Sex, Gender, Sexuality: Subalternity in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex

Soheila Faghfori, Zeinab Chatrzarnegari, Esmaeil Zohdi


In contrast with what is widely emphasized and academically discussed, subalternity emerges in a broad spectrum. The current research discusses sex, gender and sexuality as fertile grounds of subalternity in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex. Although the Classical Marxist tradition submits “class” as the only narrative of oppression and inequality, Gramsci’s Marxism can account for a wider range of narratives, namely, sex, age, race, gender and sexual orientation, and, subsequently, replaces “the proletariat” with “the subalterns.” Gramsci divided superstructure in two parts (civil society and political society) and traced the footsteps of oppression and subordination through everyday lives by concepts such as “hegemony,” “civil society,” and “common sense.” As well as Gramsci, Judith Butler draws attention to the legislation of norms in the social domain. Heterosexuality, sexual dimorphism and masculine/feminine dichotomy are norms which are legislated and hegemonic through the institutions of civil society and shape people’s common sense about sex, gender and sexuality. “Normalization” and “recognition,” to employ Butler’s words, occur based on the norms and turn the outsiders into the subalterns. In this regard, this study discusses intersex Cal/lie and homosexual Sourmelina as subalterns challenging the normative sex, gender and sexuality. The Stephanides family, New York Public Library, Orthodox religion, Sophie Sassoon’s beauty parlor and Ed’s barbershop are all civil society institutions that play a significant role in dissemination of heteronormativity, sexual dimorphism and masculine/feminine dichotomy and ,thereby, subalternity of Cal/lie and Sourmalina.

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