sex, guns, and girls

Rob Schaap rws at
Mon Aug 14 06:24:30 PDT 2000

G'day Peter,

>This doesn't make sense, Rob. We don't allocate meaning to differences in
>eye colour.

Well perhaps we look at eye colour for different reasons. Back in my fraught days on the market, it was a good idea, for instance, to check a new girlfriend's eye colour straight away, as it was almost inevitable she would one day turn away abruptly, and demand to know what colour her eyes were. If you were unable to answer, your love was apparently not genuine, necessitating a drawn-out self-redemption ritual. Of course, all the real rakes were onto this way ahead of the rest of us, and I trust I speak of a distant past.

But mebbe I didn't put my case as clearly as I could have. I reckon we don't notice stuff that doesn't mean because we inevitably apprehend stuff *as something*, and that association, I submit, constitutes the act of meaning. Now, I admit on that line of argument alone, sexual difference could cease to mean one day, and gender would be a thing of the past. But I reckon it will always mean, because it is a practical and salient difference in the world of self-conscious sexually reproducing beings. That was the other side of my claim, after all. I'm not sure gender need be a bad thing, by the way. Just that, on balance, it is at the moment - it's got gratuitous (untenable) hierarchies all through it and it makes demands of each of us that aren't good for any of us.

>And the amount of meaning which is allocated to body size
>difference certainly seems to vary wildly - in my rather short lifetime,
>I can remember differences in how male body shape has been focussed. It
>used to be barely an issue (within a certain range), and now its not.

Yep, capitalism's idea of democratising gender. We used just to objectify the female body and impossibilise its ideal form. Instead of freeing woman, we're drawing man into it. Now fellas spend a useless fortune on cosmetics and get anorexia/bulimia, too. Fair's fair, eh?

Cheers, Rob.

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