☆☆☆ "Appropriate & subvert the patriarchal semiotic hegemony of the hetero-normative dyad!" ☆☆☆

Monday, November 30, 2015


Put your boots on . . .

Radical Feminist/Gender Theory draws from Post Structuralist Literary Critical Theory. Critical Theory is based in or derived from metaphysics -- a branch of philosophy. The nexus in these fields is that language creates our world, our world view, our Weltanschauung.

Fundamentally, metaphysics is comprised of three fields: ontology, cosmology, epistemology (ontos, cosmos, epistos). Ontos relates to being. Cosmos considers the order of the universe. Epistos is the realm of our mind, that internal dialogue going on inside at this very moment

Cartesian metaphysics (DesCartes) holds that ontology is related to epistemology. "Cogito ergo sum." -- "I think, therefor I am." Our being (ontos) is defined by our thought (epistos). Literary critical theory holds that our thoughts are formed by language, and that language is slippery stuff.

Moving along . . . Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (French: Cours de linguistique générale) published posthumously in 1916, provides a foundation for semiotics, the theory of the relation between words (signifiers) and concepts (signified). De Saussure posits that the relationship between concepts -- those ideas which are signified, are significant -- and the signification of those ideas in words, in signifiers, is an entirely arbitrary relationship. This arbitrary relationship is exemplified in languages -- The French say "le chien." English speakers say "dog."

Let's add to this arbitrary relationship the nuance of linguistic expression: dog, hound, terrier, bitch, pup, Fido . . .  labels (signifiers) are diverse, are slippery, offer poetical nuance.

 Linguistics and literary critical theory likes to look at nuance in signifiers, poetical expression, metaphor. The signifier "metaphor" literally means "transcend shape." In metaphor camels become "ships of the desert," the ocean becomes "Neptune's realm," or "the briny deep," "Sapho" alludes to more than a Greek female goddess.

Which brings us to our thesis here:

"Labels are arbitrary."

Humty Dumpty, in "Through The Looking Glass"  (Alice In Wonderland) demonstrates this arbitrary relationship. "It means what I say it means!"

It's been a busy Thanksgiving week-end. I've been too busy to shave, which entails the "full Brazilian" -- discretely expressed, it's "toes to nose" with the hair removal, secondary male-pattern follicle distribution, and the socio-culturally constructed,  presentational mandate to epilate in one form or another in order to present "more cis-F."

Being me, a word bender, a post-structuralist -- and because recreational marijuana is entirely lawful in this state -- I spent an hour in the shower, catching up, cogitating, problematizing the effort (and expense) I go to in removing hair, growing tresses, piercing ears, and all the other endeavor consequent to "presenting" . . .  In my case, presenting "less macho cis-M" and more "non-binary." I'm comfortable with "non-binary," but candidly accept that I can't "pass," not "en femme," not "in drag."

According to the literature, gender and sex are fluid. And they're not categorical binaries.

So, picture this . . . In the shower, having done a couple totally lawful bong hits -- seems to help the PTSD a great deal -- singing "Brazil" and "getting caught up." I'm a word bender. The narrative just came to me:

"I'm trans-ontological . . . metaphysically F, presenting as cis-M."

Let's give this some thought . . . In my deepest, most intimate personal epistos, I'm ontologically more F than M. Post-structuralists are fond of the metaphor "peeling layers of the onion." This is a literary critical metaphor for looking past the surface of a narrative and delving into that narrative's "deep structure."  Let us invert that metaphor. Let us start at the center of the onion and build outward, layer upon layer.

My most inner ontos is "non-binary" -- (This is a Post-Structuralist view of the "non hetero-normative dyad" of Dr. Judith Butler, Ph.D. UC Berkeley.) and then a layer of secondary male-pattern hair removal. Let's not forget that cis-women remove body hair too, legs, axillaries . . . So, arguably female pattern hair removal too.

My cis-F colleagues/associates have demonstrated to me how "layering" works in clothing. Very practical here at the beach. Historical research has outlined the development of the "corset" and I'm not too astonished to realize that the bra is derived from corsets. In "Gone With The Wind," Scarlet O'Hara boasts an 18" waist -- which apparently requires staff and a team of horses to draw the corset that tightly. Corsets are a patriarchal imposition of "feminine ideal" -- tiny waist, ample hips, ample bosom (they're mammaries) . . . Bra design includes "underwire" analogous to whale bone stays of an earlier era. Some bra design extends to "slim the waist." Fundamentally, the corset is about patriarchal, physical imposition upon the body of an "ideal form."

Of course radical feminists burn bras. The whole intentional conception of what a bra is, and what it represents (signifier and signified), connotes a patriarchy, an imposition of an ideal form, stereotypical signifier.

