On the name, ideation, and sexual difference
The term gender has, for many years, been invoked as if it solved all the problems inherent in the category of sex. But has gender-as term and as concept-created another set of problems and problematic analogies? Is it the red herring of current work in our field? And does it have implications for futurity in the sense of what is to come in the field of women's, gender, and sexuality studies? Does gender, in effect, confirm the mischaracterization, repeated obsessively in the U.S. academy especially, of women's studies as an identity formation rather than as a field that questions the presence-through the oscillation between presence and absence-or possibility of sexual difference to come? Sexual difference, this essay posits, is a term with transitional content, yet to be fully conceived, and indeed perhaps intellectually hospitable in ways that resist content as justification, conceptualization as closure, or thought as merely aspirational. Sexual difference is still yet to be thought, and versions of it that we have belong to the anthropological rendering whereby sexes are imagined as existing when one might say they are material conditions formulated within an economy of the same.
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