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In Search of the Perfect Body: Intersexuality as Trope for Reading the Female Subject

05.01.2005 | 18:30

Leslie Winston, Dickinson College

Abriss

 In denouncing girls' education for not being equal to that of boys in the essay "Joshi kyōiku ni taisuru kibō" ("Expectations of Girls' Education," 1896), women's rights advocate Shimizu Shikin (1868-1933) uses the trope of the intersexual strategically to displace the body as site of difference. In this essay, she imagines a hypothetical intersexual in his/her "perfectly formed body," and later uses this figure as the paradigm for several characters in her short stories-- characters that are sympathetically portrayed. Shikin severs the causal link between sex and gender, thereby refuting the popular notion that behavior is rooted in the body. In this paper, I focus on the trope of intersexuality in reading the female subject not only in Shikin's work but elsewhere. The paradigm of intersexuality as an alternative to the sex/gender binary provides a view of a counter discourse that competed with that of sexology and medical science, the increasingly dominant forms of "knowledge" in this field during the 1910s and 20s.

Koordination: Andrea Germer; Sven Saaler

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