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TSE  July 2007

TSE July 2007

Subject:

Re: Sex and Gender OT

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Fri, 20 Jul 2007 22:49:30 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (416 lines)

First, I really want to make clear that this list has nothing to do with
any views of mine.  I did not make it and I do not agree with any
parallels with gender.  So to say I am right or not is not applicable. 
These are binaries built into historical perceptions found throughout
all Western literature.  (No doubt other literature, but I have not read
enough of it.)

So any statement about my being "right" or "wrong" in your message is
not really at stake in this in any way.  

As for your specific points:  Most men are physically stronger than most
women in the sense that they can lift bigger weights and fight with
greater power.  They are less strong in other ways:  women bear heat,
cold, and pain better, and have fewer genetic illnesses and defects like
color blindness, and they live longer.  It clearly depends on what you
mean by "strong."  Even given what you mean by "upper body strength," a
woman wrestler or marine would likely be dangerous to a large number of
ordinary men in a fight.  The general statistics do not necessarily
apply to any given individual.  And the term "superiority" is extremely
dubious since it has historically been used to confer rights.  Gorillas
are "superior" to human males in upper body strength, but no one assumes
they should run the world because of it.

When you reject the "stereotypes" of active/passive and
rational/emotional and courageous/frightened, you simply make my point
over again.  They do not apply.  I especially like the last one since
women have always been the ones expected to care for and bear up under
illness, death, loss.  That is a great courage.  Obviously men have been
expected to run toward machine guns and bayonets and live madly in
frozen, lice and rat-filled trenches and go "over the top" to certain
and horrible death, and that is courage of another sort.  But women went
to the front in war after war and now are in it directly.  The courage
of both is a historic fact.

As for mind/body, it is simply there in literature for centuries despite
being false, as is nature/culture.   The latter has nothing to do with
what one likes for entertainment; it is the way men and women have been
figured.  There are whole books quoting and analysing it.

But this is really a pointless discussion unless both sides of it are
willing to read the now vast amount of feminist writing in all fields
because feminists have in fact read male texts for centuries and only
some male scholars read feminist texts, so the information, analysis,
theory, is simply not recognized, and only one group knows both sides of
the discussion.
Nancy






>>> Kate Troy <[log in to unmask]> 07/20/07 10:02 PM >>>
 
Let me examine your list, Nancy.  First, strong/weak.  This would 
seemingly 
be the most obvious one to deal with, as males are physically stronger 
than 
woman, particular in upper body strength.  As an artist and as a  woman,
this 
is obvious to me.  One of  your "points" is that society  assigned
male/female 
roles long ago.  As far as physical strength is  concerned, I believe
that 
case may be made that not society, but just the fact  of the superiorly
of the 
physical strength itself, plays a role in the male  psyche, and this is
not 
always a bad thing, as in some men, this has influenced  them in such as
way that 
their actions are always geared to  protect, not only woman, but
children, 
dogs, the environment, etc.     In other males, this is not the case. 
They 
believe that their superiority  of physical strength also sets forth a
superiorly 
of mental strength.  As  for mental strength, I would say women in
general are 
superior to men, but there  is no muscle to evidence my belief.
As for Active/Passive, I don't believe that this stereotype applies to 
the 
modern world, as least not the American-Euro modern world.  
Rational/Emotional.  I would say that in general, women show emotion 
more 
than men, which is, in fact, healthier.  Therefore, it does not follow 
that men 
are more rational because they mask or hold back their  feelings.
Courageous/frightened.  I believe this goes back to the physical 
strength of 
men versus the mental strength of women.  A man can deal better  than a
woman 
in general with a spider in the house, but a woman can deal better  than
a 
man with a parent dying.  Which is more important.
Mind/Body.  I believe that you are correct, Nancy, in that society has  
played a part.
Culture/Nature.  I think you have it wrong here, actually.   Except for 
sporting events, females are far more interested in culture  and males
engage in 
more nature activities, such as fishing and  camping.
 
Regards,
 
Kate
 
 
In a message dated 7/17/2007 12:56:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
[log in to unmask] writes:

No, I  don't.  The point is that they have historically been defined  as
feminine characteristics.  Hysteria, for example, is named for 
"hyster,"
the Greek term for womb--it MEANS female irrationality.  And  for nearly
all of history it was assumed to be something only women  experienced.  

