Hierarchical gender is not possible


2. Gender and bisexuality as a social and cultural construction

In the diverse efforts of women in the social professions to upgrade the social skills they use there, the question of the gender-specific nature of these skills plays a significant role. Often the social skills are distinguished as specifically female from others, specifically male, and an attempt is made to give them more recognition, especially as female skills. On the other hand, however, another position is taken, according to which social competencies are seen as general human abilities, which are devalued precisely by being assigned to the female gender. Both positions can refer to theoretical approaches in women's studies. This is to be shown in the following.

In examining the reasons for the devaluation of the feminine versus the masculine, the gender relationship, not the gender per se, must be considered. In more recent (post-) feminist theories, which are based on the deconstruction approach, this gender relationship is considered to be social and cultural construction, viewed. Through the subjects and the social institutions

and the rule systems in which they live, the prevailing gender relationship is constantly being re-established (cf. Butler, 1991; Wetterer, 1992; Hagemann-White, 1993). Such a view fundamentally contradicts the difference theories that have dominated the feminist theoretical debate for a long time.

In the Difference theories The question of the difference between the sexes forms the starting point for theoretical and empirical work. All difference theory approaches are based on the assumption that there are two and only two sexes. Your question is directed towards the way in which the gender of the individual determines his confrontation with his social and material environment. Difference-theoretical approaches can support various women's political goals: The difference between the sexes can be resolved in an egalitarian perspective: it is then regarded as a consequence and expression of female disadvantage, which is to be eliminated politically in terms of gender equality. In the context of a dualistic perspective, it is important to enhance the otherness of women, to create space for universal femininity and to give it validity and powerful meaning alongside masculinity.

On the other hand, theoretical approaches that can be assigned to deconstructivism are the Process of genderization in focus. In this perspective, sexuality itself is a dimension that the subject appropriates, the polar order of which it has to deal with, which it has to define and construct for itself. The distinction between the symbolic gender order and the Gender identity the individual person is very important: the symbolic gender order can be found in the legal, cultural and social value systems, in images and social myths; their structures can be described, culturally conditioned and historically changeable. The relationship between this symbolic gender order and the subject is the subject of critical research, and it is assumed that gender identity is influenced by the symbolic gender order, but not completely determined. This theoretical turn in the view of the cultural processes of the order of the gender relationship and the gender identity, which is in tension with it, leads, among other things, to investigations that ask about the content of the symbolic gender order interculturally and historically. They come to the conclusion that characteristics which were called feminine in one culture or in earlier times are called masculine in the other culture or in other times, that is, the concrete meaning of the masculine and the feminine is not generally and always is equal to. Historical studies in particular show that it is not the content but the structure of the polar and hierarchical gender order that can be described as consistent. What is currently referred to as female applies

always as secondary, subordinate, subordinate or at least as dependent on the male, while what is referred to as male always counts as primary, dominant and independent. This structure is re-established everywhere and over and over again, both in interactions and in mechanisms and regulations, in institutionalization processes, e.g. in culture and science.

If the process of genesis of gender is the focus of consideration, this also means a critical examination of the symbolic gender order itself: The symbolic gender order can be characterized by the following features:

  1. The symbolic gender order is based on bisexuality: according to this, there are only two genders, no neuter and no third or fourth. Not only from the perspective of biology, but also from cross-cultural studies, this basic assumption must be questioned and recognized as a cultural construction (Heintz, 1994).
  2. The symbolic gender order is dichotomous, determined by pairs of opposites. When characterizing the sexes, there are always only two characteristics of a dimension that are logically mutually exclusive. Just as an individual is defined as either male or female, so too is his thinking, feeling and behavior described in polar forms, e.g. B. Either as empathic, intuitive, adaptable, i.e. as female, or as assertive, rational, determined, i.e. as male. The logical incompatibility of these polar structural features of the gender order has an almost compulsive character.
  3. The symbolic gender order is determined by dichotomous pairs of opposites that are in one hierarchical evaluation context stand. The characteristics, abilities and behaviors assigned to the female gender stereotype are in the social evaluation of secondary importance, inferior, and relatively devalued compared to those of the male stereotype. Empathy and intuition have a high social value, but in the polarization towards determination and rationality they become secondary. This hierarchy between the gender-specifically assigned characteristics prevents, when it has congealed into a gender stereotype, the view of the structures of exclusion and the view of the power relations between the sexes, because in the stereotypes the potential results of these structures and relationships are defined as predetermined characteristics.
  1. The symbolic gender order appears as invariant and static. The characteristics that are assigned to the sexes are tied to the "essence" of the sexes, they appear neither historically nor culturally conditioned. In this way they become, so to speak, fate in the biographical development of the individual. The biological anchoring of gender creates an invariance of the properties, abilities and behaviors that are ascribed to gender. Just as impossible as changing the sex characteristics appears - with a few exceptions - the characteristics defined as belonging to the sexes also appear to be constant, unchangeable and in no way interchangeable. In the gender-specific stereotype formation, the constant characteristics of the sexes are consolidated. It is precisely the essential characteristic of stereotypical ideas that they are resistant to contradicting information, as prejudice research has shown. Stereotypes remain in their invariant structure, even if there are contradicting findings. The facts that contradict the stereotypes do not influence or change the stereotypes.
  2. The social importance of the symbolic gender order inflated. It is one of the foundations of social perception that there is clarity about the gender of the other person. Orientation towards gender already takes place in the prenatal stages of the human individual. Studies on transsexuals show the formative importance of the clear assignment to the social gender categories for psychological stability (Hirschauer 1993). Analyzes of the gender-specific occupation of positions and professions show how significantly the variable gender can differentiate between good and poorly rated positions. Psychoanalytically oriented socialization theories reinforce this exaggerated importance of the gender order when they assume the inescapability of gender identity formation according to the polar gender stereotype: according to this, the drive and affect structure is already formed in a gender-specific manner in early childhood and, in turn, shapes the patterns of thought and perception. In this way, gender in the polar sense becomes individual fate.

Socialization processes are reinterpreted from this perspective. Individuals then have to learn to move within the symbolic system of bisexuality, and they become man or woman not because they naturally belong to one or the other sex, but because they have to acquire cultural bisexuality. They have to be confronted with the gender-specific mechanisms of exclusion and limitation of social institutions and

Regulatory systems become and remain capable of acting. The identity development then takes place in examination of the symbolic gender order. A complete alignment to the femininity characteristics or masculinity characteristics anchored in the symbolic gender order is only one of many possible variants that can occur as a result of socialization processes. Empirical studies, especially on social behavior, but also on the recording of certain personality traits, have shown that the difference within the sexes is often far more frequent and more serious than that between the two sexes (Gildemeister, 1988).

Gender is therefore not referred to as the basis of the socialization processes, but as their object. The distinction between "sex" as a biological gender and "gender" as a social gender becomes superfluous, and bisexuality is conceived as a cultural construction. The term "gender doing" describes the process that brings about one's own gender and that of the other, which addresses and realizes the gender relationship. Gender doing means that the symbolic gender order touches and influences the interactions between individuals, but not exactly determined them. The point is to define the manufacturing conditions and the effects of the symbolic gender order in more detail and to direct our attention to the change processes, the breaks and changes in this order.

Such a view overcomes some one-sidedness in the feminist theoretical discussion (cf. Landweer, 1993).

  1. She overcomes Ontologizations, i.e. positions that see an unchangeable basis in the female and male gender and oppose the distinction between symbolic gender order and subjective gender identity.
  2. She overcomes that Naturalization the gender difference, i.e. the assumption that the biological (genetic, organic or hormonal) difference between men and women or the fact that women can give birth is the cause of the social difference between the sexes. She does not see gender as a social tracing of physical conditions and does not derive social categories from biological ones.
  3. She overcomes that ontogenic determinism, i.e. the idea that the early childhood relationship patterns to the mother alone are the decisive

    set irreversible course for gender identity. The social category of gender is not anchored as an entity in the psyche.

  1. She overcomes one Politicization of the gender difference, i.e. a position that considers it necessary in the long term to create separate social spaces for women. She denies the naturalness of female otherness and does not want to give her social significance by demanding specific means of power and forms of politics for women.
  2. She overcomes Mythizations of the gender difference, i.e. the tendency to make the assumed dichotomy of the sexes the starting point for justifying the essential otherness of man and woman and to derive a mythical longing for the completely different from this otherness. It no longer anchors heterosexuality as the only natural orientation.
  3. She overcomes that Moralization of the gender difference, i.e. the assumption that women, qua gender, develop a different, more valuable morality oriented towards nature and liveliness, while the moral of men, qua sex, is directed towards domination and the destruction of nature.
    © Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | July 1999