Review of Marjorie Garber's Spare Parts

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In the essay, written by Marjorie Garber, “Spare Parts” Garber speaks of defining “gender” based on the example of transexuality. She ponders upon such topics as whether or not transvestites are truly satisfied with just cross dressing or is surgical reconstruction in their horizon. She goes on even further to discuss the anatomy (positive and negative attributes) of the new body parts on the person and the method by which they were acquired.

Garber chose me as her intended audience not only due to the listing format of her paper but also due to the actual context. “Although I originally wrote this essay for a special issue of differences concerned with male subjectivity, what I am to do in at, at least initially, is to put the viability of such a concept in question” (321). In this sentence she tells me that she is going to question her original objective in order to make me understand all the angles she’s coming from. When Garber discusses how there is “…no such thing as a transvestite woman…Such women…were really transsexuals, who really wanted to be men”. This is one form of the “male subjectivity” she wants us to understand. Women who dressed up as man had reason to do so, one of which was to get a job that was only suited towards males. Any females, me in particular, can relate to this. When I applied for an internship in a hospital they asked me if I would be capable of carrying boxes of syringes and tubes from one wing of the hospital to another. At that point, I wondered to myself whether or not this question stems from me being a woman or if it’s something they ask everyone.

“Rather then regarding the penis as incidental equipment contributory towards a general sense of “male subjectivity” and transcends the merely anatomical, both male and female transvestites and transsexuals radically and dramatically essentialize their genitalia” (325). Garber says that by observing these situations in transsexuals we can in effect see “male subjectivity”...
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