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Stone Butch Blues Essay

1071 words - 5 pages

Rhetorical Analysis #1

Identity In the Crossroads Between Sex and Gender
Is that a man or woman? This is a common question asked after only a brief look at Jess Goldberg, the protagonist in Leslie Feinberg’s novel, Stone Butch Blues. Each person is born to a specific sex, male or female. Some people in society stray from the norms and become gender variant. Jess’s gender variant life style along with her religion, Judaism, paved the way for an extremely difficult and confusing upbringing. Jess is treated inferiorly upon entering the women’s clinic due to her gender variant qualities, which reflects unequal accessibility to healthcare during the mid and late 20th century. Jess’s endeavors ...view middle of the document...

Jess has an unsafe and uncontrollable irritation in her genital region. She swallows up her pride and goes to a women’s clinic where she is not greeted with much respect. Because the general public is often uneducated in transgender life, the people in the women’s clinic often misunderstand Jess. When Jess told the receptionist her reason for visiting was a vaginal infection she didn’t get the response she expected: “The receptionist looked me up and down. Are you kidding me?” This response causes Jess to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. She is so hurt by the response that she “debated leaving, but the itching and burning became worse every day.” When Jess answers the receptionist respectfully, not only is the receptionist rude to her, but the people in the waiting room are rude as well. . When Jess hears someone say “Why can’t they just be crazy in their own place?” she feels humiliated. Everyone is there for the same reason, but due to her appearance she is treated inferiorly. Lastly, a fierce emotion stemming from all these events is pure anger. In response to being mistreated Jess says, “Fuck you”. This scene shows how fed up Jess is with everything and how her rage and anger cause her to speak violently towards others even though its not within her character.
Feinberg appeals to the readers’ logic by portraying how poorly the healthcare system in managed. During the mid to late 1900s, Americans held themselves to a strict status quo. There is no room to stray outside the boundaries, which is what people like Jess are doing. During this time the health care system was black or white, there was no in the middle. Throughout the novel Jess deals with many hardships that most people never have to experience. The women’s clinic is a prime example. As soon as Jess enters the clinic, the receptionist notices Jess’ masculine appearance and gives her a hard time when she claims to have a vaginal infection. When the receptionist is informed that Jess has such an infection, she responded with “A what?” as if she didn’t know what a vaginal infection was. If it were any other patient she would be taken care of with respect. After a debrief with Roz, the nurse, Roz accuses Jess of having...

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