Embodiment below discourse: The internalized domination of the masculine perspective

Allon J. Uhlmann*, Jennifer R. Uhlmann

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper focuses on the embodied experience of gender. It draws upon Bourdieu's sociology of practice, cognitive sciences, and feminist phenomenology to highlight instances of non-discursive, cultural conditioning of embodied experience. Specifically, the paper focuses on the internalization by both men and women of the masculine perspective. It does so by discussing regular patterns of word ordering in English, comportment and motility, and orientation to the body. These patterns are cultural in that they are acquired through social interaction. They are non-discursive, though, in that they are not encoded in any system of representations and are not generally transmitted through discourse. Rather, they are infra-discursive, in that they exist below discourse. It emerges that, in general, the prototypical perspective adopted by male and female European social agents is distinctly more masculine than feminine. However, in restricted contexts, such as parenthood, this prototypicality is inverted. In this, we see how internalized structures match the broad overarching social structures. In the course of the discussion, we seek to further develop and contextualize some further analyses, such as Iris Young's phenomenology of corporeal experience and Cooper and Ross's analysis of word ordering. We ultimately hope to demonstrate the critical analytical importance of the embodied reality which is clearly culturally variable, yet not, strictly speaking, discursively constituted.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)93-103
    Number of pages11
    JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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