Throwing Like a Girl Class Questions
Will ambiguous transcendence, inhibited intentionality, and discontinuous unity be on the exam? And if so, are those the only important points in "Throwing Like a Girl"?

They're certainly among the concepts/terms one would list as worth understanding and taking away from this reading. It also introduces us to some thinkers we ought to know about and it makes a specific argument. One ought to be able to outline that argument.

Can you talk more about how women live a contradiction in patriarchal society?

First response is "can you say more about that?" This article and its argument is but a very small piece of that very big issue. Here we have the suggestion that women, more than men (though it would not take much to extend the argument to positions men can find themselves in) get caught in one particular contradiction - you can but you can't - and this can generate a "worldview" that affects the phenomenon Young is calling "body comportment and motility."

Her framework for this is one she gets from de Beauvoir: "'femininity' …. is, rather, a set of structures and conditions that delimit the typical situation of being a woman in a particular society, as well as the typical way in which this situation is lived by the women themselves" (143-144).

The female person who enacts the existence of women in patriarchal society must therefore live a contradiction: as a human she is a free subject who participates in transcendence but her situation as a woman denies her that subjectivity and and transcendence (144.7)

In "Throwing Like a Girl", I felt the author didn't give a satisfactory explanation of how it is that girls acquire so early a different way of moving from men. Also, I wouldn't talk so strongly about the condition of women.

It's true that this was not addressed at any length in the article, but then, that's not what the article was about. At 143.2 Young states that her purpose is "to fill a gap that thus exists both in existential phenomenology and feminist theory. It traces in a provisional way some of the basic modalities of feminine body comportment, manner of moving, and relation to space." Young offers some ideas for sources of these "modalities of feminine bodily existence" on pages 154 and 155 and at the bottom of 155 she explicitly calls this essay "a prolegomenon to the study of aspects of women's experience and situation" and then she makes some suggestions for subsequent research (155.9ff).

I don't fully understand how the second part of the question is meant. "Situation" in this article is an idea that comes from Simone de Beauvoir's work. One thing you might mean is that we ought not talk about "woman's situation" as if all women are in the same situation. A point well taken and one that theorists since de Beauvoir have explored extensively. Young herself is careful about this point; in her introduction she notes that to the degree that she is generalizing: "The account developed here claims only to describe the modalities of feminine bodily existence for women situated in contemporary advanced industrial, urban, and commercial society" (143.5). But isn't this even too broad? I think she'd be the first to admit there's lots of variation. The test of her argument is whether the features she is identifying seem common enough to be worth the effort at exploration and explanation.

Could you explain or give examples of some of the philosophical components? I don't have anything in particular, it would just help to hear things explained rather than only reading about them.

Not 100% sure what this refers to. Perhaps "phenomenology" and "existentialism"? Or perhaps the thinkers themselves (Straus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty)? The on-line glossary for TLAG contains a very short intro to each of these.

I'm a bit offended by the idea that women "feel burdened by menstruation and pregnancy," that these things "weigh down the woman's existence by tying her to nature." I actually disagree with this, but the author of the essay never counters that point of view.

True enough that Young does not debate the points explicitly. She is, first, reporting these ideas, not proposing them. The ideas come from Simone de Beauvoir who wrote The Second Sex, an important text in feminist theory, in the late 1940s. At the risk of oversimplifying ideas I'm not an expert in: as an existentialist, Beauvoir's abstract argument was that existence precedes essence, that is, real material conditions give rise to ideas and experiences. In the case of sex/gender this was an argument that social conditions create what it means to be a woman or a man. It was a radical move at the time to say, basically, "look, as long as women are the ones who get pregnant and cannot control when or whether, they cannot be equal."

What Young does is say, "I find Beauvoir's concept of 'situation' useful, but I don't think I want to settle for situation being just the physiological aspects of being female." In effect, she says that menstruation and pregnancy are not the story here. As we drew in the logic diagram in class, her argument is that the body comportment differences arise from "worldview" and that "worldview" arises from "socialization."

Can you explain what she means by "body comportment"? How does that play out in gender? How does, if it does, Goffman's ideas play into what she is saying?

Body comportment: "I concentrate primarily on those sorts of bodily activities that relate to the comportment or orientation of the body as a whole, that entail gross movement, or that require the enlistment of strength and the confrontation of the body's capacities and possibilities with the resistance and malleability of things . The kind of movement I am primarily concerned with is movement in which the body aims to accomplish of a definite purpose or task.

