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Ahmed Unhappy Queers Summary


For our group discussion in class we chose to divide the class into two groups. One of the two groups were to discuss happiness in Ahmed's Unhappy Queers and the other to discuss unhappiness. In referencing back to our discussion the week before Sara had mentioned the difficulty in doing group work and the distraction of working beside one another. I found it really interesting that both groups were busy talking about their set topics, but the group that was discussing happiness was not laughing nearly as much as the group discussing unhappiness. Maybe this shows the queer space of this class and the queer people who are a part of it??? In this space it brings up an important part of the chapter that was discussed in both groups, which is the ability to breathe or have the space to breathe. There is this idea of being able to live/breath in a certain way. A predetermined way to "breathe right".........Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for breathe-right.png

This script to breathe is prescribed in a similar way in which happiness is defined. "Having a space to breathe, or being able to breathe freely,... is an aspiration. With breath comes imagination. With breath comes possibility" (120). breathe-you-are-alive.jpg
This right/ability to breathe for queers is yet to be obtained much like the idea of happiness. Happiness and space to breathe must be acquired in a certain way, usually a heterosexual way. When queers don't follow these scripts they must become unhappy.......Queer happiness=inevitable UNhappiness! "It is because the world is unhappy with queer love that queers become unhappy, because queer love is an unhappiness-cause for the others whom they love, who share their place of residence" (98). Heterosexual happiness via coupledom, marriage, children, whiteness,class, domesticity is thus forced upon queer lives in order to achieve any sort of happiness..."Happiness for some involves persecution for others: it is not simply that this happiness produces a social wrong; it might even depend on it. The unhappiness of the deviant performs a claim for justice" (96). This right to prove and define happiness is not only saying that I am happy and you clearly are NOT and NEVER will be, but it is also a way to impose all heteronormative standards of happiness and social scripts. It perpetuates the idea that the only way an individual and their family will ever be happy is if they follow these scripts exactly.


I think the day of leading the class went really well.
Breaking up into two groups was probably one of the best decisions, if mainly because it's easier to address a group that's smaller and more focused than a large one. It's also more comfortable, I think, for people to talk in a smaller, closer knit group, than a larger one.
The happiness group kind of focused on Ahmed's ideas of happiness, her argument for what is happiness and how it's possibly a duty, and then our conversation kind of turned into how symbols in our society kind of are determined to be the causes of happiness. For example, we talked about marriage and how there's a lot of heteronormativity in that institution and what it means that queers can't get married. We also talked about the image of the family a lot and how that can be made into a heteronormative situation and how it can also be queered. One person brought up the fact that, although he's gay, one of his goals in life is to raise kids with his partner, and how that, to him, would be happiness, even though there isn't necessarily a woman involved in the raising of the children.
We also discussed the clips a little bit and how children are almost always looked upon as an image of happiness. Their innocence is generally construed into a happiness ideal and people talk about how sometimes they wish they were little again so they could be happy.
When we came together to talk in a bigger group we discussed what the pros and cons were of Ahmed using a lot of pop culture references to get her ideas and theories across to her audience. I thought that her use of examples was really helpful in picturing some of the ideas and applying them to my everyday, but others thought that it was maybe a little bit too laid out. The concepts Ahmed discussed in her book weren't that incredibly complicated or too complex to easily understand so maybe the using as many examples as she did was unnecessary. I do think that it's a good idea though and I think that having more examples to apply the theories in other readings to would've been helpful in understanding them, especially some of Butler's theories.

Chapter 3: Unhappy Queers Diablog

"To arrive into the world is to inherit the world that you arrive into. The family us a point of inheritance, shaping what is proximate to the child (see Ahmed 2006). The queer child fails to inherit the family by reproducing its line. This failure is affective; you become an unhappiness cause."

When a son or daughter comes out to a parent it is not unusual for the response to be "We love you anyway." The "anyway" here is a paradox.

"It is always paradoxical to say that something does not matter; if you have to say something does not matter, it usually implies that it does."

What is stated is "We love you anyway" but what is heard is "I'd rather this wasn't the case because this will stand in the way of not only my happiness because it is not really what I planned for you but will also but will also stand in the way of your happiness because it does not conform to societal ideals of happiness. However, if you insist on making things more difficult for yourself then I suppose that's all right. "

"The father is unhappy as he thinks the daughter will be unhappy if she is queer. The daughter is unhappy as the father is unhappy with her being queer. The father witnesses the daughter's unhappiness as a sign if the truth of his position: that she will be unhappy because she is queer."

Let's take the statement: I am happy if you are. Such a statement can be attributed, as a way of sharing an evaluation of an object. I could be saying I am happy about something if you are happy about something. The statement, though, does not require an object to mediate between the "I" and the "you"; the "you" can be the object, can be what my happiness is dependent upon. I will only be happy if you are. To say I will be happy only if you are happy means that I will be unhappy if you are unhappy. Your unhappiness would make me unhappy. Given this, you might be obliged to conceal your unhappiness to preserve my happiness: You must be happy for me.

If love is to desire the happiness of another, then the happiness of the subject who loves might depend upon the happiness of the other who is loved. As such, love can also be experienced as the possibility that the beloved can take your happiness away from you. This anxious happiness, you might say, forms the basis of an ambivalent sociality: in which we love those we love, but we might also hate those we love for making us love them, which is what makes us vulnerable to being affected by what happens to them: in other words, love extends our vulnerability beyond our own skin. Perhaps fellow-feeling is a form of social hope: we want to want happiness for those we love; we want our happy objects to amount to the same thing. Even if we feel guilty for wishing unhappiness upon our enemies, it is a less guilty wish than wishing unhappiness upon our friends. In other words, our presumed indifference toward the happiness of strangers might help us to sustain the fantasy that we always want the happiness of those we love, or that our love wants their happiness.

What about being unhappy? What does this mean? Does this mean queers need to be sad and wretched? The killjoy? Is unhappiness necessary? Can you be a happy queer? What does that mean? Does happiness come when you queer heteronormative standards? When you have a family? When you have children? Or does happiness come you deviate from any type of heteronormative expectations?

It is interesting to think of these questions and wonder what it means to be really happy or unhappy. Such ways of thinking help use to imagine living a life that is different from the "normal "ideals of happiness - whatever that may be. Freedom to be unhappy means freedom in itself. It would mean the freedom to cause unhappiness by acts of deviation.

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....
" if wanting happiness is not to want other things that might demand more from the if to say: 'I don't want you to be this, or to do 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


Diablog: If These Walls Could Talk 2

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In the book, Ahmed brings up the movie, If These Walls Could Talk 2, and I didn't really mention it in my last post, so I wanted to make another one.

I watched the first part of the movie, about the two older women and one dies in an accident. Edith, the one who lives, struggles with how to deal with her pain, especially because no one really understands how difficult it is for her to lose the woman she loves, Abby.
There is one part specifically that stand out as really portraying her sadness...

