• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The central argument of this book is that the sex//gender distinction is invalid and must be transcended. To this end, the work of Foucault, Connell, Goffman, Garfinkel, Butler, Freud, Derrida, Saussure, Lacquer and Kessler and McKenna is woven into a rich and compelling set of arguments. The sex//gender distinction is attacked for producing a series of irresolvable traps. However much one tries to think one's way out of the dichotomy, one ends up being suckered back into its imponderables and blind alleys. The book attempts to comprehensively reorientate the field and redefine the terrain.

The Vagaries of Language
The vagaries of language

Denise Riley's elegant essay of 1987 ‘Does a Sex Have a History?’, and its later version in her book Am I That Name? (published the following year), take us full circle back to the beginning of our exploration. Like Ann Oakley, she describes what she calls the historical ‘loops’ by means of which women cycle between a refusal to inhabit the femininities that are thrust upon them and an assertion of an alternative, but no less compelling, account of a female nature, which, as she says, an older feminism had always sought to shred to bits. But unlike Oakley, she doesn't seek to settle the argument, but to avoid re-treading these loops entirely, recognizing that ‘factions flourish in ...

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