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fig.2—“the subject proceeds from his partition to his parturition”


 This chapter takes its title from De Vincula­ in Genere, translated (Cambridge 1998) A General Account of Bonding, or (literally) Of Bonds in General, or (to pun on Dennett) Kinds of Binds, Giordano Bruno’s 1591 treatise on how the imagination is captured by skilled manipulation of word, action, and image. As bonding “consists chiefly in a certain mutual orientation between a captor and a captive” and “all bonds are either reduced to [or] based upon the bond of love” (personified, “the bond of Eros”), we should at once recognize “the art of binding” at work in media that capitalize on our sexual differences—or should we say gendered differences? “The word sex has been pressed into ... referring politely to copulation” Quine objects, vice­-versa, “by calling the sexes genders. ... however, I shall continue to refer to the sexes as sexes, and shall reserve the word gender for genders. In the original meaning a gender is simply a kind, irrespective of sex. The word comes from the ablative genere of the Latin genus via the French genre.” (1987)

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fig.3—equal opposition, or inadequate apposition?


 Reading from the inside­-out, the fig.3 Columns split out three historical problems: Quine would have ‘gender’ denote differences in kind, ‘sex’ reproductive functions, and ‘copulation’ the sex act. But today, do ‘gen’ terms refer exclusively to either biological or cultural differences? The 1066 Norman­ Conquest toiled English turf and tongue alike: while wyf­- and wyfman became wife and woman, wer­-male adult’ shrunk to a prefix, as in ‘werewolf’. Thence, man served for both the whole (‘mankind’) and a part (‘adult male’). The rest, as it were, is History. Can we differentiate the verb engender? We lack transitive verbs to denote ‘beget­-male’ and ‘beget-female’; however, to feminize or masculinize is to shift an already­-gendered subject position along a gradient. “An ironical etymological point wants noting” notes Quine, despite his remarks, “The parent word genus itself, for all its semantical irrelevance to sex, stems from the Indo­-European root gen, ‘beget’, along with genesis, generate, genital. But this, I protest, has nothing to do with the case.”

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