A Satrean Account of the Role of Social Narratives in the Identity-Formation and Self-Conception of the Queer and Intersex Subject

    • Lucca November 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Bianca Jewel Phillips, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa


    Successful, fully-fledged identity-formation and positive self-conception are contingent on the availability and sufficiency of social narratives. Following a Sartrean account of the human subject, identity will be shown to depend on externally-derived features (termed facticity). Facticity contains both material and social components. This presentation will show the two to be inextricably interlinked, and in so doing endorse Judith Butler’s view that the material comes to us already seeped in social meaning. The interactive relationship between the discursive and the material will be illustrated by examining the phenomenon of intersexuality, in which the prevailing narrative of a dichotomized two-sex system has, through surgical, hormonal, and psychological procedures, become written into the flesh of non-binary individuals. The absence of affirming, diverse, and pluralistic narratives surrounding intersexuality, coupled with the imposition of the two-sex script, has (negatively) affected the material experiences, and subsequent identity-formation, of intersex individuals. Given the reliance of identity on socially-constituted facticities, the pursuit of flourishing, dignity, and an authentic and cohesive sense of self requires inclusive and diverse social scripts. Drawing on Mirander Fricker, I will elucidate how lacunae in the hermeneutical resource have resulted in confusion, unhappiness, and a lack of proper self-conception for individuals belonging to subjugated groups. Conversely, the availability of positive, diverse, and inclusive narratives will be shown to allow for more self-aware, self-determined subjects. I will ground my advocacy of inclusive, diverse social narratives in an examination of the beneficial genesis and development of the identity politics present in LGBTQIA++ movements (such as “Out and Proud”, recognition of queer identity, and the development of non-binary gender). Assuming that self-understanding, authenticity, and flourishing are ethical goods that are valued, inclusive and affirming narratives for subjugated groups will be shown to be a normative necessity.