Play #88: The Optical Tiresias or Gendered Vision

The play is set in the office of ophthalmologist, Dr. U. Will Seewell , who has recently performed a cornea transplant upon his patient, Ichabod. C. Fine.

Dr. Seewell:  Now tell me, Ichabod, how is your vision since the transplant?

Ichabod:  Okay I guess.  About the same as before.

Dr. Seewell:  But no better?

Ichabod:  Not really.

Dr. Seewell:  But no worse, surely?

Ichabod: No.  I do have a question, though.

Dr. Seewell:  Of course

Ichabod: The replacement cornea you gave me—was it from a male donor or a female one?

Dr. Seewell (looking through Ichabod’s file):  Female, I believe [checks again].  Yes, female.

Ichabod:  I see.

Dr. Seewell:  Why do you ask?  After all, a cornea is a cornea.

Ichabod:  But is it really true?  I mean nothing else about a woman is anything like a man.  Apart from the obvious reproductive differences, look at a woman’s hands.  Her feet.  Her nose.  Her cheekbones.  Her ankles. Throat.  Back.  Hair. Shoulders.  Her wrists…

Dr. Seewell (quietly):  And her eyes.

Ichabod:  Yes. 

Dr. Seewell:  Why exactly do you care? 

Ichabod: Well, I was just thinking about how, if I close my left eye, I now see the world only through a woman’s cornea.  And if I close my right eye, I see everything with my own cornea the way I used to—a man’s view of things.   

Dr. Seewell:  I never thought of it that way.  So can you detect any real differences between what you see with each eye? 

Ichabod:  Not that I’ve noticed so far.

Dr. Seewell (amiably):  So you’re suspending judgement for a while?

Ichabod (chuckling):  I’m keeping both my eyes open!

Dr. Seewell (smiling): Blended vision!

Ichabod (smiling back): I’m an equal-opportunity seer!