The Multiplicity of Embodiment
Biological stories about human (and nonhuman animal) experience do
harm when they deny the complexity, specificity, and multiplicity of lives.
For example, as the foregoing discussion shows, the imposition of hetero-
normativity not only essentializes brains and body- subjects according to
reproductive norms but also belies social bonds and events that lie outside
its gaze. The exclusions it achieves are many, from same- sex couplings that
are misrecognized or deemed to be less than natural, to parenting practices
that defy adaptationist logic, to intra- and cross- species attachments that
depend on bodies but cannot be explained in sexed/gendered terms. My
argument for recognizing this heterogeneity builds, of course, from femi-
nist critiques of the sciences of sex/gender. Feminist scholars and scientists
have been contesting claims that brains are prenatally sexed claims that,
in their expansive versions at least, seem to be undeniably ideological for
at least three decades. The sexed brain research, while ostensibly recog-
nizing difference, in fact tends to generate uniform, generalized accounts
of male and female brains, traits, and behaviors, thereby obliterating the
variations within each category, as well as those variations that call the
two bifurcated categories into question. Such accounts are unfathomably
resilient, in spite of their incompatibility with the plasticity and dynamism
now being attributed to neural matter. Critics of sexed brain research have
argued that scientific representations produce the objects they purport to
merely observe. Beyond this, some have challenged the power of science to
declare the truth of the subject as emanating from biology, whereas others
have championed alternative models and methods that recognize biologi-
cal variation, dynamism, and multiplicity.
Previous Page Next Page