expectations are relevant.

The degree of conformity to one’s sex-role is the measure of
gender, one’s degree of masculinity, femininity, and one’s successful socialisation into the appropriate role.

But although the distinction initially appeared within this
context it would be a mistake to view it as irrevocably tied to such
a behavioural context, or to a context of role theory, or socialisation theory. Many current aspects of the use of the distinction do
not need to rely on the extra theoretical baggage which these
contexts impart to it. The distinction does not stand or fall then
with the context in which it was introduced, and now leads a
somewhat independent life.

In order to see how far the disti~ction is necessary and how
far it might be reconstructed in a different context, it is important
to look at its major functions and uses. I don’t want to suggest
that the use of the distinction is always clear-cut. In fact there
seems to be a good deal of confusion about some areas of use. For
example, we usually speak of love between the sexes. But if it is
as social beings, both embodied and as a part of society which
treats that body in certain ways, that men and women love one
another, then it is love between the genders which is in question.

Clearly there are confused uses about, and often the distinction
seems little more than a nuisance, insisting that we make a choice
and division (is it biological or social love?) where no choice
seems needed or indeed possible or relevant. We need a piece of
inclusive terminology too it seems, for when we can’t or we don’t
need to make a distinction. Nevertheless the distinction does
have a real point, as I argue below.

2. The Point of the Distinction
The distinction has made it possible to do a number of useful
things. A review of some of these, plus consideration of f1:lfther
desiderata, provide some conditions of adequacy which satisfactory ways of making the distinction need to meet.

1. Just as the word ‘mother’ takes it for granted that the
woman who gives birth to a child (sex) also subsequently exclusively nurtures and rears it (gender) and makes separation of
these functions difficult both to do and describe, except as
exceptions, freaks or monstrosities, so the description of all the
relevant differences as simply ‘sexual differences’ takes it for
granted that all these different criteria always go together, that a
person with a given set of sex differences (classed usually as
biological) will have corresponding characteristics of gender.

B ut these, from the point of view of the distinction, are both more
variable over social arrangements and more changeable or reconstructible (or would need reconstruction for quite different reasons) than sex differences.

2. A distinction between the class of females and the set of
characteristics associated with them (one version of the

distinction) is essential to explaining how it is that philosophy
(and contemporary areas such as public life) has been androcentric. Ve seem to need such a distinction in order to say, for
example, that Plato in The Republic allows for participation of
women in the guardian class but that he excludes and devalues
the feminine. Similarly, as historians of feminist philosophy such
as Genevieve Lloyd have pointed out, philosophers such as
Descartes who have given an account of Reason as sharply
distinct from the feminine sphere (e.g. of the senses, of everyday
life) have not thereby wished to exclude biological women from
it. Unless we can make such a distinction we cannot hope to
explain the complex and variable operations of androcentrism,
how both women and the feminine have been systematically
devalued and excluded in ways that are related but not identical.

3. The distinction has been a major tool in the battle against
biologic’ll reductionism, which treats all differences between
men and women as simply and uniformly ‘natural’. In order to
defeat biological reductionism what seems essential is that there
be some 30rt of distinction made amongst the kinds of characteristics involved, in terms of their ‘naturalness’ or ‘biologicalness’ ,
or else that none of the characteristics concerned are seen as
biological. Sex needs to be seen as not determining gender. This,
however, imposes quite a weak requirement on the distinction,
and does very little to fIx its form. Many different ways of
making the distinction could meet it.

4. The distinction has several important political functions.

One especially important one is that it has made it possible to
recognise that people of the same sex vary greatly in the degree to
which they approximate to their gender ideal or norm, in the
extent to which they exhibit masculinity or femininity. Thus it
has made it possible to claim that in rejecting or criticising
masculinity, one is not necessarily rejecting or aiming to
eliminate maleness as such (biological maleness), or all people
of the male sex; that in rejecting femininity, one is not necessarily
rejecting femaleness, women etc. (This is an important capacity
and questions some recent feminist views of males as irredeemably viOlent.)
This in turn makes it possible to arrive at some important

3

generalisations about features of gendered character, of masculinity and femininity (very important in work such as Nancy
Chodorow’s and that of other psychoanalysts). Without the distinction these generalisations may become difficult because
these gendered features are not always displayed clearly or
universally by people of the relevant sex.

5. A further important function is that it has made it possible
to see the system as open to change of certain kinds – to draw a
distinction between different sorts of change required to change
sex and gender, to see a good many of the characteristics
involved as subject to both individual and social control and
choice, and to take account of what is culturally specific and how
it has historically developed in a category previously viewed as
homogeneously and unchangeably ‘natural’. A lot of the point of
the distinction is to identify what is changeable, what it is
pointless to try to change, and to identify different ways it seems
appropriate to effect change. Stoller’s work, for example,
purported to examine what remained invariant in a situation of
different sex but identical gender, and same sex but different
gender.

6. The distinction should enable explication of the relation
between sex or gender as at least partly an intentional one, one
where gender is closely bound up with what people conceive the
significance of biological sex to be. This is implicit in the
Stollerian account of gender as produced by what people
involved in key socialisation processes believe a child’s sex to
be, not what it actually is. Thus, parents and others believing a
child to be female will help produce an appropriately gendered
child, and similarly for those believing a child to be male. Social
conceptions clearly play a highly significant role.

I want to suggest these as conditions of adequacy for a sex/
gender distinction, by whatever name it goes under. If we did not
already have to hand a distinction which made their fulfilment
possible, then we would, I think, have needed to invent
something which fulfilled these broad functions. In that sense, I
think, we do obviously need a sex/gender distinction, or some
equivalent. Clearly some of these conditions cannot be met
satisfactorily with an overall undifferentiated category of sexual
difference. But they are compatible with a number of different
ways of making the distinction, as we shall see.

If the distinction is abandoned we do seem to face loss of the
capacity to make the discriminations needed for these purposes.

