Studies in Sexuality
Foreword I am indeed proud and honoured to have been invited to provide these few words of introduction to this very first edition of the undergraduate journal by Concordia Universityâ€™s students in interdisciplinary studies in sexuality. This special occasion calls for celebration, and its editors and contributors are to be commended for their assiduous labour of love. The fruit of their eďŹ€orts, which you now hold in your hands, reflects well the excellence and daring creativity of this cutting-edge academic program. Sexuality studies currently enjoy a fair amount of prestige in the academy, and that is as it should be. The study of multiple aspects of human sexual expression cuts across all academic disciplines, and it calls into question many of the fundamental aspects and suppositions of human culture. The student contributors to this journal have responded well to the intellectual challenge. With a forthcoming and long-promised major in sexuality studies, we are all genuinely excited by the hope and promise which the future holds. May this journal live long and prosper! Donald L. Boisvert, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Religion Member, Sexuality Studies Committee
Letter from the Founder and Editor “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldon Emerson I came across this quotation many years ago, in a very diﬀerent context than the one I currently find myself in. While reading, re-reading, editing, and re-editing the papers in this journal, however, Ralph Waldon Emerson’s words resonated with the endeavours of the contributors and editors of this journal. One of the many reasons why I enrolled as an undergraduate student at Concordia University, particul-arly in the Department of Religion, was the possibility of making sexuality one of my concentrations. As I was browsing through diﬀerent departmental websites, I realized that sexuality was a recurring theme. Students in many diﬀerent Departments in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Fine Arts have the chance of exploring the topics of sex and sexuality from many diﬀerent disciplines, and this endeavour is solidified in the recently-approved major and the long-standing minor in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality. As students, we benefit from a wide range of methodologies, approaches, theories, and instructors, which allow us to develop solid understandings of what sexuality is and how to approach it. This strength, however, is also one of its weaknesses. Because sexuality students are scattered across various university programmes, we do not have a centralized body that allows us to exchange ideas, research, and knowledge. This problem was what inspired me to start this journal. I wanted to create a space where sexuality students would be able to engage in academic dialogue with one another and with faculty members. It is my honour as the founder and editor-in-chief of Concordia’s Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality to present you with our first issue. The contributors to the journal you now hold in your hands are engaging with the study of sexuality from a variety of perspectives: History, Art history, Film Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, English Literature, Disability Studies, Women’s Studies, Cultural Studies, and Creative Writing. This interdisciplinary approach not only showcases the multidisciplinary nature of Concordia’s sexuality program, but also the need for dialogue across disciplines, fields, and programs in the study of sex and sexuality. This journal is the product of the work of many individuals and I would like to recognize them and thank them at length. To Marnie, the journal administrator, my best friend, and my partner in crime, thank you for your help in starting this journal and for your invaluable advice. I owe a big thank you to the editors who, since last summer, have put up with my
constant, lengthy e-mails and who did an excellent job when it came to putting the journal together. To Mr. Robert Smith, who patiently guided me through the funding process: a big thank you for that and for your words of wisdom. To Trina Daniel, our outstanding graphic designer, thanks for working with us on such short notice and being so energetic and passionate. To Katrina Caruso, I certainly owe you a big thank you, not only for your work as an editor, but also for sharing your experience as former editor-in-chief of CUJAH and for guiding me through the final stages of the publishing process. To the contributors, whose work is the essence of this journal, and whose commitment to the study of sexuality is praise-worthy, thank you very much. Before concluding, I would like to thank the faculty and staďŹ€ of the Department of Religion, particularly Tina Montandon, Munit Merid, and professors Lorenzo DiTomasso and Donald Boisvert for their guidance and support. I now invite you to go on and read the wonderful essays in this journal. They are by no means prescriptive, so I invite you to engage with them, understand them, criticize them, and use them as inspiration for your own work. Going back to the quotation above, do not follow our lead, but instead go where there is no path and leave your own trail in the field of sexuality studies. Congratulations to the writers and to my wonderful team on starting what I hope will be a long-standing tradition at Concordia. It has been a pleasure working with all of you. Best wishes, Daniel Santiago SĂĄenz Founder and Editor-In-Chief Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality Volume I
Foreword 1 Letter from the Founder and Editor 2 The Cases: A Series of Verses Devoted to Sexuality Julie Foster 6 Parents of Intersex Children and the Quest to Locate a “True Sex” Sean Miller 12 The Problem of Inclusion Under the Transgender Umbrella: The Conflicts Between Transsexual vs. Transgender Men Chase Ross 22 Hard to Hear: Access to Sexuality Resources in Deaf Communities Gabrielle Lamoureux 34 Seaside ‘Self-exploration’ in Ulysses Maximillian Button 46 Ambiguity in Gustav Klimt: An Examination of the Female Subject in Klimt’s Sonja Knips, Danaë and Judith I Megan Michaud 60 British Social Realism and Queerness in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) Clinton Glenn 72 Spring Breakers: The Fantasy of Feminine Freedom Nampande Londe 84 Biographies 96
THE CASES: A SERIES OF VERSES DEVOTED TO SEXUALITY
Author: Julie Foster Case 1: Falling He sat down. He sat down. He fell down. No, He sat down. It felt like he was, Falling. All the time. A sense of unknown. It wasn’t clear. Nothing was clear. He didn’t understand. His vision was hazy, His mind was misty. And yet, Somehow, He knew exactly what he wanted. He did not want to fall anymore. He wanted people to understand. No, Not understand. Know. Find out. Discover. He had been lying. Or at least, not telling the truth. Not the full truth. Of who he was. His identity. What would they think? Why did that matter? This was him. Whether they accepted it or not Did not matter. What mattered was that they Know Find out Discover. No more secrets. No more Lies. Open the vault he thought. Just rip it oﬀ.
Editor: Georgia B. Egan Fast. Now. He needed to do it now. He sat down. But it felt like he was Falling. Like he had already Fallen. He felt like he Fell. Hard. But he told them. Opened. They found out. They discovered. They Knew. Now. Now they knew. They cried. Some: Joy. Others: Confusion or merely Shock. They fell too. Diﬀerently. They sat. They were happy. Mostly. But who cares. Now it was out. They knew their little boy, Their cousin, Friend, Sibling, Co-worker. Their peer. This man who was important to them in Diﬀerent ways, Was in fact diﬀerent. He wasn’t a boy.
He was a girl. That’s how he felt. That’s what he was. And there would be no more Falling.
The Cases: A Series of Verses Devoted to Sexuality Case 2: Not Real She was a unicorn. Obviously. Clearly. That was the only possible explanation. Right? Right. Correct. Because when youâ€™re Not Real You are a unicorn. She was constantly told She was Not Real. She did not exist. Something out of Imagination. That what she was, Was not a Thing. The people did not Care how she felt. They did not put themselves in her Shoes. They just spoke. Out of Turn. She did not Care. Not at first. No. But it became more constant. No one believed her. This is how she was. And people decided to Hurt her. Even people she thought she could trust.
No. She was not the Confused one. They were the Confused Ones. But they did not give up. No. It was not an occasional thing. Something to do while Intoxicated. While out of your Mind. Not in your right state. In fact, She felt more drawn Compelled To her own Kind. But no. That did not make her one way. She liked both. She would stand by that. She would stand bi that. Bi that. Bi. And if they did not believe her Then she was clearly a Unicorn. She was Not Real.
Author: Julie Foster Case 3: Don’t “Don’t tell me what I am.” He always had to Repeat it. Don’t tell him what he is. He knows what he is. You can’t tell people Who they Are. What they Are. Don’t Label. It’s not that he was against Labels. It’s that he should be the one to label himself. Not others doing it for Him. Thinking they were doing Him a favour. They weren’t. So just Don’t. Oh he was aware. He was aware of who He was. He knew. He was open about it. He was Out. But he didn’t like people outright asking him. It’s quite Personal. Not that he didn’t want to Share. But he wanted to Bring it Up, Not the other way around.
Editor: Georgia B. Egan And Don’t assume. That is always the worst. A big turn Oﬀ. Perhaps he was just like that. Acted like That. Dressed like That. Spoke like That. Like what? Like What? Exactly. We They Us We have made our own perceptions. Our own beliefs. Views Visions of what They should be like. Not to be oﬀensive. No. Just because that’s How our Society Is. Works. But they were right. He was gay. Just Don’t ask him. Don’t tell him. Just don’t. Don’t
The Cases: A Series of Verses Devoted to Sexuality Case 4: The First Letter She was the first letter. That made her happy. Kind of. No, really. It did. Because, really, That was all she had. She had been Abused Put Down Hurt Called Names. Dyke. Lezzie. Faggot. Which technically made No sense. She had been In pain Made to bleed Physically Mentally Emotionally. This was bullying. They said they Cared. So why didn’t they do anything? Why didn’t they do anything, then? People pretended to support. It became a thing. Wear pink this day. Purple the next. If you support, Then you stand up. She was Brought back up. Only to be Put Down again.
Everyone knew what she was. She wasn’t the stereotypical Vision. But everyone knew. Word of mouth Is Grand in high school. The school became her worst nightmare. The hallways were a graveyard. The class rooms were boxing rings. She was Abused. But she was the L. The first letter. And, really, That was all she had.
PARENTS OF INTERSEX CHILDREN AND THE QUEST TO LOCATE A“TRUE SEX”
Author: Sean Miller
Editor: Patricia Faucher
Intersexuality disturbs the Western notions of sex and gender because it questions the presumed naturalness of the two-sex system of biological sex. The medical management of the male and female body through surgical ‘correction’ of the genitals reflects the need to normalize and regulate intersexed bodies in order to maintain the idea that biological sex fits a system of binary opposition – male versus female. In 1972, sexologists John Money and Anke Ehrhardt proposed theories that sex and gender were specific categories. The Gender Role Theory emphasizes the physical attributes that are anatomically and physically determined and the psychological identification of the self as male or female, respectively.1 Money posited that “children are psychosexually neutral at birth and can be molded into either gender, so long as the child’s anatomy is altered to reflect the chosen gender at an early age and the people around the child treat the child as a member of the chosen gender.”2 However, the body’s sex is too complex to be subjected to the limitations of a dichotomous relationship of male or female. Accordingly, Sharon E. Preves proposes that “distinctions regarding male and female bodies are on a continuum, rather than a dichotomy.”3 Regardless of the theories on sexuality as a continuum, proposed by individuals such as Anne Fausto-Sterling and Preves, the practice of surgically altering the ambiguous genitalia of intersex infants as put forth by sexologists such as Money remains a standard. Medical procedures, which maintained their validity largely because of Money’s widely accepted Gender Role Theory, have resulted in many problems for intersexed individuals and their families. The surgeries have led intersexed individuals to feel ashamed, betrayed, angered, and alone as they age.4 These problems and issues begin at birth. As Samantha S. Uslan notes, “parents of intersex children [are] likely to consent to genital-normalizing surgeries given the medical procedures promoted, and what they believe is in their child’s best interest.”5 When parents are told about their child’s ambiguous sex, their emotional reactions directly relate to the decisions made regarding the child’s future.6 Due to the limited research in the area of parents of intersex children and normalizing surgery, I draw strongly upon Gough, et al. To address the rationale behind the actions of parents in deciding upon gender normalizing surgical procedures for their intersex children. In their research, Gough, et al. examine how parents of intersex children make sense of their child’s uncertain status, considering how the prevailing assumptions about sex and gender proposed by Money and other sexologists influence the child’s care, identity development, and future.7
Parents of Intersex Children and the Quest to Locate a “True Sex”
Analytical Summary In their piece, ‘They Did Not Have a Word’: The Parental Quest to Locate a ‘True Sex’ for Their Intersex Children, Gough, et al. investigate how parents of intersex infants make sense of the ambiguous genitalia of their children at birth through the use of qualitative, semi-structured interviews, and phenomenological analysis.8 The understandings and experiences of parents of children with ambiguous genitalia are under-researched. Gough, et al. summarize the only two known studies on the subject. In their summary, the authors identify a number of ‘parent factors,’ which aﬀect the natural development of the child. Factors such as the parents’ sense of shame and guilt communicated to their child as they age, their adaptation to the child’s health conditions, and their need to come to terms and accept the notion of intersex first in order to enable the further acceptance of the notion by their children.9 Gough, et al.’s qualitative methods in their semi-structured interviews enabled the parents’ meanings to be elicited, and allowed for rich, participant-centered accounts and feelings to be recorded.10 Eleven parental-individuals of eleven children with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (a masculinising condition aﬀecting external genitalia), pure gonadal dysgenesis, and other intersex diagnoses were interviewed. The parents were interviewed regarding their child’s medical records, the decisions made concerning their sex, and subsequent medical interventions. In addition, how the parents coped emotionally and their reactions regarding the events were examined to determine if there were any common themes in the responses.11 Gough, et al. extract two themes expressed by all interview participants. The first, intersex, as an unfathomable ‘otherness.’ This concerns the parents’ diﬃculty in understanding ‘intersex’ and involved feelings of “confusion and disbelief, a profound absence of knowledge, and a lack of language with which to categorise (sic) their child’s (non-) status.”12 It was noted that a sense of bewilderment and disturbance was felt among the majority where their natural ‘truth’—that all humans are either male or female—had been shattered.13 The uncertainty felt appeared to be the result of the discovery that the sex of their child was not obvious, but rather indistinct and veering from the ‘norm.’ In sum, parents of intersex children appeared to have had a failure in understanding and coping when confronted with a child of ambiguous sex.14 The second theme discovered was the struggle for parents to recover a ‘true sex’ in their intersex child.15 All the interviewees described a determined eﬀort to define their child as either male or female. Furthermore, Gough et al. uncovered that “it seemed diﬃcult for parents not to attri-
Author: Sean Miller
Editor: Patricia Faucher
bute a sex to their child while status remained medically unresolved.”16 Gough, et al. indicate that this determination portrayed a conscious eﬀort by parents to adhere to the concept of the two-sex system, while also questioning their own beliefs about what constitutes sex.17 Gough, et al. cite that the very existence of intersex individuals “challenge[s] scientific-medical eﬀorts at defining and diagnosing sex status” in individuals.18 Parents of intersex children are forced into a situation in which established conceptions of sex and gender, as promoted by the medical and scientific professionals, are radically unsettled. Gough, et al. suggested “a more fluid understanding of sex and gender [in both the medical and scientific fields, as well as society in general], would perhaps help parents cope with the initial impact of having an intersex baby.”19 This understanding would, in turn, lead to appropriate support and better facilitate communication between parents and health professionals.
Critical Analysis Gough, et al. seek to improve on the limited research on the parents of intersex children. Their study and analysis is a valuable contribution to the issues of parental emotions and reactions to the discovery of the ambiguous sex of their infant, as well as an analysis of how the two-sex system influences these reactions. This critical analysis will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Gough, et al. study by further elaborating on the information available regarding intersex children and the relationship with their parents. Gough, et al. provide an excellent operational definition of what constitutes intersex conditions. Referencing works by Preves, they write that intersex children are “born with ambiguous genitalia, sexual organs or sex chromosomes.”20 For the purpose of the study, the authors describe intersex as “infants born with ambiguous genitalia [as] a key early indicator of intersex,” and continue by addressing the various underlying conditions that cause ambiguous genitalia to occur in infants.21 The authors investigate how intersex has been addressed by medical literature, with a strong emphasis on the “appearance of the genitalia as normal, and being raised consistently as male or female [as being] necessary for a child to develop a clear gender identity and achieve psychological well-being.”22 They also address the perspectives of parents of intersex children, referencing the two studies which consider the experiences of parents of intersex children. The two studies cited by Gough, et al. are one by Slijper et al. (2000) and an unpublished thesis by Le Maréchal (2001), summa-
Parents of Intersex Children and the Quest to Locate a “True Sex” rized and analyzed by Carmichael and Alderson (2004), which both focus solely on children born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS). The study by Gough, et al. encompassed a variety of diagnoses leading to ambiguous genitalia, rather than limiting research to a single diagnosis.23 In order to expand upon the previous research done on parents of intersex children and to accurately measure the reactions of parents at the discovery of their child’s ambiguous genitalia, some limitations were purposely implicated in the study. In examining the impact of contemporary medical procedures, treatments, and services from the perspective of the parents, the authors used accounts from parents whose children were born between 2001 and 2006.24 Following the eleven parent interviews, Gough, et al. develop two themes concerning the responses of parents. The first suggests an overarching theme pertaining to bewilderment and unease upon the detection of a ‘problem’ in the sex of their child. In the shattering of a basic, natural ‘truth’ upon the discovery of a ‘problem’ with their child’s sex, parents appeared to experience uncertainty in their understanding of sex and gender.25 The experiences discussed reflect the idea that sex and gender are separate categories, where sex refers to the physical and gender to the psychological.26 While being born with ambiguous sex organs disrupts a binary understanding of sex and gender, it is only disrupted due to the general medical consensus that intersex requires gender normalizing surgeries.27 This general consensus, as well as the profound absence of knowledge on the parents’ behalves regarding intersex, is addressed by Gough, et al. insofar that the breakdown in the comprehension of intersex extended to health professionals and the general public promotes the cultural dominance of the two-sex system.28 The second theme suggests the parental struggle to recover a ‘true sex’ for the intersex child.29 All parents interviewed “described a determined, if diﬃcult, eﬀort to secure an unequivocal sex category for their child as either male or female.”30 Some parents actively reduced ambiguity in order to accept the circumstances “through the fulfilment of gender stereotypes.”31 In addressing the fulfillment of gender stereotypes by parents, Gough, et al. show that parents had to confront their understanding of the two-sex system. Gough, et al. further state that gender normalizing surgery was regarded as a solution to the anxiety experienced.32 By forcing the ‘normal’ to take precedence over the ‘natural’, parents further promoted gender stereotypes and the two-sex system to quell their perturbation given the child’s ambiguous sex and perceived implications.33 The two themes developed by Gough, et al. attend to the shock encountered by many parents upon the discovery of ambiguous sex organs in
Author: Sean Miller
Editor: Patricia Faucher
their child; an event that “radically unsettles established taken-for-granted conceptions of sex and gender and marks one’s child as ‘other.’”34 Gough, et al. adequately promote that a greater understanding of sex and gender, on behalf of both parents and health professionals, would aid in coping strategies and support systems with regards to the initial impact of having an intersex child.35 As “beliefs about gender aﬀect what kinds of knowledge professionals produce about sex”, medical practitioners with greater appreciation and understanding of the emotional diﬃculties faced by parents would lead to better consent-based, collaborative health care models with regards to intersex children.36 Gough, et al. also state that “the very existence of intersex individuals may challenge scientific-medical at defining and diagnosing sex status.”37 While this statement may be interpreted as a negation of the existence of intersex individuals, the analysis put forth by Gough, et al. supports the notion put forward by Preves that distinctions between female and male bodies are actually on a continuum, rather than a dichotomy.38 In addressing the continuum of distinctions of sex status, Gough, et al. conclude that while it may be diﬃcult for all medical experts to subscribe to definite sex assignment criteria, health professionals should opt for an understanding of sex status that is defined and performed by taking in social, political, biological and environmental aspects.39 Gough, et al.’s sample presented limits to their study. Their objective was to recruit mother-father pairs of parents whose children were born with ambiguous sex, “the final group included three couples, two mothers from partnerships where the father chose not to participate, and two single mothers.”40 This limited sample size, as well as the lack of diversity – there were only three male participants in a sample of eleven – leaves something to be desired. Gough, et al. hypothesize that both fathers and mothers who chose to participate in the study are “likely to be those who were more open about how they felt” regarding the circumstances with regards to the circumstances they faced, and that those who opted out of the study may have done so because it may have been “too diﬃcult to talk in depth about their feelings.”41 Given that one to two in every two thousand infants are born with ambiguous sex, Gough, et al. recommend further interviews with parents of children with a wider range of intersex conditions and a more diverse and representative sample of intersexed individuals.42 The ethnicity of participants also presented limitations. Of the eleven participants, eight were white British, one was British-Asian, one British-African, and one undisclosed.43 Nonetheless, Gough, et al.’s sample was suﬃcient in that it enabled the development of core themes and similarities in the interview responses, allowing for findings to be
Parents of Intersex Children and the Quest to Locate a “True Sex” applicable to similar situations with regards to the dynamic between parents and intersex children.44 Gough, et al. acknowledge the lack of research in this field and indicate how future research could expand these preliminary findings.45 Gough, et al. recommend that a longitudinal study would be crucial in examining “how parents’ struggles change over time, [and] may give insight into the points in time which are particularly diﬃcult for parents.”46 Gough, et al. acknowledge that the subject is controversial in that it bends the understanding of what sex and gender truly are, dismantling the historical and medical categories made for bodies that fit the norm and establishing those that do not as the ‘other.’47 A question not addressed by Gough, et al. in their study is: how does one define an intersexual’s ‘true sex’? Gough, et al. mention the importance of external genitalia as an informal way of ‘telling’ sex, but the notion of ‘true sex’ is neither referred to in the interview questions nor in the in-depth analysis of the responses.48 If an individual’s ‘true sex’ is defined by chromosomes, then the genital normalizing surgery deemed necessary by health professionals and parents has no eﬀect on an individual’s ‘true sex’ because “surgery cannot change an individual’s chromosomes.”49 Uslan argues that “if ‘true sex’ is based on whether or not an individual has the ability to bear or beget oﬀspring, […] then this too cannot be altered by surgery”, and once again, the surgery used to ease the anxiety experienced by parents does not provide an accurate definition for ‘true sex.’50 As Gough, et al. note, “the notion that sex as well as gender is constructed and multifaceted leads to a necessary” reassessment of the terms.51 Sex and gender are generally viewed as binary opposites; the biological underpinnings of maleness and femaleness, and the social expression of the masculine or the feminine.52 These dichotomous depictions have led to medical procedures deeply entrenched in the notion of the Gender Role Theory, “whereby to successfully raise a child either male or female, their genitals must coincide with that identity.”53 The surgical alteration of the genitals, in an eﬀort to ease their development, as well as ease the anxiety experienced by parents, “appear to cause more problems than they solve.”54 A more fluid understanding of intersex would allow parents to cope more easily with the psychosocial ‘trauma’ experienced by the discovery of their child as having ambiguous genitalia.55 Furthermore, sexual variation is nothing to be ashamed of, and that feeling of shame and guilt would not be experienced by many intersex individuals, as well as their families, peers and support groups, if it were necessarily recast as normal.56 “
Author: Sean Miller
Editor: Patricia Faucher
Doctors, parents, and others have the ability to normalize sexual variationâ€?, by responding to it with a more fluid understanding.57 â€œAnything that challenges the definition of girl and boy fuels our cultural anxiety around gender.â€?58 As previously discussed, these challenges radically unsettle established conceptions to the point where morals and beliefs are questioned, furthering anxiety.59 Whether it is the parents, professionals, or peers, this anxiety permeates the fabrics of society, due to a lack of understanding and knowledge regarding intersex. Regardless of the limited information available concerning the reactions and feelings of parents regarding their children of ambiguous sex, Gough, et al. strove to further the understanding of why these anxieties arise, under what circumstances they are quelled, and what methods could be undertaken to cope with the anxiety experienced by parents.60 Further research on parents of intersex children would lead to educating individuals and enable the transformation of the established two-sex system from one of binary opposite to one occurring on a continuum, showing that sexual anatomy is of a diverse and varied nature; one that must not be categorized.
