chapter  2
Jane Rendell
Introduction: ‘Gender’
Pages 10

Composed of a series of diverse practices, feminism can best be described as a form of praxis, a political practice which embraces both action and theory. But possibly the best way of understanding what constitutes the basis of a particular

feminist approach is to consider the accounts given of the ways in which differences of sex, gender, race and class and sexuality structure society. The distinction made between the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ and the importance ascribed to them, both

descriptively and analytically, often defines the basis of a specific theoretical approach or highlights the focus of a practical organisation. In the most simple of summaries, sex-male and female-exemplifies a biological difference between

bodies and gender-masculine and feminine-refers to the socially constructed set of differences between men and women. Sex differences are most commonly taken to be differences of a natural and pre-given order, whereas gender differences,

although based on sex differences, are taken to be socially, culturally and historically produced differences which change over time and place. Accounts of sex and gender are then important ways of defining different feminist approaches.