Problems Of Discrimination In The Novel "Stone Butch Blues" By Feinberg Essay

The border between man and woman are crossed, according to Feinberg, the border can be crossed when you are indeed a woman, but people see you as a man because of your physical appearance. You then can pass as a man; the border can be crossed by challenging the boundaries of sex and gender. Transgender people travel through, and bridge or blur the boundary of the gender expression they were assigned at birth. If man and woman was created, then nature created beings who are neither, simply because they transgress the limitations of two-gender, two-sex categories. In relation to trying to understand gender identities and sexualities, “passing”, crosses it owns definitional borders and is associated with other terms, like transgender and transsexual. Hence, the movement of passing as a woman to a transgender butch.

Other than sex and gender, Feinberg’s novel questions other categories such as race, education level, class, and religion. These types of categories are ones that occurs when the borders between things are often positioned as binary opposites. Such as black or white, old or young, new or used, gay or straight, religious or atheist, etc. In this novel some of these other categories are revealed, the class struggle is almost as important as being on the receiving end of the gender injustice.

At the beginning of the story Jess is born to a mother and father that didn’t really want her in the first place. Due to their lower working class, they were not well off, Jess mother’s work status was a housewife and her father worked at a factory. They accepted their other daughter, Rachel, but did not accept Jess because of her appearance and attitude. I think if Jess parents were maybe in the middle- or upper-income level and upper working class, they might have dealt with Jess situation a little better. Jess was so psychologically abused that she ran away from home, and here we see her parents didn’t bother to try and find out where she was living.

In chapter five, we see how race plays important part in Jess life, the Native Americans were able to accept Jess’s gender expression, when the non-native people like her parents were not acceptable of their child’s gender. Jess was able to find refuge with the Native American women and witness their religious beliefs. Their spirituality and culture propose a validation and appreciation towards Jess’s true self identification. Another concern of Jess was that during the post WWII, society vision of women was to be homemakers or mothers, this period of extreme sexual reaction had a tremendous impact on growing up as a masculine girl child (Feinberg 1993, p. 340).

Looking at the education level and economics, Jess drops out of school at this point due to the her being raped and the one teacher did not see that as an issue. As well as, the racial discrimination she witnesses with her friend Karla and Ed (Edwin), a strong, proud black butch, who was targeted with discrimination on three sides; as a black, female and lesbian, because of the pain and despair she later committed suicide. Jess refused to abide by the pre-Civil Rights rules that mandated that white and black students should eat lunch separately. So, school or work wasn’t a good place for Jess to deal with her sexuality, however; she did have one teacher, Mrs. Noble who saw Jess’s potential, she believed Jess was smart enough to go to college, but to Jess that was a financial impossibility.

If we review the novel for race issues, not only was there a problem at school but also in Jess social life, every day she was seen a Jew, lower class and unsure of her gender, she identified as a butch. Jess had issues with work discrimination, as noted in chapter nine, Jess, is injured on the job, nearly losing a finger, it was later discovered that the incident was a set-up from a male co-worker. Her friend Duffy tries to purse justice with the union to no avail. There was more discrimination in the disguise of legalities, this was witness by Jess, as the police raided the gay bars with such brutality and degrading attacks. Jess was attacked by law enforcement multiple times and was nearly beaten to death on one occasion, only because she was considered butch.

There were many legal discriminations, for example, there was a law which said that as a girl you must wear at least three female cloths, otherwise the police can arrest the female. More working-class issues, Jess was offered a promotion and Duffy, one of the union organizers, asked her not to take the promotion. They needed her not to accept the position because the union has filed a lawsuit to give the job to Leroy, a black co-worker who one of the managers wanted to discriminate against. We see here that the lesbian (butches) at the factory were also victims of discrimination; not one of them had achieved status like all the men, except Leroy was in the same category as the butches. Duffy asked Jess to wait, promising to include the butches in the next round of negotiation and talked about how this would unite the union later if they needed to strike.

Looking at the educational level issue; because Jess and her partner Theresa was not college educated and because their gender character was not acceptable, they were not allowed to be part of the feminist movement that took place in the seventies. And we know during those times there were many different acts of racism, bigotry, violence against immigrants, gays and people of color, as well as poverty and housing discrimination among the lower-class citizens. In conclusion I can see the reason that Jess considered herself as a stone blue butch, she had been battered so much by homophobia and sex ism and the intractable human fear of difference overall that her emotions had turned to stone, and she has every reason to feel the blues, thus Stone Butch Blues.

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