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Construction Of Gender Identity Through Written Discourse

Profile image of Shumaila Ali

2016, Pakistan Journal of Gender Studies

Writing is a reflection of an individual's thought patterns and can manifest different forms of identity: personal, religious, cultural, political, and above all gender identity. A closer look at any text not only helps discover the origin of the writer, but can also reveal his/her gender, which is projected in the text. Using Butler's notion of 'performing gender', the study aims to explore gender identity constructed through the written discourse of male and female students by analyzing the differences and/or similarities in their writing. The categories considered for analysis include: selection of the topic projecting the background knowledge of the writer (reflecting how widely read he/she is), lexical and syntactic choices, degree of grammatical accuracy, degree of modality, element of personalization, and informative vs. involved style, which is evident through the text that is produced. The data of the study are based on students' essays that they were made to write in the CSS preparatory classes conducted under the Students' Guidance Counselling and Placement Bureau and Overseas Examination, University of Karachi. Being a qualitative study, the sample size chosen was limited to the essays by 30: fifteen produced by male and fifteen by female students. The written samples were selected on the basis of stratified sampling, dividing the samples into two homogenous groups, to do a comparative analysis. The findings of the study reveal significant differences in the writing style of both the genders, which proves that the construction of gender identity is not restricted to oral communication but is also observed in writing.

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