Current field work has revealed to me that my cis-F colleagues have transitioned (! ! !) from bras to tank tops -- which is arguably something of a "long bra" only without the stays and structural constraint of shaped cups.  Seemingly, tank tops provide some "control" -- maybe security -- without all the super-structure. We've found a lot of variation in tanks -- from "men's" tanks, with the nick-name of "Dago T's" . . . to stretchy, structured, with lace detail at the neck and bottom hem. Ribbed knits, poly, cotton, smooth double-knit, colors from solid "masculine" bold to pastels. Some tanks have "built in bras" and  adjustable "spaghetti straps" -- stretch fit, and offers support/control.

Arguably, tank tops are unisex, but style, detail, proportion are different men's to women's.

Long sleeve "T's" -- Women's seem stretchier, more open neck-line (to show off cleavage, patriarchal objectification) . . .  Everything intended as "women's" fashion has the option of lace trim. Lace is a femme signifier.

Long sleeve "T" is unisex, but style varies by gender, like tank tops.

As noted elsewhere in this blog, we've found clothing marked "women" that is unisex. I am aware of placket detail for men/women. The outer layer on this sartorial onion goes both ways -- according to label. But in terms of outward presentation, the fashions are uni-sex. Cis-women locally (rural Pacific NW)  wear mostly practical, functional clothing. Mostly it's active wear, recreational and work clothing. Not a lot of frill, not much lace. If someone is wearing a dress or skirt, it's because they're either going to some special event, or they're from out of town.

Clothing and accessories are sartorial signifiers denoting status, vocation, membership (uniforms), political expression, creative interests . . . and gender. As with all signifiers, the relation to the signified is arbitrary and culturally interpreted. 

I don't see a lot of "femme" locally. As a radical feminist, appropriating and subverting the patriarchal hegemony of hetero-normative semiotics, I'm reassured by my field work that cis-W don't buy into the patriarchal stereotypical "femme ideal" that so many M to F trans persons attempt to emulate.

This exterior gender presentation is entirely semiotic, entirely culture bound and only arbitrarily relates to the ontological and epistemological metaphysics of gender. A post-structuralist view of the gender narrative would problematize syntax.

"I'm trans female, presenting as male."

"I'm trans male, presenting as female."

The verb "to be" . . . "I am" . . . One of my professors taught us that the verb "to be" represents a sort of linguistic "equal sign" In an SVO (subject, verb, object) language the verb "to be" signifies an equation between the subject and the object. Accordingly, strict prescriptive grammars insist upon "It is I." rather than "It is me." British are fond of the construction, "The team are nine riders." rather than "The team is nine riders." The verb "to be" may agree in number with either the subject or the object. The object in a "to be" syntax is declined in the subjective case, "I" rather than the objective case "me."

It should  additionally be noted that "to be" is fudamentally an ontological state,

And so . . . am I ontologically me, or am I epistemologically me?

Post-Structurally, the relation between the signfier (ontos?) and the signified (epistos) is arbitrary. The relationship is mediated by the "interpretive community" --  a formal linguistic term denoting a group who shares a functionally comprehensible language system, a culturally constructed systems of signs, signifiers.

The patriarchal hegemony has fixed, dogmatic "labels" (signifiers) for what are essentially a categorical dyad expressed in signifiers, "masculine" / "feminine" . . .

A poetics of gender would suggest that these signifiers, these terms/labels, can be de-constructed and expressed in new, innovative, creative forms. Poetry is best appreciated when it's "performed,"


N.B -- The issues arises repeatedly. Cis-M who endeavor to trans toward more cis-F seem to fixate on clothing. Understandably, this is one "layer of the onion" that can be donned, tweaked, adjusted, varied. There are infinite external, sartorial signifiers of "female" -- It's a $361 billion industry in the US. Let us consider too that "costumes and disguises" fundamentally entail clothing and signifying accouterments (Sherlock Holmes, Deerstalker, calabash). Uniforms signify membership, rank, vocation. Much gender performance (J. Butler) is ineluctable. This performance, or "presentation" is inseparably bound up in clothing and the expression of fashion. Objectification to be sure. "Fetish" is a cultural idea, another arbitrary signifier. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

"I'm not a Barbie Doll."

In the movie "Heartbreak Kid" (2009), Maggie is a hard-driving, hard-drinkng Publicist, and on the plane headed for a book signing promotion she remarks,

"Excuse me stewardess, may I please get a full-sized bottle? (Holding a single-serve, "airplane bottle.") I'm an alcoholic, not a Barbie Doll."

Barbie is a sex-role stereotype. Mattel, who manufactures and markets Barbie is working to bring the stereotype into the 21st Century. This revamp of Barbie during the 70's, 80's into "Career Barbie" was very much prompted by criticism from radical feminists -- and women generally. ,

"Women's Lib" was trotted out when Barbie decided she liked her hair curly. Ken liked it straight. Barbie decided on curls, asserting her "female autonomy" -- Never mind that curling one's hair is about conforming to gender role expectation about what is "beauty" and that women are expected to work at it -- to be Barbie Dolls for their men.

PBS radio just yesterday had a feature on Barbie, gender-roles, marketing. It seems Barbie is now being marketed to cis-boys. Mattel's marketing pitch is something in effect: "Barbie is about story telling. Boys tell stories too."

OK, we recall back in 1959 when Barbie was a new item from Mattel, and my sister got one for Christmas. Barbie was a new idea in dolls; Barbie had mammaries -- and as a 10 yr. old cis-M, heterosexual, we were curious.



Criticisms of Barbie are often centred around concerns that children consider Barbie a role model and will attempt to emulate her. One of the most common criticisms of Barbie is that she promotes an unrealistic idea of body image for a young woman, leading to a risk that girls who attempt to emulate her will become anorexic.[citation needed] A standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches tall, giving a height of 5 feet 9 inches at 1/6 scale. Barbie's vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate.[18] In 1963, the outfit "Barbie Baby-Sits" came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight which advised: "Don't eat!."[19] The same book was included in another ensemble called "Slumber Party" in 1965 along with a pink bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs.,[19] which would be around 35 lbs. underweight for a woman 5 feet 9 inches tall.[20] Mattel said that the waist of the Barbie doll was made small because the waistbands of her clothes, along with their seams, snaps, and zippers, added bulk to her figure.[21] In 1997, Barbie's body mold was redesigned and given a wider waist, with Mattel saying that this would make the doll better suited to contemporary fashion designs.

And here we are -- 5'9", 36" 18" 33" and 110 lbs. -- 35 lbs underweight, anorexic.

Let us concede, confess . . . having been raised around women's fashion, we find anorexic models attractive. But then we ran marathons, raced bicycles and thin/athletic is an aesthetic ideal for us. Fashion photographers -- let us add -- understand that "the camera adds ten pounds." We should note that we worked as a studio photographer, and very much enjoyed the work we produced with waifs as models.

The fashion industry annual sales in the US was pegged at $361 billion  in 2013. That's a great deal of gender-role stereotyping. Let us note here, and probably draw some flames for it, we're a bit disconcerted when we read descriptions regarding the extent to which cis-M go to appear "en femme." And we ask ourselves, "Are you presenting gender or building a Barbie Doll?"

My cis-F colleagues, associates, friends mostly don't look like Barbie Dolls. They don't act like Barbie for the most part. Of course there are exceptions. Gender diversity and presentation is infinitely variable. Mostly we ask ourselves, "What are we presenting in gender?"

Radical feminists among us (Janice Raymond, "Transsexual Empire" 1979) assert, in essence that trans-women (MtF) are not women  because they don't have female chromosomes (XX), don't experience menses, childbearing, menopause, etc. Gloria Steinem asserts, "Trans women are not women; they have never dealt with a smelly vagina." At bottom the argument being that cis-M who transition do not share the fundamental Weltanschauung that is the ontological essence of being female., Instead, these MtF "men" aspire to the gender-stereotype of the Barbie Doll -- a fundamentally patriarchal, hegemonic oppression derived from what the patriarchy expects from cis-women.

Transition, they argue, is about constructing  Barbie Dolls, assuming a "disguise" of sorts. Judith Butler, Ph.D. UC Berkeley, Dept. Gender Theory, notes that "drag" is an exaggeration of the feminine stereotype. These stereotypes are often presented as "stock figures" -- the "Upstairs Maid" comes to mind. Drag is not intended, for the most part, to "pass" as cis-F, but rather as a parody of stereotypical gender-role expression.

"Cross-dressing" -- seems to parrot stereotypes, only rather than presenting a gender parody, cross-dressing seems more about fetish and objectification of a sexual target. It's sublimation on the one hand, and synecdoche "a figure wherein a part represents the whole" . . . or to paraphrase with license, "The clothes make the woman,"

We're not Barbie. We're not Ken. Mostly we're somewhere in between. We're not buying into the strict stereotype of the cis-M, and we are not female, (despite our fondest wishes). We can disguise ourselves as female, but it's a costume, like on Halloween.

Hawai'ian culture recognizes the "Mahu" -- having the "spirit" of both "kane" (cis-M) and "wahinee" (cis-F). "Mahu" gets bastardized in the culture to denote transvestites, drag queens, but the native Hawai'ian tradition views the Mahu as "two spirit" and the keeper of the culture, tradition (because capable of function in both kane and wahinee roles.) Native speakers often refer to Mahu variously as "kane/wahinee" "wahinee/kane." Not much concern about gender presentation, mahu are who they are, present who they present. No disguises, no Barbie.

The model currently working for us looks like this:

cis-F 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 cis-M

We present most days, somewhere in the 1 to 3 range on the right. Not macho, not Barbie.

Presentation is fluid, poetical.  Some days it's trucks and chainsaws -- with my cis-Sisters. Some days it's making jewelry, shopping for lingerie . . . which most of my cis-Sisters refuse to wear. LMAO

We're not Barbie . . .  Stewardess? 


Friday, November 27, 2015

Transition & Gender Presentation

Mostly musings at Mickey's on "Black Friday" . . .  "You've come a long way, Baby!"

About six months ago we were mostly in the closet. (We use the "royal we" -- from "The Man Who Would Be Queen" LMAO) We had closets full of wardrobe, attire, fetish. "Under-dressing" -- you can Google it. Also, we have cis-F friends, associates and would allude to "female" traits, or presentation in obscure moments. The gist of these disclosures would be something to the effect, "We appreciate women's fashion options, wish we could be more expressive." Or, "Men are such pigs! How do you ever put up with us?"

A colleague, close friend, she's going to be our "Best Man" at our wedding. If she gets married, (more likely), I get to be "Maid of Honor." No, we're NOT intending to wear a Bride's Maid Dress . . . dresses don't work for me. Technically, or perhaps sartorially, a lot of women shouldn't wear dresses. Janet Reno comes to mind.

But we digress . . .

This colleague loaned me Anne Fausto-Sterling "Sexing the Body"


And this introduction launched me into reading Dr. Judith Butler, Ph.D. -- UC Berkeley, "Gender Theory" -- "Gender Trouble, 1990" and anything else on her vitae . . . (Let's note here that ALL these titles are available online, PDF format.)

Butler introduced me to the term "hetero-normative dyad" --  fundamentally cis-F and cis-M having intercourse, and producing progeny, marriage, pair bonding, rose covered cottages, white picket fences . . .  mortgage in the suburbs, PTA . . .

Butler is radical feminist, candidly dislikes the phallus. And she brings a complex, textually impenetrable, narrative to the discourse encompassing sex, gender, gender presentation, non-hetero-normative behaviors, the hegemony of psychiatry and the medical establishment vis-a-vis transition.

We read Janice Raymond, "Transsexual Empire (1979) -- actually got banned from a "Trans" site for linking it, attempting to discuss/critique. Some of us evidently don't grasp the theoretical rationale behind the First Amendment and free expression amongst an informed audience.

Of course Raymond jumps on Blanchard's "autogynephillia" bandwagon a bit. "Trans men (MtF) are NOT women, are interlopers, spies, lacking the female ontological baggage, etc." And we can debate these assertions until we swap chromosomal distribution. What Raymond DOES concede, or assert is that gender is culturally bound and we need -- as a culture -- to open options for everyone with respect to sex-role stereotypes and their implicit prohibitions.

And so, in the course of the reading, theorizing -- Gender Critical Theory  draws from Literary Critical Theory, most directly from the [French] Post-Structuralists and this is our academic field -- we've come to deconstruct for ourselves the fixed parameters of sex and gender.

We've been successful at dropping a good deal of the "cis-M" clothing features and now mostly present as clearly cis-M (Men's Restroom), addressed as "sir" . . . But, ironically, most of the clothing we choose has "women's" labels . . . Erika, Dress Barn, Gloria Vanderbilt, but also Old Navy, Target, Khol's . . . Pacific NW, and living on the coast, the style is called "beach casual" locally. Basically "uni-sex" styles, shorts, jackets, tank tops, sandals, walking shoes.

Interestingly, and all to the issue that I raise about clothing, fetish, and gender segregation -- We've stopped sorting our clothing according to gender tags. Now we wear what works for us, regardless of labels/tags. Being 5'10" 220 lbs, lace, frills, delicates don't much work. Skirts/dresses don't work.

Important to realize here that I don't "present en femme" -- We're not a "femme" sort of person. Most of my cis-F associates are not "femme" sorts of people. Let's note that Dr. Judith Butler, Ph.D. typically wears black T, black sport coat (women's), short hair, presents pretty "male" although obviously cis-F. We present obviously cis-M, but sartorially "gender neutral" or "uni-sex."

Now, of late we're realizing that we have "transitioned" in some sense, although we still present "cis-M" -- The radical feminist critic in me likes very much pushing on gender margins. We used to pack our "stuff" in a sport vest -- lotsa pockets like a fishing vest. Also it's very cis-M, We swapped it out for a "purse." The purse is a laptop bag for a tablet. Works very nicely as a "purse" -- uni-sex, gender ambiguous.

Hair past the shoulders, never had hair this long. Tied back, in a bun, or free flowing. Got the lobes pierced a year ago Halloween, having waited about 65 yrs. Then a second piercing for Thanksgiving, a third for New Year. We're a bit OCD, tend to accumulate stuff, like wardrobe and earrings. We've been making earrings -- very much like tying flies and making trolling lures. We have probably a thousand earrings. Let's note that there are "mens" earrings, "womens" earrings, and classic styles that are sort of gender neutral (hoops and studs). We push this boundary -- hard!

We've discovered that cis-F wear tank tops as a sort of bra function. But also, it's very practical, comfortable to wear tank tops as a layer, long sleeve T, and button shirt over, unbuttoned, sleeves rolled back.

We found shorts that are actually "culottes" -- wide leg which works like a skirt. They're cut A-Line like a skirt, but present like baggy shorts. Dark blue, heavier fabric, no "frills."

Cargo pants -- marked "Women's" but uni-sex style. Women's pants have smaller pockets, placket on the fly opens to the left. (Men's open to right.) Typically no rear pockets in women's pants, or the rear pocket is flap closure and a "detail" more than a pocket. Legs on a lot of these pants feature tie for rolling up "out of the water." (Beach pants!)

Let's talk button plackets, clothing and gender. The closure in a shirt or pants is called a "placket" and in men's clothing it opens to the right. In women's clothing the placket opens to the left. The fashion reason for this distinction stems from women in the past being dressed and buttoned up by their "Lady in Waiting." Men dress themselves and button their own buttons. And so women's placket is intended to button by someone else. Men's placket is intended to button by the wearer. (Note too that MOST women's pants/shorts have "men's" fly/placket. Cis-women seem to like wearing "boy style" clothing. Boy style recreational clothing (Beach Casual) is generally a bit heavier weight, "boy features," darker colors. (Search the underwear ads for women, "boy cut," "boy leg" panties, with "fly" and look like men's "tighties" . . . )

Women cross dress all the time! Women stay over at the guy's apartment and wear his shirts as a sort of "nightie," Never mind that "cross dress" has all sorts of implications for "presentation pathology" in cis-men, not in cis-women.

Gender presentation is primarily about setting out boundaries relating to pair bonding, sexual union, and reproduction. When cis-M present as "femme" it problematizes the "gender reading" for hetero-sexual men who might find themselves erotically attracted, engendering "homosexual angst." Cis-women, presenting as men ("butch") don't present anxiety issues for heterosexual men. Heterosexual women typically do not actively initiate pursuit (courting) of a mate -- the cis-F sex role being to submit rather than dominate or pursue. And so cis-women do not "risk" acting out and so acting homosexual, in a "gender mis-reading" ("target error") who is cis-F but presenting as male.No target error, no homosexual angst.

Sex boundaries are essential to reproduction, fixed, categorical.

Gender boundaries are socio-cultural, dimensional, arbitrary,

What we are working out . . . currently, work in progress, is a subversion of the hetero-normative dyad, the hegemony of the semiotics of gender presentation. We're working to deconstruct categorical labels, and wearing a lot of deconstructed categorical labels.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Categorical Sex & The Poetics of Gender

Categorical Sex & The Poetics of Gender

And we almost typed "Politics" of Gender . . .

Briefly: Taxonomies are classed as either categorical or dimensional. Taxonomies are classification systems, comprised of "taxons." Categorical classes, taxons, are "either/or" "if/then" . . . "yes/no." An example would be dog/cat. Dogs are categorically not cats.

Dimensional taxons are relative, e.g. "tall" relative to "short."

The current narrative in gender theory argues for a distinction between "sex" and "gender" -- essentially that "sex" is a biological/physiological characteristic and "gender" is a socially mediated behavior. The parameters regarding sex in this paradigm, are sometimes problematic. Theorists raise issues of sex designation in terms of XX, XY, XXY, ambiguous genitalia, intersex, and others . . . But, at bottom, sex works out to a simple, categorical dyad. Sexual union of 23 chromosome haploid gametes, one from cis-M, one from cis-F, combine to reproduce. Science has devised ways to meddle with this reproductive process in cloning, but at bottom, sex is about reproduction, categorically.

Ironically perhaps, sexual union and reproduction is a taxonomy, and the end result is taxonomic in the form a a "family tree" -- The hetero-normative dyad (Judith Butler) begets progeny and branches the taxonomic tree. No other combination of sexual union results in reproduction. It's categorical. I see implications here. Your mileage may vary.

Sex is about reproduction, union of haploid gametes, progeny. Sex in this context is biological. Everything else relating to pairing of gamete producers (humans) is about gender and gender presentation.

Sex is a driven motivation, intrinsic to the human condition. Mating and related sexual union is a complex process for humans, involving social, legal, familial, psychological, religious, parameters -- for starters.

These complex, seemingly infinite parameters of sexual union constitute gender, gender expression, gender orientation/presentation, and sexual orientation.  Gender presentation is a social mechanism whereby individuals define sexual boundaries. In essence, gender presentation is narrative through which individuals present to others their status as a potential sexual mate -- for purposes of reproduction. (Although a great deal of sexual activity may occur without resulting in reproduction.)

Gender is a dimensional taxon. Dimensional taxons, particularly with regard to gender presentation, have the potential of infinite expression. Like the relation between signified and signifier (Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (Cours de linguistique générale), 1916), the relation between physiological sex characteristics, sexual orientation/expression, gender, gender presentation are arbitrary, fluid, dimensional. While individuals may possess distinctive, categorical gametes, expression of gender has the potential of being entirely independent of physiological categorical sex.

