Blog Prompt 2

Read this interview with Judith/Jack Halberstam. For your blog post, write a thoughtful response. Do you find any of Halberstam’s positions particularly compelling? Are there any points you disagree with? What further questions come up for you after reading this interview?

You may either post your response as a comment here, or better yet, post it as a comment on the original piece! In order to receive credit for this assignment, you must post by 8pm on Sunday, February 26th (if you decide to post on the original piece, just comment here with a link that says so).

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16 thoughts on “Blog Prompt 2

  1. lailleymansouri says:

    I found Halberstam’s idea about the success/failure model particular compelling. It seems absolutely ridiculous that in our society a person is judged based upon their bank account and level of professional advancement. I agree with Halberstam that in order to lead better lives, we ought to judge ourselves against better standards. It’s difficult to see, however, how this is possible when we live in a capitalist society that conditions children from birth. I also found Jack Halberstam’s point about pop culture particularly interesting. Hollywood is often perceived to be a queer-friendly industry, yet representations of queer identities in the media are limited to stereotypes and characters who are “gay vague.” Although he does not take pop culture too seriously, Halberstam still notes the importance in engaging in popular culture and not resorting to a very specific, avant garde culture. I must admit that I can’t agree with Halberstam on the issue of gay marriage. I understand his point that marriage has traditionally subordinated women and therefore, it is an institution feminists take issue with. Nonetheless, the issue of gay marriage should not be seen as an issue about feminism and sexism. Instead, it should be seen as a fight to attain a very basic civil liberty that is wrongfully denied to millions of people. Shouldn’t members of the queer community have the right to be just as miserable as straight people? How can Halberstam defend his position on gay marriage when married couples receive more rights and benefits than unmarried couples?

  2. sef333 says:

    In Halberstam’s interview, I found the point about the binary of success and failure very intriguing. While I agreed with the universal premise, that we judge success based on economic and professional achievement, I thought his point that queers become automatic failures to be almost close-minded. The viewpoint of queerness as failure seems to vary based on where and when someone is raised. In many areas, I would agree with Halberstam’s concept that by not conforming queers have failed; however, in some areas, gender and sexuality do not affect one’s ability to succeed. In some liberal circumstances being queer is a coveted characteristic; females seem to be on a permanent quest for the male “gay best friend” and pop culture has referenced the exploitation of queers in attempts to diversify (daycare on Modern Family, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry). While I see Halberstam’s view as completely valid, I think the few exceptions should definitely be noted.
    The interviewer’s and then Halberstam’s position on failure as progress resonated with me. I think that if we see failures as progress than it becomes easier to learn from and grow from mistakes. It would be interesting to see it applied in a capitalistic sense, to see how economic set-backs push us towards achievement in the future. I also would like to see how failure as progress can be applied to gains in political equality. Halberstam seems to feel that the thirst for political equality in terms of marriage overpowers feminist critique of marriage. I would like to know more about how he views progress, success, and failure in terms of political equality. I would say it is more important to focus on marriage availability for all and then fix the problems within the institution. I would wonder if Halberstam would, at some point, agree, that is would he find the concept of equality to access an institution more important than the original unfairness within that institution?

  3. Morgan N. says:

    I found this whole interview a very interesting read, but in particular I was interested in Halberstam’s discussion of popular culture as it relates to its queer viewers. Although he discusses his view of the wound of exclusion as being seen as a gift after he shares his thoughts on pop culture, I think it also plays into the way that queer people create and view media. I believe that using the wound of exclusion as a gift creates a niche world view for queer peoples. Queer individuals decide early on that they can not fit into the mold of popular culture so they completely separate from that world and create their own customs and ways of relating to the world. But when then when the queer world inevitably needs to interact with the normative one they have little to nothing to relate between the two groups, which is why, as Halberstam argues, it is important to treat popular culture as a type of capital queer people need to be able to trade in. And the queer community, Halberstam states, can actually find elements of themselves in popular culture if they look hard enough because in some cases those cultural entities are being created by people like them.
    This is a cycle I’ve seen play out in my daily life before. I think that Logo, the TV Channel, is a perfect example of a niche queer media. Although people who do not identify as queer may watch the station, most of the programming is developed for queer sensibilities. I see Logo, and other outlets like it, as the benefits of the wounds of exclusion that Halberstam talks about. However, there is a downside to these queer targeted text. Just this week, for example, my non-queer identifying roommate sat down and watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race with me and she just did not understand the point of the campiness of it. While camp is an aspect of drag queen culture I enjoy, it is not well suited for all people who do not identify with that culture. However, gay icons that also serve a place in pop culture are much more relatable to a wider base of people. Take Madonna playing the Super Bowl halftime show for instance, people I know of all genders/sexual orientations were able to discuss her performance, where as fewer people I know would be able to sit down and have conversations about Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and even fewer about a Jack Halberstam book. In this way, I think it is important that queer people relate to popular culture as much as it is that normative people at least attempt to understand the queer mindset, in hopes that although queer people may not always understand the main stream (and visa versa), just having the knowledge base to communicate is one step towards greater understanding and inclusion.

