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A review & summary of sexual strangers by


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A review of Shane Phelan's book Sexual Stranger's Chapters 5 & 6

Published in: Spiritual, Technology
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A review & summary of sexual strangers by

  2. 2. SHANE PHELAN• Shane Phelan is an Associate Professor of PoliticalScience at the University of New Mexico.• Author/editor of several books onlesbian and gay politics• Was the Chair of the AmericanPolitical Science Association‟sCommittee on the Status of Lesbiansand Gays in the Profession• Assesses the status of GLBT scholars in theprofession; advances the research on LGBTissues; develops curriculum materials; andworks to ensure tolerance toward LGBTpolitical scientists.
  3. 3. CHAPTER 5: STRANGERS AMONG “US”:SECONDARY MARGINALIZATION AND“LGBT” POLITICS• LGBT – inclusive of initials only – problematic in thesense that that‟s all it is.• “‟Queer‟ offers greater inclusiveness to all thesegroups by calling into question the very identitiesinitialed in LGBT” (p. 115).• “In communities subject to advancedmarginalization, the access and privilege of some isconditional on the secondary marginalization of„the most vulnerable and stigmatized in theircommunities‟” (p. 116)• Secularity reading – minority of the minorities/disprivilegedof the disprivileged
  4. 4. CH. 5 CON’TRejection and Appropriation• “Bisexuals and transgendered people appear as strangerswithin lesbian and gay communities in ways startlingly similarto how lesbians and gays appear in heteronormativesociety” (p. 116).• Bisexuals seems to fit – other times, they don‟t• Judith Butler – Grieveable life & Lorraine Code – Unrecognizable• Exclusion of B&T is result of 2 forces• “First, the push to assimilate into existing cultural and legalcategories if facilitated by notions of sexual orientation as fixedand binary” (p.118)• “Second…is the assertion that gays and lesbians do notchallenge prevailing gender structures” (p.119).
  5. 5. CH. 5 CON’TParadigms and/of Exclusion• Masculinity debunked, Womanliness debunked• Therefore, “we are not just one sex or one gender, nor arethose we desire” (p. 122)• Bisexuals “offer insight into the continued commitment toideas of a fixed orientation” (p.124)• Epistemic privilege, standpoint
  6. 6. CH. 5 CON’TToo Queer? Not Queer Enough?• “LGBT” asserts common goal, however allows L & Gto deny charges of exclusion without actuallychanging understanding or lives (p.125)• Trans• Literalizing and deliteralizing the body = too queer, notqueer enough• Bisexuality• not queer enough• in-between• threatens “born this way”
  7. 7. CH. 5 CON’TOscillating Agency• Bisexuals: threat #1 = will choose man, threat #2 =will choose same-sex lover, threat #3 = belie claimthat we can‟t help our desire• Double agency = never self-identical “I am neveronly one, self-contained and neatly bound” or loyalto lovers and to femaleness/maleness (p.129)Confronting the Stranger Within• Suggests we begin from the perspective of bi andtrans to challenge traditional thoughts of sexualityand gender
  8. 8. CH. 5 CON’T• Clear boundaries hurt us more than they strengthenus• Appropriation – like saying we‟re a college who iscommitted to diversity but doesn‟t hostprogramming, create new policies, or offerresources to support that claimQueer Communities, Queer Utopias• New creation, remapping social world• Non-identitarian utopian universalism
  9. 9. CHAPTER 6: QUEERING CITIZENSHIP• “Citizenship for some depends upon the willingnessof the majority to acknowledge them as members.This willingness in turn depends upon theconstruction of a new hegemony, with newreadings of rights, equality, and membership” (p.139)• Question is not “queer or not” or “how to makecitizenship queer” – it‟s how do we queercitizenship.• Androcentric, patriarch, phallic foundations
  10. 10. CH. 6 CON’TStraight Democracy• Equality – “we‟re like you!” “We want the samethings you want from this American lifestyle”• What happens to those who are “unrecognizable”?• Thin Democracy vs. Unitary Democracy political• Lesbian and Gay not just isolated – overlappingidentities• Can‟t speak for the whole group• Political changes must be accompanied by culturalchanges• Cannot simply mean being included in hetero rules…weneed to challenge the hetero state.
  11. 11. CH. 6 CON’T• Citizenship “must entail a recognition ofstrangeness” and should “not be confused withassimilation or simple tolerance”• “It requires an active encounter with difference anda willingness to understand differences as fruitfuland enhancing rather than as threats to bodily,social or personal integrity” (p. 147)State/Citizenship• “Rights can only become real in people‟s liveswhen they are sufficiently supported culturally to beexercised” (p.147)
  12. 12. CH. 6 CON’T• Citizenship strategies must combine legislative andjudicial campaigns with social activism andeducation (p. 148)• There has been no clear link between non-discrimination laws and the level of cultural visibilityand activity in a given state• We cannot conclude that state engagement hasstrengthened civil society among lesbians and gaysbut we can be sure it hasn‟t harmed it (p.151)
  13. 13. CH. 6 CON’T• Quest to seek entry and end strangeness status isflawed because current structures of citizenship areinextricably bound with the generation of strangers.(p. 152)Queer Citizens• Queer=non-straight work, positions, pleasures andreading of people who either don‟t share the same„sexual orientation‟ as that articulated in texts theyare producing or responding to or who don‟t definethemselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight(p.153)
  14. 14. CH. 6 CON’T• Strangers fill the gaps of the unknown – many of usare becoming strangers even in our nativecommunitiesQueer Citizenship• Changes reliant on heterosexual responses andchanges to those lifestyles and meanings• Put an end to phallic citizenship• Queer kinship
  15. 15. STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSESStrengths• Does a nice jobdiscussing inclusion andexclusion in the LGBTcommunity• Deepensunderstanding of queerpolitics• Speaks in laymansterms!Weaknesses• Discusses overlappingidentities but not tomuch extent• Doesn‟t representtransgender issues asmuch as she does forbisexuals
  16. 16. QUESTIONS• What are your thoughts on the usage of the wordutopian in this context? “Queer communities should beutopian, both in the drive for a better world and in theknowledge that the dream will never fully take shape,the day of reconciliation will never arrive” – Utopia isgenerally considered an ideal, perfect place.• What are different types of institutions that LGBTcommunity members are looking for citizenship of thatthey currently don‟t have full access to? Does QueeringCitizenry (i.e. queering kinship and ending phalliccitizenship) apply for these institutions?