1 Anne Fausto-Sterling, Duelling Dualisms, in Sex, Gender and Sexuality: The New Basics 6–21, edited by Abby L. Ferber, Kimberly Holcomb, and Tre Wentling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 7. 2 Samantha S. Uslan, “What Parents Don’t Know: Informed Consent, Marriage, and Genital-Normalizing Surgery on Intersex Children,” Indiana Law Journal 85 no. 1 (January 2010): 302. 3 Sharon E. Preves, “Intersex Narratives: Gender, Medicine and Identity,” in Sex, Gender and Sexuality: The New Basics 32–43, edited by Abby L. Ferber, Kimberly Holcomb, and Tre Wentling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 33. 4 Stephen Kerry, “Intersex Individuals’ Religiosity and their Journey to Wellbeing,” Journal of Gender Studies 18, no. 3 (September 2009): 277–285. 5 Samantha S. Uslan, “What Parents Don’t Know: Informed Consent, Marriage, and Genital-Normalizing Surgery on Intersex Children.” 6 Brendan Gough, et al., “They did not have a word’: The parental quest to locate a ‘true sex’ for their intersex children,” Psychology & Health 23, no. 4 (May 2008): 493–507. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid. 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid., 499. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid., 501. 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid., 504. 19 Ibid. 20 Ibid., 494. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Fausto-Sterling, “Dueling Dualisms.” 27 Preves, “Intersex Narratives.” 28 Gough et al., “They Did Not Have a Word,” 493–507. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid., 501.
Ibid., 502. Ibid. 33 Fausto-Sterling, “Duelling Dualisms.” 34 Gough et al., “They Did Not Have a Word,” 504. 35 Ibid. 36 Fausto-Sterling, “Dueling Dualisms,” 7. 37 Gough et al., “They Did Not Have a Word.” 504. 38 Preves, “Intersex Narratives.” 39 Gough et al., “They Did Not Have a Word.” 40 Ibid., 497. 41 Ibid., 506. 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid. 44 Ibid. 45 Ibid. 46 Ibid. 47 Preves, “Intersex Narratives.” 48 Ibid. 49 Uslan, “What Parents Don’t Know,” 319. 50 Ibid. 51 Gough et al., “They Did Not Have a Word,” 505. 52 Fausto-Sterling, “Dueling Dualisms.” 53 Kerry, “Intersex Individuals’ Religiosity and their Journey to Wellbeing,” 278. 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid. 56 Preves, “Intersex Narratives.” 57 Ibid., 41. 58 Phyllis Burke, Gender Shock: Exploding the Myths of Male and Female, in Sex, Gender and Sexuality: The New Basics 255–262, edited by Abby L. Ferber, Kimberly Holcomb, and Tre Wentling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 255. 59 Gough, et al., “They Did Not Have a Word.” 60 Ibid. 31 32
Bibliography Burke, Phyllis. Gender Shock: Exploding the Myths of Male and Female. In Sex, Gender and Sexuality: The New Basics 255–263. Edited by Abby L. Ferber, Kimberly Holcomb, and Tre Wentling, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Duelling Dualisms. In Sex, Gender and Sexuality: The New Basics 6–21. Edited by Abby L. Ferber, Kimberly Holcomb, and Tre Wentling, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Gough, Brendan, Weyman, Nicky, Alderson, Julie, Butler, Gary, Stoner, Mandy. “They did not have a Word’: The Parental Quest to Locate a ‘True Sex’ for their Intersex Children.” Psychology & Health 23, no. 4 (May 2008): 493–507. Kerry, Stephen. “Intersex Individuals’ Religiosity and Their Journey to Wellbeing.” Journal of Gender Studies 18, no. 3 (September 2009): 277–285. Preves, Sharon E. “Intersex Narratives: Gender, Medicine, and Identity.” In Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: The New Basics 32–43. Edited by Abby L. Ferber, Kimberly Holcomb, and Tre Wentling, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Uslan, Samantha S. “What Parents Don’t Know: Informed Consent, Marriage, and Genital-Normalizing Surgery on Intersex Children.” Indiana Law Journal 85 no. 1 (January 2010): 301–323.
THE PROBLEM OF INCLUSION UNDER THE TRANSGENDER UMBRELLA: THE CONFLICTS BETWEEN TRANSSEXUAL VS. TRANSGENDER MEN
Author: Chase Ross
Editor: Adriana Sgambetterra
Purpose/Goals The purpose of this research is not only to bring attention to the multiplicity of identities that fall under the ‘transgender umbrella,’ but also to critically asses the reification of these categories, and locate how this creates conflict among individuals in the trans* community.1 This paper will investigate several research questions; what are the diﬀerent categories of identity under the transgender umbrella, how and why do they conflict each other? As demonstrated in this paper, transsexual men and transgender/ non-binary men are at the centre of this conflict. This conflict can be divided into two opposing beliefs, first, there are those who believe that being transgender is a medical condition (transsexual), while others believe that there are many diﬀerent identities under the transgender umbrella. This paper seeks to explore this conflict and distinguish between the diﬀerent experiences of transsexual men and transgender/non-binary men. My research will attempt to fill a void in contemporary academic discourse, and give importance to trans* individuals’ narratives by exploring their attempts to define and navigate their and others trans* identities online. Literature Review Wojdowski and Tebor (1976) give us a better understanding of the dominant definition of transsexual.2 The article explains it to be a medical condition and something to be regarded as serious. The authors explore the emotional state of transsexuals while they are in the ‘passing stage’ of their transition.3 There is no regard towards ‘identity’ in this article and no mention of the word ‘transgender.’ This is problematic because it excludes many who do transition, but do not take on the “transsexual” label. In her book, Sex Change, Social Change, Viviane Namaste (2011) does not exclude transgender people from her discussion of trans life, but does make a distinction between the two groups which helps situate both definitions.4 For her, transsexuals have a medical condition and do not step out of the gender binary.5 The “stepping out of the gender binary” is the beginning of the conflict between the two. However, prior to addressing this, we need to first understand the diﬀerent definitions of ‘transgender.’ There are those who understand ‘transgender’ as an umbrella term and as a form of identity. For example, according to Riggle et al. (2011), being transgender is strictly an identity and an umbrella term which includes many diﬀerent aspects within it: “[t]he term ‘transgender’ is an umbrella label that includes many diﬀerent self-identifications.”6 These authors are not alone in defining it in these ways, Johnson (2007), Morgan and Stevens (2008), Beemyn and Rankin (2011) and Davidson (2007), also take multiple identities and puts them under one word, transgender. Since
The Problem of Inclusion Under the Transgender Umbrella: The Conflicts Between Transsexual vs. Transgender Men transgender is viewed as an umbrella term, many diﬀerent authors have diﬀerent definitions for what should and should not be included. This is where the main issues arises within these two separate terms. Some authors might include identities that are not welcomed by others under the umbrella. Davidson (2007), in her article Seeking Refuge Under the Umbrella: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Organizing Within the Category Transgender, explains transgender as having “no singular, fixed meaning.”7 This mean she views it as an all inclusive term and identity which can encompass a variety of diﬀerent people and experiences. She includes such terms as: gender-variant, gender-blending, gender-or-sex-changing and gender-bending people.8 She also describes transgender people as: “transsexual people, cross-dressers, drag kings and queens, genderqueer people, gay men and lesbians who queer gender line (such as butch lesbians), the partners of trans people.”9 She believes anyone who has a “non-normative gender identity” and is a “gender variant” is transgender.10 This would situate people who abide by the gender binary and transition to male or female and do not deviate gender norms. An author with similar views is Johnson (2007) who explains transgender as people who, “want to reside outside of the categories altogether.”11 It would also include people who do deviate and can change their gender presentation at any time. Since this definition positions transgender as an identity, it puts many all these other identities under it all as such which is a problem for transsexuals who view it as a medical condition. There are four sources that do not mention transgender as an umbrella term, but they still use it as such. Johnson (2007), Morgan (2008), Kuper et al. (2012) and Fraser (2009) discuss in length the experiences of only transgender people. There are no definitions of what transgender means so it is up to the reader to decide. There is no mention of the term transsexual, but using the term transgender implies multiple identities under which transsexual would be categorized under since there are no other terms mentioned. This is the main source of the conflict for transsexuals interviewed in this research, being put under a category, which has been explained as having multiple identities where they do not feel they belong. This is a major point of conflict for these individuals. An important comparison of terms in regards to separation is oﬀered by Factor and Rothblum’s (2008) who distinguish transgender from genderqueer.12 The authors mentioned above maintained that genderqueer is a part of the transgender umbrella, however Factor and Rothblum see them as separate. This is very problematic as there is no simple definition. First, there is no consensus on what qualifies as “transgender” and when you exclude someone’s identity, it creates conflicts. Lane (2009)
Author: Chase Ross
Editor: Adriana Sgambetterra
describes a diﬀerent sort of separation in regards to terms of identity. She discusses the diﬀerence with “subversive transgender” and “conservative transsexual.”13 Lane explains this dichotomy is created because of activists creating “an apparent polarization between ‘queer/ transgender’ and ‘people of transsexual origins.’”14 People who are queer/ transgender or “subversive transgender” are regarded as “gender outlaws” while “conservative transsexuals” are not.15 The diﬀerence in terminology used by each author is vital to this research in situating it in the center of the conflicts between transsexual and transgender/ non-binary men. Since the definitions of transsexual and transgender/non-binary have been established loosely by multiple authors, we need to explore the conflicts between these two. Using Namaste’s (2011) book Sex Change, Social Change, Davidson and Patricia Elliot’s (2009) article Engaging Trans Debates on Gender Variance: A Feminist Analysis I will illustrate the major conflict between these two groups. Elliot (2009), has two main objectives in her paper, to explain the transsexual and the transgender/queer aspects of this conflict. For the transsexual aspect, she uses Namaste’s book and arguments. Elliot discusses Namaste’s view that transgender persons are privileged and represent a more dominant group within the trans community16. Elliot emphasizes the term transgender as an umbrella term explaining that transsexual falls under this.17 Because of this, ‘transgender’ enforces dominance, which takes visibility away from transsexuals and their problems and makes their lives invisible.18 Elliot explains that transgender people are seen as taking a more transgressive stance on identity, which is more valued in society than conservative transsexual identities.19 Elliot explains this stance to be attacking the transgender identity because most transgender people want to undo the gender binary and are seen as not wanting to abide by rigid gender boundaries, which devalues transsexuals lives because they abide by these.20 The second aspect Elliot focuses on is the transgender/queer viewpoint, which she demonstrates does not undermine transsexuals. By her definition, transgender/queer people celebrate gender variance (being ambiguous).21 To discuss this gender variance and this conflict further, two theorists will help shape this issue. Butler and Halberstam hold theories within gender and sexuality to elaborate on this. Butler discusses Gender Identity Disorder (GID – now called Gender Dysphoria) diagnosis as being both ‘enabling’ and ‘restrictive.’22 Elliot argues on behalf of Butler that removing the GID diagnosis would allow more freedom for non-conforming transgender people, but funding for hormones and surgery from insurances and government would disappear.23 According to Butler, the aim of GID diagnosis is to normalize
The Problem of Inclusion Under the Transgender Umbrella: The Conflicts Between Transsexual vs. Transgender Men gender variant populations.24 Elliot uses Butler to emphasize her point that the experiences and desires of many transsexual people do not make sense to her, Butler believes society should understand gender as being more fluid and fluctuating.25 The second theorist Elliot uses to illustrate her point is Halberstam who explains the conflicts within FTMs (female-to-male transgender people who change sex) and butches (who ‘retain’ sex).26 The view between these communities is from a lesbian feminist perspective, FTMs are betraying feminism and from a transsexual aspect, butches are failed transsexuals.27 This position views transsexuals as superior to transgender/queer people because they are seen as being more radical.28 Halberstam explains that ‘transsexuality is set up as the solution to gender deviance’ whereas they are trying to distinguish FTMs from butches.29 These two theorists are brought up by Elliot to demonstrate that transgender people do not undermine transsexual individuals. Transgender is a term that is more inclusive and encompasses everyone. Elliot argues the attack from transsexual individuals that transgender people undermine transsexuals is poorly represented. In all, Elliot’s main argument is that transsexuals are becoming increasingly weary of transgender people who try to equate themselves as being the same.30 Namaste’s book, Sex Change, Social Change, she discusses her stance within this transsexual vs. Transgender/non-binary conflict, which she is a main part of. She discusses the issue of how transgender people (excluding transsexuals), or ‘gender radicals’ cannot have the same experiences as transsexuals.31 She argues that the government sees it this way, which takes transsexuals experiences and needs out of the equation since it is the dominant ideology in society, according to her.32 She believes transgender or people who believe they do not have a gender are not something that is acceptable.33 She agrees that anyone can state they are not women and men, but completely disagrees with it and explains this is the dominant ideology that has come into society. As previously stated above with Elliot’s article. Namaste believes transgender is the main ideology and the lives and problems of transsexuals are erased because of this. Her main argument is that society thinks what transsexuals want is the same as what transgender people want, but this is not the case. Namaste backs this up by explaining what transsexuals really want: “[t]hey would situate themselves as ‘men’ and as ‘women’, not as ‘gender radicals’ or ‘gender revolutionaries’ or ‘boyzzz’ or ‘grrrrrrls.’”34 She also states that transgender people do not want to fit into specific binary categories like transsexuals.35 Namaste says “contemporary transsexual/ transgender politics can be characterized by two things:
Author: Chase Ross
Editor: Adriana Sgambetterra
identity and health care.”36 This ties into my research because I am looking at how each individual identifies and thinks of others who aren’t the same and with using Elliot and Namaste theories, I am better able to localize the individuals identity and understand how they view others who may not identify the same and compare it with these theories. There are many sociological theories that work well with this topic. Butler and Halberstam have already been mentioned above but I believe Goﬀman’s concept of passing is important. In the article by Wojdowski and Tebor’s, Goﬀman is mentioned and the discussion of passing as well as “the phenomenon of keeping unapparent stigma secret.”37 This theory will help me when I am examining the data collected in regards to passing and identity. The concept of passing is very important for transsexuals since it seemingly makes them invisible in society as “others.” This debate between transsexual vs. Transgender is important to contemporary academia and the individual. A concept that is important for my overall research question is to understand when this conflict started and how long this phenomenon has existed. Has it always occurred or is it now just emerging? According to Califia (1997) in Sex Changes, transgender people have only recently started to question the gender binary.38 This means transgender people call onto transsexuals to try to change the notion of ‘women’ and ‘men’ instead of trying to fit into these categories and passing.39 This book was written in 1997, which means, this conflict has been occurring for years. In Viviane Namaste’s book, Sex Change, Social Change, the author does not go into detail as to when this conflict started but does talk about diﬀerent theorist and writers such as Butler, Halberstam, Henry Rubin, Max Valerio and Feinberg, who started writing about similar conflicts before the 1990s.40 Max Valerio critiques Feinberg’s book Stone Butch Blues (1993), which takes place in the 1960s and forward.41 Valerio claims this book to be a lesbian book and not so much as a transgender one because the main character stops taking testosterone and, in Valerio’s view, goes back to the lesbian life.42 This situates the conflict between transsexual and transgender/non-binary people much earlier than 1997 but also demonstrates the conflict as being more relevant today based on more recent sources. This debate does not touch upon the online sphere and this is why my research is important. Tumblr is a place where trans* men are able to share their experiences, give advice and have a sense of community. The chapter The Emergence of New Transgendering Identities in the Age of the Internet by Ekins and King in Transgender Identities edited by Hines and Sanger demonstrates how important the internet has become for trans* people. The text demonstrates online communities helping others
The Problem of Inclusion Under the Transgender Umbrella: The Conflicts Between Transsexual vs. Transgender Men who feel the same in not feeling alone.43 It also demonstrates a strong bond and being able to accomplish anything with information,44 This works well with my research because it is about formulating identities online, discussing the conflicts within a community and comparing.
Methods I sought out my participants from a blogging website called Tumblr. I asked for individuals who were American, as their tends to be more American trans* men who are out online that I have witnessed over the years. The participants also had to be over 18 years old, be part of the online trans* community and were available for interviews through Skype. I contacted each research participant over email and scheduled interviews for the week of February 18–22, 2013. The interviews were done over Skype and each one lasted an hour and a half. All the participants were at home in a quiet place when the interviews took place. On the consent forms, I asked them to choose a name to be referred to during this research for their confidentiality to be protected. The interviews were semi-structured, I had important questions to ask pertaining to my research and if the participant started talking about something related to the topic, which I did not ask for, I would let them talk. I asked for some information about their experiences about being trans to relate it to the narrative analyses aspect of this research. This was also an icebreaker where I was able to share some information as well. By doing this, I believe the participants felt more comfortable and where better able to give accurate details about the questions I asked later on in the interview about topics which were very personal. After the interviews were over I transcribed them all. Data Analysis The question asked at the beginning of the paper was “what are the diﬀerent categories of identity under the transgender umbrella and how do they conflict each other?” The data I have collected indicated a very real phenomena within the trans* community. With assistance from the participants in my research, I have been able to locate the node of this conflict and analyze it with previously existent theoretical approaches. This conflict aﬀects an already marginal community and needs to be explored further to understand the underlying eﬀects. In the interviews, the definitions of transsexual and transgender/ non-binary were established by my research participants and in the literature, it was established by academics. This step in understanding is crucial to my topic because I cannot distinguish each side (transsexual
Author: Chase Ross
Editor: Adriana Sgambetterra
and transgender/non-binary) without defining them. In the literature, the term transsexual was deemed a medical condition by Wojdowski and Tebor’s article Social and Emotional Tensions During Transsexual Passing (1976). In the interviews, all my participants viewed it as a medical condition as well. One even said though it was an “outdated” term that could be true based on the year of the article’s publication in 1976 and almost all other sources found do not talk about transsexuals as a medical condition. The only sources which discuss being transsexual as a medical condition are the authors who believe transgender/non-binary people make them look bad. The main author who believes this is Namaste, who says transgender people are more accepted within society and their experiences are viewed over transsexuals.45 All other sources take a more inclusive term, such as transgender, to apply it to these groups of people. According to my research participants and to the literature reviewed, transgender is seen as a term, which can be interpreted in many diﬀerent ways. It seems as though the definition can be changed by whoever is discussing this topic. It can be seen as including ‘everyone’ and only certain types of people. Some believe it only to be appropriate to use if a person “identifies” as transgender. Since the word transgender is used as an inclusive term and puts many diﬀerent sorts of people in, this is where the problems begin. This is what Adam and Dillon have discussed in their interviews. If people do not feel comfortable being attached to a label they do not like, they are going to fight for it and this is where the conflict comes from. The main reason for this research is to discuss the conflicts between transsexuals and transgender/non-binary men. I have two research participants who are transsexual and two who identify as transgender/ non-binary. These two transsexuals descriptions of the conflicts between transsexuals and transgender/non-binary goes with the literature. What does not reflect the literature is how they think of the other side (transgender/non-binary). Throughout this paper it has been established that the conflict is transsexuals believing transgender/non-binary or gender non-conforming people give them a negative image. The literature demonstrates this with Namaste, Elliot and Davidson’s work on this. The two individuals I interviewed also have conflicting views. Jake believes it to be an opportunity for education when someone steps out of the gender binary. Whereas Dillon believes the people who “dress up” and change their name are not doing any harm, it is when the individual takes hormones without thinking about it for a long time that aﬀects the image of transsexuals. This lays a negative image on transsexuals
The Problem of Inclusion Under the Transgender Umbrella: The Conflicts Between Transsexual vs. Transgender Men according to Dillon. Although Dillon and Jake identify as being transsexuals, their viewpoints are not the same. This proves that not everyone who identifies the same has the same viewpoints in regards to this. This means that not the entire transsexual community believes that transgender/non-binary people negatively aﬀect transsexuals. The two individuals who identify as transgender/non-binary have very similar views in regards to the literature found. Adam believes that “cis people” (people who are not trans) are going to “hate you regardless if you pass and fit into male perfectly and if you say ‘I love my boobs.’” This means if trans* men transition and fit into the gender binary without deviation or fall within the cracks of the binary, they are still going to be hate. Whereas Steven feels transgender people do not delegitimize the experience of transsexuals because they do not represent the same thing. For the author, Namaste, she argues for transsexual people by explain all transsexuals feel as though transgender/non-binary people are above transsexuals. She also believes transsexuals will not be taken seriously if transgender/non-binary people are held under the same definitions as transsexual because they tend to “genderbend.” My research has proved the point she makes wrong. Even though one of the transsexual participants explains transgender people who take hormones without thinking about it make transsexuals look bad, anything else that transgender people do is acceptable and he does see it as an umbrella term. All other participants, regardless of their personal identity, agreed with each other and many other authors in explaining transgender as an umbrella term. They also all collectively agree that transgender/non-binary people do not make transsexuals look bad or reflect negatively on them. In regards to the data collected surrounding the online sphere, the Internet is supposed to be a community that helps people out. By helping, people are better able to understand their identity and accept themselves. The chapter by Ekins and King (2010) explains this in details in regards to blogs and websites about being trans* and how people were better about to find each other.46 This sense of community is extremely important for the trans* community but is lacking because of these internal conflicts. With my participants, I asked each of them why they were online. Dillon, Steven, Jake and Adam had identical reasons for participating in the online trans* community. Each wanted to provide more information to others who were just finding themselves. They all felt
Author: Chase Ross
Editor: Adriana Sgambetterra
as though when they started to realize they were trans* and transitioning, they sought out information on these sites that was not divided and confusing.
