I’m taking a break from thesis writing to throw a question into the Interweb and see what answers fly back at me.
I have had a few interesting thought-provoking readings/writings/conversations recently regarding gender, identity, and biology:
(1) My thesis is about Marcia’s identity statuses and various religious variables, and Marcia’s work on identity is rooted in Erikson. Erikson once wrote a book chapter about a woman’s “inner space,” essentially disagreeing that women defined themselves by lack of a penis (as Freud would have it) and positing, instead, that women’s identity stemmed from the presence of a uterus. This has had feminist criticism, of course, but others have said what Erikson said in his time has been somewhat misunderstood in ours… Regardless, it was said.
(2) Also for my thesis, the life domains relevant to identity development have sometimes seemed to be different for women vs. men, but that has also changed to some extent over time. Additionally, the timing for identity development has sometimes seemed to differ, particularly for women who postpone a career to stay home with children.
(3) I recently had to write a reflection paper for my gender & sexuality class, in which I had to describe my relationship with gender in terms of biological sex, gender identity, and gender roles. I was reminded of a time when a mentor once asked me what it meant to me to be a woman, and my answer that it meant I had experienced sexism did not seem to satisfy her. Working on this paper was interesting and challenging.
(4) In light of all of these things, I asked my husband a bit about how he understands his own identity, and in many ways, I think that identifying as male for him is both more significant and positive for him than identifying as female is for me.
So in light of all of this… What do you think about your own gender identity? Is biology a significant piece of that identity for you? What else is it based on? Is thinking about gender and identity easy for you or a struggle? Do you think your larger identity development (in realms like ideology, occupation, the interpersonal realm, etc.) has been affected by your gender?