Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses

By Ephraim Das Janssen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
THE QUESTION OF GENDER

THERE ARE MEN, and there are women, the story goes. Men are strong, rational, ordered, active, unitary, and attracted to women. Women are tender, emotional, creative, and passive; their attention is divided; and they are attracted to men. A man and a woman meet, and, after a period of pursuit and more or less feigned reluctance on her part, they marry, have fat babies, and live happily ever after. So the story goes, anyway, and it is not a difficult story to find. It is replayed in almost every book, film, and television program available; it is presupposed in philosophical, legal, ethical, political, and medical systems. It is one of the dominant discourses of Western culture, one of the myths that lend lives meaningfulness. But is it true?

In one sense, this story is not only true but truth. As a dominant discourse, this story is the rule by which truth is measured for how relationships between men and women are supposed to operate; it is the context of the “ought-to-bes” and “in-order-tos” within which all of us always already find ourselves. It is the norm. But in another sense, it is not true at all. If it were, there would be no need to tell the story; it would just be. As the character Cal puts it in Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex,

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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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