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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.

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.

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.

http://www.anemasculatingtruth.com/

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)...

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.


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Queer this lady gaga: abject?

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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.

*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.

Queer This #2: ladies room lament

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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.

http://www.facebook.com/unboundlove

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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?)

Do all women make bad bosses?

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http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/news/433949/do-all-women-make-bad-bosses.html

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.

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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?

Khaki Ad

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http://www.us.dockers.com/season/landing.aspx

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'

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/6440589/Date-rape-drink-spiking-an-urban-legend.html

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.

Queer This #3: Her Motherland

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

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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

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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:

book.jpg

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!

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.

Zack Johnson

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I found this to be extremely interesting to say the least. Found it problematic as well... Insensitive to transmen. Insensitive to women. It is loaded with good stuff. What do y'all think?

Direct Engagement #4

In Public Sex, Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner discuss what heteronormativity is, the privatization of intimacy, and the construction of a counterintimacy through publicly visible queer culture.

In this entry I will engage primarily with the first part of the essay in which they establish heteronormativity, as there are questions I would like to ask about its perceived definition in the article. Berlant and Warner say that heteronormativity is far broader in scope than what most people think of as the heterosexual institution: the family. Though the family is a crucial center in which heteronormativity is deployed and which deploys heteronormativity, what is really at stake in this structure, the authors tell us, is a national heterosexuality. This places the sacredness of heterosexuality in the realm of law and politics, and not merely in the personal, although if one is to construct something as ordinary, one must push its political significance within the realm of the private. The authors use the example of "The New Face of America" from the cover of Time Magazine to illustrate their point. "... this crisis image of immigrants is also a racial mirage generated by white-dominated society, supplying a specific phobia to organize its public so that a more substantial discussion of exploitation in the United States can be avoided and then remaindered to the part of collective memory sanctified not by nostalgia but by mass aversion.... Central to the transfiguration of the immigrant into a nostalgic image to shore up core national culture and allay white fears of minoritization is something that cannot speak its name, though its signature is everywhere: national heterosexuality," (pg. 549). They proceed to recount the ways in which society is organized around sex and the family, citing ways in which heterosexual privilege is implicit in such things as joint banking, paying taxes, buying insurance, etc. giving an account of the processes by which heteronormativity operates by publicly mediating all that is deemed, in the minds of most Americans, private: intimacy and sex. "Intimate life is the endlessly cite elsewhere of political public discourse, a promised haven that distracts citizens from the unequal conditions of their political and economic lives, consoles them for the damaged humanity of mass society, and shames them for any divergence between their lives and the intimate sphere that is alleged to be simple personhood," (pg. 553). Of this phenomena, the authors say, "Indeed, one of the unforeseen paradoxes of national-capitalist privatization has been that citizens have been led through heterosexual culture to identify both themselves and their politics with privacy," (pg. 553-554).

Although that was a short summary of the first part of the article, I believe it is rife with material from which to derive questions. As I was reading this article, I was struck by what I took to be a rather euro-centric analysis of heteronormativity. I do not believe that non-whites enter into this picture of national heterosexuality quite the way the authors construct it. Certainly, all cultural, political, and legal texts mentioned by the authors (joint checking, mortgages, insurence, etc.) that are so ordinary to the "heterosexual [white] couple" are not so ordinary and unproblematic to non-white heterosexual couples. The cost of living for non-whites is much higher, and heterosexual nuclear non-white families are not necessarily supported by the state. Stereotypes associated with how non-white families function (the strong black mother, the absent black father, or an entire extended Hispanic family living together under one roof) certainly place them outside of the "usual" heteronormative model. When dealing with legal and state services that provide aid to families and work to normalize the family, non-whites are disproportionately expected to be more responsible for themselves and are often denied aid because of punitive judgments made by social workers. This would certainly seem to force heterosexual intimacy under the scrutiny and scorn of the public sphere (a bit like homosexuality), afterwards thrusting it harshly back into the private realm of personal responsibility, where it is subject to the putative whims of police and other public officials to keep in check. For all of the authors talk about the proliferation of public discourse that mediates the constant failures of heteronormativity to deliver its promised bliss, there seems to be a different dynamic in play when a black couple show up on Maury's stage that doesn't exist with even what could be designated as a white-trash couple. I believe the state has a lot of interest in seeing non-white heterosexuals fail to live up to the example of their white counterparts. Looking at "The New Face of America," and thinking about the forced sterilization of non-white women and so forth, I cannot imagine that the message is really for whites to reproduce with non-whites, or that the image of national heterosexuality is all there is going on here. Perhaps it is only specifically a white national heterosexuality, because I see a genocidal image, in which the white has conquered the non-white, where white heterosexuality beat out the rest. I also do not think that symbolic femininity has nothing to do with this image as symbolic [white] femininity has long been used as a racist battle cry.

As far as youth are concerned, I am still thinking of Michael Warner's introduction, Fear of a Queer Planet, in which his seemingly sincere but only sentence long allusion to youth was quickly thrown aside. I am quite surprised that youth didn't really come up at all in an article about heteronormativity and with so much discussion of reprosexuality. After all, sex isn't an "adults only" subject. I can only say here that heteronormativity's concern with bringing up children to reach prescribed ends of "maturation" can be done taking something that is obviously queer and simply saying that it is not. If the sense of "rightness" is what heteronormativity is, childhood and childrearing certainly present excellent opportunities for dislodging that feeling and replacing it with a mixture of nausea and uncertainty (the bemoaning of parents and child care workers, "Did I do the right thing?"). Of course, they never do the right thing, because, try as we might to make our little girls play with pink castles, they may grow up to be a butch lesbian or a tranny. In a certain way, even though children are laden with tremendous heteronormative stress they inherit from the adult world, heteronormativity, remains for childhood, unintelligible.

Queer This: "Wife Swap" TV Show

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I was flipping through the channels recently and saw an ad for the show Wife Swap (I believe it's an ABC network show, but I saw the ad on Lifetime). This raises a lot of issues in my opinion and I think it is good material and an easy target for queering. For instance, this show completely ascribes to the heterosexual matrix in the sense that it is assuming the status quo of the viewing families as being heterosexual wife-husband scenarios. Also, why is this emphasis on the term "wife", why not partner or another term that doesn't connote marriage as a prerequisite? Also after watching only a small part of an episode, you'll immediately notice the really specific gender roles shown- the "swapped" wives have to stay at the other's house for two weeks, living with that family and husband, and acting out the normal role of the original wife. It is all daily chores, cooking & cleaning, etc. I also find it frustrating that the Lifetime network aired this, you'd think they would be more sensitive to gender-role-enforcing stereotypes.

Finally, the weirdest thing to me about the show is the obvious allusion to swinging in the title! In fact, when I searched for the show on google so I could link to it, a whole lot of swinging websites came up. Is there a hidden meaning within the show..?

Queer This: Lady Gaga's Paparazzi

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Yesterday in class, I mentioned this Lady Gaga video. Is this video an example of excessive, parodic resistance? What does that mean? Or, is it purely a spectacle that faithfully repeats (and is easily co-opted by) dominant ideologies? How do non-normative bodies and sexualities get (hyperbolically) represented in this video? [Note: This is the extended version of the video. The "actual" music video starts at 3 minutes in.

Queering The Realms of the Unreal

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dargerpic2.jpg I used to be obsessed with these drawings. But the mystery of Henry Darger is even more peculiar, more haunting, than these little pictures. What has always fascinated me about them is the sheer volume of this collection, which consists of a 15,000 page novel about the tragedies of the Vivian Girls. You'll notice that, in the drawings, the girls are sexually ambiguous -- they're either hermaphrodites, girls with penises, or the naive invention of a man whose biological education never extended beyond the knowledge of his own body. Many art analysts do believe the latter. There is much speculation that the anatomy of the Vivian Girls is a result of naivete, rather than perversion, creativity or fantasy. Others, of course, thought he was perhaps a latent pedophile, or something else along those lines. I've read only a handful of pages from the epic Darger titled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, and they truly are enigmatic, I know of nothing like them. The writing is not very good, either. Not engaging or as interesting as the artist's own life story might suggest. But it's what he lived for -- the Vivian Girls were his only friends, only family, only life. Nothing was simple in Henry's world. These many thousands of drawings range from pastoral images of little girls in yellow dresses, dancing around in a garden of butterflies, where everything is sensation, to being crucified by the dozen. Henry cast himself as their protector and Lord. To call him a recluse would be a sad understatement. No one knew he was an artist until his apartment had to be cleaned out by his landlords -- what it must have looked like in that little room; full of these eery little girls, landscapes of watercolor paintings depicting loneliness and fear. What would Judith Butler say about Henry Darger and the Vivian Girls? What do we think of the drawings in relation to abjection?

