Metaphors of power: ontologies of gender, love and marriage

Harrison, Karey (2014) Metaphors of power: ontologies of gender, love and marriage. In: Doing gender, doing love: interdisciplinary voices. Critical Issues: Gender and Love. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, pp. 19-39. ISBN 978-1-84888-273-7


This paper is part of an extended project exploring the centrality of metaphoric reasoning for understanding 'erotic connectivity' and 'embodied cognition.' I examine the sensory-motor images which structure ontological commitments in (neo) liberal discourses on identity, agency, love, ethics and society. I show that the 'concrete analogies' which structure such ontological beliefs about what objects, entities, relations and processes exist rests on gestalt pattern recognition.
The billiard-ball model of gases provides the 'concrete analogy' for these discourses, equating self and society with molecules and mechanistic cause and effect relations. The entailments of this analogy give us the self-interested atomism and individualism of liberal political philosophy and economic theory that are used to justify patriarchal political, economic, and marital power; and the conceptualisation of the public sphere as a male domain. The self-interested atomism and individualism of liberal political philosophy and economic theory leaves no room for a conception of love as mutual caring, and ignores the fact that human wellbeing depends on such interdependencies.
I extend critiques from cognitive linguistics of objectivist and structuralist theories of language and categorisation, to offer a critique of objectivist and essentialist categorisation of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ in terms of strict binaries that require each person to be either ‘male’ or ‘female’, ‘woman’ or ‘man.’ I show that metaphoric categorisation provides us with an alternative to sex and gender binaries, as this recognises that categories are organised in terms of relations of similarity, rather than identity and difference; and that categories are motivated but under-determined by ontological metaphors. Whereas constructivist accounts of personal identity and society occlude the erotic physicality of our embodied experience of the world, and erase and de-legitimate 'women' as a category, metaphoric categories allow us to challenge sex and gender binaries without having to obliterate difference.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: c. Interdisciplinary Press.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2015 05:37
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2018 03:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: gender, love, marriage, ontology, objectivism, structuralism, post-structuralism, categorisation, feminist theory, political theory
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200204 Cultural Theory
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture

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