Monthly Archives: February 2012

Queering it up

To begin, I would like to make a radical, and perhaps somewhat strange, announcement. You are queer. You are trans*. You are a feminist. If your eyes have crossed this page, you are a queer person, you are a trans* person, you are the content, the author and the audience. This blog is not about queer and trans* people. It is written by a queer person, it is informed by queer people, and it is read by queer people.  Now is the time to question everything you know about yourself. Join me in abandoning all assumptions and destroying all expectations. Join me on a journey into a queer space. Join me on the page in front of you. We are queer. We are trans*. We are feminist.

Queer subjectivity, solidarity, and their relationship to feminism are crucial to the reworking of mainstream feminist thought. In order to create a safe space for a close reading of queer internet spaces, I first declare the audience of this blog to be queer, trans*, and feminist. This strategy is reminiscent of subjective identifications adopted by western anarchists during black box demonstrations. During the 2009 G20 protests in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, protestors chanted, “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re anarchists, we’ll fuck you up!” (Anarcha Library). Though many of these protestors would not consider themselves queer underneath their masks, the queer identification adopted in that moment negated any previous associations they held in day-to-day life, destroying boundaries of gender and sexuality and elevating their rebellion to a higher level of queer solidarity. This strategy is outlined in an article for the Anarcha Library based on an analysis of a zine that came out of the G20 protests:

“While the identification must, to some degree, indicate queer sexuality, as is indicated by the references to gender, pronouns, sexualities, and ecstasies, it also references something else. As the author(s) state(s), queerness in this case also means negation itself; it means the negation or obliteration of an existing identification and the freedom to become whatever. Destruction comes to include the destruction of identification. This destruction of identification also requires that participants move beyond solidarity in the sense of traditional social network theories” (Anarcha Library).

Referencing Judith’s Butler’s theory of gender performativity, the black box protestors created a transformative version of queer, whereby they became “queer not only in the sense of being queer sexual subjects, but in the sense of being subjects of total destruction” (Anarcha Library). Queerness became the pure negation of category, the denial of difference and identity. Through their claiming of queer, they became every person, demanding, rather than defending their space (Anarcha Library). To quote Butler in her essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution:” “This formulation moves the conception of gender off the ground of a substantial model of identity to one that requires a conception of a constituted social temporality…the appearance of substance is precisely that, a constructed identity” (Butler 520). In this way, the protestors, as well as those of us entering into the queer space of this project, are asking the question: what does it mean to be queer or trans*? What does it mean to be a feminist? We suspend our own identifications for a brief moment in time to create an atmosphere of queer solidarity. We do not merely become what we say we are. Instead, we become the feelings we all share. We become each other in order to understand ourselves more fully. So there.

Works Cited:

Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in                                                                 Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal 40.4 (1988): 519-31. Print.

“We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Anarchists: The Nature of Identification and Subjectivity Among Black Blocs.” Anarcha Library. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://anarchalibrary.blogspot.com/2011/01/were-here-were-queer-were-anarchists.html&gt;.

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So, here’s what I want to know.

What meanings do trans* and genderqueer folks find in online communities? How is social identity formed through collective association with content? Communities created on sites like Tumblr and Youtube operate within frames that determine aspects of reality for the individual and the group. My guess is that these communities provide folks the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, create solidarity, access sexual images that reflect their bodies and identities, and explore gender fluidity.

The way I see it, the possibilities for expression of gender and sexual identities in the context of queer online space are expanded far beyond that of performance in public, or even private, offline space—an already transformative and dynamic experience is now situated within an equally malleable platform. Over the course of the next few months I’ll be posting and analyzing content on this blog that will shed some light on these questions I have. I expect to look at blog content, vlogs, and academic articles dealing with both theory and practice. In opening up my thoughts and analyses to a larger audience–namely, you–my intention is to get constructive feedback and set the stage for collaborative ideas. Call me out, call me off, call me up, call me awesome (please), just don’t call me late for any queer, vegan, potluck style community activist meetings. Or whatever.