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Reading Notes: Gender Outlaw

Anne Dalke's picture

Reading Notes
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us

transgender style: based on collage; a more playful, less dictatorial style
of self-expression; trying on accessories for next phase of my life (3-4)

a poignant amalgam of vulgar dreams (7, Gore Vidal)

another kind of tans(gressive) gender experience going on (13)

Definitions...point out the directions. But you don't get where you're going when you just stand underneath some sign (22).

Gender means class. By calling gender a system of classification, we can dismantle the system and examine its components (22).

Do we have the legal or moral right to decide and assign our own genders?...can we afford to throw away the very basic right to classify ourselves? (23-24)

It's important to keep gender and sex separated as, respectively, system and function (31).

butch a symbol of the wearer the protection of being the observer, not the object. A femme-y look, by contrast, suggests self-display....Butch is a style of understatement: I don't need to show flesh because I am in a position to choose. Butch is...a challenge--"I see you and maybe I like what I see"....femme-y style...produces insecurity, a sense of vulnerability and exposure...invites the gaze...risk[s]...scrutiny (33-34, Wendy Chapkis).

when we play with our identities, we play with desire (39)

By saying "I am...," I achieve privacy. Gender identity is a form of self-definition: something into which we can withdraw (40).

we get addicted to something in order to avoid or deny some other thing (45).

Is it a boy or a girl?..."We don't know; it hasn't told us yet"....
no question containing either/or deserves a serious answer

What how aware a person is of the options (51).

What keeps the bi-polar gender system in place? (58)

Transsexuality is the only condition for which the therapy is to lie (62).

Two or more transsexuals together, goes the myth, can be read more easily as transsexual--so they don't pass. I don't think that's it. I think transsexuals keep away from each other because we threaten the hell out of one another...we develop our world view in solitude (63).

Most transsexuals opt for the theory that there...[is] no in-between ground: the agreed-upon gender system....I have this ideas that there are only people who are fluidly-gendered...the norm is that most...continually struggle to maintain the illusion that they are one gender or another (64-65).

All the categories of transgender...break...the rules of gender...we are gender outlaws, every one of us. To attempt to divide us into rigid like trying to apply the laws of solids to the state of fluids: it's our fluidity that keeps us in touch with each other...I really would like to be a member of a that's based on the principle of constant change (69).

These are the real terrorists: the Gender Defenders (72).

the existence of...people who exist sexually for pleasure, and not procreation--strikes terror at the heart of our puritanical Eurocentric culture (78).

And there you have identity politics as one more rendering of a game called us-versus-them (82).

The correct target for any successful transsexual rebellion would be the gender system itself. But transsexuals won't attack that system until they themselves are free of the need to participate in it (83).

the fool became a fool by flexing the rules, the boundaries of the group, and this is antithetical to the survival dynamic of most groups. A group remains a group by being inflexible....A fool..must not identify long with any rigidly-structured group...The fool is indeed foolish who serves a special interest (92).

Where the...fool blurs the lines between genders, the shaman sees no lines....The shaman could be called a gender transcender....The shaman needs to remain outside the binary, in some third space...that constantly shifts and changes (93, 97).

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible" (95, Neil Gaiman).

"transexualism demonstrates that essentialism is a cultural construction" (96, Marjorie Garber).

why in the world are we hanging on to gender, and to our gender systems?....The choice between two of something is not a choice at all, but rather the opportunity to subscribe to the value system which holds the two presented choices as mutually exclusive alternatives (101).

the persistent clash of gender...really is: a class conflict within a dangerously invisible and pervasive cult-like class system (106).

the reason that the bipolar gender actively and tenaciously held in place, is that the bi-polar gender system is primarily a venue for the playing out of a power game....Un-privileging is a necessary prior condition for the deconstruction of the gender system (107, 109).

We haven't dared to name a goal:.."a society free from the constraints of non-consensual gender" (111).

We have a lot invested in this belief--it's very difficult to imagine ourselves genderless...we need to differentiate between having an identity and being an identity (117).

defining ourselves as genderless...there's one less distraction to the development of our own integrity....nearly everyone has some sort of bone to pick with their own gender status....Some of us have less tolerance for the dissatisfaction (118).

Transgender is simply identity more consciously performed on the infrequently used playing field of gender....Every one is passing; some have an easier job of it than others (124-125).

through the mandate of passing, the culture uses transsexuals to reinforce the bipolar gender system...Ironically, the concept of passing...demands the concept of reading (seeing through someone else's attempt at passing) and being read. The culture...will insist upon an unmasking (127-128).

we're talking an old, old philosophical conflict here: we're talking order versus chaos (133).

Gender is a method of partitioning our identities, our families, our economics, or our society. Virtual Reality is a method of making partitions obsolete (139).

I see theater as the performance of identity, which is acknowledged as a performance (147)

[shift] the form, so that the form itself emulated a queer life. Instead of a linear story line, there were many stories woven together, each beginning and ending @ different times, and instead of conflict and resolution, there was transformation (150-151).

"Bornstein has no neutral body...even her biology is...constructed. Is this the death of character?" (152)

agenda--> hidden agender--> Hidden: A Gender (153)

Theater that grows up in a community, with the aim of supporting that community, will become a theater that pacifies its audience. Its aim will be to preserve, and it will not provoke rebellion, but rather promote the community's status quo. In the same way that a fool and a shaman must...stay free of attachment to any community, so must a theater (158).

I'm looking for a theater...continually making itself obsolete (163).

19th c. medicine side-show barker--> 20th c. television talk show host (171):
The World of Gender Blur! (172)

Gender is the need to belong...the need to fit in, be part of something. All the rest is marketing (195).

Care is a curious and efficient blend of love and hate--with none of the messiness of commitment and responsibility (196).

Herculine and Herman are losing their gender identities, each becoming more androgynous (208).

"God created all creatures male and female." "So, God was divisive from the start" (212).

Gender is not the issue. Gender is the battlefield. Or the playground. The issue is us versus them. Any us versus any them. One day we may not need that (222).

I'll be the one the dictionary has trouble naming (238).

I live my life as a woman..but I'm not under any illusion that I am a woman...I'm living my life as a lesbian...but I'm not under the illusion that I am a lesbian. It's the difference between being an identity and having an identity. The latter makes more room for individual growth, I think (243).

There's a new kind of masculinity being born out of a feminist sensibility.
"Never fuck anyone you wouldn't want to be."
I look for where gender is, and I go someplace else (245).

"How curious to have put all that energy into talking about gender. I wonder what the world must have been like in those days for folks with only two choices" (246)