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Notes Towards Day 10: Welcoming Pemwrez2009

Notes Towards Day 10
Critical Feminist Studies


I. Coursekeeping
signing in, paying up?
papers due @ 5 p.m. tomorrow,
be sure to "tag" the on-line version both as "Critical Feminist Studies Paper 1"
AND w/ all relevant "topics" (both given and made-up):
this allows Serendip to generate related "pages for further exploration"-->
is quite webby, and a gesture towards artificial intelligence/making Serendip "think"!

reading for Tuesday is "transitional and interstitual,"
ending this first section on transgender and intersex.
transitioning to second section on transnational and international feminism

get there via one piece by historian Afsaneh Najmabadi,
about sex change operations taking place in Iran as a result of identifying

homosexuality (any sexual/gender non-conformity) as abnormal, deviant, criminal

plus two poems "about" lesbian sex: Marily Hacker's "Canzone" and Gertrude Stein's "Lifting Belly"
focus on poetry as a discourse representing sex, esp. sex between women....

II. But first!
Gender and Science, Spring 2007

From Dalke and McCormack,
Synecdoche and Surprise: Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production
We opened the initial class by inviting our students to describe, sequentially, their experiences of being scientists, of being women, and of being women scientists: What were the physical objects and activities they associated with each of these experiences? What, in each case, were their interactions with and manipulations of the world? What were the physical and intellectual attributes of each? How did the experiences of being a scientist and being a woman resemble and differ from one another?....

The paired options we had so carefully used to construct this exercise broke down very quickly. We had intended to contrast the historical, stereotypical “or” relationship between the categories “woman” and “scientist” with the “and” relation indicated in our course title and conception. But it became quite clear, before we had finished even the first round of responses, that the simplicity of the binary connectors (“and” and “or”) was not going to encompass either our students’ experiences or their reflections on them.

A social science major refused the category “scientist.” A transgender student refused the category “woman.” An independent major in Gender and Sexuality refused to acknowledge a boundary between science and politics: “the very act of finding things out can itself be a political act,” she wrote in the course forum; “choosing what questions to ask in science and what is important enough to be funded are social, political, as well as scientific decisions.”

Critical Feminist Studies, Fall 2007
To Dysphoria, or NOt to Dysphoria

Waxing Gibbous
Our Obligations Along Side Our Perpetual Transitions
Our Perpetual Transitions

Some topics Pemwrez2009 would like us to address:

1) why is there such an emphasis on reducing the trans individual
to essentialist notions of anatomical validity?

2) why are trans people pressured to assimilate as male or female? man or womantrans-identified transpeople complicate our tendency to associate femininity with women and masculinity with males, since there's no "tranliness" that we associate as being a characteristic of trans people...

3) why is passing so important? why can it be dangerous?

Some of our questions for him:
I'd be interested to know why Pemwrez2009 chose Bryn Mawr. How does he define feminism, and how does Bryn Mawr's general take on feminsim clash or mesh with his definition?

1) I would be interested in knowing how Bryn Mawr's environment hindered you? To use your words, was it ever "dangerous" for you?

2) I am a little confused by what you mean by "passing." Does this mean "passing" as a male or female? Additionally, when you ask why passing is " important," who are you referring to? the trans-individual? or society?

"trans" applies to several people all with different "transliness"....How do you feel about using the word "trans"...what word would you use to identify yourself?

I am interested in knowing how you or how a trans-individual views the body? How important is your body to you? How important is your body in terms of identifying yourself/ not identifying yourself?

1. When/How did youcome to the realization that you wanted to identify as a male?

2. While making the transition from female to male, what kind of emotional/physical struggles did you encounter?

3. What made you decide on choosing Bryn Mawr?

4. Identifying as a male and going to an all women’s college, do you ever feel out of place?

1. I wonder what you think about...the difficulty of ‘doing justice’ to someone who is embodied differently than oneself....Would you object to someone who was not trans writing from the point of view of a trans person? Representing the inner experience of a trans subject?

2. What would be your ideal admissions policy at Bryn Mawr?

did you feel any hostility or tension at Bryn Mawr (which I think most of us would think of as a "women's space") in transitioning from "female-ness" to "male-ness?" Was there a time where you might have felt gender-ambiguous and felt intentionally isolated by others being in such a gender-specific space?

I'm interested in whether you still have trouble confidently presenting yourself as male? How does your membership to a women's institution complicate your ability to present your gender coherently?

Do transsexuals desire an androgenous environment?...transsexuals seem to want their gender to be recognized- is this the case?

I'm interested in Bornstein's comment that "hiding, and not proclaiming one's transsexual status, is an "unworthy stance." Do you agree with this? If gender is not biologically based but socially constructed, than are they really hiding? How is the story that transsexuals tell a lie? Isn't everyone "passing" to some degree?

mpottash: I am interested in Stryker's...."politics of personal identity".

kgbrown: My major questions are about about transitioning at Bryn Mawr....whether or not it was a "'women only' space" his perceptions about Bryn Mawr changed when he began to transition....whether or not being at Bryn Mawr factored into that decision....I was also wondering about the role of language...the ideas about making SGA's constitution gender neutral. Any thoughts?

1) How do you view being trans?...a mental issue...a physical issue...a state of being...another gender..?

2) As a child, were you encouraged to behave towards a certain gender? How much freedom did you have, in terms of what toys/friends you could play with, what activities you could do, etc? Was this a problem for you?

3) How important is being “stealth” to you?

When did you make the decision to transition?
How/why did you make the decision to transition?
How do you feel about Califia's claim that he didn't really aim to be a socially cultured male; he just didn' want to be female?
Do you feel the need to make sure that you pass?
Are you a feminist? Why or why not (what does that word mean to you)?

When did you realize that you identified with the male gender? Did you just know at a young age or did you make this discovery over time?

Do you feel that in the process of transitioning people have treated you differently? Are there different societal opportunities offered to the binary than to those who are in the middle?

What’s in a name? How do you feel that your name has affected your transition? How do you think gendered languages impact identification and association?
How has puberty and development of sexual orientation impacted your gender identification?

(And Just! In! Case!)
Anne's Reading Notes

10Q Gender Game and overlay study
processing of cues is not additive, but multiplicative
gesalt: genitals affect interpretation of other cues
cultural genitals=penis/essential insignia
tertiary sexual characteristics: predominant markers
gender display & recogntion : "what are the conditions of failure?"
displayer--> attributor
"we do not live our lives searching for deceit."
gender invariance rule
attribution--> dichotomization--> non-overlapping categories
see--> discover
fewer biol/psych/social dicotomies, increased continuum
reality of other possibilities/possibility of other realities
social constructions larger than sperm and egg carriers
reproduction not a continuous fact of life: no lifetime dicotomy
gender attribution/indentiification/differentiation

Butler's claim that gender is always about something else
devalues transgenders' experience of profound ontological claim
of realness/inalienability of gender identity
criterion for being recognized as human: a gendered being
cultural terms w/ no fixed meaning or internal destiny
allegory of Joan/John case:
first used to demonstrate malleability of gender ("normalization")
now reversed to support biological determinism ("naturalization")
Chase/Fausto-Sterling: no reason to make sex assignment @ all; make room for the intersexed: "conceive of leaving someone alone," interrogate the limits of the conceivably human
why maintain gender dimorphism w/ chromosomally various children and male/female continuum?
Kate Bornstein: transform meaning of gender
how do justice to linguistic fragments of something called a person?
honor self-description, in language already "going on," saturated with norms, predispositions
"one speaks a language that is already speaking":
see self through a set of expectations of a "norm"
action of the norm found in the sense of aberration
enormous anxiety @ play about the truth of gender
does justice demand deferral?
gender essentialist position must be voiced for transsexual surgery to take place
body must appear/feel a certain way for gender to work?
on refusing to be reduced to/exceeding a body part
incommensurability between who he is/what he has:
derives his worth from the gap, in the ways he is not recognizable/categorizable:
self beyond discourse

Bornstein on "gender defenders": terrorists who support the status quo
desire the other side of revulsion
transphobia: fear of border-dwellers
fanaticism: over-generalizing
existing sexually for pleasure, not procreation:
strikes terror @ heart of puritanical Eurocentric culture
protection of a group has its price
attacked for not having a politically correct body
how come to terms w/ inner ambiguity of gender?
what are you being denied on account of your gender?
taking a side=identity politics as game of us-vs.-them
transgender activists targeting lesbian separatists/"women-only spaces":
a war about who's a man and who's a woman/the "what's a woman?" question
anger and activism=drinking and driving; don't mix
"urinary segregation"
ever teased/baited for acting outside assigned role?
wherefrom the sanctions for teasing/baiting?
gender system is silly!

transsexual body is an unnatural body;
product of medical science/technolgoical construction
destabilizes foundational presupposition of fixed genders
"mutation": a cleverly manipulated exterior/war with nature/"monster"
investigate your nature: discover seams and sutures in self
narrative strategy: tension between visual orientated epistemology and approach that privileges verbal linguisticality
knowing by seeing and knowing by speaking/hearing are gendered
inability of language to represent transgendered subject's movement between stably gendered positions
genealogy of sex reassignment techniques: metaphysical quest to create life/cultural politics aligned with conservative attempt to stabilize gendered identity
unassimilable, antagonistic, queer relationship to Nature
Nature exerts such a hegemonic oppression.
transgender rage: subjective experience of being compelled to transgress regulatory schemata:
disindentification with compulsorily assigned subject positions
rage @ non-consensuality of baby's gendering: compulsory gender attribution

stranger to territories of feeling women, acting men
longing for social convenience of passing
we all ought to be judged by single standard: compassionate, honest, nurturing, independent, self-caring, vulnerable, friendly, desiring, creative, assertive, industrious
piquancy, immediacy of body and all physical sensation:
stronger, more localized concentration of reaction, need
being third-gender: salvage the virtues of ordinary men, grief, humlity
need for transformation of manhood, masculinity:
approach one another in equality and desire, mutual affiliation