american feminist literature, american literature, feminism, feminist studies, feminist theory, herstory, history, humanism, lgbtq, philosophy, politics, science and technology, sex reassignment, Uncategorized, women and gender studies

Judith Butler, “Doing Justice to Someone: Sex Reassignment and Allegories of Transsexuality,” in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 7.4 (North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2001), 621-636.

JudithButler2013.jpg

(photo credits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Butler)

Bodies and their artistic nature of gender, sex identity and expression is a complicated notion. In the essay entitled “Doing Justice to Someone: Sex Reassignment and Allegories of Transsexuality,” Judith Butler discusses these complications in discussing the social construction of bodies, sex, and gender. Butler uses a Foucauldian framework to talk about body politics and the “regulatory regime” of medicine on bodies (621). Butler does this by specifically focusing on one individual in particular identified as “the case of Joan/John” (625).

The case of Joan/John is not a uncommon story but is an example of the ways in which the medical establishment constructs bodies that are “viable” and are coherent for the nation-state. In short the case of Joan/Joan is a story of an infant that goes through a botched circumcision, in which the doctor convinces the parents it will be better for the child to grow up with no penis and assume the identity of a female then to grow up with a deformed penis (622). The narrative gets more complicated as Joan/John grows up and ends up identifying more as a male than his produced female more identity (623). Through this case study, Butler identifies the debate between social and biological arguments for sex/gender (623) More important, this essay offers a theoretical framework for discussing the forced construction of gender on individuals and their bodies. Butler’s thesis states, “in recounting this story and its appropriation for the purposes of gender theory.…I hope to underscore here is the disciplinary framework in which Joan/ John develops a discourse of self-reporting and self-understanding…by which his own humanness is both questioned and asserted” (628-629).

Lasting thoughts from this piece are productive invitations to discuss the body and nation. Asking academics and intellects alike the question of what ultimately constitutes humanness?  Butler asserts there is  major “limits to the discourse of intelligibility [coherent/identification/taxonomy]” (635). If that is so, Butler’s contributions challenge the constructed categories of the nation-state and binary body politics. This essay highlights the nation-states perceived need for these categories to propel nationalism and its citizenship. I would recommend this essay to academics, intellectuals, and social activists. This is a perfect essay to sit down and discuss with like-minded thinkers. I guarantee you will engage in an exciting and stimulating conversation reading this and discuss it with peers or colleagues! 

10/10

Advertisements
american feminist literature, american literature, herstory, history, Inspiration, literature, short story, women

Book Review: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper (1892),Pp. 24.

IMG_5928.jpg

A compelling and fascinating short story, Charlotte Gilman, takes the reader on an intense journey through the struggles of women’s autonomy over their minds and bodies. Set in Gilman’s historical moment this short story discusses the damaging consequences of women being treated secondary to their male counterparts. Gilman’s semi-autobiographical narrative discusses her experiences with depression, a controlling husband, lack of autonomy, and finally liberation.  Gilman tell’s a story of a woman who is given no name. This no name woman is experiencing something that she cant quite put her finger on. Her doctor, who is also her husband, tells her she is just acting “foolish” and “hysterical.” He prescribes her rest for three months in hopes of helping her feel more “normal.” This reference Gilman makes to the historical reality of how  women’s mental health was treated in the nineteenth-century is spot on. Gilman is pushing back at Silas Weir Mitchell’s “rest cure” approach that was prescribed to women who were acting “foolish” or “hysterical” in the 1800s.

Gilman narrates the no name woman resting, as prescribed, but in turn going stir crazy.  All the while, her husband continues to dismiss her and insists on her resting.  The woman with no name is left to secretly write wishes and desires down on paper.  If her husband found her writing it would be going against his prescribed rest.  Being locked up in her room the woman with no name becomes obsessed with the room—specifically the yellow wallpaper. The wallpaper becomes a simile for society. 

In a bizarre turn, the woman with no name starts to sees a woman inside the wallpaper.

Gilman allows her protagonist to discusses this woman she sees in the wallpaper as her true desire. A desire for friendship, companionship, and even a career.  By the end of the story she is angry and tired, maybe even “sicker” than before all the “rest” she was prescribed.  In a final act of rebellion, the woman with no name, pulls the wallpaper almost completely off the walls and liberates the woman behind the wallpaper. She liberates herself.

Finally, this texts becomes a stand in for discussing issues Gilman wants to illuminate in  1892. This short story becomes the platform to do just that. The author ultimately brings up topics that were quite racy for the times such as: women’s equality, mental health issues, female heath, women’s desires and career opportunities.  Gilman also pushes back on narratives that relegated women to “hysterical” beings and discusses the true nature of gender oppression in a toxic masculine society.  This is a must read for historians. I would also recommend this to anyone who is interested in a fascinating short read that examines the past and the legacy of male oppression and women’s liberation. 

10/10

american feminist literature, american literature, feminist studies, feminist theory, herstory, history, history of africa, history of europe, history of india, history of magic, history of the united states, literature, political theory, postcolonial theory, religious studies, science and technology, short story, subaltern studies, Uncategorized, witchcraft, world history

Magickal Reviews

Thanks for joining me!

“You ran away to find freedom, and you found it. You made it. Now you gotta tell it. You gotta figure out how to tell the story.” — Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha