Week 1: What is gender? Theories and views

Gender Through Comic Books Online Course at Canvas.net.

The Course Syllabus

Class hasn’t started, but I can already tell by the reading materials that I’m going to be FIRED UP about some of this week’s subject, because I’ve written about it before! The readings from Lorber are definitely a feminist take on gender, but it’s a take from the mid-90′s before the great feminism vs. transgender wars started. I believe the trans folks have successfully proven their arguments in that war by now, so some of the ideas in Lorber’s writing need to be adjusted to be less “all gender is a social construct” and more “many parts of gender are a social construct.” Science, people. It can stop wars.

If Ruth Hubbard’s ‘The Social Construction of Sexuality’ is actually intended to be a course subject and isn’t just tacked on the end of the other paper, things get really interesting. Hubbard is laying the groundwork for the sexual fluidity argument, and the course selections from Strangers In Paradise seem to carry that subject on. I sure hope that Afterellen’s Senior Editor Heather Hogan is taking this class, too. It would be really fun to fight the sexual fluidity war with her in an actual academic setting.

I understand some feminists’ desire for “all gender is a social construction” to be true – it certainly makes it easier to break down arguments of one gender having greater social value than the other. But it’s too simplistic and really leaves out the experiences and soul-searching that trans folks go through in arriving at an understanding of themselves. The same is true for the “all sexuality is a social construct” argument – it undercuts the experience of both Kinsey 6 gay people and Kinsey 0 heterosexuals.

Strangers in Paradise

Week 1 Reading Assignments:

Comic Book reading assignments
Strangers in Paradise 1-3 (Vol. 1), Strangers in Paradise 1-9 (Vol. 2), and Rachel Rising #1

Course Additional reading
Article: “Night to His Day”: The Social Construction of Gender by Lorber

(Note that this PDF also has The Social Construction of Sexuality by Ruth Hubbard included.)

My Additional Reading

Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus
“The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions and point to a neurobiological basis of gender identity disorder.”

Transsexual differences caught on brain scan – 26 January 2011 – New Scientist

Reader Response to “Night to His Day” by Judith Lorber | hannahcylkowski

See also, my own post on Sexual Fluidity: Sexual fluidity, Skins US, and labels! labels! labels!.

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Posted in Comic Books, Feminism & Women's Issues, GLBT Issues

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