Conclusions The conflicts between transsexual and transgender/non-binary men are real and aﬀect the people under these labels. The literature provided an explanation as to how these categories conflict with each other. For some transsexuals, people who live outside the binary are negatively aﬀecting them and undermining their legitimacy. Transgender/non-binary people do not believe this, and instead provide an umbrella term to be inclusive of all identities, including ‘transsexual.’ All four participants agreed that transgender is a positive, inclusive term that could be used by anyone in the trans* community to describe any of their identities. However, these individuals need the opportunity to continue to nuance their identities with further terminologies so as to mitigate conflicts within the trans* community online. Unfortunately, there will continue to be conflicts within this community brought upon by some transsexual individuals who feel they are “right,” and as such and do not like others to place them under the transgender umbrella. Therefore, it does not matter how one identifies themselves, there are still going to be conflicts because of a few transsexuals thoughts. This is what the research shows, an interesting aspect to explore further would be the percentage of transsexuals and transgender/non-binary men who feel that transgender should not be an umbrella term and if they believe this conflict is a problem. I believe the social implications of this conflict for the transgender community are very real especially for the transsexual individuals who believe society will deem them as not serious because of transgender/non-binary people. After examining these four interviews, we must to acknowledge that current terminologies being used are unable to accurately represent the trans* reality, and through more participatory research with individuals who belong to this community we can hope to move towards the collective development of new terms, labels and identities.
Endnotes 1 Asterisk to provide a more inclusive term where all transgender and transsexual people fit unto. 2 Pat Wojdowski and Irving B. Tebor, “Social and Emotional Tensions During Transsexual Passing,” The Journal of Sex Research 12, no. 3 (1976). 3 Wojdowski and Tebor, “Transsexual Passing,” 195. 4 Viviane Namaste, Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism 2nd Ed. (Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2011). 5 Namaste, Sex Change, Social Change, 26–27. 6 Ellen D. B. Riggle et al. “The Positive Aspects of a Transgneder Self-Identification,” Psychology & Sexuality 2, no. 2 (2011): 148. 7 Megan Davidson, “Seeking Refuge Under the Umbrella: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Organizing Within the Category Transgender,” Journal of NSRC 4, no.4 (2007): 60. 8 Davidson, “Seeking Refuge,” 60. 9 Ibid., 61. 10 Ibid., 63–64. 11 Katherine Johnson ,“Fragmented Identities, Frustrated Politics,” Journal of Lesbian Studies 11, no. 2 (2007): 109. 12 Rhonda Factor and Esther Rothblum, “Exploring Gender Identity and Community Among Three Groups of Transgender Individuals in the United States: MTFs, FTMs, and Genderqueers,” Health Sociology Review 17, no.2 (2008): 235. 13 Riki Lane “Trans as Bodily Becoming: Rethinking the Biological as Diversity, Not Dichotomy,” Hypatia 24, no.3 (2009): 136. 14 Lane, “Trans as Bodily Becoming,” 136. 15 Ibid., 137. 16 Patricia Elliot “Engaging Trans Debates on Gender Variance: A Feminist Analysis,” Sexualities 12, no. 1 (2009): 8. 17 Elliot, “Engaging Trans Debates,” 9. 18 Ibid. 19 Ibid., 10. 20 Ibid., 13. 21 Chase Ross, “The Internal Division: One Umbrella, Two Conflicts,” Unpublished. Department of Sociology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec (2012): 3; Elliot, “Engaging Trans Debates,” 13. 22 Elliot, “Engaging Trans Debates,” 14. 23 Ibid., 15–16. 24 Ibid., 17. 25 Ibid., 19. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid., 20. 29 Ibid., 21; Ross, “Internal Division,” 3–4. 30 Elliot, “Engaging Trans Debates,” 6. 31 Namaste, Sex Change, Social Change, 26–27.
Ibid. Ibid., 28. Ibid., 8. 35 Ibid. 36 Ibid., 29. 37 Wojdowski and Tebor, “Transsexual Passing,” 195. 38 Pat Califia, Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism. (San Francisco: Cleis Press Inc., 1997), 245. 39 Califia, Sex Changes, 245. 40 Namaste, Sex Change, Social Change, 24–25. 41 Ibid., 24. 42 Ibid. 43 Richard Ekins and Dave King, “The Emergence of New Transgendering Identities in the Age of the Internet” in Transgender Identities: Towards a Social Analysis of Gender Diversity, ed. S. Hines and T. Sanger (New York: Routledge, 2010), 31. 44 Ekins and King, “New Transgendering,” 31. 45 Namaste, Sex Change, Social Change, 26–27. 46 Ekins and King, The Emergence of New Transgendering Identities in the Age of the Internet, 31. 32 33 34
Bibliography Beemyn, Genny and Susan Rankin, The Lives of Transgender People. New York: Columbia Univeristy Press, 2011. Califia, Pat, Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism, San Francisco: Cleis Press Inc., 1997. Davidson, Megan. “Seeking Refuge Under the Umbrella: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Organizing Within the Category Transgender.” Journal of NSRC 4, no.4 (2007): 60–80. Ekins, Richard and Dave King “The Emergence of New Transgendering Identities in the Age of the Internet.” In Transgender Identities: Towards a Social Analysis of Gender Diversity, edited by S. Hines and T. Sanger, 25–42. New York: Routledge, 2010. Elliot, Patricia, “Engaging Trans Debates on Gender Variance: A Feminist Analysis.” Sexualities 12, no.1 (2009): 5–32. Factor, Rhonda and Esther Rothblum, “Exploring Gender Identity and Community Among Three Groups of Transgender Individuals in the United States: MTFs, FTMs, and Genderqueers.” Health Sociology Review 17, no.2 (2008): 235–253. Fraser, Lin, “Depth psychotherapy with transgender people.” Sexual and Relationship Therapy 24,no.2 (2009): 129–142.
Kuper, Laura E. et al., “Exploring the Diversity of Gender and Sexual Orientation Identities in an Online Sample of Transgender Individuals.” Journal of Sex Research 49, no.2–3 (2011): 244–254. Lane, Riki, “Trans as Bodily Becoming: Rethinking the Biological as Diversity, Not Dichotomy.” Hypatia 24, no.3 (2009): 136–157. Morgan, Sarah W. and Patricia E. Stevens, “Transgender Identity Development as Represented by a Group of Female-toMale Transgendered Adults.” Issues in Mental Health Nursing 29 (2008): 585–599. Namaste, Viviane, Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism. 2nd Edition. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2011. Riggle, Ellen D.B. et al., “The Positive Aspects of a Transgender Self– Identification.” Psychology & Sexuality 2, no.2 (2011): 147–158. Ross, Chase “The Internal Division: One Umbrella, Two Conflicts.” Unpublished. Department of Sociology. Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, 2012. Wojdowski, Pat and Irving B. Tebor, “Social and Emotional Tensions during Transsexual Passing.” The Journal of Sex Research 12, no.3 (1976): 193–205.
Johnson, Katherine, “Fragmented Identities, Frustrated Politics.” Journal of Lesbian Studies 11, no.1–2 (2007): 107–125.
HARD TO HEAR: ACCESS TO SEXUALITY RESOURCES IN DEAF COMMUNITIES
Author: Gabrielle Lamoureux
Editor: Emma Leary
Deafness is a silent disability. Those who are deaf are excluded from dominant culture despite walking through it and cannot learn cultural cues or scientific information through overhearing, radio, or music.1 Deafness can also separate children from their parents, who are rarely encouraged to learn sign language.2 In addition to the physical attribute of deafness, there is a culture of Deafness with common characteristics, a particular way of life, and a common language which uses the capital letter D to diﬀerentiate itself from the physical condition of deafness.3 Like other cultures and physical conditions, Deafness requires particular consideration when it comes to sexual education and health. Over five percent of the global population has disabling hearing loss.4 Some of this hearing loss is a result of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses or the medication used to treat them.5 The deaf and hard of hearing population experiences challenges accessing sexual information and health care. This paper explores such diﬃculties by examining the challenges of access, the impact that these challenges have on the Deaf community, and recommendations for change.
Problem Issues with access to information and care begin as early as infancy, where most children would overhear simple information about sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and romantic relationships.6 This trend continues into later life, with an inability to overhear and converse with peers at school or work, listen to the radio, or attend lectures designed for the hearing population.7 Indeed, a study by Sarah Suter, Wendy McCracken, and Rachel Calam’s found that 80 percent of deaf undergrads rely primarily on their friends for sexual information and 72 percent of deaf undergraduate women frequently asked their female friends for it.8 These problems continue through school. In “The Sexualized Body of the Child,” Michel Desjardins explores the societal construction of mentally handicapped adults as innocent, child-like, and correspondingly asexual. The seraphic understanding of these adults impacts the choices they are given regarding their own sexuality.9 Similarly, deafness is a type of physical condition that is stereotyped as asexual, which impacts the curriculum for Deaf schools. Many schools have overlooked basic education about the human body and sexuality required for understanding HIV and sexually transmitted infections.10 School nurses are expected to tend to the needs of children while maintaining an image of the school that is acceptable to parents and the government, which can increase pressure to provide less sexual information.11 Guest lecturers pose a new problem: since many popular lecturers are hearing and not fluent in
Hard to Hear: Access to Sexuality Resources in Deaf Communities sign language, they require an interpreter. However, interpreters cannot capture the dynamism of a discussion well enough to portray the depth of information exchanged in a classroom with several students, and the bias or embarrassment of the interpreter may get in the way of the translation. As a result, schools have to decide which is more valuable: a guest speaker who may not be well understood, or a teacher fluent in sign language who is telling the story of another person which may have less impact.12 This understanding of deaf people as seraphic also disregards their needs when creating sexuality pamphlets. The average reading level of deaf adults after completing school is between fourth and eighth grade, but pamphlets are designed at an eighth grade level. This, in addition to an absence of visual aids like pictures and drawings, can make these pamphlets particularly diﬃcult for the deaf.13 Outside of school, deaf people are seven times more likely than their hearing counterparts to get most of their HIV/AIDS information from friends. This can lead to misinformation about sexual health.14 While older Deaf people list newspapers and television as their primary sources of sexuality education, Deaf people in their twenties and thirties learned about sexuality through school programs.15 This points to an increase in school-based sexuality education for Deaf people. There is still work to be done, however, and access to information is not the only hurdle with regards to sexuality. Accessibility continues to be a struggle in health care, where problems begin before even getting to the doctor’s oﬃce. Deaf patients usually do not seek medical care until they are very sick, and when they do seek help there are new challenges.16 Even making an appointment can be a challenge, as it is impossible to call on the phone, and many doctors’ oﬃces do not have teletypewriters to allow written communication.17 Not addressed in the papers explored is the advent of email communication and its prevalence in doctor’s oﬃces. While it is now theoretically possible to email a doctor, many oﬃces still only accept phone calls, and finding an oﬃce that would accept appointments and inquiries via email is a new challenge. In addition, the reading level of the Deaf community is low, and email lends the possibility of very long emails that are diﬃcult to read and understand.18 Beyond teletypewriting and emailing, a deaf person could ask someone else to call for them. This, however, impedes their privacy, and particularly disincentivizes pursuing sexual health.19
Author: Gabrielle Lamoureux
Editor: Emma Leary
Once in to see the doctor, a deaf person has limited options and multiple struggles with communication. As with making an appointment, they can elect to invite an interpreter or family member into their session, but this reduces privacy once more. Deaf patients are often reluctant to have their family members present for a meeting about sexual health, and complain of the small number of interpreters, which additionally reduces comfort.20 Patients who have brought in family have found that their relatives are asked directly about the patient’s sexual history, despite their potential lack of knowledge.21 If a patient goes alone, they struggle with stigma of deafness and the doctor’s ignorance on how to communicate with them. Many doctors do not know to ensure they are looking directly at their patient to facilitate lipreading.22 Some, with an absence of sign language abilities, will attempt to communicate with gestures, or through nurses with a small amount of sign. One youth received a “thumbs up” from his doctor to let him know he did not have AIDS, and another former drug user was shown a nurse who knew only very basic sign language. He expressed frustration, and said he “wanted to be able to sign and discuss deeply,” but was not able.23 Patients have been treated disrespectfully when they admit they are deaf and will often feign hearing ability, increasing miscommunication.24 These barriers between the Deaf community and the medical establishment mean patients are perpetually choosing between the potential for bad communication or an invasion of privacy from interpreters or family.25 A concern specific to HIV/AIDS is that of hearing loss that can be caused by the illness or the medication to treat it. A study by Yael Bat-Chava, Daniela Martin, and Joseph G. Kosciw found that two deaf people had lost their hearing due to AIDS-related illnesses, and had never been referred to an agency to help with hearing loss. One of these two only discovered their HIV status after losing hearing in one ear, causing both vertigo and tinnitus. There was no audiological care or follow up. They were instead referred to hospitals and eventually a hearing rehabilitation agency.26
Impact The consequence of the obstacles with sexual understanding and medical health include issues with HIV/AIDS. The understanding of HIV transmission is limited, as many asked in the study by Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw thought it could be transmitted by masturbation, could not be contracted by married people, and that sex with intravenous drug users did not pose a risk for transmission.27 Deaf people’s concerns about
Hard to Hear: Access to Sexuality Resources in Deaf Communities confidentiality can keep them from getting an HIV test, and relatively few have been tested for HIV.28 All this leads to an estimated five percent of deaf people living with HIV, as compared to 3% of the general population.29 It is therefore logical that other sexuality, relationship, and sexual health issues are more widespread in the deaf community than they are among the hearing. There is more than sexual health in jeopardy. Studies have shown that sexual oﬀences are over-represented in deaf oﬀenders seen for psychiatric evaluation. Susanne Iqbal, Mairead Dolan, and Brendan Monteiro performed a study to examine this in closer detail, examining the records of deaf sex oﬀenders from 1969–2002 in the United Kingdom.30 Before detailing this study, it is important to note that they define the oﬀenders as people who have been convicted of or charged with sexual oﬀences, and that these oﬀences include anal intercourse.31 The paper does not go into detail about which oﬀences are which, nor does it diﬀerentiate between charged or convicted crimes. In their study of 140 male subjects, only one had received a sexual education.32 44 percent had a history of non-sex crimes, compared to 76.9 percent of hearing sexual oﬀenders.33 89 percent of the crimes were only sexual in nature, much higher than the hearing group, and only 10.2 percent were non-contact oﬀences such as exhibitionism.34 The deaf population surveyed had a tendency to attribute their oﬀending to their deafness.35 Indeed, the highly sexual representation of the crimes and an overrepresentation of sexual oﬀences in the Deaf community suggests a lack of education causes barriers to healthy sexual communication and function. Iqbal, Dolan, and Monteiro suggest that “lack of sex education and limited opportunities to develop intimate relationships may have contributed to an aberrant psychosexual development in [this] sample.”36 Lack of knowledge has extended to sexual abuse of the deaf population. In 2012, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the Clerics of St-Viateur who worked at the Montréal Institute for the Deaf. 64 claimants filed against 28 religious staﬀ and six lay workers who had worked at the institute from 1940–1982. Ex-students who have come forward relay stories of becoming “sex slaves,” with one boy being repeatedly abused by at least six people in the school, and being sent to the infirmary to treat their anuses, which were injured from repeated “violent” sodomy, only to be abused more at the infirmary. One boy recalls thinking “that’s how it worked. That… every night, you had to have sexual contact with the brothers.”37 The trials are scheduled to start some time in 2014.38 While it is not unheard of for boarding schools to have histories of unwelcome contact with their students, the issue becomes muddier and more
Author: Gabrielle Lamoureux
Editor: Emma Leary
diﬃcult for the Deaf population. Firstly, the inability to overhear conversations about sexual appropriateness, radio shows about unwelcome sexuality, or other relevant topics means that there is less chance a Deaf student would become aware that they were being abused than a hearing one. Secondly, because many parents do not know sign language and deaf children struggle with oral language, it would be more diﬃcult than for a hearing child to explain what was going on at school, or that something was going wrong at all. Thirdly, a dearth of alternative schools means revealing abuse may remove deaf students from their community. Even a teacher at the school Montréal Institute for the Deaf, who had been abused as a student, did not tell the police when his own student revealed abuse by the brothers. This combination of sexual misinformation, communication struggles, and desire to preserve community relates not only to issues in sexuality education, but also general accessibility for Deaf people.