Do you think we could raise a daughter to "throw like a boy," or a boy to "throw like a girl"? Is it possible in today's society? How would that child show up differently in society if at all? As an adult?

This raises at least three questions. One is addressed by the overall argument and assumptions of the article: this stuff is nurture, not nature. But beyond that, what part of nurture? Could a set of parents do enough to counteract any socialization effects that originate in the society outside the family?

If we look around us, it would appear that we collectively believe it can be done : lots of parents and educators trying to treat little boys and girls similarly when it comes to sports and such.

But at the end of the day I think this would have to be filed under "great topic for ongoing discussion."

Please give an example of transcendence.

When I sit down to write an essay, I can experience myself as the author of the essay that's not yet written. I think about the points I'll make, the power of my language, the argument that's been building up in my mind and is just jumping at the opportunity to get written down….

I'm riding my bike in the Oakland hills. My eyes are trained on the summit a half mile ahead. My legs turn the pedals over with rapidity and power - 1,2,3,4 I chant over and over again, I'm not moving all that fast but it's a good clip for a hill. I am hurting my legs (but they can't hurt me). The seconds ticking on my bike computer cannot keep up with me. 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. I'm dancing on my pedals now, consuming the pavement below me. My bike has become a part of me, it's like my brain can control it like a muscle. Summit here I come.

I'm up here on stage looking out at my audience as I talk. One by one I use my eyes and body language to groom the soul of each person in the crowd. My words flow from total conviction and total connection.

Why is it that a male's masculinity needs to constantly be compared to a woman's capacity?
Why do women need to prove themselves to men that they can be just as good as them?

I'm not sure that this one article is a part of either of these "need to" logics. The general question of theoretically comparing masculinity and femininity has its origins, I think, in the everyday observation that in the societies we know about (and live in) gender matters a lot in how people treat one another, independent of other samenesses and differences. In this course, we would say that we are studying "throwing like a girl" not because we want to compare how boys and girls throw but because this is an observation and distinction that people do make and that does have an empirical basis (that is, it is not just an idea or belief). It is, for us, an arena where something is going on with the social self, and where, if we look hard and think slowly, we can zero in and see and understand some of it.

Can you explain more about the basic modalities of feminine body comportment, manner of moving, and relation in space? (151ff)

Merleau-Ponty distinguishes "lived space" from "objective space." The latter is the space of physics, real estate, and carpet installers; inches, acres, square feet. Lived space is the self's experience of space. If I am walking, for example, and I'm a healthy, able walker walking in a safe place, then 50 paces is not very far. I might not even think of a point as "over there" when it is fifty paces away; it is as good as here. But if I feeling exhausted out in the middle of a choppy lake the fifty pace distance to shore might be experienced as a chasm as big as the world. An elevator might be 100 square feet but if I have to ride up ten floors in it with just my ex- I may experience it as if it were as tight as a tiny little phone booth.

M-P argues that our experience of spatiality arises through the action of the body. Young says "if that's so, then my points about modalities of feminine action should have corresponding modalities of feminine spatiality."

Young makes three points to support the idea of feminine existence having a "dual spatiality."

First (151.7-9), we have constraint of a margin or border between actor and world. She does not actually use up all the space available. In the ideal-type of feminine lived-space, one operates in a more confined space than necessary.
The second spatial modality results from the first. It is a separation of the "here" from the "over there," a discontinuity between where I am and am moving and the space over there that I can see but do not experience myself as moving in.
The third modality is to experience space as something in which one feels oneself positioned (152.5). I can experience "here" as the space I am currently operating in (as active, transcendent subject) or as "over (t)here" for others, the place where I'm seen and acted upon.

Don't fully understand key points. Understand there's a difference to body movements and spatial orientation between sexes, but what's the underlying point?

Well, let me take a stab at coming up with something short and pithy. Style of self's embodiment reflects attitude self takes toward world as subject/object. At least some of the differences in these is connected to power relations (here gender relations) that are built into beliefs and practices in society. Why do we care about it in this course? (1) Self is not just mind and roles; it is "embodied" always and already, as they say, and some analysis of what this means is necessary if we are to understand what kind of thing the self is as a building block, so to speak, of society. (2) Existentialism and phenomenology provide a nice conceptual tool for thinking about ways the self can relate to its embodiment and these line up in useful ways with our ideas of I/me, subject/object, actor/role, etc.

Talk more about patriarchal society.

Where to start? Where to start?