Thursday, April 9, 2015

Queer Theory

The main focus of the Queer Theory seems to be centered on the fact that identity is not the basic, solid principle we once thought it to be. The idea that gender is fluid, not solid, I something that may be difficult for people to wrap their heads around. Why? Because from the moment you’re born (or even before) you are defined as either “boy” or “girl”. In Imitation and Gender Subordination Judith Butler writes: “…all gendering is a kind of impersonation and approximation. If this is true, it seems, there is no original or primary gender…” Pointing out that there is nothing but superficial things that tie you back to your gender. Butler’s idea is that all gender is drag. You wake up in the morning, and put on your clothes and you are essentially in drag. “The reality of heterosexual identities is performativity constituted through an imitation that sets itself up as the origin and the grounds of all imitations.” Meaning that drag is not the copy of heterosexuality. But both are in play with each other and defining how they exist. Heterosexuality would not be the “original” if drag was not the “copy”. Much like the chicken or the egg, both could arguably come first.

But, with gender (especially heterosexuality) there is a need for one to be more normalized than the other. Which is why heterosexuality is a “panicked imitation of its own naturalized idealization.” This implies that heterosexuality is kind of a hyper imitation of “gender” because of homosexuality’s ability to copy and portray the exact same thing. Homosexuality exposes heterosexuality as a role play.

For my artwork, it was really a challenge to think of anything that could represent such a complicated idea as the Queer Theory. So, I decided to keep it simple. This stick figure has no gender unless I decided to draw on a cute little dress and a bow on the head, or a tie around the neck and a top hat. Right now, it has an equal opportunity to become either gender. Even if I did decide to draw on any gender identifiers, I could just as easily erase them (ignore the fact that I drew in pen) and draw on different articles of clothing.  


  1. I actually think the stick person drawing works really well because of its simplicity. Our inability to locate anatomical parts prevents us from getting caught up in physical difference. Even so, I almost referred to your drawing by "this man," because so typically stick figures are drawn as you have drawn above to show a man, or they are drawn with a triangular dress to show woman. In that we can begin to see how woman is hierarchically secondary in the binary opposition, as well as how the person comes to be understood as the man only when opposed to the woman.

  2. Going off Jess's post, it's also interesting how the stick figure-- so clearly genderless- is always already gendered as we think about it, since we have no real cultural framework for thinking about a genderless body. Your brief post does a great job of fitting in a lot of the key principles of queer theory. I might suggest that instead of leaning towards a neutral, degendered body at the end there, we could think of how all of language and culture works to gender the body, even when it is clear that from Butler's perspective and from your stick figure, that the body has no natural or inherent gender of its own... Anyway, good stuff here all in all!