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Queer theory


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Introduction slides for Post-Feminism and Queer Theory. This is an over-simplification of the concept, we are mostly interested in how gender and sexuality are represented in the media and how traditional roles can be subverted.

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Queer theory

  2. 2. JUDITHBUTLER A contemporary approach to gender representation was introduced by Judith Butler (1990) who suggests that gender is not the result of nature but is socially constructed. That is to say, male and female behaviour and roles are not the result of biology but are constructed and reinforced through media and culture Butler argues that there are a number of exaggerated, disruptive ‘tongue-in-cheek’ representations of masculinity and femininity, which draw attention to the idea that gender is socially constructed and cause what she refers to as ‘gender trouble’
  4. 4. QUEERTHEORYButler’s theories of gender trouble have also been linked to queer theory, whichexplores and challenges the way in which heterosexual is constructed as normal andthe media has limited the representations of gay men and women. It has beensuggested for example, Hollywood films construct and portray images of ‘normal’ ,happy heterosexual couples are often represented in terms of sin or sickness Can you think of any examples that support or refute this? Queer theory challenges the traditionally held assumptions that there is a binary divide between gay and heterosexual, and suggests that sexual identity is more fluid. An example of the fluidity of gender/sexuality can be seen in the character of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. In this film the character uses an ironic and ‘over-the-top’ performance of a pirate, which includes wearing an over-elaborate costume and eye make-up, using feminine and camp gestures and avoiding anything that could be interpreted as machismo. Source: AQA A2 Media Studies Textbook Pg 56-57
  5. 5. A summary of Butler’s key points on gender representationand queer theory • Nothing within your identity is fixed. • Your identity is little more than a pile of (social and cutural) things which you have previously expressed, or which have been said about you. • There is not really an ‘inner self’. We come to believe we have one through the repetition of discourses about it • Gender, like other aspects of identity, is a performance (though not necessarily a consciously chosen one). Again, this is reinforced through repetition. • People can therefore change. • The binary divide between masculinity and femininity is a social construct built on the binary divide between men and women – which is also a social construction. • We should challenge the traditional views of masculinity, femininity and sexuality by causing gender trouble. Source: GAUNTLETT, D. (2008). Media, gender and identity: an introduction. London, Routledge.
  6. 6. TASKButler (1990) argues that gender is a performance, albeit not always aconscious performance. This is reinforced through repetition. She alsoargued that the binary divide between masculinity and femininity is asocial construction built on the divide between men and women which isalso a social construction.Do some research on Butler and ‘Queer Theory’. Create a series ofpresentation slides to explain Queer Theory and how it relates to themedia. You need to include an introduction of Butler’s key ideas ongender (the print out you were asked to read for homework should helpwith this)You should include some examples of “Gender Trouble” in the media –explain how your examples subvert traditionally held assumptionsabout gender.Your final slide should contain your thoughts on Queer Theory – do youagree with Butler?