Recommendations Despite these examples, the situation of Deaf people is not all bad and is improving. The Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw study showed that adolescents in 2005 had been taught about HIV/AIDS in school and perceived information as freely available.39 Suter, McCracken, and Calam’s study showed deaf students declared learning more about relationships at school than their hearing counterparts, and were more generally satisfied about how much they had learned at school about abusive and positive relationships, and feelings during puberty.40 An excellent example of the positive impact of targeted sexuality education is Deaf people from the city of Rochester having a comparatively higher HIV/AIDS understanding than their New York state peers. This was attributed to the local college for deaf students which necessitated the surrounding community become more aware of the particular needs of deaf people.41 These improvements are positive and hopeful, but there is still much work to be done in health care, education, and general society. HIV/AIDS and other sexuality education for the Deaf is best oﬀered in sign language, preferably in small groups to facilitate discussion, by culturally Deaf educators.42 It is important that these courses include Deaf slang as part of the curriculum and demonstrate the diﬀerent meanings of signs. For instance, one student referred to a close friend as a “lover,” not knowing the diﬀerence.43 The educational materials oﬀered must use simpler language and be visually focused instead of literature centered.44 In class, Deaf guest lecturers and role models should be brought in, so Deaf students can properly discuss and understand the
Hard to Hear: Access to Sexuality Resources in Deaf Communities material addressed, and reduce the “it can’t happen to me” attitude that can be common when using only hearing speakers.45 When guest lecturers are not brought in, students stressed the desire for teachers being less embarrassed about the subject matter as their most important concern.46 It is pertinent for school programs to discuss alternate families’ structures such as step families and families of choice. Since the families of Deaf people do not always learn sign language, many Deaf students choose people from within the Deaf community as their family due to a limited ability to be close with their blood relatives.47 Finally, it is crucial to recognize specific needs of diﬀerent intersections within the Deaf populations such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, and education level. For instance, African American Deaf people have their own dialect of sign language and must have sexual education in that dialect to be eﬀective.48 For medical accessibility, health care providers must know the diﬀerent needs of the sign language using deaf population, the oral deaf population, and the hard of hearing, and be able to accommodate them.49 For oral deaf and hard of hearing, this means ensuring face-to-face communication while speaking, and oﬀering alternate means, like email, to make appointments or follow up on appointments. For deaf people who communicate through sign language, accessibility entails teletypewriters for appointment set up. Ideally, doctors who can communicate fluently in sign language would be encouraged, as well as receptionists and nurses. Short of this, it could be recommended to have an interpreter who deals primarily with medical issues and is bound under the same confidentiality rules as the doctor, to alleviate fears of privacy violation. Schools, hospitals, and organizations for the Deaf should oﬀer lists of Deaf-friendly health services like HIV and STI testing sites, medical clinics, physicians, and sexuality hotlines that can be accessed with teletypewriters, such as the American Center for Disease Control’s AIDS hotline, counselors, and service providers. Such lists already exist for gay and lesbian communities, and the Deaf lists can be modeled after them.50 HIV and STI testing must also be available for all people. HIV test sites should oﬀer information on interpreter referral services, as well as employing an HIV counselor who can communicate fluently in sign language for areas with high Deaf populations. HIV testing clinics should have educational material available about HIV-related hearing loss referring patients to appropriate services.51
Author: Gabrielle Lamoureux
Editor: Emma Leary
Something diﬃcult to study, but still important, is the influence of parents. Adolescents surveyed by Suter, McCracken, and Calam stated they would appreciate being able to discuss sexuality with their parents. This could lead to less sexual misinformation and influence from peers.52 However, the biggest barrier to discussing sex in this context is that often parents do not learn sign language, and can thus never communicate fully with their children.53 This is a larger problem of acceptance of the Deaf culture, and relates to the social change that is required to accept Deaf people and encourage family contact through Deafness, rather than trying to cure it. Since Deaf students taught orally have less academic success than those taught through sign language, a good way to encourage familial bonds, education overall, and increased sexual understanding is to promote the learning of sign language for families of deaf children. When asked, the Deaf people in the examined papers prioritized learning about relationship building, safe sex, the first time to have sex, and confidence building to say no to sexual intercourse.54 All thought that sexual information should be taught in sign language, both in small group discussions and on video tapes. Closed captions often pose the same problems as textheavy reading materials, being diﬃcult to understand.55
Conclusion Deaf populations face considerable challenges in accessing sexual education, including some that require specialized solutions. One approach is to create visual resources like pamphlets which have clear images and are written at a lower reading level. This has the added benefit of making these resources more accessible to nonnative English speakers and other people with lower levels of literacy. Ideally Deaf students would have access to sexual education instructors fluent in ASL. A small group format would also be optimal, if not always practical. If this is not possible, video resources with ASL interpretation, as opposed to closed captions, are a good second choice. The ideal health care situation is one in which caregivers themselves are fluent in ASL, and where appointments can be made by teletypewriter. This includes STI and HIV testing clinics. Barring this, a good option is to have a confidential ASL interpreter available. Sexual health resources should include pamphlets about HIV/AIDS related hearing loss. Finally, there should be lists compiled of accessible sexual health care locations and sexual information resources for Deaf people, similar to the “Pink Pages” for gay communities.
Hard to Hear: Access to Sexuality Resources in Deaf Communities To supplement this research, it would be pertinent to study the impact of the internet on the sexual education and perceptions of Deaf people. It would also be useful to compare rates of sexual health understanding and accessibility in diďŹ€erent countries, including Canada, with both ASL and Quebecois Sign Language (LSQ). Of course, the benefits of improving the sexual education of Deaf people do not end with the improvement of sexual health for Deaf people. Because some have sex with hearing people, the benefits of improved education are unlikely to be confined to Deaf communities.
Christine L. Gannon, “The Deaf Community and Sexuality Education,” Sexuality & Disability 16, no. 4 (1998): 285. 2 Yael Bat-Chava, Daniela Martin, and Joseph G. Kosciw, “Barriers to HIV/AIDS Knowledge and Prevention among Deaf and Hard of Hearing People,” Aids Care 17, no. 5 (2005): 494. 3 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 284. 4 “Deafness and hearing loss,” WHO Online. 5 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 623. 6 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 285. 7 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 624. 8 Sarah Suter, Wendy McCracken, and Rachel Calam, “The Views, Verdict and Recommendations For School And Home Sex And Relationships Education By Young Deaf And Hearing People,” Sex Education 12, no. 2 (2012): 148–155. 9 Michel Desjardins, “The Sexualized Body of the Child: Parents and the Politics of ‘Voluntary’ Sterilization of People Labeled Intellectually Disabled,” in Sex and Disability, eds. Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 70; Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 284. 10 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 624. 11 Suter, McCracken, and Calam, “Views,” 149. 12 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 288. 13 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 624. 14 Ibid., 625. 15 Ibid., 629. 16 Ibid., 625. 17 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 285. 18 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 285. 19 Ibid. 20 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 632. 21 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 287. 22 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 629. 23 Ibid., 630. 24 Ibid., 632. 25 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 630. 26 Ibid., 631. 27 Ibid., 624. 28 Ibid., 630. 29 Ibid., 624. 30 Susanne Iqbal, Mairead Dolan, and Brendan Monteiro, “Characteristics Of Deaf Sexual Oﬀenders Referred To A Specialist Mental Health Unit In The UK,” Journal Of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology 15, no. 3 (2004): 497. 31 Ibid., 498. 32 Ibid., 499. 33 Ibid., 504. 1
Ibid., 500. Ibid., 504. 36 Ibid., 505. 37 CBC News, “Montreal school for the deaf’s ex-students allege horrific abuses,” CBC News Montreal, November 26, 2012. 38 Giuseppe Valiente, “Class-Action Accusing Montreal Clerics of Sexually Abusing Deaf and Mute Children Can Go Ahead, Judge Rules,” Sun News, August 16, 2013. 39 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 628. 40 Suter, McCracken, and Calam, “Views,” 153–154. 41 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 628. 42 Ibid., 632. 43 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 287. 44 Ibid. 45 Ibid., 291. 46 Suter, McCracken, and Calam, “Views,” 157. 47 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 290. 48 Ibid., 289. 49 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 632. 50 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 287. 51 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 633. 52 Suter, McCracken, and Calam, “Views,” 148. 53 Gannon, “Sexuality Education,” 291. 54 Suter, McCracken, and Calam, “Views,” 156. 55 Bat-Chava, Martin, and Kosciw, “Barriers,” 629. 34 35
Bibliography Bat-Chava, Yael, Daniela Martin, and Joseph G. Kosciw. “Barriers to HIV/AIDS Knowledge and Prevention Among Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.” Aids Care 17, no. 5 (2005): 623–634. CBC News. “Montreal school for the deaf’s ex-students allege horrific abuses.” CBC News Montreal. November 26, 2012. “Deafness and hearing loss.” WHO Online. Desjardins, Michel. “The Sexualized Body of the Child: Parents and the Politics of ‘Voluntary’ Sterilization of People Labeled Intellectually Disabled.” Sex and Disability. Eds. Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. Gannon, Christine L. “The Deaf Community And Sexuality Education.” Sexuality & Disability 16, no. 4 (1998): 283–293. Iqbal, Susanne, Mairead Dolan, and Brendan Monteiro. “Characteristics Of Deaf Sexual Oﬀenders Referred To A Specialist Mental Health Unit In The UK.” Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology 15, no. 3 (2004): 494–510. Suter, Sarah, Wendy McCracken, and Rachel Calam. “The Views, Verdict and Recommendations for School and Home Sex And Relationships Education by Young Deaf And Hearing People.” Sex Education 12, no. 2 (2012): 147–163. Valiente, Giuseppe. “Class-Action Accusing Montreal Clerics of Sexually Abusing Deaf and Mute Children Can Go Ahead, Judge Rules.” Sun News. August 16, 2013.
SEASIDE ‘SELF-EXPLORATION’ IN Ulysses
Author: Maximillian Button
Editor: Simon Beaulieu
When the reader arrives at Sandymount Strand in “Nausicaa” for the second time in Ulysses, they are not greeted by the warm voice of Leopold Bloom, but the almost cloyingly sweet voice of the young Gerty McDowell. In a flowery feminine language, the episode slowly unfolds into the impassioned account of a voyeuristic and exhibitionistic sex act between a crippled girl and a middle aged man on the shore at sunset. As Richard Brown explains in his book James Joyce and Sexuality, “Bloom’s masturbation has often been a puzzle to critics, both those who find it unequivocally exceptionable and proof of either Joyce’s or Bloom’s moral bankruptcy and those who find it rather poignant and sad.”1 Both of these interpretations – that “Nausicaa” is either obscene or pitiful – seem understandable at first; it is easy to feel Bloom is taking advantage of a vulnerable subject who is naïve and narcissistic. But this kind of interpretation undermines the episode and the work in general. Works like this episode, which have both such a lucid and direct account and a real emotional openness to connection, are far too rare; it is best to be delicate with it and not to dismiss it only on account of how this episode appears at first, especially when it was crafted by Joyce to upset the normal subject-object formula. While there is nothing obscene or brutal about this episode, there is certainly a tension between some very profound elements of the psyche that make the chapter emotionally ambiguous; this may account for some of the negative interpretations. In order to expose these ambiguities and to uncover the delicacy of Ulysses where it accused of obscenity, one must first understand Gerty and Bloom’s, and ultimately, Stephen’s, profound subjectivities and how they change over the course of the work. By examining how each character functions as a subject, how each interacts with objects through desire, and finally how each finally reshapes themselves though this interaction, it is possible to understand some of the problems of subjectivity, of objectification, and of idealizing – or of not being able to idealize at all. The unsaid sexual relationship between Gerty and Bloom – for it is very much a mutual sexual relationship, reciprocal in every respect, and in no way coercive – generates a very unconventional model relationship: empowering yet complex, completely unspoken yet still understood. As Brown says, “we do not need to think of [Bloom’s masturbation in ‘Nausicaa’] as sadly or traumatically isolated from any form of human contact [… ]. [T]his act is pointedly performed with another person.”2 In order to understand how a relationship between two people, who never exchange words and who have never met before, is possible, one must suspend the impulse to judge based on appearances and instead examine what the characters are feeling.
Seaside ‘Self-exploration’ in Ulysses Gerty and Bloom’s interaction takes place in the space between two individuals: it is not the merging of two into one, as might be the case with a sex act with a reproductive purpose. Brown calls this ‘onanisme à deux’:
…once we recognize that, in the modern sense, almost all sexuality is to be understood as onanistic inasmuch as its goal is gratificatory not reproductive, then there seems to be an important similarity between the act preformed by Bloom and Gerty and that preformed simultaneously by Molly and Boylan at 7 Eccles street.3 Both sexual encounters are for the purpose of gratification and take place between two individuals who explore themselves and each other through their sexual contact. Perhaps it is through this encounter that Gerty and Leopold are able to discover parts of themselves; they are able to recognize themselves through the other, and thus achieve a more profound self-consciousness. It should be noted that these are Hegelian terms, and they are taken from the Phenomenology of Mind. The interpretation here is a bastardized one; but perhaps it is still suitable. We may take from Hegel that when two consciousnesses meet, they interact in a manner in which desire and a conflict for power is present, since each consciousness desires to see the other as an extension of themselves. And when this fails, since it is impossible (they are not able to control the other), each consciousness has to reform itself. In reforming itself, a new, profounder consciousness is generated. The consciousness’ constant, impossible drive to aﬃrm that the world itself is simply an extension of its own subjectivity is known as desire. But since there are other subjectivities, the consciousness can only change itself, and not the other. Keeping this framework in mind, encountering Gerty is an occasion for profound introspection on the part of Bloom. It is clear that he is not fully capable of recognizing her subjectivity, much like the basic consciousness above. He would rather possess her through desire, animating her through his fantasy by keeping her at a distance. In order for Bloom to avoid recognizing Gerty—because he is initially averse to this—he must first render himself as invisible as possible. According to Philip Sicker, in his article “Alone in the Hiding Twilight: Bloom’s Cinematic Gaze in ‘Nausicaa’”. Bloom imagines himself as a spectator in a cinema. He sees himself in a “zone of fantasy with ‘highly anonymous clientele’… Bloom imagines himself, as Gerty puts it, ‘alone in the hiding twilight.’”4 As Sicker points out, Bloom can only enjoy Gerty
Author: Maximillian Button
Editor: Simon Beaulieu
as an object from afar when she does not return his gaze. Bloom can only sustain his fantasy by “suppressing this knowledge”5 – the possibility of Gerty as a spectator as well. He must control the spectacle, but in order to do so, he must exist only in a disembodied, objectless gaze. By creating a visual distance, Bloom’s “pleasure is animated by a tension between filling and perpetuating the sense of lack [of desire]… he has no real intention of bridging the gulf between himself and Gerty.”6 He wants only to watch her, and create a fantasy for himself, ignoring as much as possible the actual person he is watching. Bloom asserts his power over her though his gaze: “the power of the male resides in its capacity to envision the female object as something other than itself.”7 Thus, Bloom must fashion Gerty into something she is not, according to Sicker, into a female object that is “infinitely desirable but utterly inaccessible.”8 She oscillates, in Bloom’s recollection, between “O sweet little,” “little wench,” “girlwhite,” and “Devil;” he moves fluidly between two characterizations of her, between innocent and erotic, until they find themselves impossibly in the same object.9 Bloom is driven to suppress Gerty’s subjectivity in order to create a fantasy for himself. He would rather objectify her and use her for his own purposes than accept her responsive looks, and contemplate her feelings in any depth. A tension exists between his desire to alter her into his ideal and his desire to let her remain herself. It is interesting that he treats her as a supernatural force. His invocation of the imagery of a “hot little devil” elevates a part of her, which is threatening to him, into a supernatural fantasy.10 This elevation is probably due to Gerty’s transgressive behaviour during the encounter, looking at him and regarding him as embodied object threatens him. Her agency must be made unreal, into something unbelievable. But reality (through the narrator) finally intrudes on Bloom, cutting him oﬀ from his fantasy: “she walked with a certain quiet dignity characteristic of her but with care and very slowly because, because Gerty MacDowell was… – Tight boots? No, she’s lame! O!”11 The intercession between Gerty’s narration and that of the objective narrator comes the words “because, because.”12 Gerty asserts herself-her true self and her dignity as a subject-through the act of walking away from Bloom. By showing herself to be something else than the impossible ideal that he has created of her, Gerty is able to reclaim her selfhood from Bloom’s gaze and shift the burden of self-analysis on to him. After this point, almost the entire chapter is spent with Bloom, who is reeling from the clash between reality and fantasy. Whether he fully embraces Gerty’s subjectivity is ambiguous, but he does make half an
Seaside ‘Self-exploration’ in Ulysses eﬀort, in the end, to communicate with her. But, perhaps, this eﬀort to put into words his feelings or his motivations: “I AM A” is the most consciously violent act of the chapter.13 This act, though, is tempered by the fact that he does not fully carry it out. Writing her a message is a way of taking revenge for her (unintentional) breaking of his fantasy. By asserting himself as something, he can no longer function as a canvas for her desires to be projected. By determining himself, her fantasy would be broken. That he leaves his message open-ended, unfinished (and finally erased) is a reflection of his compassion for her. That the whole chapter is almost without direct communication between these two characters, Gerty and Bloom, allows their respective fantasy spaces to remain separate. They can indulge in fantasy by remaining silent. Bloom does admit that “there is a kind of language between [himself and Gerty].”14 He reflects, “when she leaned back, felt an ache at the butt of my tongue.”15 He must keep down his voice, suppress it, in order for a communication on a non-vocal level to continue, for vocalizing his pleasure would involve words-it would determine his desire and do violence to fantasy that cannot be contained in words. Yet Bloom still feels that there is a communication between them, acknowledging Gerty as capable of a response. He admits to himself that she knew he was watching her. This also makes him wonder what she saw in him. So, despite all of his crudeness and self-absorbed fantasy, Bloom resists the urge to break Gerty’s fantasy by asserting his patriarchal power with his voice, and he tries cautiously to see himself in her eyes. Vocalization would break the atmosphere of mutual knowledge tempered with the possibility of ignorance on the part of the other, in which this act can be sustained. If Bloom were to acknowledge explicitly, to himself and to Gerty, that he was participating in this act of transgression (demonstrating that he himself was conscious of it), instead of just being unable “to resist the sight,” by saying something, anything, his desire would become explicitly masturbatory, pertaining only to himself, instead of being motivated only by Gerty’s power.16 Through silence, he is complicit, to a degree, with her control over the situation. Philip Sicker points out that “Gerty is unable to find the authorized language to express her sexual cravings… she associates patriarchal authority with what Dykstra terms ‘the realm of the word.’”17 Bloom’s silence allows him to withhold his authority and thus permits the act to continue. It is clear that Gerty, during her ‘performance’, is masturbating along with Bloom; she vigorously swings her thighs and openly describes her climax. His desire drives her desire and vice versa. This bears little
Author: Maximillian Button
Editor: Simon Beaulieu
resemblance to the text that “Nausicaa” is undoubtedly parodying, Havelock Ellis’ 1897 Autoeroticism. Much of the criticism about this episode falls in to the same pitfalls that Ellis had:
Unaware of the novelist’s radical subversion of a text that figures women as sexually passive and unself-conscious, recent critics have typically regarded Gerty much as Ellis regarded his young female [who Ellis watched pleasuring herself in a train station]: as culturally circumscribed, impervious and self-deceiving. Denying Gerty both lucid subjectivity and agency, Thomas Richards and Garry Leonard view her as a purely social construction and stress her role as a scripted performer within the confined ideological space of popular culture.18 That Joyce, according to Sicker, was specifically parodying Ellis’ work renders any critique that adheres to a reading that resembles Ellis’ text unsatisfactory. These critiques tend to revolve around the idea that Bloom is a knowing viewer of a woman who is a helpless narcissistic object. Thus, we end up with compelling but ultimately inadequate readings of the episode: such as, “beauty renders [Gerty] incapable of constructing or imagining herself, except as an object with a patriarchal system of exchange.”19 Readings like these fail to comprehend that Joyce was undermining a tradition of thinking about women in exactly this way. Gerty’s actual subjectivity is much more complex. Her masturbation is not merely the physical act of a ‘lust filled’ yet utterly naïve girl, who is unable to control herself; such an interpretation gives her little agency at all. In order to understand Gerty in all her depth, one must first concede that she wants a very real connection with another, and she is not ‘onanisticly’ trying to satisfy a basic urge. Rather, she is masturbating on the beach with Bloom because it is the most transgressive form of pleasure available to her. Sicker’s evaluation of her agency through
twin modes of active and controlling subjectivity [those of exhibitionistic agency and visual pleasure], operating together with bodily friction, produce a sexual climax that bears only outward resemblance to the one Ellis described and to the formula present in conceptions of object shaping male gaze and power.20 By both exhibiting herself to Bloom and by taking pleasure in his observation, Gerty is able to derive a complete erotic satisfaction from the act.