Edith is waiting for the verdict the doctor gives and she goes up to the desk to ask about what the doctor had to say and the nurse tells her that Abby died at 3 AM that morning. Edith asks why no one got her and the nurse just tells her that she's "sorry." The look in the actresses eyes combined with the silence seems, to me, to portray a deep sadness that maybe words just can't get across.
(towards the end of the clip)

[Sara's note: I embedded the youtube clip directly in your entry.]

Do you think silence may be the form of communication that displays the feeling of unhappiness most effectively?

Diablog: Ahmed

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I think possibly the best way for me to do this is to go through by scanning what I read and summarizing what I believe Ahmed is saying and then following with questions that I had when reading it.
So let's begin Chapter 3: Unhappy Queers.

Ahmed references the book, Spring Fire, and how the ending of the book (about two lesbians) had to have an unhappy ending or publishers wouldn't take it. Vin Packer resigned to this limitation but ironically, it turned out as a good thing. "The unhappy ending becomes a political gift: it provides a means through which queer fiction could be published." (88) Basically, the book served to satisfy everyone: the general populous because the ending was sad, and the queer community because there was finally a book about them.
This brings to mind Machiavelli and The Prince, which is a philosophical novel in which Machiavelli sends the message "the end justifies the means."
Do you think it's ok for Spring Fire to end badly just for the sake of having a book about queers? Or would it be better to not sacrifice the integrity of your novel the way you wrote it and simply not have it published?
It seems to almost go against what Judith Butler is saying about creating trouble- I feel like she would probably have sacrificed the book and left it unpublished than have sacrificed the conclusion of the book just to have it published.
Although it's true that "we are not obliged to 'believe' in the unhappy ending by taking it literally, as 'evidence' that lesbians and gays must turn straight, die, or go mad' it is a kind of statement, intentionally or not, that the first book about queers ends horribly.

However, the ending of the book led Ahmed into a discussion about the importance of acknowledging that society looks at queer life as difficult or hard or wrong depending on who you're talking to. She says, "Rather than reading unhappy endings as a sign of the withholding of moral approval for queer lives, we must consider how unhappiness circulates within and around this archive, and what it allows us to do." (89)
To me, what's she's saying is that it's crucial for us to see the unhappiness of queer life, but perhaps more importantly, the genesis of the unhappiness.
She goes into how we view happiness and how the statement, "I am happy if you are happy" does't necessarily mean what we think it does. The logic follows:
1. I am happy if you are happy.
2. I will only be happy if you are.
3. I will be unhappy if you are.
4. Your unhappiness would threaten my happiness.
5. You have a duty to be happy for me.
Do you think this is a legitimate argument?
Ahmed clarifies that not all speech can be read this way, but she does say that "we [should] note the swiftness of conversion between desire and duty; the very desire for the happiness of other can be the point at which others are bound to be happy for us." (92)
To further illustrate this point, Ahmed takes an excerpt from Annie on My Mind when the father is telling the daughter what he thinks her life will be like should she choose to embrace the fact that she is a lesbian.
"I've never thought gay people can be very happy-- no children for one thing, no real family life. Honey, you are probably going to be a damn good architect-- but I want you to be happy in other ways, too, as your mother is, to have a husband and children. I know you can do both. . . ." I am happy, I tried to tell him with my eyes. I'm happy with Annie; she and my work are all I'l ever need; she's happy, too-- we both were until this happened." (93)
Ahmed explains that what the daughter means by "until" which is "the moment that the father speaks his disapproval. . .The unhappy queer is here the queer who is judged to be unhappy: the judgment of unhappiness creates unhappiness." (93) The question the follows, for me, is "how much unhappiness is caused by the expectation of unhappiness?" Especially within a family unit, I think Ahmed may be inherently right in that your happiness depends on the happiness of everyone else within the unit not only because your tied by blood but also because you are in such close proximity with one another.

Later in the Chapter Ahmed talks about a different view of happiness and draws illustrations for the concepts from the book The Well of Loneliness. There's a scene in the novel where a group of people are collected in an are and Adolphe Blanc, a character who has been shunned from society along with the rest of the people in this group, talks to the two main characters, Stephen and Mary. Referencing the greater part of society, those who aren't queer, Adolphe says, "The are thoughtless, these happy people who sleep." (96) Ahmed says that this statement speaks "the truth of the novel: the happiness of the straight world is a form of injustice."
So is this true? Does the happiness of straights and the fact that it's an expectation that a straight person will be happy affect the happiness of queers? Is the argument "Straights will be happy, queers are not straight, and thus queers will not be happy" a valid one?
I think The Well of Loneliness attempts to argue that yes, it is valid. The end of the book is sad as Stephen gives Mary over to a man because she can never be happy with Mary because by doing that she will make Mary an outsider and deprive her of the happiness she might receive from other people by being with a man. Ahmed explains this as "Certain subjects might appear as sad or wretched, or might even become sad or wretched, because they are perceived as lacking what causes happiness, and as causing unhappiness in their lack."
The end of the book was clearly unhappy, but perhaps unhappy in a different sort of way. Mary ended up with a man at the end of the novel, but there was clearly unhappiness surrounding the arrangement and for Stephen there was absolutely nothing happy about giving up Mary. Stephen also proclaims hatred for those people who pretend to be straight and by doing so, never having to go through what she is going through now: "As for those who were ashamed to declare themselves, lying low for the sake of peaceful existence, she utterly despised such of them as had brains; they were traitors to themselves and their fellows she insisted."
This brings to mind the idea of "ignorance as bliss." Personally, I don't believe in that saying, but I think the concept should be brought up. What Adolphe said earlier in the novel about the happy people who sleep also feels like it's referencing the "ignorance is bliss" idea. 
It seems like straight people are grouped together as one collective source of discrimination. And this group doesn't really intentionally discriminate against queers, but instead chooses to ignore their existence altogether, which may be worse or not, but the result is that they don't need to acknowledge the fact that there are people who are different and because of that, they are outsiders who feel like they don't belong because the straight community makes them feel that way because they think the queers feel that way. (Follow that?) So, again, bliss belongs to the straight and the queers are left with unhappiness.
It's as if the world is empty to the queer community and is a constant backdrop for unhappiness, wretchedness and disappointment. In the movie, Lost and Delirious, there is a scene where one of the characters, Paulie, who is lesbian, kills herself- kind of. She and a bird who she had found and brought back to health fly away together. She jumps off the roof of a building and "Paulie becomes the bird, or the bird becomes Paulie, the open sky above the school signifying both the prmise of another world and the wrtched emptiness of the one they leave behind." (105)
All of these examples, Ahmed says, should help us to realize that it's important to embrace the "unhappy queer." "The unhappy queer is unhappy with the world that reads queers as unhappy. The risk of promoting the happy queer is that the unhappiness of this world could disappear from view. We use stay unhappy with this world."
She also says that "in being acceptable you must become acceptable to a world that has already decided what is acceptable," (105) meaning, I think, that through literature and other media the queer community can display to the straight community what it truly means to be queer and possible convey to them that it's really the straight community that causes queer unhappiness- not that queers are unhappy being queer.

Ahmed also talks about the actual idea of happiness and what it really means, and how being "happily queer" is not necessarily synonymous with being a "happy queer." In the book, Rubyfruit Jungle, on of the characters, Molly, has this refusal to be put back into place and loves the fact that she is a lesbian and she is perfectly happy to be a lesbian even if that means being made fun of and constantly being a source of unhappiness for those around her. She is essentially the exact opposite of Shirley Temple, who she brings up and uses her symbolic image negatively as opposed to positively as one would assume most everyone in our society today would have. Is it fair to use her image in this way? To make her out to be a spineless, typical girl, who conforms to every stereotype the straight world can create?
Later in the novel Molly, explains to the dean why she is lesbian: "I know it's not normal for people in this world to be happy, and I'm happy." (117)
What do you think Molly means by this? Ahmed explains that Molly has performed "the ultimate act of defiance by claiming her unhappiness as abnormal." (117)

Diablog Arondekar


In Anjali Arondekar's "Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial Archive" there is a large discussion at hand about colonial historiography and sexuality studies. Throughout the article Arondekar presents cases of many researcher and their findings of the loose history of homosexuality. The main message after reading this article seems to be that many people, be them professors, researcher, or everyday people, crave the need to make a connection with themselves and the past. However, in having such a great need to do so in a sense takes away from what we are now.

Within Arondekar's article there were many things that causes questions to come to mind. One question that was stated within the article that caused me a lot of thought was "What kind of history does sexuality have?" Personally, I don't know much about sexuality's history, even less when it comes to the history of homosexuality. Other then the pop culture references and the few random facts about homosexuality within the ancient Greek culture, there isn't much that I can go off of. I understand the need to want to know more, wanting to connect with the past, however, with the little that is at hand how can people go about knowing this history?

Another thing that caught my attention was Robert Aldrich's quote, "..colonial homosexuality did not proclaim itself openly". If colonial homosexuality was never proclaimed openly, how can we track queer history? Having this element of underhandedness doesn't allow the information to be easily available to people today, which in turn just brings me back to my previous question. Along with Aldrich's quote, another statement had me being drawn back to the same question. "Scholars in disciplines ranging from literature and anthropology (the more favored locations) to law and science have held up the colonial archive as a storehouse of historical information that can reveal secrets about sexuality's past". Overall this statement I would like to discuss, I feel like there's a lot there and I would like to hear others input.

The quote from Shah sticks in my mind as well, "We may trap ourselves in the need of a history to sanction our existence." The final quote that sticks with me from this article is "homosexuality remains both obvious and elusive".

The need to connect with the past is strong for most people, however, Arondekar makes strong arguments within this article to believe that that connection is not as necessary as to be presented.

DIABLOG: Anjali Arondekar

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In "Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial Archive", Anjai Arondekar critically examines the motivations behind the desire and pursuit to 'recover' archival materials as well as asserting the clear limitations of any perception being bound and rooted socio-historically. So that while we as humans are curious as to old records that create a past narrative to reveal and affirm what is possible now (or ever), we fail to recognize that this 'archive' of 'recovered' materials/stories is still so absolutely totally ridiculously incomplete (impossible...yeah?). To look to the past for glimpses to confirm identities/behaviors/thoughts in the present can be useful, yet Arondekar articulates quite well some of the important considerations and limitations of doing so.

Some poignant quotes and questions from Arondekar that resonated with me and would like to bring into discussion (though by no means comprehensive of Arondekar's entire article) are:

*Colonial archive defined "as the register of epistemic arrangements"..., using Foucault's observation that "the idea of the archive animates all knowledge formations and is the structure that makes meaning manifest" (10).

*Derrida's "Archive fever" (10).

*Quoting historian Carolyn Steedman," You think, in the delirium: it was their dust that I breathed in" (which Arondekar explains is a reminder that "the material deposits of the past (dust, in her case), whose affective reach exceeds all forms of theorizations" and are the "real drama in archive fever) (11).

*"The process of "queering" pasts has been realized through corrective reformulations of "suppressed" or misread colonial materials. These reformulations have intervened decisively in colonial historiography, not only decentering the idea of a coherent and desirable imperial archive but also forcing us to rethink colonial methodologies. Implicit in this rethinking, however, is the assumption that the archive, in all its multiple articulations, is still the source of knowledge about the colonial past. The inclusion of oral histories, ethnographic data, popular culture, and performances may have fractured traditional definitions of the archive (and for the better), but the teleos of knowledge production is still deemed approachable through what one finds, if only one can think of more capacious ways to look" (11).

*"Parameters of space, time, and knowledge" as highlighted by David Halperin making the case for the role of "a historicism that would acknowledge the alterity of the past as well as the irreducible cultural and historical particularities of the present" (12)

*"Archival turns still cohere around a temporally ordered seduction of access, which stretches from the evidentiary promise of the past into the narrative possibilities of the future" (12).

*"The intellectual challenge here is to juxtapose productively the archive's fiction-effects (the archive as a system of representation) alongside its truth-effects (the archive as material with "real" consequences), as both agonistic and co-constitutive" (12).

*"While shifts in critical modes have occurred, the additive model of subalternity still persists, where even as the impossibility of recovery is articulated the desire to add, to fill in the gaps with voices of other unvoiced "subalterns," remains" (14).

*"Epistemology of the Closet": "Relies upon the maintenance within the epistemological system of the hidden, secret term, keeping all binaries intact" (taken from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick 16)

*"We may trap ourselves in the need of a history to sanction our existence" (says Nayan Shah 16).

*"Rethinking of the narrative of progress" (17).

*"Such an archival turn, I would suggest, requires a theory of reading that moves away from the notion that discovering an object will somehow lead to a formulation of subjectivity- from the presumption that if one finds a body, one can recover a person" (21).

*"The traveler wandering from town to town forgot
the path to his house. What was mine, what was yours, both
of the self and of the other, lost, then, to memory."
-Miraji, Tin rang (26)

*"Sexuality studies is an accomplice in such archival mythmaking and must remain alert to its own methodological and analytical foibles. Not to do so would be to forgo the histories of colonization, to brush aside the possibilities and impossibilities accorded by the idea of an archive" (27).

This post is a lot longer than intended, but I think the above for me lays out some of the more important pieces of Arondekar's article and gives you all a sense of what I'm focusing on and taking from it. What do we think about our drive to recover the past? Have you thought about the limitations of being able to interpret/perceive/uncover 'new' archival material given we are always socio-historically situated? Can we talk more about "epistemologies of the closet" please, and what this has to do with the points Arondekar is raising?

Arondekar Diablog

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Arondekar's article Without A Trace seems to state that sexuality's historiography has turned to the colonial archive to find evidence about homosexuality in the Indian national archives. Furthermore, Arondekar states that "Holden rightly suggests, "find the latter part of the nineteenth century a period of radical historical discontinuity." The late nineteenth century is the period that marks the intensification of imperial domains, territorial redistributions, and the rise of nationalist movements." Arondekar also writes that the 19th century also the period when the relationship of sexuality to knowledge and power is articulated and differentiated by homosexuality emerging as a set of identifications.

When Arondekar writes "The new material on homosexuality does not purport simply to "correct" and/or reveal the truth about the history of sexuality in the colonial period. While there might be a certain evangelical flavor to some of the scholarship, most of the work indicates that the authors are keenly aware of the shifting parameters of space, time, and knowledge and of the role of the archive in such entanglements" I wonder if there are any other parameters to consider when dealing with archives. For example, could the archiver (person recording events/documents) also add some mystery or biased information in relation to the decade/time period?

Also, Arondekar writes that a scholar names Shah uses the "coming out materials of his contemporaries" to analyze and critically think about past archives."Shah advocates strategics of historical research that derive from a differentiated language of loss and discovery. Shah must rely on the coming-out materials of his contemporaries (classic models of the logic of the secret) to think critically about the archives of the past." While I think it's a wonderful idea to use contemporaries to try to analyze past archives I think it might be 100% efficient and accurate. Each period has a different way of doing things and a different way of thinking so trying to use something contemporary to analyze sexuality in colonial archives would be very difficult due to time, space, and knowledge parameters.

Summary of Munoz Diablog

Our group diablog discussed the reading from Jose Esteban Munoz's article, Disidentifications. Although we did struggle on trying to grasp the understanding of Munoz's focus of the article, as well as the terms that were used in it, posting questions and comments on the blog was very beneficial to our group. Knowing that we all had our own questions and struggles with the reading, only proved to be more helpful for us to pose good group questions for class discussion. One main element of the class discussion was focused on the definition of disidentification and how it was used in the article. This brought up very different viewpoints of what disidentification could be and eventually we discovered that it tied into the disruption of what is considered "normal" or "heteronormative" and thus allowed a space for rejection and or resistance of the dominant public sphere. We had a chance to discuss about the difference between stereotypes and identity which was not mainly focused on disidentifying one's self from the dominant culture but to be able to distinguish the significance of these roles. It is necessary to have this counterculture, which can be a positive aspect of working with the identities-in-difference. Another focus of our discussion was on interpellation and how failure is a part of this counterculture. Not all failures are viewed as negative but can be a way of creating a study of different discourses. The overall class discussion on Munoz's article proved to be quite difficult to expand upon due to the lack of a strong connection and understanding of what the reading was trying to convey. There were many important aspects of the article that it was a challenge to try to discuss it as a whole. Although our group had some confusion with the article, we felt that the discussion with the class was very helpful.

general response

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In regards to our in class discussion, I would like to address the idea of failure. I think what Munoz was getting at and what I stressed in class is that failure is in the eye of the beholder. If you are failing to conform to heteronormative society then you are not necessarily failing in a negative way. What I am taking away from this reading is that if you fail to conform and disidentify with stereotypes and the majority in general you form an identity that is all your own. Identities are defined and created through comparisons and relations. Without a heteronormative society to rebel against and resist queer counterculture would altogether not exist because there would be nothing "queer" about disidentifying. However disidentifying is not only applicable to homosexual populations. The act itself is done by straight people too in regards to disidentifying with stereotypes. What are everyone's thoughts on disidentifying in a straight population? How is disidentifying different when being done in various populations?

Sedgwick Diablog Wrap-Up/Summary

Our diablog group focussed on Eve Sedwick's article, "How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys" from Friday, 10/29 until we lead our in-class discussion the following Thursday, 11/4. Our diablog mainly took the form of an open thread posted to the class blog site. We also created a handout that we brought to class for students to use as reference during our discussion. After all members of the group posted their initial engagements with the article, we began interacting on the open thread through comments, responding to each other's entries and proposing further discussions on some of Sedgwick's key points.

@Jo began by encouraging @Davvy and @Nosecage to examine and share our experiences with effeminacy as children and the social pressure that coincided with our gender-nonconformity. Both of them were able to identify examples from their childhoods that supported Sedgwick's theories about the negative impacts of revisionist psychoanalysis. @Nosecage went as far as to say that he most certainly fits the criteria for gender identity disorder of childhood from the DSM-III. @Davvy outlined the ways in which he was teased by his peers and he also provided an example of the way in which gender-nonconformity is politicized in Malaysia.

Another important aspect of our discussion became defining and contextualizing a mother's involvement in the lives of effeminate boys. Sedgwick touches on this briefly but @Nosecage first brought it up in his initial engagement and @Jo included it in her response. Both @Davvy and @Nosecage discussed their own experiences being supported by their mother and @Davvy mentioned his relationship with his father as well. We continued to use parental influence as a point of critical analysis throughout our discussions.

We then moved to a relatively short discussion of the idea presented by Sedgwick in reference to Green of 'peer therapy.' @Jo initially decided that peer therapy (defined by the forces society uses to normalize its citizens) is not effective in the traditional sense of the purpose of therapy. @Nosecage brought up that while peer therapy does not prove to be a supportive force in the lives of proto-gay or gender-nonconforming kids, it is often successful in its goal of silencing their expressions of different (which is perhaps its true definition of success).

Overall, our diablog went really well and flowed very smoothly. This type of forum for group work is exceptionally conducive for busy students. It was so much easier to be able to engage in our readings solo and then engage with each other on our own time. There was no need to figure out meeting times outside of the classroom, which would have been a challenge for all of us. The open thread on the blog site was a fantastic way for each of us to engage with each other, which allowed for a richer and more in depth understanding of our reading.

Diablog: Munoz

GLBT article1.pdf
GLBT article2.pdf

This article starts by discussing the author's encounter with Marga Gomez's performance in 1992, "Marga Gomez is Pretty, Witty, and Gay". Munoz says, "Her performance permits the spectator, often a queer... to imagine a world where queer lives, politics, and possibilities are representable in their complexity." The author states how Marga's solo performance changed thought about disidentification theoretical concepts and figurations.

In this article: "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 the subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship."

Munoz's article discusses finding one's identity, or where they find themselves fitting within the norm. There are identities that we create that are socially structured; many people find themselves living by rules or in roles that affect their representation. Everyone can't fit within the norm, but can they survive if they differentiate themselves far away from the norm? It's also important to note that depending ones race, gender, and sexual preference, they may have a different perspective.

The article has to do with desire, identity, and how people perceive ideas/theory.

Diablog Week 5 : Munoz


The article introduces a performance called, Marga Gomez Is Pretty, Witty, and Gay, which connects to the author's focus on performing disidentifications. The meaning of disidentification in this article is a practice and or strategy in which a minority subject uses in order to negotiate a way to survive within or outside a dominant public sphere. Munoz used the performance as an example to indicate memory as a powerful disidentification because it was due to the lesbian stereotyping in the public sphere which interpellated her as a lesbian. Interpellation in this article was used in reference to Althusser's theory of ideology as an unavoidable realm for the subjects to be "hailed". Memory in this article is used as a way to create one's self through identification of certain aspects of characteristics that one recognizes. Throughout the article, there are numerous examples of cultural performers that create a space for one to negotiate between a fixed identity and the identity that is socially constructed through encoded roles. These encoded roles are then specified down to race, sexuality, gender, and labor which becomes a "point of collision of perspectives". This means that there is a point where all these roles influence the construction of hybrid representations. These representations thus leads into the "identities-in-difference" which are defined as the subjects that failed to interpellate within the dominant public sphere. In this article, the "identities-in-difference" are referred to people of color, queers, or just those that do not fit into the heteronormative society. Munoz's argument in this paper seems to be that the subject is not only influenced by the others but can exert change onto the other thus, by doing so creates a change within themselves. That one of the ways to create one's self, one has to properly identify these distinctions and not just only reject certain characteristics that does not align with their needs but it is a creation of multiple aspects of an identity. The performance of disidentification in this article is related to the desire, identification, and ideology of what the individual perceives.

Sedgwick Diablog Discussion Handout

DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual):
1973: dropped homosexuality from its list of mental disorders
1980: added 'gender identity disorder of childhood' as diagnosis
girls: believes "that she has, or will grow, a penis"
boys: "preoccupation wish female stereotypical activities as manifested by a preference for either cross-dressing or simulating female attire, or by a compelling desire to participate in the games and pastimes of girls."

Revisionist Psychoanalysis: a new approach to treating homosexuality in a therapeutic setting
Richard Friedman's 1988 Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytical Perspective
seeks to perpetuate gender binarism
promotes the seemingly ambivalent wish of therapists for a 'nongay outcome'
"...the healthy homosexual is one who (a) is already grown up and (b) acts masculine" (141)

What these institutions "demonstrate is the wish for the dignified treatment of already gay people is destined to turn into either trivializing apologetics or, much worse, a silkily camouflaged complicity in oppression--in the absence of a strong, explicit, erotically invested affirmation of some people's felt desire or need that there be gay people in the immediate world" (148)

Gender-nonconforming Children (especially effeminate boys):
"...seen as a pathology involving the core gender identity..." (142)
The role of the mother:
Richard Green's 1987 The "Sissy Boy Syndrome" and the Development of Homosexuality and Friedman: "mothers 'proud of their sons' nonviolent qualities' are manifesting unmistakable 'family pathology'" (144)
"...these mysterious skills of survival, filiation, and resistance could derive from a secure identification with the resource richness of a mother" (144)

Green "refers approvingly... to 'therapy, be it formal (delivered by a paid professionals) or informal (delivered by the peer group and the larger society via teasing and sex-role standards)'" (146)

Gender-nonconformity and sexual difference:
"...the depathologization of atypical sexual object choice can be yoked to the new pathologization of an atypical gender identification" (142)
"One serious problem with this way of distinguishing between gender and sexuality is that, while denaturalizing sexual object choice, it radically renaturalizes gender" (142-143).
"The reason effeminate boys turn out gay, according to [Friedman], is that other men don't validate them as masculine" (143)
"For Friedman, the increasingly flexibility in what... can be processed as masculine... fully account[s] for the fact that so many 'gender disturbed' (effeminate) little boys manage to grow up into 'healthy' (masculine) men, albeit after the phase where sexuality has differentiated as gay" (143)
For Friedman, "it seems merely an unfortunate... misunderstanding that for a proto-gay child to identify 'masculinely' might involve his identification with his own erasure" (144)

Diablog Week 5 Munoz


Diablog Week 5:
He starts off with a recount of a play called Malga Gomez is pretty, witty, and gay. It is how he describes "a meditation on the contemporary reality of being queer in North America. Being public as yourself when you are the minority assists in capturing social agency. Social agency here means forcing recognition as queer thus assuming identity as something different to be acknowledged but not necessarily accepted in society. The character in the play Gomez disidentifies herself with the mainstream lesbian as she discusses her first interaction with lesbians in public as an eleven year old. She does not want to be associated with "truck-driving closeted diesel dykes". She wants to be glamorous and not a pathetic spectacle. Malga Gomez is able to hear the "lesbian call" featured on the David Susskin Show without her mother's knowledge since she is in denial or maybe just does not notice. Disidentification is said here to mean not identifying yourself or claiming alliance to heteronormative definition or stereotypical lesbian or gay. It means recognizing the stereotypes and taking bits and pieces of that to be your own individual within the minority. Malga saw these lesbians on television with their wigs, wigs being something not stereotypically lesbian, and that made her want to be one.
While watching this portrayal done by Malga of her moment of disidentification, Munoz recalled his viewing of Truman Capote on the same television show as a kid. He understood a bitchy comment Capote made which he thought only "gays could hear". This childhood moment of disidentification was only resurrected and realized while watching Malga's performance of self. This to Munoz demonstrated the power and shame of queerness. He had buried that memory and had yet to recognize its significance. It did even exist until he saw Malga Gomez is pretty, witty and gay.
Disidentification is not always a good strategy of resistance or survival for all minority subjects. Sometimes direct resistance can be useful but for queers of color Munoz thinks that they must follow conformist paths to survive in this world.
People in minorities need to interface with different sub cultural fields to activate their own sense of self. This is also true for straight white people I believe. Munoz mentions that straight people do this as well but perhaps not to the extent that gays do. The disidentification performances discussed strive to envision and trigger new social relations. This means that by creating a spin-off identity of what is seen in visions of gay or lesbian, you can create your own existence. Identity is defined in this article as a struggle between what is known and how to relate to that disposition. Clearly, each stereotype or norm will not fit every individual. Understanding of self and socially constructed narratives of self should not be reduced to "lowest common denominator terms," as Munoz puts it. This means that there will not always be a perfect mold which to form yourself to that is known.
How do you view identity as straight person? What does your identity mean to you? How may this differ for someone of a minority? Have you ever disidentified with someone of your minority be it white, straight, gay, lesbian, etc?

Kincaid Diablog Summary


The Kincaid article proved to be a hot topic between our group and also in our class discussion. A lot happened throughout the course of the week, this entry will serve as a kind of "instant replay" or refresher course for those of you who missed out or just want to relive its glory :)

  • We begin our discussion asking why child molestation scandals are such a big deal in our society. This can be seen in the examples provided in Kincaid's article of Willy Nestler and also the cult-like following of the Michael Jackson Scandal. We posed the question... Why do you think that it is such a big deal to us? undisciplined Sara Puotinen

  • #qd2010 Why are molestation scandals such a big deal? What does Kincaid say--what do we think?

  • We then raised the question-- why do you think that women are held to the ideal standards of youthful beauty... what does this have to do with Kincaid's idea of the "erotic child." Does projecting women as childlike serve a purpose in society?? undisciplined Sara Puotinen

  • #qd2010 A Glee digression....@sparky brings us back with the blank slate and connections to women and expectations of youth.

