[Fwd: Re: [Fwd: Re: ignore this, it's about women and sexism ...]]

Katha Pollitt kpollitt at thenation.com
Fri Nov 26 08:26:30 PST 1999

Miles Jackson wrote:
> On Thu, 25 Nov 1999, Katha Pollitt wrote:
> > Ah, so asking the question is "a moment of recurrent exasperation." She
> > has arguments, her critics just lose their tempers! I see why Prof
> > Butler has lately taken up Freud. (btw, shouldn't that be "a recurrent
> > moment of exasperation?")
> > When Prof B goes to the gynecologist -- which I assume she does -- is
> > it because she wants to "perform" being a woman? Or is it that she needs
> > a pap smear? If I perform my gender differently, can I trade in
> > worrying about breast cancer for worrying about my prostate?
> >
> > Katha
> It seems like you read the first line of the quoted passage and
> ignored the rest of it! What you're saying above directly supports
> JB's point: when people make reference to an extradiscursive realm
> (I would say a realm above and beyond social relations), they are
> making a discursive argument.

>In other words, the primacy of
> the physical difference between men and women is something that is
> produced and reinforced by comments like the one you made above.

I know that's what she SAYS. but I don't agree with her. i think she encodes her conclusion in her premiss. BECAUSE she has already decided that physical sex is discursive, any argument one makes to the contrary is part of that discursive system. But she never shows that physical sex is discursive in the first place. She merely asserts this. Again, it really is a lot like Freud, another great mental manipulator: yes means yes and so does no. Everything the patient says merely confirms the doctor's theory, because "there is no NO in the unconscious."

By the way,
> if you perform gender differently and engage in various
> procedures to better meet the criteria of being a man in our
> society (e.g., breast removal), then your gender performance does
> influence your chance of breast cancer.

I don't think a woman with a double mastectomy is meeting a criterion of being a man in our society. She is a woman who has had her breasts cut off. If you saw a photo of a male chest and one of a doubly=mastectomized female one, you'd have no trouble at all telling them apart. Men don't usually have huge scars all over their chests, and no nipples.

Also, not to beat this thing into the ground, a more manly gender performance (as you would see it, not me) may well INCREASE a woman's chances of getting breast cancer: never having been pregnant or breastfed a baby, for example.


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