Archives for posts with tag: Rubin

This week seems to provoke one of the most basic concerns within Gender Studies: the use of binaries. However, people with intersex condition spark the debate and issues in an entirely different way. Instead of thinking about what is commonly considered “social constructions” such as gender, femininity, masculinity, etc., intersex makes us think about the validity of the category of “biology”. Alice Dreger’s piece makes us think about the solidity of the biological, anatomical, gonadal, hormonal, and chromosonal determinants of sex. Now, in this sense we are not questioning the validity of these categories as having a function, we are questioning what about or combination of these factors makes one a “female” or “male”. Personally, I would like to say, “Thank you”, to whatever in the womb caused this because “abnormality” needs to be reconsidered and not seen to ever be affected by a “biological” process which is usually out of one’s control. I mean unless your smoking crack or doing heavy drugs, your baby will most likely develop in the manner which “it just does” (I refrain from using “supposed to” due to the loaded nature of this statement).

Intersex condition reminds me of research that I am currently doing for another class on “the identical body” aka identical twins. When I was doing my research, I found no secondary sources on the use of the identical bodies for experiments. Within my  research, I found experiments done on twins and science news letters which marveled at the identical body. However, one statement in a 1931 science news letter explained all of the amazement. The quote went somewhat like this “Identical twins can be an amazing surprise, but if the egg had not separated, the result would be monstrous and the conjoined individuals would be freaks”. Much like intersex condition, in which their ambiguous sex does not conform with a binary framework, conjoined twins who also didn’t develop “as they were meant to” were all the sudden freaks? Ok, wait. Soo, yes this statement was in 1931, but I believe the same stigma still exists within biological processes. We put so much emphasis and trust into the “biological”, which is seen as this perfect, flawless, field, and allow for no variation to occur. I mean during the 9 months you’re in the womb, a biological process did not go “right”, and all of the sudden your considered a “freak” for the rest of your life. That sounds like a misplaced scale to me! Rubin can I get a “WHOOP WHOOP”? When is biology going to understand its own foundations without integrating society’s binary system within it? If we place these binaries within the biological then we allow for no real “nature” to occur. These sorts of issues within Gender Studies, always remind me of the monumental book “Evolution’s Rainbow”. It completely astounds me that biology and society are so linked, always influencing each other in the search for new categories and outcasts. However, with conditions which are not a choice, I am purely outraged that they are seen to be political and are seen to be freaks to society. Society you made this paranoia, not the intersexed individual. Thank biology for that :).

-Katie Schaffer

As Rubin points out in Thinking Sex, there have been periods in our nation’s history that have been defined by the current sex/moral panics. These moral issues are deep rooted into families but reach into politics and have even become legal issues.  “Moral crusaders” are people that “when we live with the possibility of unthinkinable destruction,  are likely to become dangerously crazy about sexuality”(Rubin, 143).

This piece was really eye opening for me, because I hadn’t thought out how much of my life has been shaped and policied by the gorvnerment and other positions of power. In my anthropology of food class, we have read a lot by Michael Pollan. And after reading Rubin, I noticed that even our foods have been policied in many ways. Michael Pollan pointed this out on a list of “10 Crazy Science Experiments That End Up In Your Kitchen“.

And this is where I get to the breakfast cereal. Kellogg’s is a brand famous internationally, and I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a good bowl of fruit loops or frosted flakes. But our cereal has indeed been policied. Or at least that was Mr. Kellogg’s original intention. He ran  health spa and his patients ate only bland foods as part of a special treatment. According to Kellogg, their diet needed to be plain and simple, to resist tempations. It was a belief that spicy and rich foods would lead to dangerous behavoir, like masturbation. And everyone knows, masturbation leads to even worse things for humanity! Kellogg believed that masturbation was the stem of other evils.

So, by accident, when his wheat and grain diet for his patients baked too long, he ran it through a machine and it became flakes that were “palatable” with milk. This new food ended up on our shelves, influenced entirely by the fact that the blandness promoted a healthier sexual lifestyle as well as a life with less evil. His influence in his brand obviously reached into the homes of people without many of them knowing the original intention of the product. (Note: I’m not hating on Kellogg’s brand at all, and I am sure they no longer operate under the same belief system!)

Sex negativity comes from a religious background suggesting that sexual acts are sinful and the only exception to many objections to sex is conventional marriage. In this viewpoint, sex is “dangerous, destructive (and a) negative force”(Rubin,150). Religious institutions have reached into our politics and into our pantries, often unbeknownst to us, and have worked to shape our nation historically.


