GENDER OUTLAW by Kate Bornstein

GENDER OUTLAW

On Men, Women and the Rest of Us

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A thoughtful challenge to gender ideology that continually asks difficult questions about identity, orientation, and desire. Bornstein cleverly incorporates cultural criticism, dramatic writing, and autobiography to make her point that gender (which she distinguishes from sex) is a cultural rather than a natural phenomenon. The chapters range from ``fashion tips'' on her writing style to dialogue between herself and another about the ``nuts and bolts'' of the surgical process of a gender change (which she has undergone). Confronting transgenderism and transgendered people is not easy for many individuals, but Bornstein does it in a way that sparks debate without putting her audience on the defensive. She suggests that ``the culture may not simply be creating roles for naturally-gendered people, the culture may in fact be creating the gendered people.'' Her discussion of the ``parts'' of gender is based on respected sources and includes analyses of gender assignment, identity, and roles. Things get mixed up, according to Bornstein, because ``sexual orientation/preference is based in this culture solely on the gender of one's partner of choice,'' in effect confusing orientation and preference. Seeing queer theater as a place in which gender ambiguity and fluidity can and should be explored, she includes in the book her play, Hidden: A Gender. Bornstein uses the term ``gender defenders'' to describe those who work hard to maintain the current rigid system of gender, and she claims that her ``people'' (i.e., the transgendered) are just beginning to challenge the system and to demand acceptance and understanding. Bornstein's witty style, personal approach, and frankness open doors to questioning gender assumptions and boundaries.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-415-90897-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Routledge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994




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