Culturally Recognizible Gender

Posted: January 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

I am in the first chapter of Judith Butler’s ‘Gender Trouble’. I am enjoying her examination of gender. The pages are filled with underlines. To paraphrase, she states that you cannot think of a person without assigning an ‘intelligible gender’ within the mandatory heterosexuality matrix of sex, gender and desire (ie, penis-man-desiresWoman and vagina-woman-desiresMan).
It is interesting how gay activism has created reverse discourse subjectivities of gay or lesbian, but it is within a framework of mandatory homosexuality.
Now we have the possibilities of penis-man-desiresMan and vagina-woman-desiresWoman. However the possibilities of desires-woman-or-man-or-whatever, are still relatively undeveloped outside of the queer youth subcultures. Being recognized as a social subjectivity independent of sexual desire still seems a long way off. The grid was expanded from two exclusionary positions to four exclusionary positions. The weirdos outside the grid stopped being defined by non-normative desire and are now the non-normative trans people who are playing with penis-man and vagina-woman. Lesbian culture has created a space for vagina-man-desiresWoman through butch gender play and the acceptance of trans-guys. vagina-man-desiresMan (gay trans guys) is more prohibited subjectivity partly because of gender-hatred and vagina-phobia in the gay subcultures. As I have written before penis-woman is a proscribed subjectivity in our current culture. Penis-woman-desiresMan has a ready made marginalized subjectivity in the form of tranny streetwalker or tranny underclass. That is a ‘culturally intelligible gender’. Penis-woman-desiresWoman is made difficult by gender-hatred and penis-phobia in the lesbian subcultures. This leads to penis-woman not being “culturally intelligible” in the lesbian subcultures. Lesbian subculture polices the division penis-woman very strongly.
Straight San Francisco seems more accommodating in some ways, but I would argue that a penis-woman person is not actually intelligible except within a transexual frame where the penis-woman is REALLY a woman. The penis is a mistake, which can be corrected through surgery or at least ignored.
So, to end on a personal note. I am feeling rather culturally unintelligible as a penis-woman who rejects the truth claim of REALLY being a woman. Not signing up for an intelligible identity and expressing that would seem to be a necessary political act in order to create change, but it is a difficult act with no clear outcome.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s