Sexual function is potentially independent of gender presentation. That said, let us note that the "hetro-normative dyad" exerts a hegemonic influence over the social expression of gender. And it is arguably this dyadic hegemony and the social constraints intrinsic to sexual behavior that mediate gender expression -- in the normative dyad, this expression being fundamentally aligned with physiological sex of the individual.

 Because sex and reproduction are crucial to survival of the species, and because sexual union is an intimate human function, sexual relations are freighted with monumental socio-cultural constraints -- social, legal, medical, religious, ethical, bigoted.

Using reproductive function as a criteria, any sexual union other than the male/female union of haploid gametes is at the very least "problematic" . . .  But sexuality, sexual identity, "gender presentation" pertains to much more than the simple union of haploid gametes.

Accordingly, let us assert here --

Sex is categorical.

Gender is poetical.

We intend to develop this line of inquiry, mostly as a theoretical criticism of Blanchard's categorical taxonomy in "autogynephilia."  How we express gender is poetical. Gender expression, gender presentation has nothing to do with the mechanism of erotic arousal -- at least not with regard to Blanchard's categorical taxonomy. I am hetero-sexual, cis-M, presenting as "non-binary" for want of a better label (fuck labels). I find women sexually attractive. I aspire to look like Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidmann, Susan Sarandon . . . Hell, I aspire to fly like an eagle, but it's not a fetish, not pathological.

As part of Queer Theory, part of "gender fuck" and ambiguous, non-binary presentation I make a fetish out of wearing casual "uni-sex" attire with "Women" labels. I've inherited a fashion sense from my mother, who owned a boutique, tailored original designs. I know what I'm looking at in clothing, details, pockets, cut, seams, darts, hems, gussets, flounces, plackets, fabric, color, weight, function.

Interestingly, and this asserts my contention about "labels" -- I own two Columbia brand polar-fleece jackets. One inherited from my mother, a "Men's" jacket. And one found in a thrift shop, identical to my mother's jacket, and marked "Women." Except for the labels, and size designation, they're identical jackets. I wear a lot of clothing marked "women" and yet it's pretty much the same fashions, same designs as the "beach casual" clothing I see on both cis-F and cis-M. My cis-F friends, associates also drive trucks, run chainsaws, skipper boats.

 (We have a cis-F bar pilot on the Columbia River "The Captain's A Woman") --

The Captain's a Woman: Tales of a Merchant Mariner Hardcover – February, 1998

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

En francais, s'il vous plait . . .

So OK, I'm a linguist. We're looking at the gender issue from a radical feminist gender critical theory, post structuralist point of view. Judith Butler, and along the way Foucault, Derrida, Hegel, Kant, Plato, Aristotle. Our inquiry into gender is rhetorical, socio-linguistic. Words denote concepts, and our use of words shapes our reality.

French is a second language for me. And so today I find myself reading a  post -- in French -- titled "Fuck DSM" . . .  pardon my French. LMAO

The gist of this article is a criticism of Blanchard's taxonomy in autogynephilia and the whole "fetish/pathology" view in the DSM which describes "dysphoria" and "paraphilias" as disorders. This a subject for further discussion forthcoming.

At any rate, I'm currently cobbling together a paper, the thesis being that "sex" is about reproduction and a categorical taxon. Sex in terms of reproduction is binary: 26 chromosomes in paired, haploid "m" and "f" gametes. This combination, and no other, results in a new being with either "m" or "f" gametes. Ironically, a family tree is a taxonomy - - - mom, dad, progeny. The tree ends in the "non-hetero normative" branches. Reproductive sex is a fixed, categorical dyad.

This is a categorical taxonomy. Biological sex is either "m haploid gamete, XY" or "f haploid gamete XX." Sex is not dimensional; it's not relatively male or female. Sex -- in terms of its fundamental purpose -- is a male or female dyad. [redundant, revision forthcoming]

Moving right along . . . Reading "Fuck DSM" in French, I noted that "gender" in French is rendered "genre" . . . and sex is "sexe." Not having my Larousse (French dictionary like Webster's) I winged my reply and used "gendre" for gender -- because I don't see gender having much connection to "genre" a literary term. And not being a native speaker, I wanted to distinguish the idea of gender from genre.

So I consulted my lexical resources, Larousse, and Oxford French/English. "Gender" in English, according to the Oxford provides "genre" (literature) and "sexe" (physical/biological). And so the French seem ironically to signify "genre" as a denotation of gender in the rhetorical/literary/discursive sense.

Sex is biological, related to reproduction, categorical.

Gender is socio-linguistic, socially constructed, and as a linguistic feature contains in its connotations an infinite diversity of poetical, symbolic, dimensional heuristic.

Larousse provides a much, much better discussion "en ligne" -- distinguishing between "genre litteraire" and "genre sexuelle" . . .

