Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Gender is commonly understood to refer to the culturally constructed behaviors, roles, and identities associated with men and women. Simone de Beauvoir's claim that one is not born one but rather becomes a woman is frequently invoked to capture the sense in which what it means to be a man or a woman derives from the social and historical context in which we live rather than from natural or biological fact. Gender is an important question for political theory. Theorists are concerned with how political institutions and concepts used in political theory are gendered—that is, how their development and definitions have operated to construct and perpetuate gender divisions. In addition, how we understand the concept of gender is itself an important focus for political theorists. Feminist theorists have pointed out that much traditional political theory, while purporting to be neutral, is gendered. Perhaps most important, feminist theorists have argued that ...