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What is gender? Vol. II

Convenors

Rowan Bell (Syracuse University); abell@syr.edu

Katrina Haaksma (Indiana University); kajahaak@iu.edu

Sofie Vlaad (Queens University); 16sv8@queensu.ca

Jaana Virta (Tampere University); jaana.virta@tuni.fi


What Is Gender, vol. II: Now Including Sexuality, Intersectionality, and Trans Identity 

The question What is gender? has been the subject of much debate in philosophy, social and political theory, and feminist theory. From Judith Butler’s performance theory, to Sally Haslanger’s materialist structuralism, to Charlotte Witt’s theory of gender as a unifying social role, the foundations of contemporary metaphysics of gender invite a wide range of further study. Much attention has been given to questions like: Should we understand gender as a hierarchical system of political subjugation? Or, as Ásta suggests, as a context-dependent social status that can be conferred or revoked?

Recent scholarship aimed at addressing this question has drawn attention to the way that the metaphysics of gender is impacted by other features of identity, including for example race, class, and sexuality. These dimensions of gender deserve careful and collaborative consideration from philosophers and social theorists alike. Recently, more attention is being paid to the metaphysics of the relations between gender and other social categories. Sara Bernstein, for instance, offers an account of the metaphysics of intersectionality. Robin Dembroff has argued that we should understand ‘genderqueer’ as a ‘critical gender kind’, and Talia Bettcher has argued that sexual orientation involves a gendered eroticization of the self. There is still much work to be done in addressing the questions like what role does self-identification play in constructing gender? Is sexuality socially constructed in the same way as gender? How does gender influence our desires?

The first What is gender and what do we want it to be? workshop was organized through MANCEPT workshops in 2020. It was a huge success both philosophically and socially, and it brought together more than 100 people around the world to discuss these topics. To further this discussion, in 2021 we decided to organize another iteration of the workshop, this time focusing on specific related themes. We propose these different but interconnected themes for each of the four days of the workshop:

  • The metaphysics of gender; 
  • The metaphysics of sexuality;
  • The metaphysics of trans identity; and
  • The metaphysics of intersectionality.