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.

Unpicking the Knot1

Unpicking the knot

As the previous chapter indicated, the importance of Christine Delphy's endeavour lies in her querying the naturalistic basis of ‘gender’ in ‘sex’. ‘Sex’, which, these days, appears to be both ubiquitous and obvious, is, for Delphy, the product of a set of social relationships. The existence of a biological marker is the product of the ‘recognition’ induced by the presence of sex-classes. Everybody ‘knows’ that men are men and women are women. The power of this obviousness is to be seen in the expert analyses of sociology no less than in the folk knowledge of the person in the street. Both sociology and folk knowledge begin with, and take for granted, a reality whose facticity neither cares to consider – ...

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