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What Gender Is, What Gender Does

2016
Author:

Judith Roof

What Gender Is, What Gender Does

A truly new conceptualization of “genders”

What Gender Is, What Gender Does provides a forceful new paradigm for considering genders. With depth and insight, Judith Roof demonstrates how the persistent conflation of gender and sexual difference is, on the one hand, a simple taxonomic urge and, on the other, a cover that offers the security of identity in place of the frustrations and fears of the real asymmetries of personal power dynamics.

What Gender Is, What Gender Does is a major intervention in today’s stagnant theoretical debates on gender in its twenty-first-century permutations. With characteristic assertiveness, Judith Roof takes us beyond identity politics to forge a model of polymorphous sexuation that exposes gender regimes—including those based in queer, transgender, and performative thought—to cover up and perpetuate the asymmetries of sexual difference as immutable truth.

Renée C. Hoogland, Wayne State University

What Gender Is, What Gender Does provides a forceful new paradigm for considering genders. With depth and insight, Judith Roof argues that genders are much more than binary. And they are constantly morphing: they are conscious and unconscious, simultaneously conventional and idiosyncratic. At any moment, more than one gender dynamic is at work in any individual.

Roof’s interpretation of genders isn’t content with either biological duality or endlessly open performativity, and what results is a nuanced and surprising representation of gender—an account that captures the complexities of lived experience as well as lived ideology. For Roof, genders are interacting sets of operations that link individual desires to multiple, shifting manifestations of sociocultural positioning and self-presentation. Thus, “to gender” is to signal, mask, suggest, mislead, and simplify the uncontainable chaos of desires characteristic of subjects but roundly contained by society.

Drawing illustrative material from contemporary popular culture productions, including My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Spider-man, Shrek, Shallow Hal, Sex and the City, Bridesmaids, Bond films, and “bromance” movies, What Gender Is, What Gender Does demonstrates how the persistent conflation of gender and sexual difference is, on the one hand, a simple taxonomic urge and, on the other, a cover that offers the security of identity in place of the frustrations and fears of the real asymmetries of personal power dynamics.

What Gender Is, What Gender Does

Judith Roof is William Shakespeare Chair in English at Rice University. She is the author of A Lure of Knowledge: Lesbian Sexuality and Theory, Reproductions of Reproduction: Imaging Symbolic Change, Come As You Are: Sexuality and Narrative, All about Thelma and Eve: Sidekicks and Third Wheels, and The Poetics of DNA (Minnesota, 2007).

What Gender Is, What Gender Does

What Gender Is, What Gender Does is a major intervention in today’s stagnant theoretical debates on gender in its twenty-first-century permutations. With characteristic assertiveness, Judith Roof takes us beyond identity politics to forge a model of polymorphous sexuation that exposes gender regimes—including those based in queer, transgender, and performative thought—to cover up and perpetuate the asymmetries of sexual difference as immutable truth.

Renée C. Hoogland, Wayne State University

What Gender Is, What Gender Does

Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Making Over: Metamorphosis, Taxonomy, Vantage
2. Prosopopeias: Exceeding Kind
3. Temporality Still
4. Social Algebras
5. Scopic Folding, Layered Economies
6. The Fixer
7. Gender Is as Gender Does: On the Rebound
8. Spurious Displays
Conclusion
Notes
Filmography
Index