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Knowing the Body: Knowing the World Forum

Knowing the Body: Knowing the World Forum


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further reading
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-16 23:37:06 :
Link to this Comment: 10854

I wanted to record here some of the material I referenced in class today, in case any of you would like to explore further these matters regarding the constructedness of sex and of history. See especially (re: Mo's comment re "penetration" vs. "engulfment")

Emily Martin, "The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles" Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 1991 (16, 3): 485-501.

Emily Martin, The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction. Boston: Beacon Press, 1987.

Anne Fausto-Sterling, The Five Sexes

Anne Fausto-Sterling, The Five Sexes Revisited

McIntosh, Peggy. "Interactive Phases of Curricular Re-vision: A Feminist Perspective." Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, 1983.


Response to Chelsea
Name: nancy
Date: //2004-09-14 13:38:30 :
Link to this Comment: 10838

Thank you, Chelsea for starting this conversation. I, too, have been spending some time thinking of how to better restructure our classtime because, frankly, it is not working for me either. Last week I watched some members of our class raise their hands, wait to be called on, and return to points made some 20 minutes ago because of the timing of who was called on and in what order. I found myself playing the 'i am raising my arm so high i am rising out of my chair so please please call one me' game, and I watched Chelsea (just as an example) seem to go through the range of emotions of having something pertinent to say, watching the moment pass, and feeling (i would imagine) stifled. We're not talking TO each other because we aren't moving sequentially through everyone's linked thoughts.

Class discussion feels too guided. We can be having a rich discussion about 'X' with obvious class interest and enthusiam, but because 'Y' seems to be on the agenda, 'X' is shut down and everything we have to say about 'X' goes to waste.

I also recognize the problem spelled out by those individuals who wish to be called on in order to be a participant in the discussion. I have had the experience in other classes of feeling silenced by people who are more forceful in their opinions, but we cannot seek to remedy this problem by silencing the other group! Part of me believes that we should be self-actualized and speak when we are moved to do so and not only when we have been recognized by (what now feels like) a superior. Perhaps those who are hesitant to jump in can raise hands to the group in order to be acknowledged as having something to say. I hope we can discuss this further.





oops (spelling!)
Name: Devroah
Date: //2004-09-19 15:27:33 :
Link to this Comment: 10864

err... acquisition
sorry! I had a "whole language"approach to learning english, so my spelling is for crap. I'll be better next time ;-)


unknowable philosophy
Name: Deborah
Date: //2004-09-19 15:24:38 :
Link to this Comment: 10863

I found this prompt a difficult one to address. For me, comparing the texts and applying them is not a simply singlular effort, but a cohesive analysis that is catalyzed in the classroom. It was not until I was working through the texts together with everyone that I could form deeper understandings of the texts and their complexities. To me, the biological, evolutionary perspective of catagorization has a more authentic ring than a transendant, thought-oriented approach to catagorizing. As enfants and children growing up, we did not "think" about how we catagorized...inherant systems in our brains shaped and guided our automatic schematization of the world around us. As with language aqcuisition, catagory aqcuisition is not an effortful thought process but a natural one. I do feel, however, that around the same time that language aqcuisition Becomes effortful, at the age of 8 or so, that is the time when children's brains literally change, and it is the time that we are able to exsert influence over our mental capabilities. I am not trying to dismiss Foucault's thoery that we have control over our catagories, or at least can use reflection to come to know ourselves and our conceptions better...agreeing with biological reasons behind philosophizing thoughts is not an excuse to remain in ignorance of difference. I just don't feel that innate catagorization is Wrong, I am trying to argue that the process is natural and we shouldn't beat ourselves up for having automatic catagorization. I think it's helpful to discuss this issue however, and to look at literature and other's experience, to inform ourselves more and refrain from ignorance...by having discussions and debates we are practicing reflection and expanding the resources our brains have to make informed catagories.


Children and Sex
Name: Gilda
Date: //2004-09-19 22:22:47 :
Link to this Comment: 10869

Both Foucault and Rubin bring up the subject of children's sexuality being taboo. I'm especially concerned with what Foucault calls "a general and studied silence" regarding children and sex.

This obviously is still prevalent today, even with parents who are more willing to talk about sex with their kids, and with better, more informative sex ed programs (although this might not be the case under the current U.S. administration.)

Children learn only about some aspects of sex. During the teenage years, they set out to learn all they can about sex (empirically or otherwise.) This is in part driven by curiousity--kids don't know what the hell sex is about. I don't know about the rest of you, but even my very-cool-about-sex parents and my pretty progressive elementary schools never taught me about orgasms as a kid.

Still, all children (or rather, most of them--think Jimmy Corrigan) end up having sex one day. I'm interested not only in how we make our bodies knowable but in how we make SEX knowable. How are our behaviors vis-a-vis sex affected by our lack of knowledge when we first start engaging in sexual activities, both when we are actually having sex or in general? How different (or "better" or "worse") would these behaviors/attitudes be if children knew more about sex to begin with?

We call movies with explicit sexual content (not necessarily porn) "adult" movies. We talk about the "adult" video industry (I *am* talking about porn now), "adult" stores, etc. The "adult" in these terms means the same thing--there is sex involved. I understand the importance of, to an extent, "protecting" children for sex--they might not be ready to face the psychological consecuences of sexual actions. But to deny the fact that they too are sexual beings and to equate "adult" with sex is going too far and blinding ourselves to reality.


foucault (and clinton/lewinsky?)
Name: gus stadle
Date: //2004-09-17 11:45:20 :
Link to this Comment: 10858

The opening chapters of Foucault’s History of Sexuality are devoted to a critique of a particular way of discussing sexuality that he calls “the repressive hypothesis.” The repressive hypothesis conceives of sexuality as a matter to be discussed in terms of prohibition and transgression, and posits the West, since the Victorian era, as sexually “repressed.” How does Foucault ask us to think differently, and what is at stake in his critique?

The last time I taught this text was in the middle of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and we found that a really useful way into the book. You might think about the impeachment hearings as you read about the “incitement to discourse.” More specifically, you might consider how much someone like Clinton’s prosecutor Kenneth Starr, or the Congressmen who led the inquiry, illuminate Foucault’s critique of viewing modern society as “repressed.” These might also serve as useful reference points for your postings.
-G


Jimmy's embodied mind is left behind
Name: LB
Date: //2004-09-13 12:36:27 :
Link to this Comment: 10827

Should Jimmy's ability to reason have matured along with his body? Lakoff and Johnson argument for the embodied mind would seem to say so: "Because our conceptual systems grow out of our bodies, meaning is grounded in and through our bodies." (p.7) If the body changes, then the ability to reason which comes from the body would have to change as well. However, Jimmy's thought processes as a child are painfully similar to those of his adulthood. It goes beyond his personality trait of being shy and socially awkward--he has the same expectations throughout his life and is unable to rationally determine a course of action necessary to make his dreams a reality. As a child and as a grown man, Jimmy turns to the superhero figure he associates with his father--he idolizes a character who is not constrained by being a basic typical human being with the same neural processes as the rest of the human hoy paloy.


Jimmy as an Aphasiac
Name: Sierra
Date: //2004-09-13 16:36:26 :
Link to this Comment: 10831

Foucault talks about the aphasiac's inability to arrange skeins of yarn into a coherent pattern. I think that this passage is particularly interesting when applied to Jimmy Coorigan. Foucault says that it is "as though that simple rectangle were unable to serve...as a homogenous and neutral spacein which things oucld be placed so as to display...the continuous order of their identities." Coorigan has the problem of display--or even knowing--his identity. It seems that we can see this visually in the pages that, as LB said in class, seem to show no organization as if Jimmy designed them himself.

Foucault also talks about the fields of organization being unstable. This also applies to Jimmy in his representation of masculinity. Jimmy is seen as, to quote Nancy, tragic in his failure at masculinity. While there are many types of masculinity to fall into, Jimmy seems to fail to fall into any accepted type of masculinity.


Emotional engagement
Name: Gilda
Date: //2004-09-13 15:12:41 :
Link to this Comment: 10830

Lakoff and Johnson talk about the ways in which reason as we conceive it now is different from the way it used to be thought of. They say that “Reason is not dispassionate, but emotionally engaged.” This got me thinking about conversations I’ve had throughout my life with mother, a firm believer in the in the theory of Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman, and in a conversation I had with Chris MacDonald-Dennis (the director of Multicultural Affairs at BMC) the other day. Both my mom and Chris think that in order to be able to effectively use our reason, our intelligence, we have to be (to quote Lakoff and Johnson again) “emotionally engaged.” We can’t completely succeed in putting our ideas out there and learning from others unless we know how to respect our own feelings and those of others around us, i.e. effectively interact with others.

Foucault doesn’t address the question of emotional engagement, but he has a great interest in empirical knowledge and how we acquire it and process it. The realm of the empirical necessarily has to include what we get from our interactions with others, as we are social beings.

Jimmy Corrigan is presumably an individual of average abilities (I hesitate to use words like intelligence or IQ because their definitions are so arbitrary). However, his difficulty in understanding himself and the world around him stems from the fact that he is unable to be “emotionally engaged” with others. The lack of a father figure, the control-freak he has for a mom, etc. are all factors that could contribute to his being unable to interact with others. Since Jimmy can’t understand or make the world around him knowable to a fuller extent, he restores to creating his own world, where he set his own categories and reflects his understanding of the Same (him) and the Other (everything around him).


Jimmy's categories
Name: Rebecca Ma
Date: //2004-09-13 13:45:23 :
Link to this Comment: 10829

Ware represents masculinity in Jimmy Corrigan as categories that are felt to be real within the lives of men. Just as Foucault describe the order of things as being a function of people’s ability to distinguish and differentiate objects, Ware describes the order of the bodily word as a function of the gender rules by which men and women operate. Foucault contends that categories become altered and shifted in relation to time. Through hyperboles and pictorial satire, Ware challenges the seemingly rigidly of gender rules. In contrast, Lakeoff-Johnson argues that due to the fact that people have no access to most of thought--which is unconscious--people have no access to the cognitive unconscious. Lakeoff also contends that since the body as a whole, including the brain, controls the construction of categories. In turn, people can’t help but make categories that are more or less out of their willful determinations. The tragedy of Jimmy is understood by readers because of the existence of categories that enable people to distinguish what it means to be a winner or looser. The social status of Jimmy depends upon at least two people, Jimmy and an audience. Jimmy claims a social status (or in this case a lack of one) and the audience either refutes of acknowledges it. Without recognizing and evaluating categories, the audience would see Jimmy as an unknowable kid or man.