Do we, for example, revert to describing the difference between
nurturing and aggressive character orientations as a sex
difference, and the difference between having XX and XY
chromosomes as also a sex difference, without any suggestion
that they might be somewhat different in kind? ‘Sexual
difference’ becomes an enforced blanket category which
obscures important differences and makes important things
unsayable (like ‘mother’).

3. Objections to the Distinction
I want to go on to consider some of the objections which can be
or are made to the distinction, keeping in mind these background
conditions of adequacy.

The first objection I want to look at is that sex itself is not, as
Stoller and others assume, simply a natural, somehow purely and
simply ‘biological’ category. The rigid division between the
social and the biological spheres which is presupposed is
mistaken.

Thus, we can ask whether people really do just fall under
Stoller’s two bell-shaped curves, or whether they’re pushed. If
we look at Stoller’s rather impressive list of ‘biological’ criteria

4

which go t3 make up sex, for example, we can see that they often
don’t go together at all – that is chromosomes, external and
internal genitalia, gonads, honnonal states and secondary sex
characteristics. A person with the ‘right’ chromosomes for example might have more or less masculine secondary sex characteristics and so on. In fact there is a good deal of variation in the
way in which these characteristics are clustered, both in humans
and non-humans, and there is similarly room for a great deal of
social and cultural input into how these characteristics are classified and grouped. The same characteristics could lead to different descriptions in different social orders, so it is not just a
‘natural’ fact that there are said to be just two different sorts of
sexed bodies. The concept of two genders itself influences and
shapes the perception of bodies as two-sexed. And it is not just
the classification but the actual ‘biological’ facts themselves,
which are socially or culturally manipulated to fit the picture of
dichotomy. For example, we have whole industries devoted to
ensuring sexual polarisation and eliminating overlap on secondary sexual characteristics such as hairlessness. And as Alison
Jaggarpoints out in Feminist Politics and Human Nature7 , ‘cultural’ criteria such as sexual selection in some societies of
smaller and less physically powerful women can feed back into
opportunities to breed, leading to the intensification of ‘secondary’ differences. The distinction between the biological and the
social on which the classification is based does not hold up.

The objection is powerful and makes an important point
about the way the distinction should be treated. It does not,
however, show that we need to abandon it, at least in all possible
forms, for two reasons. Firstly, it would only do so if it were held

that sex and gender were not merely distinct but in fact totally
separate and did not even interact. If sex and gender are conceptually distinguishable but causally interacting items there is no
reason why we cannot acknowledge that gender is not independent of sex or vice versa. The relationship between them would
then be something like the relationship between a culture and its
physical environment, in that a culture can shape the way a
physical environment is classified, and indeed, physical features
of it, and vice versa, while each remain distinguishable aspects of
the world that there may be a need to consider and focus on
separatel} .

Secondly, I think it can be conceded that a classification of
more than two sexes would become possible. The view of gender
as dimoI]Jhic clearly influences the view of sexual classification
as dimoq: hic. Although we should view human sexual reproduction in the light of an account of general biological reproduction,
which is dimorphic, it seems equally clear that the Western view

of gender as dimorphic has in turn influenced that theory. The show, I think, the ease with which such a distinction can be made
evidential support basis for the dimorphic theory of general to incorporate these further assumptions and the great care which
sexual reproduction really only provides a basis for saying that must be taken if they are to be avoided, and how much effort is
there must be at least two sexes, not that there must be exactly needed to obtain conceptual tools which are free of hidden
two sexes and no more. However, the sex/gender distinction gender or ethnocentric bias.

It is important to bear in mind too that it is not the existence of
itself does not commit us to a view that there are only two
ways of marking out distinctions themselves, such as mental and
genders or two sexes.

These objections show that there are ‘fuzzy areas’ of overlap physical, natural and cultural or biological and social, which is
between the biological and the social, and that the distinction usually the problem, so much as ways of construing or using
should not be treated as sharply exclusive; as creating an onto- them – e.g. as creating a false polarity and an ontological gulf, as
logical gulf or total discontinuity (as between Cartesian mind and creating a hierarchy (e.g. of controlled and controller), and as a
body). It does not show that no distinction between the biological part of a network of further related assumptions or theory into
and social is viable; that they cannot be treated as different areas which it is fitted (e.g. those which in Western culture link the
of focus for many purposes. The fact of interaction and the dichotomous pairs of male/female, mind/body, human/nonabsence of a sharp boundary is not a sound reason for abandon- human, reason/emotion and so on, and assume that the second
ing the distinction, any more than it is in the case of biology and (inferior) set is to be treated instrumentally).

say, anthropology or sociology, although it is a good reason for
being sensitive to the problem of the boundary cases.8
If these objections do not invalidate the distinction, they do
show, as Alison Jaggar notes, the need to view human biology as
always occurring in some social context and to give full weight to
the interactions with it. The need in certain cultures to exaggerate
and rigidify sexual difference, to eliminate overlap and polarise
sexual characteristics tells us a great deal about how these
cultures treat gender as well as sex, revealing not just a causal but
a conceptual feedback of gender structures into sexual ones. The
implications from a more pluralistic approach to gender, then,
are a freeing up of the dimorphic sexual classification too.

