Final Blog - Rejection/Refusal

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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.

1 Comment

I think you have done some really interesting things here with your definitions of rejection and refusal. I like your distinction between rejection (being rejected) with refusal (resistance to/refusal of that rejection). Do you see connections with the abject? What about resistance? I think putting these terms together could make for some interesting connections/conversations.

You write: "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." Does this lead to the erasing of the queer? While one's immediate answer might be that acceptance is very unqueer, I see some possible links between your vision of utopia and Michael Warner's/Lauren Berlant's desire for queer worlds (new visions/possibilities). Where does rejection/refusal fit into these new queer worlds/utopia? Should it?

I appreciate your point about lack of feedback from other students and/or me. I was concerned that my comments (especially in terms of evaluating your blog entries) might carry too much weight and hinder your discussion. After hearing what you had to say about in class on the last day, I think I will comment more in future classes--not with "critical" comments, but more with questions and things to think about (kind of like what I am doing here). I think I will also make more comments do earlier on in the semester.