I’m out of touch with gender-theory.
I haven’t cracked a book in six months, since I wrote my dissertation. Oh sure, I picked up the new Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation collaboration between Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, and skimmed through it, but I didn’t really absorb anything. I just read it and thought ‘huh’ and went back to work and forgot about it.
There is so much suck in that sentence I’m not even sure where to start.
So, I was giving my brother and his girlfriend a lift back home today and the suject of gender came up, as it sometimes does around me, and the girlfriend (who was also my best friend back in college; long story) started asking me the standard questions. You know, things like ‘So what is the difference between gender and sex?’ and ‘This MtF you know, he-she-it, was she a guy or a girl first? What is she now?’ and ‘D’you reckon there’s a genetic cause for gayness?’
(Okay, that last one’s a sexuality question, but it led me onto a whole ramble about social gender cues and how sexuality and gender aren’t the same thing, so I’m counting it.)
Six months ago, I was really good at these questions. Or at least passable. Today I totally choked.
Like, choked. Badly.
(Part of that was probably being exhausted and frustrated and a little ‘whoa, weird’ with the whole quitting-my-job-today thing. And, y’know, being slightly nettled at the questions, because there was a whole wealth of misunderstanding going on there that I couldn’t even start to tackle in a 45 minute car journey.)
I need to get my reading back on. I’ve done my Bornstein and Butler and Bergman; I’ve read Female Masculinity backwards and forwards, and a lot more besides. I’ve been in the blogsphere for, what, a year? I should know my stuff by now.
But still, choked. And I can feel my thinking about gender getting fuzzier and vaguer the more time I spend in the working world, away from academia, and I don’t like that.
I promised my friend I’d lend her some Bornstien, because she is genuinely interested in learning about the weird wide world of gender, but I reckon I need to read it again first. Along with the rest of my shelf of books. And then I need to re-engage my brain.
Here’s my new challenge for myself: a piece of gender-related reading at least once a week, and a thinking-thoughts type post along to go with it.
What are your favourite gender-writers?