Friday, June 4, 2010

The Table of Content

Can a man write like a woman?
Can a woman write like a man?

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

Which poet is the man and which is the woman, or are they the same sex?

How It Started
I am strangely fascinated with gender studies and for a long time have been intrigued by the question "Is there is a basic humanistic way with which to view the world?" I have struggled with the question "Can you see someone from a blank slate?" and always feeling gender-typing is so innately inbred since birth (pink baby blanket for girls and blue for boys) that I can't respond to someone as just human, rather only as masculine or feminine.

Enter the idea of the Hermaphrodite...

...and thus began the formulation of my answer.


It is possible for someone to have a blank slate, but not through removing socialized ideas of established gender. Many "intellectual" musings and lots of research later, my information has pointed to the opposite. We can view another human from a blank slate not through removing gender, rather paradoxically through combining gender and achieving a hermaphroditic wholeness of knowledge! Is it possible? Queen Elizabeth Tudor accomplished such a feat during the Renaissance and today the online blogosphere harbors a multitude of such figures, in fact, if you blog, have a facebook account, or an online avatar of any sort you might be one of them!

The Trilogy

This is synopsis of my trilogy blogs which analyze the hermaphrodite figure as played out in the Renaissance and in today's society. You can see my trilogy:
  1. The Digital Hermaphrodite
  2. The Hermaphroditic Sovereign: Renaissance Exploration of Gender
  3. Avatars: Exploration of Gender in the Digital Age
My entire blog, The Best Things in Life Aren't Hard to Find, is devoted to research and musings on gender issues regarding masculinity and femininity and the idea of the hermaphrodite in relation to those issues.

Who knows, maybe reading these articles will spur you to read the other blogs, comment and you will find a new way of viewing interaction with others.

The Digital Hermaphrodite
This is the core of my argument, the point or tip of my literary triangle. While explaining the Hermaphrodite as a literary figure, this post explains the relevance of the hermaphrodite in relation to the Renaissance transvestite theater, English monarchy and events, as well as making it pertinent to our day in relation to the modern social platform of the world wide web and blogosphere.

The Hermaphroditic Sovereign: Renaissance Exploration of Gender

Queen Elizabeth Tudor, reining monarch of England for 70 years (1533-1603) never married and ruled as a single sovereign, claiming her status as England's King. How can this be? The title "King" is attributed to a male body in the monarchy position, not female. Elizabeth pushed the idea that the position of King was not based upon biological factors, rather it was based upon the ability of a person to perform a masculine gender role. In one of her most famous speeches, the Tilbury Speech, Elizabeth combines her female body with masculine gender, making for a hermaphroditic figure visually and idealistically.

Avatars: Exploration of Gender in the Digital Age
Can you pose as a your opposite sex online? Can you master the elements of word choice, structure and visual appearance which ascribe gender in the digital world? The new social platform of the World Wide Web creates a convergence of both biological sex and gender role into the one "body" of the internet. More and more, creators of avatars, online social profiles, transform their "body" image to what ever they want biologically and that sex can either represent the real sex and gender of the computer user or not. Gender exploration made possible in part by blogging!


  1. 1. Love the opening, that draws readers in.
    2. When you say "in fact, if you blog, have a facebook account, or an online avatar of any sort you might be one of them!", you are also drawing in your reader.
    3. I like how you are separating the hermaphroditic figure with the hermaphrodite because they indeed are two separate things.
    4. Something else I just realized, you know when we fill out paperwork and they always ask are you "male, female, choose not to answer"...why do they put the "choose not to answer" option? Hermaphroditic figure?
    5. Nice work Becca!

  2. I think you've got a lot of great research here, with lots of pertinent modern parallels. I'm interested in reading more about the transvestite theatre, because you mention it in several of your posts, and it seems to provide an important part of your musings about the origins of hermaphrodites.

    A question I have is related to your initial question: "Is there is a basic humanistic way with which to view the world?", a way to "see someone from a blank slate." Your answer is yes...and that you can "pose as a your opposite sex online". But is this an argument for artifice, for fiction, for "posing," when it seems that you really wanted to find something natural, organic, and pure?

    It would be interesting to see your distinctions between "pretending" and "being" on the internet, and how each of those states contributes to a more "humanistic view" of an individual. Perhaps "pretending" or "posing" allows one to internalize some of the artificially worn aspects?