The distinction is sometimes treated as a contrast between the
sphere of freedom (gender) and the sphere of necessity (sex). But
it is not essential to the distinction that it treat sex as totally
‘given’, not subject to any change, whreas gender is treated as
totally open to change. Rather, both can be treated as subject to
some change, and the distinction made in terms of the kinds of
change or interventions that are relevant. Changing someone’s
sex usually does seem to be a different sort of matter to, and
I want to consider now a set of objections which have been
involve quite different kinds of changes, from changing their taken by some to show the unviability of the distinction, and
gender.

which focus on the notion of the subject implicit in it, and its
The sex/gender distinction is not a distinction between the treatment of difference. Much of this case is found in Moira
unchangeable and the arbitrarily or readily changeable, and Gatens, ‘A Critique of the Sex/Gender Distinction’ .12 The paper
should not be taken either as a distinction between the uncontrol- contains quite a number of theses on sex and gender, but the main
lable or unchangeably ‘given’ (sex) or the easily, indeed trivially, ones appear to be the following. .

changeable or controllable social category of gender. If it is so
interpreted (and it does not need to be) it becomes difficult to (1) The sex/gender distinction assumes that the connection between the body (sex) and gender is arbitrary. It assumes that
sustain, since the facts of biological sex may be easier to change
gender
is a matter of consciousness, and that the body is
than those of gender.9 In this sense of ‘nature’ (the given or
neutral and passive with respect to the formation of conunchangeable order) the sex/gender distinction does not coincide
sciousness. Masculine and feminine behaviours are taken to
with, or stand or fall with, the nature/culture distinction. lo Howbe
arbitrary forms of behaviour, socially inscribed on an
ever, the distinction is closely related to that distinction, to the
indifferent
consciousness that is joined to an indifferent
extent that it raises the overall issue of how the social relates to
body.

Hence,
the biological. The nature/culture distinction (or better, nature/
culture dualism) is one into which Western culture has normally (2) the sex/gender distinction implicitly involves a body/conpacked a great deal which draws on the masculine/feminine
sciousness distinction of a rationalist or Cartesian type, with
dualism, and the notion of nature (female, body, passivity, necesthe body assumed to be neutral and passive.

sity) as something to be separated from and controlled and acted
on by culture (male, spirit, reason, freedom). The problems of the (3) The consciousness assumed is neutral or implicitly male.

usual network of Western assumptions surrounding this distinc- (4) In contrast to this, it is claimed that the subject is always a
tion, so central to Western thought, are brilliantly discussed by
sexed subject, and that
Marilyn Strathern in her elaboration of the contrasting network
of the Ragen people of NiuginLll In this she shows how some of (5) the body is always a situated body. There is no neutral or
passive body, which underlies gender. As a result the attempt
these assumptions are shared but how others are not. But I do not
to treat gender as somehow eliminable, to see gender as the
believe that this shows or is intended to show that any attempt to
problem, is basically mistaken. I shall discuss these in turn.

distinguish the biological and the social must be part of this
dualistic network, or that such a distinction must inevitably be Thesis 1. The distinction assumes that masculine and femnine
abandoned along with the assumptions which surround it. It does behaviours are arbitrary foons of behaviour, socially inscribed

5

on a passive, neutral body.

This would indeed be a good reason to reject the distinction
and some forms of the distinction do fall foul of this criticism.

The ‘sex/role stereotype’ account seems particularly subject to
this criticism, since it assumes that inscriptions are purely conventional and apparently readily changeable, and allots the body
no real role in the production of the final gendered person except
as a peg to hang a sex-role on. (This sort of view was nicely
captured by the cover of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch
showing a ‘female body suit’ which could be removed or put on
at will.) But the body or sex, as this objection rightly points out,
is not irrelevant to the making of masculinity and femininity. The
body, as Moira Gatens notes, ‘can and does intervene, to confrrm
or to deny, various social significances.’ 13
However, it is by no means necessary for the distinction to
assume this form. The sex/gender distinction can (and normally
is) used in a way which takes sex and gender to be related. There
are different accounts of what this relationship is, but most basic
accounts assume that the body provides some kind of basis or

foundation upon which gender is constructed. They do not therefore assume a passive, neutral and indifferent body in the way
claimed.

R. W. Connell discusses ‘additive’ accounts, which take sex
or biology to partly determine difference, with the remainder
being an added component of ‘social construction’ .14 But if
gender is a ‘social construction’ , it is not necessarily just added to
sexual determination as a further arbitrary or unrelated component. It may be a social construction from sex, on the basis of
biology and sex, not simply an extra unrelated thing which is
added on top of it. Indeed, this seems to be what the comtnon
account assumes when it supposes that in Western culture, for
example, it is women’s reproductive capacities which have been
the basis of their identification with the inferior sphere of nature,
which has again formed the basis for their exclusion from culturally valued ‘non-natural’ activities such as rationality, and for
their socialisation to a character tied to reproductive and nurturing activities. On this account the connection would not be
arbitrary; it would rather be that sex was socially modified or

6

interpreted, operated on, to give gender. That is, the relationship
would logically not be that of a conjunction, but of a modifier or
operator.

What we are in fact presented with in this argument is a
choice (as in biological reductionism) between taking the components of sex and gender to be arbitrarily connected or taking
them to be indistinguishable. But it is clear that this is a false
choice, which amounts to saying that either it’s all equally
‘natural’ and biological or it’s all arbitrary.

Thesis 2. The sex/gender distinction takes the body to be
neutral and passive, and equates the distinction with a body/
consciousness distinction, i.e. it is rationalist (Cartesian?).

This is an objection which must be taken very seriously
indeed. The context in which the sex/gender distinction appears
is one which has strongly (and I believe rightly) rejected mind!

body dualism as one of the main sources, in Western culture at
any rate, of the exclusion of women from what is not valued in
the culture, especially rationality and its offshoots. So if a key
distinction in the theory is based on a version of that dualism that
would reveal a very serious inconsistency at the heart of the
theory, as well as a hidden source of androcentrism.

On examination, however, it seems that the case for the
distinction being so contaminated is not as watertight as it
appears at first, even if we look at the Stollerian account and the
sex-role stereotype account of the distinction. For example, on
Stoller’s account sex is bodily (biological) and gender is produced by psychological and cultural means. It doesn’t follow,
however, on either account, that all the ramifications and operations of gender take place in or at the level of the mind or
consciousness, since among the behaviour produced will be a
great deal that concerns the body, and similarly, on the sex-role
stereotype account, a great many of the gender expectations of
others (the society) will concern people’s bodies (e.g. characteristics like hairlessness for women) and how they experience and
what they do with their bodies, not just the expectation of a different consciousness. So although these characteristics might not
be biologically determined it doesn’t follow that they just concern consciousness, or that consciousness is taken to be the only
operative factor in producing gender identity. ‘Socialisation’

needn’t be assumed to operate just at the level of consciousness
or the mind, indeed in this case it can’t.

