Deconstructing Gender

I start out, as have many others, from the deep split among American feminists between “sameness” and “difference.” The driving force behind the mid-twentieth-century resurgence of American feminism was an insistence on the fundamental similarity of men and women and, hence, their essential equality.

I begin in Part I by challenging the widely influential description of gender advocated by Carol Gilligan. While Part I challenges the description of gender differences offered by Gilligan feminists, it does not deny the existence of gender differences. The chief strength of the feminism of difference is its challenge to what have been called male norms. Part II demonstrates how these norms can be challenged without resort to domesticity. In Part III, I continue to develop this alternative vision of gender. The article concludes by detailing the limitations of Gilligan’s description of gender differences.