The dream I find most compelling is one of an androgynous and genderless (though not sexless) society, in which one's sexual anatomy is irrelevant to who one is, what one does, and with whom one makes love. ('The Traffic in Women' p.204)
For the category of sex is a totalitarian one...This is why we must destroy it and start thinking beyond it if we want to start thinking at all, as we must destroy the sexes as a sociological reality if we want to start to exist.
One of the interesting things about this essay, 'The Category of Sex', is that Wittig openly rejects the philosophically "realist" belief in sexual difference, i.e. the idea that there is metaphysically a real category of the masculine and the feminine. She rejects the belief that,
...there are before all thinking, all society, "sexes" (two categories of individuals born) with a constitutive difference, a difference that has ontological consequences (the metaphysical approach)
Perhaps this shows how nominalism, with its emphasis on the idea that there are only individual instances of things, helps to pave the way for the belief that the idea of sex is merely socially imposed.
Wittig famously claimed that lesbians are not women. This makes sense if you accept her argument that "women" only exist as part of a heterosexual dualism by which one political category "men" dominate another category "women". Lesbians escape this kind of sexual "contract". What Wittig did not foresee is that if you so much reduce the category of womanhood it is difficult to sustain a distinctly "woman's" movement. Little wonder that Kathleen Stock rejects the Wittig position.
Stock is more interested in those who accept, as a baseline position, that humans are a sexually dimorphic species (the biological reality position). She wants to consider whether you can argue from this position that gender should nonetheless be abolished.
She begins with those feminists who wish not so much to abolish the categories of "man" and "woman" but any sociocultural differences associated with them. Stock responds by reminding her listeners that the range of such cultural practices is so vast, that the task of abolishing all of them appears unrealistic, particularly as many of them arise in response to the biological differences between the sexes and the fact of heterosexuality.
Stock then makes a cutting point, namely that those who have favoured this type of gender abolition, such as Shulamith Firestone, were aware of the extraordinarily radical social engineering it would require to be successful. Firestone wrote in 1970:
The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would born to both sexes equally, or independently of either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally. The division of labour would be ended by the elimination of labour altogether (through cybernetics). The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.
Stock doesn't believe this transformation would be desirable, even if it were possible. She points out that it would leave children with attachment disorders, that its implementation would be authoritarian, and that there would be medical issues in having male bodies gestate children.
Stock's next argument is quite a departure from the usual politics. Instead of arguing that sex-based cultural practices are always and everywhere a fetter on the self-determining individual, she argues that they can have a positive effect, in providing individuals with a source of meaning, obtained via identity, purpose, achievement and camaraderie. She believes that there is a risk of a "profound loss" for the individual if all of this were to be suddenly abolished.
Kathleen Stock makes it clear that she does not support this version of gender abolition. She then turns to a third version of gender abolition, which involves the eradication of all social norms based around sex. Stock treats this version seriously and spends some time looking at the role of social norms in society. It's an interesting discussion, but lengthy, so I'll save it for the next post.
It sounds like she’s a leftist, standard issue, and not a complete lunatic like the more radical feminists.ReplyDelete
This with sound like manosphere sniping but these women are all ugly. I was tempted to say “unattractive” but ugly is not a slang term. It seems there are real problems caused by ugly women who are highly intelligent. In an earlier age, these women would have become nuns and found meaning in loving and caring for orphaned children if they were unwilling to marry an ugly and/or low status man.
It seems there are two types of lesbians. Ugly and/or physically masculine ones and ones who are very heterosexually promiscuous with men and then get “sick and tired” of men.
This with sound like manosphere sniping but these women are all ugly.Delete
The sorts of people who become social or moral reformers (and the political activists of today are just another manifestation of the social reformers of a hundred years ago) are usually very severely damaged people. Shulamith Firestone for example was schizophrenic. Feminism has always attracted mentally ill women. Normal people do not become political activists.
They often appear very physically unattractive because they go out of their way to look physically unattractive. Many have serious sexual hangups and are terrified by sex so they make themselves look bizarre in order to avoid sexual relationships.
Much of the trans madness of today is driven by people who are actively attempting to erase their own sexuality because they can't deal with it.
The more radical lesbian activists are trying to twist the world around to meet their psychological needs. They are not familiar normal sexual feelings, nor can they be, so they project their personal distortions onto the world at large. I suppose most of us also project our views in certain ways, but fortunately the effect is very limited.Delete
The radical lesbians are not the problem. They're now marginalised and powerless. The problems we're having today are caused entirely by the trans activists and the intersectional feminists (many of whom are men in dresses). As usual social conservatives are focused on the political struggles of half a century ago.Delete
I see your point but I did not say or suggest that radical lesbians are the problem.Delete
If social conservatives did not focus on certain key struggles from fifty years ago they would be... liberals. Conservatives are consigned to play defense against the frenetic experiments of progressives.
So yeah, there you go. I googled Kathleen Stock. She’s not particularly unattractive like the radical feminists. She just has a boy haircut. She doesn’t want to abolish womanhood because she has some degree of femininity.ReplyDelete