-Parisa Mansoori

Rubin wrote this piece because of the sex wars that were happening at the present time she began this article. This has given so much insight on what was expected at the time, and what sex and gender has eventually come to be. Since sex was considered harmful to young ones which were socially and legally adopted by society, it resulted in non-educated children on the topic of sex and experience.  Without the sex wars, and the hard times homos had to endure, the world would still be struggling and resisting accepting them.

Among sex and experience a huge part of history was the homosexuality crisis in the 1950’s. Society was in denial about homosexuals and sexual preferences that they treated these people as if they were convicts. Homosexuals became convicts of federal witch hunts and purges, federals would raid local bars in seek of homosexuals, conducted street sweeps, patrolled specific areas, all in order to put a stop to homosexual practices.  Violent and unfair as it may seem, the only way to keep homosexuals hush-hush was to take the approach of protecting the children. Which is why the violent approach was halted at some point, but society was still able to stop the awareness and education of homos due to our children.

Sex is a natural force that precedes society and institutions, also known as sexual essentialism. Sex is put on a platform and is what everybody wants. Every person can relate to this as everyone has a sex drive and wants to attain something or someone sexually. However, what society does not understand is that this sex drive does not mean it has to be heterosexual. Homosexuals have sexual desires but sexual desires that are considered phobic. They are considered this way because lack of education to society and by forces stopping the understanding and acceptance of this way of life. Everybody has different preferences and desire and living in a free country they should be able to openly express them without being shunned.

We have resisted and resisted for years to accept and ultimately understand and educate society on homosexuals. This is why certain people react the way they do to queers, and why they are anti-homo. We are still warming up to this concept and still working to understand and accept these preferences amongst those people. Everybody is different and is unique, and we are finally learning that we have to accept what may not politically correct, but what specific people and groups believe in. Had we been able to grasp this concept years ago, when homos were hunted and seeked out, the world would be that much further along and that much better of a place. Hopefully by the time we pass and our children’s children run the world, people will not even think twice when they see two homosexuals walking down the street holding hands.

C. Praljak

Okay, so I know we didn’t get to talk about this article in class this week, but it was the assigned reading for the week, and I want to talk about it.  I have read Gayle Rubin’s Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of  the Politics of Sexuality a total of four times now.  I always find something new when I read it, something that I didn’t catch before that really gets me thinking (in a good way).  On the other hand, one point that Rubin makes has troubled me each time I’ve read it.  This latest read was no exception.  Rubin gives examples of certain sexualities and sex acts that are considered “bad sex” in moral society.  One of the sexualities she points to is “cross-generational.”  Now, I’m not here to criticize a relationship between two obviously consenting adults that happen to have some years between them.  Hell, my boyfriend is 8 years older than me, my dad was 14 years my mom’s senior.  The issue I have trouble with is sexual relationships between adults and minors.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think an 18 year old should go to prison for having sex with his 15 year old partner.  I’m talking about MUCH older adults and their relationships with children.  Rubin talks about the persecution of “boylovers.”  She says, “These men have been the victims of a savage and undeserved witch hunt” (147).  Yet, she doesn’t explain why.  I don’t necessarily think these men should be demonized just for lusting after young boys, but the problem comes when sex acts occur with the young boys.  Rubin asserts, “A democratic morality should judge sexual acts by the way partners treat one another, the level of mutual consideration, the presence of absence of coercion, and quantity and quality of the pleasures they provide” (153 emphasis added).  What I want to know is, how do you measure the presence or absence of coercion, especially when it comes to minor children?  Along with increased age comes power.  How can we know that these boylovers aren’t using their power of age and experience to coerce boys into sexual acts?  Some people can feel coerced without even realizing it in the moment.  And what’s more, where can the line be drawn between the point in a person’s life where they are not as prone to easy coercion?

In recent celebrity gossip news, a cross-generational relationship has received some moral judgment.  Remember that guy from LOST that was in the Dharma Initiative but then he got killed off?  Yeah, me neither.  But now I just know him as the 51 year old man that married a 16 year old girl.  Doug Hutchison and Courtney Stodden have been making the media rounds because of their non-normative marriage.  This media frenzy is an obvious example of society’s fascination and condemnation of cross-generational sex.  While Courtney is probably more able to give “true consent” (whatever that means) than a younger kid, I still wonder how much Doug’s age, and the power that goes along with it, played into what might be constituted as the seduction of a minor.  There really is no way of knowing.  There is no answer.  The amount of coercion involved in what ultimately leads to consent cannot be measured.  I know that in my personal experience of same-generational heteronormative sex, some coercion has taken place that has lead to my consent.  So, did I consent, or was I coerced?  I don’t know.  And my brain is nearly fully developed.  A child’s brain is a different story. -Stephanie Halsted