Ahmed Chapter 3 and Hegemonic Happiness

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StRAigTnEss+Happiness= THE GOOD LIFE

Queer happiness=inevitable unhappiness

Just Happiness:
"There is no doubt that the affective repertoire of happiness gives us images of a certain kind of life, a life that has certain things and does certain things" (90).

"The bliss in domestic bliss takes us somewhere, for sure" (90).

Heterosexual love becomes about the possibility of a happy ending; about what life is aimed toward, as being what gives life direction or purpose, or what drives a story" (90).

The institution of marriage: the idea that you cannot have LOVE, COMMITMENT, or a FAMILY without marriage.

*There must be this internal conflict in maintaining a self image that is congruent with heterosexual stereotypes.
*A psychological distance from their thoughts, feelings, and interests that are ALL viewed as incompatible with social scripts.
*Marriage as a compulsory act, which is both normal and necessary.
*This "otherness" then of not conforming to these gender and/or social scripts is a constant reminder of ambivalence, failed goals, conflict, and misunderstandings.
These scripts are what perpetuate the unhappy queer or the inability for "others" to ever be happy. Like the It Gets Better Campaign they strive for coupledom, family, "normalcy", and the ability to blend.

"To deviate is always to risk a world even if you don't always lose the world you risk" (91).

I'm happy if you are......."If my happiness is dependent upon your happiness, then you have the power to determine my happiness" (91).

But I Juuuuuust....
"...as if wanting happiness is not to want other things that might demand more from the child...as if to say: 'I don't want you to be this, or to do that...you want the child to have happiness by not giving up on these things." (92-93). my ahmed notes.jpg

The "things" mentioned here are a reference to heterosexual things. If you don't choose/succeed in these "things" you will never be happy.


I typed in happiness in Google search to see what images came up. I found the following and it reminded me of the artist Kara Walker and her use of black and white silhouettes. Walker's violently and sexually charged images forces the viewer to draw on culturally adjusted standards including racism and sexism. Walker's picture of only silhouettes shows structures of class, race, age, deviancy, reproduction, etc. The "happiness" picture clearly depicts white children who are fortunate enough to enjoy a beach vacation. I think Walker's work is perfect way to correlate what is considered happy. By using a heteronormative lens what is happy, who looks happy, who acts happy, can all be decided at a quick glance.

success happiness.jpg

Thumbnail image for kara walker between the thighs.jpg


1 Comment

I really like how you included the picture of your text here. As I have mentioned before, I am always interested in the logistics/physical traces of our reading practices.

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