Butler, J. 1997. “Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion.”

Butler, J. 1997. “Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion.” In Dangerous Liasons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives, ed. A. McClintock, A. Mufti, and E. Shohat. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Lawful calls as creating social subjects out of address, reprimanding creates power, but also aids in juridicial and social constitution of subject. Call as formative and performative, recognition of social existence. Law when ruptured, creates a restructuration of power, and rearticulating of power. Use of agency in constructing self as subject, in relation to power of subject that self is confronting. Power in a name and label, how signification and resignification can impact power, agency of self, others?
“One does not stand at an instrumental distance from the terms by which one experiences violation. Occupied by such terms and yet occupying them risks a complicity, a repetition, a relapse into injury, but it is also the occasion to work the mobilizing power of injury, of an interpellation one never chose” (383).
Analyzes film about drag queens Paris is Burning, as to the simultaneous subjugation and production of subjects in a culture where they are oppressed, yet also forms occasional spaces and outlets for these persons— however, despite queering, norms are often reinforced with severe consequences (here, death of a trans* queen).

Is the parody of dominant norms enough to displace them? Can denaturalization of norms create a reconstruction and affirmation of hegemonic gender(etc) norms? Drag as a site of ambivalence. Casting drag as a point of imitation of femininity reinforces heteronormative assumptions, binary assumptions. “Acceptable” drag as a means to negotiate tensions of homophobia with heteronormative assumptions, a control of “homosexual panic” (385). Participation and production of drag for use in a heterosexual economy and culture, as a way to reinforce heterosexuality, boundaries. Feminist critique of drag, casting women as object of appropriation and malevolent identification; drag as a misogynist expression of homosexuality, as a displacement of women. However, Butler argues that identification is always ambivalent, approximate, internally unstable. Identification as costly – the loss of other sets of identification, approximation of norms that are imposed, and that we occupy and fail with fulfilling norms.

Use of masculine appropriations of feminized appropriations of masculinized items. Parallelism of performativity and production of masculinity and femininity. “’Realness’ is not exactly a category in which one competes; it is a standard that is used to judge any given performance within the established categories. And yet what determines the effect of realness is the ability to compel belief, to produce the naturalized effect. This effect is itself the result of an embodiment of norms, a reiteration of norms, an impersonation of a racial and class norm, a norm that is at once a figure, a figure of a body, which is no particular body, but a morphological ideal that remains the standard that regulates the performance, but that no performance fully approximates” (387). (kx^ application in authenticity to festival bodies?!)

“Reading” as a means to detract from realness portrayed, body performing, and ideal as embodied. Realness and passing as shifting, based on identity, situation, contexts. Realness in “sex” as racially produced – where privilege can be gained, but also work to oppress within “failing” in norms. “Where queens out-woman women” – creates a seduction of the hegemonic gaze, in an attempt to both resist and conform. Hegemonies work through rearticulation (Gramsci) – historic articulation and reformation of such ideas. “The citing of the dominant norm does not, in this instance, displace that norm; rather, it becomes the means by which that dominant norm is most painfully reiterated as the very desire and the performance of those it subjects” (389).

“This is not an appropriation of dominant culture in order to remain subordinated by its terms but an appropriation that seeks to make over the terms of domination, a making over that is itself a kind of agency, a power in and as discourse, in and as performance, which repeats in order to remake – and sometimes succeeds” (392-393).
(kx^ not a fan of the psychoanalytic component Butler introduces through phallic-focus, symbolic sex, toward the end, etc.)


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