Objectivist and essentialist ontologies of gender and love

Edited book (chapter)


Harrison, Karey. 2014. "Objectivist and essentialist ontologies of gender and love." Knaggs, Angie and Frischmuth, Silke (ed.) Gender, love and intimacy. Oxford, United Kingdom. Inter-Disciplinary Press. pp. 3-25
Chapter Title

Objectivist and essentialist ontologies of gender and love

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID2254
Book TitleGender, love and intimacy
Authors
AuthorHarrison, Karey
EditorsKnaggs, Angie and Frischmuth, Silke
Page Range3-25
SeriesCritical Issues
Chapter Number1
Number of Pages23
Year2014
PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
ISBN9781848882768
Web Address (URL)https://www.interdisciplinarypress.net/online-store/ebooks/ethos-and-modern-life/gender-love-and-intimacy
Abstract

This chapter is part of an extended project exploring the centrality of metaphoric reasoning for understanding ‘erotic connectivity’ and ‘embodied cognition.’ In this chapter I interrogate the ontological commitments of both objectivism and constructivism regarding the nature of persons and society, and the implications of these commitments for concepts of gender and love. Whereas objectivist and
essentialist categorisation of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ impose strict binaries such that each person must be either ‘male’ or ‘female,’ ‘woman’ or ‘man,’ and are used to naturalise the privileged status of men over women, nominalist and constructivist accounts of personal identity and social constructions occlude the erotic physicality of our embodied experience of the world, erase and de-legitimate ‘women’ as a category, along with the possibility of arguing for and organising resistance to relations of oppression and exploitation experienced by women and other subordinate groups such as those based on race, class, and sexual orientation. The self-interested atomism and individualism of liberal political philosophy and economic theory leaves no room for a conception of love as mutual caring, and
ignores the fact that human wellbeing depends on such interdependencies. When faced with ambiguity in category membership – whether of physiology, of desire, or of behaviour – objectivism and essentialism legitimate coercive enforcement of category boundaries: by surgery to correct ‘deviations’ from ‘objective’ biological categories; by suppression and stigmatisation of ‘deviant’ desires; and by social and economic sanctions for ‘deviance’ from ‘male’ and ‘female’ role expectations. I show that the ‘concrete analogies’ which structure ontological beliefs about what objects, entities, relations and processes exist rests on gestalt pattern recognition, and that this is open to experiential disruption of established categories and expectations which create a space for resistance to relations of domination and exploitation.

Keywordsgender, love, ontology, objectivism, essentialism, constructivism, categorisation, feminist theory, political theory, abortion
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440599. Gender studies not elsewhere classified
440503. Feminist theory
500309. Metaphysics
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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