The social order as we know it in Western societies is organized around racial

The social order as we know it in western societies

This preview shows page 8 - 10 out of 11 pages.

The social order as we know it in Western societies is organized around racial ethnic, class, and gender inequality. I contend, therefore, that the continuing purpose of gender as a modern social institution is to construct women as a group to be the subordinates of men as a group. The life of everyone placed in the status “woman” is “night to his day-that has forever been the fantasy. Black to his white. Shut out of his system's space, she is the repressed that ensures the system's functioning” (Cixous and Clement [19751 1986, 67)… There is no core or bedrock human nature below these endlessly looping processes of the social production of sex and gender, self and other identity and psyche, each of which is a "complex cultural construction" (Butler 1990, 36). For humans, the social is the natural. Therefore, "in its feminist senses, gender cannot mean simply the cultural appropriation of biological sexual difference. Sexual difference is itself a fundamental - an scientifically contested - construction. Both 'sex' and 'gender' are woven of multiple, asymmetrical strands of difference, charged with multifaceted dramatic narratives of domination and struggle" (Haraway 1990, 140). Notes: 1. Gender is, in Erving Goffman's words, an aspect of Felicity's Condition, "any arrangement which leads us to judge an individual's.. . acts not to be a manifestation of strangeness. Behind Felicity's Condition is our sense of what it is to be sane" (1983, 27). Also see Bern 1993; Frye 1983, 17-40; Goffman 1977. 2. In cases of ambiguity in countries with modern medicine, surgery is usually performed to make the genitalia more clearly male or female. 3. See Butler 1990 for an analysis of how doing gender is gender identity. 4. On the hijras of India, see Nanda 1990; on the xaniths of Oman, see Wikan 1982, 168-86; on the American Indian berdaches , see Williams 1986. Other societies that have similar institutionalized third-gender men are the Koniag of Alaska, the Tanala of Madagascar, the Mesakin of Nuba, and the Chukchee of Siberia (Wikan 1982, 170). 5. Durova 1989; Freeman and Bond 1992; Wheelwright 1989. 6. Gender segregation of work in popular music still has not changed very much, according to Groce and Cooper 1989, despite considerable androgyny in some very popular figures. See Garber 1992 on the androgyny. She discusses Tipton on pp. 67-70. 7. In the nineteenth century, not only did these women get men's wages, but they also "had male privileges and could do all manner of things other women could not: open a bank account, write checks, own property, go anywhere unaccompanied, vote in elections" (Faderrnan 1991, 44). 8. For an account of how a potential man-to-woman transsexual learned to be feminine, see Garfinkel 1967,116-85, 285-88. 9. Paige and Paige (1981, 147-49) argue that circumcision ceremonies indicate a father's loyalty to his lineage elders - "visible public evidence that the head of a family unit of their lineage is willing to trust others with his and his family's most valuable political asset, his son's penis" (147). On female circumcision, see El Dareer 1982; Lightfoot-Klein 1987; van der Kwaak
Image of page 8
1992; Walker 1992.
Image of page 9
Image of page 10

You've reached the end of your free preview.

Want to read all 11 pages?

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture