Since this is the last blog post of the semester I figure that the best way to end this is by recapping some of the main points that were really hammered into us over the past couple of weeks in class. It’s amazing how everything we’ve discussed can really be related and seen as being along the same lines of what we started the semester talking about. It’s just one big revolving door of gender studies topics that keeps spinning and every once in a while someone new will jump in and talk about something different and more interesting….okay maybe a bad analogy but it’s finals week, give me a break.

So we started out the year talking about how female is considered to be the default sex because if the dad doesn’t give a “y” chromosome, then it will be a girl. We also talked a lot about how we allow women to have a lot more free room to move in terms of their gender and how they perform their gender in comparison to men. This definitely has consequences because masculinity can be considered “good” enough for both men and women to perform it, but it is only women who can perform femininity…this is the notion that femininity is still taboo and the lesser of the two. We read Natalie Angier’s book and talked about science and how it can relate to gender studies which I had never done in any of my other gender studies classes. Moving onto Foucault and Audrey Lorde we talked about the three figures: the monster, the incorrigible or the individual to be corrected, and the masturbator. The monster being a violation of law who is an extreme form of the individual to be correct. The monster becomes tamed and is then turned into the incorrigible, it is a breach of natural law. Once we understand a monster is correctable, the idea of the monster ceases to exist and the monster becomes abnormal. Audrey Lorde was our discussion on ways that difference needs to be reconsidered into not being hierarchical or based on a mythical normal. When people unify as a group, we must acknowledge that there are multiple layers to the group of different people’s beings. The privileging of anything over one another is problematic and feminists should advocate on the acts of women of all sorts of identities. We moved onto gender essentialism and post structuralism. Gender essentialism being the thinking of being born a certain way, an attribution to biology or nature and post structuralism as questioning structures of reality of existence. This is the idea of, “there is no essence to any given thing.” What makes something what it is is the cultural and historical contexts it works within. Judith Butler critiqued the category of woman and scare-quoted the shit out of it. She says that since there is no commonality among women that preexists their oppression and that there are not grounds or basis for unity of the category of women…the term “woman” is just basically crazy. This is where we talked about the heterosexual matrix and how she added a backwards arrow from sexuality to sex. Wittig and Butler shared similar ideas in saying that the idea of
“woman” as a natural group is incorrect. Where Butler says you as women can’t have common experiences, Wittig says that the category of “woman” is mythical and unnatural. Both theorists are anti-essentialists as well.Gayle Rubin discussed the sex wars where danger was put opposite desire and agency opposite violence. The charm circle of sexuality was brought up here where the middle of the circle is the normative individuals where anything or anyone who falls outside of these limits are the nonnormative people. Julia Serano’s intrinsic inclination model was the looking at things being so deep seeded in someone that they seem essential. In Disorders of Desire we looked at the sexological practices in the US and how if you make things a matter of just the body, then you do not account for other factors. The Valentine book we read was about transgendered individuals and the limitations of our own understanding of our own sexual politics. Dreger’s book was all about hermaphrodites and how people who are hermaphrodites violate the logic of sexual dimorphism. We’ve just finished up our reading on Haraway and how human beings are not the only actors in the world and that artifacts an be absolutely anything. Oppositional artifactualism doesn’t place human desires and needs at the center of everything. It thinks about what beings can tell us about other things in the world. This can be juxtaposed to reductive artifactualism that views all things as resources to be used for human purposes without giving agency to other things. WOW! that’s a lot of stuff.

Sometimes recaps like that help us remember what it is that we do this whole school thing for. We discussed and learned so much in such a short amount of time that it’s amazing we’re still at least semi-alive when finals role around. I hope this helped people because even just typing this all up and rethinking about all the different topics we discussed this semester has helped me remember things that I had originally thought. Goodluck on finals everyone!

–Jenna Wise