Disciplining Gender: Rhetorics of Sex Identity in Contemporary U.S. Culture

By John M. Sloop | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION
Bringing It All Back Home

No political revolution is possible without a radical shift in one's notion of the possible and the real. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (tenth anniversary edition)

Each of these headlines from the 1990s represents a distinct case of public “gender trouble”: “Being Male or Female Is Innate, Study Concludes”; “Tragic Death of a Girl Who Lived as a Guy” (Bernard); “Straying from Country's Straight and Narrow” (Schoemer); “Janet Reno Rides Again… into the Swamp of Florida Politics” (Labash); “U. S. Army in the Dock after Gay Soldier Beaten to Death” (Branson). With each case, we have seen unique domains within which sex, sexuality, and gender are articulated and disciplined in contemporary U. S. culture. In one case, a physically bodied male who is accidentally castrated is raised as a girl according to the advice of “medical experts. ” In another, a transgendered youth meets his death in the Midwest and becomes a movement's icon. In the third, we observe relationships between the cultural capital of popular music, the politics of “truth, ” and sexuality. In the fourth, we discover the focus and discipline gender trouble receives when it arises in connection with a “public” body. In the final case, the discursive playing field lies at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, military culture, and popular expectations. Each case is unique, to be sure. And yet each is one part of a larger cultural mosaic in which similar themes have emerged and reemerged, providing us

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