Sociology - Essentialism

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Essentialism is inextricably linked to Grosz's particular brand of feminism. Indeed, one may even posit the claim that her feminist philosophy derives from her definition of the feminine essence. This is amply evidenced in the following quote,
Women's essence is assumed to be given and universal and is usually, though not necessarily, identified with women's "biology" and "natural characteristics." There are cases in which women's essence is seen to reside not in nature or biology but in certain given psychological characteristics--nurturance, empathy, supportiveness, non-competitiveness (Grosz, 1994, p.


Grosz's definition or understanding of feminism emerges from within her understanding of essentialism and its correlation to gender.
Equality feminism is somewhat at odds with the essentialist representations of the female gender. As Genovese (1996) explains, this feminist ideology highlights the similarities between men and women, irrespective of biological differences, and argues gender equality on the basis of the similarities. This stance may be interpreted as a negation of essentialism, insofar as it only concedes to biological differences but does not acknowledge the inherent importance of social and cognitive essentialism.
In direct comparison to equality feminism, feminism of difference emphasizes the differences between the genders. As Ebert (1993) explains, difference feminism argues that the sexes are fundamentally different but that differences, whether cognitive or social, do not negate the equality of the sexes, or make one more equal than the other. This feminist ideology is reflective of essentialism.
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