Sunday, October 13, 2019

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwicks Tendencies: Queerness and Oppression Essay

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's Tendencies: Queerness and Oppression Over the last two decades or so, the idea of queerness is one that has been utilized and considered by individuals and communities of marginalized sexualities and genders. The concept is one that has attempted to broaden and deconstruct traditional notions of gender and sexuality in order to include all of their incarnations as valid experiences and identities. Queerness endeavors to include all of those who feel they are a part of it yet, seemingly, not everyone can be queer without changing the very nature of queerness. Or can they? Queerness is a concept which resists borders and structure yet it seems as though there must be certain commonalities among all queer identities and behaviors. In her book, Tendencies, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick constructs queerness as a seemingly all-inclusive and individually determined space, writing that: queer can refer to: the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances, resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent element's of anyone's gender, of anyone's sexuality aren't made (or can't be made) to signify monolithically. (8) She expands queer beyond the bounds of "same-sex sexual object choice" making queerness about performative behavior rather than sexual mechanics (Sedgwick 8). For example, Sedgwick's idea of queer includes "feminists... masturbators... lesbian-identified men...[and] people able to relish, learn from, or identify with such" among others(8). She posits that the fundamental precondition, "to make the description 'queer' a true one is the impulsion to use it in the first person" (Sedgwick 9). Yet is this self-determined queerness valid? Can actual queerness be claimed s... ...cepting one's status as incongruent allows one to claim a singular identity without inviting oppression because one's incongruence prohibits a singular identity claim to completely describe the self. The manner in which Foucault and Sedgwick construct queerness allows for oppression because they assume that the self is a singular cohesive body. Warner supposes that by realizing the fragmentation the self, one can claim an identity and escape oppression. Works Cited Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1980. Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Tendencies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993. Warner, Michael. "Tongues United: Memoirs of a Pentecostal Boyhood." The Material Queer: A LesBiGay Cultural Studies Reader. Ed. Donald Morton. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996.

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