  4. Palladium Pugs says:

    I found JH’s discussion of parental pronouns especially interesting. His idea that butch parents should not want to be called “mom” really shed light on how complex parental pronouns are. Not only are they regulated by gender rules; those rules influence the rules that control familial pronouns. So, first one would have to define which gender exemplifies their identity. Whether it is male, female, lesbian, femme, butch, and the rest, there is a certain amount of pushback and difficulty, especially for those that regularly reevaluate their identities. Before I continue my response, I have to wonder what it is exactly that defines “mom” and “dad”. Is it gender? Is it the sex of either parent? Does it take into account which, if either, parent is biologically connected to the children? Is it which parent makes money? I suppose queer theory would want to say that the answer is all of these, and none of these. What I find most interesting is that JH in this interview essentially says that this queer response is not useful for anyone. Knowing that JH is a queer theorist, I was very surprised by his response to this question. It was the first time, in all of our class discussions about gender fucking and sexual variance, that I thought about the complexity of parental pronouns.

  5. katiehlavs says:

    I find it particularly interesting how Jack not only discusses, but also enacts how fluid identity can be if we allow it. I liked when he said, “So some people call me Jack, my sister calls me Jude, people who I’ve known forever call me Judith—I try not to police any of it. A lot of people call me he, some people call me she, and I let it be a weird mix of things and I’m not trying to control it.” It seems, that to him, even having a preferred gender pronoun is not important. I’m also really looking forward to his new book and I wish it were out in time for our book review assignment.
    I agree strongly with the point that he makes about academic accessibility, when he suggests, “finding larger platforms for our ideas.” It seems like he is trying to make the books more so everyone can read them without getting frustrated, but is not too worried about labeling it for a specific audience, which is congruent with his belief in fluidity. I really like his attitude, because it is basically just what you see is what you get, and everything is subject to change.
    I totally agree that the standards for judging success/failure are too rigid and do not account for many people doing good in ways that are not so mainstream. I also like how she talks about the masculine woman as a failure in many ways but also a forager of new territory for success; “to the extent that the masculine woman is willing and able to recraft her body and her gender position into one of strength, she’s recreating the model of success in the process.” I like how she positions failures as possible successes. It is a very optimistic and productive point of view.
    I also like his opinion that you do not need to adhere to standards, but you do need to realize that we live in a world that is largely structured around categories and labels. Although there are many variations on the norm, he suggests, “each and every person’s own understanding of self doesn’t deserve a name.” I was a little shocked at first when I read this, but when I read further, “we have to come up with shorthand and terms that we share and ways of thinking about ourselves in relationship to others,” it made much more sense in light of building communities and a strong alternative narrative to male/female, gay/straight, etc.
    -Katie

  6. Jack Halberstam is definitely a leader in modern queer thought. I think it was important for him to discuss the uni-module structure of success in our culture. Opposition to the default values and structure of society is the underlying principle of queer theory and Halberstam presents it in a way that resonates with those both within and outside of the queer community.

    Through this same principle, Halberstam’s views on marriage politics have legitimacy. He proposes that queer people use their “wound” to develop alternative ways of living and loving “separately from… state-sponsored institutions.” He also references feminist critiques of marriage that highlight the institution’s not-so-pretty history. But perhaps Gay activists are more queer-progressive than Halberstam makes them out to be. In many ways, the Gay Rights Movement is testing the values and traditional structure of society. It attempts to throw out cultural preconceptions about the traditional purpose of such a union in a way that demands the recognition of alternative lifestyles. As Andrea Gibson points out in her poem “I Do” [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8oGYyLDxFI] there are practical legal purposes of purposes of marriage as well, but at the end of the day it’s about dignity. What Halberstam proposes may also work for some, but the Gay Rights Movement is successful at establishing a dialogue in mainstream society that has the potential to change the framework from which we all view the world. Halberstam supports pushing the envelope, but his queer ideals may blind him from seeing the overwhelming positive effects from supporting the Gay Rights Movement’s approach to marriage.

