Re: Sex Change

Steve Witham (
Sat, 26 Jul 1997 23:48:44 -0400

Robin Hanson writes-

>>This quote says only that gender *is* constructed, which I have not
>>disputed. It does not address my question, which is why social
>>institutions would want to hide the fact of that construction.

Kathryn Aegis writes-

>I would not say that they 'want' to hide the fact of the
>construction, I would say that it runs contrary to the interests of
>social institutions to reveal the mechanics of their own
>constructions to the individuals that are affected by them.

Yes, but why? "Want" is just a shorthand. The question is, *why*, in
your opinion, it's in the interests of "social institutions" (and, as Robin
points out, you seem to mean *all* of them--baseball, trade, the word
"the," etc.) to conceal rather than reveal their own constructions? Why
don't they benefit by being up-front and above-board instead? Why
don't they benefit by actively *encouraging* exploration of and challenge
to their constructions? Isn't criticism helpful? Isn't openness good
publicity? At least in some cases?

Think about the analogy to human beings. It's like saying, "No one
benefits by having their personna examined or criticized." You don't
think that's true do you? So why are social institutions different?


--           Steve Witham          web page under reconsideration
"Philosophers have often attempted to analyze perception into the Given and
 what is then done with the Given by the mind.  The Given is, of course,
 Taken..." --Daniel Dennett