Littera Deusto

Modern Languages, Basque Studies and Humanities

How is the ‘Notion of Woman’ constructed?

febrero 4th, 2014 · No hay Comentarios

Women have been alienated from their collective experience because of the denial of women’s history’s existence, so it was difficult for them to develop in a group. Women thought they were inferior because they did not know that there were other women like them, who had made intellectual contributions. Then, women have always appeared as “The Other”, as the subordinated being to men, which is the notion of women that we have.

At the beginning of her work, the Gender Studies’ author Gerda Lerner makes a distinction between History and Recorded History. History is referred to the events of the past, while Recorded History is referred to the interpretation of those events by different historians. So, Recorded History is a cultural product in which women have been marginalized. According to Lerner, there have been women who were intellectual innovators, but then not sufficiently respected in the narrative of the past. Although there were women of great talent, they didn’t succeed just because they were women.

On the other side, Simone De Beauvoir thinks that the sex-gender distinction is a very important issue related to the construction of the notion of woman too. She explains how there is a concrete definition of feminity, related to the notion of gender (which in contrast to sex, that is naturally determined, this one is a cultural construction) while there is not one concerning masculinity. In fact, it seems that as she says, not every female human being is necessarily a woman, since to become a woman it looks like it is necessary to reach that feminity. A feminity that of course, is a social and cultural construction as well. Judith Butler goes further, and says that even sex is a social definition too, that could have been already gendered at some point.

Some years before Gerda Lerner wrote her work, called “TCOFC”, Virginia Woolf also said that the notion of women was feed thanks to the supposedly (fake) non-existence of women’s history, and stated that women didn’t develop some qualities just because they weren’t given the opportunity. According to her, if a woman had been born with the qualities of Shakespeare, for example, she would not have succeed, as she would not have been given the opportunity.


  • Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Feminist Consciousness. OVP. 1993
  • Woolf, Virginia. A room of One’s Own. 1929
  • Butler, Judith. Subjects of Sex, Gender, Desire. 1997
  • De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. 1949

Filed under: Education, Feminism / Social issues Tagged: notion women feminism gender sex


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