December 2009 Archives

Queer This: The "Gay Test"

I typed in the word 'Gay' into the Google search bar, and before hitting enter I waited to see what Google's 'Autocomplete' came up with. A few suggestions included: Gay marriage, Gay men, Gay Jokes, Gay Fish, Gay Celebrities, Gay Rights, and Gay Test. I was intrigued by these gay tests. I've seen and heard a few of these tests before that are supposed to test how prominent your heteronormative masculinity is. *(For this little Queer This exploration, I am only considering things that came up in my limited Google search, and not medical examinations of the GID field)* All of the tests that came up were masculine based; i.e.-testing if you (male body) have any homosexual tendencies. There were some you tube clips that came up, one of which was this one titled "The Gay Test": There are a series of images asking questions like, "if you noticed the guy in the background, then I have bad news for you." And the "Ultimate Test" to see if you're gay or not is (at 0:51) two pictures of hands to see "if your ring finger is bigger than your index finger, then you are a real Macho Man" but "if your ring finger is equal to your index finger... you can be... GAY!"
Growing up i've heard many of these little tests to see if you have ______ (insert preferred term). I was told that these were "wives' tales" and my mother assured me that these little tests were made up and not true. It baffles my mind that so many people STILL operate on the notion that these homophobic, or racist, or transphobic, or ablist little "wives' tale" tests are viable for measuring out bodies that are or are not 'gay'. And since this is a self-test, you better make Sure that your own body is not readable as gay.

The first website that came up in the Google search is titled: "*The Gay Test*: a fiercely fabulous test of your heterosexuality" This website featured a quiz which included questions like: "12) If I could have dinner with one of the following women, I would choose: -Barbra Streisand -Madonna -Kim Cattrall -Adriana Lima" and "13) I get a manicure: -Two or three times a month-I have unruly cuticles. -When I have an important meeting or event coming up. -In exchange for special favors from my girlfriend. -Every time hell freezes over."
Although this test offers and alternative to these homophobic mainstream 'tests', and is aimed at exposing the homophobia of these other "Gay Tests" by making the 'gay' answers seem natural and the 'straight' answers seem 'gay'; both test operate on the matrix of actions=sexuality=body=desire model.

Wrap-Up Anti-Capitalism

1 Queer spaces, and queer time facilitate ongoing engagement in subcultural participation in opposition to the heteronormative, homonormative, and yes transnormative, imperatives of consumerism. Materialism is central to the intelligibility of heteronormative subjects, and the straight engagement of time dictates that as "grown" folks, people must be good producers of capital, in order to be providing procreators. Similarly reinforcing the capitalist agenda, mainstream gay activism is populated primarily by class privlidged white gay men, focused on an assimilationist agenda that stabalizes a gay identity ripe for marketable exploitation. in Material/Queer Theory: Performativity, Subjectivity, and Affinity-Based Struggles in the Culture of Late Capitalism Rob cover talks about a repressive tolerance in which some queer subjects are co-optable, and commodifiable as a targeted market. Marginalized queer subjects are coherent as a necessary part of labor and consumption practices that strengthen the binary that privlidges heterosexuality over homosexuality, and often locates queers people at the margins of the economy. The temporality emerging from queer usages of time however, enables queer people to participate in subversive communities and activities that can undermine the capitalist hegemony beyond youthful rebellion, and into a sophisticated critique of economic exploitation. Temporalities like the D.I.Y. punk culture, urban gardening, the anarchistic gift-economy are have liberated some queer people from the trajectory of capitalist "progress," however Judith Halberstam critiqued the pitfalls of mainstream co option of subcultural production as a queer economic practice. The subcultural artists, by attempting to secure income, allow the subcultural style to something marketable, deprived of meaning, and detached from the gay and lesbian liberation cultural legacy from the 1970s in which the theory that the only way to disrupt the hetero/ homo binary is a complete overthrow of the capitalist project emerged.

2 Judith Halberstam's discussion of what queer is resonates really well with my tracking of my term, she defines queer as "an outcome of temporality, life scheduling, and eccentric economic practices." In this sense queer is inherently anti-capitalistic and in opposition or rejection the heteronormative teleology of birth-marriage-reproduction and death. She is particularly urging us to look beyond queer as an identity category, or sexual minority, but as a way of life. Queer has also been understood as oppositional to the heteronormative matrix, that queer is always this site of resistance. Early in the semester we discussed queering, as a verb, more so than as an identity. It was really interesting to think about our direct participation and engagement in queering, and just what is in need of it. Queering spaces, including the academic world, queering time, queering the weather, and opening up the possibilities of endless queering potentials was a really fun way to dramatically alter my world view, and it made me so much more personally invested in this really complicated and interesting question of what is queer. Queer is also a site in which the celebration of the abject is possible. Queer can be a joyous rejection of the sanitized, deodorized norms of decency. As Mary concluded, the terms queer and abject are in not synonyms, but mutually important. The campy celebration a=of abjection within the queer community is really liberating in a way, and locates queer far from a place of viitmhood which I think is really important. Puar's discription of queer as an assemblage really resonated with me as well. Thinking about the queerness of combining the organic body with inorganic tactile parts, like the ballistic body, or the turbaned Shiek had a very visceral effect, and visual impact on our blog. She breaks down the problematic escatation process of "outing," or delimiting what "queer" is and defining who or what constitutes queer, by exposing the inherient "unqueerness" of the binary construction. She pushes us rather, to look for the queer that already exsists. She took me back to the case that Cohen laid out in Punks, Dulldaggers, and Welfare queens, in which the call for collaboartive activism between the queer community, and other marginalized groups failing heteronormative subjectivity.

3 Tracking the term Anti-Capitalism this term has been really satisfying for me, as it's something that is very personal to me. Growing up poor and queer, I've always been very resistant to our consumer driven society, the vapid messages of our mass communication, and the dehumanization of labor production. I've always know, but now thanks to this project i am able to articulate the connections between queerness, subcultural practices, and anti-capitalism. I lived in an anarchist collective for two amazing years, where we practiced a queer economy, engaged in queer uses of time and now to have the theoretical background I appreciate the experience on a new level. Personally I believe that there is no true liberation for queers or any one with out the dramatic dismantling of capitalist oppression. The true cost of economic upward mobility is the exploitation of the mass proletariate class. My term is so intimatly connected to other tracking terms, like the abject and youth because subcultural living is unappologetically dirty and often populated by young people. It is closely related to ideas of nation/ citizen, as rejection or refusal of queer subjectivities as good citizens opens the potential, and desire to refuse to participate in the oppressive dominant economic structures. I felt like anti-capitalism encompassed a lot, but I wish I had pulled out more explicit connections to my term from the readings through out the semester, rather than being overwhelmed by the interconnectedness of such themes. I found all our reading challenging in some way, and as I returning student I was really invested in grounding myself in each reading, and the overarching themes and refamilarizing myself with theory.

Blogging was a great experience for me. I think that this format for opening dialog, while problematic, can be really important. It was great for our class, as we have such interesting and brilliant minds. So often in the academic setting, we don't utilize each other enough as resources. Reading how everyone else processed these themes and theories, really did help me to engage with them well after class discussion ended. The commenting, and this assignment to empowers us to view our own and each others work, input, ideas, and analysis as important and academically viable. I was already a believer in the power of blogging as a potentially subversive tool, but I had no idea how it would queer my work as a student. To push the forum, and your idea even further, I think it would be cool if you could go totally paperless with it. I really like how much the blog was tied into class discussion, and how carefully and thoughtfully approached the commenting process was, at least from people i the class, and most outside participants. The blogging process has ignited my desire to learn graphic design, because there was a lot potential for visual processing of information that were bipassed to due to time constraints, and my personal lack of computer savvy. My advice on blogging to future students is to just jump in head first, because it's super fun.

No really...

Check out this video in which the U of MN Social Justice Ed Classes & Dean Jean Quam are discussed on The O'Reilly Factor (with John Stossel).

Prepare to be angry... and maybe a little proud of the U.

"So if I'm a heteronormative..."

Hold on until that three minute mark, when O'Reilly reveals the top secret reason why America is the best country ever.

Maybe don't queer this... just enjoy.

A Selection of Found Mostly Academic/Activist Bloggers

As promised, here are some of the blogs I've taken extra notice of this semester:

First, here's a neat listing of "Gender Studies Blogs."

Blac (k) ademic
Kortney Ryan Ziegler, director of STILL BLACK: a portrait of black transmen
Self-described: "i am a 27 year old filmmaker and doctoral student currently stationed in chicago."
*Kortney's blog hasn't been updated in over a year now, but browsing some of the categories can be fun. See especially "it happened again" and anything in feminism or pop culture (or both!).

One Tough vonCookie
Self-described: "I started this blog on another platform back in 2005 with the title "The Trials and Tribulations of a PhD Candidate"; I switched the title when people in my Department found out about the blog, and thus vonCookie was born. "One Tough vonCookie" is a travelogue of my adventures as student, teacher and human; the blog has taught me how to view life through extraordinary lenses. I have discovered, there are miracles in the mundane annoyances of our quotidian existence, and that's what I'm here to point out. That, and also why Tony Danza sucks so hardcore."
vonCookie works in Spanish (blogs in English), and entertains some pretty long posts about the writing process. I read just a couple, and they're intriguing in relation to our talks about how we read.

"Long Distance Mom" by Elizabeth Coffman
Self-described: "Elizabeth Coffman is a documentary filmmaker and film scholar. She's published work in Camera Obscura, Journal of Film & Video and other places. Her film work has been broadcast and screened at festivals in Europe and the U.S. Elizabeth maintains messy homes in Chicago and in Tampa, where her two children live with their father during the week, and stay with her on the weekends. Elizabeth and her filmmaking partner have a media production company--Long Distance Productions."
I really like Elizabeth's recent post on "Airports and Non-Places" and what first caught me was this post on "Heartbreak and Radicalism." The whole "Mama PhD" thing might be a little... uh... whatever. I kind of like it.

Bitch Ph.D
Self-described: "This is, obviously, a feminist site; it is also leftist and, in the end, a personal site as well. If feminism pisses you off, or (after reading a couple of posts) you decide that I have my head irretrievably up my ass, it's pretty easy to go away and read something else, and that's what I expect you to do."
I recently enjoyed this bit I found on wonder and the TV show Weeds. For way more in-depth and "relevant" reading, check out "Am I a Big Ol' Queer?"Perhaps I really have a thing for radical moms who blog (or deal).

Self-described: "cripchick is a queer disabled corean-american living and loving in the south. she is a big fan of media making, youth organizing, radical women of color feminism, and being in community with you. she is a proud member of the disabled young people's collective in north carolina & wants to get to know more liberation-oriented folks."
Check out "i feel queer today" for the discussion of writing (comments included).

This is getting lengthy! Woo! Just two more!

Pattie Thomas, author of Taking Up Space
Health at Every Size!

Maybe three more, because Pattie also links to Queer Fat Femme. Yeah!

Living in Liminal Space
Self-described: "I'm doing a PhD about doing a PhD and this blog is part of my data."
Isn't that description enough?

Phew. That was a "nice" celebration of being finished with my three GWSS courses for the semester. Thanks for reading.

A blog you might find interesting...

Before I forget, here is Lauren Berlant's blog that I mentioned in class today. There is some great stuff here--I was particularly moved by this entry--Do you intend to die (IV)?--in light of our discussions about children and their agency.

wrap it up

| 1 Comment

1. Resistance is about pushing against, pushing back, walking away, questioning, collective outrage, and silence. That is it. Only kidding people, this list goes on and on. The definition cannot be restricted and if it is then I would hope it would be resisted. I believe that resistance is a 'natural' part of queer theory. By 'natural' I mean, it is inevitable that resistance will occur when discussion, rhetoric, theory and action revolve around making queer the norm. Example: my lip piercing. This little, little thing has cause big, big fuss when I go home. I try to explain that it is nothing and it is almost out of place on my face since it is my only piercing anywhere but that doesn't work. I think it doesn't work because some of my family members think I am 'pulling' away or pushing back. Somehow my piercing is threatening to their image of me and their perceived norm. I wasn't even thinking that my piercing would be queer and some spaces it is not (it can be quite boring and actually not enough) and in some spaces it is. I wonder how the 'other' side resist to the resisting being done by queer theory?

2. For my final wrap of queer I will refer back to my original thoughts about queer when I commented to Sara's blog:
Queer is the ability to rest in the gray area, the margin, the in between, the borderland and be okay with it. I think that is how the other comments are explaining it as well but in different ways. Queer lends itself to life of hardship, lack of acceptance, oppression and being outcasts. Queer is not stagnant, it does just rest in one place. It is constantly moving and alluding all who try to find it. I mean, I don't think one goes out and searches for being queer or queer things. One becomes it and in the becoming realizes the queerness of it all...or maybe not.
My classmates really brought new and exciting definitions of queer. Now I look at beards, post-it notes, Annie, halloween costumes in a different way--in a queer way. So basically this part is a huge shout out to all my classmates or dare I say friends for inspiring, opening my mind and allowing me to queer things along side you.

3. Through tracking my term I was able to really develop an unique way to read. All things resistance related jumped out from the pages. I enjoyed this because it gave my readings more of a sense of purpose. Then being able to blog about just drove it into me more. I do not think it was a secret that I was not a big fan of blogging for class at the beginning of the semester. My reasoning was justified. Every class I had been in the past that used blogs, used them in a way that just made sure that students were reading and really there was no engagement with them. It felt tedious and parental. This blog however did not. Well, to be honest at the beginning it did but as the semester went on it got better. Part of the reason it got better had to do with two things: connection and trust. We started to get excited about it and people talked about it in class. I could actually tell people were reading it and engaging with it and that made me want to write more. Trust is important element to blogging... especially when it is a community blog and is being graded. I had to trust Sara that my streamed thoughts would be 'okay' and they didn't have to be all academic and stuff. :-) I really started to care about the blog too... I wanted to engage with other entries because I wanted to add to the body of work. We had really good things to say and I hope 'animalcoloringpages' comes back to visit again.

Final Wrap-Up: Gender

| 1 Comment

1. Gender. As cliché as it may sound, gender means so many things to me (I might get a little misty-eyed talking about this). I feel like I have a much clearer understanding of how I'll never be able to hold a comprehensive understanding of gender (and how to problematize myself if I ever think I do). However, I do know a few things about what gender does (or who does gender and who gender does) as well as how gender works. The latter connects me to all three sources I'm bearing in mind [Valentine's genitals (and through Valentine, Riki Anne Wilchins), Butler's performativity and/or citationality, and Puar's assemblage] and helps to clarify the implications of everyone in the former. Gender is a system of meanings read onto many combinations of bodies and symbols. Gender has in many contexts been tied to genitals, those relatively small and unheard of parts of bodies that bear the physical mark of conflated sex/gender/(heterosexual)desire. The citational functions of gender in fact always refer back to the mythical "right genitals" engaging in the "right behaviors/desires." In the ways that gender is continuously being constructed in relation to fading copies of copies (of the Law of the Father or any other), what emerges as the most intriguing place for further investigation is the gendering and queering that inherent in assemblage. And I think there's a very strong correlation here if we dig into how gender, like a film, like fucking, like assemblage (and the becoming/death moment of the terrorist), is an event that folds in the distinction between subject and reader (or my body and other body). Everyone does gender. Everyone is done and undone by gender. And these are not individual, but interconnected and always disciplined acts.

2. Queering, to me, does welcome all the definitions which you folks have generated both in class and in response to Sara's Queering Query. Queering is (or Queer Acts are) radically embodied in the activism and subversion of many queer-identified individuals and groups we've discussed as a class. These are "conscious" acts, for lack of better terms. I find myself pressed, though, by the arguments laid out by Jasbir Puar in particular and how they lead me to pull apart queer identity and queering, to look for the queer already in the terrorist, as she says. The best way I can talk about queering mostly aside from discussions of gender and sexuality (though not completely aside) is to look at queer as inextricably tied to processes of naming. That Butler shows us how so many performative speech acts create sexed and gendered subjects is relevant, but it is also true that in many more ways than these we are all struggling with naming (being read in order to be named) and reconciling being named with claiming a name for one's self. In the same ways that, as we've discussed, we all tend to fail gender and gender tends to fails us all, we're also failing to match the copied copies of so many ideals of whiteness, nationalism, success, and progress--sometimes we're hiding these failures in whatever "closet," or under the bed, or so many other metaphors for the places where queer shame goes--and it's in looking for that queer, talking about those fissures, and building coalitions based on shared needs, that there's a whole lot of queering always happening.

3. As I've said in many ways, gender and I have a long history together. We've been fighting and celebrating in many different ways and spaces, on and off, pretty hardcore and turbulent, for almost five years now. Throughout this semester I've learned to better articulate the ways I talk about gender. Notes of clarification and deeper readings have been a big help to the blended mess of gender which I think and embody. This may seem slightly off-topic, but I've also learned a bit more about what I'm going to continue calling my style: queering the businessman aesthetic (with props to RT Rodriguez and his project of Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic). Now, while I can at least be sure that gender and queer are not mutually exclusive areas of inquiry, I also need to explore how queer functions "aside from" gender and sexuality. I need to look at the queering of all sorts of troubling and subversion, and all sorts of passings and failures.

Blogging has been helpful as a means to get thoughts out in shorter form and to simultaneously feel less restricted by the formalities of essays and response papers. However, I would hesitate to say that it is helpful in creating a lighter workload because blogging actually requires quite a bit of contemplation. Since starting our blog, I've discovered many other academics using a blog as part of the process of writing a dissertation, and I think I'm inspired by using such small writings as building blocks to such a lengthy project--I'll definitely consider a dissertation (or maybe even senior project) blog for myself. I would tell future students to give the blog a little attention each day whenever possible as I found the weeks when I was well-versed in both our readings and the blog to provide the most stimulating class time for me. Aside from other vlog recommendations and the suggestion of blog time-consumption above, I'd also say that building connections through comment conversation threads is a great way to stick with the material outside of class and is actually sort of fun.

I believe that our blog/blogging is pretty queer, in at least in one aspect: We really got our shit out there! Seriously though, I think our blog did provide a space for queering--"uncensored" and through whatever means of expression we were feeling (that's subverting the Ivory Tower to me). The ways that it encouraged our engagement on our own queer time (12:00 am - 7:00 am), in our own queer ways (poetry, post-its, paintings, etc.), definitely allowed queer practices to come through and develop (Queer This! is but one example I'll carry with me and probably say out loud at least once in a while).

Final Wrap-Up: Nation/Citizen

| 1 Comment

My term, nation/citizen, came to represent for me the over-arching concepts of nationality and citizenship and what these mean to queering. The concept of the nation has two implications for queer : the first is the very real and structured oppression of queer citizens through legal power; the second is the theoretical implications of a nationality or a citizenship that helps construct and is simultaneously constructed by heteronormative principles. These two different effects of the nation/citizen concept basically mark where I started understanding my term and where I ended with it.

Because I was more unclear on how to engage with my term at the beginning of the semester, and I wanted a clear and defined (I know, totally un-queer of me) place to begin, I focused on the legal implications of citizenship in the US. In my first annotated bibliography, the sources I cited showed how the citizenship in the US is seen as a privilege that one must earn through merit. Also the first source in my first annotated bibliography also shows the disturbing link between citizenship as natural and the other societal norms seen as natural. This link stems from the name of the process of becoming a citizen, naturalization.

Through more investigation and through our later readings, however, I can to see the term nation/citizen as representing a more ideology that we queered through our readings than as a concrete definition. For instance, in my last annotated bibliography, I found my favorite source of the semester, Gay Bombs. Gay Bombs, along with the readings we encountered later in the semester, showed that nationality and citizenship are defined by what they exclude as much as what they include. The masculinity intertwined with the US nationalist ideal makes queerness a threat comparable to terrorism. Thus nationality and citizenship become synonyms for masculine idealism and intelligibility.

I see queering as looking at the world through the lens of queer. Queering is looking at things in our society and our world that seem to be the unchallenged status quo and turning it inside out. This is uncomfortable for many who are comfortable with the status quo. So necessarily queering makes many people uncomfortable, creates fear in them. Because queering does these things without apology, queering is a fearless action. Queering is appropriating the things that have been perverted into the norm and asking why and how that is. Queer is also looking at things that are already queer and naming that queerness in the subject, like with the queerness of children, . Also, with the queerness of terrorists in Puar's writing, I think it became even more clear to me that queering doesn't have boundaries, that is part of the fearlessness of queering as an action. Queering can be turned on a gender-defining book or advertisement and at the same time queering can be used to interpret the meaning behind suicide bombers. This agility to move to the murky spaces that exist outside of the comfortable reaches of mainstream society is its unique quality.

Tracking my term has been a very new experience over the course of this semester. In some ways, I really felt lost at the beginning- I didn't know quite what I was supposed to be doing with this term or where to start. My thoughts surrounding the term nation/citizen were so jumbled and incomplete that it was hard to try and engage with the text using this term as my underlying association to the material, or lens through which to read, I suppose. It's entirely possible that this process of figuring out what to do with my term was more difficult for me because queer/queering has never been a focus of my studies. It is much less definitive, more imaginative, and more focused on questioning than my previous classes encouraged. With this new subject matter, tracking my term was rocky at first. . I think that it came more easily for me when I found a balance between trying to come up with definitive conclusions and coming up with only questions with absolutely no idea of how to approach them. At some point I found that balance, where asking questions about the readings and answering those questions became really helpful. Through this process, I think I learned a lot about how to go about queering and about investigating what queering means in relation to something like the term nation/citizen. It's important to me to be able to focus this queering ability towards something like citizenship, something that needs to be re-thought in terms of queer, and tracking my term definitely helped me learn to do that to a greater extent than I would've known how before.

The blogging process helped with tracking my term and understanding queer/queering in the first place for me also. I think the main reason blogging versus writing a formal paper helped is because the focus was taken off the specificity of meticulously writing a paper. For me, it's freeing to be able to write more stream-of-consciousness, using the first person, using language that somehow doesn't lend itself to formal writing. Without having to put focus on those smaller details, I was able to focus more on the subject matter that I was (attempting to) engaging with. Also, without opening the debate completely again, I do want to say that I think this blog also speaks to the way that queer/queering is situated in an academic setting- it is disciplined because it requires regular, scheduled work. But also, it is much less confining and constraining than a lot of work done in most academic careers because of the relaxed formality.

II) What is Queering?

| 1 Comment

Queering and queer theory attempts to question norms, reclaim abjected spaces and identities, and construct new dialogues for ideas about identification, boundaries, passing, temporality, and resistance. Through this course I've been able to understand the ways that Queer is employed as an intelligible identity category, as a noun, which seeks to encapsulate identities that claim to be fluid or outside of the heterosexual matrix. I've been able to understand the ways in which employing Queer as a noun can be problematic because it attempts to make intelligible the unintelligible. Use of the term Queer as a noun has created tension between generation of folks who claim abjected identities because younger generations seem to claim a fluid, unintelligible-reclaimed-abject-Queer identity, but at the same time the term Queer sparks some memories of violence for older generations of gay, lesbian, and transgender folks from when Queer was used to abject and humiliate. Using the term queer as a verb offers some productive opportunities to deconstruct and rework understandings of intelligibility. To queer something means to understand and question the histories and performativity of terms in attempts to construct new dialogues for ideas about identification, boundaries, passing, temporality, and resistance.

I) Performativity

Performativity is directly tied to the ways in which one cites norms to construct or perform their identity, and the ways that norms are cited by outside powers that perform an intelligible identity on bodies. From their text Gender Trouble (1990), Butler states that "gender proves to be performative - that is, constituting the identity it is purported to be. In this sense, gender is always a doing, though not a doing by a subject who might be said to preexist the deed...There is no gender identity behind the expression of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very "expressions" that are said to be its results" (Butler, 34). In terms of gender, Butler describes the ways that gender identity is performed by citing norms. It is through the citing of certain norms that constructs the gender identity as intelligible; there is no preexisting gender identity that is true or pure that exists prior to the act of citing norms for its construction. In the article 'Where's My Parade?': On Asian American Diva-Nation, Rachel C. Lee explores the ways in which Margaret Cho as an entertainer on a literal stage, through literal performance makes evident the performativity of static and intelligible racial, sexual, gender, and citizenship identities. Through her physical performance on a stage of the leakiness of these categories, Cho is able to queer the separateness between literal performances (as in a comedian on stage) and the performativity of identities through the covert norms that are cited to construct intelligible categories. In Butler's chapter "Critically Queer" from the text Bodies That Matter (1993), Butler discusses the term queer through the lens of performativity. They suggests that instead of understanding Queer as a fixed notion of identity, there should be an understanding and employment of the term Queer more as a verb that 'queers' stable identity categories, their formations and histories, and converging relations of power. To remain queer, the term Queer must constantly be resignified and reworked, and it is "necessary to affirm the contingency of the term" (Butler, 230).
Understanding performativity is central to queering theory in that in order to queer norms, reclaim abjected spaces and identities, and construct new dialogues for ideas about identification, boundaries, passing, temporality, and resistance, there must be an understanding of the ways that norms are cited in the performance and construction of identities in order deconstruct and rework identities.

III) Blogging Process

| 1 Comment

In the process of tracking the term performativity through blogging, I was able to see other students' posts through a lens of performativity, and draw connections between all of the terms.
The process of writing on the blog was helpful for this course in the sense that I was able to further my understanding of other terms through the extensive base of information presented in students posts' and collective participation in the blog. The blog was not helpful in the sense that, for me personally, there was too much information on the blog for me to read and sort through, causing me to feel overwhelmed about participating on the blog. I personally learn best in direct and intimate settings (like a small class), where discussions can take place and questions and ideas can get flushed-out with the professor and other students. The blog was helpful for posting links and videos that you can't do in a discussion, but beyond that I generally felt that the material we were discussing in class was not directly related to the required blog participation. This caused me to feel overwhelmed, and I think there was a little too much discussion going between class and the blog which I couldn't keep up with all of it. I have never been a fan of blogs previous to this course, so I suppose that did not help promote a positive outlook on the blog component of the course for me either. I would advise future students to allow a lot more time than they think that they'll need for readings and blog assignments, because there is so much information to sort through and engage with.
Queering and queer theory attempts to question norms, reclaim abjected spaces and identities, and construct new dialogues for ideas about identification, boundaries, passing, temporality, and resistance. In a similar way, because blogging happens in the digital sphere and is not bound by temporal and spatial boundaries, blogging has the potential to claim space for new dialogues about queering theory that is accessible and consumable by many people that might not otherwise have access to queering information or queer dialogue space. On the other hand, I think it is important to remember that much like the way that power always operates above, in, and from all areas of identity, blogging and digital space is dictated by systems of power as well. Blogging is privileged to those who can consume and participate in the dialogues (i.e. - written language barriers, physical and intellectual ability), those who have access to the technological resources to be able to participate in the blog, and those who have the available free time to participate.
Our blog allowed us to create a space for a dialogue of queering theory to happen between students and outside readers and participants. Through the 'Queer This!' section, we were able to engage in the practice of queering norms presented in other digital spaces.

I started this direct engagement with Intimate Investments: Resituating the Homonormative Turn, but as I reread it before posting it, I think that I didn't fully understand what was happening with the gay, white male in contrast to the terrorist or other marginalized figure. After reading Jasbir Puar's article and understanding US exceptionalism a little more thoroughly, I can see that this exceptionalism as one of the issues intertwined with the figure of the gay, white male versus the terrorist. The US views itself as a progressive, enlightened nation and as the hallmark of that, the gay white man helps champion this "progressive" view of the US while really enforcing hetero norms at the same time. The hetero norms are enforced by the HRC ad in the article when the gay man has to justify his claim to marriage rights by positing himself as better than the terrorist figure (because he & his partner were fighting terrorism and his partner was a victim of 9/11). However, he is at the top rung of privileged society in every other way: white, male, wealthy. So he is really not such an icon of a progressive US, just a marker of what the US would like to use to claim its progressiveness. This is the constant and elusive problem for queer citizens; there are so many qualifiers that the nation is trying to pin down and use to choose ideal citizens. But where does the queer citizen fall in this system, especially considering that queer citizens often are marginalized, therefore living in the gray area and unintelligible spaces?

But after all that, here is the original post, I thought it was important at the time so I may as well post it now:

This article was really great, articulating perfectly the problem of campaigning for rights such as having gay marriage recognized and the problems inherent in ads like the HRC ad that it used as its example. I think that these problems are at the heart of the difficulty in looking at a nation/citizen term or trying to read from this perspective, because in relation to queer there are not a lot of positives to glean from its use. The positing that this sexually identified person should be included and recognized under the law is always in contrast to the other sexually identified person that will remain unrecognized and unrecognizable. In the article this is pointed out: "...this is a bargain brokered in exchange for closing his eyes to other kinds of violence committed daily on bodies of other queers, indigenous, black and other people of color," (126). This occurs because of competition of marginalized groups fighting for recognition, acceptance, visibility and equal rights. According to the article, "the white gay male competes with the imagined terrorist and with job-stealing immigrants for limited recognition," (126). I think this is a key point to the article, but it raises the question of a solution; what should/could be done to end this competition? Will it end as long as there are marginalized groups in society?

Final Blog--Bodies and Material Experiences


The term "Bodies and Material Experiences" can be described as the intersection of bodies, including everything from physical body structures to psychological experiences contained within our bodies, with external, societal structures, policies, ways of living, norms, and more that produces an individualized material experience (of or relating to the outside world, respective to our individual bodies) for each of us. In order to understand this term and how it applies to each of us, one must ask questions such as
+What laws and policies affect my body and life, and how?
+What social norms affect my body and life, and how?
+How does the construction of my body, as an entity, interact with the greater world, and what experience does that bring me to living in/through?

and more. Subsequently, it is easy to see how individualized this term can become, and why it's important to take into consideration in queering theory--a theory based on understanding minority experiences, frames of mind, points of view and more and how the larger society can be queered based on those such things would only be responsibly explored if it were actively exploring and understanding such individualized experiences.
The brilliant part about this term is that it has the potential to be so comprehensive that you can really explore a lot with it. You can explore everything from how an identity (queer or not) interacts with laws and policies that proclaim to protect people by looking at how "the system" fails queer bodies, as I have done in looking at Kate Moennig's My Address, to how the medical world seeks to normalize queer bodies and how that inevitable failure to do so affects both directly affected individuals and everyone else, as Judith Butler explored in her discussion of the case of David Reimer, to how the mass media assesses and deals with queer bodies and their experiences/representation, as I have done in looking at Adam Lambert and Nip/Tuck, and an endless number of additional options.
That sort of comprehensive outlook is integral to asking what queering is (and legitimately exploring it), as well. While one could argue that discussions of gender, sexuality and rejection/refusal are the most important parts of discussing queering (and I won't deny that they are required parts of such a discussion) simply because they are the first to come to mind, it seems to me that queering is not necessarily doing or looking at things differently, but it is doing things with a raw and inconsiderate point of view that forces you to be completely honest. Too often queering is a reactionary practice to what is interpreted as "the norm" or heteronormativity or heterosexuality, but is such a blanket approach really that unpredictable? Not at all; in fact, if queering is to be constantly posited (as it often is) as the polar opposite of the norm, it's not really as creative and outlandish as it's supposed to be.
In a world where we take so much time and give so much effort to understanding ourselves in relation to others (perfectly epitomized by the negative connotation too often given to words such as "inconsiderate" or "selfish"), I propose that the queer thing to do (or the proper way to perform queering) isn't something that can be prescribed, and the only prerequisites are that whatever it is must be raw, inconsiderate, and selfish, with no consideration given to anyone else but the performer. Queering is along the lines of giving the complete amount of deserved credence to individual desires in a way that both understands and acknowledges others and/or society without letting anything other than pure, raw, personal desire influence actions and decisions.
In terms of tracking my term and using this blog, I have to wonder if I would've been as successful at tracking my term if I didn't have the opportunity to see what everyone else was thinking and how they were engaging with their own terms. While I could objectively define what the term "bodies and material experiences" meant, I had a very hard time connecting it to our materials and the idea of queer/queering itself. Being able to see how others (including the instructor) were using course materials to understand their own terms made things easier for me, and the blog became an increasingly regular resource for me.
Additionally, having the blog here allowed me to learn an immeasurable amount more about class subjects (queering, overall) than I would've in a more traditional class because it allowed for both constant and casual contact with both my peers and course content in a manner that wasn't at all forceful or overbearing. I learned that queer theory can take an infinite amount of directions--it just depends on the players involved, which is a very exciting prospect. And while writing on the blog seemed a little intimidating at times, I soon realized that having the blog as a tool and resource created a sort of safer space for learning--because we weren't so pressured with academic tones or styles and were allowed to discuss whatever we wanted in whatever style we wanted (basically), we took those freedoms and ran with them, and I think it soon became apparent that the blog would end up being what we made it, and that created a welcome sense of responsibility, I feel. All of this created a definitely queer space for us to learn in a way that I hadn't encountered before.
As for future students, my biggest recommendation with using a course blog would be to not be so intimidated by it--it is a space that you make your own, and if you don't participate in that creation it'll be even harder to use as time goes on. If you get rid of that fear of doing something wrong and just go for it, you'll probably learn more about both the course and the blogging experience itself than you would to just sit and watch others post.


| 1 Comment

(This may only open in Microsoft Word ... and the links work, they just take a long time to pop up)

The Abject

Final Blog - Rejection/Refusal

| 1 Comment

Rejection and refusal, in my own words. I began the blog assignment by outlining the different meanings I had pertaining to rejection and refusal before I came to class and what definitions I could find in resource materials, this blog is entitled "Rejection/Refusal within Queer Theory and Existence" and was written on October 22. Rejection comes from the Latin term meaning "to throw back"; it is a refusal to accept, to grant, to discard as useless or unsatisfactory, to cast out (eject), to vomit, the state of being rejected. Refusal also originates from Latin, from a word that meant to pour back, outcast, trash. It is defined in dictionaries as to deny, to decline to accept, to express a determination not to do something, to decline acceptance/consent/compliance, and to decline to submit.

In the blog and in my presentation of Judith Butler's "Undiagnosing Gender" I tried to explain to my classmates a theory of existence in a queer world maintained by a balance between rejection and refusal that divides "queers" from "non-queers". I described how I interpreted these terms pertaining to queer theory. Both of these terms are social actions. First is rejection; a pro-heteronormative and often anti-queer idea that reinforces the normative by preserving existing practices. This is a traditional and conservative perspective that closes itself to the development of new ideas and existences in favor of what is most familiar. The actions taken by this group publically express their rejection of non-heteronormative subjects thought violence, humiliation, or ignorance and separate them from so-called "normal" society.

The second action is refusal, an anti-heteronormative and often pro-queer ideology that aims to redefine, reconstruct, or make anew of social existences that are opposed by the rejecters. There are many ways to existence in refusal of accepting normative society, this can be done by hiding from it, being outspoken in the society to draw attention to the diversity of existents, to refuse submission to the normative, to contradict current mores and practices, and by voluntarily separating oneself from the typical.

It was from these definitions that I began to explore their meaning as pertaining to queer. In my blog "Thoughts pertaining to Munoz's article: Rejection of the Freak" I quotes Munoz: "Disidentification is meant to be descriptive of the survival strategies the minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the existence of subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship" (4). I wrote in an effort to summarize, "Normative society creates freaks, people who are rejected by the norm, to reinforce what defines the normal." I think it is this concept that envelopes rejection and refusal because it simply defines how queers or "freaks" are rejected by society so that society can maintain a utopian existence. What queers should do is create a more accepting existence by creating a new utopian in which that is queer now can become acceptable in politics, society, and culture.

Queering. What is queering? This is a difficult concept for me as I have had little experience or example to follow. There is hardly a good definition of what "queer" is and that makes it even more difficult to put it into terms of action, as a verb. From what I have seen my classmate do in attempts to create this action of queering I have formulated a fuzzy idea of what queering is and a few questions that I tried to use to put things into terms of queering or queer:

"To queer" is to look at ones surroundings and contemplate the strangeness of its being and to doubt is supposed "normal" or "abnormal" state. Why should it be defined as queer? What aspect, if any, makes it queer? How can it represent or exemplify queerness? What of queerness could actually be normal if standards of heteronormativity were removed (such as the free thought and action of children when not supervised and disciplined by elders as Chloe questioned during her presentation on Youth)? Should a queer thing be normal, but then, what is normal? How even, has normality come to be defined and what has its evolution been throughout our cultural history?

It is the questioning and doubting of the existence of society and material culture that we are exposed to and most familiar with that is queering. It causes us to think about what has created these definitions of what is acceptable and of what is unacceptable in our society. It causes us to ask whether these definitions are legitimate according to the diverse experiences of human existence and realize there are prejudices that have not been addressed that are contrary to the natural right of human being.

Tracking Rejection and Refusal. Tracking rejection and refusal in a queering theory class was not difficult. Many of the articles specifically addressed some particular matter of discrimination pertaining to queers; generally, queers were being rejected by a heteronormative standard or queers were refusing to participate in a heteronormative existence by capitalizing upon some queer trait. By learning from the experiences from other queers through the readings or from what I myself have seen, I concluded that the most important action a queer could take when fighting for queer rights is to refuse the state of heteronormativity. To ignore those who reject queerness and dictate what is "normal" and show them that queerness is a legitimate and feasible state of existence. It is not detrimental or harmful to the well-being of oneself or of those around them. It is important to refuse heteronormativity and display this refusal boldly so that other people may experience what queerness is, even in secondhand, so that it does not remain a fearful existence, but a familiar existence. It is the unfamiliar that is the most frightening to a person and familiarity can destroy that fear, making the world a safer place for queers. Queering theory is a methodology of familiarity that those refusing to remain in a heteronormative society that, when taken out of a queer environment, can open the eyes of people outside of queerdom to realize that they already live in a very queer place, even if it should be a subtle queerness.

What I learned in class came from the readings and conversations I had in and outside of class. The blogs were not my primary venue of interaction because I did not get the discussion I needed for developing my thoughts pertaining to queer theory, I did not get the quick interaction and capitalization of thought I needed from an intelligent conversation. The blog was helpful in that I had to develop and write about my thoughts, but that did not guarantee I would have any sort of response that would lead to any further consideration or development of these thoughts. Any sort of constructive criticism did not come until we handed our blogs in. Considering that many of us did not complete our blogs until a few days before the assignment was due, I fear that a lot of the conversation that could have happened with the blogs was absent.

For future students, I advise that they interact with the blog at least every two days so that they can be aware of what ideas are being written about. They should, after reading a blog, comment on it, regardless of how they feel the comment might be valued by other students. A large part of what hindered my comments was self editing because I feared that what I would have to say would be deemed valueless by teacher and student, especially in consideration that the majority of our comments and blogs had to be constructed by pre-conceived requirements. Do not let this hinder your writing. For the more that is said, the more people can connect and develop their ideas.

The blog was useful in that it allowed not only for the students of the class to comment about queering theory, but allowed for anyone who was looking for, or stumbled upon, a blog about queerness. This opens up the blog so that we would be able to learn from people of various experiences in queerness.

Help Plan a Queer Students of Color Conversations Series

I just received information about this in an email from Anne Phibbs. Please note that while
everyone is welcome, the voices of students of color will be prioritized.

