Sayegh notes Joan Scott, "Gender"

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Important question: "How can we account within this theory for persistent associations of masculinity with power, for the higher value placed on manhood than on womanhood, for the way children seem to learn these associations and evaluations even when they live outside nuclear households where parenting is equally divided between husband and wife?…Without meaning, there is no experience; without processes of signification, there is no meaning" (38).

B. post-structuralist theory—stresses language as a central manner of representing gender (here she uses Jacques Lacan as her model). Language here means not "words but systems of meaning—symbolic orders—that precede the actual mastery of speech, reading, and writing" (37). She states that "through language, gendered identity is constructed" (38). According to Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, "the child's relationship to the law (the dominant parent) depends on sexual difference, on its imaginative (or fantastic) identification with masculinity or femininity." Nevertheless, in Lacanian theory, gender identification is NOT a fixed category. Masculinity emerges through repression (of feminine characteristics), not through some predetermined biological connection. Thus, there is always conflict and competing meanings of sexuality. As a consequence, the very concept of "man" and "woman" becomes problematic because their precepts, masculinity and femininity, are thrown into disarray (that is, what is "masculine" emerges from the conscious behavior of a person who is always engaged in a repression of the opposite impulse). THUS, and this is a good thing for Scott, Lacanian theory points to language as the place to analyse gender, not to a material reality.

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