September 7, 2017 | Autor: Yasemin Öz | Categoria: Queer Theory
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Queer theorician Judith Butler gave a conference on 15th of May 2010 in
Ankara as a part of the 5th International Anti-Homophobia Meeting organized
by Kaos GL. In her presentation titled "Queer Alliance and Anti-War
Politics" she summarized; "The hegemony created by the social gender
relations will aid queer activists in understanding all kinds of violence
and hegemony types. In this light, queer activists need to oppose all types
of violence and hegemony which undoubtedly feed from each other." She
especially underlined nationalism and militarism and war-related issues,
stating her idea that queer activists need to oppose wars and everyone who
is a victim of any kind of violence should merge in politics[1].

The political path Butler draws has actually been accepted by Turkey's LGBT
and feminist movement for a while now. Queer Theory offers us greater
opportunities in forming this path.

To give a short description, Queer Theory is a critic on gender categories
that emerged during 90s from LGBT and feminist studies. Based on the
"queer" readings of texts, this theory reflects heavily on the History of
Sexuality by Michel Foucault. The theory draws support from feminism's anti-
concepts against the gender being an essence of a person, and LGBT study's
research on gender identities in social structures. While gay and lesbian
studies focus on the "natural" and "artificial" divide in homosexual
orientations, the queer theory focuses on all kinds of sexual activity that
can be deemed as "normal" and "abnormal"[2].

Queer theory questions "normal" and "abnormal" divide and suggests "not
being normal" or "not creating a normal". Undoubtedly the queer theory
focuses its concept of "not creating a norm-al" on gender and puts concepts
like "womanhood, manhood, heterosexuality, homosexuality and transsexuality
etc" in its center.

As Judith Butler points out in her article Imitation and Gender
Insubordination, queer is not an identity but rather decadence during which
identities are questioned and cannot be normalized or abnormalized. In her
article Butler says; "This is not to say that I will not appear at
political occasions under the sign of lesbian, but that I would like to
have it permanently unclear what precisely that sign signifies." In my
opinion, by this she means that being identified as a "lesbian" is
important because it aids in opposing the heterosexual hegemony, but the
"lesbian" concept should not point to a constant category and should never
hinder fluidity. Butler continues; "[Queer Theory] also underlines the
importance of a consciousness where gender identities are built flexible,
ambiguous, multifaceted and patchworked. Otherwise all gender identities
can imperatively follow the hegemony of heterosexuality." Butler also
states that "queer" needs to stay as an undefined, unfixed, always debated
and questioned zone[3].

At this point, queer theory opens a window to criticize all identities
which were declared as certain and constant. Forasmuch whatever identity a
person expresses her/himself with, after a while, the risk of
transformation of this identity into a norm and a certain category is
fatal. As long as certainized identities are constructed, it is unavoidable
that these identities will create hegemonies, suppress individuals and
define boundaries.

In the same article Butler also points out that "heterosexual" concept also
needs the "homosexual". Queer theoricians say that; "Machoism, can only
express the traits it claims it has – heterosexuality and masculinity –
through homosexuality that does not has those traits"[4]. Certainly if the
only sexual experience on the world was heterosexuality, there would be no
need for recognition of sexual orientations and categories. Thus the
definition of heterosexuality needs the definition of homosexuality, and
vice versa.

According to Jamie Heckert; "Heterosexuality was not a popular identity in
USA up until 1920s when sexuality for only reproduction purposes lost its
power. Until the end of 1800s before going into medical and jurally jargon
homosexuality was an unacceptable identity... Sodomy was a group of
forbidden acts and those who performed them were nothing but a law article.
By the 19th century homosexuality has become a lifestyle, a way of living
as well as an identity, a past, a history of occurrences and a childhood
(Foucault, 1990). Heterosexual people were told and confirmed among each
other that heterosexuality was normal, natural and the right thing to be
(in USA from 1920s to 1930s). Naturally they needed to care and protect
their heterosexuality in private and native sexualized (as well as
racialized and classified) practices. In the meantime they were told that
this categorization was natural and certain. Thus (mostly) it was in
effect. On the other hand those who were identified as homosexuals were
told that homosexuality was unnatural, perverse and anti-moral. The
organized homosexual found ways to resist and this resulted in more
systematic (at least more documented) opposition structures. The term,
homosexual minority was born at this period (Cory 1951, Epstein mentions in
1998) but not until 1970s when homosexual subcultures emerged it

In this way, starting from the 19th century, sexuality was divided and
defined into categories. Categories like both heterosexuality and
homosexuality presume that the sexual drives of individuals are unchanging.
Even when these drives are unchanging, these categories change into
structures that draw boundaries and create gender models, restraining the
freedom of sexual drive.

