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Amophrast's picture

In reading Little Bee, I came across two phrases I realized I wasn't aware of: detached and semi-detached, specifically in relation to houses.

Detached? I thought. As opposed to what? Connected?

As opposed to: rowhomes, apartments, mobile homes.

I am privileged enough to think that my kind of housing is the default (detached house), whereas everyone else's is some sort of variation on my norm. I live in a house, what do you mean what kind of house?

So I started thinking of these terms in the realm of gender.

Detached [single-unit housing]

Semi-detached [dwellings]

Attached [multi-unit housing]

Movable [dwellings]

When trying to categorize them further, my first thought was that "detached" would be equivalent to gender deviant and/or genderfuck and/or genderqueer (detached from binary). But then if "detached" was the norm, then detached in terms of gender would mean cis-man or cis-woman. But then again, detached is the norm based on my perception, and my class.

So intersect Gender and Class  with these terms, and this is what I came up with:

Detached graph, explained in text below.

The two intersecting lines are gender and class, which range from "within binary" to "outside of binary" and "upper class" to "lower class," respectively. The gender spectrum is split into equal thirds: the third closest to "within binary" is "cisgender." The middle third, which overlaps the center line, is "transgender." The third closest to "outside of binary" is "genderqueer." The term "trans*" is used to cover both thirds of genderqueer and transgender. Diagonally, from top right corner being the highest to bottom left corner being the lowest, the following terms are equally ranked: detached, semi-detached, attached, movable. Detached mainly covers "upper class cisgender" while movable mainly covers "lower class genderqueer," but even though it's hard to tell, I meant to set it up so some of each gender could be in each housing term.

This is not meant to be necessarily "accurate" or standalone proof about these intersections, I am just trying to make sense of these terms in relation to one another


venn diagram's picture

A Perfect Segue

I am very impressed with your thoughts about detached/semi-detached diffracted through gender.  Reading your post, however, made me realize how my experience over break at the “Design with the Other 90%” Exhibit at the United Nations so perfectly aided my learning and critical thinking in this section of the course. Over break my mom invited my sister and me to the exhibit as part of her birthday celebration. She initially chose this exhibit because of the common ground between the three of us, my sister is an urban planner, my mom is a social worker dedicated to social justice and I am interested in public health. What she did not anticipate was how perfectly the exhibit would intra-act with this course. Firstly, it was at the UN on the heels of our UNWomen reading, and was adjacent to a display for one of the UN’s more well-known initiatives, UNICEF. Secondly, I strongly felt a dual-direction influence between our materials and discussion recently and the exhibit--the exhibit helped me visualize Little Bee and Little Bee helped humanize the exhibit, for example.  The exhibit showcased urban planning initiatives in the global south that ranged from public cooking facilities in Kenya to typhoon-resistant bamboo houses and schools in East Asia. It struck a perfect balance between hope and praise for what has already been accomplished (with the use of positive words like “Inspire,” “Improve,” and “Include” imprinted on the large-scale photos) as well as provoking statistics and graphs showing how much is left to be done.

Of the various projects a two themes stood out to me as most pertinent to this course: the role of women and the lack of accurate mapping available for many of these locations. Women were involved in so many levels, both in the society pre-intervention as well as in the creation, implementation and use of the project. The power and importance of women emanated from the entire exhibit. Many of the projects pointed out that in most cases, despite housing up to hundreds of thousands of individuals, there is insufficient or entirely absent maps of and demographic information for these areas. This immediately made me think of our discussion of home (and the google maps exercise rachelr found) and the Butlerian concept of bodies that matter. Although in previous posts I have critiqued the impact of statistics, I do recognize that for governmental processes it is incredibly important to prove how many people your idea can help, whether in public health, planning, or otherwise. Without proper mapping and demographics collection, how can sufficient aid be delivered? How can bodies matter if they are uncounted?  How can one gain the right to appear if they are absent from their nation’s map? How can one access the public attention?

Lastly, I was pleased (and very quick to point out to my sister) that the exhibit was called design with the other 90% rather than for and I appreciated the self-consciousness of this choice. As an urban planner, my sister did not react to the politics of representation on a theoretical level but rather explained that time after time in her field experience has proven that initiatives and planning must include the target populations directly or the infrastructures will be unused or worse a hindrance rather than help. Unfortunately, it appears that this name change is recent and the accompanying book published in 2007 was indeed called “Design for the Other 90%,” I guess better late than never although I am definitely a little less enchanted with the project after this discovery.