The Semiotics of Sex starts out as a critical response to the way that the writer, Jeanette Winterson, and her work are often perceived. She talks about how she is always asked about her sexuality, while other heterosexual writers are allowed to keep their privacy. This brings up points from our discussion in previous classes about how much should your knowledge of the author influence your reading of their work. Winterson makes the argument “not to judge the work by the writer.” Which isn’t to say that all works should be anonymous or that we shouldn’t know who we’re reading, but rather she’s saying that that should come after. The work should be the focus. Winterson also says that “it seems to me that to choose our reading matter according to the sex and/or sexuality of the writer is a dismal way to read.” In this section she’s discussing people who refuse to read works by queer authors, but she’s also challenging the idea that she would only want to read works by other queer authors or women.
In La Guera, Cherríe Moraga discusses the complex issues of intersectional oppression based on her sexuality as well as her Chicanx heritage. She also makes the observation that she hadn’t truly understood the racial oppression her mother felt, since she was someone who could pass for white, until she faced discrimination for her sexuality. She even questions her own ability to speak out as a women of color, since she had not had the same experiences as many others.
Q1 – Should we choose what we read/don’t read based on the author’s sexuality or gender? Can we even break this decision into such simple terms?
Q2 – La Guera discusses the intersections of oppression; is it fair to say “we’re both getting beaten any way you look at?” or is there truly danger in “failing to acknowledge the specificity of the oppression.”