  • Was there something attractive to us about the idea of a blank slate, an erotic child? Does this ideology appeal to us because we can experience it through scandal? undisciplined Sara Puotinen

  • #qd2010 Kincaid: pious pornography (11)...virus that nourishes us...emptiness...forbidden/protected/unattainable produces hysteria

  • The idea of the feminising of the molested child, the little white boy, then comes to the surface. We ask how heteronormative behaviors influence child molestation cases and the hysteria surrounding them. Society tends to feminize child bodies, what does that say about feminine bodies??

  • How does or should a person treat another person who has been through molestation? when is it ok to talk about it? How many people have been through this kind of issue?

Shown in this list are live tweets from Sara, for more information about how these things were referenced in our initial entries, you can visit the Kincaid blog page at title of link

All in all, our engagement with Kincaid's article raised critical questions about heteronormativity, eroticism, the rights and abilities of children, and how society can or should treat these kinds of offenders. I end our diablog with one question... How can this be dealt with? What kinds of things do we as a society need to do or look at in order to make children more able to tell their stories?

Diabloging Sedgwick

After reading Sedgwick's "How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys", I have scribbled a few questions on my paper and most of them begins with "Why?". I am really interested in thinking of why does all these happen.

Page 140, the third paragraph was mentioning about 2 monographic literature on subject which exclusively about boys. I personally have problem with the way they titled their book or literature. "The Sissy Boy Syndrome", this title is conveying the idea that effeminate is a syndrome. Why? It sounds very effeminophobia to me.

Besides on the same page, in Friedman's book during his depatholizing movement, the way that he portrayed, in his definition of "healthy gay man" are very masculine and there are also characteristic which he used which I personally have no idea why it was there, like
"Bob, another "well-integrated individual", had regular sexual activity with a few different partner but never cruised or visited gay bars or baths. He did not belong to a gay organization... He had loyal, caring, durable friendship with both men and women. WHY? This is confusing... It's like saying a gay man can have multiple sexual partner, but you should not cruised or visit gay bars or bath, don't get involve in gay organization. And hey FYI, he is loyal, caring and can have a durable friendship with both men and women.

Nosecage and Chester_Selfish have mentioned about the dropping of the pathologizing diagnosis of homosexuality from the DSM-III (hurray!! ღ(。◕‿◕。)ღ). But there was a new diagnosis for "gender identity disorder of childhood" (Boo~), the naming of the diagnosis have make it sounds as if the child is traumatized with their childhood or they are "handicapped".

In page 141, it is mentioned that the diagnosis is highly differential between boys and girls (→ double standard), that girl will only be diagnosed to have "disorder" if only she thinks that she identified herself as male or will eventually grow a penis. Whereas a boy will be diagnosed with the "disorder" even if he display stereotypical female activities. So why does this happens? Is it because of the social expectations that are exerted on male? Is the society too masculine driven?

So the homosexual is not a sickness but being effeminate is. In this case are we going anyway or are we still on still in square 1?

In page 141, Sedgwick brought our attention to the theoretical movement of distinguishing gender from sexuality. That is to my understanding, the professionals are depatholizing sexuality but patholizing gender identity. But still link it to the development of sexuality which indirectly still patholizing sexuality.

Sedgwick also bring our attention to John Money and Robert Stoller's research that the development of "gay-ness" is related to a boy growing up being effeminate. It is indicated in "Under the pressure, ironically, of having to show how gay adults whom he considers well-integrated personalities do sometimes evolve from children seen as they very definition of psychopathology (effeminate)." And also several paragraph followed.


In page 144, she also bring our attention to the exclusiveness of the issue, saying that "But given that ego-syntonic conlidation for a boy can come only in the form of masculinity, given that the masculinity can be conferred only by men, and given that femininity in a person with a penis can represent nothing but deficit and disorder." Hmm, penis as a reference point of masculinity?

I personally have been teased and bullied for being a effeminate boy when I was growing up. Even now back in my home university I was being joke around, not in an offensive way, about my some effeminate characteristic.

There is a guy who is female identified in my campus, who was constantly being make fun of in my home university. And recently I have found out that people were commenting on her picture offensively on facebook. Words like "disgusted, monster..." were used.

Diablog: Sedgwick

In this essay, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick discusses psychoanalysis and psychiatry, specifically revisionist psychoanalysis as it was functioning in 1989 when the essay was first written. The author does this by examining the work of two authors that published books right around that time period, Richard C. Friedman and Richard Green. Throughout the essay Sedgwick critiques several passages from each book examining closely the popular theories surrounding the cause and "cure" of homosexuality specifically among boys.
One interesting belief among revisionist analysts is the idea that there are good gays; these are the men that present as masculine, do not belong to any gay organizations, and do not frequent gay bars. Then there are the other gays. According to Friedman, "the healthy homosexual is one that is (a) already grown up and (b) acts masculine."
It seems that there is one group of individuals that were a bit of an enigma to revisionist psychoanalysis. "Extremely and chronically effeminate boys", this however, was easily remedied with the DSM III that was published in 1980. In this issue of the DSM homosexuality had been removed as a mental disorder but a new disorder had been added, "Gender identity disorder in childhood." The criteria needed to be labeled with this disorder was much different for girls than boys. For a girl to get this label she actually had to be anatomically male. For boys on the other hand, they needed only to express themselves as feminine or express that they felt it would be better to not have a penis. There are so many problems with these diagnostic criteria that I honestly don't even know where to begin. Most importantly, I think, is the idea that gender and gender expression are either fully masculine or fully feminine, that there can be no overlap. The underlying idea of developing gender identity disorder of childhood involves the failure to develop a core gender identity, "one's basal sense of being male or female."
According to revisionist analysts the main reason effeminate boys end up gay is because they are never validated as masculine by other men. In addition, the mothers of these boys can offer no help in the validation process. "Any involvement by a woman is overinvolvement, and any protectiveness is overprotectiveness." It is however, the responsibility of the parents or caretakers of these male children get a "properly male core gender identity in place." If this occurs then there will be more of a chance for the boys to grow into healthy adult heterosexuals.
I think it is important to reiterate the fact that this was first published in 1989 and that many of the ideas about sexuality have changed. I do not however they have changed drastically enough. This line of thinking presented by Friedman and Green is so oppressive and stigmatizing. There is so much left to discuss on the topic but I want to stop here and get the thoughts from my group up to this point.

Boyhood Effeminacy: It's Diablogical!

Diablog(ical) Engagement with Sedgwick

In "How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys," Eve Sedgwick critically examines the state of psychoanalysis concerning 'proto-gay' youth. She begins the chapter by looking at why this is so important: the high rate of suicide attempts among gay and lesbian youth. Especially problematic is the political and cultural climate in which this fact is being silenced. Sedgwick spends the bulk of her chapter looking at the 'revisionist psychoanalytical' approach to effeminate boys, gay adults, and proto-gay kids. After homosexuality was removed from the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statical Manual (DSM-III) in 1973, the field of therapeutic psychology has been shifting its treatment of gay individuals and gender-nonconforming kids.

