The Official Blog for ENGL 41416.

Gayle Rubin’s writing “The Traffic in Woman: Notes on the “Political Economy” of Sex” seems to be totally absurd. The idea that sex/gender are defined by the trade of woman in farfetched.

Rubin starts with a Marxist approach to the oppression of woman as a capitalist production device. Rubin claims that men are workers of the world and woman reproduce “the laborer from whom [the] surplus value is taken.

Next Rubin takes an Engels approach to explaining the oppression of women. With this explanation the claim is made that sexuality and reproduction are separate. “Gender identity, sexual desire and fantasy” concepts are products of a society. And within these concepts women learn to be of less value then men and men learn to value women less.

These ideas give the idea that women can be seen as farm animals that are used to produce the workers that the world needs. Also that their place in the world is learned and imbedded in society and culture.

Lastly through the Oedipus Hex concept the male penis is of the greatest value. The penis signifies strength, which equated to being a phallus. Women want this phallus and strive for it after seeing the power that male children are awarded for having a penis. After realizing that they (woman) will never have a penis or the power of the phallus give into the idea of being less than a man.

This is my understanding of the writing and none of which I agree with.


Comments on: "Gayle Rubin Analysis" (1)

  1. I don’t think Rubin is defining sex and gender by the trade of woman. She’s postulating that the devaluation of woman is perhaps the result of a capitalist society, but more importantly, how woman has served as the ultimate gift. Lévi-Strauss says it better: “Two people may meet in friendship and exchange gifts and yet quarrel and fight in later times, but intermarriage connects them in a permanent manner.” (233) That’s not to say that the arrangement is perfect by any means, but when analyzing Rubin’s work through a historical lens, it’s less offensive and more interesting. The only time I felt Rubin was really reaching was on 235 when she described some societies as including “female hunters and warriors, and of men performing child-care tasks,” which, to me, felt like a direct contradiction of Ortner, who I was inclined to believe when she declared a world-wide lack of a matriarchal society. As I’m writing, I realize Rubin doesn’t explicitly state that either, but the jobs she says some women do imply it.

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