Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

Synopsis

Just what is gender, and what can be expected of it when dealing with identity, justice, and equality? Ephraim Das Janssen uses a phenomenological approach to challenge and dismantle the way gender is currently understood. Janssen questions ideas that have formerly been taken for granted, as individuals did during the Civil Rights movement, the women's movement, and the LGBT rights movement. In so doing he recasts the moral debate about gender and grounds his analysis in observable aspects such as clothing and social roles and how these can imply transgression and questioning. Janssen shakes the very core of gender through a deep engagement with Being and the structures that confine our contemporary notions.

Excerpt

There is something of a tradition among phenomenologists to write of tables—of writing tables, mostly. So, as a preface to my examination of the question of gender, I too describe a table. in fact, I tell of two tables. in my room, the writing table is placed near the east wall, facing west so I can turn my gaze past the computer and out over the room and a slice of Chicago that is visible through the windows. This writing table is a cheap one, purchased while I was a student. It is valuable to me as the table on which I wrote my dissertation, for I am a sentimental phenomenologist, prone to value familiarity and scratches over perfection. the computer sits on the table, and the virtue of both is that I rarely have to notice them. They are simply there while I do research, write, and check Facebook. They are the background of my work, the context in which I am free to pay attention to what is actually interesting and engaging. But at the same time, they are a context that shapes how I am in the space governed by the table. I sit upright, on a desk chair, to use the writing table and raise my arms to the right height to use the keyboard. the table, in a literal sense, shapes me.

My writing table is not a girl, and it is not a boy. Since I speak English and use English almost all the time, it is simply an “it.” Were I thinking in German, my table would be masculine; were I speaking Spanish, it would be feminine. the pronoun “it” in English indicates that the writing table is an entity to which I owe no ethical debt; I do not need to worry about the writing table’s well-being or opinions regarding the World Cup in order to be a good person. Men, women, and people who challenge these categories can use writing tables, although the products we buy are increasingly marketed to . . .

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