* Help Plan a Queer Students of Color Conversations Series Starting in
Spring 2010

We are asking for your help to conceive & plan a series of open discussions led by queer students of color focused on exploring the experiences of people of color on campus around issues of race, culture, gender and sexuality.

Please join us on Tues, Dec 15 at 4:00 PM for the first planning meeting for this series, which we hope will launch in Spring 2010. Pizza, snacks and drinks will be served. Please invite anyone whose voice should be heard as we plan these essential discussions! More planning meetings will be convened in the early spring.

We hope to use what comes out of these discussions to build community, take action, and change campus climate. Everyone is welcome at these discussions, but the voices of people of color will be prioritized.

QPOC Conversations Series Planning Meeting
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
4:00-6:00 PM
Coffman Union 303
* Pizza, snacks and drinks will be served!

Thank you,
Cortez Riley, Shawyn Lee, Anne Phibbs and Ross Neely

Final Blog - Youth


1) Youth is an extremely difficult term to define. Every source I read on youth this semester implied a different definition. Therefore, to define youth, I think it is more prudent to begin with what it means to queering theory. Of course, this is an extremely broad question as well, as it seems EVERYTHING is relevant to queering theory. What I can definitively say, though, and what almost all the sources I have consulted imply, is that children themselves are extremely queer, benefit from direct discussions about and realizations from the adults around them that they are queer, and would benefit from being directly involved in queer theorizing and politics. Curiouser, of course, lays out a very convincing argument for the queerness of children, saying that children only become heteronormative when an adult narrative is imposed upon their own. Dean Spade, in Fighting to Win, discusses the importance of legislation and public policy and activism in the lives of poor, trans youth of color. And The Lesbian Parenting Book discusses the need for queer ways of family life to be accepted and the need for children to be exposed to queer cultural artifacts. None of these sources, however, define concretely what a child is, leaving more questions than answers: is childhood under age 18? under age of consent? the property of parents or wards of the state? This has left me with the impression that childhood is an age of legal vulnerability, in which the 'child' much too queer to be a valuable part of heteronormative society, must be molded and held in check by all possible apparatuses of discipline. "Child" is almost derogatory, implying that children are incapacitated by age and thus do not have concerns on the level of importance of adults. Dean Spade comes the closest of any of the sources I read to actually making what I would consider a useful argument for children. For all theorizing about children or the figure of the child, very few people consider doing the human work of entering children's own stories into queering theory, or working with children to help them have a true part in the creation of society. It has been extremely frusturating as a child care worker who has spent tremendous physical, emotional, and intellectual labor working with children to hear the ivory tower preach about them, clearly having precious little knowledge of children themselves, and certainly not accepting any responsibility or involvement with children. After all, children are people, too.

2) I keep coming back to the same problem with the word queering, and much of it is about my own grappelings with the word. I would like it to be a space of new possibilities for political existence, but the word is controlled by whoever uses it in a certain context with certain people. I would like it to mean Nyong'o's Punk'd Theory, which was my favorite reading of the semester, and not Micheal Warner's oversimplified binary between straight and queer. Rather, it is this 'between' that I want queer to be, the place of the abject, for that is where I find truth in my life. I have always disidentified with the word because it seems the emblem of the white gay man, and I am really not interested in this definition. I would disagree with others in class who say that queer is simply what the norm rejects, for I don't think this goes far enough into interrogating the norm as abject itself. It seems this definition depends upon the norm for its existence, and indeed is often more "normal" than people think it is, and I find that frightening. After all, Warner's mobility as a queer subject in the way that he is is dependent upon the violence our country is founded upon and operates on. In the end, every social circle, regardless of who they are, creates boundaries around themselves that are often more meaningless and contrived than meaningful and political. In class, Remy said that they wanted it to be the space of possibility as well, and a place of brutal honesty about the nature of our own existences, if I'm getting their comment right. But, of course, they also admitted that we are constrained at any one moment for how queer is being deployed by certain groups or individuals, no matter what we want it to be.

3) I deeply enjoyed tracking my term! I got to read a variety of sources and bring them into conversation with my own work, which has been most interesting. Mainly, I found support for my own prior convictions about youth being queer and I also found new ideas about the definition of youth, the production of youth, and developed useful ideas for engaging children directly in queer theorizing and possibly queer politics. My engagement with the abject was a vital part of my theorizing about youth and queering as well, and helped me sort out my own definitions and political ideas about what youth and queering are and about useful political action.
As for the blogging experience, I would definitely tell future students to start right away and keep a regular schedule for working on it. It is a lot more time consuming than other class blogs they may have had and it should be treated much like writing a paper than a purely informal blog. I must say, I didn't like blogging at first, but I really warmed up to it through the semester. It really is a great queer space for engagement, especially as Sara has encouraged us to stretch the definition of what a legitimate source is and how to engage on the blog and format our entries. The blog also provided a valuable way for students and professors to engage with each other on a variety of topics outside of class. Introducing a blogging activity and atmosphere helps us break down and transform the 'institution's' expectations about what is a worthwhile academic engagement.

Queer This: "An Emasculating Truth"

I found the trailer for this movie, "An Emasculating Truth", on the website for Bitch magazine. The movie is definitely a comedy, but I wonder how far does the joke extend, how much of the movie represents real concerns? There is a list of quotes & links on the website that are offered as evidence that masculinity is decreasing, like men living at home at an older age, using more hair products and playing more video games. The movie also offers some activities that are the ultimate manly activities.

Annotated Bibliography 3

After reading the Puar assignments, discussing the implications that queer and terrorism have on each other, and trying to use the lens of nation/citizen to focus in on a particular theme, I found three great sources that tie together different elements of an understanding of queer terrorism and queer nationality. What it means to be a queer citizen might not be an answerable question, but the sources I chose reflect: 1. The unsettling trend of comparing queerness and terrorism in an effort to reveal queerness as the lesser of two evils; 2. The way that terrorism and queerness can be linked in a progressive and productive artwork and action; and 3. The way that queer nationality and queer citizenship is almost an oxymoron in that queerness can cause a citizen to be exiled, therefore stripped of their citizenship.

"Gay Bombs"
My first source is an awesome work of art/functioning website called Queer Technologies. The entire project is really cool and really interesting, but the part that really has a lot of relevancy to my term is the Gay Bombs portion. There is a picture of a book called "Gay Bombs: User's Manual" and the description of the manual itself is pretty neat: "Gay Bombs is a reverse discourse, a re-inscription, a mutating body politic, a multitude, a queer terrorist assemblage of networked activists, deploying new technologically queer sensibilities." So basically this is the how-to for the website. It explains how to understand and act with and through the theories of the website.

This to me seems like disidentification in action. I think it is really cool how the line between reality and art is blurred because it is hard to tell if you could just pick up one of these manuals and start deploying gay bombs whenever you wanted to, or if it is a complete construction for the purposes of art. Either way, I think it draws a great link between using disidentification and also the inherent queerness of terrorist tactics. Here is a book claiming (already queer) terrorist tactics for the purposes of queering society. The heteronormative cultural norms that make up western society are vehemently enforced through nationalism, the urge for blind, masculine patriotism in waging the war on terrorism and strict control over immigration. This book aims to queer that normative society and expropriate the term terrorism for those means. This action troubles the very notions of masculinity, heteronormativity and patriotism that are intertwined in the concept of US nationalism.

My MLA-style citation is below, but I added these two links that I found helpful for navigating the site.

Queer Technologies. Nov 2009. Queer Technologies. 5 Dec 2009. ""

"Exiled for Love is Exiled from Love"
This source is a blog entry on the LGBT Immigration Rights page, which is a part of the bigger site, This entry is not only heartbreaking; it is a big reminder of a huge issue for queer citizens- immigration rights. Taking into consideration all of the difficult processes, catch-22s, criteria and expectations involved in applying for and obtaining citizenship in the US, adding homosexuality and gender issues into the mix makes it almost impossible. Because heterosexual marriage is legal in the US, a man or woman can sponsor their heterosexual spouse for citizenship. However, since gay marriage isn't legal (not to mention how complex this issue becomes for trans people), a woman or man with a same sex partner cannot sponsor that partner for citizenship. This article basically exposes all these issues and also adds the personal story of the author.

I think the issues raised with this article speak to the question of how queerness and citizenship fit together. Is it possible for the two to fit together? Are full-fledged citizenship and heterosexuality mutually exclusive? Understanding queer theory a little more now, I wonder if citizenship is a productive goal to work towards when the citizenship connotes inclusion into a heteronormative society. This article shows the issues that a queer citizen faces; even though the author of this article was not denied citizenship, her partner was. Now they are both in exile from the US.

Lim, Amos. "Exiled for Love is Exiled from Love." Online Posting. 1 Dec 2009. LGBT Immigration Rights Blog on 5 Dec 2009. ""

"Gays BETTER than Terrorists"
My final source is a video of Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern speaking at a meeting in her district. In the video, she calls homosexuality a "bigger threat to our nation than Islam or terrorism". She says a lot of other pretty radically prejudiced things. The video was put together by the HRC and plays the audio of Kern's speech while playing video of different people who are against Kern's statements.

This video, taken in relation to my other two sources, has a lot of things going on. First, the remarks made by Kern are in wild contrast to the work being done by the groups responsible for both of my other sources. She is obviously part of the system of power, for instance, that Queer Technologies works to dismantle. She is a representative of Oklahoma in the US government and is sent to speak for other people, although she is speaking for a racist and prejudiced minority. Another issue at work in with this video is the same issue we saw in the article that showed an ad by the HRC supporting gay marriage: the issue is that homosexuality is posited as better or worse than other marginalizing qualities and other threats to the US. The website ( has a post following the video which states that "gays are WAY BETTER than terrorists". It's unfortunate that they chose to compare the two groups. Although we've talked a lot in class with the Puar reading that terrrism is intrinsically queer, this is a different assertion. The assertion is that terrorism and homosexuality/queerness are comparable threats to society. I don't think they are on the same plane in day-to-day life even though they may be in theory readings. So, this does the same thing as the HRC ad; it posits homosexuality as the lesser of two evils, as though its an either-terrorism-or-queerness situation.

"Gays Better Than Terrorists." Online posting. 13 Mar 2008. Big Queer Blog. 5 Dec 2009. ""

Queer This #4: Beard Bonuses

Still ruminating on beards this evening, I want to say goodbye to this blog with a final Queer This! consideration: The World Beard and Moustache Championships.

Does anyone else feel a queer sensibility around these gods of facial hair? Where can we find the queer here?

And, in case anyone is interested in Beard on Beard (Start Trek slash fiction)...

Sex with Berlant and Warner: and some word vomit, too

Part 3: Queer Counterpublics

The queer world is a space of entrances, exits, unsystematized lines of acquaintance, projected horizons, typifying examples, alternate routes, blockages, incommensurate geographies.

Queer culture represents all that normative culture rejects, expels: those filthy practices and values that remind the norm-conformer of their humanity: "elaborating a public world of belonging and transformation. Making a queer world has required the development of kinds of intimacy that bear no necessary relation to domestic space, to kinship, to the couple form, to property, or to the nation."

Counterpublic: the queer world's fragility.
--> Criminal (or abject) intimacies are not normalized, but used to form a counterpublic, or subculture: this can be related to anti-capitalism as well, in our discussion of community v. subculture, here we have Normative culture v. Queer culture, the latter not attempting to become "normalized" -- but counter-remaining abject, and finding fulfillment there.

Making pleasure dirty. A waste, a shameful product of bodily deviancy. "Sexuality" rather than private sex suggests a lifestyle contrary to norms and "hygienic" acceptability. Deviant sexuality is abjected, rejected, or candy-coated to sound cleaner than it is -- in order to do so, sexual acts must be denied.

border intimacies: Borderlands .. ?

...a tropism toward the public toilet (560). The mode by which Others become shit ..? Filthy sex invented safe sex: the ethic of the abject.

Gender: Annotated Bibliography #3

| 1 Comment

Let's be honest: beards have a lot of different gendered meanings. Does not the beard, as part of the body, play a part in the construction of masculine identity? Mustn't masculinity always maintain some relation to the beard, at all times not growing it, shaving it off, keeping it trim, or "letting it go"? There not only many different beard meaning, but many different beard styles with varied denotations and connotations. It was only recently I found out that, apparently, some folks consider at least some kinds of beards to be really queer. So I want to examine queering beardedness a bit more in this entry. First, in response to an ad my friend, Ethan, once placed on craigslist looking for donated instruments for a queer youth music program, he received this response [note: the sender's message has been faithfully preserved, unedited for spelling, etc.]:

"Subject: Queer Youth
Date: 4/2/09 9:31am

** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info:

This and you are absurd

Let me teel you why you and your cronies are depressed.











Beard on beard, sack on sack, fecies on fecies. Now, why is "beard on beard" the first image of queer conjured up here [see also Beard on Beard Star Trek clip on youtube]? What happened to the beard as symbol of rugged manliness? What of all the macho role models of bearded perfection? We could speculate all we want about queer meanings of hairyness in bear and trans-masculine communities but...

Right now, I find myself just really wanting to grow something a little fuzzier, to let the whiskers grow and spread beyond my chin. Is this a winter thing? I'm also growing (ha) really fond of checking out other beards, occasionally rubbing them against my own chin scruff or just admiring them in passing. I'm trying to examine what pressures are a part of these desires. Why do I think more hair would "look good" on my face? What other connotations do I have with beautiful beards?

There are of course these kinds of events/experiences. In this clip, public space is disrupted and giggles abound as "Bearded Ladies" converge. Here's another interesting movement where "bearded lady" (and this is what I think is happening) becomes trans becomes hazily queer-- in the only comment on this video, looneypride writes:

"haha that is funny! i am determined to wear a beard this halloween! haha maybe i will go as a man trying to be a female impersonator or a transvestite who hates shaving! or bearded lady! from the circus!"

The joke's on gender here, especially in the author's emphasis on failing-- trying to be, in the sense that one is not allowed to become. Is a beard/facial hair on a visibly female/feminine body the ultimate in poking fun at masculinity? Or simply a supposedly less threatening yet equally confusing event as the "man in a dress" figure in the eyes of society?

Then I discovered the following "Give it a ponder" ad campaign for LG's full-keyboard cell phones. Of this series of four, the following two shake me up the most when it comes to thinking about the functions of the beard.

Most obviously, James Lipton's beard works in these commercials as the power of thought-- when his beard is donned and stroked, one is thrust into rational masculine contemplation and eventually compelled to make the sensible decision (like a "real man"?). I still don't know how to talk about what's going on in the second video, other than to say that I cannot help but laugh at all the unicorns and try to picture them with the testosterone-driven power of beard growth as well. Is there something subversive about these ads suggesting that female/feminine bodies can wield these beard skills as well? Or, is this limited by Lipton's passing on of the beard? Who gets to grow beards and have them valued as aesthetically pleasing, and for whom is beard growth only a big joke? Is the beard in the second ad somewhat more hilarious in its juxtaposition with pink and unicorns, or is there "equal" amusement in the bearding of the seemingly geeky locker room boy who decides not to sext his junk?

Here's what I know: examining these strange images of beardedness doesn't really make me question wanting to try such a configuration out on this body. What does that have to do with gender? The marker of facial hair would, for me, carry with it a recognizability of maleness of a certain age, among other identities. But I'm not sure that this is something I want, even as tied as it seems to the symbol I seek to appropriate. I don't really buy into craiglist poster's ideas of uber queer beardedness (nor am I ready to be a bear just yet). I just want to see more of things this body can do-- and now it grows some hair on the face. So, I can show myself that many images are fueling my thoughts on beards and still say that I'm okay with desiring one, right?

Let's grow a beard together!

Annotated Bibliography #3

The selections that I have chosen below for this annotated bibliography were inspired by a recent conversation I had with someone regarding homosexuality, the law, and religion. An argument I am sure everyone here has heard, which is what I heard for the thousandth time the other day, is that homosexuality is a sin and should therefore not be allowed or legalized (as in marriage). This got me to thinking about how that is such a deeply rooted argument that I hear often and yet I hear it a lot from people who do not go to church or even read the bible. This argument has became an accepted norm in our society so I thought it would be interesting to delve into the root of that norm more closely.

"The Sources of Normativity"

before delving into the different aspects of normativity and how it affects our laws and beliefs, I thought it apropriate to find a definition of normativity that deals with what the following sources will be discussing. One that I found stated the following about normativity:

"Normativity pervades our lives. We not merely have beliefs: we claim that we and others ought to hold certain beliefs. We not merely have desires: we claim that we and others ought to act on some of them, but not on others. We assume that what somebody believbes or does may be judged reasonable to standards of norms. So far, so commonplace; but we have only to go a little further to find ourselves on the high seas of moral philosophy".

"The Pure Theory of Law"
According to "The Pure Theory of Law" by standford:

"The law, according to Kelsen, is a system of norms. Norms are 'ought' statements, prescribing certain modes of conduct. Unlike moral norms, however, Kelsen maintained that legal norms are created by acts of will. They are products of deliberate human action. For instance, some peopl gather in a hall, speak, raise their hands, count them, and promulgate a string of words. These are actions and events taking place at a specific time and space. To say that what we have described here is the enactment of a law, is to interpret these actions and events by ascribing a normative significance to them".

Basically, what they are saying is that the law is not based off of an inherent moral truth, but instead is based on a set of cultural beliefs and understandings that we hold about the world. Furthermore, the laws change as our cultural beliefs and understandings change throughout time and adapts to it's new surroundings.

"For The Bible Tells Me So" documentary
"For The Bible Tells Me So" is a documentary focusing on conservatism, gay practices, and the bible. The main argument of the documentary is that while the bible is most often used as the argument for why gayness is morally wrong, the bible actually does not say that at all. This point is made by many theologians who argue that people are taking what the bible says in a different way than what it is actually meant to be interpretted as. They say this happens because when we read the bible today, we are reading it through the lens of our current society and ways of speaking, but since the bible was written a very long time ago and in a very different culture, it needs to be read through that perspective taken into account. They give several examples of certiain words or cultural beliefs of that time are mis-interpreted to what makes the most sense for out time. In a nutshell, whenever gayness is mentioned in the bible with a term like "abomination" they are actually not talking about being gay as being what is bad, but somehting else entirely. This goes along with norms because the reason we are mis-interpretting a text written a long time ago is because we are looking at it through our norms and current culture, which is leading to misunderstandings.

Direct Reading Engagement, "Queer Times, Queer Assemblages"

In their text, "Queer Times, Queer Assemblages", Jasbir K. Puar discusses various terrorist corporealities through the lens of queerness; how the construction of these corporealities as queer positions them then as terrorist. In naming the terrorist, a picture of a backward, pathological, and perverse and emasculated, that have "femininity as their reference point of malfunction...Playing on this difference between the subject being queered versus queerness already being existing within the subject...allows for both the temporality of being and the temporality of always becoming" (Puar, 127). Puar goes on to discuss the terrorist corporeality in terms of a suicide bomber, in that "as one's body dies, one's body becomes the mask, the weapon, the suicide bomber, not before" (129). In this sense, the time-space, or temporality of the identity of a suicide bomber is queered because it does not follow normative sequence of self-proclamation/action = identity. The suicide bomber while alive is always becoming a terrorist, then after death is named a suicide bomber.
Puar takes issue with the feminist notion if intersectionality, stating that intersectional analysis of identity demands the knowing, naming, and stabilizing identities, versus an assemblage, which "is more attuned to interwoven forces that merge and dissipate time, space, and body against linearity, coherency, and permanency" (128).
I would like to critique these sentiments, in that yes, an intersectional analysis does operate on fixed categories, but from my understanding the aim of an intersectional analysis is to understand the historical realities of those terms which dictate how one's identity is read and performed through normative lenses. Intersectionality does not seek to stabilize identity categories, it seeks to understand those spaces where multiple identities merge or are at a crossroads within one persyn's identity. In those spaces of intersection is where an intersectional analysis attempts to queer identity categories as exclusive or separable, and take up the abjected space between the historical fixed categories of a persyn's identity as the place where lived experience happens. Gloria Anzaldúa and many other feminist writers take up this argument, saying for example, I may be read and categorized as these certain identity categories, but I always exist as all of them together, all of the time.
I feel that Puar's reading of assemblage to me seems a bit utopic, in the sense that assemblage seeks to account for "emotions, energies, affectivities, textures as they inhabit events, spatiality, and corporealities" (128). It may be true that assemblage can account for temporal and spatial reorderings of a body in a context like a suicide bomber or terrorist, but it is privileged to disregard the historical realities of certain identity categories that construct and name (power from above) certain identities, that thus underscores lives realities.

