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

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Thu Nov 25 11:23:21 PST 1999

Miles Jackson wrote:

> On Wed, 24 Nov 1999, Brad De Long wrote:
> > >S/he had to undergo this procedure because we socially define
> > >the male/female distinction as a physical one. It's not
> > >that s/he is dumb; it is that s/he is trying to live up to
> > >the definition of gender as a physical attribute, like hair
> > >color. And note: to live up to this socially created
> > >definition, s/he has to engage in particular social
> > >relations with particular individuals. Like everyone
> > >else, this person's gender is socially constructed, and
> > >not biologically given.
> > >
> > >Miles
> >
> >
> > Meaning that in our society gender is physical? But that the fact
> > that gender is physical is a social fact?
> >
> > Seems to me that the difference between saying "gender is socially
> > constructed" and "we have socially constructed a physical definition
> > of gender" is analogous to the difference between "an ocean of water"
> > and "a notion of water."
> >
> Hmm. In a sense, I actually agree with this. If there's a body of
> water, and social interactions involve this body of water, and
> people don't talk about it, it's not really practically a part of
> their reality.

There is a difficulty there, in the equation of "social interactions" and talking. Such interactions involving bodies of water almost certainly have a history of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of years *before* the coming of language.

I would not accuse "social constructionists" of denying the ontological reality of a body of water or any other body. I do accuse them of objectively denying the ontological reality of the past. All of Butler's discussion of subjection and the creation of the subject. (My text is too marked up to scan the relevant passage here. See Two whole paragraphs on p. 34 of *Bodies that Matter*.)


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