Bringing ourselves into view: disclosure as epistemological and ontological production of a lesbian subject


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Abstract

McDONALD C, McINTYRE M and MERRYFEATHER L. Nursing Inquiry 2011; 18: 50–54 Bringing ourselves into view: disclosure as epistemological and ontological production of a lesbian subjectUsing Gadamerian hermeneutics as a methodology and feminist philosophical thought as an analytical framework, this study explores understandings of experiences of disclosure of sexual orientation for older ‘lesbian’ women. The study draws on an interpretative inquiry in which participants theoretically align with sexual identity categories with both an ontological and an epistemological purpose and later move away from or even disassociate from the ‘category’ (of lesbian). Reflecting on these interpretations, that of the epistemological and the ontological production of a subject, we ask: What does it mean then to say I am a lesbian? This is where a tension exists: how is it that in spite of the incongruencies of what constitutes a lesbian, and the apparent ambiguity of people to name themselves, we continue to act (as health care providers and researchers) as if the category itself is meaningful and stable? A feminist lens provides an inroad to consider sexuality as practices, rather than as fixed identity; practices that are constituted within the discursive, social and material realities of a life as well as within political and ideological systems in which one resides.

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