Similarly, the distinction does not have to assume a neutral
and passive body, although particular forms of it may. What the
distinction assumes is that the body does not alone determine a
person’s masculinity or femininity, gender identity, role or behaviour. This does not mean that it has to be seen as neutral or
passive with regard to the function of consciousness, or that the
relation between them has to be one of inscription by consciousness (or plural consciousnesses – society) on a passive body. The
relationship can be conceived differently within the framework
of the distinction. That is, the assumption is that there is a whole
area of character and social relations not determined by the body.

But it doesn’t follow that because it’s not determined just by the
body that it’s determined by the mind, or that the body has no
role. And, as we shall see, there is considerable ambiguity in the
notion of a ‘neutral’ body.

Again, from the fact that gender is taken to be not determined
by sex it does not follow that it is taken to be a totally free and
arbitrary construction unrelated to the sexed bodies; that it ‘floats
free’ in this strong sense of being an unrelated addition, or that
the body is taken to be neutral in the sense of not favouring any
possible social meaning over any other.

Nevertheless this objection, although it misses its intended
target of the sex/gender distinction, has a good deal of force
against particular ways of understanding the distinction, which

can very easily be fitted into the Cartesian model, and points to
the need for proponents of the distinction to give an account of
just what the role of the body might be. The objection is a
particularly serious one against the ‘additive’ theories (that is, as
I explained earlier, theories which simply add a social component to an independent and apparently unrelated mechanically
conceived bodily component). Such an account does fit the
Cartesian picture very closely, although gender is not assumed to
control sex in the way mind controls body in the Cartesian
picture.

without buildings (although in a sense only as an anomaly) but
there can be no pure ‘sex’, or purely detachable biology which
can occur without social elaboration. The analogy leaves a great
many specific questions unanswered, and does not capture at all
the sense in which gender is about sex (a building is not about its
foundations, or constructed/rom it).

A rather different sort of account is offered by R. W. Connell
in Gender and Power – what is essentially a production model of
gender. 16 Gender is developed out of the body in the way an
object in nature is transformed by human labour into an item of
use, and is to be explained in terms of a social practice essentially
of production.

4. What is Gender?

Nevertheless the force of this objection does make it necessary to
provide a better account of how the relation to the body is
actually to be construed; of how the social ‘gender’ relates to the
biological’ sex’ . Gender is often assumed to be a social construction from or elaboration of sex. But if gender somehow elaborates on sex, the question is: what is meant by elaboration here?

Both Connell and Gatens, although otherwise opposed, reject
the sex/role stereotype or role theory account of gender. Connell
rightly criticises additive accounts on which gender simply adds
a further component of social elaboration to the body. Such
accounts are much too disconnected. The body does play more
than an arbitrary role in the formation of gender. Gender is
somehow got out 0/ sex, it is not just an extra addition to it (and
certainly not just the addition of consciousness, as Gatens rightly
points out).

Another option which Connell considers only to dismiss is
that of sex as placing limits or constraints on possible social
gender arrangements. He treats such ‘constraints’ or limit positions as further types of additive theories. But constraints are not
necessarily, and in fact usually cannot be treated as, further
added conditions in this way. However, there are other objections to regarding sex, biological reality, as placing constraining
conditions on gender arrangements, social possibility. The relationship between sex and gender seems much closer than this
constraint position suggest, in that gender is somehow an elaboration of sex. But a constraining relation is not necessarily like
this. For instance, gravity places constraints on athletics, and the
size of a container on the weight of its contents, but athletics is
not about or an elaboration of gravity in the way gender seems to
be about, or derived from, sex.

Another possibility which has wide appeal for spelling out
‘social elaboration’ is suggested by the analogy of a building, in
which sex is the foundation upon which the building of gender is
erected. Thus Sandra Harding writes:

Instead of just looking at sex we should be looking at
gender – the impressive and baroque superstructure of
social differentiation which culture erects on what it presumes to be the appropriate foundation of our relatively
modest and clearly functional reproductive differences. 1S
The superstructure analogy suggest that the social (gender)
elaborates or is built on the biological (sex) as a building elaborates or is built on its foundations. Foundations must be appropriate for superstructures, and place constraints on them, and quite
different superstructures might be erected on the same foundations, according to the desire and intention of different cultural
builders. So the analogy allows for cultural variation on an
identical or similar biological base. But the analogy, although
appealing, has its limitations, particularly with respect to the
intentional construction of buildings. Foundations can occur

The production model has an advantage in that it does not rely
on the realm of ideas, consciousness or intention as its main
causal agent – Connell is explicit that production is material
production. At the same time however it seems to lose the
intentional connection which is a feature of the relation of gender
and sex, for the rug is not about the wool, nor the pot about the
clay, although each are produced from it – they are physical and
material elaborations, but they are given social significance
freely. The production model should also be treated with caution,
since it carries the danger of viewing production as the major
human activity and the human and social essence.

An apparently different kind of account again comes from
Moira Gatens, who makes the interesting suggestion that gender
is to sex as the imaginary body is to the actual body P She
identifies it as ‘a psychical image of the body’ a ‘body phantom’

or an imaginary body … developed, learned, connected to the
body-image of others… ‘. ‘Masculinity and femininity as forms of
sex-appropriate behaviours are manifestations of an historicallybased, culturally shared phantasy about male and female
biologies. ’18
This account, although promising, seems too narrow, because it is the intentional body rather than the imaginary body, in
the sense of the ‘imagined’ body, which is in question. Gender on
this account would be reducible to how the reproductive organs
were im~gined to be and to behave by a whole society, a ‘shared
phantas} , . It is the body as experienced as well as imagined, and
as seen and felt, and what is believed about and to follow from the

7

body, which is relevant, not just as imagined in mental imagery.