Seaside ‘Self-exploration’ in Ulysses She is actively in control of what happens on the beach between herself and Bloom. Thus, Gerty is in a position of power, one that goes far to usurp patriarchal authority around her. That she has a gaze of her own is very clear throughout the chapter. She is constantly thinking about Bloom and watching him, trying to understand him and constructing him in her mind’s eye. Thus, she gets the erotic satisfaction that arises in “‘looking at another person as an object.’”21 Her gaze helps her achieve something resembling her “ultimate desire,” which is
to transcend the ‘subject/object dichotomy’ through an open exchange of looks that would recognize the desiring subjectivity of both parties. She longs for a man who will ‘gaze… deep down into her eyes’(13.242) in a moment of reciprocal ardor, and she seeks to crown her encounter with Bloom with looks of mutual recognition.22 Gerty wants to show that she too has a gaze, and that there is a fundamental equality in this recognition. Gerty wants to be recognized in the most basic sense: “yes, it was her he was looking at and there was meaning in his look. His eyes burned into her as though they would search her through and through, read her very soul.”23 And through this recognition she desires, in a very Hegelian way to become one with another. Gerty wants to craft Bloom into an object that recognizes her, one that has the subjectivity capable of seeing her for who she is. Bloom, on the other hand, wants only to use Gerty as an object of desire, both impossibly unattainable and infinitely alluring. Although he is aware of Gerty’s gaze, he must disavow it in order to reflect pleasurably on the situation. Gerty, though, can derive pleasure from being watched and knowing about it; she can enjoy being both the subject and the object of a gaze. How each character finds, as Richard Ellmann observes, “‘a way of joining ideal and real’” also reflects what they take away from the act on the beach.24 As Sicker more than adequately shows, Gerty is the one in control of the situation. Her motivations, her consent, and her narrativizing, make the act between her and Bloom possible; it is her openness and her ability to justify the act that sustains it. Gerty needs a reaction from Bloom that figures her as its cause. Eventually, “the identification and knowledge of another’s desire confers a power essential for the individual’s construction of erotic pleasure.”25 For all intents and purposes, she might as well be having sex with
Author: Maximillian Button
Editor: Simon Beaulieu
Bloom; she gives herself to him openly. Her pleasure does not rely on visual separation as Bloom’s does. Gerty’s narrative is a reflection of her agency. Her narrative is feminine: active, yet reliant on another. “Just as male sexual prowess is often substantiated by fantasies breaking down feminine resistance, so too Gerty’s sense of herself as a seductive female is intensified by dreams of overcoming Bloom’s mature and solitary reserve.”26 Bloom, for Gerty, is a lot of things that do not particularly reflect the character of Bloom as portrayed throughout the rest of the book. Still, her narrativizing allows Bloom and herself to engage in a ‘conversation’ of sorts. While she badly misreads some crucial information about him (she believes his a widower and possibly a movie star), at least she tries to deal with him, for the most part, as a person. The question, of who he is, is not as essential to the fantasy as to the fact that he recognizes her; this is the all-important part. For Bloom, to keep Gerty at a distance is the only way to sustain his desires. For Gerty, it is to know him, or as much as she can perceive him for who he is and how he relates to her that drives her desire. That they come together in some sort of uncontrollable passion is the catalyst for Gerty’s climax: “and she let him and she saw that he saw […] and she wasn’t ashamed and he wasn’t either to look in that immodest way like that because he couldn’t resist the sight of the wondrous revealment […] and he kept on looking, looking.”27 Gerty needs him to recognize her (and in particular, her power over him), rather than have him conform to any one particular fantasy. In Hegelian terms, Gerty’s desire for recognition from Bloom means she is striving for something more than a subject-object relationship. Thus, she is self-conscious, realizing that the object, Bloom, will not satisfy her unless he responds by desiring her in return. Only by accepting mutual desire will something new, something perhaps generative, be introduced. Having examined both Gerty and Bloom in detail and having derived various answers about their motivations and relationship, it is possible to examine Stephen’s moment on the same beach earlier in the day. In the chapter “Proteus,” a visually impaired Stephen walks along the same strand. He wanders and wonders, without very much to draw his attention, eventually composing a fragment of gothic poetry. He examines himself in detail, from his most adolescent lies and aﬀectations, to his most grandiose thoughts about the world. Yet Stephen has no fixed place to start, he cannot detach himself from himself. In her master’s thesis, His Cheeks Were Aflame, Sylvie Hill explains the origin this particular limitation: “Stephen forgets his audience, so his creations remain esoteric and narcissistic.”28 Invoking the question of audience obviously resembles
Seaside ‘Self-exploration’ in Ulysses what has so far been said. According to Hill, Stephen, like Gerty and Bloom, is self-pleasuring while on the beach. While this interpretation is not substantiated enough to be convincing, Hill’s premise, nonetheless, helps put Stephen into a similar context to that of Bloom and Gerty. This allows one to understand Stephen on the same terms as have been previously discussed. One of Stephen’s many preoccupations in this chapter is his existence, as both subject and object-ideas that have, so far, been central to the relationship between Gerty and Bloom. In considering the “ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes.”29 It is possible that Stephen is contemplating himself as subject. Exploring his own gaze, he tells himself to “shut your eyes and see.”30 He is, throughout the chapter, trying to reveal to himself what or who he is. He disappoints himself when he opens his eyes again: “See now. There all the time with out you: and ever shall be, world without end.”31 Much like Hegel’s consciousness, Stephen wants to demonstrate to himself that the world is somehow dependent on him, and that he is independent, free from particularity (and objectivity). After reminding himself that this is impossible, Stephen sets out on alternate path to proving himself, independent of the world. He wants to be self-creating, and through various behaviours, wishes to change himself into something else. He slowly goes through some of the ways he has tried to create himself in the past. He wanted to be a Parisian: “Just say in the most natural tone: when I was in Paris”; he wanted to have uncles in the army and the judiciary: “You told the Clongowes gentry you had an uncle a judge and an uncle a general”; he wanted to become one with the authors of the past: “When one reads the strange pages of long gone one feels that one is at one with those who once…”32 Stephen is constantly striving, in this episode, to become something other than himself. His problem though, it seems, is that he does not himself know who he is. David Hayman, as referenced in Hill’s thesis, explains Stephen’s composition of a poem on the beach thus: “Stephen is trying to connect with the world through his art.”33 Since proving his independence is impossible, Stephen wants dominion over the world through desire, and poetry is only his latest method. Perhaps this failed connection is not due to an extreme detachment from the world, but rather, happens because Stephen is too close to the world in all its hideousness. Reality is terrifying for Stephen, since he sees death and decay everywhere, and he is unable to fantasize anything into an ideal, something worthy of desire. He can only produce outward fantasy by lying to other people, trying to change how they perceive
Author: Maximillian Button
Editor: Simon Beaulieu
him. This is ineﬀective, the way that he perceives himself remains the same. His problem is that he cannot lie to himself enough to create a fantasy; he cannot idealize. In not knowing himself, he cannot even know what he is supposed to desire. Since, by desiring, the subject, empty in itself, can discover itself in objects. Stephen is stuck in a place where he cannot even interact with a fantasy, onanistically or otherwise. His attempt to connect with the world, by writing on the beach a Romantic poem, of which we receive either only a fragment or is in fact only a fragment, demonstrates his paralyzed capacity for desire. Hill writes that “[Stephen] composes a poem that reads: ‘He comes, pale vampire, through storm his eyes, his bat sails bloodying the sea, mouth to her mouth’s kiss’(3.397–98).”34 She goes on to argue that “[Stephen is] giving life, to an inanimate or imaginary object of desire.”35 Hill ties this to a masturbatory act which, as discussed, is unsubstantiated, but still gives insight into Stephen’s art. Suzette Henke, whom Hill references, explains that “art alone promises to provide a refuge from reality.”36 It is only though writing that Stephen can generate desire, but since he is unable to finish the poem, he is unable to, in fact, beget desire. He can create an imaginative narrative but, since it pertains to nothing, it becomes meaningless. The fragment only refers to a physical embrace; it lacks emotion. As readers of his work, we do not know what to feel: is it an embrace of passion or of violence? Whether Stephen himself knows is unclear. He is stuck in reality, in contemplation of the physical and the mortal. His most fantastical and erotic moment is also weighed down by reality: “Touch me. Soft soft soft soft hand. I am lonely here. O, touch me soon, now. What is that word known to all men? I am quiet here alone. Sad too. Touch, touch me.”37 His desire for physical connection is as far as he can go: there is no narrative or object he is referring to. He cannot construct an abstract or ideal concept, nor can he find anyone who will embody his ideals, his fantasies. He is isolated, a subject without even an object to desire, let alone another subject who will reveal him to himself. The interplay between fantasy and reality, ideal and real is a strong undercurrent in the chapters on the strand. The characters’ negotiations of their fantasies and realities are the anchors for much of their behaviours and thoughts; how they approach these ideas defines the emotional engagement they can have with one another and eventually themselves. Bloom is ruled by the desire to desire; thus, he defines reality according to his fantasies. These fantasies that are too abstract for the situation and are doomed to fail. By creating these impossible fantasies, he does not acknowledge the subjectivity of Gerty and must subdue her to sustain
Seaside ‘Self-exploration’ in Ulysses his fantasy. He leaves with a guilty conscience because he realizes what he has done to her. Despite his attempts to subjugate her into his ideal, Gerty transcends him. She ultimately remains in control of the situation. By creating a narrative that justifies her transgressive acts against patriarchal mores, Gerty is able to go beyond the subject-object relationship by believing that Bloom recognizes her. As object of his gaze, she can interpret it in any manner she chooses; she decides, in her inner narrative, that his gaze is the product of passionate love. Gerty is able to enjoy the situation and gain an empowered sense of self because she realizes recognition means accepting the power one has over another and giving power over oneself to them in turn. This can only happen if one accepts the other as a subject. Reality and fantasy line up; while she gets some details wrong, the fact that they are locked together in passion remains true. Stephen, lastly, cannot create a meaningful fantasy. He is stuck in the real and cannot ignore it: he is distraught by its meaninglessness. Only by encountering another subject can he be cured of his malaise. In “Proteus,” his failed narrativizing only demonstrates his incapacity to generate an ideal with emotional meaning. As subjects, the characters in Ulysses have to negotiate each other by first positing each other as objects. Unable to initially see other as real, they construct fantasies about others. These fantasies bridge the space between the characters; their subjective gazes serve as instruments for their desire. As the book seems to demonstrate, only by being able to create a proper narrative can the characters incorporate the other into themselves and become self-conscious. The situations of the characters must be met with an art that balances the self and the other, as well as reality and ideal.
Richard Brown, Joyce and Sexuality, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 60. 2 Ibid., 61. 3 Ibid., 62 4 Philip Sicker, “‘Alone in the Hiding Twilight’: Blooms Cinematic Gaze in ‘Nausicaa’.” James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 36 no. 4 (Summer, 1999): 830. 5 Sicker, “Alone in the Hiding Twilight,” 830. 6 Ibid., 833. 7 Ibid., 835. 8 Ibid., 834. 9 James Joyce, Ulysses (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 359; Ibid., 364; Ibid., 352. 10 Ibid., 351. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid., 364. 14 Ibid. 355. 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid., 350. 17 Sicker, “‘Alone in the Hiding Twilight,’” 114. 18 Phiplip Sicker, “Unveiling Desire: Pleasure Power and Masquerade in Joyce’s ‘Nausicaa,’” Joyce Studies Annual, Vol. 14 (Summer 2003): 96. 19 Ibid., 96. 20 Ibid., 94. 21 Ibid., 115. 22 Ibid., 116. 23 Joyce, Ulysses, 342. 24 Brown, Joyce and Sexuality, 60. 25 Sicker, “Unveiling Desire,” 103. 26 Ibid. 27 Joyce, Ulysses, 350. 28 Sylvie Hill, His Cheeks were Aflame: Masturbation, Sexual Frustration and Artistic Failure in Joyce’s Portrait of Stephen Dedalus, (Masters Thesis. Carlton University, Ottawa). 29 Joyce, Ulysses, 37. 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid., 38. 32 Ibid., 40–41. 33 Hill, His Cheeks were Aflame, 1. 34 Ibid., 8. 35 Ibid. 36 Ibid., 11. 37 Joyce, Ulysses, 48. 1
Bibliography 6 Brown, Richard. Joyce and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985. Hill, Sylvie. His Cheeks were Aflame: Masturbation, Sexual Frustration and Artistic Failure in Joyce’s Portrait of Stephen Dedalus. Masters Thesis. Carlton University. Ottawa. Joyce, James. Ulysses. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Sicker, Philip. “‘Alone in the Hiding Twilight’: Blooms Cinematic Gaze in ‘Nausicaa’.” James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 36 no. 4 (Summer, 1999): 825–851. Sicker, Philip. “Unveiling Desire: Pleasure Power and Masquerade in Joyce’s ‘Nausicaa’” Joyce Studies Annual, Vol. 14 (Summer 2003): 92–131.
AMBIGUITY IN GUSTAV KLIMT: AN EXAMINATION OF THE FEMALE SUBJECT IN KLIMT’S sonja Knips, Danaë & jUDith i
Author: Megan Michaud
Editor: Carlos Fuentes
Breaking away from traditional artistic practices, the Viennese Secession was a pivotal movement that gave way to art modes such as Symbolism and Art Nouveau in the 19th century. As one of the leaders of the Secession, Gustav Klimt was recognized for his ornamental style and highly erotic representations of women. In fact, Klimt has often been dubbed “a painter of women” due to the predominance of female subjects in his paintings and drawings. Upon close examination of Klimt’s most famous paintings such as Sonja Knips, Danaë, and Judith I, many scholars have raised the following question: Do Klimt’s works degrade or empower women? In answer to this question, academics such as Frank Whitford and Lisa Fischer have argued that Klimt primarily degrades women in his pieces by representing them as sexual objects. In his book Klimt, Whitford identifies the female subjects in the artist’s works – particularly in his drawings – as “anonymous and largely passive” and as existing “only to whet the appetite of the male spectator who is not only a potential lover but also a voyeur.”1 Lisa Fischer supports this idea in her article, “Gender Asymmetries in Viennese Modernism,” by asserting that Klimt sought only to “master woman by reducing her to a symbol” in his paintings and drawings.2 Her article concludes:
[Klimt] is thus an integral component of the system of those fin de siècle artist heroes who did not wish to solve social, political or personal conflicts in the real world, but who instead stylized themselves as gods and fled the real world by creating art worlds… In [the laboratory of modernism], Klimt became what he was: smug and narcissistic as a person, thoroughly conventional as a painter in his interpretation of the female.3 Both scholars link Klimt’s demeaning attitude towards the female form to the predominant misogynistic views of women in 19th century Vienna. On the other side of the spectrum, scholars such as Regine Schmidt and Jill Scott have gone so far as to identify Klimt as a contributor to the feminist movement that was gaining momentum at the turn of the century. In her essay “Of Sweet Young Things and Femmes Fatales,” Regine Schmidt argues:
By rendering visible the various manifestations of “woman” it was these three – Schnitzler, Klimt and to some extent Dörmann – who came tantalizingly close to defining the “modern woman” as independent and in control of her own eroticism. The women’s movement
Ambiguity in Gustav Klimt: An Examination of the Female Subject in Klimt’s Sonja Knips, Danaë and Judith I
was to lead girls and women through the revolution of their daily lives, but it was artists, especially Gustav Klimt, who led “sweet young things” and “femmes fatales” alike towards the “path to freedom” by recognizing the power of eroticism and lifting its taboo.4 By describing Klimt as a leader of women towards the “path to freedom,” Schmidt’s assertion contributes greatly to the idea that the artist supported the empowerment of women during his time. Scott’s article “Public Debates and Private Jokes in Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss: Eﬀeminate Aestheticism, Virile Masculinity, or Both?” also highlights the importance of female sexuality in Klimt’s works by claiming: “Klimt portrays female sexuality as powerful and legitimate, and Klimt’s women gain a subject position through their desire, exemplified in their penetrating gaze.”5 These arguments greatly contrast those of Whitford and Fischer, oﬀering individuals a diﬀerent perspective from which to view Klimt’s pieces. While all art work, including Klimt’s, may be interpreted in a myriad of diﬀerent ways, I argue that to strictly identify Klimt as either a liberator of women or a sexist symbolist would be to engage in binary thinking, and thus constrict one’s perception of the artist into a very narrow field of vision. Thus, in response to the aforementioned question, “Do Klimt’s works degrade or empower women?”, I argue that Klimt’s paintings do both – and much more, for that matter. However, I would like to suggest that Klimt’s deliberately ambiguous style allows for at least these two fundamental interpretations: 1) That his paintings represent a celebration of growing female empowerment; and 2) That his works are an expression of the male anxiety surrounding newly empowered women at the turn of the century. In this article, I will show that through his representations of bourgeois women, as in Sonja Knips; seductive nudes, as in Danaë; and femmes fatales, as in Judith I, Klimt gives his viewers the opportunity to do double-readings of his paintings in a way that celebrates the very ambiguity of artistic creation and reception.
Portrait of a Bourgeois Woman: Sonja Knips In the late 1890s, Klimt’s ambivalent style of painting was made particularly clear when he began painting portraits of bourgeois women. Although subtle in his portrayal of female sexuality, Klimt nonetheless oﬀers his viewers the possibility of reading his portraits as both empowering and demeaning representations of women. Sonja Knips (1898) (Fig. 1), the first female portrait he ever painted, depicts a noblewoman at the edge of her chair in a bourgeois garden-like setting.6 Her body’s
Author: Megan Michaud
Editor: Carlos Fuentes
position and the tight grasp of her left hand on the arm of her chair gives the viewer the sensation that she is about to stand up and do something. In his essay “Gustav Klimt – Painter between the Times,” Gerbert Frodl supports this idea by suggesting that Sonja’s “immobility still seems to be anticipatory, as if the quietness in the studio were only temporary.” In this way, Klimt may be suggesting that Sonja has the power to “leave” the painting if she so desires, thereby giving her authoritative agency as the subject in the painting. On the other hand, by painting her as immobilized in that particular position, Klimt may also be suggesting that he, a man, has authoritative power over her, and that she is in fact powerless in the current situation. This, of course, is only one example of how Klimt’s equivocal style allows the viewer to read his paintings in multiple ways, leaving much to the viewer’s imagination. Moreover, Klimt’s ambiguity is embedded in the most haunting aspect of the painting: the subject’s facial expression. Sonja’s penetrating gaze, reserved air and rigid posture may remind the viewer of Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1865) – a self-possessed woman unavailable for the taking. There is, however, a key diﬀerence between Klimt’s Sonja Knips and Manet’s Olympia. While Olympia’s viewers are excluded from her visual space, Sonja’s viewers are free to enter hers if they so choose. Viewers may interpret Sonja’s portrait in such a way by observing the air of indiﬀerence the lady gives oﬀ through her open body position and reserved stare. Rather than push the viewer away with a deathly stare like Olympia’s, Sonja demonstrates a certain amount of vulnerability, as though she is at the mercy of the viewer’s gaze. Another key diﬀerence is the position of both of the women’s left hands: Olympia uses hers to rigidly cover her genitals, while Sonja grips the arm of her chair. While both hand positions may suggest that the women have ownership over their sexualities, Olympia’s is more forceful and direct, giving the viewer a sense that she has control over her body. In contrast, Sonja’s grip appears to be more temporary, and may again be related to the idea that she is about to stand up at any moment. This comparison shows that although Sonja Knips may be read as a painting that empowers the female subject, the work may also be read as condescending in nature. In his essay, Frodl asserts: “Klimt’s large female portraits are contradictory in themselves and in complete accordance with his art’s two-sidedness.”8 Frodl goes on to claim that a “dualism between reality and identity” can be found in many of Klimt’s works. This duality is clearly present in Klimt’s Sonja Knips: the reality of the subject’s position in society as a female is juxtaposed with the uncertain identity of the real Sonja Knips.
Ambiguity in Gustav Klimt: An Examination of the Female Subject in Klimt’s Sonja Knips, Danaë and Judith I Moreover, Sonja Knips exemplifies the ambiguous nature of Klimt’s style as a whole, as it teeters between an empowering representation of a bourgeois woman, and a demeaning snapshot of a woman trapped in her subordinate position in society. Tobias G. Natter supports this idea in his essay, “Portrait of Sonja Knips”: “[…] Sonja Knips seems to personify the essence of bourgeois order and, at the same time, to be harassed by constraints and subliminal eroticism.”9 As a result, the viewer is confronted with a double-reading of the portrait – one that at once recognizes Sonja to be the sole possessor of her identity as well as subject to the male-dominated society she inhabits.
The Seductive Nude: Danaë Klimt’s Danaë (1907) (Fig. 2) also oﬀers the viewer the possibility of constructing a double reading of the female subject as both in possession of her sexuality and a victim of 19th century patriarchal norms. In this painting, Klimt depicts female sexual pleasure through the image of a foreshortened female nude in the fetal position. According to traditional Greek myth, Danaë was locked in a bronze tower by her father, King Acrisius of Argos, in his eﬀorts to circumvent an oracle foretelling his death by his daughter’s future son.10 However, Zeus, who greatly admired the girl for her charms, transformed himself into a golden rain shower in order to impregnate Danaë as she slept.11 In his painting, Klimt captures the moment when young Danaë is being penetrated by Zeus’ rain shower. In this painting, Klimt uses content and perspective in a way that allows for a double reading of the painting: as both a celebration of female sexuality and a voyeuristic depiction of female pleasure. In his “The Eternal Feminine,” Whitford identifies the figure of Danaë as “passive” in her experience of sexual intercourse.12 However, I argue that asserting this is to disregard an important detail in the painting: the woman’s clawed right hand. By portraying Danaë’s fingertips as digging into her right breast, Klimt suggests that she is participating in the sexual experience depicted in the painting. This rigid motion is not the least “passive” in nature, as it denotes not only a reaction, but also a kind of aﬃrmation to what is taking place in the scene – whether conscious or unconscious. Moreover, Danaë’s parted lips and relaxed facial expression also convey an aﬃrmative reaction to Zeus’ penetration. Furthermore, Danaë’s rippled hair falling over her left shoulder gives the viewer the sense that a kind of orgasmic vibration is taking over the young woman’s body, again suggesting that she is receptive to the sexual pleasure she is experiencing. Interestingly, Danaë’s facial expression
Author: Megan Michaud
Editor: Carlos Fuentes
and overall experience of pleasure may be compared to Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. In fact, Danaë and Theresa experience pleasure from the same source: the divine. However, given Danaë’s nude body and position, Klimt’s painting is more directly associated to sexual pleasure, whereas Bernini’s Theresa is reacting to her aﬃnity with the Catholic God. By representing Danaë as actively engaging in a sexual experience, Klimt is perhaps attempting to raise her status from a submissive woman to a woman in full possession of her sexuality and eroticism. Nevertheless, Klimt’s intent remains ambivalent. Despite Danaë’s receptivity, the viewer cannot help but experience the same feeling of “voyeurism” that he or she might feel while looking at the female subject in Degas’ The Tub. In both works, the artists’ use of perspective specifically enhances the feeling of voyeurism. Moreover, Klimt’s use of allegory and mythical subjects alone reveals the equivocal nature of his works. Klimt used allegory and myth for a number of his paintings, including Pallas Athena, Leda, Judith I, and Judith II. Through the use of Greek myth in Danaë, Klimt, in a way, legitimizes his use of erotic portrayal by giving his female subject an identity associated to a specific narrative, rather than representing sensual pleasure for the sake of doing so. Whitford suggests that Klimt often uses classical allusion as a “respectable disguise” for the “fulfillment of a common male voyeuristic fantasy,” as in Water Serpents (1904–07), in which two half-naked women sensually embrace one another.13 In the same way, Klimt may be using the myth of Danaë to legitimize his portrayal of a woman experiencing sexual pleasure for male-viewing purposes. On the other hand, Klimt’s use of recognizable female figures may also point to his desire to give legitimate identity to his subjects and highlight the importance of female sexuality through archetypal female figures. In this light, Klimt’s Danaë may be read in two very diﬀerent ways: as a legitimization of female sexuality or as a depiction of a woman as a sexual object. This ambiguity is also apparent in Klimt’s Judith I, in which the Biblical figure of Judith is portrayed as a femme fatale.
The Femme Fatale: Judith I In his painting Judith I (1901) (Fig. 3), Klimt depicts the character of Judith from the Old Testament, who piously saved her people from the Babylonian general Holofernes by bewitching him with her intellect and beauty.14 This story, however, is not the one depicted in the painting. In the late 19th century, Judith’s story was reinterpreted: instead, Judith became the femme fatale who maliciously had sexual intercourse with Holofernes before decapitating him.15 Klimt’s representation of Judith is, like Sonja
Ambiguity in Gustav Klimt: An Examination of the Female Subject in Klimt’s Sonja Knips, Danaë and Judith I
Knips and Danaë, ambiguous in nature. Eight years later, Klimt produced a second Judith, Judith II (1909), which many people have mistakenly referred to as Salome – another archetypal femme fatale. However, Schmidt argues: “Klimt’s femme fatale is not nearly so dangerous [as Salome]; rather, she is a modern woman, independent and ‘in control of her own eroticism.’”16 In this way, Schmidt oﬀers a first reading of Judith I: a liberated woman in possession of her sexuality. Depicted with her lips parted and eyes half-closed, Judith’s facial expression may be interpreted as one of rapture, once again reminiscent of Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St. Theresa. Judith’s eroticism is also highlighted by her partially nude body, reminiscent of the eﬀect Klimt’s nudes, such as Danaë, can have on the viewer. Just as Danaë may be construed as a portrayal of self-possessed female eroticism, Judith I may also be interpreted in a very similar way. Her intense experience of pleasure is depicted in much the same way Danaë’s is: as a feeling that has overtaken her entire body. The viewer may also detect the same engagement in the experience of sexual pleasure in Judith I as she or he can identify in Danaë. Rather than deny her experience, Judith embraces it and revels in the pleasure of it by allowing her face to express her erotic experience. In contrast to Danaë, however, Klimt treats Judith’s eroticism as directly associated to the act of murder, perhaps suggesting that sexual gratification can be achieved through violence. In Alessandra Comini’s book Gustav Klimt, the author points to Klimt’s ability to accentuate the theme of decapitation by emphasizing Judith’s neck collar through ornament and décor.17 This, along with the omnipresent head of Holofernes held in Judith’s hands, may create a sense of fear within the viewer, who may once again come to question Klimt’s intentions. Whitford suggests that in Klimt’s work “contemporary women are represented as witches, gorgons, and sphinxes in order to embody Klimt’s fears and desires.”18 Whitford explains that in this way, Klimt “paradoxically [dresses his female figures] in theatrical costume in order that their true nature may be revealed.”19 However, Judith’s “true nature,” like the true natures of Sonja Knips and Danaë, is equivocal. Whether she represents a self-possessed modern woman or simply a sexual object, Klimt gives the viewer the liberty to create his or her own interpretation. Conclusion By primarily representing women in his works of art, Klimt neither enforces nor discourages the view of the independent, self-possessed modern woman. Rather, the artist allows for a double reading of his
Author: Megan Michaud
Editor: Carlos Fuentes
works as representations of both the liberated woman and the submissive female trapped in a male-dominated society. Interestingly, Whitford asserts: “Klimt’s ambivalent view of woman as idol on the one hand and as deadly predator on the other was widespread.”20 He explains that, due to the rise of the feminist movement at the turn of the century, “many men felt that their sexual identity was threatened by women’s unprecedented demands for political and social emancipation.”21 Indeed, it was perhaps a result of the social and political climate in 19th and 20th century Vienna that Klimt chose to represent his female subjects in this contradictory way. However, regardless of his motivations, Klimt’s work is significant for the fact that he calls attention to the ambiguity inherently present in works of art. Rather than project a specific message that is blatantly clear to all viewers, Klimt works with allegory, ornament, and the female subject to create art that may be read by the viewer in many ways. In conclusion, whether his true intent was to free women through his art or keep them within the bounds of Victorian society, one thing is clear: Klimt’s equivocal style allows for multiple readings of his works – readings that ultimately reach far beyond notions of female liberation and containment.
Gustav Klimt Sonja Knips, 1897/1898 Oil on canvas 145 x 146 cm © Belvedere, Vienna
Gustav Klimt, Danae, 1907/1908 Oil on Canvas 77 x 83 cm
Gustav Klimt Judith, 1901 Oil on canvas 84 x 42 cm © Belvedere, Vienna
Frank Whitford, “The Eternal Feminine,” in Klimt. (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1990), 162. 2 Lisa Fischer, “Gender Asymmetries in Viennese Modernism, ” in Klimt’s Women, ed. Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl. (London: Yale University Press, 2000), 37. 3 Ibid. 4 Regine Schmidt, “Of Sweet Young Things and Femmes Fatales. Gustav Klimt and Women around 1900. A Path to Freedom,” in Klimt’s Women, ed. Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl. (London: Yale University Press, 2000), 31. 5 Jill Scott, “Public Debates and Private Jokes in Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss: Eﬀeminate Aestheticism, Virile Masculinity, or Both?” in Gender and Modernity in Central Europe: The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Its Legacy, ed. Agatha Schwartz. (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2010), 33. 6 Gerbert Frodl, “Gustav Klimt- Painter between the Times,” in Klimt’s Women, ed. Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl. (London: Yale University Press, 2000), 12. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid., 13. 9 Tobias G. Natter, “Portrait of Sonja Knips,” in Klimt’s Women, ed. Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl. (London: Yale University Press, 2000), 84. 10 Pamela Gossin, “‘All Danaë to the Stars’: Nineteenth-Century Representations of Women in the Cosmos,” Victorian Studies 40.1 (Autumn 1996): 67. 11 Ibid., 68. 12 Whitford, “The Eternal Feminine,” 162. 13 Ibid., 163. 14 Daniela Hammer-Tugendhat, “Judith,” in in Klimt’s Women, ed. Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl. (London: Yale University Press, 2000), 220. 15 Ibid. 16 Scott, “Public Debates and Private Jokes in Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss,” 33. 17 Alessandra Comini, Gustav Klimt (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1975), 22. 18 Whitford, “The Eternal Feminine,” 169. 19 Ibid. 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid. 1
Bibliography 7 Comini, Alessandra. Gustav Klimt. New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1975. Fischer, Lisa. “Gender Asymmetries in Viennese Modernism.” In Klimt’s Women, edited by Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl, 32–7. London: Yale University Press, 2000. Frodl, Gerbert. “Gustav Klimt – Painter Between the Times.” In Klimt’s Women, edited by Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl, 9–13. London: Yale University Press, 2000.
Scott, Jill. “Public Debates and Private Jokes in Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss: Eﬀeminate Aestheticism, Virile Masculinity, or Both?” In Gender and Modernity in Central Europe: The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Its Legacy, edited by Agatha Schwartz, 29–46. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2010. Whitford, Frank. “The Eternal Feminine.” In Klimt, 155–173. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1990.
Gossin, Pamela. “‘All Danaë to the Stars’: Nineteenth-Century Representations of Women in the Cosmos.” Victorian Studies 40.1 (Autumn 1996): 65–96. Hammer-Tugendhat, Daniela. “Judith.” In Klimt’s Women, edited by Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl, 220-4. London: Yale University Press, 2000. Natter, Tobias G. “Portrait of Sonja Knips.” In Klimt’s Women, edited by Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl, 84–7. London: Yale University Press, 2000. Schmidt, Regine. “Of Sweet Young Things and Femmes Fatales. Gustav Klimt and Women around 1900. A Path to Freedom.” In Klimt’s Women, edited by Tobias G. Natter and Gerbert Frodl, 25–31. London: Yale University Press, 2000.
BRITISH SOCIAL REALISM & QUEERNESS IN ANDREW HAIGH’S WeeKenD (2011)
Author: Clinton Glenn
Editor: Ashley Ornawka
Upon its release in 2011, the British film Weekend by Andrew Haigh was met with a large amount of critical acclaim, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.1 One critic praised the film for having “universal appeal without muting its gayness,”2 while another noted how the film takes the plot of “your average present-day mainstream romcom” and “suggests that in a liberated world where casual sex is no big deal, the truly taboo subjects are the need for love, and the cold truth of ordinary loneliness.”3 One of the defining aspects the film’s reception received was how critics responded to it as a work about the connection between two individuals, with considerations of sexuality as being secondary. In light of the reaction to Weekend, the question becomes: how should this film be viewed? As a film that just so happens to be gay-centric, or as a gay film that has incidentally been embraced by a larger audience? This paper argues that Weekend can be positioned within a larger context of both British and queer cinema through a few key aspects of the film. In one respect, the main characters Russell and Glen can be seen as juxtaposed positions, representing the assimilationist and liberationist aspects of gay politics. This juxtaposition represents the central conflict in the film: should the self-identified gay subject attempt to fit into a heteronormative framework, or is it more desirable to challenge societal conventions that legitimize specific relationship formations to the detriment of others? Secondly, penetration is used as a metaphor to expose the way that Russell self-consciously isolates himself from other people. This trope is used as both a metaphorical and literal way of bringing the main character of Russell out of his self-imposed isolation, forcing him to simultaneously deal with his own internalized homophobia and his seeming inability to connect with another human being. Finally, the use of social realist aesthetics and narrative techniques in the film link it to a larger tradition of British cinema that speaks from the margins. Weekend, however, cannot be unproblematically labelled as social realist, despite the similarities between the film and contemporary examples of the genre. It is important to first examine the use of the terms “queer” and “gay” within the context of this paper. While “queer” has been reclaimed to a certain extent in North America, to the point where it is used to denote queer theory in general or queer cinema specifically, the term “has had a more contentious history in the UK.”4 While this paper will not delve into an exploration of the term and its problematic uses within a British context, it is important to acknowledge that it carries “socio-historical resonance that is not so easily ignored.”5
British Social Realism and Queerness in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) Some viewers of what is described as queer cinema may embrace such a term as being inherently liberating, while others may see it as derogative. Within the context of this examination of Weekend, the term queer should be understood as an umbrella term that represents a specific strategy of challenging normative positions of sexuality, one that represents “disparate sexual identities, viewpoints, and cultural artefacts that resist easy assimilation to the ‘norm.’”6 Wherever possible, “queer” is used to represent this strategy of challenging sexual norms while the term “gay” stands in for representing male homosexuality. Where the film and critical literature supporting the central aims of this paper use the terms interchangeably, the following discussion will do so accordingly. Weekend opens with the main character, Russell, visiting a friend’s house for dinner. Rather than returning home after supper, Russell heads to a local gay bar where he drinks and dances. His goal becomes clear; he wants to hook up. He takes a liking to another guy whom he pursues but who seems less than interested. The film cuts to the next morning where the viewer is surprised to find that Russell did in fact get the guy. The other guy, Glen, then pulls out a tape recorder and traps Russell into confessing his experience of the previous night. The tape recorder, it is revealed, is central to an art project that Glen has been working on, one in which he forces his conquests to recount their sexual experiences in order to get to the core of their actions and how it aﬀects them. It is this act of confession, of laying it out there, that shows how uncomfortable Russell is with talking about his own experiences and sexuality. Glen presses Russell on whether he is out of the closet so as to “expose some sexual hypocrisy or self-loathing contempt.”7 Much to Glen and the viewer’s surprise, Russell confirms that he is out to his close friends but keeps much of his life private. In contrast, Glen “revels in transgression” both through the forced confessional aspect of his art project and through the way he interacts with Russell in private and others in public.8 Shortly after he prods Russell into speaking into his tape recorder, shouts of homophobic violence can be heard from outside Russell’s flat. Glen yells at the unseen attacker, threatening that if they do not stop he will “come down there and rape [their] holes.”9 This direct threat of violence in the face of homophobia illustrates the mentality that Glen represents within the film: he is a queer who is not afraid to bash back. A later scene in which Glen invites Russell to a bar confirms his determination to confront a society that he sees as being explicitly homophobic. Glen launches into a story in which he not so subtly describes a hook-up gone wrong, not noticing
Author: Clinton Glenn
Editor: Ashley Ornawka
a nearby patron eavesdropping on the conversation. He confronts the (presumably) heterosexual man who in turn complains that Glen is being too loud. Glen in response notes that the man obviously has a problem with the sexual orientation of the conversation. He challenges those he sees in public, “eagerly provoking homophobic reactions in public so he can strike back at them with arguments memorized from Introduction to Queer Theory.”10 In Glen’s eyes, he sees heterosexuals as constantly shoving their sexuality down everyone’s throats, so it is only fair to do the same. As Brunick notes, his transgressive attitude, while simplistic in its linkage to a larger history of gay liberation and resistance, simply reinforces his belief that heterosexuals act from a position of privilege rather than accepting sexual diﬀerence in others. The juxtaposition of Russell and Glen can be seen as reproducing larger issues within gay political discourses: assimilation versus liberation. Assimilation, as defined by Nikki Sullivan in A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory, represents the desire of individuals “to be accepted into, and to become one with, mainstream culture,” the goal of which being “that tolerance can be achieved by making diﬀerences invisible, or at least secondary, in and through an essentializing, normalizing emphasis on sameness.”11 Liberation, on the other hand, believed “the imperative was to experience homosexuality as something positive in and through the creation of alternative values, beliefs, lifestyles, institutions, communities, and so on.”12 Rather than attempting to fit into a larger heteronormative framework that emphasizes heterosexual couplings to the detriment of all others, this position exemplifies the belief that “it was necessary to revolutionise society in and through the eradication of traditional notions of gender and sexuality and the kinds of institutions that informed them and were informed by them.”13 While these positions themselves were intimately linked to liberationist politics of the post-Stonewall Riots era in the United States, Sullivan’s analysis is still valid in this instance. Russell represents assimilation in his desire to keep his private life to himself, preferring to integrate himself into heteronormative society while not challenging structures of power that position heterosexuality as dominant to other sexual identities. In contrast, Glen can be seen as representing the liberationist aspects of gay politics in which the individual is an agent of change, actively pushing social boundaries in an attempt to reshape the way society treats sexual minorities. Despite these political undertones, the film itself is not a didactic exercise in liberationist politics. Rather, the characters’ back stories, explaining how each character has arrived at their subject positions, are grad-
British Social Realism and Queerness in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) ually revealed throughout the film’s narrative.14 Russell was put up for foster care and thus did not have to go through the experience of coming out to his parents, which Glen notes as a “gay rite of passage.” Glen’s own coming-out resulted in his being shunned by friends and overreacting to his parent’s indiﬀerence. He also pushes himself away from relationships and other men due to a past boyfriend cheating on him. The goal of showing how their own subject positions are intimately linked to their lived experiences was to show why “Russell would love to get married to another man and have a family together, and why Glen wouldn’t want to do that.”15 These characterizations help to explain where the characters come from and their subsequent psychological transformations in the narrative can be seen as logical extensions of their senses of self and burgeoning emotional connection. Despite its explicitly queer context, Weekend is firmly rooted within social realist narrative and aesthetic codes, linking the film to a larger tradition of British cinema speaking from the margins. Social realist cinema within a British context can be defined based on four key characteristics. First, characters are “inextricably linked to place or environment.” Second, the creator of the work has a specific intent. Third, social realism is represented across a variety of mediums, from film to television to literature. Fourth, social realist films “resist resolutions and the future is rarely bright.”16 This genre of film tends to focus on working-class characters, exploring such themes as the “demise of the traditional working class, changing gender roles and questions of identity and belonging.”17 Films produced within a social realist framework have traditionally been seen as films from the margins, often produced on lower budgets, and have relied on, to varying degrees, “[their] otherness from more mainstream film products as a distinguishing feature.”18 Weekend can be seen as playing with social realist codes while not entirely engaging in a direct critique of social conditions that typify other examples in the genre.19 These types of films, on the one hand, operate on what is referred to as a “logic of extension” by which representation is extended to individuals who were typically found in the margins of mainstream cinema; this has traditionally been male, working-class individuals, but it has also extended to women, immigrants, and in a few notable cases, gay men through the 80’s and into the 90’s.20 Despite this extension of representation within the genre, British film theorist Samantha Lay notes that the white, working-class male still remains the privileged position within these films.21 While it may be argued that Russell represents a working-class male (he is a lifeguard), Glen’s role as an artist does not
Author: Clinton Glenn
Editor: Ashley Ornawka
place him within that working-class role. Despite this incongruity with the archetypal social realist character, the film’s emphasis on setting along with its aesthetic innovations are directly related to contemporary forms of social realist film. The image of the tower block is pervasive throughout Weekend, and it acts as the setting for the central conflict between Russell and Glen. Early in the film when Glen responds aggressively to the homophobic shouting outside Russell’s flat, a dichotomy of interiority/exteriority is imposed on the film. The interior space of Russell’s flat is positioned as a safe space, one in which he can be himself, yet “in the street, [he] feels exposed and uneasy.”22 Glen challenges this divide by breaking the wall separating the two spaces as well as challenging the perceived violence and threat in the exterior world while opening the interior to a form of instability. The flat itself can be described as having “a sense of alienation given the height of [Russell’s] floor,” an alienation that is exemplified by both characters.23 This figure of the tower block is a common trope in social realist film, which often stands as a “striking visual [symbol] for alienation,” poverty, marginalization, crime, violence, a “terrain that registers a history of uneven development and the persistence of social and economic inequities.”24 Just who Russell was afraid of as Glen shouted below is never broached, but his discomfort in outwardly expressing his sexuality confirms his fears of (violent) reprisal for being who he is. The tower block itself can also be seen as a “signifier for the marginalized and menacing,” representing a “history of uneven development and the persistence of social and economic inequalities.”25 Russell himself is signified as marginalized in his isolation from his friends and his hook-ups, and his flat itself represents “just how alone one can be, even though surrounded by people.”26 The importance of setting in relation to character development in the film hinges on two scenes of confession: the first involving Glen’s tape recorder, and the second, later in the film, in which Russell reads from a journal he keeps after doing lines of cocaine. The journal itself details all of his sexual escapades, focusing on his own emotional reactions to the encounters. This contrasts with his earlier reluctance to open up to Glen via tape recorder. The act of confession in this situation illustrates his letting go of his own emotional baggage, allowing Glen into his life. This, however, is not without its own complications. The scene cuts to Glen reading aloud from the journal when he notices that certain details of one of Russell’s encounters match his own experience; Russell had slept with Glen’s previous boyfriend. The two acts represent violation in a basic