A very angry rant, or an appeal to my fellow class
Name: Chelsea
Date: //2004-09-13 16:48:21 :
Link to this Comment: 10832

"It works in practice, let's go back and see if it works in theory."

Or maybe it's never going to work for everyone or in every circumstance. This post has nothing to do with the readings, which I have not done yet, and quite frankly may not do. At the beginning of the semester, we had some readings and discussions that were designed, with the best of intentions, to make the class all-inclusive and to ensure that no one was "intimidated" into silence. Of course we want all voices to be heard, OF COURSE we want the classroom to be a supportive and safe space- but do we have to go about it in the immature, infuriating and, frankly, patriarchal way of the past two weeks?

Raising our hands to speak? Come on, guys, I haven't been in a class that did that since middle school. You can opt out of raising your hand just as easily as you can choose not to speak. What the hell is the point of trying to re-imagine the classroom and coming up with the same outdated model you were trying to get RID of? Not to be harsh, but if we haven't learned to speak our minds in front of people in the supportive, safe environment we are so fortunate to enjoy here- I fear for us in the real world.

We raise our hands and are GIVEN PERMISSION to speak by a teacher? I don’t know about other people, but that’s a little stifling- silenced unless recognized by an authority...does this sound VAGUELY familiar to anyone? Feminist theory? Women's lib? Here’s a thought: suffrage. I’m sure the women who were beaten for wanting to vote would be really happy to know that we’re still waiting demurely to speak until recognized by a higher authority. How can you have a freethinking, open, flowing conversation that is dictated by these rules and structured in such a confining way?

I freely admit that I have been playing along. I have been raising my hand to speak of my own accord, trying to be respectful of the decision of a larger group, but when confronted with the sheer ridiculousness and impracticality of it ("I'd like to comment on what LB said 15 minutes ago"), I find I care too much about the potential of the class for being a true dialogue to just let it go. Last Thursday as I sat in class waiting to be recognized, I changed my mind about speaking all together, why bother? What is the point when no one, including myself, is listening to anything that is being said because we're trying to remember the comment we want to make? What's the point? I don't feel obligated to be part of a conversation like this...it's not even a conversation.

No one person in our class (including Anne and Gus), is responsible for finding a compromise or making a change. The dialogue always begins somewhere: what are WE going to do?


Making the World Knowable
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-10 07:55:18 :
Link to this Comment: 10816


"It works in practice. Let's go back and see if it works in theory."

--Mark Kuperberg, Swarthmore economist


Stepping off from Mark's joke about how economists work--



read the introductory material from Foucault's The Order of Things and the assigned selection from Lakoff and Johnson's Philosophy in the Flesh. One describes the ever-revisable constructedness of our categories, the other insists that the architecture of our brains and bodies (embodied brains) determines what kinds of categories (and metaphors) we use. Take some time to think through this material, then post here your thoughts about how it helps you keep-on-thinking-through Ware's Jimmy Corrigan. How well does that graphic novel work ("practically") as a test case for the ideas that both Foucault and Lakoff-Johnson are teasing out ("theoretically")?


Reply to Chelsea
Name: Sierra
Date: //2004-09-13 17:24:34 :
Link to this Comment: 10835

I feel like you have a very valid point. My only question is what do you propose we do about those of us who can't make our voices heard without raising our hand because someone else has a stronger voice?


Before and After Language
Name: Claire
Date: //2004-09-14 00:34:22 :
Link to this Comment: 10836

I am possibly the most easily persuaded person ever. After reading Foucault's "The Order of Things," I was completely positive that there is some sort of basic construction and order that is innate to human beings. Then, once I finished Lakoff and Johnson's "Philosophy in the Flesh" I fully agree that each person's senses are interpreted by the subconscious, which then proceeds in making the categories, but the categories are only made through the personal unconscious perception of the world. Of course, I now have to come to terms that I cannot, logically, accept both of these arguments as "true."

Jimmy Corrigan provides a venue for me to play out my thoughts about these readings. To the reader, the men of Jimmy Corrigan are presented as unmasculine, wimpy. We derive these characteristics from what it means to be "masculine," a culturally defined term. In Foucault's thinking, the simple action of men, which is biologically based, sets up the categorization for what then is termed "masculine." Lakoff and Johnson would argue that this categorization is made cognitively because of the exposure to the category from society. We, as individuals, then interpret the actions individually, each with our own variation on how to categorize them. For example, to one person the men of Jimmy Corrigan may be "feminine," while to another they are "unmasculine" and to a third they are "asexual." While these terms can be construed as similar, they have their own nuances that make them individual. It is through the individual, "embodied mind," that makes this interpretation. However, in order to place a name on the actions of the men (using language), even the embodied mind must then join in categorization as a way of expressing ideas.


Emotion and Imagination
Name: Mo Convery
Date: //2004-09-13 16:50:16 :
Link to this Comment: 10833

Lakoff and Johnson argue that reason is unconscience and emotional thinking based on imagination and metaphores. While reading Jimmy Corrigan, I was struck by Warre's use of dreamlike/imagionation sequences within the story line. These sequences I first took to be reflective of Jimmy's character; his immature, child-like nature. However, after reading Lakoff and Johnson analysis of reason, I began to think there may be a alterior motive. In showing this imagionative side, Warre is illustrating Jimmy's sense of basic reasoning. Once his basis of resoning is developed, Jimmy's method of catogorization and conceptualization of the world is much more vivid and concise to the reader.


The graphic novel?
Name: Beth
Date: //2004-09-13 17:06:51 :
Link to this Comment: 10834

Lakoff and Johnson state that "In order to function realistically in the world, our categories and our forms of reason must 'work' very well together; our concepts must characterize the structure of our categories sufficiently well enough for us to function." The basic movements of human beings' bodies are mostly the same. In other words, Lakoff and Johnson seem to be arguing that how we physically experience the world determines the categories we use. Reasoning and logic of the mind cannot be separated from the body. However, Jimmy Corrigan's "reason" flows in a stream of consciousness. One thought calls to mind another thought that in his mind is related, an association that often only makes sense to Jimmy. If I am experiencing the world physically in the same way Jimmy is, how come I cannot follow the logic of the story? If men's bodies and women's bodies are different, does that mean our categories are inherently different? But Jimmy's father is also unable to follow his logic and vice versa.

Foucault argues that our categories change and that we must pay attention to "the empty space" within categories, "the interstitial blanks separating all these entitites from one another." When we try to define masculinity in Jimmy Corrigan, we must not just look at what is there, but what is not there. Within this graphic novel, what has been included in the frames and also what has not? What is being said and what is not? Who is saying what?

The categorization of a graphic novel such as Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is problematic in itself. It does not quite fit comfortably into any specific category for me. Though it does not belong to the superhero comic book genre, the references and elements to that particular genre cannot be denied. At first glance, its presentation, consisting of a series of colored pictures and few words, is one fitting to a young audience. My experience with graphic novels, up until Maus in my freshman year of college and now Jimmy Corrigan, tells me they are the stuff of children, an easy read of pleasure. How seriously are we to take this graphic novel? What category are we to place it? It seems as though a new category is in order as a result of this change in the genre, but does my experience reading Jimmy Corrigan reflect the author's purpose in writing it?



Response to Chelsea
Name: Marissa Ch
Date: //2004-09-20 00:38:41 :
Link to this Comment: 10876

I think you have raised a valuable argument and,hopefully, opening discussions on the structure of our class discussions will help us to reach a useful resolution. Even though raising our hands seems stifling, I think it would be even more stifling for the students among us who may not have the confidence to jump right into a conversation. If some people are hesitant to merely raise their hand, it will be so much harder for them to compete in a more open discussion(especially when it sometimes has the consequence of interrupting somebody's comment). I think for those of us who have a comment to make that isn't particularly pressing, we should still have the option to raise our hands (I don't feel this is a slap in the face to the Suffragettes). And, if there are those of us who have a more urgent need to speak, then they should be able to make it clear that they wish to speak at that moment.


models of identity
Name: Rebecca Ma
Date: //2004-09-26 16:24:43 :
Link to this Comment: 10953

Applying Fuss’s concept of identity being defined by what we are not, I interpret censorship as a collective effort by which a community seeks to define itself. By silencing and punishing certain “deviant” voices, a community, namely the Malaysian and Canadian, defines itself by what it is not. The worrisome tales that Delany is able to describe in detail were not apart of academic language just a few decades ago, but now exist within academic language. For Dinshaw, the struggle to enable explicit lesbian s/m pictures to be printed in an academic language is ongoing. Delany’s purpose for troubling us is to make us seriously question the validity of a gay identity. The formation of a homosexual identity is useful in the deployment of certain gay political agendas; however, Delany challenges any property that this identity claims as irreducible or transcendentally gay.


Moving to the Inside
Name: LB
Date: //2004-09-26 23:12:09 :
Link to this Comment: 10956

Dinshaw celebrated the use of the word "queer" to be confrotational, radical, and bitchy. The Q in GLQ was meant to incite people to discourse about its possible meaning while Delany's "worrisome tales" clearly serve the same purpose--to move such issues inside language. But the question I would like to pose to Delany and to Dinshaw (as an afterthought) is "Are we really open to moving such issues inside language?" By "we" I mean scholars of queer theory. Of course we would like to educate more people about the problems facing queer folks in society, but are we really ready to make the gay world accessible to the greater (outside) world? Can people know what Gay Identity is supposed to be without living it? Delany is not optimistic about the "sexual landscape" moving to the inside, and I think this is because it requires an almost evangelical attempt to convert the perceived close-minded society of the outside world. His stories have a considerable amount of shock value, but I would like to have seen his audience at his talk. Was he preaching to the converted in much the same way as GLQ is distributed to those already engaged in the discourse? Do we want queer theory (and all the social and political issues surrounding it) to remain on the periphery?



