Using Focault, Hiedegger, and Derrida philosophies to understand gender and non-binary language

Philosophy for Gen Xers who aren’t sure what they believe anymore.

Gender is now seen as a social construct in the modern era. Sometimes I’m worried that our thoughts about gender are so fixed that it’s difficult for us to be open-minded. We grew up when gender roles were different. Despite a gradual shift towards a more accepting understanding of gender identity, we find it difficult to understand newer gender terms like non-binary and non-gender.

For many in Generation X, the idea of being non-binary or non-gender can seem confusing and even unsettling.

As a mom and someone born in the seventies of the 20th century, I frequently find myself perplexed by the novel ideas and ideologies of my Gen Z children.
It’s as if they belong to a totally different world, with a unique set of values and beliefs that I struggle to understand.
But guess what? We are not making it easy for them either.
Perhaps our generation holds such a strong mentality that it’s no longer suited for “these times”, and we need to let loose and open our minds.

The other day, my friend told me about her ramp when she found out her daughter had decided she was non-binary.

What is this non-binary, non-sense thing? How can you deny you are a female? If you are not a woman, then what are you? If I gave you birth, wouldn’t I know your gender?

By now, you probably know someone who is non-binary. And that’s okay.

They have every reason to be non-binary if they want to.
If you thought it was just a “fad,” a “tiktok trend,” and a “non-sense” and of course (something I tell myself constantly) “it will pass”. It’s not.
Inclusive language is here to stay.
And I will tell you why.

The first thing is that we need to stop assuming things are the way they are because we accept that that’s the way it is.

Together, the philosophies of Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida offer a rich and complex view of linguistic philosophy.

Let’s think about this in a philosophical manner. It will be easier to understand with these 3 great philosophers.

Understanding Gender and Non-Binary Language through the Philosophies of Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida

In the field of linguistic philosophy, there is no single right answer or objective truth.

It delves into the deeper meaning and significance of language, exploring its intricate nuances and the impact it has on our understanding of reality.

We try to explore the meaning and impact of language on our understanding of reality.

It emphasizes language subjectivity and cultural interpretation.

Together, the philosophies of Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida offer a rich and complex view of linguistic philosophy.

What is the meaning of the word “gender”? How do I feel about it? And why do I feel the way I do about it?

Let’s dive into how our languages’ influences affect our thoughts and perceptions.

In linguistic philosophy, we analyze our language, question assumptions, and challenge preconceptions.

It emphasizes the power of language in shaping beliefs and the need for responsible use.

Philosophers like Derrida, Foucault, and Heidegger questioned norms and traditions to find truth.

By examining language through the lens of power, meaning, and deconstruction, we can better understand how language shapes our world and what it means to be human.

And while the ways in which millennials choose to dismantle these societal constructs may be different from those of previous generations, the sentiment remains the same.

Non-binary and gender are a dynamic duo of confusion and complexity.

The history of gender identity in institutions dates back to ancient times, when men dominated society and held power.

In the 20th century, the medical community’s practice of classifying people into various gender categories based on their genitalia at birth. Then, later on it was adopted in schools, governmental organizations, and the military.

The term “non-binary” became well-known in the 2020s. Initially, it started in online communities where individuals could find a sense of belonging, acceptance, and a platform to express their non-binary gender identity.

People started to question the idea of only two genders, realizing that not everyone can be easily categorized into these two groups.

Gender Today: An Understanding from Linguistic Philosophy

In contemporary times, the concept of gender has undergone various interpretations. Its meanings, however, have always been controversial.

For example, in the Victorian Era, to be feminine was to be gentle, graceful, and submissive.

The 20th century marked a shift in women’s roles and understanding of femininity, moving away from traditional roles and embracing more assertive qualities.

Gen Xers grew up in a time when traditional gender roles were still prevalent, with women being primarily responsible for domestic work and childcare, while men were expected to provide financially and, to a lesser extent, emotionally.