This certainly seems to provide a key element of connection
which is missing in other accounts. The sense in which gender is
‘about’ or is an ‘elaboration’ of sex is that it is, or essentially
involves, if not a ‘phantasy’ at least a shared social story about
reproductive difference. This allows the body to be highly relevant to gender, to be in a good sense the basis of, or the
foundation of, gender, without itself determining it Yet although
capturing a key element, it makes gender totally a function of
social thought systems, and neglects the material aspects of the
production of gender, except as causal consequences of thought
systems.

The notion of gender as the ‘imaginary’ body or the fantasy
body, even the intentional body, seems still too narrow. How the
body is imagined to be socially or individually, how it is given
social symbolism, is only part, although a key part, of how it is
socially treated. This treatment is not just theory, imagination,
symbolism itself at the level of consciousness, but social practice
as applied to the body. So it is not a contrast of the mind
(consciousness, the imaginary body) and the materiality of the
body. As Connell notes:

We may say then that the practical transformation of the
body in the social structure of gender is not only accomplished at the level of symbolism. It has physical effects
on the body; the incorporation is a material one.

Perhaps we can say instead that gender is what the society or
culture makes of the reproductive aspects of the body where this
includes both material treatment and practices, and especially,
how the sexual aspects of the body are given social meaning and
significance, as well as how they are conceived to be. Gender
thus incorporates a theory, or a story, of how the body is, and how
the person is, as well as material treatment (as is clear in the term
‘sex of rearing’ for gender). It is the social meaning of sex as
embedded in social practices.

We can find parallels for this concept of gender in a number
of other notions; for example, in the psychoanalytic distinction
between the penis and the phallus. We can find another parallel,
in some respects, in the way in which land and ‘country’ are
thought of in Australian aboriginal culture, where ‘country’ is
land as given social significance and meaning, in a story (theory)
about the land, its origins, effects and proper treatment; and of
course, how this is lived out in a practice relating people to the
land. And gender, like country, does not involve any old story,
but a culturally central or basic story (a ‘big story’).

The fact that gender involves a story (theory) about sex and
about reproductive difference explains how it is that gender is
about sex, how it is that gender is a (particular kind of) social
elaboration of sex. Our own Western story, shared social fantasy,
has until recently been difficult to see because it was so basic and
so little questioned; and as usual the story, the ‘shared social
fantasy’ determining gender, is easier to see from the outside,
looking into someone else’s culture, than in our own.20
If gender is the social body, the sexual aspects of the body as
experienced and lived in a particular culture and as given social
meaning and significance, interpreted by others in that culture,
we can captme what is right about the ‘sex-role stereotype’

characterisation in terms of social roles and expectations, without seeing socialisation as the determining factor inscribing an
irrelevant, neutral and passive body, and without the problem of
a theory which treats the body as a mere unrelated component, to
which an arbitrary social gender ascription is added. The problems of choosing an idealist or materialist account are also
avoided. And the distinction is not a distinction of body and
mind. Furthermore, if gender-establishing practices include a

8

shared, social fantasy of the sexual aspects of the body, lived out
by differently-sexed subjects, there is also room here for alternative ‘fantasies’, for preferring some to others, and for relating
them to alternative practices. But more of this later.

Where does this leave the distinction? It seems that in fact we
now have the beginnings of an account which will meet the
conditions I suggested at the beginning for a sex/gender distinction. The relation between the intentionalised, social body and
the body will provide the basis for differentiating what is changeable in different ways (by changing the body or by changing the
‘fantasy’ or practices about it). It will allow for some degree of
freedom in the establishment of gender and for social and cultural variation (via change of fantasy and practice, and for people
to vary in the extent to which they can approximate the fantasy.

And it will give a major role to social conceptions of the body, as
well as to social practice. It will fulfill the main functions of the
sex/gender distinction as the conditions of adequacy explained
them.

5. The Subject, Difference, and Degendering
But, according to Gatens, the body is always in some social
context, and always has some social meaning and significance,
always gives rise to lived bodily experience. I.e. it is always
somehow situated. It is easy to pass from this to Gaten’ s fuller
conclusion that the subject is always sexed, that there can never
be a neutral subject, and that gender is therefore always present in
some form. As a result the attempt to degender, to treat gender as
eliminable or reconstructible is mistaken, and it is not to gender
but to difference that we must attend and turn for enlightenment.

A program of degendering is seriously mistaken, on this view.

Gender itself is not the problem.

I want to look now at some of these claims, which are
sometimes taken to show the unviability of the sort’ of view set
out in the opening paragraph of Nancy Chodorow. Thus Gatens
concludes (p. 150): ‘Feminists who propose degendering propose it outside of history and without considering the extreme
resilience of expressions of sexual difference… ‘ And she goes
on: ‘The point is that we are historically and culturally situated in
a society that is divided and organised in terms of sex – an
historical fact.’

There are some problems here. We may agree that, given this
account of sex and gender, the body is always situated somehow.

It does not follow at all, however, that it is always situated in a
society which is ‘divided and organised in terms of sex’. The
effect of this slide is to make it appear that the inevitability of
there being some situation is the inevitability of difference in a
society ‘divided and organised in terms of sex’ and of a body’s
being so situated. It is inevitable that bodies (or rather people) are
somehow situated, but not that they are so situated.

And if the body (or the person) is not so situated, it is not so
obvious that the subject is always and everywhere a sexed
subject, that men and women must be everywhere qualitatively
different kinds of people. I shall call the view that the subject is
always a sexed subject, that difference in sex automatically
implies difference in subjectivity, and that men and women are
inevitably qualitatively different kinds of people, Philosophical
Separatism. In a society which is divided and organised in tenus
of sex, and which has taken reproductive difference to flow on to
almost every area of life, men and women’s differential experiences and power will usually be sufficiently different to make it
plausible to say that they are qualitatively different sorts of
people. Thus, in a society which maximises the significance of
differences, and expands their area, the whole of life may be-

come gendered. Initial sex differences are treated as permeating
all areas of life, as a ‘cosmic division’, as Connel puts it,21 as
conclusively determining ‘who we are, what we do, how we are
perceived, and who are our sexual partners’, in Chodorow’s
words.

