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2 conferences this month...

...and already, anxiety dreams. In 8 days, I'll be going to Toronto for the AoIR conference, and then the following weekend, to Ohio for the Feminisms & Rhetorics conference. Last night, I had a dream about AoIR, only instead of being in Toronto, it was on the beach somewhere--perhaps a subconscious fast-forward to Computers & Writing in Hawai'i. I lay down in the wet sand very close to the water, mesmerized by the waves. There was a big, high swing set a few yards from the shore, and I swam out, got into a swing, and swung in tandem with the waves. Later I realized I had forgotten to bring my paper, but that didn't matter; I had missed my presentation because I had been out there for so long. Then I found out that the White Stripes were playing and, as I was trying to find the venue, I woke up.

Water is hardly ever present in my dreams. What could this mean?

Intersectionality, and I *heart* Nomy Lamm

It's cool when the reading you're doing for two of your classes runs together, isn't it? It is for me. In my Gender, Rhetoric, and Literacy class, we're reading selections from the anthology Available Means, including Nomy Lamm's essay, "It's a Big Fat Revolution." It just so happens that what Lamm's saying fits very well with this week's problematic in my Women's Studies class: Theorizing the Multiplicitous Subject, or Intersectionality. Here's my response to the texts ("The Combahee River Collective Statement," "The Impossibility of Women's Studies" by Wendy Brown, "U.S. Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness" by Chela Sandoval, and "Notes from the (Non)Field: Teaching and Theorizing Women of Color" by Rachel Lee).

When I think about all the marks I have against me in this society, I am amazed that I haven't turned into some worthless lump of shit. Fatkikecripplecuntqueer. In a nutshell. But then I have to take into account the fact that I'm an articulate, white, middle class college kid, and that provides me with a hell of a lot of privilege and opportunity for dealing with my oppression that may not be available to other oppressed people. And since my personality/being isn't divided up into a privileged part and an oppressed part, I have to deal with the ways that these things interact, counterbalance and sometimes even overshadow each other. For example, I was born with one leg. I guess it's a big deal, but it's never worked into my body image in the same way that being fat has. And what does it mean to be a white woman as opposed to a woman of color? A middle-class fat girl as opposed to a poor fat girl? What does it mean to be fat, physically disabled and bisexual? (Or fat, disabled, and sexual at all?)

Nomy Lamm, “It's a Big Fat Revolution.”

On Theorizing Gender

The following is another one of my short "problematic" papers for my Women's Studies class. This time, the readings were "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis" by Joan Wallach Scott, "Gender as Seriality: Thinking about Women as a Social Collective" by Iris Marion Young, and "Interpreting Gender" by Linda Nicholson.

I came to this reading wondering naively why women's studies theorists perceived a need to generalize across cultures. Why not just study the particular, and borrow from the empricist's claim that “this sample is not meant to generalize to the population of women.” Young's definition of theory as “a kind of discourse that claims to be comprehensive, to give a systematic account and explanation of social relations as a whole,” however, helped me to understand the aims of feminist theory (p. 717). The problem rests on how to create a feminist politic(s) of difference, which the theoretical agreement on woman as a social category must precede (Nicholson). The problematic at issue here is how we are to, theoretically and politically, conduct analyses of women as a social collective, not just individuals, without falling into the traps of false essentialism and faulty generalization—making claims about “all women” that do not take into consideration specific cultures' gender constructions.

Notes on the Sex/Gender Distinction

This is one of my short response papers (called "problematics"--each one is organized around a particular issue in feminist theory). I still heart Gayle Rubin. :-)

Before the 1970s, it was understood by most theorists that one's biological sex determined what one's gender was. During this time, feminist theorists began to question the biological determinism implicit in the causal relationship between biological sex and gender by theorizing a distinction between sex and gender. Theorists also recognized the importance of theorizing sexuality as integrated with sex and gender. In the history of the sex/gender distinction and sexuality, we see disagreements regarding the logical and temporal priority of one over the other two and the extent to which sexuality is a stand-alone system, independent of or only marginally intersecting with sex and gender. In this brief essay, I will trace the genealogy of the sex/gender(/sexuality) distinction, pointing out the theoretical affordances and drawbacks presented by three representative essays spanning thirty years of thought on the distinction.

Random News Stories: Because I can't sleep.

Choose the sex of your baby. Thanks to MicroSort, which sorts sperm accordingly into X and Y categories, reproductive technology just got a whole lot scarier.

Domestic Partners Gain Rights in CA. Gray Davis "signed into law Assembly Bill 205 (AB205), granting same-sex couples rights in areas such as family care leave, child custody, property ownership, gift/estate tax exemptions, and making arrangements in the event of a partner's death, reported the Los Angeles Times." Cool--but I'm wondering if this is a "go out with a bang" thing.

and, finally, Amina Lawal Wins Appeal Against Stoning. Lawal is a Nigerian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning for allegedly having sex out of wedlock, and her sentence was just overturned by an Islamic appeals court. I hope it will be safe for her to get on with her life.

The next U.S. President

Sometimes I wonder if critical thinking is the downfall of the political left. I like critical thought and all, but lefties are splintered (into Green Party, Democrats, various independents) as a result of all this disagreement on fine points, so there isn't the unity you have with the right-wing and right-leaning support of the Republican Party. Obviously, I don't know a lot about politics, but this is the impression I get. I am, however, cautiously optimistic when it comes to Howard Dean. When I look at all the stuff on his site and Blog for America, it's just so dang upbeat, and now I'm hopeful. Could he become our next president? Could Carol Moseley Braun? Now that would make me ecstatic...

Happy to inspire...

Earlier today, I read Rebekah Bennetch's M.A. thesis proposal for her project titled "The Gospel According to Glamour: A Rhetorical Analysis of Revolve: The Complete New Testament." I was really impressed and wondered if maybe my earlier post about Revolve inspired the project. Tonight she emailed me, saying that it did! I feel so beneficent.

I *heart* Gayle Rubin

For most of the afternoon, I've been reading Rubin's well-known 1975 essay "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the Political Economy of Sex." Rubin is fabulous; she has even inspired a new item in my post taxonomy, "People I *heart*." In case you're wondering, "heart" used in this way means you like the person a lot, but you wouldn't say "I love Gayle Rubin," unless of course you and Rubin have a meaningful relationship, so you say you heart them instead. I'm going to post some initial responses to this essay--quotations mostly, like a commonplace book--while it's fresh in my mind. Here are the questions I was asked to consider for class discussion on Tuesday:

"How does Rubin in 'Traffic' articulate the relationship between sex, gender, and sexuality?"

"Gender is a socially imposed division of the sexes. It is a product of the social relations of sexuality," Rubin writes. She uses Lévi-Strauss' theories of kinship to point out trends in human sexuality: "the incest taboo, obligatory heterosexuality, and an asymmetric division between the sexes. The asymmetry of gender [...] entails the constraint of female sexuality." At this point, it is difficult for me to tell if Rubin is arguing that any one item--sex, gender, and sexuality--logically or temporally precedes the others. I did find this point useful: "Gender is not only an identification with one sex; it also entails that sexual desire be directed toward the other sex." Rubin's illumination here helps me to understand exactly why "gender studies" is thought to be more inclusive than "women's studies" when it comes to studies of sexuality, especially queer theory. Yeah, it was probably obvious to the rest of you, but I needed that sentence from Rubin for my own edification.

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