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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 33, Issue 1, 2005

Stephen Jarosek
Pages 73-135

The semiotics of sexuality
The choice becomes the association of habits becomes the desire becomes the need

Pragmatism is the idea that we attribute meaning to things that matter to us. Ultimately, the things that matter are intercepted by our bodies — our eyes, ears, nose, hands, feet, skin — right down to our sex differences. Our bodies are the tools with which we interface with the world — the cultural world. Sex differences provide major insights into how the body impacts on experience and thus, personality and ultimately culture’s gender roles. In my earlier paper, I discuss what Peirce identified as fundamental aspects of cognition — habits and associative learning — and I place them in the context of Heidegger’s Dasein. In this current paper, I develop on these ideas in order to apply them to understand gender roles. From the inextricable connection between habits, associative learning and Dasein, we can infer the following: (1) Gender roles are habits; (2) Gender roles are chosen; (3) Men and women “like” the roles to which they have been assigned (this is a fundamental expression of Dasein). That is to say — the choice becomes the association of habits becomes the desire becomes the need. Hence arise the needs by which gender roles are identified.

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