ignore this, it's about women and sexism ...

kelley oudies at flash.net
Thu Nov 25 00:11:26 PST 1999

i have been bad. enjoy. someone mail dd and tell him that he'll need to look at archives, there's no way flemings will take this one.

>I do reckon someone who's giving birth or menstruating is not a man.

i'm not giving birth or menstruating right now, does that make me a man? was i a man before menses? was i a man before i gave birth to the most wonderful sonshine on the planet?

or, is it that, by virtue of doing something another member of the species homo sapiens doesn't do, then i am marked "not a man". [you remind me of aristotle!]

do you see how your discursivity here presents the issue as Man v. Not Man.

isn't that a bit of a problem if the center to which we orient is the man and all which does something different is described as Not Man.

james baird asks:

>But isn't this a case of Humpty Dumptyism, declaring that words mean what
>you say they mean, neither more nor less?

how is that words mean anything other than what we say they mean? i mean collectively. is there a word out there that has an inherent meaning located in the word itself or in the thing it points to?

what is a chair? is the meaning of a chair located in the chair it points to--the signified? really? funny then, because this explains why i got this odd comment from a partner once. i was blathering on a bout the war over the vote for a new chair. he listened patiently and finally said, "hey we have about 50 extra chairs in the stock room at work. take any one you want"

You define "gender" as something
>socially constructed by oppression. Fine. But that definition has nothing
>in common with what the average person thinks of when they think "gender".

huh. firstly, why should we go by what the avg person thinks. the avg person n the US thinks lincoln freed the slaves, should we use that as our gauge?. if not, then you might need to justify why you would do so in this case. secondly, most words academics use don't mean what the avg person means by them.

when my son was one and a half or so, we were visiting my grandmother who , like many grandmothers, has lots of knick knacks. he picked up a miniature brass shoe from the shelf and attempted to put it on. for him a shoe was shoe. it looked like a shoe and, more importantly, tasted like a shoe [because all two year olds taste everything and then and only then it becomes real :-P], therefore it was a shoe. shoes are to put on your feet [after you've properly put them in your mouth and drooled all over them, of course]

there was the point at which i noticed that my sonshine started learning that there were such things as representations of shoes and their meaning and purpose might have little relation to what they point to or where they originate from.

that's how language works. it's also how society works. is doug's wall street not exemplary of such a process? is it not the case that, today, stocks are bought and sold all the time and their value often has little relation to the productivity of the company they represent? is it not the case that all of this operates much more like a big gambling operation, in which it's all about hedging bets about what others are going to do and such rather than on the basis of rational calculations of a company's future earnings capacity based on it's practices and productivity and gambling on that "material" basis?

>Maybe I just have a hard time because, while I can come up with a (no doubt
>extremely flawed) picture of what a society without the concept of "race"
>would look like, I can't do a similar thing with "gender".

and yet, using your example above,the avg person thinks that race is biological and with us forever. and they too can't imagine a world in which race doesn't play some role in our identities and how we relate to one another. and certainly 20 and more years ago, very few people could apply the thinking you do to race today. it was virtually unheard of to say "race is socially constructed and that it has no biological basis whatsoever."

There are
>physical differences between the sexes,

what does it mean to be a woman or a man? what is the one [or two or three perhaps?] essential things that makes a woman a woman.

possession of a womb? what happens when she has a hysterectomy?

that she menstruates? what does she become with the onset of menopause?

that she has children or the capacity to bear children? what, then, about women who don't have children and can't give birth?

that she has a vagina? what makes a vagina a vagina? [the sonshine used to call is a 'china, btw, which made it delightfully fun to order take out from the "china house buffet"] is there some particular essence to the vagina that makes it so? are you a pragmatist perhaps and find meaning in what is done with a thing. if so, then is it that the vagina is a fuckable hole? what then would make a vagina different from the many other fuckable holes? are there some who possess vaginas that aren't considered fuckable holes?

and what exactly then is used to fuck that fuckable hole? fingers? fists?

a dildo? fruits? vegetables? mineral? animal? oh yes, the average person probably thinks that a vagina is fucked by a penis. personally i prefer a cock, some women i know like dicks. most women i know hate penises. funny that.

and actually, come to think of it, most women i know don't have vaginas when they're fucking. they have pussies or cunts.

and those differences go deeper than
>skin color. Absent some kind of major changes in the human animal, how do
>you construct a society in which those differences do not affect one's
>social experience?

purty easy if you ask me. firstly, i just can't understand what you think it is about the differences that are so overwhelmingly important that you can't imagine a world without them. what makes men and women different so deep down. do you subscribe to the view that women anad men are naturally behaviorally different?

secondly, i wouldn't suggest that the world wouldn't be such that those differences didn't not effect social experience. what i would suggest though is that we want to create a world in which those differences do not result in things like an inequitable division of labor or segregated job market or who we sleep with or what we're allowed to think or feel or how we're supposed to behave ourselves. that is, a world in which physical sex characteristics are no more important than hair color in how we experience one another. we might appreciate the differences, but they wouldn't result in a world in which women systematically had less dignity, self worth, material things, abilities to realize their capacities, etc and so on.


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list