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Book: Gender

Chapter: Sex/Gender

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.31083


This chapter will provide an intellectual history of social constructionism and how discourse on gender as a social construct developed as a response to appeals to a stable, biologically predetermined gendered reality. With surveys of the “waves” of feminism, we will discuss the utility and limitations of the sex/gender dichotomy that emerged to make initial sense of constructionist approaches. In so doing, we will also introduce Judith Butler’s distinction between “performance” and “performativity,” discussing some of the implications of this distinction. Finally, we will offer an analysis of and response to contemporary scholarship on that political and fraught category called “the body.”

Chapter Contributors

  • K. Merinda Simmons ( - merinda) 'University of Alabama'
  • Craig Martin ( - cmartin) 'St. Thomas Aquinas College'