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.