In the final chapter of Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social World, Fausto-Sterling states, "Of all of the points emphasized in this book, the one that needs most urgently to seep into people's ways of thought is that bodies are not bounded" (123). She discusses how changes in the social and legal structures of gender contribute to the growth (or lack of flexibility) of these boundaries. How does this idea connect to Jeanette Winterson's project in Written on the Body? How does Winterson's book illustrate this primary point of Fausto-Sterling's? Is it effective? Why or why not?
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In saying that "bodies are not bounded," Anne Fausto-Sterling, in her book Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social World, is asserting that bodies are not bounded to certain actions simply because the body takes a certain shape. In other words, gender does not determine actions (p. 123). Instead of thinking that actions are bounded within bodies, Fausto-Sterling proposes that we "study how sensory, emotional, and motor experience" become enclosed within a body. In other words, while the physical characteristics of gender will, in general, remain the same, the actions of the body will be different. In the erotic novel Written on the Body, author Jeanette Winterson portrays Fausto-Sterling's conclusions in a couple of different ways.
One of the most obvious ways in which Winterson portrays Fausto-Sterling's conclusions is through the fact that the narrator begins an affair with a woman married to a man. A common stereotypical viewpoint can be that if a woman demonstrates homosexuality, she would not also demonstrate heterosexuality; therefore, the idea of a woman wanting sexual relations with both a man and a woman can seem incongruous to those who view sexuality and the body through stereotypical eyes. However, Winterson wants her readers to view sexuality and the body through Fausto-Sterling's eyes, not through stereotypical eyes. Therefore, she presents her narrator as having relations with women, like Louise, who are bisexual in order to show that "bodies are not bounded" to certain actions; actions will vary per person regardless of gender.
A second way in which Winterson demonstrates Fausto-Sterling's conclusions is through the narrator's thoughts and emotions themselves. The narrator is very fixated on the idea that relationships have to be thrilling. As a result, she is only attracted to relationships with women who are already married despite the pain such relationships eventually cause. Though she tries to enter a stable relationship with Jacqueline, the relationship fails when she meets the more "exciting" Louise. Fausto-Sterling would identify the narrator's addiction to excitement as part of the emotions and senses that are "embodied" (p. 123).
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