    There is certainly a distinction between Gay and Queer but it’s important to recognize the common threads between the communities. I think they share common goals, even if it is not always clear how to reach them.

    -AY

  7. kmb471 says:

    In the interview, Queers Create Better Models of Success, there were many points of Jack Halbestam’s I tended to agree with but some that I didn’t. I could most definitely relate to his notion that living a queer lifestyle is synonymous to living an unsuccessful lifestyle because “we’re living with one model of success and failure and one model alone. And that model is, that to make money and to advance professionally…and everything else is failure.” Throughout the interview, Halberstam touches on many different topics relating to queer culture and the conflicts we face in opposition to the rest of society [whom] “squashes out all kinds of people doing alternative things for alternative reasons that may be much more valuable to their communities and to the world.” I appreciated his alternative view on alternative lifestyles very much and I agree that these so-called “failures” may just be preferred alternatives to conformist lifestyles and the heteronormative status quo.

    I had done a lot of stupid things as an adolescent and as a teenager and I gave my mother her fair share of grey hairs and worry lines but the first time I had truly disappointed my mother was when she found out I was in a relationship with another girl. She was disappointed because when she imagined her daughter’s life, she imagined her as being a successful woman with a good job, a family, and a husband. This was my mother’s idea of success, and she happened to share these ideals with many other mothers and fathers in our society who see raising a gay son or daughter as a failure of epic proportion. In her eyes, I was a failure. In her eyes, it didn’t matter that I had graduated at the top of my high school class, gotten into a great college, managed to graduate in four years with a pretty good grade point average all while maintaining multiple jobs; I had failed her because I didn’t live up to society’s standards of heteronormative success. ‘What was she going to tell people? Why can’t you just be normal?’ She couldn’t brag to her friends over coffee about her daughter’s new girlfriend, their plans to go on vacation after graduation, or that I was moving into my girlfriend’s house with her because not only would they think that her lesbian daughter was a huge failure, they would think she failed as a parent.

    So maybe marrying a man and having a family is my mother’s idea of success but it is not the way I have measured successes in my life. I love another person with all my heart, whether it’s endorsed by the government or by my mother. I like to think I am a good person. I hold the door open for other people and I know that I would give back the $5 I found if I saw the person who dropped it. I am about to graduate from college and enter in the “real” world that tells me that no matter how much money I make or how successful I am in my career, I am still going to be viewed as a failure because of my sexuality. Although this may be the case, I’d like to offer the idea that living life through a queer lens offers us the opportunity to look at the world from a different perspective and measure our success differently than the rest of society measures success.

    And we are very lucky for that. Which is why I disagree with Halberstam when he says, “the wound can be the gift.” I understand his point how being queer can actually be a gift but I disagree with his comparing it to a wound, like a deformity or something that needs to be fixed. This gives the term queer a negative connotation, in my opinion when he is trying to positively redefine the word “other” from a person of failure to a person of alternative but equal success. I’d agree with Halberstam if his point were to be made more literally and directly: living a queer lifestyle is a gift; the wound is not the gift.

    I also tend to deviate from Halberstam’s point of view on queer families and queer parenting. He argues that in his queer family, he would hate to be referred to as mom and would rather be introduced to his children’s friends as “step-dad” or even “he-she” and suggests that butch parents everywhere should follow suit and not fall into the role of a mother simply because they are of the female sex. She should instead take on the title and the role of dad. I strongly disagree with Halberstam. Why should queer families succumb to the hierarchical and heteronormative titles given to parents in our society at all? And why is it that the more butch of the two women in a queer family must presume the role of a father figure and be referred to as “dad”? She will probably be responsible for disciplining the children, teaching them how to ride a bike and catch a baseball, and making sure they know how to stand up for themselves against bullies at school because every child needs a father figure in their life in order to grow up and be successful, right? Why are the roles for mother and father so steadfast and gender-specific? I do not believe that the title holds any inalienable power and that Halberstam is ultimately arguing about a non-issue.

