Guide Feminist Review: Issue 42: Feminist Fictions (Feminist Review Journal)

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Name : Dr. Affiliation : Gatha Cognition. Name : Miss. Affiliation : S. In other words, our critiques of sex and gender polarities often leave those polarities in place. Not surprisingly, perhaps, as queer has increased in influence, its meanings have become widely contested. Queer is the result of contemporary developments in postmodern theorizations and deconstructions of subjectivity and identity.

Indeed, one of the fundamental characteristics of much queer theoretical work is its attention to the range of differences within identificatory "fictions" such as sexual orientation and gender. She writes that "[t]he study of sexuality is not coextensive with the study of gender; correspondingly, antihomophobic inquiry is not coextensive with feminist inquiry. Nor can we know in advance the varied ways in which they might support each other.

Many lesbian-feminist science fiction writers have been at the forefront of queer challenges to the regime of compulsory heterosexuality through both cognitive disruptions and imaginative revisions. This is one way in which the lesbian-separatist utopian writing of the s has been a crucial force in shaping feminist science fiction, in spite of the many and obvious differences among its political projects.

Her characters are faced with the dismal certainty that their lives are about to be radically circumscribed by the return of men to the all-women planet Whileaway—and by their own re-inscription as "half a species" , the feminine half, after centuries of performing "unnaturally" as the entirety of the human race. All good things must come to an end. As she writes in her essay, "One Is Not Born a Woman," "the designated subject lesbian is not a woman, either economically, or politically, or ideologically" Wittig argues that the term "women" denotes a class of subjects circumscribed by the gender binarism of heteronormativity; the lesbian, for her, is that figure whose survival demands "the destruction of heterosexuality as a social system which is based on the oppression of women by men and which provides the doctrine of the difference between the sexes to justify this position" Until such a demolition is effected, however, the logical theoretical move is to remove lesbians from the class of women altogether.

The feminist stories of James Tiptree, Jr. Humanity, mankind The human race" Your Faces Filled of Light! Perhaps this is most dramatically demonstrated in "The Screwfly Solution," a story which literalizes the "war between the sexes" as an alien-inspired holocaust that will end only when there are no more women left alive. In these stories, sex and death are co-extensive. This is most strongly suggested in the title of a story in which there are no human characters at all, "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death" Or get impregnated by him; it works for women too.

Anything different-colored, different nose, ass, anything, man has to fuck it or die trying. Because it works fine as long as the stranger is human" They [alien races] laugh at us. In these stories, human hetero sexuality is both instinct and damnation. Human sexual desire for the "other" results only in pain, as our objects of desire become increasingly, and sometimes literally, alien to us.

Sexuality is the failed attempt to know the irreducibly alien. At once ironically understated and parodically hyperbolic, they provide us with some of the saddest moments in science fiction. Performing Gender. Feminist and queer post-structuralist theories about the performative nature of human being-in-the world suggest some fascinating and useful analytical perspectives through which to consider the construction of the gendered subject.

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As a true Freudian, Riviere suggests that "[t]he conception of womanliness as a mask, behind which man suspects some hidden danger, throws a little light on the enigma" Riviere thus re introduces the notion of femininity as re-presentation. The "feminine" is a role; "genuine womanliness" is always a character-part, constituted in performance. In both Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter , for instance, Butler develops convincing arguments for the nature of sex and gender performances as constitutive of the individual subject involved in such performances.

For Butler, as well as for Sedgwick and others, doing is being. Reading the masquerade in the ironic mode, however, suggests very different conclusions. As Butler explains:.

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Performativity describes this relation of being implicated in that which one opposes, this turning of power against itself to produce alternative modalities of power, to establish a kind of political contestation that is not a "pure" opposition, a "transcendence" of contemporary relations of power, but a difficult labor of forging a future from resources inevitably impure.

Bodies That Matter We see the beginnings of such contestatory gestures in both C.

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I read it as a moment when proto feminist sf begins to turn towards explorations of the performative nature of gender. As such, it helps to establish a ground for the radical destabilizations of gender which we see in the growing body of queer sf writing. Although her career is cut short by the theater fire that destroys her body, Deirdre rises like a phoenix from the ashes, resurrected within the gleaming metallic body designed for her by the scientist Maltzer.

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It is, at the same time, a sophisticated examination of the implications of gender, as well as a meditation, albeit an anxious one, on the nature of gender as performance. The text consistently represents Deirdre within the tensions of anxious oppositions. At various times she is either more human than ever or increasingly inhuman; more beautiful than ever or increasingly grotesque; more in touch with her audiences than ever, or more and more withdrawn from humanity. Is she still the woman so loved by her millions of fans or, having lost the physical body which previously defined her, is she merely the metal housing for a brain completely devoid of both gender and sexuality?

Deirdre herself eventually calls attention to her increasing detachment from the rest of humanity, her sense of growing isolation from flesh-and-blood bodies, her new and singular identity as "[a] sort of mutation halfway between flesh and metal" Deirdre is monstrous not because she is ugly, but precisely because her gleaming metallic body is so—inhumanly—beautiful. She is monstrous not because she has ceased to be feminine, but precisely because her performance of femininity is so—calculatedly—convincing: "She threw her head back and let her body sway and her shoulders shake, and the laughter, like the music, filled the theater And she was a woman now.

Humanity had dropped over her like a tangible garment" It is worth remembering that the "original" Deirdre was already a consummate performer. As such, she represented femininity as spectacle and was the object of desire for millions of adoring fans. Consequently, we share with Maltzer and Harris the sense that she is both less and more than woman, both less and more than human. The cyborg which Deirdre has become rearticulates the concept of gender, turning it into something—similar to the performances of drag queens or the feminine mimesis ironically theorized by Irigaray—that is both excessive and disturbing.

Gender is now disassociated from the "natural" body, and the gap between body and performance has become too great to ignore. Significantly, this is a performance that works, that effects realness, to the extent that it cannot be read For a performance to work On the contrary, when what appears and how it is "read" diverge, the artifice of the performance can be read as artifice; the ideal splits off from its appropriation. Is Deirdre trapped inside the system of gender representation as her image used literally to be trapped within electronic image systems?

Or is she "playing with mimesis" for Meltzer and Harris and her new audiences, ironically performing the feminine while, in fact, "remaining elsewhere," as Irigaray so intriguingly suggests? The cyborg in this story thus becomes more than a metaphor; it becomes a character in an sf universe in which the technological imagination can begin to explore the ramifications of what theory tells us about ourselves as bodies—as gendered bodies, sexually-defined bodies. As has been frequently pointed out, the techno-body reiterates itself through replication, not through reproduction, and it does not require the heterosexual matrix as the space within which to duplicate itself.

Given the emphasis in theories of performativity on reiteration and citation, the techno-body as replicated body points us towards the utopian space of queer excess. Perhaps all techno-bodies are, at least potentially, queer bodies.