Why are Critiques of Essentialism Important to Contemporary Debates about Gender?

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My understanding of the essentialist view of gender is that they argue that gender is biologically determined and they reject the idea of any social and environmental influences. They also believe that gender is a biological entity which is naturally produced and ascribed from birth, thus gender is fixed and cannot be change. There are many critiques of essentialism such as constructionism and feminism, these and more critiques of essentialism can be very important for modern debates on gender.

One of the main critiques of essentialism in my opinion is from constructionism. They have a totally different perception of gender they argue that gender is produced and shaped by an individual’s natural and social surroundings. As Butler quotes Beauvoir ‘one is not born a woman, but, rather becomes one’ (Butler, 1999: 12). When I was younger, I wasn’t a completely girly baby it was what happened in my life and the way my parents and other people acted around me and towards me is what shaped my gender. When I was younger I was given feminine toys to play with, my clothes would be pink and I would always get told off for getting messy or making a mess with my food. This was different for my brother he was given more masculine toys always wore blue and if my brother made a mess no fuss was made. This made me feel that my gender is female. I have feminine biology but I think that, as a child, I wouldn’t have had such a big understanding about biological differences between men and women. So it was my social surrounding that had to play a major part in creating and shaping my gender and my understanding towards it. This critique is very important in the modern debate of gender because it takes into account the social environment which is n...

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...use the modern world is much more different then the past, everything has changed. People are willing to accept other views and there has been an increase in educated people meaning they are more likely to understand it. The critiques I’ve used suggest that the external factors that can also be involved in the development of gender. But I think the main reason for the importance of these critiques is that people’s views have changed, it’s not like the past where people believed biology had an explanation for everything there has been major development in things such as feminism, psychology, sociology in general and this has helped change the views of the people in the modern world. Therefore, critiques of essentialism are important in contemporary debates of gender because people now have different views meaning some may oppose essentialism and accept other views.

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