Questioning Gender through Deconstruction and Doubt

Questioning Gender through Deconstruction and Doubt

Cecile K.M. Crutzen (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands) and Erna Kotkamp (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch164
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Abstract

Questioning gender can lead to a reformulating research into: “Why did the hard core of methods, theories and practices of the informatics discipline and domain become a symbol for masculinity?” and “Why is femininity constructed as situated only in the discipline’s soft border of the interaction with the users of ICT-products?” In the view of Judith Butler, questioning gender is a strategy to disrupt the obvious acting of every actor, designers and users in the informatics domain: The abiding gendered self will then be shown to be structured by repeated acts that seek to approximate the ideal of a substantial ground of identity, but which in their occasional discontinuity, reveal the temporal and contingent groundlessness of this “ground.” The possibilities of gender transformation are to be found precisely, in the arbitrary relation between such acts, in the possibility of a failure to repeat, a deformity, or a parodic repetition that exposes the phantasmatic effect of abiding identity as a politically tenuous construction. (Butler, 1990, p.141) In every interaction world, there is a continuity of ongoing weaving of a complex web of meanings in which we live, constructed by the interactions that take place in that world.s In that web of meanings, gender is a web of meanings on women and men, masculinity and femininity, which is connected to other webs of dualistic meanings. Gender is a process1 in which the meaning of masculinity and femininity are mutually constructed, situated at symbolic, individual and institutional levels of a domain. All social activities, practices, and structures are influenced by gender. The meaning of gender is thus embedded in social and cultural constructions and is always dynamically linked to the meaning of many concepts, such as technology or the relation between use and design. The performances of gender are the symbols for power relations in a domain (Harding, 1986; Scott, 1988).

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