Let me paste the latter verbatum, en francais --

Let's please note that we're not trying to be obscure, opaque, complicated. I feel original text is best, and also I don't feel qualified to translate, don't trust other translations. Too much lost in the trans . . . pun intended. LMAO 


Division fondée sur un ou plusieurs caractères communs ; depuis la fin du xxe s., désigne l'identité sexuée (masculine ou féminine) dans ses dimensions sociales et psychologiques, plus que dans ses caractéristiques biologiques (→ sexe).
Sous l'impulsion de féministes et du mouvement queer notamment, la question du genre, masculin et féminin, a fait l'objet de nombreuses réflexions à la fin du xxe s., par exemple dans les départements de gender studies (« études du genre ») des universités américaines.

1. Aspects sociaux et/ou biologiques du genre

Le féminin et le masculin incluent une dimension sociale. Il existe en effet dans chaque culture des éléments supposés déterminants pour définir le genre ; mais ces critères, du type passivité/activité (→ rôles sexuels), ont montré leurs limites.
La caractéristique physiologique elle-même, qui répartit l'espèce en mâles et femelles, n'est parfois pas déterminante, certaines personnes revendiquant une identité sexuée autre que celle que leur corps désigne.
Enfin, en l'absence de référence sociale instituée, ou bien en opposition à celle-ci, certains inventent des critères singuliers pour définir leur position sexuelle. S'est ainsi posée la question de savoir si on naît homme ou femme, ou si on le devient, la deuxième voie ayant été retenue tant par la psychanalyse que par des courants féministes.

2. Développement de l'identité sexuée

• Les premières années. Les caractères sexuels que chacun découvre dans son corps conduisent à définir sa position sexuée. Dès sa naissance, le petit humain expérimente une forme de plaisir. À mesure qu'il grandit (voir développement de l'enfant, stades), grâce aux échanges avec les autres, et tout particulièrement avec sa mère, la dimension du plaisir s'inscrit dans des lieux significatifs du corps, nommés zones érogènes. Ce parcours conduit l'enfant à s'intéresser aussi au plaisir apporté par les organes sexuels, où se manifestent des sensations fortes, qu'il tente de loger dans la rencontre avec ses partenaires familiaux (complexe d'Œdipe). L'impossible auquel il se heurte alors (angoisse de castration) vient arrêter un temps ce développement, tout en laissant la trace de cette expérience et des solutions imaginaires entrevues (satisfaire le père, la mère, ou, par identification, un copain ou une copine).
• À l'adolescence. Si le petit enfant, confronté déjà à son corps, tente de régler la question de sa position sexuée à travers ses identifications imaginaires aux parents, c'est à l'adolescence que se dessine pour chacun son orientation sexuelle et le style qu'elle prendra. Ce temps où le sujet doit décider de ce qui oriente son désir, et de ce qui soutiendra sa jouissance sexuelle, est toujours difficile. Cette orientation se nourrit alors des premières expériences, des rencontres et de l'inscription dans des groupes de référence (bande d'adolescents, équipe sportive, etc.). Le corps est ainsi, à cette période de la vie, un partenaire encombrant pour beaucoup.

3. Jouissance au masculin et au féminin

La puberté remet au premier plan des préoccupations l'usage des organes sexuels et le plaisir qu'ils suscitent. Partant de l'organe chez l'homme, plus diffuse chez la femme, la jouissance sexuelle diffère selon le sexe (→ désir sexuel).
• La rencontre du plaisir. Le pénis ramène le jeune garçon à la question de la jouissance de l'organe, qu'il traite d'abord par une satisfaction solitaire, la masturbation, qui n'est pas sans partenaire imaginaire. En revanche, l'apparition des règles confronte la jeune fille à cette limite de la jouissance féminine qu'est la maternité. Le rapport au plaisir sexuel est ainsi différent pour chacun, et plus complexe pour la fille.
• Jouissance et lien social. Pour la femme, à la question de la jouissance sexuelle se superpose aussitôt celle de la maternité, prônée socialement comme une forme civilisée de jouissance. La lutte des féministes au xxe s. (et les moyens de contraception), en permettant aux femmes des sociétés industrielles de mieux maîtriser la procréation, a reposé la question de ce qu'est la jouissance sexuelle féminine. Ce débat est moteur dans les évolutions sociales contemporaines. 


