Gender seminar – day 2
Here I am: day two and experiences richer. The day started with breakfast and morning song – just how højskole is supposed to start, and I think I will introduce this into the morning ritual at home, it’s so refreshing 🙂 On today’s schedule were two lectures and one movie interspersed with meals and coffee breaks every hour (I am almost not kidding you – am starting to get a Hansel-paranoia over all the good food that is being offered).
The first lecture was by Dag Heede, ph.d. in comparative literature at SDU, who’s speciality is Karen Blixen, H.C. Andersen and Herman Bang. His lecture was very captivating and it was dangerously easy to let oneself fall into believing everything he put out. He started with a critique of the notion of sexuality, and very explicitly and smilingly advised us all to read Foucault‘s History
of Sexuality Volume 1″ as otherwise we could not talk about sexuality with any real knowledge on the case. He used Foucault to explain just how modern the notion of sexuality is and how sexuality is constructed by history, posing that sexuality is a radical and historical incident that we must rid ourselves of. The construction of sexuality is misunderstood in our days – it is not an essence that is being repressed and needs to be set free, but an suppressive installation set up by governing power structures that we must rid ourselves of in order to go beyond being constructed sexualities! All very Foucaultian and theoretical. I have yet to read HoS in its whole, but if it is anything like Heede put before us, it is something I will look forward to dive into. After Foucault he introduced us to Judith Butler. Her theory is on how ascertaining is an act of speech, and it sets in motion an iterative action called ‘girling’ and ‘boying’ (the meaning pretty much lies in the words). Gender is always a process and we can never be perfect genders, because there is no original. So we are always copying the copy of a non-existing original. As we continue to quote this in repetitive motion it is true that we cannot not be gender. However some take it to extremes and “over-quote” or “mis-quote” their gender identity. He then went on queering both Karen Blixen’s “Seven Gothic Tales” and H.C. Andersen.
Then came the lecture with Sjón, the Icelandic writer, who wrote the preface to the Danish translation of SCUM-manifesto by Valerie Solanas. He called himself ‘the retarded brother of Sara Stridsberg’ (as she knew more about VS, and in essence of him being male, hence inferior). It was very interesting seeing someone so passionate about this person most people have written off as being a crazed loner with a crazed text that offered a solution to harmony as the killing of all the male sex. He quoted Solanas: “Male is an incomplete female. A walking abortion.” And she posed that a structural problem in our patriarchal society was that men wanted to be women and thus created women in the image of how they imagined themselves to be if they were women – hence a perversion of female. He talked about his experience with Solanas’ text, which he told us, at first came at him with a screaming anger, but in the text he also found humor. Not the kind of slap-stick humor of comedy, but the humor that turns the world as we know it upside down, and shows its darkness. He talked a great deal about the notion of utopia and how many have described this place as an ultimately good place, but few have depicted the road to utopia as he means Solanas does. In the evening we saw ‘Antichrist’ by Lars von Trier as a prequel to the lecture tomorrow by Lilian Munk Rösing. I had seen it one time before, but this time I really had the time to read into it, and decode it. But more on this tomorrow.