INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Self-Construction

Interesting post yesterday by Dorothea: “Oops--Female After All.” She looks at the question of self-construction and the role that gender plays in one’s evaluation of who one considers one’s self to be. She asks

“Does being a woman loom large in one’s concept of oneself?”

and decides that, for her, it’s pretty far down the scale. She wonders,

“are there men for whom ‘man’ is similarly low on the list?”

Speaking for myself, Dorothea, the answer would have to be yes. If I were being described conventionally in the media, the very first items mentioned would be gender and age. Yet those are conditions with which I had nothing to do. They’re descriptions of the exterior piece called Tom as he moves around the exterior landscape. They are not substance.

We do this all the time—we are seduced by manifestation because it’s what we can see and touch. We assign it the cloak of essence, while actual essence is ignored.

The descriptive elements about me that matter are not the accidents of birth. What matters are the existential factors—the ones that I constructed: husband, father, semi-retired marketer, blogger, left-leaning centrist, migrant to Northern California, and so on. My maleness is important only in the sense that it’s an essential component of being a husband and father. But those roles are existential choices, and that’s what matters about them.

Dorothea carries her inquiry to many more levels than what I’ve touched on. Check it out.

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