Saturday, August 2, 2003

Creating order from chaos

Lisa Jervis interviewed feminist philosopher Susan Bordo and asked why she believes that "our culture seems newly captivated by biological determinism."

Bordo's response:

"There are a lot of different answers to that. One is that it satisfies an existential craving: the desire to know things with certainty and universality in an age in which we are less sure than ever of what we actually know. The idea that we could map the human genome, and be able to know exactly what diseases people are going to develop later in life - we're really fascinated by the possibilities of this exhaustive knowledge of ourselves. It's that combination of living in a culture in which knowledge is really up for grabs, and being all the more fascinated with the possibility of nailing it down."

"That's just a piece of it, but I think the reality of growing up in this culture today is that gender and race are in incredible flux ... Now that our experience has made all these categories increasingly useless, we are all the more excited in these theories that revive them for us. There's a whole new scientific literature that is basically arguing some version of men are from Mars, women are from Venus. [These ideas assert that] even though everything around you might suggest otherwise, the comforting reality underneath all that cultural diversity is a very stable world in which boys are boys and girls are girls, and black is black and white is white ... "


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