OK, now, just because, let me post "genre litteraire" -- and let us consider if there are links between the two concepts . . . which are concepts attending classification. 

genre littéraire

Catégorie d'œuvres littéraires ou artistiques définie par un ensemble de règles et de caractères communs ; style, ton d'un ouvrage.
Comme en peinture ou en musique, la notion de genre a permis en littérature de classer les œuvres suivant leur sujet ou leur style : on parle de genre romanesque, épique, épistolaire, dramatique, etc. Bien qu’existant depuis Aristote, cette notion ne peut être clairement définie. Tantôt attachée à la forme, tantôt à l’objet littéraire, elle n’a eu de cesse de passionner les plus grands écrivains et critiques. D’aucuns ont tenté de la théoriser, et de fixer des règles, d’autres de la rejeter (notamment au xxe s.). Ce qui est certain, c’est que malgré les nombreuses querelles littéraires qu’elle continue encore aujourd’hui de soulever, elle reste l’une des façons la plus évidente de classer les œuvres littéraires.
Depuis Aristote et sa Poétique, la rhétorique, (l’art du discours), s'est spécialisée en poétique, ou codification des différents genres de l'écrit, se restreignant à la seule elocutio (ornement, art de dire), au détriment de l'inventio (invention, recherche des arguments) et de la dispositio (disposition, mise en ordre). Une hiérarchie s'est établie, du style noble (ou sublime) au style bas (ou trivial), en passant par le médiocre, correspondant aux trois classes de la société (nobles, bourgeois, paysans).
Pour simplifier, on a pu caractériser les œuvres littéraires à partir des pronoms personnels et des temps verbaux qui y dominent. Au je (présent) correspond le genre lyrique, au tu le théâtre (comique ou tragique, selon la nature des personnages), au il (passé) l'épopée, le récit narratif.
Les théoriciens se sont appliqués à définir les règles précises convenant à chaque genre et à dénommer chacune de ses catégories internes (c'est, essentiellement, l'objet des « arts poétiques »). De sorte que s'est établi un pacte, un contrat de lecture, entre l'auteur, inscrivant son texte dans un ensemble donné, et le lecteur, qui sait précisément à quel type d'émotions s'attendre, à quels principes esthétiques on fait appel sous une étiquette donnée. Le genre fonctionne alors comme une référence, un ensemble de conventions commodes qui permet une lecture en fonction de règles supposées connues du lecteur, et que l'auteur s'épargnera donc la peine de rappeler. Mais toute codification rigoureuse finit par déplaire au créateur véritable, qui cherche à s'en débarrasser ou à se situer ailleurs ; de même, le lecteur se lasse des formes conventionnelles.
En effet, les débats sur les genres littéraires n'ont pas manqué et ce depuis l’Antiquité. Quintilien (Institution oratoire), Nicolas Boileau (Art poétique) ou Ferdinand Brunetière (l’Évolution des genres dans l’histoire de la littérature) ont tenté de les définir, tandis que Benedetto Croce, Maurice Blanchot ou Roland Barthes ont tenté de les rendre obsolètes. Ainsi Maurice Blanchot en est-il arrivé à rejeter la notion même de genre, et à déclarer: « Un livre n'appartient plus à un genre, tout livre relève de la seule littérature. » 

Email to Dr. Vitale, "The Gendered Self"

Email to Dr. Vitale -- I've added and revised this copy expanding in some areas. This blog interface is new to me. I need to work on the learning curve of mechanics, format, editing. 

My hope is to provide links, citations to references in discussion. You know . . . "scholarly rigor."

Dr. Vitale, 

Thank you for your scholarly rigor, abstract for each chapter, numbered so we can track/sort/organize in our florid pdf files. LMAO 

The Gendered Self -- 

We're cis M, do not agree w Blanchard on all sorts of gender theoretical grounds -- mostly that gender is not a discrete categorical entity. Gender is socially constructed, and dimensional: We are all dimensionally performing gender presentation (consciously or otherwise) on some point on an infinite line between cis M and cis F, with infinite presentation options in between. 

Rhetorical irony in my "presentation" is that I present clearly as "M" -- in a ambiuously marginal sort of way. All my attire is labeled "W" but styled "uni-sex." Long hair, ear-rings (6), F sorts of necklines, "beach casual" . . .

At 67, just recently "out"  more or less  in July, I have minimal need/drive to present "en femme" -- just not a "femme" person. Neither are my cis F colleagues particularly "femme." 

And so my argument is that surgery/HRT, are fine if that works for you. Endocrine systems are fragile balanced, I'm 67, not willing to move my metab. from tonic androgen production to cyclic gynegen (?) regulation. 

But then my orientation is tied up in having been sexually abused as a child, male on male, chronic, long-term, sibling . . . Males seem sexually threatening. I don't like being the threat. Not sexually active with others, and so the physical aspect of intercourse is moot. That said, we inquire currently into monographs addressing sibling sexual abuse and its effect upon sexual orientation, also by same author, the issue of "fluidity" in orientation in persons transitioning.

Mostly I've become resolved with living in between. Let us concede to just recently considering that post transitional, post HRT, post surgical might expect to seamlessly integrate into the social fabric, no longer a "non-hetero normative." Personally, I'm comfortable now (recently) presenting as "non-binary" and altogether satisfied in this position rather than "passing" in a more normative gender presentation.

As part of that resolution, I no longer sort my clothing according to designated gender labels. Clothes work for me or they don't. Those who get confused by my presentation, need to imagine how I've felt for six decades.