A Proposed Roundtable for the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Conference, November 11-14, Denver, CO
For many years, feminist theory has engaged in postmodern deconstructive analyses of sex, gender and sexuality. In addition, queer theory, transgender and intersex studies have made critical interventions in current understandings of these vexed social categories. However, with few exceptions, little feminist, queer, trans and intersex work has dealt head-on with the notion of what Judith Lorber terms “de-gendering” in her ground-breaking book Breaking the Bowls: the push to get rid of gender entirely from our society. Is gender such an oppressive and essentially meaningless categorization that a progressive analysis would seek to root it out from our society? Or are there productive meanings to sex and gender that are central to our culture and pivotal in people’s understanding of themselves and those around them in the social matrix?
This round-table discussion seeks to provide multiple perspectives on the complex question of eradicating gender from our society. Activists, artists, performers, theorists and scholars from multiple sides of this debate are invited to submit their work. Possible themes include (but are not limited to):
* Ways in which society would and would not benefit due to the eradication of gender
* Artistic, performative, political and meditative analyses of what our society might look like without gender as we know it
* What are people’s attachments to gender and why are so many invested in maintaining gender, even in the face of all of its problems, limitations and oppressive aspects?
* Thinking through political and theoretical relationships between transgender, queer, feminist and intersex analyses and the project of dismantling and eradicating sex and gender roles
* Intersectional approaches that consider race, religion, nation, disability, age and culture vis-�-vis the de-gendering of society
* Is gender in and of itself patriarchal, heterosexist and transphobic? If gender is something worth salvaging, how do we contribute to and construct a version of gender that is explicitly anti-sexist, anti-heteronormative and trans-affirmative?
* If gender were abolished, what would sexuality look like? How about reproduction and child-rearing? Would categories such as hetero/homo/bisexual cease to exist?
* While de-gendering society is a colossal goal, one of the ways Lorber proposes we get there is the urgent need to eradicate notions of legal and bureaucratic gender. Why have attempts to legally classify gender failed and how can we un-do gender by eliminating gendered categories on birth certificates, licenses, and passports as well as questions about gender on job and college applications, official forms, etc.?
* What are productive uses of gender? How is it pleasurable, empowering, affirmative, transgressive and useful to members of the populace? How does gender contribute to individual, group and societal membership, notions of belonging and group cohesiveness? What are possible positive connotations of gendered space, organizations and institutions? What does the eradication of gender take away from those who are invested in its existence?
* Second Wave discussions and conceptualizations of the notion of “androgyny” and how it does and does not relate to this topic
If you are interested in taking part in this round-table, please send the following info by February 20, 2010 to Joelle.Ryan@unh.edu :
Name, Institutional Affiliation, Snail Mail, Email, Phone, Title for your talk, a one-page, double-spaced abstract in which you lay out your topic and what you wish to talk about. Each person will speak for around 10 minutes, and we will leave plenty of time for Q&A.