Monday, July 23, 2012

sex, sweat, taste, flesh

This summer, I've been tracking down ideas of normal and abnormal, as ways of describing bodily experience. This is inspired, as I've said repeatedly, by a very good book called Queer Phenomenology, by Sara Ahmed, who has still not paid me a nickel for this. Anyway.

Theory sometimes gets in the way. This happens, for instance, when an apparently earnest trans-gender/sexual writer (name omitted politely) spends tons of ink on theorizing about bodies, sexuality, gender, and the politics and academic understanding of all that, in an attempt to get at the experience of gender and sexuality.

Let me be blunt: sexuality and gender are not the same thing as the interpretation of sexuality and gender.

Because I present/pass as a straight man, I don't have street cred to say a lot of this. It is clearly suspicious for me to claim to have direct access to sexual embodiment in its most carnal and un-gendered, un-disciplined, un-enforced manifestation. I'm going to claim it anyway.

The problem with all the theorizing about sex/gender/identity/orientation/etc. is the way it departs from the carnal experience of, for lack of a better word, flesh. By flesh, I don't mean some theoretical concept. I mean that stuff I can touch and smell and taste. I mean the stuff whose sweat I can see, feel, smell, taste, and that makes me sweat in return. I mean the stuff I desire without will or thought.

There's too little sweat, too little smell and taste, in the discourses of feminism and queer theory. As far as I'm concerned, if you want to know about sexuality and gender, that's what you need to know about: whose flesh, whose sweat, do you long to taste?

Thus my <300 word rejoinder to this 200 page book I'm slogging through.


Bobo the Wandering Pallbearer said...

Who ordered the Swiss chard?

Doc Nagel said...

That's fine, waiter. Just leave it on the dresser.