Gender: No Limits

Photo by Jan Saudek: Women et Men

If identity becomes the problem of sexual existence, and if people think that they have to “uncover” their “own identity,” and that their own identity has to become the law, the principle, the code of their existence; if the perennial question they ask is “Does this thing conform to my identity?” then, I think, they will turn back to a kind of ethics very close to the old heterosexual virility. If we are asked to relate to the question of identity, it must be an identity to our unique selves. But the relationships we have to have with ourselves are not ones of identity, rather, they must be relationships of differentiation, of creation, of innovation. To be the same is really boring. We must not exclude identity if people find their pleasure through this identity, but we must not think of this identity as an ethical universal rule.

Michel Foucault
Sex, Power and the Politics of Identity (1984)

Photo by Jan Saudek: Women et Men

Related: Eros: No Limits

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2 thoughts on “Gender: No Limits

  1. Gore Vidal has commented upon the excellent thinkers that were created by the pressure of German repression. Kenneth Clark, in his series “Civilization”, comments upon the excellent eccentrics that were created by the pressure of Victorian repression. For all the creative souls that were defeated by social codes in times of acute conformity, a few greats survive. In fact, greatness is inseparable from the heroic effort to survive hostile forces.

    A MacArthur Grant winner said, “Genius is the room one finds in a straight-jacket.” I’ll push it to a comic extreme and say that, “If Leonardo were alive today, he’d be making prize winning floats for a gay pride parade.”

    I’ve an itch to reread Ortega y Gassets “Revolt of the Masses”. But it would only flatter the inner-reactionary. I reject the idea of everyman-an-artist. I believe every man has an inner-genius, but that it has nothing to do with a Great Creative Force. Rather, it has everything to do with a creative force that makes a very good butcher, baker and candlestick maker. All that being said, I grew up in the American Midwest and the “proven” male-codes aren’t for everyone. You get excellent natural-men in the style of Gordie Howe. They can score, assist and fight. Hockey is a kind of German b-i-l-d-u-n-g that builds manly character. But there’s also an inbreeding of style that comes from any fraternity. It can be tedious.

    In fact, I find that there is an intellectual and artistic poverty in most men living by “the old virile codes”. Worse, they end up being tools for the state as tax-slaves or enforcers. Outside of creating a profitable business, independence of mind isn’t valued. It’s regarded like the apple in Eden: a hexed fruit.

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