Thursday, April 9, 2015

Butler's Queer Theory

I chose to look at Butler for this assignment rather than Sedgwick because I felt that I understood Butler and what she was saying more clearly. Butler focuses a lot on the "being" of being a homosexual and how it's important to realize that this "to be" is pointing out that there's a difference between playing homosexual or lesbian and actually being one. Butler tells us that she is permanently bothered by identity categories as she sees them to be oppressive and "sites of necessary trouble" (Butler 2). She firmly states how she feels about theory and her role in Queer Theory when she says, " I do not understand the notion of “theory,” and am hardly interested in being cast as its defender, much less in being signified as part of an elite gay/lesbian theory crowd that seeks to establish the legitimacy and domestication of gay/lesbian studies within the academy. " (Butler 2) Inevitably, she has taken on this role because of the fact that she is a lesbian and advocates for Queer Theory to be looked at in another way. Further into her article,  she talks about drag and about which sexual orientation came first. What really got me in this article is when she said she was told that she was " a copy, an imitation, a derivative example, a shadow of the real" (Butler 7). This was targeted at her sexual orientation, but it makes me mad because it's like she's being attacked for her being rather than the fact that she is a lesbian. The key things I want to pull from this last bit of the article are that drag is not an imitation or a copy of a previous, "true", right gender because there is no true and proper gender. It's important to realize that drag suggests that all gender is drag, an impersonation of a boy or a girl. There is no original for the impersonation of gender. Furthermore, Butler points out that heterosexuality is continuously in the process of imitating and changing to come up with an idealized product of itself and never quite achieving it's goal.

For my artwork, I chose to depict when people are in drag. As you can see the person on the left is definitely in drag as he is a man dressed as a lady, but the person on the right who is a woman dressed as a woman is also in drag as she is putting on a show, acting and portraying herself as a lady. Both of these people are in drag. Butler teaches us that from the minute we are born and start to dress and act we are assuming our drag roles.

From this article, I have been able to raise some questions. Butler points out that all genders have slight imitations so can people really say that homosexuality and lesbianism is an imitation? I'd be like the pot calling the kettle black. Additionally, Butler has opened my eyes to the idea that we are all in drag. It is very clear to me now that when I get up and wear womanly clothes and do my makeup, I am putting on a drag show. I am dressing myself for the role of a woman and everyone I see becomes my audience for that show. I wanted to add because it came to me in class, Butler talks about homosexuality and heterosexuality in regards to which came first-which is the copy and which is the origin and it just made me think of is it the chicken or the egg?

1 comment:

  1. Ok, a bit of confusion here. First: "there's a difference between playing homosexual or lesbian and actually being one." For Butler, that's actually not exactly right. She basically argues that we are always playing roles. Even our real and natural genders and sexualities are performed-- we only become what we are by constantly performing and asserting what we are. She does not think that being a derivative sexuality like "lesbian" is disempowering, because she ultimately deconstructs the hetero-homo binary. She argues that queer identities seem to be shadows of straight identities, until you realize that the straight identities don't become original until they are copied by queer identities...which means that queer identities must come first, and therefore be original! That's a deconstructive maneuver aimed to collapse the whole binary opposition. You do better when you get to the drag section, but come see me if you want to chat this out a bit!