The DSM-III also included a new diagnosis (perhaps in place of homosexuality): gender identity disorder of childhood. This is loosely classified by the "failure to develop a [core gender identity] CGI consistent with one's own biological sex" (142). More specifically, however, the manual lists more and broader symptoms for male children than it does for female children; implying that boys be diagnosed with the disorder at almost any display of effeminacy and that girls only be diagnosed if the actually think they should have a penis. Sedgwick notes that this diagnosis has been hardly contested at all and suggests that it is because of the 'gay movement's' need to "interrupt a long tradition of viewing gender and sexuality as continuous and collapsible categories" (141). So, if LGBT folks won't rebuke the publication of this new disorder, who will?

Sedgwick goes on to critique Richard Friedman's Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psycholoanalytic Perspective written in 1988 for signs of homophobia and effeminophobia in his explanation of therapeutic psychology with gay men. Let's just say that there is no shortage of unprogressive, oppressive views of gay men in Friedman's book. Friedman is perplexed by the sheer number of gay men who survive gender-nonconformity as children (read: don't commit suicide) and suggests that it might be a result of increasing societal flexibility concerning gender roles. Sedgwick proposes that it be attributed to a profoundly empathetic and encouraging mother love, which is condemned by contemporary psychoanalysis as being pathological.

Sedgwick also seeks to challenge us (the reader) to see the underlining problem as a societal "wish that gay people not exist... [and the] asymmetry of value assignment to between hetero and homo" (145). Society is coming to terms with being tolerant of gays who already exist (read: failed to be assimilated as children), but even the field of psychoanalysis (who have previously been protectors and supporters) have a "disavowed desire for a nongay outcome" (145). Richard Green, a co-conspirer of Friedman's, claims that parents put their gender-nonconforming kids in therapy because of their "desire to protect them from peer-group cruelty" (146). This, Sedgwick argues, is a fallacy; that no one wants their kid to be gay and they will do everything in their power to overtly persuade them into heterosexuality.

Just for starters:
Curiouser was published in 2004, this chapter was originally published in 1991. How do we see Sedgwick's view of gay acceptance changing (if at all)? What are our experiences with therapy, especially in relation to gender-(non)conformity, if any? Where do we see the recent highly publicized gay teen suicides in Sedgwick's chapter? I am so interested in the idea of 'mother love,' can we say more about this (please)?

Respond/comment on this open thread.

Sedgwick Diablog Open Thread


A discussion on Sedgwick's "How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys."

Please feel free to join in.

thinking for tomorrow...

Concerning Kincaid:
-What is the role of the molested (child) (p. 4)?
-How are simplicity and complexity complicit, necessary, or unwanted in constructing the child (p. 5)?
...connected to that, let's discuss the vague, the blank, the (un)knowing, the empty-waiting-to-be-"loaded"/filled, and Macaulay Culkin!

From Producing Erotic Children, Kincaid writes, "Even better, these open-ended, unanswerable questions generate variations on themselves, and allow us to keep them going, circulating them among ourselves without ever experiencing fatigue, never getting enough of what they are offering. And what they are offering is a nicely produced way of talking about the subject of child sexuality" (9).

"The major point and dilemma is that we are instructed to crave that which is forbidden, a crisis we face by not facing it, by becoming hysterical, and by writing a kind of pious pornography, a self-righteous doublespeak that demands both lavish public spectacle and constant guilt-denying projections onto scapegoats. Child molesting becomes the virus that nourishes us, that empty point of ignorance about which we are most knowing" (11).

"Childhood in our culture has come to be largely a coordinate set of have nots: the child is that which does not have" (10).

And what about scandal?
And that our compulsion to say that molestation happens is a must is an insistence that it must (12)?

Diablog: Kincaid Too


After reading the Kincaid article, I was taken aback at my own reaction. I'm the kind of person who likes to keep an open mind but I was having a really hard time reading it. While I agree that our society sexualizes youth, especially with the ideas of hairless female bodies, smooth "baby soft" skin, wrinkle free faces, and all in all appearing to be young, I don't agree with the hypothesis that he poses that these kinds of societal obsessions create potential sex offenders. I do not see how our society could possibly be to blame for a documented mental disorder which requires therapy and in some cases incarceration. I do, however, empathize with the dissolution of the child as a direct result, as with the Willy Nester example. The child was silenced and forgotten on the stand in the court where he was supposed to be able to tell his story. The images posted in cartoons and jokes after the Michael Jackson scandal also serve to ertoticze those images of children. Our society as a whole is obsessed with the image of children and youth. For me, this still doesn't justify child molestation. But I suppose on further examination of this article and further discussion I could really learn more.

diablogging 'bout kincaid


I'll admit that I had a hard time "rejiggling the terms" of child molestation. But the more I read and reread Kincaid's "Producing Erotic Children," I started to dig in to what he was saying.

My first reaction is to the language he uses to construct his critique: he uses imagery of vacancy and simplicity as indicators of the eroticized purity, innocence, and liberty. He argues that this lack of complexity in our construction of children opens up the possibility for writing our own fantasies onto that blankness. The 'vacancy' is thus filled by our constructions of eroticized, sexualized children. While I'm not positive that I fully grasp or agree with Kincaid's argument, his discussion of blankness, smoothness, blandness, blondness, bleached-ness (or whitening), youthfulness and vacancy as connected and the sites and sources of obsession and eroticization seemed to have some merit. If the equation of youthfulness = beauty = sexual desire makes sense when applied to socially appropriate sexual subjects, who's to say that there is some invisible line that protects that same logic from being applied to children?

I think what's on the flip-side of this vacancy/blankness/silence language is what's at stake. Kincaid talks about purity, innocence and liberty as qualities that are attributed to children, things to be protected and preserved. He also draws our attention to the connections that purity, innocence and liberty have to sexualized adults (particularly women)--the desire for purity, innocence and virginity is so overplayed it's ridiculous. But Kincaid talks about why these qualities are eroticized, arguing that they demand protection while simultaneously eliciting the desire to despoil.

I think what this leads to is to agree with what Kincaid argues, that the current terms of the conversation (the scandal-free kind) perpetuate all the wrong things. They allow us to know and yet not know about a 'taboo' topic--the possibility of sexuality in children. The current terms actually shut down different conversations, and instead, like Kincaid argues, the same answer-less questions get asked, leaving us feeling politically and socially conscious, but ultimately unmoved and inactive.

Diablog: Kincaid


After reading this article by Kincaid about producing erotic cildren. I have a total new perception about children being molested and how that whole situation can produce a erotic type of child. Not only do I get this from the reading it's self, but I can relate on a more personal level because I was molested at a young age. I do to an extent feel that I was produced into this erotic child after that point. Not by my family but by society. I received conseling fron a psychologist and while being in sessions with her, looking back I feel that those sessions was the starting point of producing me into an erotic child ( I wont go into details, but I hope yall et the point). Anyway with Kincaid reading and the examples he points out like about Michael Jackson, Culkin and the story about Willy Nesler one could get the feelig that society turns sexual abuse into an erotic situation without even knowing it. Expecially with the whole Michael Jackson trial. Society wanted him to be guilty so that they could live and keep talking abou the sexual acts, because again they thrive on making sexual abuse into erotic acts. Which is actually really sick.

