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.