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August 7th, 2009


07:32 pm
having a strictly smoking party tonight. should be fun :)
went up north to cochrane ontario for the past week. it was definately interesting. google maps where that is if you're interested. Pretty far up there!

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June 17th, 2009


09:21 pm
ben made sloppy joes tonight. didn't make them extra sloppy.

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July 9th, 2008


02:56 pm
basically, what we're going to do here... is dance.

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April 23rd, 2008


03:30 pm - Understanding Male Pregnancy
In Judith Butler’s work entitled Performing Feminisms, she presents the theory that gender is a performative role that human beings play, along with several other roles such as those which pertain to profession and our social circles. She insists that these gender roles roles have been constructed by history by the process of repetition. The repetition of such acts is what makes them engrained in societies, for actions repeated enough become habit and even feel ‘natural’. Butler’s theory supports the transgendered individual; she writes, “If the ground of gender identity is the stylized repetition of acts through time, and not a seemingly seamless identity, then the possibilities of gender transformation are to be found in the arbitrary relation between such acts, in the possibility of a different sort of repeating, in the breaking or subversive repetition of that style.” (Butler, 86)
Gender, according to Butler, cannot be true or false. It is a fluid act that society has gratuitously attributed excessive value. When an individual fails to perform the expected gender roles, they are punished both directly and indirectly, passively and aggressively. Alternatively, when the appropriate roles are played correctly, there is a sense of reassurance there are some essential attributes belonging to gender identity. However, she explains, “That this reassurance is so easily displaced by anxiety, that culture so readily punishes or marginalizes those who fail to perform the illusion of gender essentialism should be sign enough that on some level there is social knowledge that the truth or falsity of gender is only socially compelled and in no sense ontologically necessitated” (Butler, 94) There is a great deal of anxiety surrounding gender roles in our modern society. There are so many different roles that one can choose to play that it becomes confusing and difficult to establish an identity. The ideals for men and women have been and continue to change rapidly, and opinions on how each should perform vary widely. When someone is unsettled by a performed gender role, it is an indicator that a part of them knows that gender is not intrinsic. For if it were, the issue would not have arisen at all and we would all share the same gender characteristics. For those that are bothered by gender-bending situations, Butler’s theory can be used to understand the normalcy of such individuals.
On April 8th, 2008, Thomas Beatie published a story on the online lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual/gendered news website, “Advocate.com”. In the story, Thomas explains that he is the world’s first “pregnant man”. Male pregnancy has been fantasized about for thousands of years. In fact, the fantasy could become reality in the near future, as science evolves to facilitate the situation in a naturally-born male. Although the process would be difficult and completely conducted by physicians, a new life will remain to be the product. The issue of male pregnancy lies in gender identity and whether or not the desire to have a child is a female-specific gender role/desire. Thomas Beatie is male gender-oriented and before the pregnancy, he was undergoing hormonal treatment using testosterone which provides him with facial and chest hair. In order to become pregnant, Thomas stopped taking the testosterone treatments and his body resumed it’s cycle of estrogen. His breasts have been surgically removed, however he chose to keep his female sexual organs that are capable of bearing children. Thomas explains that “sterilization is not a requirement for sex reassignment, so [he] decided to have chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy but kept [his] reproductive rights.” (Beatie, 1) He is legally a male and he is also legally married to his wife, Nancy, who is unable to become pregnant and it is this fact that led the couple to Thomas’ pregnancy. He has attracted the attention of the media and the world, as people are presented with the immediate implications of his pregnancy. The immediacy is found in the visual appearance of Thomas and the philosophical controversies of his pregnancy arising from historical preconceptions. The most popular concern in response to his pregnancy has been the question of his gender-identity, that he is not a “true” man because of his desire to bear a child. However, as Thomas himself puts it in his article entitled Labor of Love, “Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire.” (Beatie, 1)
In her article entitled Why do women want children, award-winning journalist and novelist Yvonne Roberts points to the fact that, “Wanting a child (very different from becoming a mother) is, for many, a desire in part triggered by a society that plugs an idealized, highly commercial version of motherhood. So women have babies because it is expected; because they want to hold on to a partner, end loneliness or fight boredom.” (Roberts, 1) The desire to have a child has been historically attributed to females, and in today’s society the role of motherhood has been highly commercialized. It is no mystery, then, why Thomas Beatie desired a biological child despite his gender-identity. He has been influenced by the history of mankind, the basic urge to procreate that we have always known. He may be the first pregnant man, but he is not the first man to desire a biological child. For example, men in homosexual relationships may seek to have a biological child through the use of surrogate mothers. This is when a couple that wishes to have a baby seek out the help of another woman to carry and give birth to their child. Thomas attempts to understand his own situation in this way when he writes, “In a technical sense I see myself as my own surrogate, though my gender identity as male is constant.”(Beatie, 3) The use of a surrogate mother is an action that originates in the desire to have a child, a human desire which Thomas and his wife share.
Thomas’ appearance is quite shocking, as he looks exactly as one might assume the pregnant man would. He has altered his body to conform with current societal ideas of the male appearance, insofar as what he presents to the world in public. He has removed his breasts, he dons “male clothing” and his hormonal treatments give him a low voice, facial and chest hair. That he has done this follows Butler’s theory regarding the historical creation of gender roles, they have been formed and created throughout history by society. For Butler, appearance and reality have a complicated relationship, appearance being the performative gender role that one plays and which is visually seen (i.e. Clothing, gestures, style of hair, etc.) and reality being the gender which the individual identifies with. It can be difficult to reconcile the two. Butler says,
“… there is no presumption that the act is distinct from a reality; the disquieting effect of the act is that there are no conventions that facilitate making this separation… From the point of view of those establish categories, one may want to claim, but oh, this is really a girl or a woman, or this is really a boy or a man, and further that the appearance contradicts the reality of the gender, that the discrete and familiar reality must be there, nascent, temporarily unrealized, perhaps realized at other times or places. The transvestite, however, can do more than simply express the distinction between appearance and reality that structures a good deal of popular thinking about gender identity. If the ‘reality’ of gender is constituted by the performance itself, then there is no recourse to an essential and unrealized ‘sex’ or ‘gender’ which gender performances ostensibly express. Indeed, the transvestite’s gender is as fully real as anyone whose performance complies with social expectations.”
(Butler, 93)
If we are to determine, then, what Thomas Beatie ‘is’ by his gender performance, he would in fact be labeled a pregnant man. The reality is that his male, gender identity is secure and it would not have been questioned if his appearance did not suggest pregnancy.
Performative gender roles are shared in a general sense, however they are also unique to the individual. Butler’s claim that gender is performative is comparable to an actor of the theatre. She explains that the actor, although limited to the lines he/she is given, can choose to perform them in the style they prefer. For example, the actor can choose the inflections of their voice whilst performing their character. Gender roles are similar, in that although we preform these roles on a daily basis, we present them in our own, personal way. As Butler puts it, “As performance which is performative, gender is an ‘act,’ broadly construed, which constructs the social fiction of its own psychological interiority” (Butler, 94) In accordance to this, Thomas’s claim that the desire to bear a child is a human one is valid. The pregnant belly is physiological result of pregnancy, and it is not the appearance of pregnancy that Thomas desires, rather it is the child itself. He has chosen to play his male-gender role in a way that presents the world with his personal, psychological identity - that is, his desire to have a biological child.
Butler’s theory seems to ignore the sex of an individual, however she states that, like gender, sex has been understood differently throughout history. For example, the female sex organs were previously thought to be inverted male sex organs. Also, the female orgasm was believed to be either a psychological delusion or the result of being possessed by a demon or the devil. It is only in the past century have we fully understood the reproductive organs and we are still unsure of what exactly constitutes the sex of a person, for there are several previously unknown factors such as hormones and genealogy. It is undeniable that Thomas was born a female and possesses female reproductive sex organs. Despite this, he is able to confirm that he is a man, and that he has always known this. He announced on the Oprah Winfrey Show, “I’m a man, I just happen to be a pregnant man.” Opinions on his sex and gender may differ, but it is only Thomas that knows for certain.
The philosophical and moral issues that arise from male pregnancy are just as historically contingent as gender and sex as presented by Judith Butler. Thomas’ situation is unprecedented and therefore the previous historical idea of pregnancy must be reexamined, especially if sciences provides us with a safe way to impregnate a biological male. Women have always possessed four obvious connections to “life”: the act of heterosexual intercourse (offering the possibility of pregnancy), the act of birth, the menstrual cycle and breast feeding. Men, however, possess only one, that is their sperm. Now that science could quite possibly provide men with similar if not the same connections to life as women, we will be forced to alter our notions of pregnancy. The only reason pregnancy and the desire to have a child remain a female gender attribute is because females are the only sex capable of doing so. This is, technically, still the case. It is appropriate, then, that Thomas’ pregnancy has happened now, while science is on the verge of ‘true’ male pregnancy. Thomas’ pregnancy can be viewed as a preparation for what is to come. More importantly, however, his pregnancy provides us with a clear example of Judith Butler’s theory in practice.
As the weeks have passed since Thomas Beatie first published Labour of Love, there has been a decrease in media attention. This is most likely due to the fact that most people felt deceived by the headlines reading, “The World’s First Pregnant Man”, as they read on to find out that Thomas still possesses his female, reproductive organs. They expected a miracle or a sudden advancement in science and instead they were presented with a question of gender identity. For those who felt deceived, the question is easily answered, for they believe that Thomas remains female, despite his gender-orientation. For those who considered the question further, it is clear that Judith Butler’s gender theory helps to understand Thomas’ situation. Thomas is simply performing the gender roles that are described as manly, for that is how he externalizes his personal identity.






