Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

By Ephraim Das Janssen | Go to book overview

Preface

THERE IS SOMETHING of a tradition among phenomenologists to write of tables—of writing tables, mostly.1 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

-ix-

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Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Chapter 1 - The Question of Gender 1
  • Chapter 2 - Gender in Its Historical Situation 43
  • Chapter 3 - Heidegger Trouble- Gendered Dasein and Embodiment 67
  • Chapter 4 - Gender and Individuation 97
  • Chapter 5 - Gender, Technology, and Style 125
  • Bibliography 139
  • Index 147
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