sex, guns, and girls

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Mon Aug 14 11:55:08 PDT 2000

kelley wrote:

> let's say that what we should get rid of or try to get rid of (and i would
> say is possible to get rid of, though not easy and certainly bound up with
> an attempt to get rid of exploitation and capitalist oppression) is gender
> oppression. gender may well be here to stay since i personally don't think
> we need to raise androgynous beings in order eradicate gender oppression.
> *sigh* old fashioned, modernist phrase, i know.
> so what i would like would be a world where, for example, [SNIP]

Guesses as to the future have rather narrow limits, and it may be that with the elimination of gender oppression some other reason for maintaining gender will be found -- words after all often survive the death of what they name. But in the world Kelley goes on to describe, it is difficult to see of what use gender categories would be. Would anyone, in such a world, want to use "effeminate" as a term of abuse? (I think it was Coleridge who went on at some length about the difference between "feminine" and "effeminate," though I don't remember what he said the difference was.) With the very limited battering that gender distinctions have taken so far, we are already in a world where the terms "spinster" and "old maid" are losing their bite.

But the interesting thing for present purposes is not whether "gender" will remain a category in the future -- the interesting question is why anyone *today* would be so obsessed with insisting that the category will so remain. Why this desperate clinging to the conviction that our current categorizations are eternal? Answering this question may be part of the work of clarifying the ideologies of male supremacy and of heterosexism.


P.S. This debate is perhaps even more important when the subject is "race" rather than gender. There can be little doubt that anyone insisting on the continued relevance of the category of "race" in a non-racist world is racist. The belief in the biological reality of race is more or less fundamental to all racist ideology.

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