British Social Realism and Queerness in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) way: Glen violates the psychic space as represented by Russell’s journal, which in turn lays bare the violation that Glen himself suﬀered. The film, in exposing both people as damaged emotionally, reveals who they are and allows them to connect in a larger way through penetration. Setting is key – this scene, along with their initial encounter, reaﬃrms “the eﬀects of environmental factors on the development of character through depictions that emphasise the relationship between location and identity.”27 Their social and spatial location is heavily encoded within the aesthetics of the film, and help to focus the viewer’s understanding of character as intimately linked to place. The aesthetic choices used within Weekend are deliberate in how they frame the narrative. Traditional forms of social realism eschew visual or stylistic innovation, indicating “a distinct preference for content over style.”28 This approach is best exemplified by the films of Loach and Leigh, which attempt to document the grit and grime of working-class life with a lack of innovation in terms of how characters or situations are visually represented. However, contemporary British films working within a social realist mode have shifted from this to a “traditionally close engagement with real issues and towards a wider concern for the way images and sounds can render reality.”29 Films by Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank) and Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar), which can be argued to function within social realist codes, focus more on how the image or character is represented, with social critiques being implied through aesthetic choices. Weekend works much in the same way. While the central narrative to the film is explicitly caught up in a debate between assimilationist and liberationist queer politics, the film chooses to use non-traditional modes of visual representation. For example, the film repeatedly uses long takes with a shallow depth of field, forcing the viewer to focus on a shifting perspective between the foreground and the background. In the scene where Glen confronts what he perceived to be homophobia in the bar, the camera is used to focus first on Glen, telling his story, then shifts to the man in the background who is listening, then back to Russell as he arrives with shots for the group. The long take is also used in conjunction with the window in Russell’s flat as a framing device, one that represents the interior/exterior dichotomy played out within the film. After reading Russell’s journal they proceed to argue about relationships and Russell pushes Glen, noting how he wants one just as much as he does. The film then cuts to Russell in his bathroom, pulling a joint out of
Author: Clinton Glenn
Editor: Ashley Ornawka
his wallet. The camera focuses on his face using a shallow depth of field, forcing the viewer to look at his eyes, acknowledging the hurt and rejection that Russell feels. The film then returns to the flat’s window, represented as a liminal space. Russell oﬀers the joint, his “secret stash,” to Glen as a mea culpa of sorts. The framing of this scene within the space of the window also acts as a way of breaking down the exterior/interior binary that is reinforced in the first half of the film. Also, the joint itself acts as a symbol and represents Russell letting Glen into his life and accepting that he has seen his own vulnerabilities. Russell holds Glen’s hand and while it may not represent the transgressive act that Glen longs for, the fact that it occurs within this framed liminal space between public and private underscores the character transformation both of them are undergoing. Finally, the film cuts to a shot from the outside, both of them illuminated in the window, allowing the viewer to act as a voyeur, seeing into their private sexual space. At an earlier point in the film, Russell notes how he has never been penetrated but does not go into specific reasons as to why that is. This knowledge is repeated in the scene where Russell and Glen go through his journal. The film implies that he does not like anal sex, but never explicitly states it. As the narrative progresses and Russell finally opens up and allows himself to be vulnerable to Glen, he allows Glen to penetrate him. This act of penetration collapses the exterior and interior, allowing Glen to be a part of his life while simultaneously acknowledging that Russell has gotten under Glen’s defenses. This scene illustrates the divide being broken, and shifts into a common theme found within queer cinema: penetration as connection. This symbol of connection links Weekend to other contemporary queer films such as Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004) and Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006). Both Shortbus and Weekend use penetration as a way to illustrate the dropping of emotional boundaries and collapsing of the exterior and interior.30 Penetration in Mysterious Skin is represented not as a way to open oneself emotionally, but as a way to force the character of Neil to revisit his past sexual abuse at the hands of his baseball coach.31 The act of penetration in this case is non-consensual, and serves to “disrobe” Neil, obliterating the fantasies he held with regards to his relationship with his coach. This act of penetration represents the breaking of the internal and the external, forcing a gay male character to “open” up in a way that allows them to come to some sort of greater understanding of himself and to connect with other individuals. In Mysterious Skin, Neil is able to open himself up
British Social Realism and Queerness in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) to Brian, while in Shortbus, James is able to reconnect with his boyfriend. In Weekend, penetration acts to collapse barriers between the interior existence of Russell that he lives out in his flat and the exterior world. Russell finally confides in his best mate Jamie, telling him that Glen is leaving. Jamie pushes Russell, saying they can go to the train station so Russell can say goodbye to Glen. On the station platform Russell and Glen say goodbye. At first their conversation is barely audible, with the background noise obscuring their conversation. As the camera slowly pans inward, their words become clearer. It is implied that Russell has told Glen he loves him, and Glen gets upset, saying, “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” They kiss and a wolf-whistle can be heard in the background. Instead of Glen confronting the unseen person, Russell turns his gaze towards them. The role reversal here is significant. Glen tells Russell to ignore them; but Russell stares them down. This illustrates the final shift in the film: Russell is finally comfortable with himself. Before Glen says goodbye, he passes him an envelope. The train then pulls out and he is gone. There is no happy resolution, reinforcing the social realist mode that “resist[s] resolutions.”32 The final shot returns to the window of Russell’s flat. He is seen removing a tape recorder from the envelope Glen gave him, symbolizing that his confession, one that had initially been procured under the guise of the art project, would remain between them. When looking at Weekend within a larger context, it is important to see how it links to a larger context of British cinema. As illustrated above, it utilizes social realist narrative and aesthetic conventions to tell a story speaking from the margins. However, it is also important to look at how the film can be understood as a visual representation of sexuality. As Robin Griﬃths states in the introduction to British Queer Cinema, a film as a textual document can “[play] a vital role in the formulation and covert articulation of queer identity and desire.”33 This articulation of desire not only reflects how queer subjects see themselves, but also serves as a way for communicating a sense of self to a heteronormative audience. Haigh specifically acknowledges the problems with this sort of approach, noting that the film was meant to touch on universal themes, that gay people “have exactly the same issues as straight people,” but still there is the “worry about being pigeonholed and defined only as a gay film.”34 This perhaps is a larger challenge which films defined as queer or gay face: speak to those who have the lived experience that is captured on film, or attempt to represent universal themes which a broader audience can understand. Paul Brunick’s review of Weekend in Film Comment also notes how the film articulates a specific repre-
Author: Clinton Glenn
Editor: Ashley Ornawka
sentation of queerness that hit close to home, speaking of “[his] own generational experience of being queer.”35 And while it is tempting to look at a film such as Weekend within its fictional context, its reception does directly reflect how viewers identify the characters and the story. While the director did not have any prior knowledge of just how the film would be received, the film itself is important on a number of levels.36 On a most basic level, it represents an articulation of post-millennial queer politics in England as translated through social realist narrative and aesthetic codes. On a more fundamental level, it represents “the human condition” as something that can perhaps be universally understood, rather than precluded simply because of the queer content of the film.37
1 The review aggregator website Rottentomatoes.com gives Weekend a rating of 95%, while Metacritic.com notes a score of 81 out of 100, indicating Critical Acclaim. 2 See: Eric Hynes, “Modern Love, the Real Thing, Over 48 Hours in Weekend,” Village Voice, September 21, 2011. 3 Jonathan Romney, “Weekend,” The Independent, November 6, 2011: n.pag. 4 Robin Griﬃths, British Queer Cinema (London: Routledge, 2006), 4. 5 Ibid. 6 Robin Griﬃths in the introduction to British Queer Cinema expands further upon the problems of using the term “queer” to label a film, but instead suggests that it can be used productively to challenge dominant notions of what is considered normal and “also allows for querying (or queering) of the stability of such notions of ‘normality,’ and the validity of the accepted epistemology of sexuality itself.” See Griﬃths, British Queer Cinema, 4. 7 Paul Brunick, “Reach Out and Touch Someone: Andrew Haigh’s SXSW Triumph,” Film Comment 47, no. 3 (2011): 63. 8 Brunick, “Reach Out and Touch Someone,” 63. 9 Weekend, directed by Andrew Haigh (2011; New York: Criterion Collection, 2012), DVD. 10 Brunick, “Reach Out and Touch Someone,” 63. 11 Nikki Sullivan, A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 23. 12 Ibid., 29. 13 Ibid., 31. 14 Haigh notes that “politics doesn’t exist in a void — it’s shaped by everything that’s happened to you.” See: Thomas Dawson, “Friday Night & Saturday Morning,” Sight & Sound 21, no. 12 (December 2011): 15. 15 Dawson, “Friday Night and Saturday Morning,” 15. 16 Samantha Lay, British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit-grit (London: Wallflower, 2002), 21. 17 Samantha Lay, “Good Intentions, High Hopes And Low Budgets: Contemporary Social Realist Film-Making In Britain,” New Cinemas: Journal Of Contemporary Film 5, no. 3 (2007):238. 18 Ibid., 233. 19 For example, see the films of Mike Leigh (All or Nothing) and Ken Loach (Riﬀ-Raﬀ). 20 A key example is Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette. 21 Lay, British Social Realism, 14–16. 22 Romney, “Weekend.” 23 David Noh, “Weekend,” Film Journal International 114, no. 10 (October 2011): 56. 24 Andrew Burke, “Concrete Universality: Tower Blocks, Architectural Modernism, And Realism In Contemporary British Cinema,” New Cinemas: Journal Of Contemporary
Film 5, no. 3 (2007): 178. 25 Burke, “Concrete Universality,” 177–178. 26 Noh, “Weekend,” 57. 27 Julia Hallam and Margaret Marshment, quoted in Forrest, 33. 28 Lay, British Social Realism, 21. 29 David Forrest, “Better Things (Duane Hopkins, 2008) and New British Realism,” New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film 8, no 1 (2010):41. 30 In Shortbus, the character of James is represented much in the same way as Russell: he shuts himself oﬀ emotionally from those around him. When he allows himself to be penetrated towards the end of the film, the act represents a “[breach] in his own impermeability [...] in a way that is finally felt.” This notion of impermeability is a common theme throughout the film and stands as a metaphor for the way that people close themselves oﬀ to connection with others. To be impermeable is to cut oneself oﬀ from connection, separate from a “larger social goal of forming a community of ‘permeable,’ unafraid beings.” Linda Williams, Screening Sex (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), 286–292. 31 The act itself “represents the turning point in Neil’s life when his childhood innocence is finally shattered and he stops romanticizing his sexual interactions with Coach from a decade earlier.” Kylo-Patrick R. Hart, Images for a Generation Doomed: The Films and Career of Gregg Araki (Lantham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010), 76. 32 Lay, British Social Realism, 21. 33 Griﬃths, British Queer Cinema, 5. 34 The director himself identifies as an out gay man, and therefore could be seen as bearing a sort of responsibility for portraying gay subjectivities from within a queer perspective. David Noh, “It Happened One Weekend,” Film Journal International 114, no. 10 (October 2011): 18. 35 Brunick, “Reach Out and Touch Someone,” 63. 36 Andrew Haigh, the director, notes that he was uncertain whether it would find an audience. He acknowledges in an interview that he believed “it might find a small niche audience on DVD” and was surprised that it found success in the United States. Dawson, “Friday Night and Saturday Morning,” 15. 37 Brunick, “Reach Out and Touch Someone,” 63.
Bibliography Brunick, Paul. “Reach Out and Touch Someone: Andrew Haigh’s SXSW Triumph.” Film Comment 47 no. 3 (May 2011): 62–63Accessed February 13, 2012. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (504542428). Burke, Andrew. “Concrete Universality: Tower Blocks, Architectural Modernism, And Realism In Contemporary British Cinema.” New Cinemas: Journal Of Contemporary Film 5, no. 3 (2007): 177–188. Accessed February 13, 2012. doi: 10.1386/ncin.5.3.177_1. Dawson, Thomas. “Friday Night & Saturday Morning.” Sight & Sound 21, no. 12 (December 2011): 15. Accessed February 13, 2012. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (527587222). Forrest, David. “Better Things (Duane Hopkins, 2008) and New British Realism.” New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film 8, no 1 (2010): 31–43. Accessed February 13, 2012. doi: 10.1386/ncin.8.1.31_1. Griﬃths, Robin. British Queer Cinema. London: Routledge, 2006. Hart, Kylo-Patrick R. Images for a Generation Doomed: The Films and Career of Gregg Araki. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010. Hynes, Eric. “Modern Love, the Real Thing, Over 48 Hours in Weekend.” Village Voice, September 21, 2011. Accessed February 13, 2012. http://www.villagevoice. com/2011–09–21/film/modern-love-the-real-thing-over-48–hours-in-weekend/full/.
Lay, Samantha. “Good Intentions, High Hopes And Low Budgets: Contemporary Social Realist Film-Making In Britain.” New Cinemas: Journal Of Contemporary Film 5, no. 3 (2007): 231–244. Accessed February 13, 2012. doi: 10.1386/ncin.5.3.231_4.
Mysterious Skin. Directed by Gregg Araki. 2004. Philadelphia, PA: TLA Video, 2004. DVD. Accessed February 13, 2012. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), 525904684 Noh, David. “Weekend.” Film Journal International 114, no. 10 (October 2011): 56–57. Accessed February 13, 2012. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (525904706). Romney, Jonathan. “Weekend.” The Independent. November 6, 2011: n.pag. Accessed February 13, 2012. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/ reviews/weekend-andrew-haigh-96–mins18–6257697.html.
Shortbus. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. 2005. eOne Films, 2006. DVD. Sullivan, Nikki. A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
Weekend. Directed by Andrew Haigh. 2011. New York: Criterion Collection, 2012. DVD. Williams, Linda. Screening Sex. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.
Lay, Samantha. British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit-grit. London: Wallflower, 2002. 85
spring BreaKers: THE FANTASY OF FEMININE FREEDOM
Author: Nampande Londe
Editor: Emily Gaudet
According to Netflix, Spring Breakers is a film about “four college girls [who] rob a restaurant to fund their spring break in Florida, [and] get entangled with a weird dude with his own criminal agenda.”1 Whatever the viewer expects about the genre of the film – chick flick or crime film– it can be assumed that most do not expect their experience to mimic a drug trip.2 Harmony Korine, the film’s creator, stresses that he does not intend this film to make the viewer comfortable for too long.3 Its narrative is unreliable and non-chronological, asserting truths about the characters only to de-stabilize them. It follows that for a framework to be useful in analyzing such a film, it should be equally unstable and rejecting of dogma. Gaga feminism, as described by J. Jack Halberstam, encourages the “letting go of many of [the] most basic assumptions about people, bodies, and desires.”4 Its composition of “stutter steps and hiccups”5 mirrors the aesthetic intentionality of the film: visually, Spring Breakers imitates the catchy, fleeting temporality of a pop song.6 Gaga feminism allows for an analysis that simultaneously considers how the film represents gender, race, class, and sexual orientation within the boundaries of socially accepted binaries, as well as the possibilities it envisions beyond them. Most importantly, the use of Gaga feminism permits an examination of the eﬀectiveness and limits of the reversal and exaggeration of identity categories. This approach poses the following questions: does Spring Breakers align with Gaga feminism in imagining revolutionary “what if” worlds awash with possibility?7 Or with the conservative feminism, which Gaga critiques, in which the goals of “white middle-class women” reflect nothing “beyond their race and class interests”?8 This paper will argue that Spring Breakers does not simply reproduce the existing stereotypes of the aforementioned identity categories, although it certainly does that; it reverses and exaggerates the viewers’ expectations for the performance of those identities in order to call into question their stability and desirability as categories. Given the four main characters’ participation in their own objectification, and their wardrobe of bikinis and short shorts, it is easy to read the film as anti-feminist. According to the historical anti-pornography feminist position that classifies all female sexual objectification as violent exploitation,9 Spring Breakers indulges the patriarchal male gaze. Not only are the characters marked as girls by their clothing or lack thereof, they are stylized as post-feminist and self-indulgent in the pursuit of their own happiness.10 They contort their bodies into sexual positions in the hallway of their dormitory, giggling and singing Nelly’s Hot in Here. They grind upon one another, crawling between each other’s legs and slapping one another’s barely-concealed buttocks, as the camera hovers
Spring Breakers: The Fantasy of Feminine Freedom voyeuristically. This distortion of female body parts as ornamental and interchangeable is not new, nor is this form of its visual presentation.11 However, if one is to understand gender not only as performative but as a strategy of cultural survival, one has to question how the characters’ self-representation achieves more than sexual objectification.12 The casting of Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, Disney stars, and other actors of similar reputation is the first act of de-stabilizing the viewer’s acceptance of Faith, Cotti, Brit, and Candy as party girls. The viewer is challenged to simultaneously hold in their imagination the actors’ wholesome branding, as well as the sexual behaviour and violence enacted onscreen. If the viewer expects the girls to be punished for failing to perform nurturing, gentle femininity, as is the conventional consequence for opposing the ‘humanizing’ force of conformity, they are disappointed.13 Unlike the heroines of “fallen women” films, these girls are not punished for their transgressions.14 Although Faith and Cotti grow disillusioned with the trip and return home, Brit and Candy remain in their fantasy and commit murder in the final scenes, armed with machine guns and protected only by string-bikinis and unicorn-embroidered ski masks. Herein lies the strategy of the girls’ performance of hypersexual femininity: their scanty clothing leads others to assume that they are non-threatening. The subversion of the assumption that femininity is no more than sexual objectification is best captured when the girls first visit the home of the ‘weird dude,’ a gangster called Alien. In his bedroom, he flaunts his ill-gotten wealth and the weapons he used to claim it. Candy asks to smell his money, rubbing it sensually on her face and enticing him to kiss her. She picks up a gun with the same sensual curiosity and playfulness. Alien tells her to be careful, a warning she teasingly ignores as Brit also picks up a loaded gun. Suddenly, the tone changes and the girls point the guns at Alien and tell him to “get on [his] motherfucking knees” and open his mouth. They slide the tips of the guns into his mouth, and ask: “You think you can just fuck and own us? Do you know who you’re motherfucking talking to?” They implicitly ask him – and the viewer – whether it is possible that they just used him for his money and guns. They wonder aloud if they need him anymore, or if they should kill him, prompting him to fellate the guns and grab their buttocks as though to take their symbolic penises deeper into his mouth. This explicit reversal of sexual power dynamics undermines the expectation that a woman cannot be a sexualized object and powerful subject at the same time. Does this forceful reversal of power constitute a feminist act? The girls show that they can be as violent as men without dropping the guise of femininity: they demand respect for and from a position of hyper-fem-
Author: Nampande Londe
Editor: Emily Gaudet
ininity and expand femininity to include masculine traits. While this may be only the double-bind of contemporary femininity, what follows deviates further from conventions of sexuality.15 The girls giggle as Alien finishes fellating the guns, and let him embrace and profess his love to them. In no framework other than that of Gaga does the emasculation of a hypermasculine character precede romance. Moreover, the ensuing romance blossoms between not one dominant man and one submissive woman, but three dominant people, indicating a disregard for conservative relationship structures. This highlights the unanswered question of the girls’ sexual identity. Though some may assume they are heterosexual due to their participation in the hetero-normative ritual of spring break, they do not answer Alien’s question about whether they like seeing other girls “all up on each other,” and whether they have sexually experimented together. Brit and Candy blur the lines of friendship and engage in three-way sex with Alien in a pool. What is never made clear is whether this performance only caters to the male gaze, or Brit and Candy feel romantic love for one another (and/or Alien). It is possible that Brit and Candy’s relationship falls on Adrienne Rich’s lesbian continuum, and that whether or not it is sexual in nature, their bond allows them to rebel against male tyranny.16 Their subsequent sexual involvement with Alien, however, calls this into question: if they do not need him, or if they are not attracted to men, then why engage in a sexual relationship with him? Perhaps this relates to what Jane Gaines calls the politically incorrect pleasures of feminist heterosexuality.17 Unlike self-identified feminists, Brit and Candy may not view sex with men as inherently inegalitarian.18 The pool sex scene mentioned above may constitute egalitarian sex, not through an erasure of power structures but the fluidity of who inhabits them.19 Some shots are reminiscent of the pimp-ho dynamic, with both girls catering to Alien’s needs, such as when he reclines against the couch and both girls kiss his chest, or when he holds the back of their heads as they kiss each other. In other shots, one or both of the girls dominate Alien. One shot finds him pressed against Candy’s chest, his head physically subjugated to the girls as Brit caresses his face. Meanwhile, Candy smokes marijuana, an act repeated throughout the film following assertions of dominance. Sometimes Alien’s presence seems irrelevant, as when Brit and Candy grind against one another, ignoring him. Throughout the pool scene, when the camera moves underwater, it is often impossible to tell exactly whose body is doing what to whom. This continuous repudiation of expectations prevents the viewer from determining whether the girls are heterosexual or homosexual.
