Rationality and gender

Linda J. Nicholson
Vol 1, Number 1, p.1
The issue of gender poses a particular problem for social theory. Gender ascription, which goes beyond the biological differentiation of the species, Is both fundamental and culturally pervasive. When, however, we try to make specific those non-biological universals of gender of our own society or try to establish any non-biological universals of gender which apply cross-culturally, we encounter innumerable difficulties. One possibility of something persistent is a universality in the devaluation of women’s activities and roles amidst their diversity. I would like to explore this constant devaluation of women amidst a variety of forms by examining certain changes in the idea of rationality in western society which possess the interesting characteristic of being consistently in conflict with ‘femininity’ however that too is defined. A second thesis I wish to develop is that there exists a very curious relation between how women’s minds are perceived and women’s assigned place in the sexual division of labour.