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Keaton Wardell

Final Essay

Queer theory has taken a big leap to help get us to where we are today thanks to Derrida, Foucault, Butler, Kinsey, and so many others. Many of these peoples theories and points of views come from social constructs and how we have evolved to view the world. Even though its something we use every day and usually dont question the meaning or connotation of, language tends to be a very biased, judgmental, and binary device. One famous example of this is Derridas explanation of chair and not chair. This means, to explain what a chair is, we must define what it isnt. Doing this forces us to think that anything thats not chair, is less than, or bad. The reason Derridas theories apply so well to Queer Theory is because it helps us break down and understand the meaning behind certain words like gay, homosexual, man, woman, not-man, etc. It shows us how language is flawed when trying to explain what is and isnt normal. Queer Theory challenges the view of homosexuality and heterosexuality and what people believe to be normal and abnormal. However, Derridas theories and propositions help us better unravel that view. Also, history of sexuality, the Panopticon, and no self are three of Foucaults main theories. Foucault was a French philosopher who lived from 1926 to 1984. His theory about the history of sexuality starts off with ancient times, and how sex was perceived as a human need with no moral connection. Then it goes on down the line to the Romans, where they invent marriage and money. These marriages werent about love at all however; they were seen more as a business deal between families. Then later on in history, as Foucault explains, Catholicism came along and converted all Romans to become Catholic. As Catholicism carried on into the Middle Ages, they created the idea that sex and marriage are connected and that any sex outside

of marriage is a sin. During this time, sex gets connected with guilt and sin. Once the Middle Ages ended, the Renaissance came, and during this period in our history, courtly love is created. This is then how sex and love get connected, so in the 1700s people start to marry for love. By the 1800s, love, marriage, sex, guilt, and sin all become connected. So, it took 2,000 years of history to move from sex as a bodily function to the mess we are in today. Foucault then discusses the idea of a Panopticon as an allegory, which is a picture or idea that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. The Panopticon is a building with a tower at the center from which it is possible to see each cell that the prisoners are in. Each prisoner is seen but cannot see the prison guards. The Panopticon convinces the prisoners that they are permanently visible; this ensures the operation of power. The prisoners can always see the tower but never know if anyones inside watching them. For Foucault, the Panopticon represents the way in which discipline works in todays society. It shows how power is in action and how we start to self police ourselves because we are convinced that everyone and god are always watching us. As for Foucaults no self theory, he explains how men not only set rules for certain behaviors for themselves, but they seek to transform themselves and change themselves into one single being. Foucault explains how this is not possible because, there are too many parts of a person to be able to narrow it down to just one thing or personality. Now, is sexuality as straight forward as we perceive it to be? Well, according to Kinsey, its not. Kinsey was an American biologist and sexologist who spent most of his life doing research on human sexuality. He is known for the Kinsey Reports, as well as the Kinsey scale. The Kinsey reports are who books on human sexual behavior. The first one being, Sexual

Behavior in the Human Male and the second one being, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. During this time, everyone seemed to love the male version because it was well known that men are the only ones who want sex. The female version however had very much controversy because during that time, no one thought or wanted to think that any kind of women would want sex, because they are supposed to be fair, proper, and good. The Kinsey scale however, is a scale made to describe a persons sexual experience, and it uses a scale from 0 to 6. 0 meaning fully heterosexual and 6 meaning fully homosexual, and from Kinseys research, most people fall within the range of 2 to 4. This, in other words means that, almost every human is bisexual. Furthermore, Derrida wrote a very influential book in 1990 called, Gender Trouble. Butler argued that people reinforce a binary view of gender where we divide ourselves into two groups, women and men. She also explains how we put on a performance or an act to make sure we stay in one of these two groups. So, rather than opening up possibilities for a person to choose their own identity, we force them to act as one specific kind of person. Butler also argues that sex is seen to cause gender which is then linked to desire. Butler agrees with Foucault on this matter and believes that gender and desire are versatile and changeable, not dead set. So, this all means that gender is nothing but a social construct. Butler goes on to talk about how just being would solve these problems, but this gender, desire, and sex judging has been hard wired into almost all of our brains ever since we were born. So, more than likely, Butlers idea of just being wont ever happen, or at least not in a life time, but it is still an interesting idea to bring up and think about. Again, thanks to Derrida, Foucault, Butler, Kinsey, and so many others, Queer Theory has made leaps and bounds to help us to understand and better comprehend sexuality.