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Exploring gendered/sexed coporeality in selected twentieth-century African American women’s writings towards an alternative theory of gendered/sexed embodiment

Author:

Gayathri Madhurangi Hewagama

University of Peradeniya, LK
About Gayathri Madhurangi
Department of English
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Abstract

Given the general primacy of the gendered/sexed subject that even seems to demarcate the human from the non-human, one’s gendered/sexed identity gains an originary significance over other identity categorizations such as race, class, ethnicity etc. Gender/sex seen as an effect of a mainstream patriarchal ideology of heterosexuality, further assumes and validates/naturalizes a gendered/sexed corporeality (an assumed “reality”). Such a discourse then makes available a “woman’s body” by giving primacy/recognition to heterosexual difference, on the basis of which discrimination and exploitation are enacted.

What I aim here is to problematize this heterogendered/sexed (gender is always already heterogendered) binary (not to say that sexuality or sexual difference/identity does not matter), by claiming that it is the assumed primal significance of heterogender/sex that is the mainspring of societal sexism. And it is only through a disruption of the very moment of discursive recognition/discrimination/interpellation of the “woman’s body,” that sexist discourses can be subverted. In the above light, the apparent reinforcement of the heterogendered/sexed binary and “black difference” in selected twentieth-century African American women’s writing seems at loggerheads with my theoretical problematizations. However, these writings, read from a particular location, also open up a space of ambivalence; for, though beginning in heterogender/sex, these texts have the potential to look forward to a future freedom that transcends constraints generated by the “woman’s body.”

Thus, I will locate my study in selected African American texts by women (for instance, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, poetry by Nikki Giovanni, Lucille Clifton, etc.) while drawing from poststructural theoretical sources such as Judith Butler, bell hooks, Monique Wittig and Helene Cixous.

How to Cite: Hewagama, G.M., (2014). Exploring gendered/sexed coporeality in selected twentieth-century African American women’s writings towards an alternative theory of gendered/sexed embodiment. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies. 1(1), pp.23–31. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/ijms.v1i1.29
Published on 30 Jun 2014.
Peer Reviewed

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