December 24, 2008

Homosexual Taboo and Gender

Today, I have mostly been reading Gender Trouble by Judith Butler.  What a good little queer theorist I am.  Anyhoo, I came across an idea which lead to my mind wandering, so I wanted to air those thoughts.  I don't expect to write this entry in one sitting as at the moment I'm in no good state to write coherently, but I wanted to jot down my thoughts while they're still fresh in my mind.

Butler suggests (after some other thinkers who I can't quite remember and my book is on the other side of my room and I'm far to comfortable in bed to get up and get it, but I think they were Freud, Lacan and Irigaray) that gender(/identities?) arise out of the incest taboo, which presupposes a taboo on homosexuality. Ignoring the obvious problem that if it is gender as a structure that arises out of something which presupposes a taboo on homosexuality which in turn presupposes genders such that there can be same-gender attraction, what happens to gender and gender identity under these schema as the homosexuality taboo destabilises (and as an aside which I don't really care about, what happens to the incest taboo?).

If gender requires the homosexuality taboo, then how will increasing societal acceptance of homosexuality (demonstrable through institutions such as gay marriage/civil partnerships, gay adoption and an increasing gay presence in celebrity) affect gender?  Indeed, in trends such as "metrosexuality"is this weakening of the taboo already beginning to blur gender lines.

...I should have to think before i type. I'll come back to this and approach it more rigorously.  Promise.

Archive of random musings


My aim with this blog is simply to give me a space to whitter more or less (although hopefully more) comprehensibly about half baked theories that come into my head, that I don't have time to research properly. Or let me explore in text any ideas that I think I should reflect on which I've come across in whatever I'm reading at the time.

Starting a blog when you're over tired is never a good idea. So without further procrastination, here are some half-baked theories that I've got saved in random files on my desktop.

A Queer Theory

That the homosexual identity is self-fulfilling and holds back sexual liberation, as does identity politics in general.

Our minds have been socialised into binaries, as far as sex and gender are concerned. The male/female and homo-/heterosexual binaries are symbiotic off of one another, and both reinforce the other.  

If a gay-identified man has sexual and romantic urges almost exclusively towards men  but then starts to get feelings towards a woman in and among his male crushes, I theorize that he will likely ignore it as it upsets his homosexual identity.  If he were to embrace these urges to a woman, he would have to re-evaluate his sexuality and would not be legitimately part of the gay and lesbian community that welcomed him and helped him evade stigma last time.  As such being gay-identified whilst allowing this man sexual freedom with respect to homosexual relationships, it also impedes this liberty by problematising heterosexual relationships.

The man of course has the option of identifying as bisexual, ... so why wouldn't he?

Genealogical Theory for why Transsexed people associate with the LGB community

Assumption: many (hetero) transsexed people will question their sexuality before questioning their gender, and as a result may adopt and live a homosexual identity before realising that they are transexed.

Hypothesis: That Transsexed people are involved in LGB communities not just because of analogous experience in coming out, but in concrete shared experience - having come out as homosexual, before revaluating their assumption that they are cisgendered and realising they are a heterosexual transsexed individual.

Justification: If Troiden is right, and in identity assumption and commitment, the LGB community plays a large role in the process of an individual accepting their sexual identity, particularly people who use group alignment as a stigma-evasion strategy.  In those TS people who did adopt and live a homosexual identity, a function that group alignment fulfilled was to provide a space in which same-sex attraction (whether as a result of homosexuality or in a homosexual identified pre-transsexed individual) was normalised and as such the stigma of being homosexual was avoided.  The LGB community therefore provided the individual an accepting space, albeit on a false assumption.  When TS people question and re-evaluate their gender identity, they think that they will be able to once again evade stigma by staying within the same group where they found acceptance in the first space. 

Questions i need to explore:

- Why does the community as a whole accept them still?  [Emapthy for the difficulty of not conforming to gender expectation?]

- Transphobia from within the LGB community and it's underlying reasons? [Challenge to the concrete Gender binary and gender essentialism] and therefore the meaningfulness of a heterosexual/homosexual divide.  Idea that homosexuality is not essential either and that this accepting space is a fabrication?]

- Why, in spite of this transphobia do the trans people st ill persist in being willing to belong to LGBT groups? [Also face transphobia from wider society, and analogous shared experience with homosexuals makes the proportion of transphobia smaller within the LGB community?]

Queer representation in student lead activist groups


Queer destablises the homo-/hetero-sexual binary in a similar way to “[t]ranssexuality [which] can in some cases be seen as a space beyond gender binarisms” (Monro 2007, p128). Queer can be used as a label by people who inhabit a void between the sexuality extremes.  Whilst bisexuality is in it own right a widely recognised and accepted label, identities such as pansexuality, asexuality and polyamory are far less understood among those people who do not identify as such and so many people who these labels fit simply identify as Queer.  People that identify as Queer for this reason are marginalised and oppressed by both and encounter stigma attached to their sexuality.   Whilst Queer works as a management strategy for the individuals involved insofar as it gives a communal set of ideals that legitimise the individual’s specific sexually deviant practice (back up with interviews), the Queer community has traditionally been excluded from heteronormativity and LGBT communities alike (although in recent years LGBTQs are becoming more prevalent).  

This is largely the way that Queer has been presented to the NUS LGBT campaign at its conferences. The NUS however on the whole sees this as an empty signifier to allow an assortment of ‘sexual practices’ (as opposed to sexual identities – a sexual practice is seen as a lifestyle choice) into the campaign who it deems to be oppressed for something they could just avoid doing such as BDSM or multiple relationships.  This points to a possible reason that the NUS continually refuses to ‘add the Q’ – that Queer threatens the idea of sexual essentialism.  In doing this, the legitimacy of people’s homosexual identity is also challenged and thus Queer provides threatens to dissolve that which LGBT people use to manage the stigma attached to their own sexual deviancy.

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