    Ironically enough, my mother is a great example of a queer mother in the sense that she and my father do not follow any of the typical roles pertaining to the titles of mother and father. My mother is an electrician and works very hard in her profession, and when she comes home, she pays the bills and checks her favorite sports blogs. My mother taught me everything I know (which is more than I ever wanted to know) about sports. My dad comes home from work, makes dinner, does the laundry, cleans the house, and watches the Wendy Williams Show when he has free time (but don’t tell him I told you that). Although they assume a heteronormative lifestyle, my parents have always practiced alternative roles when it comes to parenting. Taking on the typical roles of a father and a mother respectively, I still call my mom mom and my dad dad. And it never really mattered to me. In the same way I don’t think it would matter if a child were raised by two mothers or two fathers. And it doesn’t matter what the child calls his or her parents as long as the child is loved and cared for.
    Lastly, I agree with Halberstam on his final point that there should be no idea of a “masculine of center” just like Eve Sedgwick talks about how there is no universal homosexual. Having a “masculine of center” in queer society suggests that there is an ideal way to do queer and only one way to successfully portray one self as a queer woman and in order to be successful, you must aspire to this center. But I agree that this idea destabilizes and subverts the entire idea of queer and cannot exist because there is no perfect prototype or definition of queer and there should be no aspiration to the “masculine of center”.

  8. I found it especially interesting that Jack and Sinclair note the seemingly widespread acceptance of people who identify as “other” by young children. I’ve been fascinated with that observation since it was (I think?) brought up in class briefly. I wonder what exactly makes younger children take people for themselves, not as men or women or gay or straight, and how, up until a certain point in our childhoods, playing “house” doesn’t always yield results that are completely in line with gender or gender roles (I’m still impressed by which classmates played which parts in the photos of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” from my kindergarten class). I’m also disheartened by how these same children most often grow up to not accept in the ways they did in their youth…how can we attempt to maintain our universal acceptance as adults? What do we need to emulate? Hopefully, this will become more clear in the near future through psychological and social study.

    I also agreed with Jack’s assertion that labels are always problematic, never seem to be umbrella terms, and often need to be explained in order to properly function. This only supports my belief that labels are outdated and wholly unnecessary, although they indeed may need to be implemented in a grander social setting, as most of society still sees the world (probably through no deliberate fault of their own) as a composite of binaries. What may be more truthful, then, is perhaps to identify specifics of identity and attraction to others (i.e., “I’m biologically defined as female and present myself as what’s commonly known as masculine, sexually attracted to other biologically defined females who present themselves as conventionally feminine,” rather than “I’m a butch lesbian”), though that approach is clunky, inefficient, and almost definitely problematic in its own way. I think the underlying issue there, then, is the fact that we’re expected to define ourselves at all; a simple “my name is {name}” should be all we really care about, and I’d even venture far enough to say that talking about one’s sexuality is a more private affair than what needs to be presented in public–if I’m not sleeping with someone, what’s the difference who, or who they tend to, sleep with? (This brings the discussion back to the Queer Eye question: what makes any gay men intrinsically more fashionable than any straight man?)

    –Christopher

  9. vcd210 says:

    In the interview with Sinclair Sexsmith, Jack Halberstam talked about his new book on queer issues and about queer theory in general. He talks specifically about the border or current lack of one, between popular culture and queer culture. Gay and lesbian themes have become more prominent in the main stream because of the increase in openly gay and lesbian people working on film and television. The same thing is also starting to slowly but surely occur with queer themes. Halberstam made an interesting observation when he said that this fight to be represented in the mainstream has given the queer community a unique perspective on culture and society. I would go even farther than Halberstam and say that, paradoxically, the LGBTQ community probably has a better understanding of mainstream society and culture than the mainstream. The same could be said for any minority group though that is forced to take an active role in their own representation. By definition the mainstream only exists as part of the established system so in order to be a part of the mainstream they must work within the system. To work successfully within this structure they must have a brilliant understanding of how I works compared to those already part of the mainstream who are passive participants in society. Basically, in order to make the system work for them they first had to understand and master it. Of course all of this implies that the ultimate goal of the queer community is to be represented in the mainstream which I also think may not be as important as it was with the lesbian and gay community a few decades ago. Sexsmith’s reference to the queer community “remaking” culture as their own is very different than just becoming part of the culture.

