Thursday, November 1, 2007

Manhood (gender and sex) summary

Hey Tappers,

I was somewhat late on this summary from last week, and I apologize, I have been behind. However, between popular demand, and the question, "Frank, how did that manhood thing work out for you?" I reached into that faculty of the soul that St. Augustine refers to as memory, and pulled this out from the depths of last week:

Manhood Summary:

  • I posited the notion of a standardized biological relationship of sex to gender, namely that sex determines gender, in order to help us analyze the narratives that don’t conform to this specific notion, in order to see if these groups are in any way marginalized by this standard notion of gender and sex, and how the standard narrative must be reconstructed in order to make cases outside of the standard narrative of gender intelligible.
  • Sean Malleck posited the notion of manhood and gender as a set of ideals or virtues that one strives for, and are not taken as given from solely the person’s existence. This construction of gender evokes Judith Butler’s idea of performative gender, as one fulfills gender roles through their actions. This is the notion of gender that we accepted as making the most sense.
  • John Veit politely critiqued our use of the word virtue in relationship to gender roles, stating that there are certain facets of masculinity as a form of gender that are not desirable, good, or eternal in the way that a virtue would be desirable, good, or eternal. Good point John, after you left, we came back to this question and decided that due to fact that there may be in fact negative roles in the ideological construction of gender, these roles are always being reevaluated insofar as how they are useful or beneficial to individuals and society.
  • Mark talked about the psychoanalytic implications of gender in relationship to the presence and absence of the phallus, albeit briefly. Also, Mark and I got into a spat about how gender roles are going to manifest themselves socially and politically. Mark claimed that the social was always involved in the political, in as much the political has to do with power structures (Prosch had his back), whereas I claimed that one could not reduce the social to the political, and that gender plays a huge role in how people relate to each other in ways that I would hardly describe as political. During this argument I learned how to think about the political in a much broader sense, and I understood the validity of his point. However, after the discussion was over, Mark expressed some disappointment that we did not discuss the relationship of gender to how the sexes relate to each other and themselves romantically and sexually, and I explained that it was that type of interaction that I was attempting to address as something that could be viewed as less political. Unfortunately, in hindsight, the fact that sexuality and romance could somehow be exempt from the political seems a little na├»ve and idealistic, especially if you look at the institution of marriage. So Mark, that point goes to you and Prosch, although I would claim that it depends on how far you want to stretch the definition of political.

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