chapter  6
35 Pages

FEMININITY AS DISCOURSE

Introducing the concept of gender into feminist thought was an important political move. It meant that we did not have to argue our way at every step out of the biological connections implicit in the concept of sex.2 But the already givenness of ‘gender’ and ‘difference’ creates problems for a sociology exploring the social as an ongoing concerting of actual activities, always being brought into being, never concluded. The phenomenon has already been given determination as a discursive entity; it is a phenomenon. Difference is already there. The seams, cracks, varieties, and contradictions in the multiple sites and modes of being a woman or being a man are reduced and homogenized. But does it make sense to formulate general statements of women as a social category? As soon as we do so, we encounter the peculiar elusiveness of the ‘object’ it names. Taking up ‘gender’ from within, exploring social relations gendering the particular local historical sites of women’s experience, means attending to specificities, not gender in the abstract, not as total, but as multiple and sometimes contradictory relations.