Are you queer?
• Queer is by definition
whatever is at odds
with the normal, the
dominant. There is
nothing in particular to
which it necessarily
refers. It is an identity
without an essence.
Dominant ideology and hegemony
• ―Normalising‖ gender roles
• White, male, heterosexual as the norm
• Institutionalised – politics, church,
education, the traditional family etc.
However, if you’re different then…
• Queer Theory rejects conventional or
mainstream behaviour, including sexual
identity, but also a range of identities
including race, disability and gender.
• It rejects the essentialist nature of
theories of identity based on binary
oppositions like male/female,
gay/straight and argues there is
another space outside which is ‗queer‘.
It explores and challenges the way in which
heterosexuality is constructed as normal...
And the way in which the media has limited
the representations of gay men and women.
Suggests sexual identity is more fluid
What media celebrity examples can you think
• Suggests gender is not the result of nature,
but is socially constructed.
• Male and female behaviour roles are not the
result of biology but are constructed and
reinforced by society through media and
• Sees gender as a PERFORMANCE.
• She argues that there are a number of
exaggerated representations of
masculinity and femininity which cause
• (Any behaviour or representation that
disrupts culturally accepted notions of
Gregg Araki – a gay movie?
A heterosexual movie?
her most influential book, Gender Trouble
(1990), Butler argued that feminism had made
a mistake by trying to assert that 'women'
were a group with common characteristics and
That approach, Butler said, performed 'an
unwitting regulation and reification of gender
relations' - reinforcing a binary view of gender
relations (men and women)
She argued that, rather than opening up
possibilities for a person to form and choose
their own individual identity, feminism had
closed the options down
• ―There is no gender identity behind the
expressions of gender; ... identity is
performatively constituted by the very
"expressions" that are said to be its
• ―Of course Top Gun isn‘t a ‗gay movie‘ —
but it‘s clearly, flagrantly not a straight
one either.‖ (Mark Simpson)
• How does this work?
• Queer theory suggests there are
different ways of interpreting
contemporary media texts
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
• Sedgwick describes Queer Theory as: ―the
open mesh of possibilities, gaps,
overlaps, dissonance, and resources,
lapses and excesses of meaning when
the constituent elements of anyone's
gender, of anyone's sexuality aren't
made (or can't be made) to signify
• What does that mean?
implication of ‗fluidity‘ allows us to
consider concepts such as transgenderism
(moving between genders), transsexualism
(physically changing gender), intersex (both
sexes present, affects 1 in 2000 babies),
pansexual (sexual attraction not based on
gender) and trigender (a gender outside of
male or female) amongst others
At it‘s most radical, it implies all currently
accepted definitions of sex, gender and
sexuality are questionable, if not redundant