Sunday, January 22, 2012

Constructed categories

Hanne Blank, being interviewed in Salon about her book Straight, is talking about gender identity, but this discussion has a more general application:
[Interviewer] I’m quite attached to my identity as a gay man — and, to be honest, I would feel a little troubled having my category taken away from me.
See, that’s the thing, no one is going to take that away from you.  No one can take that away from you. The only thing they can take away from you is the illusion that this is not something that is constructed.  And that’s very, very different.  Just because something is constructed as a social category, doesn’t mean that it’s not enormously meaningful.  It doesn’t mean that we haven’t built a whole damn civilization on it. Doesn’t mean that we don’t live our daily lives on it, doesn’t mean that we don’t use it all the time every time we’re walking down the street.  This is real.  It’s stuff that has physical manifestations in the real world. But that does not mean that it is organic. 
[Interviewer] Or innate. 
Or inevitable. 

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