A Question of Sex: Feminism, Rhetoric, and Differences That by Kristan Poirot

By Kristan Poirot

By way of the mid-1990s feminist theorists and critics started to problem traditional brooding about intercourse distinction and its courting to gender and sexuality. students resembling Anne Fausto-Sterling and Judith Butler stricken the sex-gender/nature-nurture divide. a few have asserted that those questions about intercourse are a lot too summary to give a contribution to a priceless figuring out of the cloth politics confronted via feminist activities. In a question of intercourse, Kristan Poirot demanding situations this assumption and demonstrates that modern theories approximately intercourse, gender, id, and distinction compel a rethinking of the background of feminist events and their rhetorical practices. Poirot specializes in 5 case reviews -- the move of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" in early and modern feminist contexts; the visible rhetorics of the feminist self-help overall healthiness circulate; the general public discourse of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and early nineteenth-century principles approximately suffrage, intercourse, and race; the conflicts over lesbian sexuality within the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies; and the discourse that surrounds twenty-first-century SlutWalks. within the strategy, Poirot rethinks the phrases wherein we comprehend U.S. feminist routine to discover the methods feminism has puzzled sexed differences and practices over the years. She emphasizes the significance of interpreting feminist engagements with intercourse as rhetorical endeavors -- practices which are formed by way of the instrumental calls for of events, the exigent events that decision for feminists to reply, and the iconic philosophical traditions that move in U.S. political contexts.

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The nearly exclusive emphasis on gender, however, risks an inadvertent assertion that the sexed body is a passive object of gendered discursive action. Such a move potentially reasserts an ontological distinction between sex and gender, matter and discourse, that not only reaffirms the very dynamics under critique in Butler’s and others’ theories of sex/gender but also compels a certain silence about sex and feminism that my analysis adamantly resists. 50 Barad’s revision of Butlerian performativity presents a “relational ontology” developed from the epistemological framework advanced in Bohr’s theory of quantum physics.

In so doing, the federation advanced a nuanced perspective on the materiality of sex: how one, literally and figuratively, sees sex is just as constitutive of the material conditions of sex and/or 20 In t rodu c t i on the so-called matter of which sex is thought to be composed. These visual rhetorics offer the chance to consider the terms through which we evaluate feminism’s engagement with systems of sex difference. More specifically, how ought we to evaluate those rhetorics that seem to rely closely on the very systems and mechanisms under critique—in this case, images of the sexed and sexualized female body?

Put simply, the very strategies that aimed to liberate women domesticated feminism through persistent attempts to secure an identification of “woman” that would align with the movements’ goals. In the final chapter I return my focus to an explicit articulation of the importance of questionable engagements with past, present, and future feminist practice. At best, feminism has a deeply paradoxical relationship with sex difference—one wherein sex is consistently engaged as questionable while Questions of Sex 21 also identified and recognized as a fact of human difference.

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