Sex, Gender and the Body: The Student Edition of What is a Woman?

Toril Moi

What is a woman? Does it make sense to think of a woman as the combination of sex and gender? Is "I am a woman" the same kind of declaration as "I am a man"? What does it mean to speak "as a woman"? In these essays Moi rethinks the contribution of Simone de Beauvoir to feminist theory, and shows that The Second Sex, properly read, offers inspiring solutions to urgent contemporary problems.

By suggesting that we think of the body as a situation, the first essay offers a serious challenge to dominant poststructuralist theories of sex and gender. The second essay investigates the place of the personal in theory. What is the status of references to personal experiences, or to one's person (one's race, sex, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality) in theoretical debates? Both essays provide, in vivid and compelling detail, a third way for feminism, beyond the current stalemate between essentialism and constructionism. This is a major and truly original contribution to feminist theory.