After Identity: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Gender (Contemporary Political Theory)

After Identity: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Gender (Contemporary Political Theory)

Georgia Warnke

Language: English

Pages: 268

ISBN: 0521709296

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Social and political theorists have traced in detail how individuals come to possess gender, sex and racial identities. This book examines the nature of these identities. Georgia Warnke argues that identities, in general, are interpretations and, as such, have more in common with textual understanding than we commonly acknowledge. A racial, sexed or gendered understanding of who we and others are is neither exhaustive of the 'meanings' we can be said to have nor uniquely correct. We are neither always, or only, black or white, men or women or males or females. Rather, all identities have a restricted scope and can lead to injustices and contradictions when they are employed beyond that scope. In concluding her argument, Warnke considers the legal and policy implications that follow for affirmative action, childbearing leave, the position of gays in the military and marriage between same-sex partners.

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although one can retain one’s status as a girl even if one loses one’s clitoris, one cannot remain a boy if one loses one’s penis. Likewise, one cannot retain one’s status as a man if one is pregnant although one can remain a woman if one is not. How, then, might our alien anthropologists articulate an understanding of sex and gender that takes account of these differences? They might decide that a certain complex of appendages, interests, activities, and proclivities is especially mandatory when

too small for reproductive purposes, because it was so ‘‘well formed’’ (Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body, p. 59). Kessler, Lessons from the Intersexed, p. 25. In Diamond and Sigmunson, ‘‘Sex Reassignment at Birth,’’ Web-based version), Milton Diamond cites two pieces of clinical advice. ‘‘Because it simpler to construct a vagina than a satisfactory penis, only the infant with a phallus of adequate size should be considered for a male gender assignment’’ (from J. W. Duckett and L. S. Baskin,

concerns. This problem is already clear in a speech Sojourner Truth reportedly made to the women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851.24 Although she may never have actually delivered the speech attributed to her, its point is clear: That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mudpuddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at

point, Riley offers the example of women workers. She thinks that feminists ought to continue to argue against the 13 Ibid., p. 2. 14 Ibid., p. 113. R E T H I N K I N G S E X A N D G E N D E R I D E N T I T I E S 159 idea that ‘‘women workers’’ are more interested in nine-to-five positions or in positions with flexible hours than they are in positions that pay well. Although the former sorts of position are better suited to caring for children and husbands, feminists need to insist that

in a penis, whether its owner puts it there or not. Bornstein’s play, ‘‘Hidden: A Gender,’’ which is part of her memoir,43 provides a direct parallel to the experience that Du Bois had with trading visiting cards: I’m four and a half years old, my first day of nursery school . . . These are the days when the boys and girls have to play separately – so I start to go off with the other little girls to play. And this teacher . . . says, 43 Part Six of Bornstein, Gender Outlaw. 170 A F T E R I D

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