Femtheoryfinal - Molly Shifrin PHL 355 December 16th, 2009...

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Molly Shifrin PHL 355 December 16 th , 2009 The Power of Society on Gender and Identity When one thinks of the formation of identity , both self and gender, it is a common misconception that one would first and foremost think that the individual whose self is being created is the most powerful factor . This, however, is not necessarily true. This paper will engage how factors outside of the self are instrumental in forming gender and self-identity using the works of Simone De Beauvoir , Susan Wendell, and Judith Butler . These factors have the power to redefine gender itself , forcing those who identify with gender and justify parts of all of their identity upon that identification , to readdress their own lives and identities . These factors range from religion, to friends and family, to society . This paper will focus on societal constructs, their role in forming gender and identity , and the way that these authors discussed these influences. Simone De Beauvoir explains in her book The Second Sex , the idea that women are immanently ‘other’ed by their physiological attributes and the societal constructions that separate them from men . Physiological characteristics such as pregnancy and menstruation separate women from men , making them closer to nature and, according to society , the weaker sex. Menstruation, in and of itself, is a large biological factor that society has taken advantage of and used to separate and undermine women beneath men .
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In Beauvoir’s words , “from puberty to menopause woman is the theater of a play that unfolds within in her and in which she is not personally concerned” (27 Beauvoir) . Women have no choice in this play , they are given their physiological script and the show must go on . It is no coincidence that the menstrual cycle is called “the curse.” It removes woman from herself and from others . Beauvoir speculates that; “it is during her periods that she feels her body most painfully as an obscure , alien thing…Woman, like man , is her body; but her body is something other than herself” (29) . Man is not limited by his physiological composition while women have a duty to fill just by being women . Women’s physiological characteristics and the societal implications implied by them have power over women . For the mere fact of being born a woman, with female genitalia , she must have a natural obligation. This obligation is to motherhood since only she is capable of attaining it . According to Beauvoir, “it is in maternity that women fills her physiological destiny; it is her natural “calling” , since her whole organic structure is adapted for the perpetuation of the species” (484 Beauvoir) . However, even if a woman answers her ‘calling’ and has a child , it is not necessarily the answer to her identity. Beauvoir discusses heavily the reasons that women have children that she finds
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This note was uploaded on 09/05/2011 for the course PHL 355 taught by Professor Pohlhaus during the Spring '09 term at Miami University.

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Femtheoryfinal - Molly Shifrin PHL 355 December 16th, 2009...

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