queer this: The Horror of the Hymen

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I shudder as I post this link to an article by a man who purchased... a hymen. When I came across this article I immediately thought of it in relation to our discussion of Halloween: Young women whose hymens are not safely in tact by the end of the movie, die. Girl with untouched hymen, lives. So are the stakes in many countries of the world. (Even some families or tight religious circles in the United States -- like those people who are into these highly incestuous rituals, performed under the presumed notion that "religion" negates perversion, wherein a daughter signs over her hymen to her father until he says when and to whom she can give it away.) But now, apparently, it's no big deal -- because you can just buy a new one when the old one breaks. (Actually, new advances in plastic surgery can recreate the "real thing" -- but this one's only $15, and you can buy it discretely, online.) I do actually think that this article exaggerates the absurdity of hymen-obsession in a way that could, hopefully, be productive. It raises the question of Why there is such an astronomical, life-threatening emphasis on something that can be bought the same way I regularly buy DVDs.

Queer This: Halloween

I hope you enjoyed watching/discussing Halloween yesterday. In case you lost it or weren't in class, here is the handout about the movie and the article.

john_carpenters_halloween1.jpgSo, how can we look at this film (and maybe this poster too) queerly? What issues does it raise for queering theory: the abject, gender performativity, heterosexual matrix of intelligibility, heteronormativity?

Queer This #2

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I found another video on youtube.com that's ripe for queering. You can watch it at the address below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SXNAtwYMBw

In this video, which is from a Belgian comedy, shii is a wii for women. They can play games about ironing, cooking, cleaning, and (get this) sucking cock!

This video begs investigation. First of all, this is a case in which inanimate objects are gendered in order to inspire the correct gender expression in the correctly sexed body, according to the heterosexual matrix (boys can't play with pink castles and girls can't play with guns). But more than that (I was struck again by this lens of analysis after reading the Carol Clover) it presents remains of the one-sex model (are they really remains, or is the one-sex model more alive and well than we think?). Yes, the shii is pink, but that, in the end, is not really what sets it apart from the wii. What sets it apart and makes men unable to play it is its content. What women are supposedly occupied with (cooking cleaning, and performing fellatio) dictates their gender in this video more than their genitalia does. So to does their desire to be sexually active with men (presumed in this video by the oral sex game) and their non-desire to play the games that men play on the wii.

Queer This! #1

I thought I would just type "queer" into the search bar on youtube.com and see what popped up. I found this video on youtube.com. It's from Queer Youth TV. These people shoot short documentaries showing different "aspects of queer life." This is part 1. You can watch this video at the address below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHrLEHLK1lQ

There are a few things that caught me about this video. One, queer is not specifically defined. The only places where it comes up is when the host at the beginning is comparing cultural material that "queer kids" want to mainstream gay magazines or icons, and again when the musician being interviewed talks about writing for a "queer" audience. There's also a part at the beginning where the host is showering with his clothes on while proceeding to make breakfast. What does it all mean?!

For me, this video is presents some problems. These people profess to represent and give lip-service to the vague audience of "queer youth," whom they say don't want their cultural consumption varnished with any "false pretenses." Hmmm. It seems to me that what is at issue here is the ambiguous usage of labels (not in itself a bad thing) and the non-examination of those labels. This is important especially as there seems to be a claim to authenticity these people are making. Also interesting about this video is the way "queer" seems to be a term sequestered on its own. Perhaps it's used in combination with other words or identities, but after this is done there is always a question as to whether someone is a queer something, a something that just happens to be queer, or..... what else?

Yay!

Feministing normally does a Friday "fuck you," so it's cool to to hear this positive news in this forum this week. It is interesting though that this fight even had to be taken up. You can legally change your name to charlie 2una, or snowflake, or whatever you want, but a transgendered person needed a doctors note. I'm happy to see this ridiculous, patronizing, and probably unconstitutional law go, but a little offended that it existed in the first place. I see it as a tactic that was used to exclude trans people from intelligibility. I would be interested to know where else these exclusionary laws are still operational.

