Thursday, April 9, 2015

“Hence, if it were not for the notion of the homosexual as copy, there would be no construct of heterosexuality as origin. Heterosexuality here presupposes homosexuality. And if the homosexual as copy precedes the heterosexual as origin, then it seems only fair to concede that the copy comes before the origin, and that homosexuality is thus the origin, and heterosexuality the copy.” (Butler)
            Queer, by definition, is something that is “strange or odd”.  The term queer encapsulates anything that veers away from the societal norm. I am finding it is difficult to describe queer theory, because there are so many theories that are attached to it.  Queer theory is the study of issues of hetero/homo and feminine/masculine binaries. It discusses identity, sexuality, sex, and gender.  Judith Butler is a queer theorist who studies LGBTQ and gender studies.  In the quotation above, Butler says that if homosexuality did not exist, we would longer have a notion of what is heterosexual.  This quotation is an extension of a section in which Butler discusses drag. 
            Drag is considered an imitation of a hetero-normative gender by using costumes to “put on” another gender.  The picture above is a picture of me before a performance for the NHETG Festival for Theater in high school.  The play was a short skit from Midsummer Night’s Dream called, “Bottom’s Dream”. In this I played Peter Quince, who is obviously a male character. In class we discussed the idea of a woman putting on a beard and becoming essentially more feminine through the portrayal of masculinity.  I “put on” a male character and innately became more female because people recognized this gender as a performance.  This is sort of a bad example for one of Butler’s theories of gender as performance, or maybe it’s good.  I am actually not sure.
            Questions for discussion
What would the world look like if these binaries did not exist?
Which came first, the chicken (hetero) or the egg (homo)?

Do I look good with a beard? I’m thinking about growing it out.

1 comment:

  1. You do look good with a beard! And that's one of my favorite plays! My kiddo played Puck last year...just love it.

    You are on the right track here, but the train doesn't actually get to the station (which is maybe ok, since in poststructuralism, you would never actually arrive at the full meaning anyway, right?). You do illuminate the kinds of issues that Queer Theory tackles, but don't quite get into talking about how Butler deconstructs the binaries at the heart of gender and sexuality. When you dress as Quince, you seem to highlight your actual femaleness, but Butler sees drag as more unsettling than that. She argues that it shows that gender if performable, indeed that ALL gender is a performance. So even the girl next to you in the picture, who is all femmed out, even SHE is in a girl. You are even in drag as a woman when you just come to class on a regular day. Because for Butler, all of gender is a series of performances that we have to keep making all the time, just like a drag show... Come see me if you want to chat it through a bit more!