Main Contents 1. Queer theory 2. Marching towards democracy? 3. Sociological realities vs. literary fantasies 4. Where are we and where are we heading to?
Introduction: Queer theory grew out of homosexual [gay/lesbian] studies Queer theory is a branch of study or theoretical speculation. Teresa de Lauretis the feminist first used the term in 1990. Gay/lesbian studies, in turn, grew out of feminist studies and feminist theory.
The word "queer “ is originally a derogatory term, now used by gays and lesbians to refer to themselves. The word "queer" is originally an offensive term for an openly homosexual person, odd, unconventional, or eccentric, as in behavior and speech, hence its alignment with ideas about homosexuality.
How the term “ queer ” came into being The term queer eventually came into being because both gays, who preferred regarding themselves as males, and lesbians, who, aligning themselves with the feminist movement, condemned the gay movement as sharing the anti-female attitudes of reigning patriarchal culture agreed upon the notion of queer.
To describe oneself as a queer is to resist all that are considered “ straight ”.
1. Queer theory Queer theory is basically deconstructive and a trend with the broader conception of postmodernism, as shown in its dismantling of the key binary oppositions of Western culture, such as, in the aspect of human sexuality, sex/gender, male/female, heterosexual/homosexual, natural/unnatural, etc. As a new subculture, queer theory is a new way of expressing one ’ s desire. It subverts not only the hegemony of heterosexual, but also bygone homosexual theories.
Queer theory is meant to reexamine human sexuality and to enlighten those who are still ignorant 巴西圣保罗，四十万人参加同性恋大游行
an interdisciplinary and combined trend Queer theory is not a particular or concrete theory like feminist theory or some – isms like Romanticism; it is an interdisciplinary and combined trend or hypothesis, relating to sociology, history, anthropology, fine arts and literature.
Homosexuals are born or made? Debates between biological essentialists [ 本质论者 ] and social constructivists 【建构论者】 Either “ I am homosexual because of my genes. ” Or “ I am homosexual because of my brain. ” Foucault, as one of the first constructivists, claiming that sexuality and sexual conduct is not a natural category, having a foundation in reality. Instead, it is a question of social constructions, categories only having an existence in a society, and that probably are not applicable to other societies than our own.
Feminist theory insists that gender is not something "essential" to an individual's identity. Feminist theory separates the social from the biological, and the constructed and the innate, insisting that we see a difference between what is the product of human ideas, hence something mutable and changeable, and what is the product of biology, hence something (relatively) stable and unchangeable.
Michel Foucault ( 1926 - 1984 ) and his History of Sexuality Has impact on areas such as -- Sociology, Historiography, Gay and Lesbian Studies, Marxism, Cultural Studies and Literary Studies (& New Historicism) Two Major Claims: --- Man is a product of modernity; -- Knowledge is not Truth, but power.
Foucault ’ s views on sexuality and human body 1.Sexuality – not something hidden but “ a great surface network in which the stimulation of bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse, the formation of knowledge, the strengthening of controls and resistances, are linked to one another.
Foucault ’ s views on sexuality and human body 2. [Modified] body as an interface between internal forces (psychic, physiological) and the external social forces.
Foucault ’ s tolerance He argues that human relations are in fact monotonously boring and so-called “ varieties of abnormal sex ” should be permitted, such as homosexual, bisexual, S&M （ Sadism and Masochism ）, orgy, He advocates taboos, divisions and restrains on sexuality should be abolished. He regards homosexual as a stance of being and an art of life, instead of a sexual identity or a sexual orientation
3. Sociological realities vs. literary reflections “ Territory ” The story: Mrs. Campbell brought her only son Neil up, only to find he is a queer. She hides her disappointment and tries to help him and pretends self- deceptively that as long as her son is happy she will be contented. But she finds it hard sometimes to bear her son, his lover, and the lifestyle of homosexuals. David Leavitt, 1961-
One episode from “ Territory ” Neil holds his lover Wayne ’ s hand while seeing a movie, his mother is annoyed. “ I know what you were doing. ” … “ I remember when you were a little boy, and I have to stop remembering. I wanted you to grow up happy. And I ’ m very tolerant, very understanding. But I can only take so much. ”
Oedipus complex: the undercurrent The boy was on guard of being affected by Oedipus complex. That is one more example of life mimicking art.
Queer theory and literature: Interrelations 1. Literature, as a mock reference frame of human life, illustrates queer theory, as in “ Territory ” 2. Queer theory anticipates or brings about related literature, as in “ A Place I ’ ve Never Been ”
4. Where are we and where are we heading to? Power as Foucault understands, is closely-related to sex in any regime and in any age. Sex is a means, through which power is ruthlessly exercised.
It is often that sex is described as a sexual desire for the procession of power confrontation with a stubborn impulse. Although the power makes every effort to conquer sexual desire, but sexual desire cannot be fully controlled. Foucault believes that the situation was exactly the opposite ， i. e. sex betrays its nature through power 。
Taboos in sex are anthropologically, ethnographically [ 民族学地】, economically, politically, demographically 【人口统计学地】 or otherwise oriented Some modern myths about homosexuals: Incest ethnographically degenerates a nation Homosexuals do not give birth to babies, henceforth they help to reduce the population of a nation; Bisexuals transfer horrible diseases like AIDS (never proved); …
Sex: serving what purposes? From time immemorial to the present day, sex has been serving three purposes, i.e. to reproduce [biological instinct of all animals, as Mencius expressed “ There are three things that are unfilial, and to have no posterity is the greatest of them ” [ 不孝 有三, 无后为大 ” ],
Sex: serving what purposes? to establish or maintain interpersonal relations [as in the case of Wang Zhaojun and countless marriages at all levels of society], And, lastly, for sensual pleasure, which is indeed the fundamental or ontological purpose. Christianity also insists that sex should serve the sole purpose of reproduction, not for sensual pleasure
Radicals like Foucault and the Chinese sexpert Li Yinhe argue that various forms of sexual behavior should be allowed, as 200 years ago in Europe, then sex was not regarded as anything else or as an attachment to politics, religion, economy … nor was it a reflection of man ’ s nature, nor character.
Recent scientific research shows human beings can have as many as 17 different sexual types
Bibliography [English] Freud, Sigmund 1920, "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 18, ed. James Strachey, London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-A. Freud, Sigmund 1924 (1961), "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex," in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. XIX, ed. James Strachey, London: Hagarth. Leavitt, David, Collected Stories, Bloomsbury, 2003 。 Peckham, Morse, Art and Pornography, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971. Sex Dictionary: http://www.thesexdictionary.com/alphabet/c.shtml.