Queer This!: "Chinky Eyes"

Queer This!
Woah, Miley Cyrus, it looks as though you are getting yourself into all sorts of trouble with feminists these days!
I found this short blog entry while searching for a photo of Margaret Cho performing a stand-up comedy routine to use in my Performativity blog.
The blog is based around a photo of Miley Cyrus (Hanna Montana) and six of her teenage friends, one of them being an Asian male and the rest white (or, what we can readily read as white).
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As you can see in the photo, the Asian male is looking straight at the camera, but Miley and the rest of the teens are pulling at their eyes or overtly squinting. WHY?! We don't know, there is no context about the photo given, but Margaret Cho has written a witty poem for Miley in response, called "Chinky Eyes":

margaretcho.jpgMiley Cyrus made some chinky eyes
Standing behind an Asian guy
I don't know if this should fly
As if there wasn't enough to despise

I wasn't necessarily a fan of
Her, her dad, or Hannah Montana
I tend to prefer the songs of Rihanna
Racism against Asians is simply bananas!

Oh Miley!
Chinky eyes make you look wily
prejudice isn't thought of so highly
it doesn't make us all smiley

Why is there nothing that Asians can do?
To make fun of other races as easily as you
Why isn't racism against Asians taboo?
Why are we always so racially screwed!

All you have to do is pull at your face
To make your eyelids resemble our race
This kind of joke has no proper place
Miley Cyrus is a disgrace!

-Margaret Cho

Cho's ballad highlights the ways that whiteness is so invisible and unmarked by the fact that a group of white people can easily perform Asian-ness, can 'become' Asian by pulling at their eyes. This is an overt performance of Miley's (and her friends') covert investment in white privilege.

The Daily Show: Rape-Nuts

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-october-14-2009/rape-nuts

Granted the clips played on the daily show were selected and there may be other valid and more serious points raised by the republicans who voted against this bill that we just did not see, I have my doubts. I did not find a transcript of those who spoke against it but I find it to be appauling none the less

Queer This: "Shakira Rests Hips to Study"

I stumbled upon this article earlier, and this article that it seemed to stem from, on the apparent blasphemy some people felt toward the end of the summer of 2007 when they found out that Shakira took a class over the summer at UCLA without being recognized.

I think this fits in somewhat well with our current discussions of gender performance (correct me if I'm wrong) and just thought it was really simply interesting. Some of my favorite parts are:

--From the Yahoo! article:
"I used to wear a cap and a big backpack," Shakira explained. "I looked like a boy. I didn't get recognized."

This is interesting--it takes just these two tiny, tiny (albeit extremely ambiguous and hardly tipping to the "masculine" side) gender cues for an entire class (at UCLA, mind you, where I know from living near the area that people are experts at spotting celebrities) to (1) not recognize Shakira at all and (2) apparently mistake her for a boy?! Somebody should have told me that wearing a cap and backpack were the keys to masculinity a long time ago!
Anyway, on serious notes, I wonder what this suggests about the interchangeability of female sex-symbol celebrities? Do we really pay so little attention to the details of how they look that it takes just a cap and backpack to fool us? Would the same have happened if Johnny Depp took that class with just a cap and backpack (or a skirt and purse, for that matter)? There are so many more questions I could ask about just this part, but I'll let your minds do the work.

--"I was really impressed with how intelligent she was," [Cleve] said.
What else does this suggest--do we have lower standards of intelligence for female entertainers known to use their body as a draw to their performance? This is probably a rhetorical question, but with how easily this blatant statement made it into the article, it's worth discussing. Again, would we expect to hear the same sentiment if it was Brad Pitt taking the class? (You all saw his body in Fight Club. I know you did.)

--The title of the Huffington Post article is great, as well: "Shakira Rests Hips to Study at UCLA."
You can't practice being smart and sexy at the same time. They are mutually exclusive, right?

A favorite comment posted on the Yahoo! article:
--"Yeah she really accomplished alot, "Shakira did not attend the last few classes," What a crock of BS, she must have been real enthralled."
Higher standards, much? I hear fellow college students laughing about skipping classes all the time--but SHAME ON HER, she's a pop star. And a woman--she should be thankful she has the opportunity to learn stuff!