Puar, Jasbir K. "Queer Times, Queer Assemblages." In Social Text (2005), 23:3-4

Direct Engagement #7 The Future Is Kid Stuff

Even though I already touched on the Edelman article in the discussion of my additional reading of Curiouser, I wanted to engage a little more with it, to pull out a few specific quotes. I take a lot of issue with this article and the way Edelman does his theorizing. While I was reading it and disagreeing with it I grumbled over his grandiose and what I reactively interpreted as his pretentious writing style (ya ain't that special, Lee). I think his drive to make a "cutting edge" argument stunted the possibilities for where he could have gone with the examination of the figure of the child, which is much broader than what he actually engages with, and he ends up making an over-simplified argument. Of course, Edelman never actually engages with children themselves or queers with children or queer children. He complains that "the cult of the child permits no shrines to the queerness of boys and girls," but doesn't seem interested in providing one himself. More it seems, that he is simply sick of the false cry of liberal politics to "fight for children" (and they are most certainly NOT fighting for children themselves). However, I believe Edelman falls victim to the equally false accusation that queer politics cannot be about children. There are three quotes in particular just at the beginning of his essay that sum up Edelman's argument rather well that I will post and respond to here.

"What. . . would it signify not to be 'fighting for children'? How, then, to take the other 'side' when to take a side at all necessarily constrains one to take the side of, by virtue of taking side within, a political framework that compulsively returns to the child as the privileged ensign of the future it intends?" (pg. 19).

"In what follows I want to interrogate the politics that informs the pervasive trope of the child as figure for the universal value attributed to political futurity and to pose against it the impossible project of a queer oppositionality that would oppose itself to the structural determinants of politics as such, which is also to say, that would oppose itself to the logic of opposition," (pg. 19).

"Queer theory, as a particular story of where storytelling fails, one that takes the value and burden of that failure upon itself, occupies, I want to suggest, the impossible 'other' side where narrative realization and derealization overlap," (pg. 19).

Here are my rather snidely posited questions:

1) The figure of the child as representing political futurity is far broader than the constrained political image Edelman 'engages' with. How would his analysis be different if he were to discuss, say, the importance of the figure of the child not only as political futurity but as a symbol of the survival of an identity, as in some nationalist, anti-colonialist movements?

2) How does the figure of the child and family values in conservative politics change when Dick Chainey's daughter is discovered to be a lesbian?

3) What about Curiouser's focus on storytelling about and by children? Can storytelling's failure to make heteronormative children be read as a queer success?

4) Does Edelman's political project depend on ignoring actual children, queers with children, queer children, and actual legislation, public services, and policies surrounding children?

5) Is there anything inherently bad about political futurity in and of itself? If Edelman really seems to fear his lack of a future as a queer, even as he politically embraces his fears, what does this mean for the real material threats to the future of queers and children, and especially queer children? Might sustainability and longevity be taken up in other anti-capitalistic ways that would serve queer political struggles?

7) How would Edelman's argument be different if he actually engaged with real children or policies around children that are often explicitly designed to destroy the future of children?

Oh, yeah, and I was just thinking about this randomly: when thinking about how the norm is merely a denial of its own abjection, what does it mean when people dress their dogs up in those frilly, ugly dog clothes?

Gay and Lesbian Atlas

While looking up resources for my bibliography I found this book, which I thought really fascinating. It is a complied work that used data from the last census to locate where gay and lesbian populations are in the United States as well as giving some information about gays and lesbians living abroad. With the 2010 census coming up, it would be neat to see this compilation were made again so that the patterns of queers living in the United States can be visualized.



We have done quite an extensive study of queer culture within the United States, yet I have always been extraordinarily interested in how GLBTQ issues are handled in other areas of the world, such as Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and Australia. I want to know what cultural aspects allow for a more open or closed acceptance of queers a society. What types of interactions between people of the same sex are acceptable and unacceptable? What gradations of transsexuality are welcomed? Politically, what acceptance or oppression is legalized? How are queers rejected in various cultures around the world? How do they reject their oppression? What strategies have been used to gain acceptance and protection? The following resources were found in the libraries at the University of Minnesota.


Baird, Vanessa. No-Nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity. Oxford: New Internationalist Publications Ltd, 2007.

This book is not found at the University of Minnesota library system, but I found it while looking up Sex, Love & Homophobia, which is also by Baird. This book includes chapters about history, homophobia, politics, religion, science and transgender and intersex. It also has an appendix entitled "Sexual minorities and the law: A world survey" which I thought would be appropriately conducive to international queer studies.


Baird, Vanessa. Sex, Love & Homophobia : Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Lives. London: Amnesty International, 2004.

This book is a brief introduction to international concerns of GLBTQ studies inside and outside the United States. It discusses issues pertaining to the human rights and explores sexuality across time and culture. It includes a forward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu .


Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, The. Ed. Robert T. Francoeur and Raymond J. Noonan. New York, NY: Continuum, 2004.

Francoeur and Noonan have compiled a reference that gives a snapshot of the sexual practices, culture, and laws within many nations. Each country is written about by sexologies from that respective country and they write about many topics from contraceptives to SDIs to sex and the mentally challenged to heterosexuality and sexual dysfunctions. This work won the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASET) Annual Book Award in 2005. Francouer and Noonan are revered sexologists and educators. Together, they are also editing Sex in North America which will be released in 2011. Both have published works independently.


Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture. Ed. David A. Gerstner. London: Routledge, 2006.

Gerstner gathered about 1,000 entries that analyze culture, politics, and arts of various countries including China, Israel, and South Africa since 1945 from the perspectives of many professionals, activists, artists, and scholars. It covers many important topics for our era such as marriage & civil unions and AIDS, and has an appendix concerning international anti-queer laws. Even though it is covers many nations, it does concentrate on North America and Western Europe. David A. Gerstner is an Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at City University of New York: College of Staten Island. The majority of his published works concern media studies including Manly Arts: Masculinity and Nation in Early American Cinema.

Beside Myself


As I was re-reading the chapter "Beside Oneself: On the Limits of Sexual Autonomy," in Undoing Gender, (we read it way back when we were talking about the Abject) I began making all sorts of connections to what we've been reading and discussing lately: the ballistic body, sex in public, anti-assimilation, norms, anti-capitalism, etc. When I make these kinds of loose/unorganized connections as I read, I grab my post-its and start writing my half intelligible thoughts down and stick it to the page (sometimes I can't make any sense out of what I've written down in relation to what I re-read on the page) -- but I thought I could share the way my mind works for this engagement.


"What constitutes the Human... and what does not?"
-- a question for ethics: whose lives count as lives?

"We have all be subjected to violence: even if not individually (the ballistic body?)

The contest for:
"Whose lives are most livable?" : who's the most radical, the most marginalized, the most queer the most normal, the most valuable ... who sings The Saddest Music in the World?

"queer temporality and postmodern geographies"

"Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies", written by Judith Halbertstam, "makes the perhaps overly ambitious claim that there is such a thing as 'queer time' and queer space'. Queer uses of time and space develop, at least in part, in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction". Furthermore, Halbertstam goes on to define these new terms as the following:

"'Queer time' is a term for those specific models of temporality that emerge within postmodernism once one leaves the termporal frames of bourgeois reproduction and family, longevity, risk/safety, and inheritance. 'Queer space' refers to the place-making practices within postmodernism in which queer people engage and it also describes the new understandings of space of space enabled by the production of queer counterpublics".

I find this notion to be both very fasciniating and obvious all at the same time. On the one hand, I find it very intriguing that there are point in one's day or life that can be described as "queer time" or "queer space". It is interesting to view the time that one spends doing queer things as a separat enetity from the rest of the time when they are doind, what I would define as something such as "normative time". And then to think about how much of one's day that they are most likely in the process of doing "normative" compared to "queer time", obviously depending on the person (I myself would be on more "normative time" than anything else, which is rather lame) is intriguing and makes me wonder. I like how the concept makes one step back and take a look at one's life and hwo they ar espending their time and perhaps even why they are spending their time in that way.

On the other hand, however, I find the term "queer time" to be rather obvious in nature: when one is engaging in queer activites the time they are spending on said activities is queer and therefore can be defined as "queer time". It just makes logical sense. However, I find it interesting how until something is distinctly called queer it is assumed to be normative. One would never really talk about "normative time" unless they were also discussing "queer time" or the absence of. I find it interseting that "normative time" is so deeply engraved in our culture and society that it does not even need a name and is not thought of at all because it just is.

Walkers, bikers and busers

First I wanted to start with a series of photos that show my state in which I am while writing my last blog. I am pretty sure this is what I look like every time I write. I remember someone saying we should take a picture of us blogging. So here are mine and it only seems fitting to reveal my 'identity' from behind the curtain of internet anonymity.

On to the blog...
We have talked about intersectionality in the last couple of weeks and I have to admit I was surprised that it was a new concept to some of us. Mainly, because I believe we were talking about it the whole time. I would say that queer in its very existence is laced with intersectionality. For me, intersectionality has always been discussed in my black feminist classes. In particular look at Patricia Hill Collins and her use of it which states that identities do not exist separate from one another but instead are linked and woven together and collide in singular bodies.... this is a very simplified and incomplete definition.

In this class and in particular readings it was the first time I had wrestled with the terms literal meaning. Highway_Intersection_-_Connected.224132102_std.JPG
That it is the actual street intersection, where separate roads collide and in that collision bodies might get hit or blow up. In Punk'd Theory Tavia Nyong'o ends the essay with another look at the literal idea of intersectionality. But instead of just focusing on the road itself, Tavia is asking an important question of the bodies (walkers) on the streets and their right-a-way or lack there of and their relationship with the vehicles on the road. Tavia argues that one needs to defend their right-a-way, even thought they 'have it' because those with mobility (privilege) really have the right-a-way.

But Tavia, where are the bikers and the busers?Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cork.gif What do they signify in the analogy of intersectionality? Especially since they allow for more mobility than walkers. Then there are busers, pedestrians placed on a mobile vehicles. What does that signify? Or is it even worth placing them with in the analogy. I think it can be interesting to use these other two forms of pedestrians to talk about power and how it operates. How is power operating within intersectionality when pedestrians are forced onto a mobile vehicle to gain access to things they food, health care, common goods, etc...?

Direct Engagement #5 Punk'd Theory

Here I would like to engage with Tavia Nyong'o's Punk'd Theory. I LOVED this article because it has so much to do with what I've really been getting into this semester: a method for understanding the abject in relation and as the norm and the queer, and the forming of an abject-identified, street theorizing and political project. Here I would like to lay out some quotes that sparked some questions in my brain.

". . . inserts between two meanings of punked that indicate a dread of getting fucked a third meaning - a sort of etymological Lucky Pierre - signaling the dread of not getting fucked: 'When you hook up with a guy and he doesn't call you ever again.' One is punked in this case because, by not calling you afterward, the 'guy' is retroactively minimizing your enjoyment of the mutual sex by making it clear that he was just 'using' you. But this meaning of punked makes no sense unless you wanted the hookup in the first place and, indeed, were sort of looking forward to further hookups. That is, it makes not sense unless, in some sense, you wanted to get flipped," (pg. 22)

"That is to say, and this is the major argument of my essay, I think Cohen and Hebdige are discussing a single, complex phenomena - frozen dialectically between black and white - and not two distinct topics. I think the linkage is deeper than just the reappearance of the word, but rather the reappearance of an experiential field that the word indexes," (pg. 24)

"The articulation between this lawless behavior and the lawful future live of heterosexual domesticity the documentary is intended to produce cries out for further exploration," (pg. 26).

"What would it mean to identify the authentic language of the street, its theorizing, not as some autonomous space that the law must at all costs come to dominate but rather as the active site of the law's production, through the street's supplemental provision of terror?" (pg. 28)

"How could the story of the US racial formation, beginning in the forced labor and rape of black people, continuing apparently through the cultural menage a trois of hip jazz in the 1950's, somehow produce miscegenation as a future terror? How does a discourse ostensibly about 'the 'real' world and the prosaic language in which that world was habitually described, experienced, and reproduced' manage to conjure up its own fantasy future in which, apparently, apocalyptically, the 'races' mix?" (pg. 29-30).

(My favorite quote!) "It is not enough, in other words, to to take up the simultaneity of race, class, gender, and sexuality, which it is my argument that the vernacular does constantly in keywords like punk and punked. Rather, we must investigate the subject transformed by law that nevertheless exists nowhere within it, the figure of absolute abjection that is, paradoxically, part of our everyday existence," (pg. 30).

Now the questions:

1) In the "frozen dialect" between black and white, how might other racial categories get frozen out of this equation, such as the "Asians" mentioned on page 25? How might Nyong'o's analysis be differently nuanced by seeking out other possible racial connections and meaning of the word punk?

2) If one were to draw a picture of the abject subject from Nyong'o's Punk City, what would it look like? How might it be different from the abject circle Mary presented?

3) How can misegenation as a future terror complicate the idea of a narrowing or non-extant future for queer/abject subjects? Is this a part of reprosexual time?

4) Is this 3rd space between queer/straight, street/straight, the absolute abject, the creation of straight and queer or has it, in a sense, always existed? How might the flow of production of these terms look?

queer times, queer assemblages

"Queer Times, Queer Assemblages", written by Jasbir Q. Puar, discusses how "queer times require even queerer modalities of thought, analysis, creativity, and expression in order to elaborate on nationalist, patriotic, and terrorist formations and their intertwined forms of racialized perverse sexualities and gender dysphorias". Furthermore, he states that the reasoning behind his above stated position is as follows:

"One, I examine discourse of queerness where problematic conceptualizations of queer corporealities, especially via Muslim sexualities, are reproduced in the service of discourses of U.S. exceptionalisms. Two, I rearticulare a terrorist body, in this case the suicide bomber, as a queer assemblage that resists queerness - as - sexual - identity (or anti-identity) ....Finally, I argue that a focus on queerness as assemblage enables attention to ontology in tandem with epistemology, affect in conjunction with representational economies, within which bodies, such as the turbaned Sikh terrotist, interpenetrute, swirl together, and transmit affects to each other".

While I do agree with the majority of this article, I do take issue with one point: the discussion surrounding the commentary to the Abu Ghraib "sexual torture scandal". The author of the article begins talking about why he views it to be so problematic:

"Even more troubling was the reason given for the particular efficacy of the torture: the taboo, outlawed, banned, disavowed status of homosexuality in Iraq and the Middle East, complemented by an aversion to nudity, male-onmale contact, and sexual modesty with the rarely seen opposite sex. It is exactly this unsophisticated notion of Arab/Muslim/Islamic (does it really matter which one?) cultural differences that military intelligence capitalized on to create what they believed to be a culturally 'effective' matrix of torture techniques".

But then after stating that he finds it to be very problematic that the military intelligence believed such sexual practices to be a "culturally effective matrix of torture techniquues" he goe son to state the following:

"Faisal Alam, founder and director of the international Muslim lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning organization states, that 'sexual humiliation is perhaps the worst form of torture for any Mulsim...Islam places a high emphasis on modesty and sexual privacy. Iraq, much like the rest of the Arab world, places great importance on notions of masculinity. Forcing men to masturbate in front of each other and to mock same-sex acts or homosexual sex, is perverse and sadistic, in the eyes of many Msulsims".

By his own admission, this, what appears to be a very credible source to me on middle eastern norms and cultural beliefs surrounding sexuality, agrees that what the military intelligence believed to be an effective torture technique, indeed was. It is very possible that I am reading this section of the text wrong, but it appears to me that these two points greatly contradict one another. I am of course against the fact that our military used torture techniques, as I am sure most, if not all, of you are as well, but when I hear a quote from the founder and director of the international Muslim lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning organization state that the torture techniques used, were indeed very effective in terms of their culture, I am going to believe them. Do I disagree with the fact that they used torture: yes, but I do not see how their approach was ineffective.

Reflection: "The Future is Kid Stuff"

The Child: a cherubic figure that is pure, clean, impressionable, easily violated, and faultless. This figure has been abused by popular politics as a symbol of a bright, new, and united future based on a utopic past that never existed. Society expects the child to persevere to create this idyllic future by correcting the mistakes of the previous generation. This expectation transcends every generation so that each does not take responsibility for there actions but expects their children to do better then themselves, but they too will expect their own children to take on their burdens. Nothing gets done this way.

This political ideology has resulted in a fantasy of reality in which are perceived value is measured by the current organization of our existence and experience. "...politics may function as the register within which we experience social compels us to experience that reality in the form of a organization, assuring the stability of our identities as subjects and the consistency of the cultural structures through which those identities are reflected back to us in recognizable form" (19). What this means for queers is that they are rejected by this fantasy organization for not assuming the standard of heterosexuality; they are not recognized in the future utopia.

The Child, as the future, must be protected from all things queer or strange for the future to exist. One of the great fears of homosexuality is that it will result in the moral dissolution of society and its apocalyptic end should sex be only lustful and children be rejected as the inheritors of the future. However, Edelman points out that this dissolution is not the true fear, but the fear that there would be a redefinition of society and social order as we know it.

Edelman also points out that queers have not been purposely trying to degrade society and have made many efforts to conform to heteronormative standards by creating relationships and adopting children to form families so that they too may have the ability to reproduce and contribute to the future. However, society still has not legitimized queer families and push them to the outer limits.

What is forgotten is that every adult was child at some point and their own child-like innocence was lost at some point, it happens to straight and queer people alike, but the resulting straight person is not rejected by the majority, while the queer becomes a threat to the identity of that majority. Queerness becomes the symbolic death of the child figure.

"Melchizedek's Three Rings"


Jean Genet once said that human existence is consummated only when you've descended to the worst, the lowest level possible in this society - that if you don't function perfectly, according to the standards of the times, you have to become a traitor.
I thought of this while I was reading Carole McDonnell's contribution to Mattilda's Nobody Passes, "Melchizedek's Three Rings" - she writes about being stifled by her white friends or colleagues when she confronts them with their privileges, usually indirectly, by pointing out various racisms in literature/media. We've said in class that "silence is violence" and McDonnell seems to be of the same opinion - but breaking the silence feels like treason, or violence against the comfortable privileged who might be upset if one of their precious classics (King Kong) actually turned out to be offensive to a great deal of people, or if the Little Mermaid promoted heteronormativity. I responded to this essay, and to the concept of "passing" or not passing in terms of betrayal - which becomes troublesome since betrayal takes place either way. In passing, I betray myself; in not passing, I betray others. But, as Carole McDonnell points out, the denial of people's experiences is a grand betrayal, too. She's criticized for frequently writing about mixed couples - "Can't you write about normal couples in regular same-race relationships?" (195) Yes of course she could, but why? Why deny your own experience - in order for norm-conforming people to continue to feel cozy? As McDonnell writes: "I suppose I should have challenged her, but the emotional fact is that when among the normal, the nonnormal person often forgets how different he or she is. An accusation or call to normality does the trick of getting the nonnormal person in line." In relation to Michael Warner's discussion of normal - the nonnormal person(s) is made to believe that normal is the grand achievement, the goal. But why do we want to be normal? Usually because we're told that normality is virtuous and abnormality is a vicious vice. Warner proposes that there is ethical value to be found in shit, in abjection, in "vice" -- because vice is often virtue. To the normal, abject (non)existence is obscene, filthy, profane, undesirable, threatening or even unhealthy, while normal is the sanitary safe zone: the magnificent experience - so, naturally, emphasizing the value of abject borderlands and outer limits troubles the normal and forces recognition of the filth of privileged pleasures.

Docile Patriots: Jon Stewart's take on it...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Scary Plotter
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

In the article Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots Paur and Rai they have a short section called, 'Docile Patriots I: The West Wing' where they talk about disciplines that aim to produce docile subjects through media.

"they use the figure of the terrorist-monster as a screen to project both the racist fantasies of the West and the disciplining agenda of patriotism. Infantilizing the pop-
ulation, they scream with what seems to be at times one voice: "The ter-
rorist is a monster. This monster is the enemy. The enemy must be
hunted down to protect you and all those women and children that you do
not know, but we know." (p 131)

What I appreciate about what Jon Stewart (and writing team) is doing in this clip is they are flipping it on its head. The above quote makes sense. Anyone who has watched the news knows a certain body is being produced when it comes to anything but especially terrorist. The Daily Show does the same thing but in reverse and by doing so makes it even more blatant on how the figure of the terror-monster gets produced. My assumption is most people would think that producing a terror-monster body for the United States as The Daily Show did is crazy. But is it really? The terror-monster can be produced anywhere to anyone. It is a constructed identity. A myth. That is part of what the article was trying to get at--how the terrorist is produced in our everyday life in blatant ways and not so blatant ways.

Annotated Bibliography #3

Dan Irving explores the transnormativity of the early trans activism in "Normalized Transgressions: Legitimizing the Transsexual Body as Productive." The historical exclusion of trans bodies and trans issues from the mainstream gay and lesbian movements, is begining to be addressed, but still groups like the Human Rights Campaign are still more interested in assimilationist petitioning for for rights based on citizenship, rather than humanity. He looks at the ways in which transexual people have also pleaded for intelligiblity through the frame of establishing their worth as citizens, and productive bodies motivated to be exploited by the capitalist project in order to pay for expensive transitioning. Trans people are often pushed to the non-rationalized spaces of work, and time. Not just queer time, but into the night time economies of the entertainment, sex, and service industries. The argument stems in part from the lasting legacy of the medicalization of trans bodies ,where influencial doctors "assessing their transsexual patients in terms of their aptitudes, earning potentials, education, and class backgrounds, medical professionals also strengthened hegemonic discourses of citizenship and productivity that buttressed the economy." While the article does a really good job disecting the problematic discourses of transnormativity, it ends on a strangely overly optimistic note about a rich history of resistance to systemic power and the neo-liberal capitalist project, and I guess I would have like to hear a little more about that, or how the trans activist can overcome the problematic medaicalized legacy.

In the Hlaberstam piece that i read, the queer slam poets Staceyann Chin and Alix Olson are highlighted as part of a dyke subculture that is carving out spaces to talk about the overlap of generation, class, race, sexuality, community, but really Staceyann Chin screams about how "the faces that now represent us have become to look like the ones that who used to burn crosses, and beat bulldaggers and fuck faggotts up the ass with loaded guns." Her use of language here seem to shock with rather than celebrate the abject. She screams her opposition to he church controlled state and, and the neo liberal political system. She connects fag, dykes, trannies, single black women, imprisoned latino boys, unionist and terrorist to capitalist exploitation. I think she express the political power of her anger well, and her call to end the passivity of the assimiltionist gay movement that was once so energized by the HIV/AIDS epidemic is really invigorating, angry, and dare I say hopeful in the way that I seem to find dark thing hopeful. The enthusiasm present in the piece for recognizing the collaboartive, anti-establishment collaboartive potential between a diverse group of non-normative subjects is great.

So, both of these things have my mind circling over what a queer economy would look like. I'm thinking of the free sale in Powderhorn park, and Food not Bombs, squatting, shoplifting, dumpstering, and just plain D.I.Y. politics. The book Recipes for Disaster has a chapter outline the joys, and realistic possiblities of unemployment, or as they say a guide for those radical who believe that life is supposed to actually be fun. Not working, in the sense of wage earning, is not at all the same thing as being lazy or unproductive. In fact dropping out of the exchange economy can be just as demanding, bt there are so many good reasons not to undersell your labor on the market. The book instructs to first think about what you can do without, and then limit your exposure to advertising that will clout your new found freedom from frivilous things. I like to utilize the gift, trade economy notions whenever dealing with friends and other members of the queer subculture, because I don't want to take part in our own exploitation at the hands of the heteronormative, homonormative, and yeah even transnormative capitalist project.

Queer this lady gaga: abject?


Okay.... I have to admit I am a fan of lady gaga. This interview reveals sort of why I am. She is a freak.... a proud, self proclaiming freak and I love it. Thought I would put it forward to see if anyone else finds this interesting!

note: not sure how much longer the video will be up due to copyright crap.

Docile Patriot

So as I've already mentioned both the Puar pieces we read for class gave me some very intense visualizations, because her powerful imagery was so tied to the bold articulations of her arguments. I am not done with this piece, (it's like 4' by 4') but i'm working out the pictures she put in my head. I'm going to add assorted limbs into the explosion and work out the ballistic body far off in the distance from the foregrounded body of the docile patriot. I'm also going to paint in a masculine hand holding her to symbolize the heteronormativity of the figure and within the boundary of her body i'm going to write out the following quote from "Monster, Terrorist, Fag":

"...The space of the national family, inhabited by the plurality of subjects who find their proper being in the heterosexual home of the nation: these subjects call forth, given being even, by the very figure of the monster, and they are called upon to enact their own normalization- in the name of patriotism. These docile patriots, committed to the framework of American pluralism, are themselves part of a history of racialization that is simply assumed. "

I plan on posting the finished product after about 11pm tomorrow, thursday, please come back and check it out.

*I am unclear about the rules and regulation of the UofM's academic dishonesty policies, So I am prefacing this Queer This post with the sentiment that I am Not attempting to use work that I have done for a previous class In Place of work to be graded currently; I am attempting to revisit and reexamine a piece of artwork and accompanying statements that I created for a previous class. PLEASE inform me if this goes against University policies! And I will take it down immediately, because I'd rather not be kicked out of the UofM for accidentally reposting my art on a class blog. Thanks.*

For a class in 2007 I created an artistic piece in response to discussions on intersectionality, identity, and white feminism. Here is a photo of the piece (it was on a large canvas, with the doll heads' sticking out, and eyes and lips cut off).
Stevens [] + Ninnys 048.jpg
A section from my accompanying artistic statement:
"While it is very important to see everyone as fellow human beings, I realized that being identity blind is very problematic because it makes you afraid of and blind to difference. Seeing people as unmarked individuals is problematic because there is no appreciation for difference, and it is blind to the possible operating systems of power and control. To quote David Valentine, "Clearly, the recognition that "gender" encompasses far more than sexual desire, and, concomitantly, that "sexuality" and sexual desire do not always align in conventional ways with gender identity, is a vital one. But (and this is a big but), the bald assertion of the ontological separateness of gender and sexuality ignores the complexity of lived experience, the historical constructedness of the categories themselves, the racial and class locations of different experiences and theorizations of gender and sexuality, feminist understandings of gender and sexuality as systemic and power-laden, and transforms an analytical distinction into a naturalized, transhistorical, transcultural fact" (Valentine, p.62). What I have tried to do with my artistic piece is almost a response to own identity blindness.
I discussed earlier how I equated a symbol as a tangible point of relation to a person, and because of the relation I saw it as a part of the identity consciousness of that person. As my consciousness has grown, I use symbols in my art to play with ideas of identity. In my piece "(blind) Whiteness", I use the doll heads to symbolize my (and others') identity blindness. I tried to show, through removing the eyes and mouths, that identity blindness is problematic because everyone becomes these faceless, expressionless, bodyless beings just kind of floating through space. I also used the whiteness of the dolls as a symbol that this "identity blindness movement" phenomenon is primarily a movement by white feminists. It is a privileged phenomenon because white feminists have the privilege of choosing to be faceless, or "just human beings". The eyelessness and mouthlessness also symbolize that this phenomenon is quite unproductive, because if everyone were these ambiguous beings, there would be no way to work together around any point of identity or commonality to create change.
The background of my piece is several quotes from myself, class discussions, and texts we have read that have to do with identity. I purposefully put too much text on the canvas so that it would be blurry and more difficult to pick out one concept. I did this (again) to symbolize that when you are identity blind, because no one is solid, it's is very difficult to figure out what you are trying to do, and what change you are trying to create" (Zoller, 2007)

Although I would now go back and regard some of my statements on the necessity of identity to create community and change as problematic; the my basic idea that a utopic queering of identity and all fixed categories is privileged, and problematic because, like we discussed in class with Butler and Foucault that powers are always attempting to name and contain our identities, using a utopic "queer all" lens is privileged and disregards lived realities and experiences. I think that an understanding of intersectionality helps account for the historical realities of identity categories, lived experiences, and with these understandings we can depart from to possibly create different understandings of lived experiences and identity categories altogether.

Direct Engagement: Innocent Victims and Brave New Laws

This essay from Mattilda's Nobody Passes starts out with a brief history of the Battered Women's Movement, its emergence from the second wave of feminism and subsequent "victories" throughout the last forty years. What the author, Priya Kandaswamy, seeks to highlight is that in the process of trying to gain legitimacy and funding the movement kind of "sold out" from its original grassroots framework. In gaining government funding for social programs the movement has appropriated some the "language and goals of the state" therefore compromising some important factors. By creating campaign slogans like "domestic violence can happen to anyone" the movement reinforces the idea that domestic violence only matters when it starts happening to white middle and upper class women. Also, by portraying battered women as "innocent victims" it creates this ideal of the "good victim" that reinforces gender norms and creates an environment of having to pass and in turn marginalizes individuals on the bases of race, class, gender, and sexuality among other things. All in All, what the author aimed to point out is that the success of the Battered Women's Movement is due mostly to the fact that it no longer challenges "important principles of straight bourgeois society" but instead continues to perpetuate classist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic norms in dominate culture. I think this essay highlights the way the heteronormative structure can invade and continue to exact punishment on those outside of its form, even within one of the very programs that was initially intent on challenging those very norms. As well, in other essays by Dean Spade I've highlighted how the intersection of race, class and gender variant identities in folks leaves them incredibly vulnerable to domestic violence but they will more than likely be turned away from a shelter for the exact same reasons. I like this essay because it is a good example of how queer studies and feminist studies can lend themselves to each other to create a more inclusive understanding of an issue.

Annotated Bibliography #3: my resistance

| 1 Comment


First source: Prostitute
My own work created in 2007. It is hard for me to summarize the source, since it is a piece of art. Please allow for this space to be a time to look and examine it yourself.

I thought it would be only fitting to include some of the ways I engage in resistance. I am a fan of the subversive method of resistance. I find in art, express and image. I truly subscribe to the idea that pictures are worth a thousand words. I want to dislodge perception of realities, I want to make people pause. A little bit about the piece of work. My inspiration for the piece came after reading a book by Denise Brennan called, What's Love Got to do with it?. The book looked at sex workers in Dominican Republic.

Second source
Safari Desktop Picture .jpg


Banksy is a graffiti artist from England. There isn't much information about him because know really knows who he is. The technique he uses is a combination of stenciling and traditional graffiti. He does not sell his work but offers high resolution pictures on his website to allow for others to make their own shirt, mug, sticker, poster, etc...

The reason why I use him as an example of my resistance is quite simple. He inspires me. His art inspires me. Take for example this one:


The first time I saw this I was shocked--almost applauded. It offended me more than the photos that mary shared with us. Funny, right? I have always had an artistic mind set, I come from to artists. This piece was the first time I realized how powerful art could be in getting a point across (political or not). It pushed my own culture back into my face without even having to say one word. I could choose to look or not. The piece messed with me, it was burned into my mind.

Another piece(s) of Banksy work that had deep impact on me and my own work is this one:

Both of these pieces of work again do what I mentioned before but they also do something slightly different. Banksy has never been caught doing what he does. I am not sure how. See, these photos were stenciled on the Palestinian wall. What the what! There are mixed feelings about them, some people love them and others hate them. An old Palestinian man is quoted as saying: "his painting made the wall look beautiful. We don't want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall" and then told Banksy to go home. For me his work operates in a very subversive/in-your-face/fuck you type of way. I like that. This is only made more cool by the fact that he doesn't flaunt himself... he doesn't need himself to be known.

My third source is a little bit of a risk. Traditionally it is suppose to be an academic piece of work. I believe it is but maybe others might not think so. *Drum roll please* The third source is our blog!
Picture 3.png

This may seems to be a little bit of a cop-out but believe me in is not. For the longest time I have never been a fan of class assigned blogs because they missed the boat all together. No one looks at them, people hardly interact with them, waste of space and time. That was my thought but I got to say I have been converted- a little! :-) This blog has been a great place to examine more, to ask more questions and to see different angles. I wont write too much here about what I thought about the process since that will be for the wrap up but this is what I can say...

This blog only makes sense to incorporate it into resistance. We have been participating as a collective in active resistance to academia (formal writing and grading), to the blog sphere (offering up critical analysis to works by other people) and may I dare to say the status quo (by queering...well, everything). This annotated bibliography is titled, my resistance and this blog has been the thing I have had the most outlet for resisting.

A note about this being an academic source: I believe it is because, well, we are scholars in our own right... we might have not been doing this as long as some other people but we are doing it. We have been coming up with our own analysis of concepts and theories I would venture to say even coming up with 'new/fresh' theories as well. We might not be published but who knows...

Ballistic Bodies


Thumbnail image for DSC_0288.JPG

Since discussing Puar's Queer Times, Queer Assemblages the image of the ballistic bodies as weapons has been in my mind. Also, while doing my comments for the blog I came across one of Remy's entries and it inspired me to come up with an image made of other images. So this is my take...

Also side note for the blog. This is my attempt at a single image for a direct engagement. So imagine I didn't have any other descriptors with the blog and under the photo read: Ballistic Bodies.

Fear of a Queer Planet MICHAEL WARNER Direct Engagement

Fear of a Queer Planet, written by Michael Warner, discusses the existence of queer politics and ideology in social theory. The point at issue with the author is that queer studies has mad either very little or no place inside of social theory. While feminism has made it's mark in social theory and is discussed as a separate entity from other forms of social theory, queer theory, for the most part, has been ignored. The author finds this to be rather troubling and believes that queer study should be added to social theory:

"There are a number of distinct reasons why that engagement has become necessary: 1) from the most everyday and vulgar moments of gay politics to its most developed theoretical language, a major obstacle is the intrication of the sexual order with a wide range of institutions and social ideology, so that to challenge the sexual order is sooner or later to encounter those other institutions as problems; 2) most broadly, there are very general social crises that can only be understood from a position critical of the sexual order; 3) many of the specific environments in which lesbian and gay politics arises have not been adequately theorized and continue to act as unrecognized constraints; 4) concepts and themes of social theory that might be pressed to this purpose are in fact useless or worse because they embed a heteronormative understanding of society; and 5) in many areas a new style of politics has been pioneered by lesbians and gays, little understood outside of queer circles".

While I competely agree that quuer studies should certainly be discussed more in the discussions of social theory, I have a hard time, myself, figuring out what exactly a queer social theory would look like. Queer theory is certainly different from feminist theory in many ways, but based off of what I know they discuss within feminist thoery in terms of social theory, I have a difficult time conceptualizing how these two theories would be taught differently enough to have need to create an entirely different category entitled "queer theory". I feel that feminist theory and queer theory both have the same or very similar base structure from which both have been created and built off off. Granted they both weave off into separate areas of focus and wind up being different once you reach the top of each theory, they are both based off of the same things that feminist theory already discusses: heteronormativity, racism, classism, sexual politics, privilege of the "normal", and so forth. Both derive from the same core so I can't see how the two can really be separated when it is only the cores that are discussed within social theory (because they only discuss the cores of every theory really). The easiest solution to this, I suppose, would be to simply change the title of feminist theory to include queer theoty as well, like "feminist and queer theory". That way, both would be recognized and discussed. However, I do not believe that this fixes the problem either.

I think the main problem with queer and feminist theory within sociology theory is that they are treated as if they are very separated from "normal" social theory. To have social theory which focuses on marx and other theorists and discuss their work as it pertains to the whole and then as a side thought discuss feminist theory, to me, makes it look as if feminist theory does not apply to the whole, but only to it's small section. It gives off the impression that everything in social theory that is not feminist theory is the main attraction or the "normal" and that feminist theory is mearly a foot note within the whole equation. Feminist theory taps into all aspects of social theory, but I do not believe that it is recognized as such when it is separated. Instead, I think that feminist, as well as queer theory, need to be incoorporated within the whole to create a unified social theory where each aspect appears to have the saem importance. I guess my real problem with this is that when feminist theory is cast aside from everything else it appears as if it is not important and was only applicable to a few, when really it was an intricate piece of the pie that could not be without it.

Direct Engagement #7: Future Now Future Now Future Now

"The Future is Kid Stuff" (or, as I read the first time, the Intro to No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive) reminds me of so many Buddhist teachings-- there's just no avoiding it. What I take away from Edelman's approach is a queer move away from future-focused discourse of progress. This is so, so similar to the way my favorite Buddhist teachers talk about the present moment.

Breathing in I calm my body.
Breathing out I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

Present Moment
Wonderful Moment

These teachers, like Thich Nhat Hanh, have a lot of "sophisticated" stuff to say about the past and future. To summarize, he talks about how most people are moving around the world each day focused on the regrets and/or "better times" of the past or "looking forward" to the threat of a worse time or the promise of the "better times." In this way, folks aren't really inhabiting, feeling their bodies (and you don't have to tell me that that sounds a lot like other theorists we've read). They aren't embodying the here and now-- and according these strands (I can almost assuredly say ALL forms) of Buddhism, that's all we really "have."

All we have is now.
All we've ever had is now.
All we'll ever have is now.

Now Now
Past Now
Future Now

Future Now
Future Now
Future Now

Once, while on amanita muscaria mushrooms, my friend Paul kept repeating to me,

"Future Now
Future Now
Future Now"

...and it made so much sense. As I read Edelman's ideas for a second/third time it's just a reminder, just the calling back of the gong in the meditation room.

Buddhist teachings showed me, long before Edelman was "real" to me, that the past and future are BOTH the products of this present moment. The constructs of past and future are only called into being as I, here and now, recall Paul blowing my tripped out 18 year old mind, and then think about when and how and on what I'll take a trip with Paul again. Those ideas all exist not IN the past or present, but HERE and NOW.

Again, this is similar to a lot of what I take away from Edelman and bring into my body and words: futurism is bullshit, because even that ideal of "a better future for our children" exists here and now. Being/having it can only exist in the here and now with all these here and now many gendered bodies that have just as much right to live as the beautiful white heternormative-appearing (future) children on the cover of No Future.

Breathing in I calm my body.
Breathing out I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

The future stops here.

Buddhism is at least a little queer.

