Imitation and gender insubordination

by | Aug 16, 2021 | Assignment

Write an assignment on imitation and gender insubordination. Butler (1989) tries to ask essential questions. For example, she asks, once the subject “outs” her- or himself, is that person “free of its subjection and finally in the clear?” (308). Or does the subjection continue? But what does the following mean, characteristic of Butler’s writing: “Can sexuality even remain sexuality once it submits to a criterion of transparency and disclosure ..” (309) For something to determine itself, some other must exist to make this determination, and what is it this other? This other is a “prior to” and it is the most interesting thing which Butler says, I believe. Her thought is easily confusing unless one grabs hold of that idea. She is looking for the prior and I believe she is asking does whatever the prior is establish sexuality or is the prior already a sexually determined object. There is a danger that coming out “reinscribes the power domains that it resists” and that it is part of the “heterosexual matrix that it seeks to displace” (309). One must try to locate the “framework that privileges heterosexuality as origin”. Butler would like to use the concept of the speech act (from philosopher John Austin) to say the way one creates being is the way in which one may create herself or himself. There is a difficulty perhaps always in this activity as one must ask who is doing the creating? From what position is the creating done, that of homosexuality or heterosexuality? I think it is important for Butler, because she wants to produce an original, defensible “I that is thoroughly lesbian or homosexual, without the pejorative connotation. But that is her very problem. the pejorative connotation is already tied into the words and their origin from the heterosexual point of view. Butler would like to reach a non-reflexive position that perhaps is neither heterosexual nor homosexual.Butler has to establish, more or less a private language”, one that is not derived from the present language, because the present language already has the power relationships of sexual identities established in it – that is a man, and that is a woman. But Butler seeks “that grid of cultural intelligibility that regulates the real and the nameable’ (312).

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