Chapter 2: A Gendered Sense of Self
Gender construction is an on-going process built into the way in which society organises itself, and the way in which organisations organise themselves. The process is continual, and involves a continuous renegotiation of the relationship between ourselves and others. The way in which we relate through gender is one of the most important ways in which we build up our sense of ourselves, our ‘identity’ – the process begins at birth and is continually on-going. This, in its turn, is mediated through our relationship to our bodies and yet it is mostly hidden, or banished to the ‘edges’ of our consciousness. And so, too, it is banished to the edge of a collective consciousness – or only referred to public life when considered politically relevant. Because our gender conditioning starts so early, most of us have an armoury of largely unconscious views about ourselves and others in relation to gender that rarely see the light of day. To do so challenges our very sense of ourselves. The process may well provoke a sense of fear or anger. A gendered identity is thus an interpreted identity, mediated through social systems and indeed textual relations, and also by the relationship with the body. In this chapter, ideas from radical feminism and psychoanalytical feminism are brought in to enhance critical theory, and to adopt a ‘fleshed’ out biological and psychological subject, the target of intersecting discourses, but capable of transcending these through a strategy of increasing consciousness. To do so we first need to theorise...
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