Thinking about gender, sexuality and methodology

This month I have begun another book review assignment. I will be reviewing Catherine Hakim’s ‘Erotic Capital: The power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom’ for its US release. The monograph was released in the UK under the title ‘Honey Money’, which, Sinistre informs me, is a reference to a furry 7 foot British cereal mascot. I am also reading Whipping Girl by Julia Serrano. The former book is a sociological study on the role of attractiveness as a means to social advancement (particularly with reference to women). There is a lot of reference to a lot of international data, as well as very interesting and instructional anecdotes. The latter book concerns a set of essays on the topic of trans female prejudice, and the multiple layers of discrimination for trans women, as well as an dddress of the variety of issues involved in transexual life. I think its fair to say that both books are totally opening my mind right now. For someone who was planning to read Aristotle’s ‘Topics’ as leisurely reading, I’ve really improved on my awareness about gender issues.

I am thinking about a variety of related issues, some of which take place within the guise of thinking as a feminist, others do not, but relate to reading these two books. These issues are as follows:

  1. How is understanding of gender informed? In particular: do putative accounts of comparative male hypersexuality to female sexuality find justification in the datasets? Is feminism blindly committed to an ideological commitment to gender where the stats give a different picture? Further: what justificatory scheme should our our understanding of gender be based upon? These are questions of epistemology, metaphysics, methodology and ideology
  2. Are we at risk of overemphasising the ‘goths over the ski jumpers’ when we look at hypersexual activity and extremely attractive people as our candidates for analysis?
  3. Thinking about interaction: what does Hakim’s monograph tell us about the nature of interactions through the prism of gender. Are we no different to the victorian attitudes put forward by the likes of Wilde’s ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’ or Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’? Does the myth of physiognomy still exist as a social reality?

These are topics for consideration in my reading. I’ll try to pan this out through April as part of a series (series is at least more than one, right?) of posts.


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