    Still, I think Harlberstam’s point about the unique perspective of the queer community remains valid. At the very least I think the queer community is more likely to ask questions, maybe even more so than just the lesbian and gay communities. Halberstam brings up gay marriage and observes that this issue is at its foundation about gays and lesbians being included in the tradition of marriage. They are very much fighting to be assimilated into the mainstream. I find it interesting that Halberstam seems to criticize the fight for marriage and brings up the fact that decades ago women brought up the many flaws in the institution of marriage itself that seems to have been forgotten in all of this. I think that this questioning not only of who is included in what but of the basic structures and systems themselves is a uniquely queer perspective. Although, his stance on marriage I think can be also read as a stance against heteronormaltivity I find his stance on the roles of parents to be in conflict.
    Halberstam derides the practice of same-sex couples with children both being addressed as mom or as dad. He feels that if one parent is more butch or femme that it is more than appropriate for the child to address one as mom and the other as dad. Of course I think that people should be able to decide how they want to be addressed and should not be limited in their options, at first glance this practice still seems incredibly heteronormaltive to me as well as harkening back to a more patriarchal time. From a glance at the comments on the interview I wasn’t the only one who had this view. I do think I’ve been able to understand where she was coming from with these comments but first I had to completely untangle masculine/feminine with man/woman with mother/father. I think his point is that the labels of dad or mom should not be tied to gender or gender performance which I am inclined to agree with. This issue also goes back to the idea that masculinity is not necessarily connected with being male just as femininity is not necessarily connected with being female. I think understanding these things as separate entities are another essential part of queer theory.

  10. The Squeeze Juice says:

    Among Jack Halberstam’s articulate, alternative views of gender and socialization (from his 2012 Lamda Literary interview with Sinclair Sexsmith), his unorthodox ideas regarding parenting stand out as judicious and practical. Combining his experience as a “gender variant dad” (which, he assures young parents, is surprisingly easy) and his thoughts concerning standard models of success in America, Halberstam contends that “what it means to be a family [is that] you have a lot of pieces… People are there for you in different ways, and one person doesn’t do everything for you, there are many people. I think that’s a good model, honestly… Sometimes I think in families people get locked in to abusive dynamics partly because there is no outside… the circulation of kids among adults actually, I think, lessens the possibility that they’re going to be subject to one particularly abusive adult.” This progressive sentiment shatters the illusion of an impeccable, Christian-God-approved nuclear family that untangles inevitable Freudian knots within the strictly private realm of the home, replacing the farce with a more realistic, community-based system of parenting that takes into consideration human imperfection and the unavoidably tyrannical nature of parenting. At once peering into the future of familial relations (beyond the delusions of a nuclear family) and evoking a primeval, holistic sense of group responsibility (redolent of familial organizations of “primitive” societies,) Halberstam applies his “one model alone” critique of society to the domestic realm, where the model of two-parents-and-two-parents-only reigns supreme, even in families with queer parents.

    ¶ Interestingly, Halberstam’s idea of familial arrangement comes to literary life in Aldous Huxley’s 1962 novel, Island, which depicts the enlightened society of Pala, where children are taught to meditate, visualize, dance through their anger, and depart their parents’ home and stay with other community members whenever they feel the urge to do so. The result, Huxley implies, is a greater freedom and a more multifaceted perspective for the children, as well as much-needed time-off for the parents. The inhabitants of Pala certainly “measure [themselves] against different standards [of success]:” they value mystical experience and cognizant action (birds around the island are trained to squawk, “Attention! Here and now”) over financial accumulation or intellectual fancies. To a large extent, Huxley’s Pala could be seen as the queer sub-world within the capitalist, mainstream world; indeed, Pala is a one-of-a-kind, utopian paradise that exists in a state of perpetual anxiety that capitalist nations may invade and take over. Just as the queer community, setting itself apart from unfriendly mainstream ideologies, works (either consciously or unconsciously) to create “better models of success and failure,” so does Huxley’s Pala, settings itself apart from unfriendly capitalist models (Pala is rich in oil, yet the Palanese know that drilling will destroy their paradise), seek to establish new social and political structures from the ground-up. Fortunately, however, whereas the Palanese consciously isolated their island from the outside world (the narrator is only allowed onto the island through a special favor), the queer island is anything but an secluded land: as Halberstam points out, “[Q]ueer sensibilities do make their way in[to Hollywood.] [The queer community] would be crazy to see ourselves as a little isolated island of radical cultural production.” Not only is the queer community pioneering alternative modes of living, thinking, and acting, it is openly displaying these non-normative practices and thereby pouring them into the boiling cauldron of culture.

