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We shall also examine the question of the extent to which Lawrence in his non-fictional writings anticipated and approximated the central ideas in contemporary gender theory.“is a term for the social, cultural and historical construction of sexual difference” (110).We do not wish to suggest that Lawrence shares all their concerns but he would probably have agreed on most of the central issues raised by contemporary feminists.
This set of hierarchically arranged roles of men and women are constituted by the “heterosexual matrix” which is at work within the patriarchal culture.
The feminists of the seventies and later had challenged and rejected this way of mythologizing women’s “nature” and they had formulated their own theories of gender.
The child enters the gendered space when it separates itself from its mother, with the result that its sexual desire is thus formed.
In Freud’s view, the male child forms a strict and strong super-ego by repressing his desire for the mother.
It is this super-ego which gives him greater access to culture. She first identifies herself with the mother and her drives are focused on the “clitoris,” the penis substitute.
Subsequently she develops self-hate and resentment towards the mother when she discovers that she has no penis.Lawrence had died in 1930, long before the emergence of these new theories of gender.Yet from such a historical distance, Lawrence had shown his awareness of what the central issues of contemporary gender studies are.Rather he points to the leakiness of the watertight compartments of the male and the female.For Lawrence, a child is born sexed, it acquires maleness or femaleness after puberty and receives the standard of gender from the culture in which he/she lives.Feminists from the 1960s and the 1970s had stressed the distinction between biological “sex” and socially constructed “gender.” They had argued that gender operates as a set of hierarchically arranged roles in society for men and women.Men are associated with the spheres of labour, sport and physical combat and the public sphere in general whereas women are associated with the sphere of home where they are to play twin roles as mother and as the object of male desire.But they have restricted their discussions to Lawrence’s fiction.Here we here shall explore the relation, if any, between Lawrence’s attitude to gender as formulated in his non-fictional writings and that of contemporary feminists.Even more so is the fact that it is in a later novel that such an uncertainty and tenuousness of gender is fictionally posited.This aspect of Lawrence’s conception of gender has also been pointed out by Janet Barron: “In Alison Light’s phrase, this is an attempt at “ungendering” and Lawrence did consistently try to develop the female point of view, however provocative the results at times” (Brown 19).