If you set up any set of binary opposites like the  following, everyone
will know which is supposed to be masculine and which  feminine:

strong/weak
active/passive
rational/emotional
courageous/frightened  
mind/body
culture/nature

None of this is my opinion--before  anyone bothers to say it is; it is
written all through history.  See  Aristotle, Aquinas, the Malleus
Malificarum, Rousseau, all those "thinkers"  and "scientists" who
claimed
women were too delicate to go out in public,  unable to read books
because it would take energy from their reproductive  organs and make
them unable to conceive or drive them mad, all the fools  who think a
woman can't be president because she menstruates.   

Consider the woman on the stairs who was once lovely and sane as  you.
Cheers,
Nancy



>>> Kate Troy  <[log in to unmask]> 07/17/07 11:05 AM >>>
Acturally, I do  feel nurturing at times,?particularly with children and
dogs,?and I have  been emtional.? October of 2004 when the Red Sox won
the World Series for  the first time in 86 years comes to mind.? But,
no,
I don't feel weak and  passive at all, and I'm certainly not prone to
hyseria.? Do you associate  such characteristics as female
characteristics?


-----Original  Message-----
From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Sent: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 3:23 pm
Subject: Re: Sex and  Gender, was Jeremiah ...?



No doubt if you feel "female," it is  because you are.  "Female" refers
to sex, not gender."  Do you  "feel" passive, nurturing, emotional,
prone
to hysteria, weak, . . . . .  ?
Nancy

>>> Kate Troy <[log in to unmask]> 07/16/07  3:01 PM >>>
Well, in my being, I definitely feel female.? It's not  like like
feeling
American or feeling like a Floridian.? Of course, I feel  both American
and Floridian, but the female component goes  deeper.

Kate


Perhaps those social roles are fig newtons of  our imaginations.?It
comes
as news, however, that souls?are?sexed. I  thought we could be done with
all that in heaven.?heh. 

It is then  astonishing how many brilliant scientists and poets and
thinkers throughout  history saw social roles.
Nancy

>>> Kate Troy  <[log in to unmask]> 07/15/07 1:07 PM >>>

As an artist  (painter), it is clear to me that the differences between
male
and  female go beyond the biological and the contour; it is, in fact,  a
matter
of??heart and soul, and social roles have nothing to do with  it.

Kate

In a message dated 7/15/2007 12:53:55 P.M. Eastern  Daylight Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:

Nancy??Gish  wrote:
>
> Eliot is a dead poet and a topic of debate and??study,  not a
participant
> in the debate.
>
> Gender does??not  mean sex, and its separate meaning is one of those
that
> has  become??quite distinct in usage.??It is not a euphemism for sex,
>  which??does not need a euphemism anyway, as in academic terms  it
refers
> to??biological difference as distinguished from social  roles.??Read
any
> current or recent texts on  gender.
>??Nancy

Considering how fixed the distinction between  sex and gender is??I'm
amazed that any literate person isn't familiar with  it.

Even??after making the distinction (gender = social; sex =  biology)
there
still??remain problems: Up until a couple centuries ago  (this is
debated
by some??of course) the model was one sex, two genders:  the difference
between men??and women was a difference of degree -- women  were
incompletely 'cooked'??men. See Thomas Laqueur, _Making Sex: Body  and
Gender from the Greeks to??Freud_ (Harvard UP, 1990). See also a  fine
review by Stephen Jay Gould,??"The Birth of the Two-Sex World,"  NYRB,
June 13, 1991.

Gould??emphasizes that in terms of biology  there are equal arguments
for
the??one-sex and the two-sex models.  Politically I have held elsewhere
that??probably the most desirable model  is one-sex, many genders. But
that _is_ a??POLITICAL not a biological or  medical issue. The biology
is
quite neutral??on the topic.

From  Gould's review:

****
The "two-sex model"??replaced this concept of  woman and man as two
clumps
on a graded continuum??with a notion of two  fundamentally distinct
entities, bearing different??organs that imply  divergent behaviors and
aptitudes; (divergent perhaps,??but still eminently  rankable, for
sexism
is the one invariant in this??history of transition).  Laqueur writes:

Thus the old model, in which??men and women were  arrayed according to
their degree of metaphysical?? perfection, their vital  heat, along an
axis whose telos was??male, gave way by the late eighteenth  century to
a
new model of radical??dimorphism, of biological divergence. An  anatomy
and physiology of?? incommensurability??replaced a metaphysics  of
hierarchy in the??representation of woman in relation to man.

