To Yoshie, and anyone interested

Catherine Driscoll cdriscol at
Tue Mar 2 14:55:35 PST 1999

Yoshie writes:

>>>Wouldn't you say that there is a problem in using the term 'feminize'? The
>>>term carries an assumption that to be coupled in a sexual engagement with a
>>>man is to be a woman, to be in a position of a woman at least, or to be
>>being 'feminised' is never anything else,
>>that all that feminisation consists in, it doesn't have to describe a woman
>Nonetheless, it does reinforce the straight male-female coupling &
>dichotomy metaphorically.

As adolescence does. I am saying that on the terrain of a given masculine to feminine distinction (which has been understood sometimes as a dichotomy and sometimes as a gradation across the unfolding history of the term) where is operates, adolescence even when referring to men, has been feminised.

>For instance, some say that Asian men, black men,
>etc. are 'feminized' vis-a-vis white guys, which not only doesn't seem to
>describe what's going on but also seems to reinforce sexism.

But I'm not saying that.

>>>Another way to look at 'male adolescence' is that to see it as an area
>>>where the residual discourse on same-sex love--age-differentiated
>>>pedagogical love between men and boys--reassert itself, beneath the
>>>dominant discourse of homo/hetero division, mixing Foucault and Raymond
>>>Williams. This is especially visible in Japan.
>>*beneath* that discourse?
>>in what way?
>I don't know what examples to cite to illustrate it, because I don't know
>what you know, but that's what I see in some gay magazines in Japan, such
>as _Sabu_, for instance. Many personals ask for 'aniki [older brother].'

Recently in personals here I noticed that lesbian ads often specify without/no attachments, to the degree that when reading the ads you have to assume everyone not saying so is 'attached' in some way. This is not surprising perhaps but really fascinating. But I see what you're talking about. Then I'd add that the connotations of the older brother and its complement are not simply separate from that masculine-feminine distinction.

>>and might this be seen as part of 'female' adolescence as well (if
>>i'm actually not convinced that there is 'male' adolescence and 'female'
>>adolescence in the same sense that there is 'male' and 'female' puberty.
>>i think adolescence is always to some degree (and to differing degrees of
>>course) a feminised process. not that gender doesn't matter, but part of
>>the mesh of anxiety surrounding 'male adolescence' is a set of questions
>>about gender.
>Could you give us some concrete examples to illustrate your point?

Well I could start around the turn of the century with Freud, Havelock Ellis or G. Stanley Hall's hugely influential text _Adolescence_ where the masculine-feminine thing (and its attendant man-woman thing) is pre-eminent and yet the characteristics of adolescence are also the characteristics of women, to the point where he claims at one point women never stop being adolescents. These are not arbitrary selections. The dominant Western discourses on adolescence are deeply indebted still to these writers and those following them. Perhaps I should restate here that I am talking about Western adolescence, and about the Western discourse on globalisation, and that my use of Japanese material in this context is to look at the limitations of globalisation and universality as crucial narratives on twentieth century adolescence.

>>>Why do you think that girl culture possesses this 'historical centrality'
>>>you speak of?
>>the conjunction of new marketing processes, and newly globvalised
>>conceptions of production and of culture with figures of the girl consumer
>>and the universality of 'human' developmental processes predominantly
>>exemplified by and through girls and young women.
>>i could give examples -- both primary and 'secondary' - if this isn't clear
>Wouldn't you say that figures of the girl consumer are of much more
>importance in the core (the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, and
>maybe some others) than in the periphery?

Yes. But the girl consumer hs worked elsewhere as a mark of modernity -- India and Brazil come to mind specifically, but its arguable more widely.

>>>An 'effect of globalized conception of cultural production' because of
>>>marketing (e.g. Spice Girls, Shonen Knife, Barbies, etc.)? Because of a
>>>larger & older process of dissemination of modern conceptualizations of
>>>child development (through theory, self-help books, medical practice,
>>yes. and the two fields you specify here are not at all separate, although
>>it's also important to note that childhood and adolescence have very
>>different relations to these processes of globalisation, and indeed to
>>conceptualisations of 'modern' development.
>You mentioned the difference between childhood and adolescence in this
>regard before. Would you care to specify what it is?

Most succinctly, childhood is not a globalised concept but a universalised concept. Adolescence is both simultaneously, but pre-eminently globalised.

>When and how does a girl become a woman?

And this is even bigger. More succinctly still: never, they are discontinuous (that's the effect of adolescence); or, constantly (that's the business of adolescence).

>Have you read Tillie Olsen's _Silences_ by the way? There is a section
>titled "The Baby; the Girl-Child; the Girl; the Young Writer-Woman" that
>might interest you. Here's a quote from Colette in _Silences_:
>"...Oh, the jealous and anxious passion I had for solitude, O solitude of
>my young days! You were my refuge, my panacea, the citadel of my youthful
>pride. With what might and main did I cling to you--and how afraid I was
>even then of losing you! I trembled at the mere thought of the more
>ruthless and less rare ecstasy of love! At the thought of losing you I felt
>already demeaned. And yet...who can resist the pull of love? To become only
>a woman--how paltry! Yet I hastened eagerly toward that common goal.
> Did I hesitate a minute, one solitary minute, standing between your
>beloved specter, O solitude, and the menacing apparition of love?...I don't

I know this from Collette, but not from Olsen. I'll for Spirit of the Beehive as soon as I have time.


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