Queer theorician Joshua Gamson believes that "No identity politics that
restrain the objects of desire and seemingly 'abnormal' individuals should
be practiced"[6]. In my opinion, queer theory that promises to stay away
from categories and boundaries opens up horizons to not only criticize the
gender categories but also all categorical identity types.

Michel Foucault states that the libertarian politics such as "diminishing
the bans", "making voices heard" can easily become strategic tools for
domination and tyranny. Domination is a complex and flexible concept and
resistance can always transform into domination. Expression, unlike
believed to be, is not against anything and does not protect anything. It
is rather unsatisfiable, illimitable, fertile and multi layered[7]. Queer
theoricians like Annamarie Jagose, under the influence of Foucault, has
stated the need for a resistance that can change its stance by context and
flexibility of power relations, very dynamic and alert[8].

From this point on, however the queer theory seems to focus on gender it
also creates a chance to criticize all other identities that is claimed to
be certain and constant. It opens a way to question all certain presumed
identities such as race, nationality and gender.

In humanity's basic philosophical perception dualities are widely accepted.
Almost every concept is defined and exists with its opposite. The basic
examples would be; "good and bad, beautiful and ugly, wrong and right".
Duality perception, seeks the opposite of every created concept. Even the
concepts of male and female, instead of being defined as "different sex"
are rather defined as "opposite sex". This is the same in Turkish "karşıt
cinsler". This shows us that instead of defining two biologically different
genders as "different" we choose and tend to define them as "opposite".
Opposition, in its context, also involves the exclusion and alienation.
Opposites or the others, however they are constructed, each identity
creates the concepts of suppressors and suppresses. Michel Foucault states
that identities cannot be built independently from "power and rulership".

Seeing the other as opposite causes the result of embracing your own
identity tightly and perceiving it as the constant and the best practice.
This brings together the practices of feeling hate, fear and anger towards
other identities, excluding, suppressing and fighting them. In this base,
the expression of hate and war blossoms easily. This process works in favor
of the hegemonic identities, not those who are excluded or suppressed.
According to Butler, hegemonic identities in this way define those who are
"worthy of mourning" and the excluded ones who are "not worthy of

In this light, all other identity categories such as race and nationality
transform into those that need "others" to define itself, are wary of the
existence of "others", perceive itself as the best reality. They wage war
on all other identity categories that is positioned as the opposite or
other. Just like heterosexism that perceives itself as the constant, normal
and best reality opposes disregards, assimilates or tries to destroy all
other sexual identities. Race and national identity politics follow a
similar approach to its all presumed opposites.

If through queer theory, we can question all the constant presumed race and
national identities that are used as a tool to construct hegemonies; we can
find a way to oppose all the categorization, othering, exclusion and
violence practices they produce. Questioning the certainty and constancy of
race and nationality identities can let us become an individual living on
earth referring to no nation or any other identity.

As Gamson states queer is important to build the boundaries of ethnical
style gay and lesbian politics that naturally reinforces the duality of
political suppressions such as male/female and heterosexual/homosexual[9].

With the questioning of queer theory, we can create a world where defining
opposition, creating others, excluding practices and need for
categorization does not exist, and where living together with differences
and living differently without creating hegemonic relations is possible.
[3] Serkan Delice; Queer Kuram1 Üzerine Bir Ba_lang1ç
Yaz1s1, Üç Ekoloji-Doa, Dü_ünce, Siyaset Dergisi, March
[4] Namaste, Ki. (1994). The Politics of Inside/Out: Queer Theory, =996067
[5] Serkan Delice; Queer Kuramı Üzerine Bir Başlangıç Yazısı, Üç Ekoloji-
Doğa, Düşünce, Siyaset Dergisi, March 2004
[6] Namaste, Ki. (1994). The Politics of Inside/Out: Queer Theory,
Poststructuralism and a Sociological Approach to Sexuality. Sociological
Theory, 12(2), July (Also in Seidman, Steven. (ed.). (1996). Queer
Theory/Sociology. Cambridge, Ma: Blackwell)

[7] Jamie Heckert, Towards Consenting Relations: Anarchism and Sexuality

[8] Joshua Gamson, "Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct?: A Queer
[9] Annamarie Jagose, Queer Theory: An Introduction New York: New York Unv.
Press, 1996
[10] Serkan Delice; ibid
[11] Jamie Heckert, ibid
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