Friday, October 11, 2002

I stand corrected

When I worked as an archaeologist it annoyed me when people asked me about dinosaurs, so I can understand the frustration that comes when people lack appropriate knowledge of what you do/did. Adam was quick to point out that it is PSYOP, without an "s" - although I was most taken by a tshirt he mentioned: "because physical wounds heal." Wow, if that doesn't sum it up, I don't know what does!

But of greater interest to me was another of Adam's posts - on the film Southern Comfort. I really enjoyed it myself, and would concur that it is valuable to explore notions that cause discomfort. Gender and sexuality issues are especially touchy in our culture, and I begin the teaching unit with three (not-so-simple) questions: "What is a man?" "What is a woman?" and "Why do we have to choose?"

Sometimes we watch Boys Don't Cry and work through some of the exercises in the awesome little text, My Gender Workbook. And if we have time, I tell my students about a presentation I once saw by a hermaphrodite - she was exploring mass media representations of hermaphrodism (so often of the freak show variety) and went into great detail on the medicalisation of "ambiguous gender," and her own experience of being designated "female." I remember her dismay that Western feminists often assume that a woman without a clitoris cannot fully experience her own sexuality - she was quick to point out that "woman" does not equal "clitoris" and that questions of female circumcision are more complicated than that.

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