Now Please forgive me for my statements I am only speaking from a view of a molested child and how the reading of Kincaid pulled that view out for me. Beacause before this reading I did not see this viewpoint and I'am glad that I did because it explains a lot about the way I was feeling as a child at that time.

Direct Engagement 2-- Kincaid Reading

Appreciation: This article is all about the sexualization and eroticism of children. As a society we repeatedly sexualize and eroticize the image of the gender neutral child, while we punish those who act on the fantasies that we create as a society. Kincaid uses many examples, like Macaulay Culkin in his coppertone advertisement where pictures of an androgynous Culkin playing while a cute dog pulls down his swim trunks eroticize the image of the androgynous child, but when Culkin gets older he loses his appeal. He discusses how the Michael Jackson scandal and all the jokes that followed were a necessary construction of society, and had these events not occurred society would have created an instance where it was equally constructed through a different entity.
His thesis states that "erotic children are manufactured -- in the sense that we produce them in our cultural factories, the ones that make meanings for us. They tell us what 'the child' is and also what 'the erotic' is. I argue that for the past two hundred years they have confused us, have failed to distinguish the two categories, have allowed them to dangerously overlap."

Critique: This article raised many questions for me. While I was reading the beginning, I was getting mental images of Willy Nesler sitting on trial, ready to tell his story and his mom going crazy and shooting his molester. I was getting images of the Michael Jackson trial, and how the press went crazy over his alleged offenses and even though he was found innocent, how society had already found him guilty. The Macaulay Culkin reference also hit close to home, I was raised on Home Alone movies, and when Kincaid pointed out that after Culkin grew into a more sexualized body, that is, less androgynous, he became much less popular. These examples raised some questions for me:

  • Why is our society so obsessed with child molestation?

  • Why are small children exploited in the media for entertainment, and why are certain images of children so much more desirable than others?

  • Could the mediated representations of children really be somewhat responsible for creating them in an erotic paradigm?

  • Are child molesters really confused about the erotic nature of children?
  • Once I read his thesis I got a strong feeling in the pit of my stomach. I understand Kincaid's point of view, that mediated images of children as erotic beings and also as pure and innocent beings are contradictory at best. However, it seems almost as if he is justifying the molestation of children based on the idea that mediated images confuse normal people into thinking that it is ok. For me that is extremely problematic, child molesters are not to be given a reason to excuse their behavior. Children may be sexual beings by nature but they are not able to consent to sexual acts, and certainly should not but put into those kinds of situations.
    His argument that therapists and other adults can help in creating false memories of molestation is very interesting to me. It has been documented that some therapists are responsible for helping to create false memories, but it is problematic to suggest this as a basis of dismissal of a child's claim of molestation,
    The bottom line for me is that it is important that our children as a society are protected from unwanted advances from both trusted and unknown adults. It is normal for children to experiment sexually, but adults do not need to take part in that experimentation.

    Construction: There are two ways that I would like to think about what I can do with this article. It is important for me as an advertising and media student to realize the complications that the media might be making on its projected images of children. I certainly do not want to prolong or contribute to this problem.
    Also, I think this article has an interesting parallel to the concept of heteronormativity in children. Children are taught that opposite sex relationships are standard. I think that scandals like the Michael Jackson example are so much more outrageous than most because he was a Man preying on little boys. Same sex molestation tends to get a bigger buzz than opposite sex molestation, simply because it is more societally problematic. My feeling on the issue is that child molestation is not ok regardless of its orientation.

Diablog Assignment

To foster connections between our online and offline engagements, to help us to cultivate our class community, and to give you even more opportunity to shape the class, you and 2-3 classmates will lead us in a mini diablog about the readings. Our discussion will begin the week of October 12/14.

WHO? 4 students per group

WHAT? Engage in an online and in-class discussion of the reading for the assigned week.


  • Post 4 reflective blog posts on reading by Sunday
  • Engage in a dialogue through comments, more blog posts, live-tweet dialogues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 
  • Present on process/findings to class on Thursday of the week 
  • Post summary of process by Monday of the following week


  • To contribute to the larger archive of our blog 
  • Develop more effective understandings of the readings and queer/ing desire 
  • Learn from each other

WHEN? Sign-up for a week between October 14/16 - December 7/9. Here's an overview of a sample week:

Sunday Carefully read assigned essay, each member posts initial blog entry
Mon/Tues/Weds Engage in online dialogue with other group members
Thursday Present findings to class
Monday Post summary of the diablog experience as group on our blog


4 Initial Blog Entries: (4 @ 25 points each) 100 points
Each of your group members is required to post a 300-500 word entry in which you provide a brief summary and critical assessment of the assigned reading. These entries will serve as the starting point for your engaged discussion with each other. These entries must be posted by Sunday at 10PM. For this part of the assignment, each of you is responsible for contributing 1 entry, worth 25 points (so 25 x 4 = 100 points)

Posts/Comments/Tweets: (posts@20; Com.@10; Tweets@5) 60 points
After reading each other's initial posts, you will participate in an online dialogue about the reading and your reactions/understandings. You can choose how you want to discuss the reading. However, each group member must contribute 60 points worth of participation. Here are some possible ways to earn those points:

  • 1 response post (20 pts) + 4 comments (40 pts)
  • 2 reflection posts (40 pts) + 2 comments (20 pts)
  • 12 tweets for live-tweet conversation (60 pts)
  • 6 tweets for live-tweet conversation (30 pts) + 3 comments (30 pts)

There are many possibilities for how you can engage with each other; it is up to your group to decide. Remember that the goal of this assignment is for you to collectively (and collaboratively) engage with the reading in deep and meaningful ways.

In-class Discussion 35 points
You and your group members are required to give a brief (5-10 minute) in-class presentation on your reading and lead a 25-30 minute discussion about it on the Thursday of your assigned week. You may present the material in whatever ways you think will be most effective in encouraging class engagement and discussion of the reading and its ideas in relation to queering desire. This presentation should include references to/highlights of your diablog/dialogue. For your leading of discussion, make sure that you bring at least 2-3 questions to ask the class.

Summary of Diablog 35 points
At the conclusion of your week, you will collectively/collaboratively create a summary of the key points of your discussion. This summary should be in the form of a 300-400 word blog entry. This summary post should include direct references (discussing + linking) to moments of your online diablog. It should be posted to our blog by the Monday following your assigned week (at 10 PM).

Some Special Instructions:

1. You should file your posts under the category: diablog, subcategory: assigned week #
2. You should tag all entries with your alias.
3. After you post your summary on the Monday after, please send me a word .doc that includes all of your entries, comments and tweets. Make sure to clearly identify all of your group members in the email.

Download assignment here

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