Sunday, March 29, 2009

Queer Theory, Queer Praxis

For many years, I have been actively involved in queer politics, queer theory, queer communities, and queer sex.

For the purposes of this blog, "queer" does not denote a "sexual orientation" but rather this term alludes to a critical and political project that emerged in a particular cultural and historical moment. When I take up the word "queer," I do so in solidarity with activist projects such as Queer Nation, ACT UP!, the Lesbian Avengers, Transsexual Menace, Gay Shame, and numerous other grassroots and scholarly efforts to make cultural space for marginalized sexualities and genders.

(Someone emailed me about this blog and basically called into question my lesbian bona fides. Just to be clear: My queer practice doesn't consist only in writing words and marching in the street; for the past 12 years I've lived as an "out lesbian"--though I prefer to problematize that identity category--and I've had queer sex with queer women.)

I see my sexual praxis as part of a critical project to engage what Michel Foucault describes as a "great surface network" of sexuality "in which the stimulation of bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse, the formation of special knowledges, the strengthening of controls and resistances are linked to one another in accordance with a few major strategies of knowledge and power."

My project is to break patterns, fragment wholeness, and disrupt continuity—to disrupt the normative sequences that produce the familiar and the normal. I thus have a predilection for the queer, the monstrous, the grotesque, the non-normative.

My involvement with BDSM began as a performative engagement of critical theories of gender, sexuality, the body, and subjectivity. Foucault and other theorists of sexuality have seen in various sadomasochistic practices technologies for unseating the genitals as the singular or primary site of sexual pleasure. If a technique of pleasure is completely non-genital, the gendered implications are that people of any gender or sexual "orientation" could engage in that activity with each other. Neither genital configuration nor legal sex would determine or limit sexual role/position/experience. In some of my BDSM relations, I felt that I had achieved this goal of degenitalizing sexuality through a variety of practices, at least on the part of my embodied subjectivity (and not necessarily that of other bodies/subjects involved).


  1. You make me laugh ;) I don't think I've ever read or heard such an analytical account of BDSM. I interpret you as someone who makes things grey just to make them black and white again. I certainly can not know you further than what you put here, but it's intriguing the lack of passion represented. I identify as an activist, a feminist, a lesbian- but this is my life, my passion driven spherically in many directions rather than tasks or projects or experiments. Of course, I must make my intentions known to have them accomplished. What is it driving you? Success or heart?

  2. A most fascinating juxtaposition of religion & sexuality. While the two cannot be bonded together, they cannot be separated either. While I do not subscribe to organized devotion, finding that common link is a worthy quest. I wish you luck.

  3. So how's your journey to Islam coming along?