Day Fifteen: November 2

Last week we had a very productive discussion about queer/ing children. The diablog group did an excellent job of setting us up for a close reading of Kincaid's "Producing Erotic Children" on Thursday and I experimented with live-tweeting. In our discussions, we focused a lot of attention on the Child (as an image, as metaphor, as blank slate on which our stories of innocence, nostalgia, protection and purity are crafted and expressed). This week we will focus more of our attention on the impact of these (gendered/sexed/raced) stories on actual children. We will look closely at the "It Gets Better" Project; the various "stories" being circulated concerning children/youth (should we continue pushing at the distinctions between child, youth, adolescent, teenager, etc here?), bullying and suicide; and the consequences of these stories for children/us/our activist strategies for fighting oppression. 

Revised Reading Schedule for the next two weeks:

9/11     NO FUTURE? 

  • "The Anti-Social Thesis in Queer Theory"
  • Selections from Jose Esteban Munoz: 
  1. from Cruising Utopia. "Introduction" (OPTIONAL) and "After Jack" (REQUIRED)
  2. about Cruising Utopia. Social Text: Periscope: Cruising Utopia (READ ALL 4 ENTRIES)
  3. from Disidentifications. "Introduction" (for DIABLOG DISCUSSION)

Interrogating Complicities: Postcolonial, Queer, and the Threat Of the Nonnormative
Monday, November 15- Tuesday, November 16

*Note: We will have class on Thursday. Please attend as many panels as you can on Tuesday. The panel during Tuesday's class is "Plotting Resistance" 11:00-12:30, Nolte Center, Room 140.

Reading: (for DIABLOG discussion on Thursday)
Arondekar, Anjali. "Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial Archive"

Any Questions?

Reading Mash-up Assignment: Part of Reading Engagement Grade, due 11/15

  • At least 2 readings from class
  • 1 Queer This! 
  • Another Student's Direct Engagement 
  • Whatever else from our blog or other blogs that is relevant
Combine all of these to make an entry in which you critically reflect on the following question: What is queer/ing? You don't have to provide a definition of queer (although you can), just an engagement with the question and with your various sources. This entry is your opportunity to articulate your own vision and to offer it up to others to reflect on. Be creative and push yourself to engage deeply with our blog/readings. Good luck and have fun!

Oh, and in case you missed it, here's a recent entry that I posted on how to do links in comments.

Discussion: Halberstam, femmephane, questioning transphobia, Bernstein, Rowe

1. It gets better? Here are a few more links to add to the conversation: 

And an excerpt:

Some folks have criticized Savage's campaign, saying that we should not ask gay teens to stand by and accept their own bullying. I can understand that criticism, but at the same time, I can hear the message Savage is trying to convey. Adolescence is a strange, awkward period of time for most of us - we are in the process of discovering who we are, and we are still learning to navigate our peers and parents/guardians. We are starting to learn some of life's harshest lessons, and beginning the journey toward adulthood. For those of us who have left this phase in our development, we can say that it does get better. It isn't guaranteed to do so, but most adults have one thing teens lack: control over their lives. At some point, the decisions you make become those youdetermine. And that kind of control and autonomy does make a world of difference.

Also, check LaGaeta's (Tavia Nyong'o's) entry about this issue on bullybloggers: School Daze. Here's an excerpt:

As an adult I admit to finding news of teenage suicide heartbreaking. But I am young enough to remember a time when I confess to finding the phrase "teenage suicide" hilarious, reeking as it did of concern. That is, of the condescending, sentimental and moralistic attitude parents, teachers and adults take to the aggravations and ambiguities of being an adolescent, which you kind of have to survive in spite of their help. Heathers (1989) was my generational call-to-arms against both high school bullying and the inept adult response that halfheartedly steps in to confront it, only to see, reflected back, a less compromising mirror of its own determined hostility to queers, youth, and other marginal types.

I'm not sure my 13 or 14 or even 18-year-old self would have been able to identify with Savage or his hubby. And my 35-year-old self isn't so optimistic that it does just "get better." Another member of this blog once criticized the LGBT obsession with saving gay youth as perpetuating the general American idolatry with youth over aging, and that is a valid point. It's not that there aren't vulnerable young people, but there are vulnerable people of all ages. Lots of folks, particularly the gender nonconforming and/or trans, never "grow out" of the kinds of social reprisals for being physically different the hubbies talk about. Lots of people's families of origin never accept them, or are too damaged and fucked up for anyone to want to go back to, even if they could. And then there is that little issue of aging. Who'll spare a thought for the old queen?

Anyone interested in using our blog as a space for crafting (a) thoughtful responses to "It Gets Better" (specifically) or bullying and suicide?

2. Initially I was planning to offer up a little blurb about how/why I decided to put these various readings into conversation with each other. Instead of doing that, I want to ask you all: 

  • What connections do you see between these readings? 
  • What themes emerge?
  • How do these readings fit/don't fit together?
  • What do these readings say about the topic of queer/ing children? Anything important that's missing?
3. On page 199, Halberstam write: 

They [Hyde, Rosenberg, and Behrmann] believe that tomboyism should be viewed as "a normal, active part of female development." The unfortunate effect of the normalization of the tomboy role in this study is...good and bad models of tomboy identification are produced in which good tomboyism corresponds to heterosexual female development and bad tomboyism corresponds to homo- or transsexual development. 

What is normal? (How) do normal and normalization differ? What are norms? Does normal = normalization = norms? If not, how do these terms fit together? What do they mean in the context of Halberstam's passage? What about in the context of the youtube clips below?

4. Two more examples of gender policing and its consequences to add in:

Example One: Video Clip from Judith Butler: Philosopher Encounters of a Close Kind:

Example Two
: All the Single Ladies Fail


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