Biophobia and the study of sex differences

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Lesbian separatists allege that compulsory heterosexuality and engagement in patriarchal society makes it impossible for women to understand their own oppression. Women must refuse to collaborate with men in any way that oppresses women, lesbianism is the preferred sexuality and artificial insemination the preferred means of reproduction. Essentialist feminists argue that women by virtue of their biological and psychological qualities are equal to or superior to men. Although originally rejecting any implication of biological differences as ‘a tool for conservatives who wished to keep women in the home’, they have now rethought their position ‘with a recognition that biologically based differences between the sexes might imply superiority and power for women in some areas’ (Rosser 1997, p.

Existential feminists emphasize the ways in which women are raised to see maleness as the natural human state in which women form the objectified ‘other’. It is the importance that society accords to biological sex, rather than sex itself, that forces women into playing the role of the Other. Post-modern feminists reject the notion of a stable and unified self but rather see the self as a product of ideology, discourse and language. Equally, they reject the idea that women can speak with a unified voice.

They maintain that race is the primary oppression and that gender is secondary to this. They are particularly critical of scientific work that under-emphasizes the impact of social and economic inequalities between the races. They deplore the failure of mainstream feminism to address the problems of women of colour. Radical feminists believe that men’s oppression of women is the most fundamental and widespread oppression in society. They urge         women to reject all theories developed by men including Marxism, psychoanalysis, positivism and existentialism.

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