Spring Breakers: The Fantasy of Feminine Freedom Brit and Candy’s embrace of Alien contrasts with Faith’s rejection of him. When he gets them out of jail – which, he notes, he did not get them into – Faith refuses to trust him. He takes them to a party and she begs the other girls to go home, saying that she does not feel comfortable with these people they do not know. The distinction she makes between these people – black people, with gangster attitudes and lifestyles – and the white people they were partying with before they got arrested, represents the film’s engagement with race. Black crime is portrayed as dangerous, whereas white crime is playful and innocent. Faith knows that her friends committed a violent crime to finance their trip, yet says: “I know you did a bad thing, but I’m glad you did it.” The racial dichotomy is also reflected in Brit, Candy, and Cotti’s crime after Faith’s departure. With guns, they tear through a wedding, straddling partygoers’ heads and smashing the groom’s head into his wedding cake, to Britney Spears’ ballad Everytime. Afterwards they smoke marijuana, grinning down upon three boys tied to a hotel bed. In contrast, the viewer never sees Big Arch or his acolytes smile; they remain menacing harbingers of doom. Alien straddles the binary of white and black. He is present both at the ‘innocent’ parties before the girls are jailed, and afterwards at the ‘dangerous’ hangout. Seeing that Faith is uncomfortable, he strokes her face, and tells her that he does not want her to go. In a traditional narrative, this would be a romantic scene: a wealthy masculine figure liberates a woman and is sensitive to her emotions. Contrarily, it makes Faith feel more threatened, and Alien seems dangerous – or, in the context of the film, black. Although white, he is racialized through his gangster persona, and corresponding celebration of “spectacular consumerism.”20 He also enacts his race verbally, using black vernacular: he says the n-word once, which goes almost unnoticed by the viewer, though it would be jarring if his Disney co-stars did the same. Following their conversation, Faith tells her friends that she knows something bad is going to happen. She is not wrong, but misguided, for Alien is not dangerous but the one in danger. This subversion of Alien’s powerful persona highlights the class diﬀerences between him and the girls. Alien tells them how, coming from a poor background, he participated in illegal activities to acquire wealth and achieve the American Dream. “Look at all my shit!” he repeats as the viewer is shown drugs, baseball caps, and guns and knives. His lack of diﬀerentiation between items like Calvin Klein cologne and blue KoolAid shows that he places importance not on the end, but the means. His
Author: Nampande Londe
Editor: Emily Gaudet
references to Scarface (1985) illustrate that violent acquisition of goods is a performance of his identity and entitlement to power, in rejection of his marginalized origins. Similarly, the girls use violence to access the upperclass ritual of spring break. When Candy calls her mother, she says they met people “just like them,” people also looking to find themselves. This contrasts with Faith’s distinction between white and black people, and suggests that Candy sees across race and class to the underlying desire for identity and truth. However, this egalitarian view is de-stabilized, since the call is voiced over images of Brit and Candy shooting Big Arch and his companions – people “just like them” to death. The girls’ adventure narrative of going into a foreign place of danger, establishing dominance over the bodies within, and returning to safety unscathed, shows that the American dream mirrors the narrative of colonization.21 Alien’s background is where he befriended Big Arch, but he is expected to grow out of poor blackness into white privilege.22 In the same vein, once Brit and Candy murder Big Arch, they tell their mothers that they are going back to school and commit to being good (middle-class) people. Just as bikinis mark the characters as female, violence legitimates their white middle-class privilege over the non-white and the poor. The juxtaposition of shots of Brit and Candy driving an expensive convertible and the brutalized black bodies strewn around Big Arch’s home illustrates how the material and physical costs of capitalism are distributed along class and racial lines. The violence of the film poses the most direct obstacle to its classification as feminist. As discussed, violence allows the girls to challenge gender categories, but this challenge does not constitute a moral justification for murder. Unlike Sugar & Spice (2001), in which the cheerleader protagonist robs a bank to provide for her coming child,23 or Thelma and Louise (1991) who respond to patriarchal sexual violence,24 the girls of Spring Breakers react not to trauma but middle-class boredom. They appear to be, to borrow Korine’s words, “pure pop sociopaths.”25 The closest the film comes to excusing the violence is by construing it as fantasy. Candy repeatedly says, “just pretend like it’s a fucking video game!” While from the girls’ perspective, the fantasy of violence diﬀuses it and makes it less immoral, this renders it more disturbing for the viewer. In this way, the film aligns with Gaga feminism, as it “recognizes the ways in which our ideas of the normal or the acceptable depend completely upon racial and class-based assumptions about the right and the true.”26 Spring Breakers engages with the violence of colonialism, capitalism, and the American Dream the way that Halberstam engages with heterosexuality:
Spring Breakers: The Fantasy of Feminine Freedom they are portrayed as on-going processes of identity formation, and are exaggerated in order to de-naturalize them.27 This exaggeration, however, must not be mistaken for endorsement. Gaga feminism holds that “the excessive training that we give to boys and girls to transform them from anarchic, ungendered blobs into gender automatons, then is (a) dangerous, and (b) not necessary, and (c) not actually consistent with lived reality.”28 Spring Breakers, with its exaggerations and reversals of stereotypes, provides an example of how adherence to these scripts of gender, race, and class depends on causing harm to others. At the same time it portrays genuine aﬀection, humanizing crime without de-criminalizing it. Spring Breakers challenges the viewer to accept both the redemptive and damaging elements of the characters’ behaviour, and does not comfort them with the idea that it might be fantasy. Nor, in the vein of Gaga feminism, does it purport to provide “some kind of clear feminist program for social change.”29 Brit, Candy, Cotti, and Faith use their erotic power, following what feels right to them,30 and prove that “women so empowered are dangerous.”31 They are more than women, more than feminist, more than middle-class, more than white, and more than wrong or right: they are flawed, free humans. Moreover, Brit and Candy’s unsmiling faces as they leave the scene of their final crime indicate that they know that such freedom comes at the high price of racial and class inequality.
Endnotes 1 Spring Breakers,” accessed November 23, 2013, Netflix. 2 “Interview with Harmony Korine (Part 1/2).” Youtube video, 1:30–1:35, posted by “VICE”, accessed November 25, 2013. 3 “Interview with Harmony Korine (Part 2/2).” Youtube video, 0:32–0:35, posted by “VICE”, accessed November 25, 2013. 4 J. Jack Halberstam, Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Queer Action / Queer Ideas) (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2012), 59. 5 Halberstam, Gaga Feminism, 30. 6 Interview with Harmony Korine (Part 2/2).” Youtube video, 0:47–1:00. 7 Halberstam, Gaga Feminism, 48. 8 Ibid., 33. 9 Catharine MacKinnon, “Only Words.” in Feminism and Pornography, ed. Drucilla Cornell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 104. 10 Shelley Budgeon, “The Contradictions of Successful Femininity: Third-Wave Feminism, Postfeminism and ‘New’ Femininities”, in New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity, ed. Rosalind Gill and Christina Scharﬀ (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 281; “Ke$ha – Tik Tok” Youtube video, 3:35, posted by “keshaVEVO”, accessed November 29, 2013. 11 Siegfried Kracauer, Barbara Correll, and Jack Zipes, “The Mass Ornament,” New German Critique 5 (1975), 67; Ibid., 69. 12 Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal 40, no. 4 (1988), 522. Butler’s concept of gender as strategy alludes the potential punitive consequences of gender performance, which can act as motivation for certain performances. 13 Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution,” 522. 14 Lea Jacobs, “The Studio Relations Committee’s Policies and Procedures,” in The wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film, 1928–1942 (University of California Press: 1991), 41. 15 Susan Bordo, “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity: A Feminist Reappropriation of Foucault.” in Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing, ed. Susan R. Bordo and Alison M. Jaggar, (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 174. Where femininity and masculinity have historically been defined in mutual exclusion, the ‘double-bind’ refers to the new pressures placed upon women to simultaneously embody feminine and masculine characteristics. 16 Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” in Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected
Prose, 1979–1985 (New York: Norton, 1986), 51, 63, 74. 17 Jane Gaines, “Feminist Heterosexuality and its Politically Incorrect Pleasures” in Critical Inquiry 21, no. 2 (1995), 386–387. Gaines is referring to the line of thinking, a legacy of second-wave feminism, which posited that heterosexuality is tainted with the inequality and violence of the patriarchy. As such, for a feminist to desire men would be an incorrect practice of the politics of feminism. 18 Gaines, “Feminist Heterosexuality and its Politically Incorrect Pleasures,” 395. 19 Gaines, “Feminist Heterosexuality and its Politically Incorrect Pleasures,” 392. 20 Murali Balaji. “Owning Black Masculinity: The Intersection of Cultural Commodification and Self-Construction in Rap Music Videos.” Communication, Culture & Critique 2, no. 1 (March 2009), 21–38; “RiFF RAFF – DOLCE & GABBANA (Oﬃcial Video)”, YouTube video, 3:24, posted by “JodyHighRoller” November 28, 2013 21 Sherene Razack, “Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George.” in Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, ed. Sherene Razack (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002), 128–129, 136. 22 Spring Breakers, dir. Harmony Korine, Muse Productions: 2012. 23 Sugar & Spice, dir. by Francine McDougall. New Line Cinema: 2001. 24 Elizabeth V. Spelman and Martha Minow. “Outlaw Women: An Essay on Thelma & (and) Louise.” New England Law Review 26 (1991) 1287. 25 “Interview with Harmony Korine (Part 1/2).” 3:15–3:17 26 Halberstam, Gaga Feminism, 58–59. 27 Ibid., 38–39. 28 Ibid.,37. 29 Ibid., 30. 30 Audre Lorde. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Random House Digital, Inc., 2012), 56. 31 Ibid., 55.
Bibliography Berlant, Lauren. “Cruel optimism.” diﬀerences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 17, no. 3 (2006): 20–36. “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Youtube video, 4:09, posted by “BonJoviVEVO”, accessed November 29, 2013. YouTube. http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=lDK9QqIzhwk Balaji, Murali. “Owning Black Masculinity: The Intersection of Cultural Commodification and Self-Construction in Rap Music Videos.” Communication, Culture & Critique 2, no. 1 (March 2009): 21–38. Bordo, Susan R.. “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity: A Feminist Reappropriation of Foucault.” In Gender/body/ knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing, edited by Susan R. Bordo and Alison M. Jaggar, 13–33. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989. Budgeon, Shelley. “The Contradictions of Successful Femininity: Third-Wave Feminism, Postfeminism and ‘New’ Femininities.” In New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity, edited by Rosalind Gill and Christina Scharﬀ, 279–292. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal 40, no. 4 (December 1988, 1988): 519–531.
Halberstam, J. Jack. Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Queer Action / Queer Ideas), 24–63. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2012. “Interview with Harmony Korine (Part 1/2).” Youtube video, 4:44, posted by “VICE”, accessed November 25, 2013. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=dV698VMwBQ4 “Interview with Harmony Korine (Part 2/2).” Youtube video, 4:32, posted by “VICE”, accessed November 25, 2013. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=dV698VMwBQ4 Jacobs, Lea. “The Studio Relations Committee’s Policies and Procedures.” in The wages of sin: Censorship and the fallen woman film, 1928–1942, 27–51. Univ of California Press, 1991. “Ke$ha – Tik Tok” Youtube video, 3:35, posted by “keshaVEVO”, accessed November 29, 2013. YouTube. http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=iP6XpLQM2Cs Kracauer, Siegfried, Barbara Correll, and Jack Zipes. “The mass ornament.” New German Critique 5 (1975): 67–76. Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” In Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 53–59. Random House Digital, Inc., 2012.
Gaines, Jane. “Feminist Heterosexuality and its Politically Incorrect Pleasures.” Critical Inquiry 21, no. 2 (1995): 382–410.
Bibliography Cont’d MacKinnon, Catharine A. “Only Words.” In Feminism and Pornography, edited by Drucilla Cornell, 98–120. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Nestle, Joan. “My Mother Liked to Fuck.” In Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality, edited by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson, 468–470. New York: Monthly Review press, 1983. Sherene Razack, “Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George.” In Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, edited by Sherene Razack, 122–158. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002. Spelman, Elizabeth V., and Martha Minow. “Outlaw Women: An Essay on Thelma & (and) Louise.” New England Law Review 26 (1991): 1281–1296. Spring Breakers, directed by Harmony Korine. Muse Productions: 2012. Sugar & Spice, directed by Francine McDougall. New Line Cinema: 2001. Rich, Adrienne. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” In Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979–1985, 23–75. New York: Norton, 1986. “RiFF RAFF – DOLCE & GABBANA (Oﬃcial Video)”, YouTube video, 3:24, posted by “JodyHighRoller” November 28, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxLScpgbe0
Biographies: Maximillian Button studies at Concordia’s Liberal Arts College where he is writing a thesis on love and subjectivity in James Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey. His main interests revolve around the micro-logical interactions between subjects, the problems of loving and being loved, and the violence this entails. A version of his contribution to the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies: Seaside Self-Exploration in Ulysses, will be presented at the XIV James Joyce Symposium in Utrecht. He hopes eventually to pursue these subjects in a course of masters study. Julie Foster Originally from Toronto, is currently studying as a Major in Playwriting at Concordia University in Montreal. Self-described as a writer and theatre artist, she is passionate about all things art, literature and theatre-related. She also dabbles in the fields of pottery, guitar, and banjo and has an intense love for chocolate and dogs. She hopes her writing will touch readers in a personal way, and often uses absurdity or surrealism to convey her message. Clinton Glenn is a 4th year student at Concordia University, completing a BFA in Art History with a Minor in Sexuality Studies. Their current research focuses on the institutionalization of queer visual culture in art galleries and museums, with a particular focus on gallery spaces in Montreal and Toronto. Other research interests include the social and photographic history of the early German homophile movement, anarchism and camp aesthetics, art-making practices during the HIV/AIDS Pandemic, and queer photographic archives. Glenn has been selected as the recipient of the 2014–2015 Graduate Fellowship and 2015–2016 Faculty of Fine Arts Fellowship at Concordia University and will be pursuing an MA in Art History beginning in September 2014. Gabrielle Lamoureux has a B.A. in Anthropology with her minor in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality from Concordia University. Recently, she has designed a senior seminar course on adolescent sexuality for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. She hopes to continue her work with Deaf communities through more hands-on community outreach and engagement.
Nampande Londe is an undergraduate student currently completing an Honours Individually Structured Program in Gender and Sexuality from a Cultural Studies Perspective. She works part-time, and dedicates what spare time she can to sexual education and mental health initiatives. She firmly believes that higher education is not higher education without space for vigorous academic debate about boy bands in general, and One Direction in particular. Megan Michaud is pursuing a B.A. Honours in Liberal Arts and a Major in Sociology. With great admiration for Klimtâ€™s works, she jumped at the opportunity to discuss his representations of women in her art history course at the Liberal Arts College. Alongside her passion for arts and culture, Megan has a strong interest in social work at both the local and international level. She currently works as Project Coordinator at the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program (CVAP), and will be travelling to Gulu, Northern Uganda this summer to help facilitate projects between Concordia students and local Ugandan organizations. Sean Miller is currently completing a double major in Anthropology and Psychology at Concordia University. Following this, he will be pursuing his Masterâ€™s degree in his foremost interest, political anthropology, at the University of Ottawa. Identifying as a tattooed individual, Sean has also published a piece titled When I Dedicate, I Dedicate: An Ethnographic Account of Iconographic Identity in Stories from Montreal 9, an anthropological and sociological publication from Concordia University. His research was borne out of a desire to explore the two-sex system of biological sex, and how this system remains an established Western notion. Chase Ross is an Honours Sociology student concentrating in trans* studies, gender, masculinity and identity. He plans on continuing his academic career with a Masters in Sociology at Concordia. He is an avid trans* rights activist and likes to spend his time making videos for his 10, 000+ subscribers on his channel uppercaseCHASE1 and cuddling with his two cats (and the multitude of foster cats his partner brings home).
Founder and Editor-in-Chief Daniel Santiago Sáenz is a second-year undergraduate student in the Department of Religion. Pursuing an Honours degree in Religion with a Minor in Art History, Daniel is interested in the queering of religion and art, Christian art, religion and sexuality, the history of Christianity, and critical theory in art and religion. He has published essays in CUJAH (Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History) and the CRSA Academic Journal of Religion. This summer, he will be working on a CUSRA-funded project on Marian devotion in Québec as exemplified in art, architecture, material culture and religious holidays. He will serve as the president of the Concordia Religion Student Association next year and is excited to see how he can bridge the gap between his home Department and other academic units.
Journal Administrator Marnie Guglielmi-Vitullo is currently working towards a BFA at Concordia University’s Department of Art History, while also enrolled in the minor in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality. Marnie produces art in her spare time, and is thus interested in the dynamics of the art world itself. She enjoys studying how the contemporary art world functions, and how meaning is produced within this context. Marnie is also very passionate about the fashion world—specifically gender representation and expression. She believes that fashion and style are crucial elements within the social world, and aspects that should never be overlooked. Marnie is fascinated with the body and how it is used in the contemporary world as a source of data.
Biographies: Simon Beaulieu is a fifth-year student completing a Honours in Western Society and Culture (Liberal Arts College) and a Major in History. He specializes in the political history of late medieval France and England, but also has a broad range of interest and knowledge across many periods, places and subjects. He has previously participated in the Liberal Arts College Student Academic Conference (LACSAC) and has been a research assistant in the field of medieval literature and application of marriage laws. Georgia B. Egan is doing a double major in Creative Writing and Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University. For the past few semesters, Georgia has been assembling a collection of autobiographical writing focusing on her past experiences. As the daughter of artist Frances Egan and former Nils drummer Eloi Bertholet, Georgia’s childhood memories are of being around the creative energy, and creative madness, of many Montreal artists. She is very pleased to get the chance to be a part of the editorial team and to help bring to life Concordia’s first Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality! Patricia Faucher is a third year student in Political Science at Concordia University. Patricia holds a bachelor degree in Psychology from McGill University, and returned to university given her strong interest in public policy, international relations and law. Patricia has worked as Director of Communications for a national non-profit, and as Communications Coordinator for a provincial non-profit in clean energy. She continues to do volunteer research work in public health. Patricia has long had an eccentric collection of interests in: astronomy, child
Associate Editors soldiers, vegetarian/vegan cooking, political strategy, physics, and social justice issues (environment, poverty, health, and law), and as such she is very excited to be the Science Associate Editor for JISS. Carlos Fuentes is a second-year student majoring in both history and creative writing. He’s also working on his first collection of short stories and doing research for a novel. He’s an avid reader with interests ranging from economics and politics, to contemporary art and classical music. Learning new languages is a major passion for him, together with academia and all sorts of literary fiction. Emily Gaudet is working towards a B.A. in English Literature at Concordia University. Throughout her CEGEP education and one year of studies at Mount Allison University, she took courses in art history, women’s studies, and queer theory, all subjects about which she is passionate. Emma Leary is a third-year student in the B.A Honours in Religion program, and this will be her first full year at Concordia, having transferred from University of King’s College in Halifax just last winter semester. Her interest in sexuality really began when she studied at Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific as a teen, and bore witness to many experiences and explorations in sexuality in an international, multi-cultural setting. Her interests include the introduction of Islam and Middle Eastern culture to the “West”, and the exploration of sexuality that often accompanies such a fusion of cultures and ideas. She is incredibly honoured to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this exciting project! 101
Biographies: Ashley Ornawka is currently completing a joint BFA in Art History and Film Studies at Concordia University. She is an Associate Editor for CUJISS (Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality) as well as for CUJAH (Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History). With a strong background in communications, she thrives for a challenge and is passionate about photography, cinema and the performing arts. Adriana Sgambetterra is a third-year undergraduate student currently working on her B.A. Honours in Anthropology, with previous unfinished education in visual and media art taken at UQAM. Thoroughly interested in visual ethnography and writing, she hopes to create stories both in prose and in script based on current and future research. Her research-based interests lie in Middle Eastern youth culture and street politics, the relationship between religion and popular culture in the MENA region, and ethnic minorities/tribes in the region. She continues to maintain an interest in the traditional visual arts at a distance by finding herself engrossed in researching religious art and architecture.
Associate Editors Contâ€™d
Katrina Caruso is in her final year in the BFA Art History and Studio Art, and currently works at the Concordia Student Union as the Vice-President of Student Life. Last year, she was Editor-in-Chief of the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History (CUJAH). Her writing has been published in exhibition catalogues as well as Yiara Magazine. During her time at Concordia, Katrina has developed a profound interest in the study of spatial theory, photographical histories, wunderkammer, and feminist practices. She will be attending Concordia next year to continue her research in the Masters in Art History. Kris Millar is completing her BFA in Art History from Concordia University. Her research interests include: the explorations of identity through experiences of privilege and marginalization and the role of institutions in art viewing. She incorporates feminist, queer and post-colonial theories in her curatorial and art historical practices. Alyssa Tremblay studies journalism and English literature at Concordia University. Her writing has been published in Concordia University Magazine and The Concordian. Graphic Designer Trina Daniel is a graphic designer currently in her third year of the BFA Design program at Concordia University with a strong interest in print as well as motion and hand-rendered typography. As part of her design practice, she hopes to create work that informs and encourages critical reflection upon current social practices, and sedative discourse. To view more of Trinaâ€™s work, please visit trinadaniel.com.
Acknowledgements The Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality would like to thank the following departments and associations for their support. Without your contribution, this journal would not have been possible: Arts and Science Federation of Associations Concordia Student Union Department of Religion Department of Political Science Simone de Beauvoir Institute Department of Art History Department of History Department of English Liberal Arts College Founder and Editor-in-Chief Daniel Santiago SĂĄenz Journal Administrator Marnie Guglielmi-Vitullo Associate Editors Simon Beaulieu Georgia B. Egan Patricia Faucher Carlos Fuentes Emily Gaudet Emma Leary Ashley Ornawka Adriana Sgambetterra Copy Editors Katrina Caruso Kris Millar Alyssa Tremblay Publication and Graphic Design Trina Daniel Printed at Rubiks â€“ rubiks.ca
Parents of Intersex Children and the Quest to Locate a “True Sex” // Sean Miller
The Cases: A Series of Verses Devoted to Sexuality // Julie Foster
The Problem of Inclusion Under the Transgender Umbrella: The Conflicts Between Transsexual vs. Transgender Men // Chase Ross Hard to Hear: Access to Sexuality Resources in Deaf Communities // Gabrielle Lamoureux Seaside ‘Self-exploration’ in Ulysses // Maximillian Button
British Social Realism and Queerness in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) // Clinton Glenn
Spring Breakers: The Fantasy of Feminine Freedom // Nampande Londe
Studies in Sexuality
Ambiguity in Gustav Klimt: An Examination of the Female Subject in Klimt’s Sonja Knips, Danaë and Judith I // Megan Michaud
Volume I: 2013-2014