‘The Third Body’ by Thomas Waugh is starting from Victorian Gay Photography from 19 century and the concept of the love between adolescent male and the mature athlete connects to the previous reading ‘A boy’s honor’ by Foucault. It was interesting that the Wilhelm von Gloeden’s photography indicates that there has been a market fulfills the desire of the gay subject. And from this I feel more that the Victorian gay photography is an extension of classic paintings dealing with homosexual subject like painting of Ganymede or Bacchus(Bacchus is a god of wine, ritual madness and theatre and in paintings/sculptures he used to describe as ‘feminized’ or an adolescent male). As reading goes to the end it was hard to understand somehow because the writer was just using names in the movies he given as an example, and most of the movies was unfamiliar to me.
In “bodies that matter” it was interesting to read how the concept of matter developed from the greek (or latin) etymologies to Foucault, and Derrida. Even I had to read over and over to prepare the presentation I didn’t fully understand this text. At the end Butler is indicating that femininity doesn’t have ‘form’, and also it have to separate from the body(?not sure about my interpertation). She points out the femininity be created outside of the body, which means social stereotypes/ or artificial, normative rules.
I found Halberstam’s article on the female masculine to be interesting in its analysis of Butler’s thoughts on male performance being appropriated by lesbians. I’ve never heard of or seen drag kings before so it was nicely enlightening to read about this subculture that is apparently not as elaborate as gay mens’ subculture. I find the notion of camp to be sort of hard to grasp when it comes to gender and queer theory. I had a teacher at USC that describe camp in relation to wedding photos, citing the hardships of gay marriage being taken into account in conjunction with these lavish, overproduced, and somewhat fake heterosexual wedding photos (most of the time on beaches). There is also movies like Rocky Horror Picture Show which utilized purposefully over-the-top theatricality and a drag queen in order to create its bizarre atmosphere. I find it to be a strange double standard when performances of masculinity are considered non-performative. I thought that camp was a more general term anyway. I understand that a performance of masculinity is quite different than a performance of femininity and that some sort of distinctive terms needs to be made, but it is all gender theatricality is it not? I like the differences between the different categories of these performances such as Butch Realness, Femme Pretender (which seems the most similar to drag queens because of the exaggeration), Male Mimicry, Fag Drag (which is a very meta concept), and Denaturalized Masculinity.
Butler’s Bodies that Matter is a beguiling read, one where I’ve had to look at passages multiple times. I believe she is trying to get at the intrinsic structuralist beginnings of what materiality is and what it means to be within the purposed matrix of matter construction in feminism. She has such interesting sentences like “…every explicit distinction takes place in an inscriptional space that the distinction itself cannot accommodate” that I find delightfully inscrutable. Her motives seem clear in terms of implying the problematic hierarchy that this sort of materiality thinking in sex and gender implies; I just wish I could follow her easier on a point by point basis. I look forward to further illumination in class.
The reading that most interested me was Halberstam on drag kings. The idea she puts forward, that masculinity is non-performative and “just is” while femininity is artificial and always a performance, is a way of thinking about gender performances that had never occurred to me before. I had not thought of how much our culture demands that women engage in a multitude of artificial behaviors in order to be perceived as feminine. Halberstam postulates that drag kings expose the artificiality of all gender performances but it seems to be that more artificiality is demanded of women.
I found the article, The Third Body, by Thomas Waugh to be very interesting in regards on the terms he uses. For example, the ephebe and the He-Man roles that are displayed in images during the Victorian years. In my opinion, if the He-Man homosexual male role is masculine and wise, and the ephebe homosexual male role is more feminine and young, then does this relationship mimic the heterosexual relationship? Does this represent that for a homosexual relationship to coexist there has to be a male and female ideology? Does this represent a male patriarchy even in a homosexual relationship?
In Waugh’s article, he mentioned the film Looking for Langston; which is film that I enjoyed watching. The film showed a gay artist-intellectual perspective of the culture hierarchy and the gay subculture; which expressed the culture in multitude ways. I believe image representation like Looking for Langston gives gay men a different way of looking at other men and themselves in a positive way.
I found it interesting that Judith Butler relates the body to linguistics in Bodies that Matter. She states that “the body is posited as prior to the sign, is always posited or signified as prior” (30). I’m a little confused on what she is arguing here. Is she talking about the body in general or the female body? If she just means the female body is she arguing that the female body is a signifier for the desire before the realization of the castration fear? Since she later sets the matrix as the womb I believe that at this moment in the article she is referring to the female body. Butler explores the principal of origin in Greek culture with specific attention to the works of Aristotle. She discusses his emphasis on the soul and how the question of if the soul and body are one is irrelevant in Greek culture. She argues that Aristotle does not make a clear enough distinction between materiality and intelligibility and fails to construct the feminist body her work desires to find. She then breaks down Foucault as describing the soul as normalized and the prison of the body. Butler finds the lack of power Foucault assigns to the body as problematic. The materiality of the body is powerful by its visibility within the physical world. She then discusses Irigaray’s rereading of Plato and the boundaries of philosophy that excludes the feminine. She then draws attention to the similarities between Irigaray’s and Derrida’s argument that the body receptacle Plato describes cannot be feminine. Butler argues that Plato does not describe the female body as human. Honestly I’m still confused by the feminist body she is desiring, it was an interesting, but hard read.
I agree with Zethu Matebeni’s argument in Intimacy, Queerness, Race of the importance of black queer subject matter in visual culture. The article focuses on Zanele Muholi’s documentary Enraged by a Picture. She discusses how the phrase “scientific investigation” of the black female body by white culture is used to trivialize and violently objectify the body. Meatebni uses Sara Barrtman as a historical example of this behavior. She discusses the photograph Caitlin and I, which is of two black females, whose naked bodies are intertwined with one another. In the photo the women return their gaze, forcing the viewer to look at them. Muholi argues that the use of their gaze is actively working against the previous description of the colonial lens used to objectify the black female body. I love the hope she articulates for a world without fear of black bodies representing queer desires. As an artist I frequently work against the male gaze. Since I have a strong interest in Blaxploitation, I’ve been investigating how the gaze is inflicted on the black female.
Kit’s response to Halberstam was interesting, however. I would want to argue against Halberstam’s “masculinity just is.” To confront myself with how I hide in social settings and attempt a smaller occupation of space. That is difficult being a 6’7″ bearded dude. So maybe that aspect, my physical context is the passive performance of masculinity? From a conversation I had similar to this, a portion of the “masculinity just is” state is the physical stage where men general take up more room, say when sitting. While women are taught from an early age tighter, “proper” postures. Though, in this discussion I had thought of a few bigger men I know who are very aware of themselves and attempt to bring themselves into a smaller space or not impose in the way male posture may normally be seen. This also made me think how that is often socially unusual and exists more in persons with social disorders. (insert blanket statements) Just an observation.
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