Last week, my blog entry came to this conclusion:

“Women” asks for boundaries and a definition like any other term. But how can I define such boundaries when no essence exists?

The answer is you can’t, but people do, and that’s the problem.

After dealing with Butler’s concept of the “heterosexual matrix” and its “intelligible gender”, we turned to Wittig and found ourselves; well at least I did, in a space where lacking essence is no longer the problem. Why worry about something that does not exist? Definitions are the real problem here!

I was well aware that definitions fail reality, and I knew that not every aspect of one category someone else identifies him- or herself with characterizes this person; no one is simply gay or White or male. So, I knew that defining and ascribing terms is highly problematic, especially when general assumptions are applied to the particular case.

This week, in quoting Butler loosely saying, “Leaving one closet to go to another”, Hilary introduced the discussion in “Explaining Sex and Gender Differences” to a notion which I think to be universal. Leaving one category and entering another can be as much restricting as the one had been you just left. Despite the fact that “lesbian” may describes you best, the closet “lesbian” can be uncomfortable indeed.

As a final note, we were asked to think of and describe the situation or relation in which we feel free to be the persons we are. From many answers I gained the feeling that Butler’s statement is familiar. And when I think of the example I had in mind which may has nothing to do with gender, but culture differences based on my recent move to the US, I realized that it is not my home country Germany that makes me feel German, since I almost never feel German when I am actually in Germany, but it is the other, the USA, which defines me, and makes me clash.

Returning to Wittig, who says that through naturalizing categories – and of course, nationality is as much a naturalized category as gender – we make changes within impossible. At this point, Wittig wants us to recognize that my identity is everything but natural. Whatever it means to be German – honestly I don’t know – at the moment, I simply experience what different socialization means, not nature. And though it may help me to embrace my home in the moment of culture clash, I never know when this “closet” will be too small for my needs. So, don’t you lock me in.

Today I may be German; tomorrow I may be Scuba Diver Barbie – who knows.

– franziska krause

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