Bibliography

Beatie, Thomas. "Labor of Love." The Advocate 8 Apr. 2008. 8 Apr. 2008 <http://advocate.com/issue_story.asp?id=52664>.

Butler, Judith “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” in Performing Feminisms” Foundation Year Programme Handbook. Halifax: University of King’s College, 2007-08

--------------. Undoing Gender. Boca Raton, FL:Routledge, 2004

Roberts, Yvonne. “Why Do Women Want Children?” New Statesmen. 130 (2001) 12

Silver, Lee. "Is the First Pregnant Man Really a Man? According to the Vatican, He Is." Scientific Blogging (2008). 8 Apr. 2008 <http://www.scientificblogging.com/print/9791>.

Butler, Judith
Book Title: Undoing Gender. Contributors: Judith Butler - author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: Boca Raton, FL. Publication Year: 2004. Page Number: iii.



~copyright kate mackinnon, fuckers~

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March 3rd, 2008


01:26 pm
Do you ever google your usernames and see what pops up? It's kinda creepy.

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February 27th, 2008


12:40 am
hello bot i want you

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January 21st, 2008


12:54 pm
hey there best friend
:)

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March 19th, 2007


04:49 pm
guys i just scared the shit outta myself....




i can text way too fast.

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February 8th, 2007


05:07 pm
OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD ONTD HAS BEEN SUSPENDED I DONT KNOW WHAT I'LL DO OMG ONTDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

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February 12th, 2006


06:11 pm - Has anyone explained...

Ethan's eyes in episode 1x15 Homecoming?

 

in these pictures...Collapse )

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