Direct Engagement: On the Limits of Sexual Autonomy

I come back to this chapter of Undoing Gender by Butler because in my first read of it I highlighted several points that related to my term and in revisiting it find that it fits quite nicely with how I have been looking at my term this semester. I will not under any circumstances claim that I completely understand Butler. For me, it may be worlds away before I do, but in this chapter I think most of what she is doing is exploring the ways societal norms of heteronormativity (white, male, upper-class) are taken for granted when thinking about what constitutes a human and in turn how we establish human rights.
She states: "local conceptions of what is human or, indeed, of what the basic conditions and need of human life are, must be subjected to reinterpretation, since there are historical and cultural circumstances in which the human is defined differently." (p37)
And in that notion of taking this very basic concept for granted, those that are (as of right now) not considered fully human in terms of rights, autonomy and so on are at risk for extreme instances of violence. This is where my term comes in, where I have been looking at it as the consequences and punishments to bodies and individuals because of the overarching heteronormative structure, violence is the instrument through which it is carried out. And Butler argues that no one, except the privileged white heterosexual male, is out of the discussion of what qualifies as human. She points out the consequences of this; the ways in which violence is acted upon gender non-conforming subjects and how they are not protected by the state and often times the state is the one inflicting violence.
She says: "The violence emerges from a profound desire to keep the order of binary gender natural or necessary, to make of it a structure, either natural or cultural, or both, that no human can oppose, and still remain human." (p35)
This in itself, the norms established through it, is what prevents us from having complete sexual autonomy, and I would argue the very real threats of bodily harm and our ability to thrive are the ways of policing that. My feeling on this are pretty dark, I can see this pretty clearly but am trapped and implicated within it as well. Butler calls for a real discussion on what constitutes humanness with the International Human Rights commission so that we can evaluate some of these issues instead of taking the category for granted. I would say that sounds nice, but still years away from any conclusion. In the meantime, people are facing real violence and discrimination every day.

Punk'd Theory

I found Tavia Nyong'o's discussion on the film "Scared Straight," really interesting. How the slang, and profane language is utilized on the youth as the only thing that can get through to them. In reality if some one were able to have a real conversation with the allegedly troubled teenagers about the reality of their non-normative lives, and the stress impressed upon them by the failures of heteronormativity and the citizenship encompassed therein would probably be more productive. That would not be a spectacle worthy of television scandal loving voyeuristic television audiences. The prisoners, marked by race, class, and gender, are broadcast relatively uncensored, and boisterously breaking the six words you can't say on television standards of propriety, and why is that allowed? Though the language is what some may deem offensive, it is employed in policing/ punishing deviants of the heteronormative capitalist project.

"The spectacle of street talk masks the surveillance of the penal apparatus. Prison guards are hardly depicted. At a key moment, an inmate histrionicaly yells at the camera, as if it were not his performance's occasion. Street talk is enlisted to the work of penology. The street theorizing of the Lifers-don't come to jail or you're going to get punked-is rendered supplemental to disciplinary power, which is allowed to operate behind the scenes as a silent partner."

The unarticulated option in opposition to the come to prison to get punked and most insultingly be "made a faggot" is to literally striaghten up and by a good wage earning, law abiding citizen. The nonsensical conflation of rape victimization and homosexuality, is sort of similar to Puar's discussion of the incorrect branding of abu ghraib tortures as homosexual acts. It also makes me think of the ways in which desire is policed within the prison system, in that any actual homosexual consensual sex is stopped, which shows that rap could be stopped. Rape is a tool, utilized by prisoners to reproduce and strengthen the power of the prison industrial complex.

Queer This #2: ladies room lament


I'd like to invite you all to read an amazing piece written by my friend, Leah Matz...

it appears as though there are very few similarities between us.
as I walk up to the sink, you're bent over in sweatpants with the waist rolled down,
powdering pink on to your pretty white cheeks,
slicking eye liner on to your eyes that have only been opened to your immediate realities.
mostly where you are right now,
looking in the mirror,
back at yourself,
but not knowing why.
it appears as though there isn't much we have to talk about,
so I spout off some small talk and feel like a small persyn
as I lose a perfect opportunity to communicate my ideas to a new audience.
it appears as though there are very few similarities between us.
but here we are, in the same room,
through the same door,
with the same sign,
saying "ladies".

naturally, I reflect.
back to before I walked through the doors,
and I sat at a crossroads,
forced to make a decision between two,
with very little criteria
and very many assumptions,
making up the demographics of each.
this becomes particularly clear as I see a supposed sir walk into the room next door,
adorned in nearly the same exact threads caught on my back,
the same hairs hanging off my head,
and same accessories telling these people
in this building
what you see me as.
with nearly identical visuals,
we walk through differently identified doors
to see people who look nothing like me,
and look a lot like each other,
or don't,
because we're just one big room
of differently looking people
but we're really
all the same.

so if we're really all the same,
why do we have these different doors,
when we maybe would find someone who looks a lot like us,
or doesn't,
in that one over there.
why the need?
why do we section ourselves off
anyway we can find?
why do we spend the time implementing these
and checking 'em up,
to notice that we don't know what it means?

we could go a step further,
and notice that I only speak in my own places,
just happening to identify with the word on that door,
for whatever reason it may be.
but what about those who stand before you
at that sink
that think about that word every time they walk in there?
what about those people who think about the word
even though they identify with it?
those that don't really get whether to go into this one or the other one
but doesn't dare speak a word?
I'm just looking from a place it doesn't bother me,
cause those are the only places
where we can find the words to speak.

it's separation anxiety,
it's a chance for entitlement,
it's a scheme by the man,
it's only natural,
it ain't no thang.
there are many places that are rooted at the core of my thoughts,
as I look over at you,
look at you powdering and slicking
and I think
it appears as though there are very few similarities between us.
but here we are, in the same room,
through the same door,
with the same sign.

So, since we've been looking through Puar's queer assemblages and tearing apart queer time, how can we "find the queer" in these bathroom experiences? Leah's already queering the fuck out of the situation for sure, doing the wonderful flip from the ways in which the bodies in two bathrooms are different to the ways in which two bodies in one bathroom are perhaps even more different. Sweet, sweet queering. This brings up some messy thoughts for me just knowing that our gender neutral, multi-stall restroom in Ford was designated after a battle in which plenty of people said they didn't want to piss and shit with "different bodies" in the room. Some of these people are pretty big deals, as I understand it. Maybe I just can't get off this shit, but I see us (or at least M. and I in a delightful and shit-filled partnership) further developing some great arguments for why such reactions, while "understandable" on an individual level, really have a whole lot more to do with the subject resisting this "different bodies, one room" formation due to their own socially constructed and sustained self-restrictions than any possible deviant/dirty behavior of said "different bodies."

Chewy bagels. Just don't eat them IN the bathroom-- that's actually kind of unsanitary, especially if you're shitting.

Queering: Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA

| 1 Comment

The entry about The Girl Mechanic made me think of what institutions promote this division; one important and nationwide institution would be the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. Traditionally, boys and girls are separated and respectively taught masculine and feminine activities such as first-aid, camping, and woodwork or ironing, sewing, and baking. At least that was the way things were when Myself and my siblings were in the scouts and still continues today depending on the community. However, I took a look at the websites and found somethings have changed in the last ten years since I was myself a member of the Girl Scouts.



Both Scouting communities have become more similar, the main difference being that they are gender divided. Why should these two entities remain separated when they strive to teach the same principles, to encourage exploration of self and the world, to encourage community service, and to instill national pride.

The Boy Scouts often uses gender neutral language and has opened up to women, for example 32% of the Venturers in 2008 were women and many of the images on the website include girls and young women. In comparison, the Girl Scouts is an exclusively female institution.

Direct Engagment: Monster, Terrorist, Fag

| 1 Comment

Although I don't think that I could completely unpack this essay, I want to at least try to say a little bit about it in relation to my term. "Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots" by Jasbir Puar and Amit Rai seeks to analyze how the U.S. has, through the use of 9/11 and the War on Terrorism, produced more obedient patriots in this country by invoking age-old notions of "heteronormativity, white supremacy, and nationalism" into the way their combating "terrorism" to create a new formation of "monster, terrorist, fag" for citizens to Other and align in opposition to. They discuss the way that the U.S. media and government has both constructed and isolated the "monster" or racialized other through sexual deviancy. This has been entirely common with the way black men have been made into monsters in the past by proliferating the image of them a sexually deviant and the "white" patriot must save the virtue of women. Now this has been reformulated to focus on the "terrorist" as monster and how they sexually deviate them through sodomy, again taking to task the "saving" of women. They work to show how this has reinforced heteronormativity and fear even within leftist or resistance groups. As far as consequence/punishment goes I found it interesting how the authors point out the use of sodomy by the U.S. government as a form of punishment on Bin Laden and how they seek to emasculate him and "turn him into a fag." They explore how this is internalized by the American population that in order to be a good patriot you must exhibit heightened masculinity and/or other normative behaviors that align as such. What I found incredibly interesting about this is just simply how the authors totally broke down the process by which the U.S. media and government have worked again to create another racialized Other through heteronormal structures thus complicating some work already being done here to subvert said structure. This idea of punishment through sodomy (which is then associated with emasculation) is rampant in this country and although it has a long history in general this essay highlights maybe why it might be so drastic in recent years and how intertwined it is with hate and fear and the "war on terror."

Queer This or Query #9: Annie sings "Tomorrow"


I just finished re-reading Lee Edelman's "The Future is Kid Stuff" and I couldn't resist posting this brief clip from the movie musical Annie:

What does Edelman have to say about (or to?) Annie and her vision of tomorrow? How does he queer this (Hint: see 24 and 29)? What other ways can you think of queering it?

Note: In your blog worksheet, you can list your response to this entry as either Queer This or Query comments.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll see you tomorrow
Re mem ber to bring your blogs...

(Have I embarrassed myself yet?)

Uganda Bill Proposes Death Penalty for Gay Sex


I thought this would be interesting to share in light of our recent discussion of post-9/11 temporality.

I'm not really surprised, to be honest, and I don't think it's out of place for the 21st century. I think this sort of thing epitomizes suppressed desires for many people, even in our own country, so the only difference between this and anything else is that it's more direct.

Direct Engagement #6: Monster, Terrorist, Fag

In Puar and Rai's article, "Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots" the notion that "American retaliation promises to emasculate bin Laden and turn him into a fag. ...f you're not for the war, you're a fag" is explored through discussions of post-9/11 depictions of an anally penetrated bin Laden and more. However, I have to wonder if that explanation is all that there is to it.
While, as a country post 9/11, we definitely engaged in self-righteous violence and hatred that utilized power through sexual allusions in concordance with self-righteous assertions of supposed supremacy in relation to the liberation of Afghan women and I think that sort of basal hatred of queers is important in this dynamic, I don't think that's all it boils down to. That hatred we speak of, in relation to violence against queers, is too active, too projective, and too much of an independent, direct action to be applied here. I think the American retaliation centered on making bin Laden a fag is much more a product of fear, much more raw, dependent, and reactionary.
I think in order to really explore this we have to go back to the state of mind of many immediately after 9/11 occurred; many, if not most, people were reacting to misinformation and fear more than anything else. We didn't have the luxury of the time that allowed us to gain information and perspective--we were, as a country, in the fight-or-flight stage, essentially. Facts didn't necessarily matter as long as we had someone to blame and react to.
That's where bin Laden and that notion of fear I mentioned collide. This article seems to be suggesting that the U.S. Both engages in self-righteous queer violence/hate and promotion of such queer rights in order to criticize the treatment of Afghan women from objective points of view; we bash queers because we choose to ignore logic and we protect queers because it's the right thing to do. I have to disagree, especially when speaking of the notions of turning bin Laden into a fag.
It would seem to me that (1) we engage in queer violence/hate because it makes us feel self-righteous and allows us to suppress fear, (2) we promote queer rights because it elevates our egos, and (3) we chose to use faggotry as the ultimate form of torturing bin Laden because bin Laden provided us with a rare opportunity to completely express how much, as a country, we really hate and want to kill fags.
If you think about it, we really do promote a mindset of tolerance for fags in this country that centers on feigned acceptance; if you really are a fag, we still don't like you, and if you really, REALLY hate fags, you should just keep quiet, because that's too extreme, too. As long as there's no outward hate or violence, we're fine--we don't necessitate inclusion, acceptance, or love anything actively positive. If someone would've made an ad that featured Adam Lambert being anally penetrated by an AMA trophy with the words "You like that, bitch?" or something similar to how we treated bin Laden's likeness a few weeks ago there would've been outrage like no other, because that is actual promotion of violence against a gay person, and it wasn't something that scared us in a way we couldn't deal with otherwise.
However, such depictions of bin Laden seem to be accepted because it allows for the venting of a deep-seated fear of losing our power individually and as a country. The 9/11 attacks rattled us, as a country, in a way that many, if not most, of us had never experienced before, and because that created such a primal experience for us, we had to react in a primal, uncensored way. So we utilized one of the most suppressed fears (the fear of the unseating of our own sexualities) to exert what we view as one of the strongest powers (sexual dominance) over this person that seemed to prove capable of unseating our tremendous power as a country--we had to pull out all the stops in order to at least feel like we had a chance at conquering him.
So, I don't think the depictions of turning bin Laden into a fag and the subsequent sorts of queer violence and hate are necessarily a product of self-righteous violence, but a product of scared/fearful violence and hatred. It was simply our way of striking out in fear as soon as someone scared us--it didn't have the temporal prerequisite to be considered something as thoughtful and intellectual as "self-righteous."

(This article does not apply to my term.)

Response to "Sex in Public"

This article, written by Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner is primarily about the perceptions of sex in public spheres such as the media and culture. Their goals were to promote a new standard of sexual normalcy and encourage change in material practices. Below are some of my thoughts on the article.

Should heterosexual coupling were no longer the "privileged example of sexual culture" (548) what would replace it? What sort of image would be promoted as the ideal sexual experience and how would it pertain to the biological sex, gender, and sexuality? Race, class, kink? Could it be all encompassing or would a new standard be created? What kind of symbol would be created?

Alternative sexuality is accepted as art, even then, depending on the venue and potential audience. Kink is pushed further from the sight of general public. More acceptable sexualities can be a mixture of man/woman, man/man, woman/woman, mww, wwm, www, as long as they are portrayed in simple sexual acts without the 'grotesqueness' of bodily function, violence as pleasure, or the crossing of genders.

What would have happened if sex and intimacy was kept strictly private, meaning without the intervention of politics, culture, mores, etc and pleasure was taken without any inhibitions? If people acted solely upon their carnal and emotional impulses when with (a) trusted partner(s)? How would the landscape of sexuality differ if people outside of a sexual encounter were not affected (as realistically they are not) or did not have a positive or negative opinion of the situation? Truly, the sexual activity of any other person is no one's business and, idealistically, they would have no input in attempts to control the practices of others. It should not be defined as heterosexual or homosexual or have much cultural influence or identity.

"Love" has become a large player of sexual interactions and is often identified as a "requirement", but it does not originate nor is it necessary for intimacy or sex; it is only a form of control over sexual intercourses. Expectations of love are often unrealistic and often abused for an end means of lust and sex.

Sex in public evolves throughout time, but the underlying practices have probably been around as long as people have been experiencing sexual desire, stimulation, and climax. It is whether or not society accepts such behavior, even in private that changes.

Ironic how the authors could not finish the erotic vomiting scene in any descriptive or evaluative manner, but was left to the audience's imagination as to how this sort of interaction is sexual, erotic, intimate, and stimulating.

Response to "Punk'd Theory"

I found this article very interesting because it presented a new meaning to the word "punk" that I was not familiar with: a derogatory word for a black, gay man. Originally the word "punk" stirred up images of young boys/men dressed in dark clothes, listening to punk rock, and trying to identify with an alternative subculture of suburban rebellion. However, this article presented punk in, what I would consider, it's original, anti-authoritarian "fuck you form" and then in its African-Americanization of masculinzed and dominating "fuck you" form.

African-Americanization of words such as "beat" and "punk" have very negative, sexual connotations pertaining to the submissive and feminized party. "The core meaning of getting..."punked" - from at least the late 1950s to the early 2000s - appears to be be getting scapegoated within an erotic and masculinzied economy of society. In this economy, another's pleasure come at the cost of your pain." Nyong'o writes on page 22 (cp 262).

He later writes that "black style has come to dominate the network's offerings, and proscriptive markings of blackness appear only to whet the mainstream appetite." (24 (cp. 264) Nyong'o argues that African-American culture and attitudes is being popularized as a hyper masculine, tough, and powerful identity and with it come the meshing of terms such as "punk" so that it evolves into a new identity. Specifically he cites Richard Hell as a identifiable person who promoted this new "punk" and made it into an opposing force in comparison to the culture of glam rock, which was seen as a "queer" institution. in this way "punk" and "queer" faced each other as the polar opposite of the other.

What is interesting to see is how punk became a highly aggressive anti-authoritarian (especially pertaining to government) identity that when put opposite glam rock normalizes the queerness of it because this form of glamorized queer is popularized by mainstream culture with its softer and fantastical nature. Glam culture is more quickly identified as acceptable, yet queer (think Queen, David Bowie, Madonna, etc vs. Buzzcocks, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Ramones, The Velvet Underground, etc). Implying the resistance pertaining to anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian venues is greater than that of accepted queer existences, however the queerness that is found acceptable in glam generally pertains to relationships that appeal to heteronormative existence, such as committed gay or lesbian relationships without queer sexual practices.

Do all women make bad bosses?


The thing that bothers me most about this article is that it was written by a woman. I can;t stand it when anyone, man, woman, or whatever you want to identify yourself as, says something sexist but nothing aggrevates me more than a sexist woman. There is at least logic to when a man is sexist because in holding women down he is giving himself more power. This is obviously horrible and wrong and many other things, but it is at least logical. When a woman is sexist toward other women it holds all women down and takes power away from women as well as herself. She is therefore, adding to the chains that bind her. This is completely illogical.

Men for women rights! Finally.


I can't believe I didn't think of this! It was right there, hanging off my body the whole time: boobs, they will get men involved. I mean, all I have to do is objectify my body *a little* to make sure men are paying attention to my health and rights. Never mind my over all health but as long as my breast are there, free of cancerous lumps and not deformed in anyway... men will fight for us women.

As women that is where my identity comes from, right? And the only way men are interested in me is if I allow them to look at my breast, right?

The title of Judith Halberstam's article that was my additional reading is funny, because in my first annotated bibliography i utilized the article "Ten Reasons Capitalists Want Your to Wear Deodorant," and attempted to articulate a connection between queer and embracing one's funk. The subcultural lifestyle is not sterilized or deodorized, or overly invested with commercial beauty and all the polluting products that accompany the heteronormative beauty ideals.
Queer uses of time and space do not have the end goal of maturity, adulthood, or procreation within sight, and therefore queers are able to reside in the temporality of subcultural participation as long as desired. Queer time allows us to redefine adulthood. While the capitalist project with it's many arms (universities, prison-industrial complex, ect.) push bodies not only into intelligible subjectivities; but also into particular brandings (lawyer, welder, ect.) In Hetero time one becomes a product of how they are going to make money. Halberstam offers a definition of of queer as an outcome of temporality, life scheduling, and eccentric economic practices." Looking at queer as more than just a sexual minority, but a way of living. I feel like the temporality and life scheduling parts were well fleshed out in the essay, but i was hoping for a larger discussion of the eccentric economic practices. While queer's resistance to the purchasable trappings of heteronormative domesticity are pretty anti-capitalist, I would like to look at was in which queers can work to actually dismantling the capitalist economy. While the punk D.I.Y. culture has been liberating for a lot of people, queers often find themselves trapped as unwitting cogs in the system, because queers have to pay rent too, and alternatives like squatting or community gardening are policed. Property rights often outweigh human rights according to the law, and the social order. Even if escape from capitalism is possible, uninterrupted by the patriarchal state, for individuals in a subcultural context, the structures of capitalism and globalization are devastating places, and oppressing bodies where ever possible and profitable. In fact there seems to be some necessary pessimism within the articulation of queer economic practices.