Finally, read through some of the comments on the Yahoo! article--how many just say "she hot" or "shakira is soooooooo cute!!!!!! im in love!!!!" or "round and jiggly"? What does this say both about this whole "fiasco" and gender expectations in general?

I realize a lot of these are probably rhetorical questions for most of us, but I also think it's deserving of a good analysis.

Sources:
Johnson, B. Jr.. (2009, October 19). Shakira changed name and wore disguise for UCLA class. Retrieved October 21, 2009, from Yahoo! website: http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/stopthepresses/91703/shakira-changed-name-and-wore-disguise-for-ucla-class/

Huffington Post. (2007, September 14). Shakira rests hips to study at UCLA. Retrieved October 21, 2009, from Huffington Post website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20070914/people-shakira/

What is Andy the Android telling us?

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New German Sex Dolls Go SciFi, Scary
I almost hesitated posting this but I think it might be OK and interesting to see what people think. This is an article from Jezebel discussing a company called "First Androids" and their newest doll created as a sex toy.

Quote: "A German company called First Androids [NSFW] has created a sex doll that breathes and has a pulse. It's just like a real woman, only with no brain or corresponding ability to reject douchebags."

The article is really interesting and slightly humorous (especially the last two paragraph's) and makes some good points, so check it out, see what you think.

I would love to try to say more about it but I'm not sure I could articulate my thoughts as well as I would want to. There are many different angles from which to look at this article, however, based on our recent readings and class discussions: Where does this fit in? As Sara would say 'How do we Queer This?'

Glamdalism

I know I already brought this up in class already, but I want to to share this article about Bash back's most recent public protest of the HRCs assimilationist tactics for gay rights. The vandalized the Human Rights Campaign's office in D.C. before the big National Equality March which focused on issues like gay marriage with glitter bombs. The only decent writing in the piece is part of Bash Backs statement quoted within:
Just like society today, the HRC is run by a few wealthy elites who are in bed with corporate sponsors who proliferate militarism, heteronormativity, and capitalist exploitation. The sweatshops (Nike), war crimes (Lockheed Martin), assaults on working class people (Bank of America, Deloitte, Chase Bank, Citi Group, Wachovia Bank) and patriarchy (American Apparel) caused by their sponsors is a hypocrisy for an organization with "human rights" in their name.
I couldn't really articulate it better myself. Who ever said that class war isn't pretty?I am so inspired by the idea of glamdalism, and the radical potential for glitter to queer public space. The article itself is problematic and a bit patronizing, as the author refers to the bash bakers as "kids." Check it out, what do you think?

Today in class we will be looking at an advertisement for a Kohler sink:

img-holthusenBridesmaids-large.jpg

The ad copy says: "Chill, ladies. Take a cue from our entertainment sink that chills champaigne."

How is gender working in this advertisement from Bon Appetit? What sorts of ideologies (in terms of sex/gender/desire, race, class, capitalism) are being represented in it? How is gender performed here--practices, gestures, acts, signifiers? From the perspective of Butler (and the passages above), queer this image.

Coming out in Middle School

27cover-395.jpgComing Out In Middle School is the cover story for this week's New York Times Magazine. Much of the article is relevant for our class and is worthy of a queering, but this passage particularly struck me--especially after our discussion last Tuesday.

All of this fluidity, confusion and experimentation can be understandably disorienting for parents and educators. Is an eighth grader who says he's gay just experimenting? Could he change his mind in a week, as 13-year-olds routinely do with other identities -- skater, prep, goth, jock -- they try on for a while and then shed for another? And if sexuality is so fluid, should he really box himself in with a gay identity? Many parents told me they especially struggled with that last question (6).

What do you think? How would you engage in a queering of this issue, particularly the last question? What sorts of issues are raised when we think about this passage from a queer perspective?

Something of Interest

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I'm putting this under Queer This! because I'm not sure where else it belongs. Maybe I'm wrong or confused but I am thinking the Queer This! is like an OH Bother! or WTF! entry but this is not that. Rather just something I found interesting and somewhat applicable to the class.
A girlfriend of mine who works for a public relations and advocacy agency in New York called Represent had sent me a link to her company's blog so I could check out some work she's been doing and when I clicked on the tag word "Gender" this blog about a new film called "Straightlaced" was there.
So check it out. Just thought it was interesting and I welcome any comments on it, maybe someone has already seen it or heard of it.
Additionally, the film is by a non-profit called Groundspark and I also went to there site and watched the trailer for another film called "It's Elementary" that I found interesting as well.
See what ya think. I am personally intrigued and wish there was greater access to films like these.

