Gender is a word used to describe physical qualities as well as implications of social roles for the sexes. Gender is a representation of the social expectations placed upon both males and females in society. While being a social acknowledgement of personal identity, Gender creates a hierarchy in a structural sense (semiotics, literature, philosophy). Gender roles place both men and women into a repressive state. Feminist theory is involved with the way in which gender influences our concept of knowledge. Post-structuralist feminist theorist, Hélène Cixous states in her essay ‘Sorties’ (1975) that through social structures males and females are put in a logocentric coupling of activity/passivity (Cixous, 146). The concept of gender in Feminism connects to the ideas of literature and writing. In ‘Sorties’, Cixous expresses her ability to let go of her gender role and embrace her “bisexual” self in recognition of her gender. “Bisexuality — that is to say the location within oneself of the presence of both sexes…” (Cixous, 148). In terms of male gender Cixous says that because of males instinct for control, as well as their fear of castration (Freudian Psychoanalysis), they are unable to express themselves through writing as well as women (Cixous, 148-149).
Gender will always have an influence on cultural theory, and the roles will always exist, change and evolve through time. Feminist theory runs parallel with gender roles, creating a twofold relevance for both concepts in culture. Gender is a representation of difference that will always be identified and deliberated in ideologies to be developed in the future.
Hélène Cixous. ‘Sorties’ (1975). Intro to Cultural Theory coursepack. Ed. Randy Lee Cutler. Vancouver: Kinkos, 2010.