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Z.I.F.E. > Gender theories and politics

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim | 2725 comments Mod
This is a place to discuss gender theories, feminist theories, sexuality theories, and related ideas.

As always, discuss these topics in respectful and open-minded exchanges. If someone steps on your toes, or vice versa, please excuse yourself politely and keep this as a safe place for exchange of ideas.


message 2: by Sekhmet (new)

Sekhmet I would like to see if anyone has read egalia's daughters. this is an interesting book about an egaltarian society in which traditional gender roles are reversed.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim | 2725 comments Mod
Sekhmet wrote: "I would like to see if anyone has read egalia's daughters. this is an interesting book about an egaltarian society in which traditional gender roles are reversed."

I haven't read it, but the description and reviews sound pretty good. What did you think of the book?


message 4: by Katy (new)

Katy (kradcliffe) Disclaimer: I haven't read the book!

I can't imagine any such society, because of the biological fact that women bear and nurse children, and are physically much weaker than men. I think some societies are more egalitarian than others, but I don't think the roles can ever be reversed.


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim | 2725 comments Mod
Katy wrote: "Disclaimer: I haven't read the book!

I can't imagine any such society, because of the biological fact that women bear and nurse children, and are physically much weaker than men. I think some soc..."


Biological facts aside, what do you think of the idea as a fictional look at reversed power dynamics between male and female? Most of the reviews said the material was dated, but otherwise, it seems like a compelling idea to explore.


message 6: by Katy (new)

Katy (kradcliffe) I have trouble suspending my disbelief to that extent. I know I read at least a short story about such a society. It seemed ridiculously contrived.


message 7: by Andreea (new)

Andreea (andyyy) | 60 comments Katy wrote: "Disclaimer: I haven't read the book!

I can't imagine any such society, because of the biological fact that women bear and nurse children, and are physically much weaker than men. I think some soc..."


In the 21st centuries very many women feel that they're not especially well suited to nurse children while many men feel like they're perfectly capable of raising children on their own. More than 20% of adult Western women don't have any children while 15% of adult American men raise a single dad household. I find the physical differences argument absurd, it's not like we live in a hunter gatherer society, even the military relies a lot more on machines and technical knowledge than on brute force nowadays. A social and political leader doesn't have to be physically powerful to be a good leader so that's no reason why women should be denied access to such leadership positions (as they very often are).


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim | 2725 comments Mod
Katy wrote: "I have trouble suspending my disbelief to that extent. I know I read at least a short story about such a society. It seemed ridiculously contrived."

Sure, it would be contrived because fiction is an invented world and there is much disbelief to be suspended, but it's still funny to contemplate young men being 'deflowered' by older women at their proms, wearing 'pehos' etc. Or at least a little bit funny...


message 9: by Katy (new)

Katy (kradcliffe) I'm sorry, Andrea, but I don't buy it. At best, we can be a somewhat egalitarian society. But, the fact remains that women bear children. Does that mean they *have* to bear children? Of course not. But, that doesn't really matter.

I don't know how much of gender is nature or nurture, but I don't think the physical differences are slight, nor can they be brushed away just because some people have very recently begun to enjoy the privilege of living in a technologically advanced world.

I'm in no way making an argument that women can't or shouldn't have certain roles in society. But, it's going to take some adjustment to even achieve something approaching equality.


message 10: by Katy (new)

Katy (kradcliffe) Jim, it may be that the story I read is the book you're talking about. It sounds familiar. (I just looked it up... it IS the book I read years ago. I thought it was ridiculous at the time I read it.)

At any rate, I don't think it works. The entire concept of "deflowering," for example, is based on the biological fact that women bear children and men fear being cuckholded into supporting another man's offspring.


message 11: by Filipe (new)

Filipe Russo (russo) | 93 comments Katy, you seem so entangled in the "women bear children", you should read a scientific research that shows how to make spermatozooid based in an ovum, basically it's possible nowadays or in a very near future to make whole lesbian countries or even a non-lesbian society of only women.
Jim, you almost convinced me to read the book for the laughs I might have.
There was a topic I was much interested about how, why and why shouldn't gay/lesbian relationships be based in heterossexual roles.


message 12: by Katy (new)

Katy (kradcliffe) Just because something may be theoretically possible in a laboratory, doesn't mean it has any bearing on how human life is actually experienced, and has always been experienced.

It could, however, be an interesting foundation for a science fiction novel. I don't think it would bring about role reversal. I think it would mean there would be no need for males. The male sex has as the foundation of its gender role the fact of expendability.


message 13: by Sekhmet (new)

Sekhmet expendability. that issue is more or less addressed in the book 'Herland' (check it out). Egalia's Daughters, hoewever dosen't attempt to change physiology, just gender roles. Won (women) still bear children and take maternity leave, what the main idea of the book is is a reversal of 1960's style gender roles. Wom are the only sex considered valuable, and menwom (men) are considered weak and relatively ineffectual. This is the basis of the novel, and most situations and characters are designed in this premise. I.e. boys go to a sort if prom/debutante ball and wear pehoes and ribbons in their beards. Essentially I consider this book entertaining as food for thought, for the 'what if's - which is usually a mainstay of science fiction. IMO, while not the most well written, Egalia's Daughters is something which should be read for it's novelty and inversion of a past reality; and to ask the questions which helps one define their own beliefs.


message 14: by Filipe (new)

Filipe Russo (russo) | 93 comments Egalia's is related then with social gender roles rather than biological gender roles.


message 15: by Katy (new)

Katy (kradcliffe) I think what made the book ludicrous to me was that you cannot separate the biological sex from the gender role. They are inextricably linked. That doesn't mean they are set in stone - different cultures have interpreted sex in different ways - but there are still constants across all cultures that have to do with the fact that women bear and nurse children. If there is a division of labor along gender lines, that's the root of it.


message 16: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Katy wrote: "I think what made the book ludicrous to me was that you cannot separate the biological sex from the gender role. They are inextricably linked. That doesn't mean they are set in stone - different cu..."

If that were the case, Billy Tipton and others wouldn't have been nearly as successful in passing for the opposite gender. Their biological sex didn't matter, only the gender that society concluded from public observation did.


message 17: by Sekhmet (new)

Sekhmet Just to add a scientific note. to the issue, there are actually 3 types of gender (biologically); genotypic (what your DNA says), phenotypic (your characteristics - I.e do you have breasts or an Adams Apple?) and gonadal (do you have ovaries or testes). They don't have to all agree, either. Jaime Lee Curtis is one example. The point is that sex and gender is actually quite flexible, and not as black and white as you may think. You may have male DNA, but not really be male, like M Curtis (who, by the way is capable of having children as a female - she has a not so unique condition called androgen insensitivity). There are numerous other examples of gender misidentity, however, I picked something most would be familiar with. This is the same issue that threw the Olympics for a loop with the East German women's team. I'm not touching on hermaphroditism or homosexuality, and gender ambiguity at birth which are separate subjects. This is why gender studies interests me, because it colors the way we see the world, and how we relate to eachother. The concepts presented in this book and others on the subject are not actually far fetched at all. There is evidence that may be occuring here (in the US) now - as was previously mentioned. Thank you for a good debate so far :). I look forward to more.


message 18: by Katy (new)

Katy (kradcliffe) Aubrey wrote: "Katy wrote: "I think what made the book ludicrous to me was that you cannot separate the biological sex from the gender role. They are inextricably linked. That doesn't mean they are set in stone -..."

To "pass" for another gender isn't the same thing as imagining a world in which everything is reversed. To reverse them, in the first place, one has to agree that there are gender rules assigned to sex. Of course those rules do exist, and they exist in every culture, for a reason.

Those cases in which biological sex is ambiguous fascinate me, as well.

Not to mention, I am still unsure what to make of gender reassignment. When it's someone with a chromosomal condition that is ambiguous, I'm mystified in one way. When it's someone who, physiologically, is one biological sex or the other, I am mystified in another way. That some people clearly feel they are one sex or the other from a very early age is clear.

Anybody remember that man who, as the result of a botched circumcision, was raised as a female? He always felt that he was a male, even before he was told the truth about his chromosomal identity. That he never was able to resolve his conflict, and ultimately killed himself, is so very tragic.


message 19: by Filipe (new)

Filipe Russo (russo) | 93 comments What is to feel yourself like a man? What is to feel yourself like a woman? I pretty much never felt one way or another and can't quite understand how people have whole life changing issues around that.

Katy, I think the debate went a little away from defending/attacking the book's premises and into opinions about gender. I also think Aubrey meant to compromise your "you cannot separete biological sex from gender role", that from aside actual sexual relationships daily inter-personal relationships are based in external observation of gender whether or not it matches the biological ones.

I saw in youtube a case of a man turned woman turned man that now cries about his never to get back missing penis and want to prosecute the doctor who abused from his unstable mental condition/disease/whatever. Transexuality is still labeled as a mental disease/condition, isn't it? Like homosexuality used to be. I remember the case you brought up.


message 20: by Edward (new)

Edward Creter (httpwwwedcoolcom) | 22 comments I personally identify with gencer differences in that I believe women have not been given their due and they should. As for myself, I'm a simple man who actually cowers in fear of women, stronger sex as they are, but I do try my best to overcome that fear. Sadly the films out now (Matrix, etc.) have not helped much. If you think I should readthe book you have suggested, I will make it my mission in life to read it thru.


message 21: by Jim (new)

Jim | 2725 comments Mod
Edward wrote: "I personally identify with gencer differences in that I believe women have not been given their due and they should. As for myself, I'm a simple man who actually cowers in fear of women, stronger s..."

No need to cower in fear, Edward. If you're interested in discussion of gender relations, an excellent non-fiction book is A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. If you've checked out the reading schedule, you'll see she is first up in our fiction reading with her excellent experimental novel The Waves. Our discussion begins on January 2nd. Please join in!

PS. If you don't already have a copy of The Waves, you can download a public domain version here:

http://www.feedbooks.com/author/206


message 22: by Edward (new)

Edward Creter (httpwwwedcoolcom) | 22 comments Not a prob, Jim, and thanks!


message 23: by Filipe (new)

Filipe Russo (russo) | 93 comments A Room of One's Own goes beyond gender and feminism, it's really about individuality and independence. A favorite of mine.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim | 2725 comments Mod
Filipe wrote: "A Room of One's Own goes beyond gender and feminism, it's really about individuality and independence. A favorite of mine."

True!

I have a room of my own, but still in search of the 2011 equivalent of 500 pounds per year...


message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 303 comments Jim wrote: "Filipe wrote: "A Room of One's Own goes beyond gender and feminism, it's really about individuality and independence. A favorite of mine."

True!

I have a room of my own, but still in search of the 2011 equivalent of 500 pounds per year..."


LOL! One wishes for magic or a rich aunt or a winning lottery ticket!?


message 26: by Jim (new)

Jim | 2725 comments Mod
Lily wrote: "LOL! One wishes for magic or a rich aunt or a winning lottery ticket!?..."

Or a magic rich aunt who tells me the winning lottery numbers in advance....


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The Waves (other topics)
A Room of One's Own (other topics)