    Jonathan Pace

  11. wbm228 says:

    Jack Halberstam presents a very compelling queer view of the world and failure in this interview. In particular, I was interested in his views of queer parenting and gay marriage activism.
    While reading the piece, I couldn’t help but keep the idea of queer privilege that we discussed a few weeks ago in mind. Most of Jack’s points in the interview come with this idea that queer people have a privileged view of the world because their difference allows them to see the existing structures in society. This comes across in his ideas surrounding the art of failure and in the conversation about butch “moms.” I thought it was very interesting that Halberstam rejected the use of moms and accepted this idea of calling the butch parent dad. In my opinion, I think this might go against the queer theory in that it reinforces the binary of parenting. Referring to both parents as mom might reinforce the gender binary in naming, but it also disrupts the traditional view of the family. When one of the lesbian parents is referred to as dad, it reinforces society’s need to have a mom and a dad. In this section of the interview where Jack talks about his personal experience of parenting, I thought his demonstration of how the queer view of the world affects children particularly compelling. Here, I think it is obvious that children are less judgmental and the fact that they are able to take difference as normal and see the structures in society at an early age is definitely advantageous.
    Halberstam’s critique of the gay marriage activism, on the other hand, was a little more difficult to agree with. While the institution of marriage has been criticized by feminists over history, I think the gay fight for civil rights has a lot more to do with legal unions rather than domination. In this country, marriage comes with a lot of benefits, and just because gay people want to be included in those benefits doesn’t necessarily mean they are joining an anti-feminist movement or that they are trying to reinforce dominant structures. While I am able to see Jack’s queer point of view surrounding the institution of marriage, it’s hard for me, as a gay man, to say that it’s more important to stand up against the structure of marriage than benefit from the institution.
    I am interested to see how the rest of the class responded to Halberstam’s critique of gay marriage advocacy. Do you see it as conforming to the hetero world and maintaining am anti-feminist view? Did anyone else think Jack’s comment about divorce being beneficial a little troubling?

  12. Jack Halberstam discusses many interesting topics in an interview for his new book, “The Queer Art of Failure”. I found his points on pop culture to be extremely relevant to our ongoing class discussion about queer identity representations. As we have seen in class, there is not much for those that identify as queer to see in popular culture. However, as he explains popular culture can not be shunned because of this fault, instead it should be embraced as a way to relate to others within society. I also found his discussion about the “wound being the gift” reminiscent of the discussion we had in class when studying Gross’s “Up from Invisibility”. I think that Jack Halberstam would agree with Gross’s idea that being gay or queer puts you in a privileged position because you can question what is deemed normal within society and have a heighten awareness of the performance involved in daily life regarding gender. I also agreed with the points he made in his discussion about the “masculine center”. It is clear that any queer scholar would not promote the idea of this term since it creates an ideal that would likely be determined by heteronormative standards.

    The one thing I disagreed with was his stance on gay marriage. He explains in the article that arguing for gay marriage has served to erase past criticisms surrounding the practice of marriage, “Suddenly, when gays and lesbians decide that they’ve been excluded from a constitutional right, we forget our feminist critiques of marriage…”. I do not feel that this is the case because you can always critique the practice of marriage, no matter who is getting married. Just because gay couples want the right to marry does not make the feminist critique of marriage any less valid. The fact is that gay couples deserve to be treated equal to any other couple and thus should be given the right to marry.

    The question I have after reading this interview pertains to his theory on the use of terms mom and dad in queer parenting relationships. I am curious why someone who does not feel the need to police his own gender pronouns would be concerned about the use of the terms mom and dad? Perhaps these terms should be used however people want to use them just as his gender pronouns are.