Name: Claire
Date: //2004-09-27 11:22:34 :
Link to this Comment: 10959

I wish I could offer my own insightful analysis of the readings for tomorrow, but today I cannot. I have been sick all weekend and, while I have done the readings and found them to be the most interesting we have read so far, I do not feel like my head is clear enough to add my insightful analysis. So, instead of trying to string lucid thoughts together in sentences I am going to highlight the points I found most interesting in the Fuss and Delany readings:

-that "identity is founded relationally, constituted in reference to an exterior or ouside that defines the subject's own interior boundaries and corporeal surfaces" (Fuss, 234). The idea that to be defined in our identity to other people we are confined to the categories of society (kind of like Foucault talked about). By embrassing and redefining these categories then we might break down the stigmas that also go along with them.

-"the notion of sexuality itself as always occuring partly inside language and partly outside it" (Delany, 132). The idea that experience is outside of language and cannot be brought into language.

I know this posting is not the most insightful, but I hope it serves the purpose of expressing my voice in what I find interesting. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to speak up in class and discuss my interest in these points further.


Just when you thought it was safe to go back in th
Name: Chelsea
Date: //2004-09-27 12:30:47 :
Link to this Comment: 10960

I want to pick up on something that LB said, or that I think she was getting at: by trying to make “queer” inside, are we expanding the inside, or are we limiting queer? I think it speaks to the pattern that Dinshaw pointed out in our language: queer going from norm to radical term and back again several times over throughout the last century. Similarly, homosexual culture has tried, in various waves, to either gain acceptance through similarity to normative culture, or decided difference to normative culture; defining by what it is or what it is NOT. Like Claire pointed out in the Fuss reading, identity is relational, so are categories. What do we want from them? How do we create without creating in opposition to? Do we even want to? Going back to LB, are we sure we want to become a part of a normative or academic discourse? Aren’t we just trying to find a way in which we can be identified in relation to these discourses rather than celebrating it as a separate discourse? Before we jump in, are we even sure we want to be in the water? Maybe we should consider the benefits of hydrophobia…


All-inclusive identities
Name: Beth
Date: //2004-09-27 12:32:37 :
Link to this Comment: 10961

Fuss's idea that identity is relational brings us back to our discussion about the term "queer" and Sedgwick's idea that it is something that can only be self-identified, that it "seems to hinge much more radically and explicitly on a person's undertaking particular, performative acts of experimental self-perception and filiation" (9). In order to define our identity in terms of who/what we are, we have to know what we are not in relation to language and how we understand/interpret words and their meanings. Dinshaw spoke of GLQ and its appeal and access to an audience of a queer urban culture living in the United States, how internationally queer is viewed as an "Americanist" identity. Dinshaw's classification of the "Q" of the title of the journal as "a sliding signifier" in order to try and capture both the academic "quarterly" and the "descriptive, unapologetic, bitchy queer" demonstrates how important language is, not only to our understanding, but also to the inclusion/exclusion of individuals. If the "Q" had stood definitively for one or the other, who would have the journal lost in relation to those willing to write/read it?

Fuss and Delany both acknowledge the problem of the inside/outside rhetoric and the fact that there is no such thing as being completely inside or outside, especially in regard to the notion of sexuality, which Delany sees as "always occurring partly inside language and partly outside of it" (132). The reality, as Fuss points out in her conclusion, is that "the dream of either a common language or no language at all is just that - a dream, a fantasty..." (239). Dinshaw's story of censorship and Delany's worrisome tales make it apparent that sexuality is more than the language that described it, that sexuality is individual and experiential. However, they also reveal to us that it is not necessarily the language of the experiences that is viewed as deviant or "other." As Delany states, "...even the similarities are finally, to the extent they are living ones, a play of differences - only specific ones, socially constituted. Not transcendental ones" (131). When exploring issues of gender, what is troubling is more than the limitations of language but the idea of these all-inclusive identities that are naturally tied to it.



Name: Sierra
Date: //2004-09-27 12:51:59 :
Link to this Comment: 10962

The Delany article reminded me of something that Sara mentioned last week in class. She asked if what Foucault was claiming about discussion about sex being more open in the seventeenth century. To some extent sex has always been outside of language--whether it is by censorship as Dinshaw talked about it, or simply by an inability to express certain things about sex. When Sara asked this it reminded me about a discussion we had in another class where we talked about how it is convenient to think that discussion in the past about sex has been much less free than it is now because it makes us feel like we are so much further ahead and better off.

Dinshaw talking about the censorship in her magazine and reading the Delany shows us how we are both better off and behind. Sex for us is still very much outside language. GLQ tried to bring it within language by publishing articles but they were censored. Even after it succeeded in publishing the article it was within a smaller readership and a very select type of reader. Group by group we are slowly bringing sex more within language.


Pleasure in the discussion of sex and gender
Name: Gilda
Date: //2004-09-27 15:59:30 :
Link to this Comment: 10964

I wanted to address something else that Dinshaw brought up: the element of desire in what we're studying, especially when that happens to be sex. This is especially important in light of our recent discussion about pleasure, I think. She talked about not disconnecting ourselves from the pleasure we get out of talking, writing, and reading about certain things. Then S&M pictures in GLQ had an "academic" purpose, but that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy them in a sexual level, if that's something that arouses you. This relates to what Delany tries to illustrate with the story of Mike getting off on licking other men's shoes--that there are "socially constituted and perverse" ways of obtaining pleasure.

Enjoying pictures in GLQ beyond an academic level transgresses the border between the "socially constituted" the "perverse." Yet Dinshaw says that we needn't separate our academic interest from our sexual desire. Similarly, Delany tells a series of sexual anecdotes "to trouble," "to maneuver some of [us] into thinking: 'Is this what Gay Identity is supposed to be?'" But Delany's tales may serve a double purpose: that of awakening desire in his audience (by appealing to our voyeuristic tendencies), therefore sparking interest in his ultimately academic agenda.


inside/outside
Name: Marissa Ch
Date: //2004-09-27 16:10:01 :
Link to this Comment: 10965

I think Fuss really addressed what Dinshaw alluded to in class, the whole problem of bringing "queer" into the academic sphere. As Fuss said, "the issue is the old standoff between confrontation and assimilation: does one compromise oneself by working on the inside, or does one shortchange oneself by holding tenaciously to the outside?" (p.236-237)

Dinshaw addressed this paradox by leaving to meanings for the "Q" in the "GLQ" journal. "Q" standing for "quarterly" gives the journal the "academic legitimacy" it deserves; "Q" standing for "queer" allows the journal to be "fractious" and "unapologetic." It is very useful to allow these two interpretations, because it gives the journal the opportunity to exist both on the "inside" and the "outside."


Outside of Language
Name: Mo Convery
Date: //2004-09-27 16:20:21 :
Link to this Comment: 10966

The bulk of the extraordinary rich, frightening, and complex sexual landscape has been- and remains-outside of language.
Delay 143


Language, both in writing and verbal communication, is one of the most direct methods to express the ideas and emotions that surround our identities to those around us. However, as Delay suggests in this past statement and further in his essay Aversion/Perversion/Diversion, expressing or explaining our sexual identities through language can often be insufficient due to the lack of consistent terms and freedom of expression. The “troublesome tales” which he describes poignantly illustrate this sense of shortcoming. This idea of sexuality outside of language reminded me of Dinshaw’s experience with censorship in Canada and Malaysia. GLQ meant to explore sexuality in a scholarly fashion. Despite its academic and scholastic motifs, it was met by opposition on the very basic publishing level. I wish to question whether this censorship is another example of sexuality being deficiently understood because of a general lack of language necessary to express it. In this case what made scholastic approaches to sexuality different than general pornography? Moreover, how can this distinction be identified by the inexperienced eye?


censorship and inside/outside
Name: Jessie
Date: //2004-09-27 17:02:25 :
Link to this Comment: 10967

In relation with Fuss, I think it’s telling that the GLQ journal was literally held up at the borders. More than just sharing a common symbol of a flag or state bird, what makes a national identity is a common idea of morality, sexuality, regulation of bodies (argued in “Queer Nationality” by Lauren Berlant and Elizabeth Freeman). By creating this national identity, a country creates an “inside” identity for itself, with opposing values necessarily “outside” – outside of the national identity, and literally outside of the country. A country’s interest in maintaining a national identity is very much tied up with what is allowed Inside and what must be kept Outside the country. Customs’ job, then, is not just to make sure that certain illegal substances or potential diseases don’t get into the country – in the case of GLQ, its job was to make sure that certain discourses challenging the national identity didn’t get inside the country. The Malaysian Customs didn’t think sexually explicit depictions of Islam accorded with its religious national values, and therefore deemed the journal illegal, obscene, Not-Malaysian. This also relates to Dinshaw’s comment that Eastern countries tend to view homosexuality as a Western problem that threatens their native culture – homosexuality is seen as an opposing, very much “outside” identity. As Fuss says of heterosexuality, and as I think also applies to national identity, the "inside" is established using a language of defense that “secures its self-identity and shores up its ontological boundaries by protecting itself from what it sees as the continual predatory encroachments of its contaminated other."


Intersectionality: Dinshaw, Fuss, Delany
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-24 17:05:46 :
Link to this Comment: 10943

By Monday @ 5, please post here your thoughts about the intersections you see between Carolyn Dinshaw's account of "LGBT Studies in a Transnational Frame" and the thinking of Fuss and Delany about insidedness and outsidedness.

One of Fuss's key ideas is that identity is relational, defined by what we are NOT...to what degree does that notion play out in Dinshaw's story about censorship?

Delany picks up (as he says, "with a finer economy") Fuss's notion of what it means for sex to be inside/outside of language. How does Dinshaw's story of the censorship of GLQ align with Delany's "worrisome tales"?

Why does he want to trouble us: for what purpose, what end?

Does he, for you, succeed in doing so?

Did Dinshaw?


