The idea that boys want to sleep with their mothers strikes most men as the silliest thing they have ever heard. Obviously, it did not seem so to Freud, who wrote that as a boy he once had an erotic reaction to watching his mother dressing. But Freud had a wet-nurse, and may not have experienced the early intimacy that would have tipped off his perceptual system that Mrs. Freud was his mother. The Westermarck theory has out-Freuded Freud.
There are transitional forms between the metals and non-metals; between chemical combinations and simple mixtures, between animals and plants, between phanerogams and cryptogams, and between mammals and birds [...]. The improbability may henceforth be taken for granted of finding in Nature a sharp cleavage between all that is masculine on the one side and all that is feminine on the other; or that any living being is so simple in this respect that it can be put wholly on one side, or wholly on the other, of the line.
What all of this suggests is that we need a more complex understandingof identities. If we identify on the basis of race, class, sexuality, orgender alone we cannot make sense of the ways these identificationscombine and change over time. The used-to-be-working class nowprofessional woman, the woman of mixed racial parentage who appearswhite, the divorced mother who is now a lesbian, the former lesbian whois now straight, or the former lesbian who is now a man. Identities arealways in motion; they are mobile (Ferguson, 1993). This is particularlythe case for those who have been placed in identity categories that do notquite seem to fit; it is also true of many more of us, in varied ways. Justask our current President, whose own origin story, of which he has spokenand written eloquently, is exceedingly complex. We need, I believe, aconception of identities that embraces this complexity, that takes intoaccount temporality and also specificity.
A curse. Been in our family for generations. The Lees have always been perverts. I shall never forget the unspeakable horror that froze the lymph in my glands--the lymph glands that is, of course--when the baneful word seared my reeling brain: . I thought of the painted, simpering female impersonators I'd seen in a Baltimore nightclub. Could it be possible I was one of those subhuman things? I walked the streets in a daze like a man with a light concussion--just a minute, Doctor Kildare, this isn't your script. I might well destroyed myself, ending an existence which seemed to offer nothing but grotesque misery and humiliation. Nobler, I thought, to die a man than live on, a sex monster. It was a wise old queen--Bobo, we called her--who taught me that I had a duty to live and bear my burden proudly for all to see, to conquer prejudice and ignorance and hate with knowledge and sincerity and love.
He managed to make his request with the minimum of time given to speculating what she looked like naked, forgiving himself for the instant of fantasy by telling himself it was the curse of being male. In the presence of a beautiful woman, he had always experienced that knee-jerk reaction to being reduced - if only momentarily - to skin, bone, and testosterone.