Queer Theory Gender Studies CSS Notes

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Queer Theory Gender Studies CSS Notes

The term Queer has been in use in feminist movements since 1990s. Purpose of the use of the term is to highlight normative models of sex, gender and sexuality that are the basic causes of gender discrimination and gender inequality in society. The term Queer or Queer Theory in Women’s and Gender Studies become more popular when it was used by Teresa de Lauretis in one of her articles about lesbian and gays.

Queer Meaning

Before discussing The theory in detail, it is important to know what is the meaning of term queer? The term Queer means an odd, strange or unusual thing. Similarly it also means spoiled, damaged, destroyed and devastated.

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Queer Theory: An Introduction – Definition

queer theory gender studies css notes

The term “Queer Theory” was coined and used for the first time by Teresa de Lauretis, an Italian feminist, in 1991 by publishing a journal titled as “Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities”. Being critical in nature the theory criticizes society and social setup for all form of disparities that prevails among women all over the world. Quer Theory is a new branch of study emerged out of lesbian and gay studies in 1990s.

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Queer Theory Explanation

In our society, gender and sexual preferences of a person are assumed as fixed and unchanging things. The theory challenges this assumption by stating that gender is a socially constructed attribute while the sexual preference of a person can be change at any point of time in life. In simple words the theory says that all sexual behavior, concepts and identities are socially constructed.

In her essay, Teresa de Lauretis took three stands.

  • She refused to accept heterosexuality being the standard of all sexual formation.
  • Interrogating the frequent assumption that Lesbian and Gay studies is a single homogeneous object.
  • Race defines sexual subjectivities.

What Queer Theory Tries To Explain?

Queer Theory tries to explain the following three things.

  1. The basic purpose of the theory was to highlight and explain all social issues that are present in society due to sexuality and sexual setup and marginalization of women and other population in present socio-cultural setup.
  2. This theory also challenged heterosexuality as being the basic and natural principle of defining sexuality of a person in society.
  3. By negating heterosexuality being the defining principle of a person’s sex, the theory also tries to introduce lesbianism and gayism a form of sexual identity in society.

The theory does not believe in the naturality of sex. It, in short challenge prevailing monolithic beliefs, taxonomies and social norms about sexual standards in the society and tries to change it.

Important Aspects Of Queer Theory

It is important to note that the theory emerged due to some critical circumstances that were prevailing in America and other Western countries during 1980’s and 1990’s. Due to this reason Queer Theory has some important aspects which are given below.

1 Queer Theory and AIDS

During 1980’s and 1990’s many health activists in West represented AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) as a gay disease and delivered education programmes on safe sex in order to decrease the high rate of homosexuality in society.

The theory was a protest against this propaganda.

2 Identity Politics

Queer Theory and its followers resist homosexual label such as lesbian and gay, given by the society. Queer theorists argued that sex and gender are not one and the same things so new genders can be added to society.

3 Sexuality and Role of Biology

Queer theorists criticize sexual classification of people on the basis of biological principles. According to them mixed sex and sexual characteristics of a person in society are considered disorder.

Criticism On Queer Theory

The following objections have been raised by the critics on Queer Theory.

  • Though the theory contains clarity in theoretical terms but in case of practical application it lacks clarity.
  • The theory criticizes the current sexual division and sexual setup of society but does not present an alternative to it.
  • According to Adam Green, The theory ignores the social and institutional conditions in which gay and lesbian lives.
  • The theory has also been criticized for its replacement of historical and sociological scholarship on lesbian and gay.

Future of Queer Theory

The theory has based its foundation on something that is both future and no future. The supporters of critical theory believes that the theory is future directed and open ended while other group say that it has already exhausted.

Teresa de Lauretis after three years abandon her phrase on the ground that it was taken over by those mainstream forces and institutions against whom it was coined to resist.

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