Queer Label Ramble
Name: Arielle Ab
Date: //2004-09-23 10:48:33 :
Link to this Comment: 10928

Tuesday’s class was very interesting and I was impressed by the meaty conversations we were able to engage in. The different points of view on the term “queer” were particularly engaging. I myself have always felt that “queer” in some way applies all Other sexualities. However, I then question what is the “normal” sexuality that would then lend to queer referencing Other. I suppose that I might say heterosexual monogamy. However, how is getting off with one’s spouse in a certain position so incredibly different then being turned on by someone of the same sex say, chained to the shower curtain rod? Well, yes, one is the norm but let’s forget that for a moment, what about the fact that each of us is so diverse and if we all think differently, look differently, have different life experiences, role models, dreams, goals, then shouldn’t our sexuality be as diverse? And shouldn’t each form be just as valid? If today I can grow up with dreams of being the President, a ballet dancer, a teacher, a Wall Street tycoon, then shouldn’t I be able to grow up to express my sexuality in my own unique way also without someone saying “No, this is the proper thing, you should only want to be a school teacher, you should only have heterosexual sex, and only of course, with a loving husband.” In fact, I would hope that my sexual prerogatives would concern the community far LESS than my occupation. After all, isn’t my sex life between me and those who choose to participate in it? Granted, if I was a sexual exhibitionist then that brings in a whole other aspect since it would be affecting society at large and in a very public way. Maybe I’m just thinking of some kind of radical world when categories become far too limiting and straight, gay, bi, queer don’t cut it anymore. I don’t think they do us justice even today. Although in a more conservative world than exists in my mind, they do a nice job of simplifying the various issues. Would it be too much if everyone responded specifically to the question “What’s your orientation? What turns YOU on?” It might be. Who knows. For now I’m just a straight woman who likes women who look like teenage boys. How about you?



Name: Jana
Date: //2004-09-23 11:04:01 :
Link to this Comment: 10929

After reading some posts, I was thinking about the Lockoff stuff we read, and then I thought about the whole idea that attractiveness changes through the generations. Like how skinny people weren’t attractive because it meant they weren’t wealthy enough to eat a lot, and tan people weren’t attractive because it meant they were working in the fields. That is very interesting, because that means not only that the more political field of wealth was attractive, as it still is today, but that one’s fantasy is not necessarily something independent of politics. Perhaps “normal” people of today fantasizing about skinny supermodels would be considered perverted 200 yrs ago. I think the shoe leather thing is silly when you say it that way, but my hunch is that there is some kind of hidden politics in there that make people think its so “immoral”. We use immoral discourse to talk about political aspects of sex, and unfortunately your deepest fantasies that you consider to be your own, are probably more sociological than you'd like to think.

Also I was thinking about how some perversions that stay in fantasy are considered normal, like sleeping with your friend’s mom (if you’re a guy), or with your teacher. But in reality, one could get arrested or at least socially discarded for such behavior. So society seems to have a sense that we are creating the desire by the restrictive discourse, but it only goes so far. In reality, it’s feared that these kinds of sexual acts could break up the “family” fabric and so we must keep young people out of adult sexuality. I agree that these acts should probably stay in one’s head, but all the sudden, I’m not so sure why I really believe this. I think we need to stop assuming that perversion is a sickness of a person, and think more along the lines of perversion being a element of a sickness in society.


RE: our queer queeries
Name: nancy
Date: //2004-09-23 13:03:41 :
Link to this Comment: 10933

Since we were originally supposed to be reading Fuss for today, I am going to use what I remember of her from freshman year to respond to the discussion about queerness.

I keep returning to the idea that, as far as being 'othering', queer and gay do about the same thing-- they differentiate between 'straight' and the 'other'. So why is one more preferable than the other? Why do some organizations choose 'queer' as opposed to 'glbt'? I think Fuss would point right to the relational component. Straight has a re-affirming outside. If you can point to someone who is gay, your group (straight) is all the more valid. You are not 'them' and they are not 'you'. In a sense, straight can only exist so long as there is gay to keep the borders neat and defined. Now throw queer into the mix. What is queer and (more importantly) WHO is queer? Is there an antithesis of queer, and what would that mean?

Now, instead of the dominant ingroup setting the paramenters and defining the outgroup by opposition to themselves, the outgroup has defied the rules and retreated into the gray space in between. In order for straight to acknowledge and become comfortable with queer, they must accept that they did not institute queer, and so they must figure themselves around it in order to develop any sort of comparative relationship. In a sense, to be the opposite of queer means to acknowledge the agency queers have to create their own group.

So, following the inside/outside track a bit farther, when I think of Swat's 'queer' groups as opposed to haverford's 'gay' groups, I imagine the queer group coming from within the queer/gay population whereas I imagine Haverford's group being instituted FOR gay students by someone else. I have no idea if this is at all accurate with the origins of the groups, but the language leads me to those conclusions.







The slippery slope
Name: Nancy
Date: //2004-09-23 13:17:43 :
Link to this Comment: 10934

It is almost too easy, in the safety of a liberal arts classroom, to discard societal constructions and rules regarding sex. I remember sitting in Thinking Sex as a frosh, listening to all the brilliant women around me wondering aloud "WHY we are allowed to limit anyone's sexual experince at all???" "who are we to judge anyone else" "who condones us to make rules about when someone is ready to have sex?". The points all seemed valid: I mean, age has nothing to do with maturity. A thirteen year old girl (woman?) can be more mature and prepared for a sexual relationship than a seventeen year old who has yet to get her period. What is the age at which one can decide to become a sexual being? Are we limiting choice, freedom, agency by denying this right?

At the time, I fell for this argument hook, line, and sinker. At least until someone else in the class spoke up. It went something like this: "Think about what we're trying to say here! Think about your little sister, think about your niece, think about your daughter! We have a moral obligation to protect children from potentially harmful situations, and if that means erring on the side of being too conservative with children about sex, that's fine with me!"

Two years later, I am still torn. How can we not limit children's sexual experimentation while still protecting them? If it is not okay for adults to have sexual interactions with children, is it okay for children of the same age to have sexual interactions with one another? If parents find out their child and another child are experimenting, do they have a resposibility to stop the behavior?









Foucault and Rubin in relation to the classroom
Name: Bree Beery
Date: //2004-09-23 13:24:38 :
Link to this Comment: 10935

Although I found the queer vs. gay vs. straight talk very interesting what I was most struck by was Anne's semi-speech at the end of class. She asked us to relate Foucault's writing to the classroom.
According to Foucault, sexuality is a link of several different facets that relate a number of varied ideas, such as politics, power, desire and discourse. Foucault does not describe sexuality as a conception, but rather as a way of connecting thoughts.
What is interesting is that in describing sexuality, Foucault is also describing another idea based on power relations- that of the classroom. For the classroom also acts as a way to link many different ideas as well.
Another similarity is the notion of power relations. While sexuality channels power relations, institutions arrange them. A hierarchy is then arranged by institutions such as medicine, psychology, etc. This also relates back to the Rubin reading, where she attempts to create some kind of power structure (pgs. 17 and 18). Similarly, the institution of education also arranges power relations of the classroom in a hierarchical way. The teachers/professors are at the top of the pyramid, they are the ‘married heterosexual missionary position vanilla sex’ of the classroom. Next, are those in the class who many label as ‘active participants.’ They are the unmarried couples, perhaps homosexual, but mostly they are the masturbators of the pyramid. I call them masturbators because most of the time that is what many of them do- verbal masturbation. They simply speak with no productive purpose. And lastly, there are the quieter people of the class, the listeners, who many would label as the queer portion of the pyramid, consisting of transvestites, transsexuals, etc. In Rubin’s drawing (pg. 18) they are labeled as ‘bad’, ‘abnormal, and ‘unnatural,’ which is exactly how many educators view the non active participants. However, what many educators forget, and forgive me if I am getting a little Marxist, is that the power of those at the top is only there because of those at the bottom. Without legs to stand on the upper divisions of the pyramid would not be able to survive. So although the ‘listeners’ of the class do not have direct power, they do have a stronger indirect power.
Another aspect of Anne’s speech which I found interesting was how you kept referring to ‘freedom to speak’, citing Beth as an example. However all I could think about was what about the freedom not to speak- the right to remain silent? Each of those is equally powerful and should be better understood by many educators.


Language as problematic in relation to the individ
Name: Beth
Date: //2004-09-22 22:26:09 :
Link to this Comment: 10916

When talking about discourse on Tuesday, it was defined as essentially the ways in which people and cultures have understood things through language. I feel as though I keep going back to the individual, and the idea of understanding things through language is proving to be problematic for me when thought of in relation to the individual. I think this has been apparent in our discussions. For example, the term "queer" appeared to have different connotations for everyone, and is there any word that doesn't? Understanding what someone else is saying involves more than just the use of language. There is only so much that words can tell us. Sometimes talking about something isn't liberating just frustrating, but what is the alternative?

One of the questions that came up in class was what does talking about sexuality allow you to know about someone's identity? My answer is not very much. All you would be getting is one facet of someone's personality, or to bring the conversation back to Warner, one single aspect of just one of a person's multiple identities. Also, what about binaries? Why is language so obsessed with defining things in relation to their similarity/difference? Is it so difficult to see the world in shades of gray as opposed to black and white? It all seems to come back to the idea of our unavoidable categorization. It is why acts eventually become attached to someone's identity. An act is performed, whether consciously or unconsciously, and in a way, it is impossible to separate the act from the individual. After all, don't we as a society believe that the question of why is directly tied to the personality of the individual? It is the why that is so important to our understanding of someone and who they are, and this is linked to language and to categorization. However, if categorization is necessary and involuntary and language is limited, is an understanding of another individual's identity possible?


A thought on the domino theory
Name: LB
Date: //2004-09-22 23:55:22 :
Link to this Comment: 10919

It's just a legality, but if conservatives are so uncomfortable with the disgusting gay man stereotypical environment complete with bathhouses, dance clubs, bars, and streets for cruising, why are they also against gay marriage which would keep the gay activity limited to the private sphere?
This came to mind when reading Rubin and I hope we will be discussing Rubin's work in depth in a future class. I agree with Rubin's concept of the stipulations for democratic morality--"judge sexual acts by the way partners treat one another, the level of mutual consideration," etc. (p. 18), but she is also drawing a line of which she accuses current society. As "the line" continues to be pushed back, the opposition becomes increasingly conservative and "incited to discourse" as Foucault would put it.

