The Bounds of the Essential

After an argument with Heather last night, I find myself asking, where the line is, in regards to essentialism, and essentialist formulations of gender and sex.

I offer you a quote: > "'man' and 'woman' are fictions, caricatures, cultural constructs" and that "we are . . . a multisexed species."

I'll offer reference upon request... but it's surprising at least to me.

Monique Wittig, also (very much in the tradition of Simone de Beauvior) offers a similar statement that locates the notion of "woman" and "man" (as well as "lesbian") as being historically and contextually meaningful.

Are these people off the hook? I mean, if you put the post-structrual disclaimer in, does that in some way de-essentialize the argument? Perhaps is there a way to say, this kind of argument may not actually essentialize identity completely, but leads to essentialism?

Can/do post-structuralists essentialize identity still/too? Is that splitting hairs?

If so, and even if not, is identity and collective identity still a meaningful site of analysis? I mean I certainly think that identity groups are meaningful and helpful, but at the same time, it's a huge can of worms....

Just some thinking Cheers, sam

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