But this does not support Philosophical Separatism. For
suppose the context is not one of such a society, but rather one
which resembles that of the gender – deconstructed society described by Nancy Chodorow in the opening passage, or by
Connell, where sex differences are not taken to flow on to other
spheres of life than the reproductive one, and where men and
women share equally in responsibility for reproduction. 22 Is it
still true that the subject must still always be ‘a sexed subject’ ,
and that men and women are therefore significantly different
sorts of people? The subject here is not treated as a neutral
(disembodied) subject, and the body is situated. But these claims
seem no longer to be obviously true (one suspects the people in
Connoll’s society would fmd such a suggestion laughable). This
is not to assume that the society Connell considers which completely deconstructed or minimised sex differences is automatically better – that would need to be shown – or that it’s a question
of quantity (maximizing vs. minimising sex differences), but
rather that we don’t any longer have any basis for the claim that
the subject in such a situation is always a sexed subject, and that
we don’t have any means of expressing the difference between
these social situations given this proposal. This is not to insist on
a ‘neutral’ subject. Rather it is to insist that possession of a
differently sexed body does not necessarily lead to difference in
subjecthood, that this is not a necessary feature of any form of
social organisation.

Gatens develops an argument (pp. 153-55) in favour of her
thesis that female and male subjectivities are qualitatively different, arguing that male transsexuals have an experience of the
body which is qualitatively different from female experience.

Thus she writes (pp. 153-54):

The male transsexual, due to his primary relations with
his mother, is in the situation of being constituted in such
a way that his (primitive) ego conflicts with his imaginary
(and biological) body, leading to his subjectivity being
conceived by him as ‘female-in-a-male-body’. Briefly
this would involve the non-resolution of the misrecognition of the body of the other for one’s own, that is, the
male transsexual’s primitive (bodily) ego is predicated
upon a female body (i.e. the maternal body) and he does
not develop, until comparatively late, a separate identity
from his mother. His transsexualism, in fact, is evidence
that this separation is never adequately achieved. The
desire of the mother is active in this non-resolution or
critically late resolution.

The case of the female transsexual cannot [my italics] be
symmetrical. The relation of the female infant to the
mother’s body is not and can not be problematic in the

same way.

This argument, like much psychoanalytic argument, presupposes
a far from inevitable feature of existing society; namely, that a
woman has sole and exclusive responsibility for the rearing of
children, and that ‘mothers’ in this sense are exclusively female.

If this is not the case the argument for inevitable qualitative
difference based on transsexualism collapses; male and female
transsexualism need not have different meaning and significance. At this point the argument does seem to presuppose much
of the point at issue, since the role of women as mothers (and
hence a certain sort of unchangeable female nature) is treated as

an inevitable part of a social structure.

It is unclear just when such differences would produce a
qualitatively different kind of person or subjectivity, but obviously this would depend a good deal on whether those areas of
life which could not be shared, where experiences were those of
a differently sexed body in a social context which gave weight to
that, were also treated as central to the formation of self and to the
kind of person one was. Some experiences of a different kind of
body are plausibly so treated, others are less so. (E.g. those who
have athlete’s foot versus those who don’t – a different bodily
experience which would not plausibly form the basis for a
difference central to the self, to the kind of person one was.)
Nurturing and reproductive activities obviously could be so
treated.

Nevertheless, they need not be treated as giving always and
everywhere a different kind of subject. The argument presents a
false choice between subjects being always neutral and always
and everywhere sexed, that is, having a significant qualitative
and subjective difference in virtue of the possession of a differently sexed body. An alternative more flexible and sensible
position seems to be that sometimes sex matters, and sometimes
it doesn’t. (For example, giving a ‘woman’s’ as opposed to a
‘man’s’ view of surviving a trip over Niagara Falls. Would such
a subject be a sexed subject?) That is, subjects would not automatically and everywhere be the same (neutral), but they would
not be automatically and everywhere different sorts of subjects
either. Obviously we can think of contexts in present society
where subjects are sexed and ones where they are not Understanding the way the sexes yield ‘different kinds of people’ is
essential for understanding the dynamics of most personal and
social relationships, but so is understanding similarity.

But such a position is different from Philosophical Separatism. This latter position seems to have a number of unfortunate
consequences. If it were correct there would be. no properly
shared experiences between men and women. They would form,
almost, two species. If there were no significant experience of
which we can say that males and females have the same experience, that is the same for both, there would be a problem in
locating an area of common concern or interest, or a basis for
community or common humanity. The ramifications are alarming, especially if one considers the way in which highly sexsegregated societies and workplaces have treated and continue to
treat women – as prey, as the enemy, a separate species to be
treated instrumentally and without sympathy, as ‘the other’; and
also if one considers the way in which the view of sex difference
as providing a cosmic and universal division underlies romantic
love in its most sexist form.

And do all bodily differences necessarily provide correspondingly different subjectivities, or only sex differences? If
the answer is ‘all’, the result seems to be an individual isolation
and other minds problem of horrendous proportions. If it is only
sex, the result seems to privilege biological sex as the site of difference in an unjustifiable way.