I'd also like to present a theory: the domino effect applies to two aspects of variances in sexual behavior. 1. that tolerating one "over the line" acts/behaviors/lifestyles will lead to others further down on the sex hierarchy (as Rubin describes) and 2. each act will in turn become commonplace i.e. a sex interest group forms, they raise awareness about themselves, secure resources, present their issues (not specifically sex related) in public spaces (politics), and suddenly everyone is doing it (e.g. gay marriage?). Society is not open to shifts in the sex hierarchy--at this rate it's going to take a coup d'etat.


queer vs gay
Name: Deborah
Date: //2004-09-23 00:36:48 :
Link to this Comment: 10920

I have been thinking a lot about our discussions in class on Tuesday...like many of my peers, I feel that the most interesting and rich dialogue was the discussion involving the terms "queer" and "gay". I think the issues that I have with the discussion is that there is a difference between being defined by a label and belonging to a group or culture. Marissa was talking in class and she said something along the lines of "...if they were just gay, it would be one thing..." (I'm sorry Marissa, I don't remember exactly what you said, but primarily the "just gay" part). Also, in an earlier post, Sara describes Swat' and HC's groups being "defined" by the terms either queer or gay. “Does our lack of the word queer to define our gay student groups reaffirm [Haverford being seen as not queer friendly]?” My point is, using the term gay or queer should not be a limiting linguistic label. The issue is that just being heterosexual does not equate normal, so being gay does not equate strangeness. From Foucault’s History of Sexuality, we’ve been exposed to some of the ways in which alternative sexualities have been born and then persecuted…the label queer is a way in which all the disparate peoples who are not heterosexual can identify with a positive group of acceptance without further labels. If you identify as queer, it does not pigeon-hole you as “gay” or “lesbian”. It also is inclusive of “strait allies”. The way that I view queer identity is a community that accepts, not merely tolerates, difference in sexuality. Being different does not mean being in opposition with normal but rather not so easily assimulated categorically. We might have to work harder than our natural or societal categories have so far limited us in our thinking, and not push “queer” away just for being different.


tuesday's class post
Name: Jessie
Date: //2004-09-23 01:06:13 :
Link to this Comment: 10922

"I love queer. Queer is a homosexual of either sex. It's more convenient than saying 'gays' which has to be qualified, or 'lesbians and gay men.' It's an extremely useful polemic term because it is who we say we are, which is, 'Fuck You'."
-Spike Pittsberg


I think that the assumption of “normal” and “abnormal” in regards to sexual experience is probably the biggest roadblock we have in an attempt to create a sexually-inclusive discourse of sexuality – to find a Rubin-style “pluralistic sexual ethics.” We have to realize that sexuality is a huge range of experiences – as I hope we all realize, people can get off on anything from shoe leather to the idea of monogamously making love to one person for the rest of their lives; from missionary position to Catholic-school dress-up. When you consider this huge range of experiences, the macho every-man guy who gets off on fantasizing about super-models doesn’t really seem that much less perverse, does he? This all-inclusiveness, this deconstruction of normalcy, this refusal to admit that there are such categories as “normal” and “abnormal” is exactly what “queer” is all about. Does this seem too controversial? Let’s not forget that not too long ago “gay” was also a supposedly radical term as well.

The problem with the “gay identity” is that it assumes just that – an identity. It glosses over too many differences, categorizing too many people with varieties of sexual experiences under the same title. This is why I don’t think it’s a great springboard for sexual politics. But if “gay” works for you, that’s fine! “Gay” and “queer” don’t have to be oppositional terms at all, in fact, they’re not even necessarily related. “Gay” is about sexual object-choice, whereas “queer” is about identity politics – about questioning social norms. Queer challenges us to rethink what constitutes our identity – it questions the idea that one must be gay, straight or bi and that that determines your sexual experience. It recognizes that there is a multiplicity of experiences within human sexuality. It rejects the binary ideology that places homosexuality and heterosexuality in opposition and then privileges the latter, calling it normal. It embraces the spectrum of sexual behavior, acts, desires, and pleasures that could ideally constitute, as Rubin would say, benign sexual variation.


Silencing Sex Norms
Name: Mo Convery
Date: //2004-09-23 01:45:40 :
Link to this Comment: 10923

As has been stated ealier within this forum, both Foucault and Rubin address the prominance of child protection surronding sexual issues. In both cases, lack of sexual education or at the very least an open dialogue about sex is condeming not only to children but also to adults in society. As a person who spent all 13 years prior to Bryn Mawr in the Catholic school system, I was taught about sex in a very rigid and condemning way. We not only were taught the rigid framework in which to define our own sexual idenities, but were condemned if we deviated from any othe the set ideals. Thus, could the lack of sexual education of children be liberating rather than restricting and condemning? If we look at sex from a completely personal level, could this lack of education allow children to form their own ideas of and identity surronding sex through their own feelings and experiences rather than basing it on what they are taught? While I do feel that open dialogue about sex and sexuality is ideal, I argue that no dialogue can be used as a liberating tactic.


theory and practice
Name: Rebecca Ma
Date: //2004-09-22 01:14:22 :
Link to this Comment: 10903

Both Foucault and Rubin discuss intergenerational sex as one of the many kinds of pluralistic sex outside of the conventional intergenerational, heterosexual and “vanilla” sex. Since the meaning of sex is not referential, the consequences of the sexual act are also not referential. Although some would object to the power difference thus real freedom to consent between adult partner and child partner in sex, I point out that severe power differences also exist between men and women. Nobody except radical feminists object, in an absolute way, to men and women having sex. Taking into account Rubin’s comment about the denial of the difference between the most brutal rape and the most gentle romance in the use of statutory rape laws, I argue that sex with children are acts within context. If we apply Rubin’s criterion for forming the judgment of sex by evaluating the mutual consideration of partners, quality and quantity of pleasures, then we can use age as one of the factors to determine the possibility of the realization of consideration and pleasures.


Tuesday's class
Name: Chelsea Ph
Date: //2004-09-22 17:07:37 :
Link to this Comment: 10907

I think the most useful/interesting/thought-provoking part of our discussion on Tuesday centered around the term “queer” and how we use/don’t use it and in what context. Sedgewick/Sara/David’s likening of the duality between sex/gender and that of gay/queer were really insightful and led to a nice discussion about the connotations/limitations of the term “queer” in both the tri-co community and in the larger world.

It’s really a shame that we didn’t get to discuss the Rubin, because I think her “phallacy of misplaced scale” could be useful in reflecting on our class structure. In the discussion of how to better incorporate all voices into the conversation, I think we’ve been placing too much emphasis on “is raising hands right or wrong?” when that isn’t the issue at all. The issue that I was really trying to address was that the structure of class discussions was actually disallowing discussion. The problem, I think, is making the classroom a space where talking or not talking is voluntary and consensual (to borrow Rubin’s language) without structuring it so that people are so caught up in getting to talk that they wind up repeating what has already been said or having to wait to make a comment that ultimately makes the discussion circular.

I enjoyed Tuesday’s class a lot- it seemed much more like a conversation because people really listening to each other. I don’t know where exactly this plays in, but it seems that we are not getting to all the materials we read for class, and I for one would be in favor of some agreed-upon structure that would enable us to talk about all of these materials. If that means allowing more time and moving readings around because we find things that really provoke a good discussions, maybe that isn’t a bad thing. But it seems that as we are, a lot is falling by the wayside that could be really beneficial.


More about children and sex
Name: Gilda
Date: //2004-09-22 18:50:08 :
Link to this Comment: 10908

I just wanted to clarify that my last post was not so much about adults having sex with children, which is something Anne asked to think about at the end of class, but more about how kids understand sex, how they view sex, masturbation, etc. More of a children (and I'm going with the under-18 legal definition here) having sex with other children/themselves thing. What do kids think sex is supposed to be like? What are their expectations? How are these are result of their parents/teachers' silence?

Anyway, moving on the matter of adults having sex with children. Rubin, in the essay itself says a radical acceptance of sexuality must be inclusive of all kinds of erotic taste. However, in the Afterword, she subtly makes a difference between what is "right' and "wrong" when it comes to sex with children. She talks about "the genuine issues of protecting children from abusive treatment" and how society has targeted "day-care workers, gay men, pedophiles, readers of porn, Satanists" as the culprit of child sexual abuse, while it's mostly straight men who do it, within ordinary families.

"Pedophiles" has a negative connotation for most people, but not for Rubin. According to the trusty m-w.com, "pedophilia" is just the "sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object." Rubin says we should accept pedophilia--when children are not being harmed by it, because as I pointed out before, she does have a problem with abuse. When is an adult abusing a child, or when is it case of an adult and child mutually benefitting for one another's erotic taste?

The whole isue of age of consent comes into play here. When is a kid old enough to be able to say yes to sleeping with an adult without it having harmful consecuences? So those "perverts" (to use Rubin's terms) who get erotic pleasure from toddlers are always abusers, because even if the toddler agrees to it or "likes" it, he/she is not old enough to know it could be harmful?

Frankly, I don't know what Rubin would say. It would contradict her theory to draw a line between what constitutes acceptable sexual behavior and what does not. But she doesn't seem to be comfortable just letting it go, either.


Foucault post 2 -- applying to Clinton
Name: Jessie
Date: //2004-09-22 20:01:07 :
Link to this Comment: 10909

I think the Clinton impeachment trial illustrates Foucault’s system of power in several ways. It clearly shows that "power" is not something located strictly in the Oval Office, in the State, or in the Law that is then imposed on everyone else. It demonstrates an interlocking web of power, which even the president is influenced by. The trial also was run primarily by men. The "investigators" were largely rich white men. The investigator here could represent Foucault’s modern-day priest or scientist, the receiver of the confession. This is the one with the responsibility to hear and interpret what happened, to find the Truth in it, and then determine how it can be managed. Ken Starr’s job was to find out what happened, which would then give Clinton a certain IDENTITY that was incompatible with being fit to lead. Notice too that the confessor, Clinton, was male, making both sides of the confession-interchange male. Though the trial depended on Lewinsky’s testimony, it was not about her – the relationship that was focused on, the interchange that created the knowledge, was between Starr and Clinton. Lewinsky was present as a body, as an object, but not as an active participant in the discourse. This reflects one of Foucault’s limitations – in order for his work to be complete, it needs to be examined for the gendering of his power dynamics. Men and women don’t share equally in the creation of discourse, and do not have the same experience within the power system.


