EXAM 4: A New Wave of Modernist Thinking

Queer and Feminist Theory : A New Wave of Modernist Thinking

Ladies and gentleman, please give a round of applause to our guest speakers for coming out tonight to share their work with us at the graduate Center at Hunter College. Before I open the floor to any discussion I would like to sum up some of the major points of tonight.

These two women share in common the interest in de-centralizing the normative approach to gender and its attachments.

Mrs. Butler is analyzing gender as a performative entity. She critiques in her writings, “Gender Trouble”, the notion of the supposed definition of sex and gender. That sex is biological and gender is acquired culturally. She deviates from this and approaches this in an epistemological way. She uses her knowledge of feminism and agrees that there has between a split in feminism. That the feminist approach is based on a constructed manner where its uses “identity politics” to shape the view on women.  She argues that sex is actually not biological. Sex is the result of what gender is; sex is the effect of gender. Sex is only a word that was developed and sex and gender are essential to one another and both constructed. She goes on to say that gender and identity is more of a performance than a “set” thing. There is no stable gender identity, hence no universal gender. She uses “drag queen” as an act of gender being Gender is not be dealt with through a binary mindset of male or female.   “…gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original; in fact, it is a kind of imitation that produces the very notion of the original as an effect and consequence of the imitation itself” This concludes that gender is not only 2 different ways, but can be technically be thousands of ways.

Ms. Puar has similar views to Ms. Butler, but takes a different approach to gender and feminism. She attempts to skim off this epistemological layer and dive deep into the ontology of it. She uses “intersectionality”, first brought about by Kimberle Crenshaw, and analyzes the topic regarding identity politics. “ Intersectionality is a tool to diagnose racial differences”. She uses the waves of feminism and how intersectionality has  molded WOC as the “others”. This othering has caused feminist attempts for equality to counteract, as they are racializing WOC. Paur also uses assemblages as to what they do and how they “de-privilege the human body”. Hence, a body is made of matter and matter is a sort of “actor”. We can have not only a human body, but also a body of water or a body of something else. This takes us to the conclusion that matter is a “doing”. Puar finally puts assemblages and intersectionality together to give us a final synthesis of the two. She agrees with Crenshaw saying that intersectionality is more of an event, which leads to identity. Finally, she uses Massimo’s example of the increase in domestic violence during the super bowl. He says that the interaction of bodies (not only human, but of matter) lead to events that lead to identities. A man, who is watching the super bowl played by other man is drinking beers, may be lead to physical abuse of the spouse. The super bowl is showing the physical violence of a game and may lead him to violence as a “reflex” of the interactions he has in this environment.

This leads me to wonder if Ms. Puar can put her knowledge to use and prevent this sort of violence from occurring not only between adults, but also the violence that is seen in children as a result of what is watched on television. Should she push forward some type of law that would abolish any type of violence for children of a certain age?

I also have a question for Mrs. Butler, If you are talking about gender and sex being socially constructed should we stop referring to individuals as female and male? Are this terms irrelevant to the world and should we be referred to as our names? Do you think that a name given to a person should in a sense also be their gender?

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Exam 4: Tea Time with Judith Butler and Jasbir Puar

Tea Time with Judith Butler and Jasbir Puar

 

Big thanks to theorists Butler and Puar for being with us today. I think we can see from both these women’s works that discourse has a huge influence on how we think and in turn function in our society. Both these theorists would agree that discourse can be restrictive, just like ideology or our own personal assimilations into gender. Puar and Butler would both also agree that though discourse can be bad, we should do more than abandon it, we should twist and contort it to fit ourselves; create our own. 

 

For Butler, the human subject is an important aspect of changing the discourse around gender since gender is an epistemological idea created by the human world, it is only fitting that the subjects of that world be used in the process of its changing. In expanding the discourse, Butler is putting the human (individual if you will) at the center of all social relations so that we remove the association of sex organs to socially constructed gender roles as our identity realization. Rather, Butler believes that our identity is a performance and more simply, because gender is an epistemological creation, let’s only associate other epistemological traits of identity to it like our language and our speech and our gestures (all as individuals) and later on the idea of sex because that can also be epistemological. These things are what create our gender, our identity. Through this way, Butler believes that sex is gendered and gender doesn’t need to be fixed like the discourse proclaims.

 

Puar takes everything Butler theorizes and expands on it, like Butler’s expanding of the old discourse. She focuses more on assemblage and ontology rather than intersectionality and epistemology. While Butler is saying that your identity is a performance of many other epistemological and human realm-ish things like the way you talk and walk, Puar wants to go deeper than that look beneath the speech and gesture that materialize into identity. Puar aims to go back to the organization of the body (not always human) and the small events and matter that happen to create the speech and the gesture. Simply, Puar is looking for the agents that created the actor. If Butler believes that drags are important to the obstruction of gender because of the way they perform their gender, Puar believes that the events that occurred in the drag’s system (of life) are what led them to perform their identity that way. In this we see a shift in priority for these two theorists: for Butler it’s the individual, for Puar it’s the surroundings, the agents. Puar’s method requires a deeper analysis of the forces at work in a system that create matter.

 

In short, the discourse said “this is this person’s identity because s/he looks a this way;” Butler is saying “no, blah blah is her identity because she speaks and acts a this way;” Puar takes this further and says ” this and this happened, she was exposed to that and that and all those things together assemble her identity. 

 

Q for Puar; You say categories are events but how so? No two events are the same, most  can’t be recreated, yet categories are supposed to be shared by many, supposed to cover a lot of ground. Shouldn’t categories be an effect of events?

Exam 4

Hello everyone! Welcome to the Feminist Theory Conference here Hunter College. I thank Judith Butler and Jasbir Puar for giving us insight on their views of feminism and gender. Both of our guests have brought up some great points.

Judith Butler critiques feminism, something that many have come to know as a movement that sought to bring equality to women (and homosexuals, transgenders…), is doing the exact opposite of what it intends to. The identity of the women has long existed long before feminism. However, feminism is what created the gender/identity of the women as the oppressed group. Women are then the byproduct of feminism. Similarly with Puar’s critique feminism, a category of the “Other” is created. Intersectionality, the idea that oppressive powers/issues (racism, sexism) are linked and must be looked at together, ironically re-centralizes the White woman. The Women of Color, the “Other” is viewed as the one suffering from grievances. Both Butler and Puar have issues with feminism. Their papers chose to look at identities and how they are formed within specific contexts.

Butler takes an epistemological approach in which the knowledge/discourse is most important. Gender is socially constructed. Gender is what determines how we act in society and what responsibilities we hold.  At the same time, sex is just as culturally determined as gender. Sex, but especially gender, do not have to be fixed. The human body is moldable. Gender performativity is what everyone has been taking a part of. Our actions are merely a pattern of repeated acts that have been determined through our cultural definitions. How we dress and what we say are all acts. Butler has given us the example of drag as gender performing. Drag queens often dress up in exaggerated manners. They wear heavy makeup, glammed up costumes, and perform exaggerated actions of the opposite gender. The body is used as medium for performance. It is malleable. Couldn’t we agree that come drag queens are quite successful in displaying the opposite gender? In performing gender, drag reveals the “imitative structure” of gender. Drag blurs the distinction between the identities. Butler quoted Esther Newton. Drag reveals the outside (appearance) as feminine, but the inside (body) is male. At the same time, the outside of the performer is masculine, and the inside (thoughts) at the time is feminine.

Puar has taken more of an ontological approach in explaining gender. For her, it was more important that on the being/becoming process. Gender is socially constructed, but through discourse-as mentioned by Butler. It is the body that creates discourse. Puar mentions assemblages, the relations between things,  in her paper. She talks about the relationships and organizations of bodies. Like Butler, she also believes that identity is not fixed. However, we need more than epistemology to understand the body. Bodies does not just have to relate to humans. There are bodies of water and institutions. We can understand them in many ways, such as through language or discourse. Lastly, there are categories. Categories are ontological events(discourse) of of matter. We can look at racism as a category. Racism has always existed. As a result of racism (act), it created race (discourse), not the other way around.

Both theorists have contributed a lot in regards to feminist theory and gender identification. I agree that gender is more than what’s determined by a biological trait. Some questions I have for the theorists and/or the audience are:

1. If gender is an act, couldn’t we say that all other aspects of our lives (race, language, religion) are all acts as well.

2. If feminism has been creating separations, then what is there that can be done to actually unify the groups, if possible?

3. Lastly, Puar stated that it was necessary to look at the underlying meaning behind the matter. What are some of the underlying meanings that can be used to push feminist movements forward?

http://sociologylegion.wexam-ii-knowledge-production-and-post-structuralism-deleuze-and-foucault/

I included a journal entry and discussed intellectual along with its role. I incorporated the BWO and linked it back to the role of the intellectual. I was also able to incorporate what it means to practice theory and their correlations. i linked these philosophers and their theories with a new theory called, ” non-representational  theory, which begun in the 90′s and is being put into practice now.

 

Dear Journal,

You will be pleased to know that I have finally found my calling. At thanksgiving dinner this past week I was reunited with my aunt and her very capitalistic and snobby family. The interrogations began and the questions, ” what am I going to do with my life” started.  There was no escape from this at the dinner table so I used my knowledge from sociology class to my advantage. I started off by telling them that i refused to be part of this unfair social order and wanted to stray from it as far as possible. I told them about Foucault Deleuze and and their post-modern philosophies. I told them how I wanted to be an intellectual the cool way- ” Auntie , if you think you are like an ” intellectual”, think again. The normal intellectual we usually think of may be referred to as someone who produces knowledge and puts it into practice, but are always funded by a higher order. In this instances capitalists are the real bosses, they found the intellectual to guide society towards the ideologies that they want to put into practice. They want to do this to get their way and step on society making them their leaping stones towards the finish line. I, on the other hand, refuse to follow the path of this intellectual. After studying Foucault and Deleuze in my sociology class, I had an enlightment. The right way to be an intellectual is to put an end to capitalism and oppression. The new radical intellectual would take form as a producer of knowledge and rises with the masses as he/she represents them. Of course, my goal as an intellectual would not be to totalize power, because at the end we always need some type of struggle for the world to function. Now a days we have been losing this struggle and letting the bigger ones win. I also already consider myself a practicing intellectual. According to Foucault, theory is immanent and comes from within. He also states that theory and practice are essentially the same. You can’t have theory without practice and vise versa. The concept of immanence brings me to discuss another of Deleuze’s work titled, ” Body Without Organs”, where he discusses the desire to practice this “BWO”, but never being capable of reaching it. BWO is referred to as the “pre-self” and “pre-conscious”, where you are freed into a fluid movement on a “same plane”. When he talks about this he isn’t actually talking about it literally, he is saying that we should free ourselves from the structuralism  and social orders of the world and live in immanence. This brings me back to my goal as an intellectual to live from within. BWO is the dismantling of the self, hence you become party of the world and no longer separate from it. This also ties into my idea of rising with the people. I want to achieve equality that the world needs. However, BWO can never be achieved according to Deleuze. It is a limit or asymptote like in calculus where you come very close and this “non-achieving” becomes a practice because it never reaches an end. So there you have it, I want to change the world by dismantling everything that already is and start again from immanence to become a part rather than a separate thing it. I want to bring about my own knowledge and share it. I know that I will always face a constant struggle, I know that I will never achieve BWO, but I know that I will put this theory into practice and be the best intellectual there is!!!!

….So this is kind of how it went. After I was done there was a long silence and then they started talking about mowing their lawn. After my little inspiring speech at dinner I took it upon myself to prove to them that I was serious and it wasn’t just some emotional come-back. I actually found this new social science approach called “non -representational theory” where social scientists now don’t only want to focus on the environment and world and “represent”, but bring in the theory of the “becoming”. This new idea will explore more of the pre-conscious rather than the conscious. It goes deep into exploration and into what happens before the conscious mind comes into play. It will more abstract and go into something like the theories of Deleuze. I cant wait to learn more and embark on my journey !! :)

Exam Four: Queer and Feminist Theory Revised

Cyborg Goddess with Gender Trouble Event

Guest speakers Judith Butler and Jasbir Puar

Good Afternoon ladies and thank you the panel was knowledgeable, gave me a better understanding of Gender Trouble and I Rather Be a Cyborg than a Goddess.  Puar has an ontological point of view she uses Intersectionality and Assemblage as a framework for theorizing.  She believes that intersectionality should not be linked to the individual but the practice of ontology should be. Ontology is the metaphysical study of the nature of being and it is where our identities are becoming into existence. Butler has an epistemological view and she argues that sex is socially constructed. She recognizes the difference between sex and gender, because sex is a natural given category and gender is an acquired cultural social category that comes from social and cultural ideologies.  Butler made sure she stood clear of labeling and categorizing. Butler analyzed the label of a woman in feminism because there is no clear way to interpret the meaning of what a woman is. Bulter argued that feminism has been misguided by trying to claim that women were a group with shared characteristics and interests. Puar is trying to suggest that a person can identify themselves as man or woman through race, gender and sexuality. Butler and Puar attentive approach into Queer theory is interesting. Both of them mention the discourses.  Puar and Butler agree that gender is not fixed, but Butler on the other hand believes things only exist through discourse.  In both of the papers each spoke about the body where Butler believed the body is materialized through discourse.  Puar makes a political protest for the object of Assemblage over discourses of queer intersectionality. Assemblage takes queerness away from a definition in terms of sexuality and gender. Puar argued that the disapproving capacity of queer politics and queerness remain not in its status as an oppositional discourse but exactly the antithesis of this.

Questions

Puar – What does it mean for a being to be?

Butler – Would you ever have an ontological view?

Video Fom PUAR on Current Social Theory blog

Hello Ladies,

 

So I was able to watch Puar talk  Christina left on her blog. (only watched half , but I really find Puar to have very complex, interesting thoughts that all seem to cross each other)

 

Some stuff I got from her :

Puar uses homonationalism as a critique on how gay rights came about in the national and international setting.  She talks about how these “non-heteronormative subjects” are integrated into societies. She talks at a national level about homonationalsim and how there has been queer progress in the US. She uses homonationalism as an “analytic frame”. for her homonationalism has lead to some “irony”. An example is how the US repealed the “Don’t ask dont tell” law the same day the US repealed the “Dream Act” law. For anyone who isn’t aware of these laws, the “Dont ask don’t tell” law was a law that prohibited gay disclosure in the military. The dream act was a law that was going to be passed that would legalize undocumented students in the US. I find it very ironic that the same day that gay rights were being extended, “other” people were being dispreiveldged from their rights. she calls homonationalism , ” a structuruing force of modernity”, its a “historical shift”. The government is shifting on how to govern different types of populations in the 21st century. homonationalism has become  some sort of negativity for people and ” it is bad to be called a homonationalist”. For her she doesn’t see this as an accusation or a problematic position and, ” can’t stand outside of”. Its there ! For her homonationalism is and assemblage of state practices, bodily practices of neoliberal economic forces and various kinds of global discourses”. Puar goes on to homonationalism at an international level and talks about Palestine and Israel. She gives an example of Tel-Aviv being  the world’s best gay city in 2011, yet she says that that day a law was passed prohibiting outsiders from being included. another example is how Israel has given freedom of LGBQ, yet has passed laws that prohibit these being from disagreeing with the state regarding other issues.  This is somewhat a form of pink washing.

 

This is all that I got from the video, but she goes into much more depth.

You guys should definitely watch it !

 

Good luck on the exam !!

Exam 2

Dear Diary,

I am enjoying this beautiful view on the seaside right now as I write this. There are many couples on their honeymoons walking on the beach. My mom came by earlier to “talk” with me. She gave me the “talk” again. She asked me when I would find myself someone like all the loving couples on the beach and get married.

  “Wouldn’t you want to be a happy housewife like me and live a simple lifestyle with your husband and kids?”

I told my mother, for the hundredth time, that this was not what I wanted to do now. I want to be an intellectual. Great, she thought. She assumed that I meant becoming an intelligent person that can share knowledge with others, such as teaching. I told her the intellectual does not have to be the one producing knowledge. The intellectual can be the one who is in an oppressed position and is struggling against the powerful system. Students and prisoners can be seen as intellectuals. The education/prison system can act as the oppressive power. The intellectual’s job working against themselves becoming those people in the oppressive system.

To clarify what I meant by this powerful system, we can look at Deleuze and Guatarri’s Body Without Organs. There is the organism which represents the system, like the government (or the overbearing mother). The organism is made up of organs. The organs represent those who are at the bottom of the hierarchy. They are the oppressed group. The two have a reciprocal relationship. Both need each other to survive. The organism/system provides the organs with the nutrients they need in order to support it. Society instills many ideologies onto its people. In order to maintain it, people continue to become subjects of these ideologies. They are the organs that are trapped inside this body. They hate every part of it, but at the same time, still crave for it. It gives us a sense of order and belonging.

To become an intellectual, I will have to acknowledge all these but also work against them.

My mother snorted at my explanation. She thought it was all an excuse to be an antisocial anarchist, just another phase I’m going through. Well, this is not some phase. I’m serious about becoming an intellectual. I will work on becoming the BWO by putting aside everything that I have been taught. I will free myself from the ideologies. My struggle against the powerful can hopefully create a horizontal distribution of power in society where everyone is equal.

   ‘What do you think?” I asked my mother, “Aren’t you proud to have a daughter like me/”

She looked at me with a worried face that read, “My daughter is going to be a poor struggling social outcast trying to achieve an unreachable reality.” She finally replied after a long pause. She tells me it’s a great idea. However, she still thinks I should find a man soon. After all, I won’t be twenty one forever. So in my long conversation with her, I failed to change her mind. Sometimes, you just can’t change a traditional Asian women’s beliefs. With that, I decided to sit back and relax. After all, I am twenty one, and have plenty of time.