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Since women are socially positioned in various different contexts,“there is no gender essence all women share” (Alcoff 2006,147–8). Nonetheless, Alcoff acknowledges that her account isakin to the original 1960s sex/gender distinction insofar as sexdifference (understood in terms of the objective division ofreproductive labour) provides the foundation for certain culturalarrangements (the development of a gendered social identity). But,with the benefit of hindsight
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Uniessentialism is a sort of individual essentialism. Traditionallyphilosophers distinguish between kind and individual essentialisms:the former examines what binds members of a kind together and what doall members of some kind have in common qua members of thatkind. The latter asks: what makes an individual theindividual it is. We can further distinguish two sorts of individualessentialisms: Kripkean identity essentialism and Aristotelianuniessentialism. The former asks: what makes anindividual that individual? The latter, however, asks aslightly different question: what explains the unity of individuals?What explains that an individual entity exists over and above the sumtotal of its constituent parts? (The standard feminist debate overgender nominalism and gender realism has largely been about kindessentialism. Being about individual essentialism, Witt'suniessentialism departs in an important way from the standard debate.)From the two individual essentialisms, Witt endorses the Aristotelianone. On this view, certain functional essences have a unifying role:these essences are responsible for the fact that material partsconstitute a new individual, rather than just a lump of stuff or acollection of particles. Witt's example is of a house: the essentialhouse-functional property (what the entity is for, what its purposeis) unifies the different material parts of a house so that there is ahouse, and not just a collection of house-constituting particles(2011a, 6). Gender (being a woman/a man) functions in a similarfashion and provides “the principle of normative unity”that organizes, unifies and determines the roles of social individuals(Witt 2011a, 73). Due to this, gender is a uniessential property ofsocial individuals.
At the same time, many of the ads do not show gender biases in the pictures or the graphics, but some bias does turn up in the language of the ad. “Within language, bias is more evident in songs and dialogue than in formal speech or when popular culture is involved. For example, bias sneaks in through the use of idiomatic expressions (man's best friend) and when the language refer to characters that depict traditional sex roles. One's normative interpretation of these results depends on one's ideological perspective and tolerance for the pace of change. It is encouraging that the limited study of language in advertising indicates that the use of gender-neutrality is commonplace. Advertisers can still reduce the stereotyping in ad pictures, and increase the amount of female speech relative to male speech, even though progress is evidenced. To the extent that advertisers prefer to speak to people in their own language, the bias present in popular culture will likely continue to be reflected in advertisements” (Artz et al 20).
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Note also that Haslanger's proposal is eliminativist: gender justicewould eradicate gender, since it would abolish those sexist socialstructures responsible for sex-marked oppression and privilege. Ifsexist oppression were to cease, women and men would no longer exist(although there would still be males and females). Not all feministsendorse such an eliminativist view though. Stone holds that Haslangerdoes not leave any room for positively revaluing what it is to be awoman: since Haslanger defines woman in terms ofsubordination,
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Haslanger's ameliorative analysis is counterintuitive in that femaleswho are not sex-marked for oppression, do not count as women. Atleast arguably, the Queen of England is not oppressed on sex-markedgrounds and so, would not count as a woman on Haslanger'sdefinition. And, similarly, all males who are not privileged would notcount as men. This might suggest that Haslanger's analysis should berejected in that it does not capture what language users have in mindwhen applying gender terms. However, Haslanger argues that this is nota reason to reject the definitions, which she takes to be revisionary:they are not meant to capture our intuitive gender terms. Inresponse, Mikkola (2009) has argued that revisionary analyses ofgender concepts, like Haslanger's, are both politically unhelpful andphilosophically unnecessary.
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These are constitutive of being a woman and a man:what makes calling S a woman apt, is that S isoppressed on sex-marked grounds; what makes calling S a manapt, is that S is privileged on sex-marked grounds.
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Theodore Bach also holds that Haslanger’s eliminativism isundesirable. However, in his view Haslanger’s position faces anothermore serious problem. Feminism faces the following worries (amongothers):