Foucault
Name: Marissa Ch
Date: //2004-09-22 21:28:29 :
Link to this Comment: 10911

I thought it was interesting when reading LB's comment how she differentiated sexual harassment from the (inconsequential) actions of Clinton. I would think according to Foucault, sexual harassment (or voicing one's sexual desires and relating comments) should not be "repressed" any more than the under-age sex we discussed in class. This can be another example of how our modern society has criminalized another expression of sex.
When Foucault describes the relationship between power and sex, it reminded me of my "teenage rebellion" stage in life. The "family controls" he mentions (p.45) and "the pleasure that kindles from having to evade this power" is one of the subconcious (and maybe concious) factors that makes sexual activity so exciting for teenagers.


What is queer?
Name: Claire
Date: //2004-09-22 21:29:56 :
Link to this Comment: 10912

I (in agreement with Chelsea) thought the most interesting, or perhaps most relavent (at least to me), part of Tuesdays class was the discussion on the definition of "queer."

After class I realized that I did not, and perhaps still do not, truly understand the meaning of the word queer, especially after the discussion about whether it is an umbrella term or a term that defines only the rigorously marginalized. In a beginning attempt to clarify the meaning of the word I turned to urbandictionary.com. From there I found this definition:

Queer: "Re-claimed umbrella term used to describe the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and general non-heterosexual communities. Queer is the opposite of Straight."

I think that the real defintion of queer goes beyond this, and extends to the idea of identification and action (just as the class paralleled sex/gender with gay/queer). By this, I take from Sedgwick the idea that one is queer only if they identify themselves as queer through their ideas and actions. Queer originally meant "weird" or "strange." Not everyone (and my everyone I mean those of all sexualities) identifies themselves this way. As Anne brought up in class, a heterosexual straight white woman may consider herself strange because she is only having missionary sex with her husband, while while a transsexual black man may not consider himself queer. It is all based on individual perspective and recognition.

Foucault can even be applied to this analysis. In "The History of Sexuality," he suggests "society succeeded only in giving rise to a whole perverse outbreak and a long pathology of the sexual instinct" by creating a discourse on sexuality. I think part of the reason that coming up with a definition of queer has been so difficult is because society has created so many pigeon-holed definitions of things (e.g. gynecomasts, prebyophiles, etc*)and has made the conventional defintion of queer an umbrella term for these pigeon-holed groups, but also has made it elusive based on the numerous things that could be possibly considered "queer." This is why, in the long run, queer is going to be defined not as a specific thing, but by those specific people who consider themselves queer.

*From Foucault p. 43


ruminations
Name: Deborah
Date: //2004-09-20 18:39:05 :
Link to this Comment: 10890

As I've been reading Foucault and thinking about the tenor of our classroom and online discussions, I've been trying to tease out what was the point of our discussions, if they were merely decorative descriptions of what was read or just statements of interest in the texts and each other's ideas...why discuss hard issues of sex, sexuality, gender, and difference in other forms, with no purpose beyond feeling a sense of release, perhaps, or authority. Eve Kosofsky writes about the urgency with which her courses are configured,
“That it was a field where the actual survival of other people in the class might at the very moment be at stake—where, indeed, in a variety of ways so might their own be—was hard to make notable to them among the permitted assumptions of their liberal arts education.” (White Nights, last paragraph)
Do people get off on being gay in a gender class? By being female? By being male in a heretofore mostly female class? I think that that is exactly why we take this class. As Foucault writes,
“The pleasure that comes of exercising a power that questions, monitors, watches, spies, searches out, palpates, brings to light; and on the other hand, the pleasure that kindles at having to evade this power, flee from it, fool it, or travesty it. The power that lets itself be invaded by the pleasure it is pursuing; and opposite it, power asserting itself in the pleasure of showing off, scandalizing, or resisting.”
This is an interesting take on sexuality, both in addressing it authoritatively and expressing it personally…through address and congress, we take pleasure in our power through our mastery of our own or other’s sexuality. This supports the idea that the personal is political, insofar as politics is defined (by Anne in class?) as the pursuit and holding of power; our personal pursuit of others or our own sexuality, the knowledge therein, provides us with a heady drug of purported authority. I don’t think that Puritan notions control our discourses on sex in modern times, but the pursuit of pleasure through the power of knowing “illegitimate” things that drives our personal gossips and public investigations (e.g. Monica and Bill). What we need to think about in our classroom is how are we perpetuating this search for pleasure/power, and/or how can we depart from it…is it worth it to re-wire our senses of pleasure, through sex or power pursuit? Are we still shying away from talking about pleasure? Throughout the readings, no sense of a positive pleasure principle is being explored…we talk about sex and sexual deviancy or children’s sexuality, but not of pleasure. We’ve talked about characterization in abstracts, biology, philosophy and sociology, but not with pleasure in mind. Perhaps pleasure should be the lens through which we look at history, as opposed to gender or sexuality…it is perhaps a more universal and unifying human trait that effects personal and public identities and activities that cross all lines of difference.


Repressive Education
Name: Chelsea
Date: //2004-09-21 00:25:48 :
Link to this Comment: 10893

I really appreciate Gilda's highlighting of the repression of children's sexuality, particularly as I'm playing with the idea of doing my thesis on Peter Pan, and this has everything to do with it! Although we do tend to think of this repression as being "archaic," and ourselves as being liberal, the addressing of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair and the recent limitations imposed by the Bush administration on Sex Ed in schools brings into alarming focus the very real, very active repression our culture is still struggling against. Abstinence-only education in schools is debilitating, as it reinforces notions of the body as forbidden and as belonging to other than the self- if you are denied knowledge of it until granted by some outside source, how can it ever be yours, and how can you ever know it?

I remember having a very open discussion with my mother while taking Anne’s Thinking Sex class, in which I told her that I was feeling greatly liberated from conventions I had grown into about sex, desire, etc. and she was surprised, because she had never actively tried to impose any ideals on me, she wanted me to make my own decisions. Idealistic to a fault. With no guidance from her or my father, I was left with assuming that they shared the views of those around me, which were, in many ways, very confining and having a lot to do with guilt. They didn’t want to micro-manage- but all they wound up doing was leaving me to flounder for myself. So, for goodness sake: talk about sex! Talk about it honestly, openly and frankly…silence is just passive-aggressive repression, even when it’s meant to be a liberation.

I also really appreciate the talk that has been generated by my last post- thanks for being open to re-imagining the classroom and looking for ways to address everyone's comfort levels.


on protecting all the apple pies out there...
Name: Jana McGow
Date: //2004-09-21 10:29:31 :
Link to this Comment: 10894

I agree with both Foucault and Rubin’s critical commentary on England’s 19th century’s obsession and America’s modern one to keep sexuality somehow “controlled”, however, I’m not sure that either presents a complete solution. Some good things seem to have come out of the sex oppression, whether the intentions were good or not. Non-consential sex, for example, in any form is an area where sex should be strictly monotered. This leads me to agree with Deb in that we are not taking the aspect of pleasure enough into the equation, and the attitude about women’s pleasure is crucial. It's more protecting "helpless" women, than empowering them. Ideas of rape originally had to do more with the idea of protecting one’s property than in actually protecting a woman’s right to chose whom she wants to sleep with, which is why much of the laws (like those more tolerant of sexual assault within spousal relationships) are making things even worse, today.
Thus, in the rape case again, it is this History of sexuality that is a lot of the problem, which leads me back to the other articles’ ideas about how history should be studied with more emphasis on minority and gender studies, which seems like at least part of the solution. However, I’m not sure that we can get rid of the higher-archy completely. Sex is not like food. It IS about pleasure, but it also involves people enjoying (and not enjoying) other PEOPLE. Even comparing sex to food shows that we think of one as the actor, and the other as the object. Maybe, its just me, but I can’t imagine a place where sex is not important at all, and so long as it is important, won’t there always will be those who try to use it to their advantage?


Revolution and Swarthmore
Name: Sara Ansel
Date: //2004-09-21 11:18:32 :
Link to this Comment: 10895

I have a couple of brief comments to make. Something that struck me as we read Queer and Now were the titles Haverford and Swarthmore give their gay student groups. Swarthmore's mulitple groups all use the word Queer in their club names. At Haverford we have do not. Why is this? Is there a difference of dynamics on each campus? Haverford, according to some swarthmore students, is not seen as a queer friendly place. Does our lack of the word queer to define our gay student groups reaffirm this?

Also, in reading the History of Sexuality, I was interested in the argument that in the past, sermons have brought about changes in society -revolutions. In modern times, it is argued that sex does this. Is he arguing that a sexual revolution is necessary in order to redefine the economic, political, and social system in western societies? Aditionally, has this already taken place or are we still grasping for revolutionary ideas in this repressive atmosphere?



Name: Bree
Date: //2004-09-21 13:51:29 :
Link to this Comment: 10897

First, I would just like to begin by saying that as a Foucault virgin I enjoyed reading his "History of Sexuality" much more than "The Order of Things." That out of the way, one thing that I found very interesting was the topic of confession in the reading. Although confession began as a strictly religious idea it has since spread and continues to spread to every facet of our society and culture. Yet by confessing we are then categorized and our own personal identities become tied up with our sexuality. I feel that in doing so we lose power rather than distribute it as Foucault stated. However, I do agree with him in the sense that this struggle for power, mainly between, going back to last week's post, the public (ie government etc) and private spheres, is advantageous in helping us to better understand ourselves and sexuality. Another aspect of the reading that although I respect, I also semi -diasgree with is his statement that many of people's perceptions of sexuality stem from social concepts rather than his/her's heart and soul. I would have to say that while yes peoples perceptions are influeneced by cultural constructs, as well as power relations, that is not the only reason. As much as Foucault says that sexuality is public it is just as much private. However, private does not neccessarily mean repressed. It is one way of balancing the public and personal spheres. At the end of the reading I was thinking how I, as a reader, am left to decide upon how to assess his observations, because although he offers fascinating ways of exploring the topic of sexuality by examining ourselves and history, I felt that I was left with very little resolve. But apart from those small factors I really enjoyed this reading. After reading "The Order of Things" I was a little bit discouraged and intimidated by the class but now my faith has been restored, thank you.