What seems to be needed is an account of difference which
will allow the experience of different bodies to provide a significant difference in some suitable cases but not automatically and
everywhere. This would be an account which recognised that
much of the occupation of the social sphere was concerned with
the elaboration of difference (including sexual difference) but
against a background of basic similarity, and against a further
background still of both difference and similarity with the nonhuman sphere. It would not necessarily aim at the minimisation
of difference, however, or go as far in the direction of denying
difference and flow-on of reproductive difference to other areas
of life as Connell does.23

9

I

I

The same problem and ambiguity which underly the notion of
the body as situated occurs in the discussion of ‘degendering’

and of ‘neutrality’ of the body in Gatens. 24
The concept of degendering is roundly rejected by Gatens,
who sees degendering as presupposing a neutral subject as well
as a passive body (although later this subject is said also to be
implicitly male). She declares that ‘to suggest the degendering of
society is hopelessly utopian, and functions theoretically and
practically as a diversionary tactic’.25 The ‘degendering’ terminology, which is unfortunate and ambiguous in many ways,
seems to have originated with Nancy Chodorow, who used it in
her article ‘Gender, Relation and Difference in Psychoanalytic
Perspective’ to indicate the need for a feminist strategy involving
a general shake-up and restructuring of gender and gender characteristics, not just for women but also for men, and who opposed
it to a gynocentric position (although she did not use that term).

She also wished to take account of the way in which gender and
gender difference are relational, that is the rehltionship between
the genders is such that changes in one cannot be contemplated
without corresponding changes in the other.

Degendering, as the term is now used, usually means changing the particular set of gender ideals and structures which are
subject to the sort of critique developed by Chodorow and others,
and changing them from ones which take biological differences
to flow through to all areas of life. But especially it means
changing the way in which masculinity and femininity in Western culture have been contrasted as a dualism (or rather a set of
dualisms), in which one side of the duality has qualities which
are constructed by exclusion from the properties of the more
highly valued side. Because of this both genders are seen as
needing to change together in a systematic way, and the result is
‘degendered’ also in the sense that neither side of the duality necessarily presents a model for the outcome of the transformation.26
The concept of degendering has two importantly different
meanings.

(1) Degendering1 relative to society (say Western society) implies some sort of radical restructuring or reformation of
gender differences in that society, transforming that particular society’s gender structure.

(2) Degendering2 implies removing all structure of social difference and meaning attached to male and female biologies and
bodies.

Degendering in sense 1 is what people such as Chodorow are

10

arguing for. But degendering1, restructuring a particular gender I
system, by no means implies degendering 2, the removal of all difference. And degendering1 has to be argued for in quite different I
terms from degendering2; namely, in terms of the harmfulness of
that particular society’s gender structure. Degendering2 is quite
different, and strikes quite different kinds of problems. Degendering2 implies removing all gender differences that is, all
difference in social meaning and significance attached to different male and female bodies and lived experience. This does
indeed seem to imply an attempt to deny or somehow cancel out
the different experiences resulting from different biologies, to
attempt to establish or to presuppose, a neutral body and a neutral
subject.

This seems not only undesirable but also impossible. It seems
likely that any society will attach some different significance to
different reproductive roles. And the attempt to deny or cancel
out such differences is almost certain to lead to the establishment
of an ostensibly neutral face which masks an implicitly male
norm, and under which what is distinctive in female experience
is devalued or silenced (as Gatens and others have argued is
presently the case with some forms of contemporary ‘neutrality’

in the public sphere).

Similarly, it is claimed by Gatens that the body cannot be
separated from its social meaning, that to attempt to do so
assumes a ‘neutral’ body. It is necessary that the body has some
social meaning, but not that it has the particular one given it, for
example, in contemporary Western society. This is the confusion
which underlies essentialism. The body, then, is not ‘neutral’ or
detachable from its social meaning in the sense that it cannot
exist without some meaning, but it does not follow from its nonneutrality that it is inseparably or necessarily attached to its given
social meanings. And the body is not ‘neutral’ either in that it
does favour some possible social meanings over others – its
biology ‘fits’ some stories but not others, or, as Gatens says, the
body ‘can and does intervene, to confirm or deny, various social
significances’ . Degendering1 does not take the body to be neutral
in this sense; degendering 2, however, does.

It is degenderin~ then which has the qualities Gatens and
others have attributed to degendering, but degendering 1 that the
proponents of degendering have been arguing for. Degenderi~gf
does imply a neutral, passive body, devoid of differential social
meaning, and depriving different bodily experiences of a signifi- I
cant role. Degendering2 requires both a neutral subject and a sex/
gender w3tinction which embodies mind/body dualism, but
degendering1 does not need this. For example, degendering1, the
reconstruc1ion of existing Western dualistic gender systems,
does not imply giving no special (or different) significance to
specifically male or female forms of experience. A society which
was degendered in this way might, for example, celebrate or
otherwise mark in a special way particular events in women’s
lives, menstruation, childbirth, menopause. There is no require- I
ment to minimize or remove difference, although there would be ,
one to reduce the extent to which society was organised and
divided sexually and to remove exaggerated or confining manifestations of it.

Perhaps part of the trouble lies in the ‘degendering’ terminology itself which has made such confusion too easy, and encour·
ages a view of degendering as the complete removal of gender,
rather tha~l its restructuring. Perhaps a better way to describe
what many proponents of degendering have in mind is re gender·
ing or the liberation of gender from the shackles of a dualistic
(and dimorphic) system, which insists not only on the construction of one as the complement of the other, but excludes it from
the cultur~ll value attached to the other. This seems clearly to be
what Nancy Chodorow has in mind in the opening paragraph.

i

!

The political choices these contrasting positions imply cannot be adequately captured in tenns of the contrast of equality
and difference with which we are often presented (e.g. in Gatens’

argument). Degendering2 does imply a blanket political aim of
equality, but degendering1, or regendering, makes possible a
mixed strategy of equality and difference between the sexes,
equality and an end to gender saturation in some areas, recognition and perhaps even celebration and cultivation of difference in
others, restructuring of sex -segregated social structures in others.

It is the logical outcome of a generation of feminist critiques of
gender-structure, or dualistically constructed masculine and
feminine character, and of the gender-saturation of society.