Why  did this transition??occur, and why over a broad stretch of time
centered  on the early??eighteenth century? The answer cannot lie in any
simplistic  notion of??empirical discovery wrested from nature by
triumphant science  (quite a set??of male images). I shall return to the
role of empirics among  other causes??of transition later in this
review,
but a simple reason  suffices to debar??factual adequacy as a primary
agent of the switch:  neither model is??"correct" by any morphological
standard; both capture  elements of??anatomical reality.

******

Both models have  supported??male-supremacist ideology, but in different
ways, which can be  crudely??summarized as hierarchical vs "scientific."
Gould's review  discusses that??contrast  also.

Carrol





-----Original Message-----
From:  Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Sent: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 10:35 am
Subject: Re: Sex and  Gender, was Jeremiah ...?





Perhaps those social roles  are fig newtons of our imaginations.?It
comes
as news, however, that  souls?are?sexed. I thought we could be done with
all that in heaven.?heh.  

It is then astonishing how many brilliant scientists and poets  and
thinkers throughout history saw social  roles.
Nancy

>>> Kate Troy <[log in to unmask]>  07/15/07 1:07 PM >>>

As an artist (painter), it is clear to me  that the differences between
male
and female go beyond the biological  and the contour; it is, in fact, a
matter
of??heart and soul, and social  roles have nothing to do with it.

Kate

In a message dated  7/15/2007 12:53:55 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
[log in to unmask]  writes:

Nancy??Gish wrote:
>
> Eliot is a dead poet and a  topic of debate and??study, not a
participant
> in the  debate.
>
> Gender does??not mean sex, and its separate meaning is  one of those
that
> has become??quite distinct in usage.??It is not a  euphemism for sex,
> which??does not need a euphemism anyway, as in  academic terms it
refers
> to??biological difference as distinguished  from social roles.??Read
any
> current or recent texts on  gender.
>??Nancy

Considering how fixed the distinction between  sex and gender is??I'm
amazed that any literate person isn't familiar with  it.

Even??after making the distinction (gender = social; sex =  biology)
there
still??remain problems: Up until a couple centuries ago  (this is
debated
by some??of course) the model was one sex, two genders:  the difference
between men??and women was a difference of degree -- women  were
incompletely 'cooked'??men. See Thomas Laqueur, _Making Sex: Body  and
Gender from the Greeks to??Freud_ (Harvard UP, 1990). See also a  fine
review by Stephen Jay Gould,??"The Birth of the Two-Sex World,"  NYRB,
June 13, 1991.

Gould??emphasizes that in terms of biology  there are equal arguments
for
the??one-sex and the two-sex models.  Politically I have held elsewhere
that??probably the most desirable model  is one-sex, many genders. But
that _is_ a??POLITICAL not a biological or  medical issue. The biology
is
quite neutral??on the topic.

From  Gould's review:

****
The "two-sex model"??replaced this concept of  woman and man as two
clumps
on a graded continuum??with a notion of two  fundamentally distinct
entities, bearing different??organs that imply  divergent behaviors and
aptitudes; (divergent perhaps,??but still eminently  rankable, for
sexism
is the one invariant in this??history of transition).  Laqueur writes:

Thus the old model, in which??men and women were  arrayed according to
their degree of metaphysical?? perfection, their vital  heat, along an
axis whose telos was??male, gave way by the late eighteenth  century to
a
new model of radical??dimorphism, of biological divergence. An  anatomy
and physiology of?? incommensurability??replaced a metaphysics  of
hierarchy in the??representation of woman in relation to man.

Why  did this transition??occur, and why over a broad stretch of time
centered  on the early??eighteenth century? The answer cannot lie in any
simplistic  notion of??empirical discovery wrested from nature by
triumphant science  (quite a set??of male images). I shall return to the
role of empirics among  other causes??of transition later in this
review,
but a simple reason  suffices to debar??factual adequacy as a primary
agent of the switch:  neither model is??"correct" by any morphological
standard; both capture  elements of??anatomical reality.

******

Both models have  supported??male-supremacist ideology, but in different
ways, which can be  crudely??summarized as hierarchical vs "scientific."
Gould's review  discusses that??contrast  also.

Carrol







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