Midterm - Lacquer"making sex The interpretation of an event...

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Lacquer – “making sex” The interpretation of an event changes over time. Science and social relationships are contingent and fluid Ideologies don’t change as science changes, but science changes in a political environment Raises the question of what are the implications of each interpretation (3) of the resuscitation of the young sleeping woman? (which was portrayed to be such a fantasy back then) o Death requires scientific verification o She must have showed life signs in sex because of conception orgasm o She may seem dead because she conceived What is the difference between the one sex model and the two sex model of gender in terms of political implications? o The shift from orgasm dependent conception to not is a shift in a broad revision in understanding genders that they are completely different (since they used to think they were the same) Laqueur begins with the question of why, in the late eighteenth century, woman's orgasm came to be regarded as irrelevant to conception, and he then proceeds to retrace the dramatic changes in Western views of sexual characteristics over two millennia. Along the way, two "masterplots" emerge. In the one-sex story, woman is an imperfect version of man, and her anatomy and physiology are construed accordingly: the vagina is seen as an interior penis, the womb as a scrotum, the ovaries as testicles. The body is thus a representation, not the foundation, of social gender. The second plot tends to dominate post-Enlightenment thinking while the one-sex model is firmly rooted in classical learning. The two-sex story says that the body determines gender differences, that woman is the opposite of man with incommensurably different organs, functions, and feelings. The two plots overlap; neither ever holds a monopoly. Science may establish many new facts, but even so, Laqueur argues, science was only providing a new way of speaking, a rhetoric and not a key to female liberation or to social progress.
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Making Sex ends with Freud, who denied the neurological evidence to insist that, as a girl becomes a woman, the locus of her sexual pleasure shifts from the clitoris to the vagina; she becomes what culture demands despite, not because of, the body. Turning Freud's famous dictum around, Laqueur posits that destiny is anatomy. Sex, in other words, is an artifice. A historian by profession, Laqueur locates the major conceptual divide in the late eighteenth century when, as he puts it, "a biology of cosmic hierarchy gave way to a biology of incommensurability, anchored in the body, in which the relationship of men to women, like that of apples to oranges, was not given as one of equality or inequality but rather of difference" (207). He claims that the ancients and their immediate heirs -- unlike us -- saw sexual difference as a set
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This note was uploaded on 09/13/2009 for the course SWMS 210gm taught by Professor Marciniak during the Spring '07 term at USC.

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Midterm - Lacquer"making sex The interpretation of an event...

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