The political choice implied by the sort of Philosophical
Separatism which emerges from the view that men and women
are individually and everywhere qualitatively different sorts of
people goes beyond the stress on difference as a welcome
counterbalance to the shallow pursuit of equality within a male
norm which characterised early forms of feminism. What is
further involved is a stress on difference which is uncritical of
masculine and feminine character, and their respective and mutual co-formation and function, and aims ultimately at the reversal of values and power, substituting a gynocentric separatism
for androcentric tradition. Thus Gatens writes:

3

Moira Gatens, ‘A Critique of the Sex/Gender Distinction’,
Intervention, February 1983; R. W. Connell, Gender & Power,
Polity, 1987.

4

5

Robert Stoller, Sex & Gender, Science House, 1968, quoted in
Ann Oakley, Sex, Gender & Society, Temple Smith, London,
1972, p. 158.

Ibid.

6

R. W. ConnelI, Gender & Power, op. cit.

7

See Alison Jaggar, Feminist Politics and Human Nature, Rowman & Allanheld, Harvester Press, Sussex, 1983 and Alison
Jaggar, ‘Human Biology in Feminist Theory: Sexual Equality
Reconsidered’, in Carol C. Gould (ed.), Beyond Domination,
Rowman & Allanheld, USA, 1984.

8

Alison Jaggar, in ‘Human Biology in Feminist Theory: sexual
equality reconsidered’, in fact usefully develops such an interactive theory, while concluding however that the distinction
between sex and gender is thereby challenged or rendered
doubtful. Yet interaction between conceptually distinguishable
items is the rule rather than the exception, and grey or fuzzy
areas are a normal part of distinctions.

9

This relative ease of changing sex as opposed to changing
gender partly accounts for the phenomenon of transsexualism.

‘But in the course of this long debate on nature vs. culture, I
discovered that, given the present state of science &
civilization, it seems to be much easier to change natural than
culturalfacts. It was much easier to relieve women from obligatory breastfeeding than make fathers give babies their bottles. It
is much easier to develop contraceptives that eliminate the
menstrual cycle than to change women’s attitude to menstruation’, Evelyne Sullerot in E. Marks & E. Courtivron (eds.),New
French Feminism, Harvester, Brighton, 1981, p. 158 (my italics).

As claimed by Denise Thompson, op. cil., p. 5.

Marilyn Strathern, ‘No nature, no culture: the Hagen case’, in
Carol P. MacCormack & Marilyn Strathem (eds.), Nature,

Culture & Gender, Cambridge, 1980.

The problem is not the socialisation of women to femininity and men to masculinity but the place of these behaviours in the network of social meaning and the valorizing
of one (the male) over the· other (the female) and the
resultant mischaracterisation of relations of difference as
relations of superiority and inferiority.

B ut if this is interpreted to mean ‘socialisation of women to some
femininity or other’ , we cannot say whether it is a problem until
we know what that femininity is. Ambiguity here effects a
transition to fixed feminine essences, for not any femininity is
existing femininity. If we interpret ‘socialisation of women to
femininity’ here to mean socialisation of women to existing or
traditional femininity, the implications are profoundly conservative, in that it takes it that existing socialisation and social
meaning of the genders can be left as it is and all that is required
is a reversal of values of the respective genders, their spheres and
characteristic activities (i.e. a ‘separate spheres’ position or a
gynocentric cultural feminism). Such a strategy faces too the
problem of how to separate the superior value attached to the
activities concerned from their gender exclusiveness – usually
they are inseparably intertwined – and seems to be involved in an
attempt to reverse cultural values on a huge scale which is far
more utopian than the regendering alternative. Such a program is
also misguided since it fails to take account of how such superiority/inferiority and polarisation, complementarity and exclusiveness, have developed together as part of a system of power in
which exclusion from valued activities and confinement to less
valued ones becomes written into gender. On such an analysis
the problem is and must be all of these things, which make up the
system of gender central to Western societies. The problem is
gender, and regendering is its solution.

10
11

12
13
14

Moira Gatens, op. cit.

Moira Gatens, op. cit., p. 149.

R. W. ConnelI, Gender & Power, op. cit., pp. 23-75.

15

Sandra Harding, ‘Is Gender a Variable in Conceptions of Rationality? A Survey of Issues’, in Carol C. Gould, op. cit., p. 44.

16

R. W. ConnelI, op. cit., pp. 66ff.

17

Moira Gatens, op. cit., p. 155. ‘I would suggest that “masculinity” and “femininity” correspond at the level of the imaginary
body to “male” and “female” at the level of biology.’

18

Ibid., p. 152.

R. W. ConnelI, op. cit., p. 87.

For such windows into differently based gender systems see
Gillian Gillison, ‘Images of Nature in Gimi Thought’, in C.

MacCormack & Marilyn Strathem (eds.), Nature, Culture &
Gender, Cambridge University Press, 1980, ppl 143-73 and
Anne Cameron, Daughters of Copperwoman, The Women’s
Press, London, 1984.

L W. ConnelI, op. cit., p. 289.

lbid., pp. 287ff.

Se.e ibid., p. 170, although ConnelI is here, I think, not so much
<ltnying difference as denying that it can be accounted for in
hrms of unitary gendered character, 'masculinity' and 'femiLi.lity'.

Catens, op. cit., p. 153.

joid.

Sce V. Plumwood, ‘Women, Humanity and Nature’, Radical
Philosophy 48, Spring 1988, pp. 16-24, and ‘Options for Regendering’ (unpublished manuscript).

19
20

21
22
23

Notes
1

2

Nancy Julia Chodorow, ‘Gender, Relation, and Difference in
Psychoanalytic Perspective’, in Hester Eisenstein and Alice
Jardine (eds.), The Future of Difference, Rutgers University
Press, NJ., 1985, p. 18.

See e.g. Denise Thompson, ‘Essentialism, the “Sex/Gender”
Distinction and Sexual Differenc~.’ Paper presented to Women
and Philosophy Conference, May 1988, p. 8.

24
25
26

11

Download the PDFBuy the latest issue