Essay on Social And Scientific Construction Of Gender

Essay on Social And Scientific Construction Of Gender

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When I first read The Wasp Factory some 20 years ago, I was struck by this satire of the social and scientific construction of gender: the hero, a woman, who believes herself to be a man, acts out an hyper-male identity centered on the soldier-hero, over-the-top violence (Banks, 1984). This confronted for the first time my belief that gender was anchored in biological sex and immutable.
Having embarked on a psychotherapy course, I started exploring my difficulties maintaining boundaries in the therapy room, originally through an analysis of my intrapsychic processes, those of my clients, and how they met in the room. This lead me to refocus my reflective enquiry question on our power struggle and the possible impact gender might have on the therapeutic relationship.
Moreover, I recently experienced first-hand the intensity of erotic transference and countertransference and how easily I could end up "doing gender".
Reading Benjamin 's Bonds of Love further opened Pandora 's box, lifting the veil disguising society as gender neutral. This left me baffled at how spellbound I had been by a set of assumptions about the nature of gender and more widely the nature of self and more determined to confront them.

Considering the enormous amount of literature on gender my investigation unearthed, and for relevance and currency’s sake, I decided to limit myself to writings from the 1980s onwards, with the exception of Radical Psychiatry texts, included due to their importance to the TA gender narrative. This frames my readings within a largely postmodernist, constructivist epistemology and relational approach, on one hand striving to view gender (and self) as created rather than part of our essence, on the other struggling to explain both the...


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...nd avoiding genders becoming hardened into polarities.

I feel her book allowed me to reflect on my own intrapsychic processes around gender. Above all, she gives me hope for a solution to the trap of polarisation.
Furthermore, I resonate with her compassionate approach: she references societal stereotypes and patriarchal rationale but does not blame. Instead she offers hope that individuals can integrate gender division, men can access the intersubjective space and women can access the world of phallic functioning.
Finally, in what is for me one of the most powerful aspects of her book, she rejects the idea that the children will grow up confused about their gender identification but insists that they will be flexible in their expression of it: "I, a woman; I, a genderless subject; I, like a man" (Benjamin, 1988, p.113); accepting all parts of herself and of others.

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