Boys Have A Penis, Girls Have A . . . Clitoris.

Another successful
Seminar in the City lecture
series has come to a close.
Led by CUNY professor Lisa Jean
Moore, participants met to
discuss an array of topics
surrounding how the (queer) body
is represented. From the dynamics
of general medicine to sperm’s
varied depictions in the realm of
children’s literature, the selections
held an admittedly scientific angle
– which wasn’t at all a bad thing.
The eclectic dialogues following
led to a blend of science and
humanities, offering a little bit of
something for everybody present.
Interdisciplinary commentary
was key throughout the weeks
that followed. While linking the
studies of technology with the studies of society might seem to be a stretch for some, part of the fun of
the seminars was to explore these connections. Just as society shapes, molds, ands supports technology,
and all the representations thereof, technology does the same for society. As this happens, the
“structures” of inclusion and exclusion grow all the more relevant. The parameters of that relationship
contribute to the extent of how exactly certain traits are perceived. Physicians will tend to assume
heterosexuality of a body, and proceed with technology accordingly, unless they are otherwise informed.
Take, for example also, the representations of sexual reproduction in both academic and popular
texts. The anthropomorphic folklore of sperm in scientific literature and the appearances of the same in
television shows such as CSI can be contrasted against the buried, nearly invisible, specialized literature
surrounding women’s reproductive system and overall bodies as anything but a passive receiver.
Feminine invisibility, like queer invisibility, remains an assumed given. Even though society and
technology share a symbiotic relationship,
both areas have a long way to grow with
respect to representations of gender, sex,
and sexuality.
The group, all coming from a wide
variety of backgrounds and experiences
(but which, interestingly, was only women
during the meetings focused on the clitoris
but was more gender diverse during the
sperm sections) seemed to enjoy to the
discourse surrounding the Reading the
Technological Queer Body series. While the
sessions were few in number, the
information gained and shared was great.

rebecca k. tangen is a feminist and freelance
writer.