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lrperry's picture

re: patriarchal language

I agree with you, Ally, that Cal's description of why the language is patriarchal is somewhat troublesome, as it focus solely on emotion, but i think an important distinction to make is between "patriarchal" and "masculine". Cal did not say that the language was masculine, and that he wished to express his feminine concerns. The word "patriarchal" refers (at least in my mind) instead to the whole structure in society which serves primarily masculine interests, but which women and minorities can act within as well. (As bell hooks said once, and I'm paraphrasing, it doesn't take a penis to be in the patriarchy, just phallic interests... but she said it much more eloquently than that...)

I think that's why it does not invalidate Cal's claim about the patriarchy of language when Lefty becomes unable to speak, because Lefty is an individual, and the patriarchy is a system. Lefty's situation also brings up the issues of disability in our society and how we treat people who are differently abled and their power.

I like your closing question, about how men may not be able to use the power of the language that ostensibly belongs to them. Power that society gives or doesn't give you is a big theme in this story, I think, because it is all wrapped up in the notion of 'passing', whether as a man or as an American.




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