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I have been going back to this book periodically for twenty years now, to see whether there is something I've missed. But Butler's critics are for their part generally too scoffing and dismissive to address particular problems of her work at all, while her supporters probably assume that such a big problem must have been taken up somewhere or other.

Butler herself has, since the late 1980s, matured into a towering and authoritative intellectual, but this doesn't mean that all who invoke her are in a position to share that authority, and it remains reasonable to ask them for clarification. It says that Butler has that the distinction between sex and gender does not hold, while gender, in turn, is constructed. But again, does this include ape sex, anglerfish sex, etc., or only human sex?

It is several times smaller and vastly weaker than its female counterpart.

In order to mate, the only option it has is to bite into the side of the female’s body, to pass its seminal material into her blood stream, and then slowly to wither away, eventually becoming a tiny appendage of its polyandrous spouse. Anglerfish sexual dimorphism is extreme, but it is not different in principle from that of mammals.

None of these questions are meant to suggest that sexual dimorphism in the animal world is simple, obvious, or universal."But my mate can only fit a single tip of an antenna into our home," some traditionalist woman might protest, "while I can swim around inside freely.He keeps accidentally eating me and having to spit me back out because I’m literally too small for him to detect, while when I’m with him he literally obstructs everything else from my field of vision.What is the difference between humans and lizards that justifies this distinction?Orangutans show not so much a high degree of sexual dimorphism within the species, between male and female, as a dimorphism between males: some mature males get 'flanges', that strange condition that makes their faces into enormous discs, while others remain as they all had looked in adolescence, which is also the way female orangutans look across the life-cycle.

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