Ontological Commitments, Sex and Gender

In Charlotte Witt (ed.), Feminist Metaphysics. Springer. 67--83 (2011)
Abstract
This paper develops an alternative for (what feminists call) ‘the sex/gender distinction’. I do so in order to avoid certain problematic implications that the distinction underpins. First, the sex/gender distinction paradigmatically holds that some social conditions determine one’s gender (whether one is a woman or a man), and that some biological conditions determine one’s sex (whether one is female or male). Further, sex and gender come apart. Since gender is socially constructed, this implies that women exist mind-dependently, or due to productive human social activities; thus, it should be possible to do away with them just by altering the social conditions on which gender depends. In addition, some feminists take gender to depend on oppressive social conditions. Changing our social environments, then, would not only unwittingly eradicate women; doing away with women should be feminism’s political goal. I argue that both implications are unacceptable. In response, I argue for a view that has ontological commitments which are more congenial to ordinary thinking, and that doesn’t have the goal of eradicating women.
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