A range of possibilities
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-21 21:03:23 :
Link to this Comment: 10899

A reminder to all that--in lieu of assigned reading for Thursday--Gus and I are asking you each to make a second posting this week. Reflect here on what you learned/what you were provoked to think about during today's presentations-and-discussion: of the uses the "homeless thinker" Foucault makes of "discourse," of his "repressive hypothesis," of his "metalevel" approach to historical change, of his challenges to the notion of "liberation," of the inherently "transgressive" quality of sexuality, of the evolution of "acts" into "identity."

And/or: what of Sedgwick's more contemporary take on these matters, her "queering" of sexuality as "one thing," of the "logic of sexual identity"?

What of the application of Foucault's theory to the "disciplinary" action of classroom discussion, to the insistent production of resistance to any structure, to the problematics of speaking as a "free subject"?

And/or what of the (far too brief) account of Rubin's laying out of a methodology for queer studies, with its advocation of a pluralistic sexual ethics and a range of benign sexual variation?

In what ways do you find (any, or any combination, of these range of) ideas useful?


Talking about not talking about it
Name: Rebecca Ma
Date: //2004-09-20 12:05:55 :
Link to this Comment: 10881

In consistently talking about how we can’t talk about sex, using all the details to incite more talk, we use discourse about sex to regulate it. The formation and deployment of sexuality require its ever-present existence in dialogue as non-existent or forbidden. If Kenneth Starr can be incorporated into the Foucaultian framework, then his power can be described as one that encroaches on bodies and pleasure by exploiting the understanding that contemporary Americans are sexually repressed. Within this framework, Starr is able to excite people into discourse about the sex within the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.


Who's to blame for the discourse?
Name: LB
Date: //2004-09-20 12:50:10 :
Link to this Comment: 10882

A big Thank You to Gus for bringing Political Science into the discourse--I am exceedingly happy to have my discipline represented. The nation's excessive interest into the sex life of a grey haired white man with a heart condition shows just how desperate we (as a sexually repressed culture) were for some action. I would classify the entire affair as a discourse between the media, Clinton's spokespeople, and the general population. There was an "institutional incitement to speak about it [the affair]" (Foucault, p. 18) and "everything had to be told" (Foucault p. 19) right down to the dirty details. Clinton's affair with Monica was clearly not for procreative reasons, and it was so controversial in the Puritan USA because we're still laboring under the misapprehension that sex is only functional (less emphasis placed on simply pleasurable). Europeans could not figure out what the big deal was--who cared who he slept with so long as he didn't give her government money? A sexual harrassment case is a different issue, of course.

Also, it's interesting to reflect on the backlash against Hillary after the "scandal." If W. were found guilty of the same acts, people would probably think "Poor Laura--she stays at home and this is how he repays her." But plenty of people thought Hillary didn't work hard enough at home to keep her man from straying from their boudoir. Her immediate success into the Senate is proof that she might have been focused on, heaven forbid, her career as opposed to meeting Bill's sexual needs so he wouldn't be driven into the arms of another woman.


SEMEN!!!!!!!
Name: Claire
Date: //2004-09-20 13:41:29 :
Link to this Comment: 10884

I hope this title got your attention, it was supposed to. “Semen,” also known on the bodily fluid of Clinton’s found on Monica’s blue dress, is, if memory serves me right, a word that was never used in the investigation (or at least not on the news). Foucault addresses the issue of “the repressed hypothesis,” arguing that in the repression of sexuality through vocabulary and actions (such as not using the word semen because of its crudeness), has lead to a greater discourse on the subject matter than their ever had been before. I like the way Rebecca put it: “Talking about not talking about it.” Society talks around issues because of their taboo nature, while all at the same time still addressing and confronting the taboo issues that are not to be discussed. In truth, it seems kind of silly to me, and I think it did to Foucault as well. Hence the reason he asked us to think about how sexuality, through this roundabout discourse, has become engrained in almost every aspect of society. It is by looking at the actuality of our innumerable discourses on sexuality that we can begin to examine, as Foucault did, how sexuality impacts most aspects of our daily lives.


Foucaut post 1 -- context and comic books
Name: Jessie
Date: //2004-09-20 13:52:10 :
Link to this Comment: 10886

I have to admit, if I were a gay man and a lot smarter, I would want Foucault to be my boyfriend. He’s absolutely brilliant and I adore him. Anyway, I love Foucault’s concept of categories. Foucault says that there’s nothing particular or special about our feelings, our desires, anything we typically consider “personal.” They don’t actually illuminate any great Truth about ourselves, since they’re actually socially constructed. They’re a part of a complex social system that then leads us to believe that they’re “innate” and “special” to ourselves. He’s not saying it’s BAD to categorize – to label yourself “gay / working-class / whatever” – BUT this label is always relative to your cultural context.

Switching to Jimmy Corrigan… Jimmy is quite literally immersed in his context, in every frame. He’s pictorally trapped in his culture, again and again, that determines categories like “masculine,” “white,” “male,” “heterosexual” – concepts that keep recurring in his life, that he can’t get away from. His context, the comic book genre, determines his idea of himself – no wonder superheroes figure so prominently in his psyche. He’s extremely pressured in this genre to conform to the category of “masculinity.” In lieu of a superhuman mask, though, the characters have a white male face. This underlines the constructedness, the non-innateness, of concepts of masculinity – the category of “masculinity” (or “whiteness” or “heterosexual”) is just as much a mask, a performance, as being Spiderman or an X-Man.

So far as the other readings go (“Philosophy of the Flesh”), I didn’t think they were at all responses to Foucault, or at least not intelligent ones. The guy was talking about biological thought processes – no one (that I know of) is questioning the existence of neurons, not even his great, supposed antagonists, the philosophers. My gripe is that it’s a lot different to group by cells, say, than to group by race (or gender, or other hierarchal status). Further… does Lakoff mention at all where categories get names? He seems to be claiming that the “innate”/“embodied” (hence permissible) categories we have come with names too. This is really ridiculous. Like there’s something innately tree-ish about the word “tree.” How does he suppose the signifier “tree” becomes associated with the signified tall leafy things with bark? Does he really think that the word IS the object? That people without language would just start shouting “TREE!” when confronting these tall leafy things? The reason that we all agree on what a word means is due to a social agreement, a complex communal procedure that Foucault speaks of. Since signifiers are socially constructed, they’re also alterable – because of the distance between the word and the object, not everyone has the same idea of what a “tree” (or a “man,” or “goodness,” or “desire,” or whatever word you want) is. Yes, of course humans cognitively have the ability to process information, and we probably even do this by “grouping.” But that’s a completely different meaning of “category” (ironically illustrating Foucault’s point). There’s nothing innate about social agreements and resulting categories that determine norms and definitions.


The History of Sexuality
Name: Beth
Date: //2004-09-20 16:52:57 :
Link to this Comment: 10888

When Foucault writes about "the way in which sex is 'put into discourse,'" he also makes the point that we need to pay attention to the silences and to what is not being said. "Censorship"...what is being censored when it comes to sex, or maybe more importantly, what is not being censored and why? Foucault also points out how, "Today it is sex that serves as a support for the ancient form - so familiar and important in the West - of preaching." As someone who attended a Catholic parochial school for the first nine years of my education, the first thing I thought of was my school's lame, half-hearted attempt at Sex Ed. We basically were told the bare minimum of the scientific details...and of course, not to do it. This was 7th or 8th grade, and one of the male students in the class had parents who objected to having him participate/sit in on these lessons. (I don't know where exactly I'm going with this, other than the fact that it's what came to mind.) As LB mentioned, pleasure is never talked about in regards to sex, especially when dealing with kids/adolescents. If adults are going to educate students about sex in these pathetic attempts, they might as well be honest about it. After all, it's natural. This is kinda what Gilda was emphasizing in her post. Sex happens. Shouldn't we be honest about it from the very beginning? What is accomplished by waiting? The age of sexual activity keeps getting younger, and by the time so-called education takes place, it has become unnecessary and seems like a joke even to those students who might not yet have had firsthand experience.

I think that the relationship of sex to power is undeniable, and when I say sex, I also am talking about the knowledge of sex. By not informing children about it, they are left in the dark and unable to understand an important fact about how the world works. Sex exists in the realm of adulthood, and even then, there are power issues involved between men and women. The point Mo brought up in class about how sex has been taught and explained...like how the sperm penetrates the egg. Whether or not any deep thought has gone into this idea and others about how sex works, I feel it subconsciously influences society and its beliefs on what is natural or "normal." It has provided support for the power mechanisms in existence at the base level. For example, the idea that sex is between a man and a woman only and that it's only use is reproduction. Where does that leave "the others?" Foucault even talks aboout how well-being of a society has to do with "the manner in which each individual made use of his sex." Where does that leave the idea of sex for pleasure since it is not "economically useful or politically conservative"? How does Foucault's belief that pleasure and power "are linked together by complex mechanisms and devices of excitation and incitement" fit in with this idea? Who is having sex for pleasure without being ostracized or persecuted?

Foucault stated, "What is peculiar to modern societies, in fact, is not that they consigned sex to a shadow existence, but that they dedicated themselves to speaking of it ad infinitum, while exploiting it as the secret." This idea is something that I feel I want to keep thinking about because in it I see a truth that we as a society have not yet admitted to ourselves. Maybe we need to go back to the idea of embracing sex as it is, to "a period when bodies 'made a display of themselves'" without regret. Maybe then we will be able to truly have an open discourse about sex.


speech acts: preserving the perverse
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-29 17:57:47 :
Link to this Comment: 10989

I "think outloud" on a number of forums aside from this one (as per this week's Zits cartoon: "I think, therefore I.M."...)

and found myself carrying into a brown bag discussion of Science's Audiences (where facts->fictions had arisen)...

some of what we'd been talking about in class yesterday. See preserving the perverse: the use of scientific fictions.

Another way of talking, I think, about what Gus calls language as a means, not an end....