"The mainstream absorption of vogueing highlights the uneven exchange between dominant culture scavengers and subcultural artists: subcultural artists often seek out mainstream attention for their performances and productions in the hopes of gaining financial assistance for future endeavors. Subcultural activity is, of course, rarely profitable, always costly for the producers and it can be very short lived without the necessary cash infusions (in the words of Sleater-Kinney: "This music gig doesn't pay that good, but the fans are alright....")" I would like to think that we can imagine a queer economy that is far more radical than turning our beautiful subculture itself into a style marketable for capitalist consumption. Perhaps an anarchistic gift economy that replenishes rather than exploits queer cultural production. The third section of the article "Subcultures: The Queer Dance Mix," discusses the need to study and record queer subcultures and makes a strong case for a collaborative theorizing on how to articulate, so as not to diminish into historical obsecurity, the products of queer time and queer spaces in order to write a queer history. Is Judith Halberstam saying here, as Emma Goldman famously had "If I can't dance-I don't want to be part of you revolution" ?
In our discussion of this article in class Sara troubled my notion of the privlidge of academia, and began to break down the distinction between theorists and subcultural producers. Judith Halberstam also articulates this destabilization:

"...In subcultures where academics might labor side by side with artists, the "historical bloc" can easily describe an alliance between the minority academic and the minority subcultural producer. Where such alliances exist academics can and some should participate in the ongoing project of recording queer culture and interpreting it and circulating a sense of its multiplicity and sophistication."

So basically, a trans person was fired from a mcdonalds in florida for being trans. The manager of th emcdonalds called the trans person and left a very derogatory message calling said person a "fag" and saying that they were fired. Thankfully, the manager was fired, otherwise I would be very upset with mcdonalds. Then the article goes on however to say that in 38 states there are no laws protecting trans people from, what we know to be, unlawful termination. Also, there is no federal law against discrimination of trans people. It will never cease to amaze me how backward our country always proves itself to be, regardless of the era.

Khaki Ad

| 1 Comment

This khaki ad is very blatant in saying that a genderless society is bad and that the only way to make our society better and too fix all of our woes is for men to grab the world, pick their gender roles back up, and "wear the pants". It claims that "today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for" and therefore we need the "men" back to save the day. This is clearly loaded with many sexist problems. Furthermore, I find it funny that it cites several times that we live in a genderless society, when all of us here know that that is most certainly not the case at all, not even close.

Date-rape drink spiking 'an urban legend'

| 1 Comment

Well this article is clearly very problematic.

"Widespread spiking of drinks with date-rape drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB is an "urban legend" fuelled by young women unwilling to accept they have simply consumed too much alcohol, academics believe".

It will never cease to amaze me how often victim blaming and straight up denial in sexual assault cases will always occur, regardless of the year. If the author of this article truly wanted to have an open and honest dialogue about rape and the commonalities that go with it, said author would not have used such a title and constructed their sentences in such a way that have an underlying theme of victim blaming and that victims are just making rape up. It is true that alcohol is present in the vast majority of rape cases, but if he wanted to talk about that and was educated on the topic, he would know that one has to be careful and accurate when talking about rape because it is so often portrayed as a non-occurance or blames victims and such. This article is just all around bad.

Direct Engagement #6: Tyme

Influenced by Warner, Halberstam, and Edelman


For this annotated bibliography I wanted to focus on the interaction of both queer bodies and their material experiences with mainstream culture (specifically the mass media) and the reactions that arise from the masses when that sort of interaction is forced and not feigned.

Adam Lambert - "For Your Entertainment" (live), The American Music Awards, CBS, November 22, 2009

Adam Lambert, runner-up on the most recent full season of American Idol, performs the title track (and first single) from his most recent album, "For Your Entertainment," on the American Music Awards, aired on ABC. During his performance (filled with leather and BDSM sex references), Adam strays from rehearsal scripts and (1) thrusts the head of one of his male dancers into his groin, simulating oral sex, (2) violently grabs and kisses one of his male band members, and (3) gives the audience the middle finger. All three of these acts (most outwardly, the kiss) were met with such scrutiny and high-level animosity that ABC cancelled his subsequently scheduled performance on Good Morning America, and, though he has yet to even hint at an apology, thousands of people have demanded he apologize and be reprimanded.

Before any additional analysis, let's understand one thing--when Adam first entered the mass media on the show American Idol, though he was outwardly flamboyant and theatrical, he never "came out" as homosexual; he only did so after the show ended.

Based on (admittedly) my personal opinion, this could very well go down as one of the most significant clashes of a queer body and (what the mainstream conservative culture views as) queer culture with the mainstream culture/media, for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons for this is because he refuses to be apologetic and has presented his critics with completely factual, logical arguments that they have yet to refute as to how he is being subjected to a double-standard for same-sex contact for no withstanding reason other than to placate the masses. Though he hasn't named names, one of the biggest references he seems to be making is in regards to the criticism he's receiving for the kiss--in 2003, Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera participated in a three-way, same sex kiss of the same nature when performing together at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), and they were met with little to no criticism and even praise for how "hot" their performance was (which would be the ultimate compliment).
This first reason works concurrently with the magnitude of his talent--he has proven multiple times that he is extremely talented, he has a huge fan base already, and it's very clear that he's not going away in the least anytime soon. His album is receiving reviews that suggest the same, as well.

A second reason I'd like to propose the significance of this event is that now there can be no more mistakes made about Adam Lambert's sexual preference, but yet the American public, in fact a show dubbed American Idol is (not to deny where his talent might have taken him) the biggest reason as to why he's become so popular at all. A public that hates and oppresses queer bodies pushed this queer body into stardom because they liked him--they made a mistake! He didn't have to work his way up the hard way, he received the same hetero-privileged treatment that anyone else of his American-Idol-kind received. He was treated as a member of the "in" group. I fail to recall any instances of a similar fashion or magnitude involving queer bodies that have stood the test of time.

So where do things go from here? How will the mass media and the American public proceed, now that it's been made clear that they let someone slip through the cracks, and contrary to what they'd like to profess, this person is of a great deal of value to the American public? As a relatively experienced individual in the world of music (especially considering performance and genre-/production-related quality), I would place a bet of a large sum of money on Adam Lambert only getting bigger and bigger--as stated, he's simply not going to go away, as the mass-conservative-media would normally have it (see: Clay Aiken). Will the media and public risk their credibility to directly oppose his progression? Will they kiss up (an effort that would surely be seen through) and support him while gritting their teeth all the while? Or will this event and the extreme, ignorant, and inflammatory subsequent reactions serve as a catalyst for true understanding and acceptance of queer bodies into the mainstream media and material culture? What ripple effects will this have? It will be interesting to see it unfold.

Now, let me transfer from a factual discussion of the intersection of queer bodies with the mainstream media to a fictional discussion.

Nip/Tuck, Alexis Stone (I & II), Ryan Murphy, FX Network, November 18 and 25, 2009

In these two episodes of the TV show Nip/Tuck, we see plastic surgeon Dr. Christian Troy (Julian McMahon), an epitome of what masculinity could hope to be (albeit only on the outside) interacting with a continuously post-operative male-to-female-to-male-to-female transsexual woman both sexually and professionally. Troy encounters Alexis first at a bar where she bar-tends; as he typically does with a woman he finds attractive, he gets her to sleep with him. Straying from his usual formula, not only does she take him back to her place, she asks him to penetrate her anally during intercourse (and then kicks him out). Christian, obviously dumbfounded by her lack of inhibition about that type of intercourse, happily obliges and follows the encounter with his typical bragging and boasting at the office.
Back at the office in the next scene, Alexis enters and informs Christian that she was born into a male body, had sex reassignment surgery to be female, and now wants him to perform another sex reassignment surgery to make her male again. Obviously still processing the situation and his connection to her, we see Christian offering his moral, sympathetic side to Alexis/Alex in private, and after processing and an initial refusal, he offers to perform the surgery (once he has done his hippocratic duty of assuring he (Alex) is aware of the risks).
In the second episode titled "Alexis Stone," Alexis returns and explains that she wishes to have her breasts back; since her most recent surgery with Dr. Troy and her subsequent sexual encounters she has realized that she's been a woman all along and is most attracted to straight men "on the down-low" about their same-sex desires, and so in order to live in a body that allows her to experience the maximum potential of her desires she must have both a penis and breasts. Once again, struggling with something he doesn't understand, Christian shows what regular viewers know to be his true heart, and performs the surgery.
However, a key theme I have purposely delayed mentioning is the stark difference in Christian's way of understanding and dealing with the situation between the private and public arenas--as mentioned, in private he is honest about his struggle to understand, but empathetic, sympathetic and true to his moral ideals in the end. Quite differently, in public he either completely disavows Alexis's existence as a transsexual (so he won't be seen as gay for sleeping with her) or casually tosses around typical transphobic rhetoric to uphold his masculinity. This is a recurring theme within the show, as well--the viewer is led to know that Christian, admittedly selfish and a sex-fiend, is a good-hearted individual who is the only consistently reliable source for doing what's right when times get tough, but when it comes to upholding his masculinity in public, in the face of those who threaten to take it away, it's no holds barred and he will do anything (except for blatantly hurt someone physically, I suspect) to keep his identity as the model man.

How does this reflect how queer bodies are handled in their interactions with "mainstream" individuals in real life? Christian's struggle to do what he knows is right and save his own identity is a struggle that I feel is all too common and commonly ignored. As a society, we operate in black-and-white mode; that person's either gay or straight, and they either hate me or like me because I'm queer. Additionally, once we view someone as one or the other--they are stuck in that mode and we may write them off as not worth our interest even though we've only done a surface examination of who they really are. This seems to be the main point of contention between the queer and mainstream communities and the biggest reason why both heterosexual/heternormative bodies are labeled as "the enemy" and queer bodies are denied legitimacy and an equitable material experience, and yet it is a point of commonality, perpetuated as a point of cleavage, that could be both easily understood and easily dissolved. If we could all understand that there is the same struggle Christian experiences going on in our own minds, maybe we would do a better job of legitimizing experiences like Alexis's (and Christian's, for that matter).

Beard, Drew. "Going Both Ways: Being Queer and Academic in Film and Media Studies." In GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies.(2009): 15(4) 624-625.
Drew Beard discusses his trial-and-error relationship with choosing to study mainstream media both through a queer lens and from a queer body and how that relationship collides with the heteronormative/academic judging of legitimacy by alluding to The Wizard of Oz, Days of Our Lives, and more.

This article really draws together the discussion I'm having here about mainstream media and previous discussions I've prompted regarding legitimacy for bodies and how it's allocated. Beard points out that there are more potential pitfalls for a queer individual who chooses to study mainstream media with a queer lens (without giving into heternormative culture, necessarily) in the realm of academia (highly regarded as a more than qualified allocator of legitimacy), and how this relates to the supposed real world.

In relation to the previous sources, we can draw this together by asking whether or not those sources, the individuals involved (fictional or not), and more would ever be granted legitimacy, and for what reasons (regardless of the verdict). Will Adam Lambert's forceful integration of his queer body with the mainstream media stand for long, let alone as legitimate? Or will he be written off as fantastical or something that doesn't happen in the real world, eventually? Will characters like Alexis Stone ever be integrated either in roles that are taken as legitimate, or into shows that are either watched by larger populations (and therefore are more legitimate) or by audiences that will be more prone to taking her as a legitimate character that undoubtedly exists in reality? How do people ranging from academics to those with roles in the media determine how (1) queer bodies are integrated into the media and (2) their legitimacy and subsequent reception? How will this change over time as individuals like Adam Lambert force their presence on "us" unapologetically?

Annotated Bibliography #3

| 1 Comment

In this entry I would like to focus on the concept of queer time, as in the denial of future existence, or a narrowing future, but in reference more to all things abject rather than just to things that are queer.

Source #1: Halberstam, Judith. In a Queer Time and Place. New York University Press.
New York, NY. 2005.

In the first chapter that we read for class, I find that Halberstam was quite good at laying out the current work on queer time and space. The Foucault quote included on the first page that ". . . homosexuality threatens people as a 'way of life' rather than as a way of having sex," was eye-opening for me in my ponderings on death and the future, particularly in my pondering about my term, youth. This piece made me begin to think about discipline, elimination, and, more than before, reproduction in light of queer time. It made me think about it more than the Edelman piece did, as I took issue with some aspects of his argument. I also thought the quote she included from the poet Mark Doty saying that, "All my life I've lived with a future which constantly diminishes but never vanishes," especially interesting in terms of youth. The idea that I haven't thought much about that time is a construction of social relationships is also a fact I've also had to deal with more directly recently, as I will explain in the next source.
Anyway, while Halberstam speaks briefly of heteronormative time and domestic time in particular as being governed by beliefs about what is good for children and children's health, I see some potential questioning of this seemingly unexamined assumption. How does one separate the obviously necessary acts of caring for children's health, such as, not shaking your infant, and those prescriptions for child care that are exclusively about the convenience of the adult caretaker and only guised as being about child development, such as making your two year old use the toilet even while they are asking vehemently to be put in their diaper. I think the mistake some queer theorists make is in the wording of their arguments about children. Heteronormative time and domestic time, in my opinion, is never about the children themselves, but for the heterosexuals they are supposed to become. If we need to structure a rigid schedule for a child to reduce stress, it's probably about the way the adult world is scheduled and not really about what is or isn't good for the child. If we actually paid attention to children's needs and desires (and they are often quite able to articulate them) our world would be structured very differently, and in my opinion, it would be an intensely queer world. Much too queer for their straight parents to imagine. Just think of how anxious your parents may have been to leave you at home alone for a few days, knowing that while they were gone all sense of a timely, orderly schedule would utterly collapse. Queers and children are side by side, in the same boat and queer activists would be wise to see this. Both group's behaviors defy heteronormative time of birth, marriage, longevity, procreation, and death. It is sad that children are shunted away by queer and gay theorists as merely the product of those nasty straight people, ignoring the fact that all the while, children are telling their own stories, queer stories, only made legible by the impositions of their caretakers.

Source #2: Conversation with me and a youth

When I asked Blank to go recruit youth in the Phillips neighborhood for group, I told her that we had be in contact with her, and know where she was at all times. I told her when group started and to meet me at the community center at that time. When she arrived a half hour late with the youth and after failing to pick up her cell phone when I called to ask where she was, I told her that she was late and that she needed to both be on time and tell me where she was because I was legally responsible for her. She became very angry with me, telling me that I was trying to make her white, that this was Little Earth, and here on the reservation there was 'indian time,' and that was what she was going to follow. I had heard of this before form other Little Earth residence, that indian time was a less stringent time schedule, but it had never been an issue in my group before. I was stunned to silence for a moment, thinking, and when she demanded an answer I said, yes, you are right, it is white time that I am asking you to observe. I explained that my hands were tied on the issue, as there were serious legal ramifications for my responsibility for her that could threaten the existence of the organization if something had happened. I also told her that the program we are a part of is designed to make her successful in white time, in the white capitalist market and that that fact is a serious political problem with the program that I encouraged us to talk about with the board, staff, groups, and everyone involved. I asked her what she thought. She was still upset, but agreed to be on time and let me know where she was. She is still shy about addressing these political issues with other members of the organization, but I hope she will bring it up during one of our meetings.
This happening made me think about queer time, and, in addition, lots of other modes of time: agrarian time, youth time, capitalist time, etc. I realized that part of the project of YouthCARE is to (even though we espouse that we are not 'trying to change kids culturally') destroy their future as abject subjects, shattering it into what we believe will help them live full lives, white lives, straight lives. It left me with a lot to think about.

Source #3: Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. Coreography by Vaslav Nijinsky

You can watch the video on at the address below (it's in 3 parts):

I wanted to add this to my discussion, since I think it's a great example of how the normal is shown to be the abject, but its future as abject is destroyed by institutionalization, even though it remains abjected in a fashionable way. The ballet was first performed in Paris in 1913, and caused the biggest riot in music history for its unorthodox composition and subject matter (it is the story of heathen Russians and their spring sacrifice of a virgin girl). Over the years, the bans on it have lifted and it has become (almost) standard, although it is not often performed due to its "difficulty." My experience actually performing this piece with my youth symphony was very interesting. The subject matter clearly made my straight and narrow conductor nervous, and he proceeded to constantly poke fun at it, making jokes about heathen Russians being neanderthals before they became good (white) Christians. But there was also a resentment towards my youth orchestra by some of the members of the Minnesota Orchestra. "High schoolers playing Rite of Spring? Haw, haw haw!" was their response. At the same time, many of them expressed dislike and absence of understanding or knowledge about the piece themselves. It was an interesting case of how an abjected piece made it partially into the hegemonic and the human, but was abjected yet again by the performer's own anxieties and yet again when it was played by 'a bunch of kids.' While it was necessary that the piece loose its abject status to become part of the canon, it has never fully entered the normative and has certainly changed the way the normative is executed. It is also interesting that this piece was played on the original Fantasia! for the dinosaur scenes. Hmmm... I'll have to ponder that.

Queer This #3: Her Motherland


Her Motherland and what it means for America

The link above the picture leads to the object in need of queering: an ad, from National Geographic, featuring a visibly white women claiming India as her "homeland" after becoming a yoga practitioner and living there.

Because progress doesn't mean anything unless it means something for America?

Queer the Census


While the census, along with many other official legal documents strictly upholds the gender dichotomy male/female.The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is sending our free stickers to seal your census envelope that demand recognition for transgender, bisexual, and straight ally citizenship in the form of boxes to be checked. It's not just that there should probably be more categories to choose from, as this is no where near a comprehensive list of genders; perhaps it is the question what exactly are we being counted and systematically categorized for exactly. Why must we literally occupy many little boxes, fit a categorical identity in order to be intelligible as a flag.bmp flying citizen?queerthecensus.JPG

Queer This: The Girl Mechanic & Wearing the Pants


So, as I'm sitting stranded here, soaked from the inordinate amount of rain that's currently assaulting San Diego's lack of drainage systems, in a corner in an Escondido Barnes and Noble jacking the free wi-fi to take care of all of the crap that happens when your flight gets delayed for 2 days, I look up to my right and see this book:


Interested, I decided to pick it up and take a look at it...but I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I thought you all could give it a good one-over, though! To be sure, here's the Barnes and Noble description.

Completely unrelated, but also worth discussing is this Docker's ad.

Excuse my absence tomorrow!

Abject: an annotated bibliography, no. 3


Abject shame: confronting the sacred and the profane.

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Pictures. Ed. Dimitri Levas. New York: Arena Editions, 1999.

Mapplethorpe claimed that he investigated and discovered the complexities of his own sexuality by photographing the sexuality of others -- their open expression allowed him to uncover his own buried repression (or just introduced him to kinky ideas he'd never thought of before). The photographs featured in this collection depict a myriad of sexual fetishes: chain-and-leather theatrics, infantilization, sadomasochism, bondage, fist-fucking, fecalphilia, masturbation, mutilation, ritualistic torture, boot-sniffing, etc. Whether or not these pictures are pornographic is debatable; but that debate is utterly irrelevant. The viewer, despite their various stages of comfort or discomfort, cannot deny the grace and beauty of Mapplethorpe's photographic form -- the lighting and composition never fail to be visually arresting. And let's not forget the accenting decor: Gustav Stickley and Charles Eames chairs, an oriental rug, an antler end table, antique lamps and vases, even a Biedermeier bed. The convergence of kitsch taste with vulgarity plays with and distorts the borders between the sacred and the profane. One photograph, for instance, is set in a particularly up-scale, conservative living room and contains at its center two men, one sitting on a designer leather chair, bound in chains and accompanied by a leather-clad man standing above him holding a whip. The picture declares their dark sexual proclivities unapologetically in the midst of orderly cleanliness, giving to quotidian objects a curious abstractness and distance-- sadomasochism is presented here as quaint and lovely, suitable to appear in House and Home. JimandTom,Sausalito,1977.jpgPerhaps my favorite picture from this collection is that which also depicts two men: one stands adorned in black leather -- boots, pants, gloves, and a leather mask from which extends a pair of nipple clamps -- he is urinating into the mouth of a man kneeling before him with closed eyes, hands in tightly closed fists resting on his knees -- his body obscured by a shadow, only face and hands clearly exposed. The setting of their performance is meant to resemble either a dungeon or an abandoned basement. There is no doubt that we are underground, owing to the presence of a ladder leading to the only light-source, which is somewhere above and outside.

