The End of Gender on NPR

It’s not exactly philosophy, but at least NPR’s website considers the changes in gender as an organizing category of human social life.  The coverage reminds me of my gender-studies students’ intrigued but puzzled reactions to reading Anne Fausto-Sterling’s arguments, in Sexing the Body, that gender tyranny can be reduced by public conversation, social activism, and the organized efforts of the “gender lobby.”  “Are we in the lobby?” a young woman asked me.  Maybe not yet, but they were certainly part of a public conversation.

As Fausto-Sterling says, “my vision is utopian, but I believe in its possibility” (114)!  And note, before you post a comment that we cannot get rid of gender, that neither NPR nor  Fausto-Sterling call for the disappearance of difference; they note the reduction of tyrannical rigidity, which is surely something else.

5 thoughts on “The End of Gender on NPR

  1. Wow! “Everywhere you turn, it seems, there is talk of gender-neutral this and gender-free that: baby bedding (Wild Safari by Carousel); fashion (Kanye West in a Celine women’s shirt); Bibles (the New International Version).

    Gender neutrality, writes one blogging parent, is the new black.”

    Gosh, I hope it’s true. I’m sick to death of all the pink and blue crap.

  2. Thanks, New Yorker, I was going to make some such joke and should have known I could depend on the readership to do it for me, ha ha!

    Jender, I wouldn’t get too hopeful about the accuracy of NPR’s shallow treatment; it’s typical pop culture commentary to say “everyone’s doing X nowadays” in that breezy way. And I would disagree that the examples point to gender ‘neutrality.’ It’s not neutral; it’s dynamic, challenging and sometimes downright playful, but it’s gender negotiation more than neutrality. Not that I’m complaining! I’m very happy to see so much evidence that, as Judith Butler says, gender is a permanently contested site of meaning (and it’s a good thing, too!).

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