Here is another assignment for Developmental Psychology class. This is something different. What does it mean to have “an embodied gender”? Are we naturally men or women? I’m not discussing here about masculine and feminine types though…
Embodiment as a word makes me feel that some particular feature in a human being is also in the body or manifest in the body as something measurable UR phenomena. So what we could see here when developing from the essentialist perspective the behavior of a girl would look like to be inherent in the individual as acting out in certain ways that would represent the features of a girl’s embodiment. For example “girls play with dolls” or “girls wear dresses”. Viewing especially from the essentialist point of view this kind of behavior is biologically determined. When the child grows older it seems that the constructivist view begins to “dominate” the gender development with social interactions. Gender embodiments interpreted only by the lens of essentialism seems to be of rather rational point of view (Orange as altitude). And as put in the reader: “Essentialism is the view that categories have an underlying reality or true nature that one cannot observe directly but that gives an object its identity (Gelman & Hirschfeld, 1999 etc.)”.
I see gender essentialism also as a form of biological essentialism; and from the quadrants view for example females levels of estrogen, oxytocin and testosterone as UR correlates are genetically inherited biological components that manifest in UL for example as certain feelings or sensations. In the case of oxytocin more caring and compassion and in the case of testosterone in male more towards agency and independence; possibly towards physical aggression.
So what I’m desperately trying to say here is that the gender embodiment seems to be of various types being biologically and socially shaped at different developmental stages of a boy or a girl. From the social or constructivist view this differentiation to integration and stage unfolding “process of individualization is referring to the changes in a person’s relationships to himself and to the external world” constituting his life structure (Levinson, 1978, p.195). Problems of gender embodiments through the levels lens can be experienced in various ways depending on the developmental stage the person is at. Females tend to evolve from selfish (egocentric) to care (ethnocentric) to universal care (worldcentric) to integral and therefore the gender embodiments appear in different ways at different stages. For example at ethnocentric or amber stage women tend to see their identity in a context of their relationship with the family and people around her (work etc.) and judged by responsibility and care for the closest people around her. When transcending to worldcentric stage and including the ethnocentric stage her gender embodiment changes: now she sees her in relationship with all of us, with all the people and her identity is not defined just with her relationship in the group of family but as a part of the whole world.
One of the tenets of feminist theory is that theory must be “embodied.”
Now that is an interesting and a hard statement. I am really not sure what this exactly means since the word embodiment in this context might mean totally different than for example in terms of gender.
I think that embodied theory requires interaction between theories about the body and analysis of the particularities of embodied experiences and practices; symbolic and material, body and embodiment in self, culture and nature viewed from integrally informed perspective.