transdada

poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Rethinking Sex
Robert Dorit
Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. Joan Roughgarden. viii + 474 pp. University of California Press, 2004.


More than 2,400 years ago, Socrates was charged with using philosophy to "study things in the sky and beneath the earth"—with seeking a material understanding of the world, in effect, rather than accepting well–established theistic narratives. He defended himself in an Apologia—a passionate and intellectually rigorous speech that made clear the grounds for his opinions and actions. As recorded by Plato, it stands as one of the defining documents of Western culture.

Evolution's Rainbow is Joan Roughgarden's Apologia, an extraordinary book that entwines a radical attack on the Darwinian concept of sexual selection with a personal narrative written from her perspective as a transgendered woman (until six years ago, she was Jonathan Roughgarden). The book is thought–provoking, even at times profound, although some of its arguments are infuriatingly extraneous or superficial. Some critics will dismiss it as a book with an agenda—polemic tainted by the author's unwillingness to detach her scientific analyses from her personal experience. To take that narrow view, however, does grave injustice to Roughgarden's ambitious undertaking.

The book's scope is broad and inclusive. Part I, titled "Animal Rainbows," surveys the natural history of two thorny subjects: sex and gender. Consider, for instance, the fact that sexual reproduction is itself a fundamental evolutionary paradox. Parthenogenetic reproduction—cloning—produces offspring that are virtually genetically identical to their mother. In contrast, making offspring with a partner may seem like a good idea for a variety of reasons, but those offspring will share only half of a given parent's genes. Sex thus comes at a cost. Although a number of competing theories for the evolution of sexual reproduction have been put forth, we still have no unanimously accepted explanation.



~

Gays say added rights don't equal a marriage
PARTNERSHIPS: Domestic unions gain new strength as of Jan. 1, but couples want to wed instead.
By BETTYE WELLS MILLER / The Press-Enterprise


Same-sex couples will gain inheritance and property rights when significant changes to California's domestic-partnership laws take effect Jan. 1.

But until the state allows them to wed, same-sex couples and their families will continue to feel like second-class citizens, some Inland residents say.

"We were very happy when we got the (domestic partnership) certificate," said Christina Greutink, a San Jacinto homemaker and former teacher. "That one we didn't frame. Our marriage certificate is framed. That's special."

Greutink and Sue Lagman were married Feb. 16 in San Francisco, a marriage that was nullified Thursday by the state Supreme Court.



~

Gay rights activist to meet pastor
By Brendan McDaid


Ulster's leading gay rights activists today agreed to meet a Baptist preacher who has called for homosexuals to abandon their lifestyle.

Pastor Mark Bradfield contacted the Telegraph to express deep concerns over what he claimed was a homosexual agenda infiltrating Northern Ireland.

The Rainbow Project in Belfast today accused the pastor of stoking the flames of homophobia and spitting venom at the gay community.

Pastor Bradfield said that while he was against a recent spate of attacks on gay people, the gay community had "chosen their own path".



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