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?