What does queer mean?

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In Harry M. Benshoff and Sean Griffin's Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America the question "what is queer?" is introduced. I was interested to discover that queer was a "collective term to describe the vast array of human sexualities that actually exist outside of monogamous heterosexual procreative intercourse". I am also somewhat ashamed to admit that prior to the article my interpretation of the word "queer" was that it was synonymous with words like "homosexual" or "gay". I also very much enjoyed the discussion of how defensive we are as a nation not to admit to any queer tendencies since they are not heteronormative. But the reality is that many self identified heterosexual people participate in "nonprocreative sexual acts, such as oral and anal sex...sadomasochists sexualities, regardless of who enacts them...medical technologies such as cloning and artificial insemination... [and] fantastic sexualities, such as those of the vampire or the monstrous sexual creatures sometimes found in Japanese comics and anime" quite regularly. So why is there this intense resistance to all that is queer? It's because along with this definition of queer comes the notion that "there is a general overlap between all forms of human sexuality". Then in order to entertain this a fact the general public must entertain the idea that they themselves and those they love may have homosexual or queer tendencies, it would force us to question our "chocolate or vanilla", "black or white", "republican or democrat", "right or wrong" ideology and as a nation we are simply not comfortable doing so. We live under false pretenses of binaries and regardless of the majority of us that do not fit within the guidelines we continue to act as though these polarities are absolute. We enjoy our classification systems. We like deciphering between the groups in the high school lunch room because we want to know who to identify with and who is above and below us in the social order of things. It seems that queer theory threatens our so called "natural" or perhaps more accurate "societal" order to things. Queer extends to more people than does gay; queer speaks to the gray zone of fluidity that most of us would line within if only we acknowledged its existence.

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I like the idea that you pose here, likening the gay-straight binary to the social structure of high school. People feel a need to order, I feel, due to insecurity. Where does one fit in the social hierarchy? On the spectrum of sexuality? In order to feel secure, a person often wants to fit in, into a label or a group. But in order to do so, they must impose labels on other groups as well or else their own label has no relevance. However, this feeling of "lack of identity" is somewhat paradoxical, as a person's identity is individual has nothing to do with how others identify or choose not to identify.

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This page contains a single entry by arse0042 published on January 29, 2012 8:23 PM.

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