- 英米評論 = ENGLISH REVIEW (ISSN:09170200)
- no.24, pp.115-136, 2010-03-19
This paper aims to demonstrate the logical affinity between gender feminists and Libertarians by clarifying and reconsidering the exact connotation of "gender." Now it is a common knowledge to distinguish sex as the biological state of being male and female from "gender" as the socially and culturally constructed state of being male or female. However, by the end of 1990s, as Joan Wallach Scott says in the preface to the revised edition of Gender and the Politics of History, "gender" in generally accepted usage had become something quite different from what it really means. Some regard "gender" as a synonym for the differences between the sexes. Some think that "gender" denotes the social rules imposed on men and women. Some misunderstand that gender feminists aim to eliminate the difference between men and women. Some warn that gender feminists attack manhood, womanhood, masculinity, femininity, fatherhood, motherhood, heterosexuality, marriages and family values. These misinterpretations are caused by their failure to grasp the exact meaning of gender concept. The earliest meanings of "gender" were "kind," "sort" and "type or class of noun." Since the 14th century the word gender has been used as a grammatical term, referring to the classes of nouns and pronouns in Latin, French, Greek, German, Russian and other languages designated as masculine, feminine, neuter and common. In other words, "gender" is a way to recognize things by classifying them. We cannot see innumerable things as they are. To categorize them to classes according to shape, size, color and other distinctions is the first step for human beings to perceive the world. However, this perception is a judgment based on an illusion. In fact, properties, numbers and sets are merely features of the way of considering the things that exist. Only particular, individual objects exist. To classify things never leads us to know them, since we cannot have a true appreciation of all attributes that an individual thing has. Thus we can safely say as follows : Once you know that gender is "the knowledge that establishes meanings for bodily difference," we are necessarily induced to accept nominalism that universals or general ideas are mere names or inventions without any corresponding reality. That's why gender feminists have been resisting the consolidation of women into homogeneous categories. Such gender feminists are destined to become Libertarians. Libertarianism has a greater affinity for a nominalistic view about human existence than any other political thoughts, since it advocates the maximization of individual liberty in thought and action. Libertarians are committed to the belief that individuals, and not states or groups of any other kind, are both ontologically and normatively primary. All schools of Libertarianism take a skeptical view of "the common good," though they embrace viewpoints across a political spectrum, ranging from pro-property to anti-property (sometimes phrased as "right" versus "left"), from minarchist to openly anarchist. Libertarians share the notion that "the common good of a collective-a race, a class, a state-was the claim and justification of every tyranny ever established over men," as Ayn Rand, one of representative Libertarian thinkers, says in The Fountainhead, her novel. This is why Libertarians hold that activities such as drug use and prostitution that arguably harm no one but the participants should not be illegal ; people are free to choose to live any kind of life on their own risks on condition that their activities never violate other people's rights. Thus gender /Libertarian feminists refuse the general, collective image of women as victims and the oppressed. They seek to celebrate or protect the individual woman. They encourage women to take full responsibility for their own lives. They also oppose any government interference into the choices adults make with their own bodies, because they contend that such interference creates a coercive hierarchy and suppresses the individual woman.