Responding to the essay we read for this week by Caroline Evans and Lorraine Gamman, I would like to 'queer' viewing in a way that goes beyond rearticulating heterosexist spectatorship and problematizes what I believe is a reductive and largely imagined dichotomy between the (active and masculine) subject who gazes upon the (neutral and feminine) object. I have not fully thought this through yet, and am hoping for this post to be more conversational (perhaps something we can discuss in class).
I want to put this essay into conversation with theorizations by Judith Butler in her book Undoing Gender, where she discusses the limitations by which identity can be defined by the individual, recognizing that symbolic meanings are attributed to ones body and we have little to no control over this. I also would like to put this essay into conversation with theorizations by Donna Haraway in her essay Situated Knowledges, where she discusses the ability of objects of inquiry to become subjects with a degree of agency through producing knowledge and symbolic meanings about them. Our understanding of objects of inquiry affects how we interact with them.
Evans and Gamman suggest a 'queer' viewing of cinema is a viewing in which a queer subject is able to problematize essentialist readings of film by applying a subcultural lens and interpretation as informed by ones identity as an LGBTQ person in a larger heteronormative society. I believe this interpretation of 'queer' viewing to be incredibly limited as it still maintains a gendered dichotomy that posits all subjects as active (masculine) and all objects as passive (feminine). How can a 'queer' viewing take place in a way that does not rely on mutually exclusive, heteronormative, and gendered dichotomies?
The gaze can be consensual and desirable. In his essay titled "Gays and the Gaze" by Hammad Ahmed (found here http://www.beyondmasculinity.com/articles/ahmed.php), Ahmed discusses instances in which queer males seek to be the object of desire and thereby intentionally try to draw the attention of the gaze. In the essay by Evans and Gamman this is discussed through viewing pornography depicting cisgender male objects who are to be viewed for the sexual gratification (i.e. consumption) of a largely cisgender and heterosexual female audience. Expanding upon this, we could talk about pornography made by and for women and queer folk. In contexts where the gaze is desired by the "object", it is far too simple to say that an object of desire is something to be consumed by an active subject as both parties have agency.
Evans and Gamman also discuss that the establishment of an active subject position when viewing cinema requires the subject's interpellation by the object. Subjects must recognize the self to actively view an object. However, if one is to be called into being by an object, this object must have a degree of agency and subjectivity.