Saturday, September 26, 2009

* Transgender Dorms at Yale (and Harvard?):Genital Jargon Disses the Gender-Neutral Student "Body".

When a single finger (or hand) pressed against a button (or lever) in the Enola Gay caused the annihilation of 100,000 people on Hiroshima in 9 seconds, all prior definitions of manhood were instantly and forever eradicated which depended on the Biological Determinism model: the strength and accuracy of a man's body to overhwelm another man's body (whether with sword, horse and joust, rifle, cannon, airpower, etc.) ; for, indeed, that finger could have been the finger of a woman just as well as that of a man. (It could have been the finger of a primate, for that matter.)

Man's superior body strength and its ability to target and overhwelm weakness in other combatants had been the primary ingredient in culturally agreed upon definitions of a man in the so-called Biological Determinism model.

Suddenly it was gone.

Anxiety over this sudden absence bubbles up unexpectedly--and perhaps unconsciously--four years later in Arthur Miller's 1949 play, Death of a Salesman: In the space of a thin 110 pages, over 10 definitions of a man appear!

Similarly, when the feminists of the 1970's divorced womanhood from all definitons which depended on the female body (i.e., the Biological Determinism model: one who makes babies; one who feeds others) a culturally agreed upon definiton of woman was eradicated.

Thus began our unmooring.

It is ironic that as this era unfolds without these previously agreed upon definitions of man and woman, the Feminist critique (which insists on liberation from the Biological Determinism model) persists in dissing men with that very same Biological Determinism terminology they eschew , i.e., "Phallocentric", "Dominator" "Hegemonic"
"Hierarchical" labels: all of which depend on the male's capacity to overhwelm others, with superior "force", originally a term which applied to male musculature and physical prowess alone.

If Yale and Harvard do create transgender dormitories, it will be interesting to see what inevitable language of oppression emerges to diss these groups: Will it be the genital jargon of Biological Determinism? Or will it be the slang of a gender neutral student body, an as yet uncoined slang divorced from the human body?


Note: In 1949, five years after the Enola Gay eradicated all culturally agreed upon definitions of manhood, Arthur Miller published Death of a Salesman. In the thin volume of 110 pages, no fewer than 11 definitons of a man emerged, revealing not only the "temporary" nature of Willy Loman's identity, but the anxiety of a society without manhood.

Eleven Definitions of a Man
from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

“A man who can’t handle tools is not a man.” (Miller, p30)
"Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You’ll never get out of the jungle that way.” (p.34)
“:. . .a man is not a bird, to come and go with the springtime.” (p.39)
“A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.” (p.40)
“You don’t raise a guy to a responsible job who whistles in the elevator.” 9p. 44)
“ ‘Gee’ is a boy’s word. A man walking in for fifteen thousand dollars does not say ‘Gee’.” (p. 47)
“God knows Howard, I never asked a favor of any man.” (p.59)
“ You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away ---a man is not a piece of fruit..” (p.61)
“You end up worth more dead than alive.” (p.76)
“A man can’t go out the way he came in , Ben, a man has got to add up to something.” (p.99)
“No man only needs a little salary.” (p. 110)
“ It’s the only dream you can have ---to come out number one man.” (p.111)

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