Brilliant, @sarahditum on gender as class

Sarah Ditum

“Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you’re none;
If you be one, as you are well express’d
By all external warrants, show it now,
By putting on the destined livery.”
– Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Be that you are. The impossibility of that phase – delivered by the corrupt Angelo to the virginal Isabella – bit into my brain when I read the play at 16 for my A-levels. If you are something, I wondered, then how is it possible to not already be it? The answer is something I didn’t understand then, something that at 32 I am dimly beginning to comprehend; and the answer is intimately entwined with the vicious double-nature of the category “woman”.

Simone de Beauvoir grasped the same awful truth Angelo expresses when she wrote: “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” In these gender-worshipping times…

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