  13. One concept from Halberstam’s interview that I found particularly compelling was the way in which our society measures success. I found it very interesting how he brought up the point that queer individuals have been finding our own measures of success since we are inherently found outside the heterosexual, standard model with which success is measured. The notion that there is much more to learn about success beyond the traditional ideas of career and salary from queer art and culture was highly interesting to me and something that I find myself strongly agreeing with. In fact, this is an issue I find myself grappling with quite frequently, and seeing Jack articulate it so nicely was just really exciting for me. I also like the way he mentioned the idea that “we conceive of the idea of failure in our society, not so that we may correct ourselves, but so that we may see how our varies ‘failures’ may actually produce a preferable alternative to conformist lifestyles and the status quo” because it shows a viable means through which we can attempt to dismantle the current measure of success in society. Another point I find highly interesting from Halberstam’s interview was the idea that academic writers should be attempting to have a more vast reach, instead of just writing to each other; he makes a good point that if we can reach more people, we can have a good chance of restructuring the current model of success that is in place. I also really liked the way Jack doesn’t try to “police” the names or gender pronouns people use for him. It’s an interesting concept, but I wonder if this could have a negative backlash for individuals whose preferred gender pronouns are not always respected. One point I understand, but also took issue with, was Halberstam’s stance on gay marriage through a feminist’s perspective. I personally believe if he is going to critique it through a lens other than civil rights, it should be through one of religion, as it is a religious establishment. In that case, shouldn’t marriage only be an option for religious individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation? I would want to ask Halberstam if he believes we should start fighting more for the same benefits in civil unions as in marriage and only allow religious individuals to enter the latter, or, rather, what issues he believes would result if that happened.

  14. kareenabirafeh says:

    I found Halberstam’s discussion of parenting in a queer setting really interesting. For me, this highlights a moment when two narratives, queer and heterosexual, intertwine. Halberstam’s queer narrative merges into the heteronormative frame of parenting. But what does this say about me associating parenting with a heteronormative narrative?

    I think Halberstam’s brings up a good point when she points out the community of parents and their perception of this “queer setup”. I think perception plays a large part in reinforcing certain labels and categories and I find it interesting when he says, “I’ve nothing against creating new categories, but you don’t do it as an individual, you do it as a community.” As a community, how do we assign and create new categories? By what we see in the media and pop culture; “pop culture is a kind of currency” in the identification process and how it can demarcate dominant narratives or debunk them. In identify oneself, I think Halberstam is intriguing in that he doesn’t care how he is addressed but rather how he is read. He states, “It’s not totally important to my understanding of self that other people read me as a man. It’s important that they read me as masculine, and it’s important that they read me in some way that I’m at odds with female embodiment […] I don’t see why we can’t hold onto “butch” along with a whole set of other markers and identity, difference, embodiment, masculinity, variance and so on.” I found it engaging to read about he identifies itself because I get confused with all ‘partitions’ and ‘markers’ and I think it was interesting to see how someone with a queer identity identifies himself or herself. Do we impose categories upon ourselves to relate to others or to distinguishing ourselves from others? Reading this interview, I wonder do we do the labeling and is it just perpetuated by media, pop culture, by the “platform” that is pop culture?

    –Kareen.

  15. shapironoah says:

    My favorite part of Halberstam’s interview is when he talks about teaching a queer class to mostly straight, business majors, who have to be “convinced” about these subjects. And instead of exposing them to what queer life looks like, the class is spent questioning heterosexuality. THinking about the socialization of heterosexuality, as Halberstam states, isnt something that heterosexuals deal with often. If more people had to discuss this. both hetero and homosexuals, maybe less people would feel uncomfortable around “others”. Everyone should either have to “come out” as whatever they are, or no one should have to come out. I think that if everyone starts coming out, then eventually that will lead to no one needed to come out. If everyone were to come out and openly explain their gender, sexual orientation, etc, then that might lead to people who are currently uncomfortable, or confused by the other, being more open, and no one would no longer feel the need for others to explain who they are, and the need for labeling would be an issue of the past.

    Although I think that Halberstam has a lot of good things to say, I take issue with his discussion of occupy wall street. This issue may stem from my overall dislike of the movement but thats neither here nor there. I have trouble with associating queer and the other as opposite of the corporate world and what occupy wall street was doing. I think that queers and queerness need a voice and that they’re are serious problems, but connecting those issues with the occupy movement is a mistake. Not all queers are anti-whatever occupy is protesting. Considering myself a queer, I want to be apart some of the industries that occupy is against.

    Specifically the entertainment one. Which leads me to Halberstams discussions of queerness in pop culture. I kept thinking about the “Celluloid Closet” when Harvey Fierstein talks about even though many of the things he was watching didn’t have specific queer tones, he read them that way. Although, as Halberstam says there is more queerness being seen, its more about how one reads the piece.

    -Noah

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