The subjects of these photographs reek of abjection. Apart from the one aforementioned photograph, these subjects are presented in abject seclusion: a basement, a storage closet, and unrecognizable, vacant spaces. For the people in these pictures, charged currents of sexual feeling are to be found in what is customarily deemed revolting, offensive or horrific -- in refuse, defilement, suffocation, torture and shit. Mapplethorpe's subjects find fulfillment in self-abjection -- in being that shit that so terribly offends, the defecated waste of a sacred human order: normality.

Smith, Jack. Flaming Creatures. 1962-1963. Film & Video: Jack Smith. UBUWEB. Web. 5 December 2009.

The setting of Jack Smith's avant-garde film, Flaming Creatures, is almost an inversion of the sensibility presented in Mapplethorpe's Pictures. Rather than taking place in a secluded basement, Smith's film is set on the roof of an apartment building in New York's Eastside. However, the location is never fully recognizable - the camera direction is so shaky, shots are arbitrarily over-exposed or too close to the subjects - to speak of a definite "setting" of this film is almost to negate its purpose: it doesn't take place anywhere. All is abstraction and horrific sensation; the world these "creatures" inhabit does not and cannot exist because it is unintelligible. Sontag says that in Flaming Creatures "there are no ideas, no symbols, no commentary on or critique of anything... Smith's film is strictly a treat for the senses." Like Henry Darger's paintings, Smith's film presents a realm of gender ambiguity, or intersexuality - either no one is male or female, or everyone is both. It's interesting to consider this film not only in relation to Mapplethorpe's photographs, but also in relation to Darger's drawings - Mapplethorpe came along over a decade after Smith made his film and was most likely influenced by his work, but Darger was working on The Realms of the Unreal at the exact same time as Smith, yet the two artists could not possibly have known of one another. FlamingCreatures.jpg

Not only does the film itself speak of Abjection, or perhaps attempts to exhibit abjection personified, but its reception at the time of its release in the early 1960s rendered the film (and the people involved in its production) abject. It was banned pretty much everywhere due to its "profane" nature - that is to suggest that the film displays unacceptable human behavior. This behavior, this ambiguity and ambivalence concerning gender and sexuality disrupts ontological givens - to relate it to Butler's discussion of the abject in Gender Trouble, these "Creatures" confound the boundary between the "inner" and the "outer," (the sacred and the profane) and are thus excreted: they embody the shit that they have become, flaming out in polymorphous joy.

Warner, Michael. "The Ethics of Sexual Shame." The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. New York: The Free Press, 1999.

trouble_with_normal_cover1.jpgIn this first chapter, Michael Warner discusses the problem with "normalization" - the pressure for abject people or groups of people to prove their normality, that is, their rightful place within society. He shows how certain aspects of gay politics focus on the values of the "norm" - love and devotion - never mentioning or acknowledging sexual acts or shame: declaring that two committed people of the "same-sex" can love and live just like "normal" people. It's a denial of shame and a denial of autonomous identity: "we" are the same as "you" - we're vanilla, too. Warner advocates for an ethics of shame - an acknowledgement of all that is filthy, disgusting, unpleasant or painful (specifically deviant sex) - and rejects any notions of queer-assimilation. He discusses the division between dignified and deviant homosexuals - the dignified being ashamed of the deviant, for they wear their shame on their sleeves, thus becoming stigmatized, abject. Warner articulates the connection between the ethics of sexual shame and abjection quite accurately:

Sex is understood to be as various as the people who have it. It is not required to be tidy, normal, uniform, or authorized by the government. This kind of culture . . . has its own norms, its own way of keeping people in line. I call its way of life an ethic not only because it is understood as a better kind of self-relation, but because it is the premise of the special kind of sociability that holds queer culture together. A relation to others, in these contexts, begins in an acknowledgment of all that is most abject and least reputable in oneself. Shame is bedrock. Queers can be abusive, insulting, and vile toward one another, but because abjection is understood to be the shared condition, they also know how to communicate through such camaraderie a moving and unexpected form of generosity. No one is beneath its reach, not because it prides itself on generosity, but because it prides itself on nothing . . . And the corollary is you stand to learn most from the people you think are beneath you. (35)

The desire to be normal stems from a fear of abjection - a distain for the unknown, unintelligible: the devious, immoral, horrific terrors that disrupt order and create madness. The vile queer disturbs the dignified queer because the former reminds the latter of the shame of abjection.

Direct Engagement #5 - Additional Reading


For my supplemental reading as a part of tracking my term, youth, I read the introduction to Curiouser: On The Queerness Of Children. I also read The Future Is Kid Stuff, by Lee Edelman. Here, I would like to ask some questions about these texts I hope to address and discuss during my presentation.

The authors of the introduction, Bruhm and Hurley, say that the dominant narrative about children, that they are bereft of any real sexuality but that their childish ventures are mishaps on the way to mature heterosexuality. makes them into the bearers of heteronormativity. Here are three quotes from the text I find particularly interesting:

"If writing is an act of world making, writing about children is doubly so: not only do writers control the terms of the words they present, they also invent, over and over again, the very idea of inventing humanity, of training it and watching it evolve. This inscription makes the child into a metaphor, a kind of ground zero for the edifice that is adult life and around which narrative of sexuality get organized. . . Utopianism follows the child around like a family pet. The child exists as the site of almost limitless potential (its future not yet written and therefore unblemished). But because the utopian fantasy is the property of adults, not necessarily of children, it is accompanied by its doppelganger, nostalgia. . . Caught between these two worlds, one dead, the other helpless to be born, the child becomes the bearer of heteronormativity, appearing to render ideology invisible by cloaking it in simple stories, euphemisms, and platitudes," (pg. xiii).

"What is the effect of projecting the child into a heternormative future? One effect is that we accept the teleology of the child (and narrative itself) as heterosexually determined. . . The very effort to flatten the narrative of the child into a story of innocence has some queer effects. Childhood itself is afforded a modicum of queerness when the people worry more about how the child turns out than how the child exists as child," (pg. xiv).

"The modern-day queer is unthinkable without the modern child," (pg. xiv).

While Edelman says that the child is the anti-queer, and symbolizes, as it is invoked in the name of family values, that there is no future for queers, Bruhm and Hurley tell us that childhood queerness is oppressed by children's care takers as something that will only have been, but has no future in that child's adulthood. Again, I find Edelman's arguments dependent upon a magical boundary between straight and queer, since he neglects to make good account of queers with children and queer children. Here are some questions I would like to ask about these arguments:

1) What is the child? Does this term represent children themselves, or is it, as something we might take away from Edelman's writing, a symbol of adult heterosexuality, not really having anything to do with real children? If Edelman disavows the child, what shrines does he present for the queerness of boys and girls?

2) Since Bruhm and Hurley assert that childhood queerness is oppressed by their caretakers as something that will only have been and does not have a place in the child's adult future, can we also say that the child has no future? That the purpose of child care is to expunge that child of their childhood forthwith?

3) If the modern-day queer is unthinkable without the modern-day child, how might these terms be used to deconstruct each other, and what alliances may be formed between them?

I look forward to discussing these questions in greater detail in my presentation.

Written by Chela Sandoval, Dissident Globalizations, Emancipatory Methods, Social Erotics explores the means, practices and goals of what she describes as dissident globalization. Introducing first the problematic aspects of nationalism, transnational capitalism and postmodern globalization, she offers dissident globalization as an option to counteract and resist these other forms of interacting on a national and international scale with other groups with similar goals. The primary quality dissident globalization would counteract is the ill effect of nationalism: "Nationalism thus exerts the true vanilla erotics: no transgressions permitted, border crossings monitored and militarized, and within these limits 'only our kind allowed,' a homogenization that disciplines the passions," (21). In response and contrast to this nationalism and its limitations on the erotics of its constituents, dissident globalization aims for change occurring in the social erotic. Also, a different understanding of citizen must take hold to carry out the actions a dissident globalization: "an internationalist citizen-warrior who is able to call upon the transformative capacities of consciousness and of the collective body," (21). This is a much different citizen than one inhabiting a nationalist perspective.
Explaining the history that led to the creation of this new global understanding, Sandoval describes the shift from a Marxist "proletariat" focused theory to what became "third world liberation" focused theory. Third world liberation was the term that "signified solidarity among new masses of peoples who were differentiated by nation, ethnicity, language, race, class, culture, sex, and gender demarcations but who were allied nevertheless by virtue of similar sociohistorical, racial, and colonial relations to dominant powers," (22). Basically this was a more global understanding of the principles of Marxism, and included colonization effects along with the understanding of social hierarchies and economic classes. Then, during the 1960s and 70s, feminists in the US incorporated this third world awareness into their politics and began the phrase "US third world feminism". In my opinion this term is problematic because of the tendency for feminist groups to use the momentum of another civil rights movement as a catalyst for its own means while simultaneously drawing support, attention, and means from the other movement. Also, the term is counterintuitive; the US is not considered a third world country and it seems very privileged for US feminists to assume a position of understanding and association with countries considered to be in the third world. However, Sandoval is less pessimistic and sees the name as a way of resisting national boundaries: "In a sense simply voicing this name enacted an untried revolution: a geopolitical upheaval of nation-state and its social imaginaries, and an innovative pulling together again of what leaders and visionaries of the movement hoped would become a trans-national, -gendered, -sexed, -cultured, -raced, and coalitional political site," (22). The group itself produced a lot of texts (also using the name "radical women of color" for themselves) that were aimed at "creating a social movement that would be capable of organizing on behalf of all people," (23). The US third world feminists worked to connect different people marginalized in different ways, less interested in bringing one specific group to the forefront and more interested in combining the powers of many different perspectives to counteract the social institutions within individual nations (especially the US) and change the understanding of trans-national politics. Between 1965 and 1990 it was decided by the US third world feminists and its associates that the changing and resisting and restructuring of the capital, nationalist culture had to be changed through use of a series of principles.
Different descriptions of what strategies and principles might be were offered, but they all centered on traveling between different discourses and theories to continually fight powers that oppressed and marginalized. The goal was to create a "new social-erotics- 'love' in the postmodern world" (24). Another way that I've understood the goals of the US third world feminists is through Jasbir Puar's Queer Times, Queer Assemblages. In the article, Puar discusses the replacement of the term "intersectionality" with "assemblage". I think that the reasons behind the switch in Puar's mind are the same as in the US third world feminists' collective minds. The term intersectionality in essences connotes a list of different groups to which a person belongs; assemblage describes more the experience of degrees, variations, fluidity, and times (temporalities) which a person actually experiences. In the same way, US third world feminists attempt to use the any experiences and attributes of any members as a catalyst for making connections within the group and on a larger scale; there is no attempt or description of being not quite in one group and not quite another that I associate with intersectionality, but rather of always belonging to a larger group. (US third world feminism is a very happy and positive concept.)
There are five different principles/strategies laid out by the US third world feminists and were chosen as ways through which social relations could be transformed. Using these principles, which could also be described as different modes that a person could employ, facilitated "movement through, over, and within any dominant system of resistance, identity, race, gender, sex, class or national meaning," (25). The revolutionary thinking of the US third world feminists came directly from this goal of traveling between and disrupting dominant powers for the purposes of creating a new globalization with less marginality. Deftly summarized by Sandoval, "This eccentric politics is a powerful paradigm for generating coalition between oppositional groups, for accessing horizontal comradeship, for carrying out effective collaborations between divided constituencies, for making interdisciplinary connections," (25).

Queer Time, Queer Assemblages

Although we have been given the option to deviate somewhat from our respective "terms" in the direct engagement category, I really would have no excuse to do so with the article Queer Times, Queer Assemblages by Jasbir Puar. This article closely relates to the idea of what a citizen or a nation is and what those terms represent, especially looking through our lens of US citizens in America. At the present moment, the buzzword is terror and the overwhelming sentiment encouraged by the media is that patriotism and citizenship means supporting a "war on terror". In this war on terror, the threat of terror and terrorist is constantly lurking. Puar helps clarify what the idea of a vague, racialized and sexualized terrorist does to the notion of what a US citizen is and what the US as a nation represents. In the first objective in the article, Puar "examine[s] discourses of queerness where problematic conceptualizations of queer corporealities, especially via Muslim sexualities, are reproduced in the service of discourses of US exceptionalisms," (121). US exceptionalism already has a head start because of the country's engagement in a war. Throughout the last century, any conflict into which the US inserted itself reinforced the idea that the US was the sole icon of Freedom in the world. The war on terror is different in that the idea of freedom not only refers to religious and economic freedom, but now sexual freedom as well. Although arguably these freedoms never have and still do not exist in the US, this strange pride of upholding these ideals while never truly experiencing them (or even really attempting to) is the very paradox that is US exceptionalism. Specifically in regard to sexual exceptionalism, Puar states that it is formed through "normative as well as nonnormative (queer) bodies," (122). Then, to help accentuate this exceptionalism is the contrast that is drawn between a "citizen of the US" and a "terrorist". So, here is the parallel. A "citizen" (i.e. hetero or homonormative, white, wealthy, law-abiding, taxpaying, patriotic, etc) is the normative body and the "terrorist" (i.e. deranged, not white, Islamic, Muslim, middle eastern, extremist, backward, etc) is the nonnormative. Even with the acceptance of one deviance from the heteronormative formula, a queer person would still have to fit within the framework of citizen: white, wealthy, male etc. This allowance of one deviation while still being recognized as a citizen is the way that the US can see itself as the tolerant, progressive, open-minded icon of freedom that it does. As Puar says, "queerness is proffered as a sexually exceptional form of American national sexuality through a rhetoric of sexual modernization that is simultaneously able to castigate the other as homophobic and perverse, and construct the imperialist center as 'tolerant' but sexually, racially, and gendered normal," (122). The US perspective of Islamic and Muslim cultures is that they are sexually conservative, private and modest. Puar takes issue when even Faisal Alam, the director of Al-Fatiha, encourages these ideas: "Islam places a high emphasis on modesty and sexual privacy. Iraq, much like the rest of the Arab world, places great importance on notions of masculinity," (124). Given the inflated view of American ideals held by "patriotic citizens", among these being tolerance and freedom, the values of the Arab world get perverted into a sense of backward prudishness and homophobia. This view of the Arab world then reinforces the exceptionalism of the US. Also, Puar points out why this view of the Arab world is false because "the production of 'homosexuality as taboo' is situated within the history of encounter with the Western gaze," (125). So, the US understands the Arab world to be homophobic because of the over-simplified understanding of Muslim and Islamic cultures, and also sees an irreconcilable distance between a Muslim identity and a homosexual or queer identity. Therefore, the homosexual or queer identity can find its place only within the US nation and within the white, US citizens as a group. The racialized terrorists are thus sexualized as heterosexual as a result of backward norms. As Puar concludes, "queer exceptionalism works to suture US nationalism through the perpetual fissuring of race from sexuality- the race of the (presumptively sexually repressed, perverse, or both) terrorist and the sexuality of the national (presumptively white, gender normative) queer: the two dare not converge," (126). Puar deftly articulates the problems that come into play when trying to conceptualize what a conceivable understanding of a US citizen might be in regard to queer and in this time of terrorist-obsessed fear. The paradox of sexual exceptionism is, like all problems that are cyclical and self-reinforcing, a trap that stops me from wanting to try and reconcile the term "citizen" with the term "queer".

Query #8: Temporality


A couple of you asked in class yesterday about the term temporality. Here is a basic definition from

The condition of being temporal or bounded in time.
In this query, reflect on and answers a few of these question: What does it mean to exist in time? What are some ways that time functions? How does it shape/dictate/regulate/discipline you and your daily practices? How/when is time heteronormative? What are some examples of queer time (or of queering time)?


As I mentioned in class yesterday, we will not be reading the Butler excerpt from Frames of war for tomorrow's class. Instead, we will be reading the Puar/Rai essay, "Monster, Terrorist, Fag." If you were not in class, you can find the essay on WebCT.

See you tomorrow!

Final Blog Assignment

Here is the final blog wrap-up assignment that I discussed in class yesterday.

Here is what I wrote in the original syllabus:

You are required to submit a final wrap-up on your experiences tracking your chosen topic and on helping to develop and participate in the blog. This wrap-up can come in the form of a lengthy blog entry (or series of entries) or a separate (more formal) reflective essay. Please see me if you have other thoughts on how to organize/develop/articulate your reflective thoughts on your topic and your experience with the blog.


1. A (roughly) 250-300 word description/discussion of your chosen term. In this discussion, you should provide your own understanding of the term and why it is important for queering theory. This part of your reflection essay/entry should draw upon at least 3 sources (from our readings/your first presentation/annotated bibliographies). I would encourage you to draw upon your own previous entries and link to them.

2. A (roughly) 250-300 word reflection on the question: What is queering? In answering this question you are not required to provide THE definition of queering (which is not possible), but to reflect on what you think queering is. You should draw upon the readings, our discussions, our blog, outside sources, and your own ideas. I would especially encourage you to reference other students' posts (by discussing and linking to them).

3. A (roughly) 350-400 word reflection on the process of tracking your term. This reflection should occur in two ways: 1. A reflection on the process of tracking your term and 2. A reflection on the process of using/participating in the blog. In composing your response, answer the following questions:

• What did you learn about queering theory and your term through this process?
• How was the process of writing on the blog helpful (or not helpful)?
• What would you like to tell future students about the blog experience (advice, etc)?
• What connections can you draw between queering theory and blogging? How did (or didn't) our blog allow for a queer space or enable us to engage in practices of queering?

This essay is due the last day of class on December 15.

Direct Engagement #5: Assemblages

Like Jasbir Puar's flying ballistic body parts and bits of bloody flesh, I only have fragments of words and questions to grab onto in continuing to reflect on her mind-blowing writing.

What do this (my?) body's moments of becoming look and feel like?

"white" flesh, burned, flesh, bound, flesh, cut, stitched, scabbed, oiled, stretched

"new" pains, itch, hairs, harder, growing, rubbing, celebrating

"Let's grow a beard together!"

"old" insecurity, shame, loss, gain, chubby, fat, skinny, chubby

resisting, hoping, shaping, saving, stealing, wishing, paying

How much money have I paid to become? And at what cost?

When does this body become transgender in the perception of "others"?

silence, passing, knowing, wondering, hiding, smiling, celebrating

Where's the queer in me?

Where's the queer in my Mom?

Where's the queer in the Grandma who disowns me for these becomings?

What will death mean for this body?

Queer This: Monsters, Inc.

monsters inc a.jpgHave you seen this movie? I watched it tonight with my kids (I also saw it several years ago). I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think that the relationship between/narrative about Sully (the big blue fuzzy monster), Mike (the green short round monster) and the child (a "cute" little girl) needs a queer analysis. What if we thought about it in relation to Lee Edelman's No Future (we will read the introduction next week)? What role does the innocent child play in this narrative? How does Sully's love/caring for the child "humanize" him (thereby allowing him to assimilate)? What do you think? As I pondered how to queer this, I did a quick google search and came up with this article by Elizabeth Freeman (who, along with Lauren Berlant, wrote the essay on queer nationality that we read way back at the beginning of the semester). While Freeman's approach is not quite what I was thinking of, it does offer some interesting thoughts about the movie from a queer perspective.