Women's Studies in "Other" Locations
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-30 10:07:47 :
Link to this Comment: 10996

Me again. I thought, given our discussion, when Carolyn Dinshaw was here, about the "parochialism" of the location of our identity politics, you might all be interested in this call for papers I just received, for a "Special Forum" for NWSA Journal:

CALL FOR PAPERS
Women’s Studies in “Other” Locations

A SPECIAL FORUM IN
NATIONAL WOMEN’S STUDIES ASSOCIATION JOURNAL
SUMMER 2005


DEADLINE for submission: January 1, 2005
(It is recommended that a one-paragraph abstract be submitted to no later than December 1, 2004)

Assessments of the discipline of women’s studies must account for the location of those who claim to speak in its name. Most who work within the discipline are located in institutions with heavy teaching loads, “high needs” students, administrative mandates that limit the content or scope of their programs, and without the resources—particularly time for research and reflection—that would allow them to contribute to a conversation on assessment of the field. Not surprisingly then, most commentary on the discipline of women’s studies comes from those located in what Carnegie classifies as Doctoral Research Universities—Extensive (formerly called Research I institutions). But the process of assessing the discipline requires the input of many voices in addition to what has heretofore been published.

Therefore, we want to hear from feminist/womanist/feminista folks doing women’s studies in “other” locations! These include but are NOT limited to

Contributors should in some way respond to/frame their essay around the forthcoming NWSA Journal article by Catherine M. Orr and Diane Lichtenstein titled “The Politics of Feminist Locations: A Materialist Analysis of Women’s Studies.” (see http://www.nwsaj.engl.iastate.edu/ or contact orrc@beloit.edu for more information on obtaining a copy of the essay).

In short, we want to know about particular women’s studies work being done in places that have been heretofore unconsidered or rarely considered. The goal is to provide all of us with a more accurate and nuanced assessment of women’s studies as a complex, multifaceted project with various outposts and practitioners whose day-to-day activities are quite different from one another. Questions to consider might include: Essays that address larger questions about the politics of assessing women’s studies locations are welcome as well. Questions to consider might include We understand that the location from which one speaks might be the integral factor that does not allow potential contributors the time, energy, and resources to write about that location. So we encourage creative formats and styles that might move beyond (or around) the traditional academic essay. If these contributions, six to ten pages in length, are received by January 1, 2005, they will be considered for publication in summer 2005 as a forum on the topic, “The Politics of Feminist Locations.” (If you think you would like to make a contribution, please send a one-paragraph abstract by December 1, 2004.)

To submit an article or inquire about the Special Forum, contact: Catherine M. Orr Honorary Fellow, Women’s Studies Research Center—University of Wisconsin, Madison Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Beloit College (608) 256-0108 orrc@beloit.edu



Name: gus stadle
Date: //2004-09-28 12:24:06 :
Link to this Comment: 10976

Hi all—I just wanted to say that the last two weeks of posts have been fascinating, and sent my thinking off in lots of directions. Thanks!! And I’ll probably try to say something about these thoughts in class today, and most of you will probably be reading this after the class. . .—but here are some musings on how, for me, the pleasure question is linked to the language question. Your posts, Delany, and Fuss, make me wonder if the problem isn’t so much that language can’t express everything about sexuality but that we expect it to. Another way of saying this is that maybe the problem isn’t language itself but the way we conceive of it. We seem resistant, culturally, to thinking of language as an act, rather than a conveyor of a message. To speak and write are acts, just like sucking on someone’s sneaker is an act. They generate pleasure and other emotions in the speaker/writer and the listener/reader. To issue another shamelessly broad pathologization of “our culture”: we seem to be invested in creating contexts—especially institutions—where we can engage in these interactions and disavow the workings of pleasure, desire. And turn them into the pursuit of “truth.” (Cf the Starr Committee, Congress, et al during the Lewinsky scandal). In this context, language becomes an instrument, a means rather than an end. Not that it can ever be just one or the other, of course.


Neccessity of language
Name: Deborah
Date: //2004-09-28 12:54:14 :
Link to this Comment: 10977

I've been chewing over the readings and the postings over the past weekend...and the conclusion that I have come to is that, despite the limitations that our current language has to express sexual and gender dynamics, it is a powerful tool that we need to build on rather then shoot down. I would certainly classify myself in the group that would problematize language and linguistic shortcomings (hense my championing "queer"), however, language is such a biological and social neccessity that I want to take the next step, which in my mind is to embrace language and create new language to express what has in the past been unexpressable (pre 17th c. ?) or repressed. I've been reading Middlesex, and it has struck me how sexuality and identity is likened to language in the book..."When Calliope surfaces, she does so like a childhood speech impediment "(pg. 41) Delany writes, " ...Gay Identity represents the happily only partial congruence of two strategies, which have to do with a patriarchal society in which the dominant sexual ideology is heterosexist...the reason why that partial congruence between the two strategies is finally happy, is because it alone allows one group to speak, however inexactly, with the other...That very partial congruence is the linguistic element of the conduit through which any change...will transpire." (pg. 142-3) So, as imperfect currently has language about sexual difference is, the identities that difference alludes to allow for communication, socially and politically. I was thinking about the impact that language has on sexuality and sexual practices, as well as the force with which sexual difference can impact language...for example, the re-writing of our Constitution to limit the legal benefits of people practicing sexual "difference". Fuss writes, "For heterosexaulity to achieve the status of the 'compulsory;, it must present itself as a practice governed by some internal necessity." (pg 234). Here is where we can effect change...by expressing, through written or spoken language, that heterosexuality is NOT biologically or mentally complusery, but rather socially complusory. "The language and law that regulates the establishment of heterosexuality as both an identity and an institution, both a practice and a system, is the language and law of defense and protection" (pg 234). This was what sparked my thoughts towards the Constitution and the ways that our legal and social language need to be reformed or discussed to allow and affect change.


Relating Dinshaw, Delany and Fuss
Name: Bree
Date: //2004-09-28 13:19:37 :
Link to this Comment: 10978

What I found really interesting about both Delany and Dinshaw in the relation to Fuss is their similar method of integrating sexuality and “queerness” into the “inside” sphere of language. They do this through what is commonly referred to as “shock value.” Dinshaw shocks the public by adding a “Q”, standing for “queer”, on the cover of her literary journal, “GLQ”, while Delany does so by telling of his sexual escapades and thus sparking our interests, wanting us to read more. However, what is fascinating is the way and reason, in which both Dinshaw and Delany attempt to place sexuality and queerness in the "inside." They do so by speaking mainly to the academic world. As Dinshaw said, the Q on the cover is “both legitimate and disruptive.” By calling the "Q" legitimate she is bringing it into the inside world f language, yet by calling it disruptive she is still admitting to its current place outside language. Delany also uses a similar method. By using the language of the inside, he talks of his sexual experiences as though they are just common everyday occurrences, yet because of the social taboo-ness of his acts they are still left outside. The reason why Delany and Dinshaw speak mainly to the academic world, much like Foucault and other authors we have read is because they know that the academics who read their books are doing so because they truly want to know more about the subject, rather than censor it. So in answer to a question that Fuss posed in the reading, "Does one compromise oneself by working on the inside, or does one shortchange oneself by holding tenaciously to the outside." (p. 236-237) Dinshaw and Delany have demonstrated that one does not need to compromise nor shortchange oneself when working with both the language of the inside as well as the language of the outside.


Border Control
Name: Jana
Date: //2004-09-27 17:20:26 :
Link to this Comment: 10969

Carolyn Dinshaw’s critique of the transnational market and censorship is an extended version of inside outside, but, its not just the west (and not even that as Canada rejected her journal), that gets excluded from GLQ. There are only a small portion of the population in the US that reads the magazine as we all discussed at the end of class last week, and although homosexuality is on the outside of heterosexuality, queer and GLQ might stand as another ring inside of homosexuality, keeping other things out, or as others of you argued, inviting others in. This shows that the language creating the rings can work as either exclusive or inclusive. Heterosexuality, Fuss suggests, uses laws and language to keep the borders of the rings impermeable with homosexuality on the outside, while GLQ uses tries to use the word queer to open up a link in the circle and include, but it only goes so far...Language by itself can have inclusive and exclusive (Foucault) properties, and this power of words (however limited the audience) is probably why the Manchurian government is so strict with its censorship policies. Delany brings this up by including the inside realm of our minds, and how the language we don’t speak or see in newspapers or laws, still permeates the ring to "inside" us that in the case of his tales of sexuality "makes [us] want to turn away".


I wish this post was about Zoolander, but it's not
Name: Arielle Ab
Date: //2004-09-27 17:11:30 :
Link to this Comment: 10968

While listening to Dinshaw’s story of the censorship of GLQ I was intrigued by the international and intercultural aspect of it. Dinshaw said that in Malaysia sexuality is not used in a way that visibly identifies individuals. I interpreted that to mean that they are culturally disinclined to understand one’s object choice as an identifying mark. Fuss discusses the idea that “sexual object choice is not even so ‘simple’” a choice but is in fact complex and comes about due to a variety of stimuli such as social pressures and personal experience. Furthermore she mentions that while the censorship looks like Western homophobia, it is actually a far more complex result of corporate, state, religious and social interaction within Malaysia. I thought this provided an interesting highlight of the binaries, boundaries and margins that Fuss discusses because while we, the Western world and America in particular, tend to think of ourselves and our society as the most “enlightened” in regards to well, all matters really. However, this is an interesting concept because we have advanced to a point where we consider sexual object choice to indicate and contribute to identity. And as we have discussed through Foucault, this is indeed a modern construction. Anyway, the whole point is that I found it interesting that while we might see close-minded discrimination functioning in a homophobic sense through the Malaysian censorship, Dinshaw doesn’t feel that was the case at all. And, if that was indeed not the case, then it more clearly highlights our own.


class notes are "burning"....
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-10-04 22:22:48 :
Link to this Comment: 11021

'Tis the story of my life; the one day I have a lecture fully formed and ready to deliver, nobody (well, okay, 1/2 the class!) comes. Anyhow, for the archive, you can find Anne's Lecture Notes=Background for Reading Judy Butler, now linked from the syllabus for 9/30.