I think social construction is/was an extremely useful and partly valid theory that, like other theories, somehow became total TRUTH. I love Wallace Stevens's line, "There are many truths, but they are not part of a Truth." (from memory) Sex has also been called a social construction, and to some extent it is, and to some extent it is not. Gender is more troubling because we have not and never have had an independent variable. We have no way of knowing in any absolute sense how "sexually defined" males and "sexually defined" females would act in all societies if there were not gender assumptions, stupid or not. What we clearly do know is that traditional gender absolutes lined up with sexual absolutes are simply a fantasy. Think of any active female and/or passive male. . .any logical female and/or illogical male. . . any calmly effective female and /or hysterical male. . . any great woman writer and/or silly male scribbler, and traditional gender belief is so obviously both untrue and absurd that one cannot see how it was and is sustained except for what Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich calls "psychotic conceptualizations."

>>> Diana Manister 01/16/10 3:31 PM >>> 
Dear Nancy et al, 

Judith Butler's book Gender Trouble presents specific instances of 
sexual indeterminacy. It also examines gender as a social construct. 


Sent from my iPod 

On Jan 16, 2010, at 1:27 PM, Nancy Gish wrote: 

> There are many genders, but there are not just two sexes either. 
> Sex, if biological, depends on genetic differentiation, and not 
> everyone has one X and one X or Y. Some humans have other 
> combinations of the X and Y, and these can also come with variation 
> in anatomy and hormonal reaction. Moreover, as we know from the 
> Olympics, one may have male genetics and female anatomy, hormones, 
> and life experience--since all embryos are originally female and 
> males only are produced if the Y releases hormones to alter 
> development. Hence genetic testing, though why a Y is the final 
> determinant, who knows? 
> So, as far as I know, most people do line up as either male or 
> female but some do not. One more false dichotomy. 
> Cheers, 
> Nancy 
> >>> Carrol Cox 01/16/10 1:11 PM >>> 
> Diana Manister wrote: 
> > 
> > Dear Ken, 
> > 
> > Either/or, like all binaries, depend on totalizing each element. 
> Male/ 
> > Female, for instance. Derrida among others points out that 
> > essentializing distorts. 
> Essentializing sex distorts. See Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender 
> from the Greeks to Freud_. It makes more sense to see _one_ sex, many 
> genders. But this cannot be generalized int "essentializing distorts." 
> Essentializing species is necessary to understand evolution. See 
> Stephen 
> Jay Gould, _The Structure of Evolutoinary Theory_. I would agree 
> that no 
> society, including any particular capitalist society, is a totality. 
> But 
> capitalism, unlike all other social systems, is a complex of 
> _tendencies_ which,if realized, would constitute a totality. Hence (as 
> in Hegel's The truth is the whole) capitalism can be understood 
> historically, as history, and thus dialectically. Hence it has an 
> essence, though one never realized in any specific capitalist regime. 
> See Moishe Postone, _Time, Labor and Social Domination_. 
> Male and female are more alike than not. 
> > Derrida replaced duality with differance, which means more than the 
> > Anglo word difference. 
> Cite a specific text for this. I myself, never got a grip on what he 
> meant by this, but I do know that popular use of it is often half- 
> baked. 
> A dead possu and a live rhino are pretty different, no playing with 
> letters needed. 
> > 
> > Post-Kantian philosophies are not dualistic. Except for Sartre who 
> > didn't get it. 
> I give up. Where in the hell do you get all this canned fluff. 
> Carrol 
> > 
> > It seems clearer to use differance rather than a binary to express 
> the 
> > multiple choices you describe. 
> > 
> > Diana 
> > 
> > Sent from my iPod 
> > 
> > On Jan 16, 2010, at 8:16 AM, Ken Armstrong 
> > wrote: 
> > 
> > > Nancy Gish wrote: 
> > >> Neither works if you try to follow it to any logical conclusion. 
> > >> But then, as I said, I discuss this in the article on 
> > >> "Subjectivities," which focuses on how Anglo-American and French 
> > >> theories are set down on a template like Scottish poetry where 
> they 
> > >> just do not explain anything--one of them being these notions of 
> > >> discourse as either totally originated by the lyric voice or 
> > >> totally constructed by language. I never feel constrained by 
> > >> "either/or"; it is pretty much always a false dichotomy. 
> > >> 
> > > I had a friend who insisted that the meaning of either/or (in 
> > > Kierkegaard no less) was "take your pick" or "six of one, half a 
> > > dozen of the other"! False choices are false choices, between 
> which 
> > > one is not constrained to choose. But without arriving, somewhat 
> > > regularly, at true either/or's, what progress does thought make? 
> > > 
> > > Ken A 
> > >