Today, the feminine gender is understood to be an inclusive space for anyone who feels that it represents an essential aspect of their identity.

While these roles have become more fluid and equalized over time, the legacy of this upbringing has influenced Millennial perceptions of gender.

While traditionally associated with qualities such as nurturing, emotional intelligence, and sensitivity, these traits are no longer confined to women alone.

Today, the feminine gender encompasses a wide range of identities, including transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals, as well as those who identify as women.

Immers3d Magazine Gender approach

How do Foucault’s ideas of power relations help us understand the construction of gender identity today?

According to Foucault’s ideas, gender is not just a social construct but also a power mechanism.

That’s right. According to his ideals, gender and sex are concepts that society creates and are dependent on the particular time period and power structures in that society.

I think the French philosopher would disagree with the notion that gender and sex are biological, innate, or essential characteristics that determine a person’s identity or behavior.

Instead, certain social systems and power dynamics that aim to control people’s bodies and preferences are what create it.

Foucault would explain how gender is used to control and shape behavior. Also, how it also connects with other types of oppression like race, class, and sexuality.

He would challenge the idea that gender is something private or personal and explain how it is connected to larger political and economic systems.

For him, the people who define gender are the individuals themselves.

His works always stated that language plays a crucial role in shaping how gender operates in society.

Because, gender is a discursive practice, not a natural or fixed entity.

In simpler terms, language shapes gender norms, and we perform those norms.

Non-Binary and Gender

Can Heidegger’s concept of language as a tool shape our understanding of the cultural construction of gender roles?

Heidegger, on the other hand, approaches gender through the lens of existentialism.

If Heidegger were alive today, he would critique our current understanding of gender and sex as limiting and outdated.

First, he could emphasize that gender is not something that we choose for ourselves

In fact, to him, these gender labels only has made people feel alone and fake. Thus cutting them off from their true selves.

Our existence precedes our essence, and gender is just a part of that essence. But instead, it is thrust upon us.

According to Heidegger, language determines what we think.

Think about it.

The norms, values, and traditions of the society in which we live, shape our gender identities.

Just a bunch of made up of “cultural standards” and expectations that define gender. And this can oppress us and limit our authenticity.

In other words, people can reject these false labels and live more truly through gender deconstruction.

Non-Binary and Gender

How can Derrida’s ideas on deconstruction can challenge traditional notions of gender in language and society?

I think Jacques Derrida might suggest that we question the concept of binary itself and wonder why gender categories are necessary.

Gender and sex are closely connected, but they are not the same thing.

Taking Derrida’s approach provides an alternative understanding of gender. He could claim that all meanings in language are provisional and that meaning is not static but always in flux.

As a result, gender identity is a deconstructed concept that has no fixed meaning.

In essence, gender is a performative act, and the self is an illusionary construct created through language.

Traditionally, gender was often linked to biological sex, with society using genitalia and chromosomes to assign genders.

However, gender is no longer defined solely based on biology. It now takes into account the social and cultural aspects of identity.

Your gender is not my gender.

Gender is defined by the way an individual perceives and identifies themselves, not by their biological sex.

Yes, right now, people are creating new ways to express themselves and define who they are. There are also 21 more types of genders.

We have different types of genders, such as transgender, polygender, and gender flux, to name a few.

We can say that gender is not a natural or fixed category but rather a concept that is made up of words.

Our understanding of gender today should recognize its power dynamics and provisional nature. In diverse societies, language shapes gender norms, and our performances impact ourselves and others.

Is there a different way of existing in the world that goes beyond just being a man or a woman?

Or are we being played in our own way by using our language and thoughts? Are we, as a society, free-thinkers?

As we continue to evolve as a society, it is important that we recognize the fluidity and complexity of gender. It is not just about what is between our legs or how we look, but rather how we choose to express ourselves and how society chooses to treat us.

We must work towards a more inclusive and accepting world. There is no reason people of all genders can live freely and without fear of discrimination or harm in this era.

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