"It's not misogyny if you hate EVERYONE"

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This "Queer This!" post definitely does follow in the footsteps of the Oh Bother posts, in that I am both not surprised but utterly speechless at this. I remember Tucker Max as an online sensation from several years ago, but never imagined he was still relevant (and don't think he is). I saw this poster advertising the movie on the St. Paul campus at work today:
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Though these undertones were always present in his "stories," it's apparent the only effort he can be bothered to make to try and get some spotlight back is to have promotional material for his material as follows:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudiusmedia/sets/72157612343952277/

I encourage you to look through the entire photo album, but in case you can't be bothered, here's a taste of what I'm talking about--yes, it gets MUCH better than the photo posted above.
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you go girl!

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I want to comment more but wanted to get it up for everyone to see!


Trans Women Athletes

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Check out this great post about trans women athletes and the "rules" for when and how they can participate in sporting competitions. How do these rules shape what is supposed to count as a "real" woman's body? How do a range of different institutions participate in this enforcing of the "real" and the "copy"? What insight might a queer analysis offer to these issues?

Note: Every week unusualmusic offers a list of helpful links on a different subject (kind of like an informal annotated bibliography for links), with this week's edition being about trans women athletes. Their format might be helpful (with a few tweaks, of course) as you think about your 3 required annotated bibliography posts.

Now, Queer This!

Pre-Pubescent Kids: Queer This?

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If little kids undergoing sex/gender changes isn't a topic that poses questions about queering, I don't know what is.

The topic is gaining momentum faster than many people can bear to handle, and so they either completely fumble around the issue or choose to say nothing at all. After all, when you look outside of the liberal urban/UMN bubble we live in, it's readily apparent that we're not even close to the tipping point of adult trans issues being looked at with a respectable eye. The few times they are, most people in the conversation are either overcome with a fear of saying anything not 500% PC, or the need to be so radical that they fail to acknowledge the limitations of real life, thus thwarting many of the efforts that manage to be made (or, at least, that's how I see it). All of this gets magnified to an incomprehensible level when you're talking about kids.

This isn't necessarily something that angers me to the point of saying "Oh f---" like Sara's format, but the discussions often frustrate me to the point that I can't begin to bother a lot of the timeThere's clearly a very tight rope that needs to be walked here, and there are (rightfully, given the dynamic nature of childhood) many more restrictions on how things work with gender-variant children.

--How can we overcome both polar opposites of this argument (i.e. "let EVERYONE do what they want as long as they're happy!" vs. "little kids need to be told who they are, not decide it on their own!")?
--If your child is showing unhappiness in their assigned gender, how do you allow them to explore/express themselves while still protecting them from social dangers AND being a good, realistic, and authoritative parent?
--Given what the (very limited) research tells us about the success (or lack thereof) of children who transitioned, what standards should be created/modified in order to handle this issue effectively?
--What issues regarding gender-variance in children could potentially be handled simply with less BLUE/PINK culture surrounding raising children?

(P.S. The links are in the text!)

Queer This #1: Queering is all about style

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Just a short entry relevant to today's readings:

On the topic of Queer Nation /Bash Back, I thought it might interesting to see that Details magazine (at http://men.style.com) recently ran an article called "Meet the Fearsome Gay Gangsters of Bash Back!"

There should be plenty of discussion fodder for the picking here.

Queer This!

Yesterday in class, it was suggested that we use my "oh bother" concept (from my trouble blog--see here) on our blog. Instead of calling it, oh bother, I thought we might title it, "Queer This!". What do you think? I thought we could post images, news items or anything else that you feel speaks to issues related to queering theory and/or our readings and class discussion. It could also include anything that you believe especially deserves a queer analysis.

Here is my first entry. This image/news item comes from the feminist pop culture blog, Jezebel via a grad student in the GWSS department. For more on the image, see the story and other links in the jezebel post. Now, Queer This!



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