Queer Theory 101

What Is Queer Theory?

The ideas of trans-ideology are based on Queer Theory.  If you are wondering “what the heck is Queer Theory?” this page gives you a brief introduction.  Queer Theory is a branch of Postmodernism, so to understand Queer Theory it helps to understand what is Postmodernism (sometimes referred to as Post-Structuralism).

Postmodernism is the leading philosophic movement of the late twentieth century and rose to intellectual prominence in the 1990’s.  Postmodernism replaced Modernism – the philosophy of the Enlightenment and it’s core values of Objective Reality, Reason and Individualism, replacing them with its own precepts of Relative Feeling, Social Construction and Groupism.  These have spread to cultural institutions such as education, journalism and the law, and manifested as race and gender politics, advocacy journalism, political correctness, multiculturalism and the rejection of science and technology.

Postmodernism is sceptical of objective truth and claims that reality is not mirrored in human understanding, but rather constructed as individuals find their own subjective reality.  Postmodernists believe that realities are subject to change, and that apparent realities are social constructs which are limiting.  Postmodernism favours relativism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand narratives.  There is no truth.  Everything is relative.

QUEER THEORY is a branch of Postmodernism and swept through universities in the 1990’s.  Queer theory problematizes what is called “the binary opposition,” eg: Man/woman. Queer Theory argues that binary oppositions are inherently hierarchical, in that one term is privileged over the other as the primary, and the other term is merely its deviant.  For instance, “man” is the default normal and its opposite (woman) is subordinate.  Queer theory argues that we need to deconstruct all of these social binary oppositions, (ie: man versus woman, heterosexual versus homosexual, natural versus artificial, nature versus culture).  This is done through the strategy of Queering, which is a sort of conceptual and categorical border transgression, in which each category becomes essentially meaningless and not distinct from the other.  For example, if the category “man” is redefined as not being a male person, but whoever feels like man, then we have queered that category and it is no longer distinct from “woman.”  Oppression is not seen as arising from material relations of power, but instead from the labelling of these relations in a binary fashion, from putting people into these categories and policing the boundaries of who can be in these categories – who can be considered a “real man or woman”.  Queer theory idealizes individual performances of the self that exceed these binaries.

Queer theory asserts the theory of performativity – “woman” is not just a female person, but it is a performance. There is no such thing as real women, as “woman” is not a material, stable state but rather a kind of repeatable social performance.  A drag queen, a trans woman and a traditional housewife are all performing the ‘gender’ of woman, and no single kind of performance is more authentic than any other.  Thus, ‘woman’ is really just a parody performance without any origins in material reality.  So women are all just performing this idea of femininity and there is no such thing as real womanhood –  there is no femaleness underneath femininity. Queer theory focuses on subverting the distinction between sex and gender.

AUDIO: Derrick Jensen interviews Susan Cox on Resistance Radio

Originally feminist theory said there is sex, there are males and females, and then there is all this other stuff which is gender (ie: all the stereotypes such as women are caring, illogical and emotional while men are assertive, logical, leaders).  For instance, feminist theory said that little girls should not be forced into “femininity” by being prevented from playing with trucks, and instead being forced to play with dolls – that is forcing her into the structure of femininity.  If she wants to play with dolls, that’s fine, but if she wants to play with trucks that’s fine too.  The queer theory perspective is that the little girl who likes to play with trucks is not a girl at all, basically.  The little girl who plays with trucks IS A BOY.  The little boy who plays with dolls IS A GIRL.

Queer theory argues that you cannot just refuse or strengthen one end of the binary opposition.  A woman cannot just say “I am a female, but I do not ascribe to femininity, I do not do femininity, I like things which are traditionally relegated to the realm of men.” Queer theory says no, males and females are just as fictitious as the gender categories of what is feminine and masculine.  This has been really harmful for asserting any sort of positive feminist image of the woman who flouts femininity but is still a woman nonetheless.  As a result, many young women today who are not comfortable with femininity are identifying as men and going down the path of medical transition.  If they reject feminine stereotypes and instead prefer traditionally male pursuits, they have been led to understand this means they are men.

It is also the reason that trans-ideology pushes the idea that “transwomen are women”.  Queer theory does not allow for men who “feel feminine” and/or who like stereotypically feminine things to say, “I like to wear women’s clothing and make-up, and I’m still every bit a man.”  Queer theory says that the man who puts on women’s clothing, wig, make-up and heels literally BECOMES a woman, for it is the performance of femininity that defines a woman.

The Professor of Parody – by Martha C. Nussbaum

One particular postmodern philosopher, Judith Butler, challenges the distinction between sex and gender.  Butler’s 1990 publication called “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity” became the foundational text of Queer Theory.  Butler argues that binaries of sex/gender and therefore male/female are language constructs which are oppressive.  According to Butler, there is no material, non-social or immutable character to sex – sex is not a biological fact but is a social construction.  Butler essentially argues that there are no material facts before language.  Linguistic categories, including scientific and biological ones, are not a means of describing existing divisions in the world, but are a means of creating things that otherwise would not have existed.  According to Butler, this applies to the categories of male and female – they are arbitrary and artificial, and do not reflect any prior material division.  This is like saying that fish did not exist before humans created the the word “fish” – a preposterous idea, for we all know that fish existed on the earth billions of years before the human race was even a twinkle in evolution’s eye.  So it is with sex.  Dimorphic biological sex for the purpose of reproduction existed in mammals long before humans even emerged as a species, when early proto-humans came down from the trees, stood up and walked on two legs – certainly long before humans evolved to the point of creating language to describe themselves.  The notion that language creates reality is a kind of magical thinking.  Unfortunately, this Queer Theory magical thinking has taken hold and manifests as the struggle over language and denial of reality we are experiencing today.

This is why trans-activists try so hard to control language – they strenuously object when anyone uses terms like “biological woman” or “female” or “biologically female”, for they reinforce the objective reality of biology.  Trans-activists view this as “exclusionary” and therefore hate speech.  Yes, you read that correctly – the word “female” is viewed as hate speech.

Finally, Queer Theory highly values transgressing norms, not just some norms but ALL norms – even those that are worth keeping such as prohibitions against pedophilia.  This is an inconvenient and embarrassing fact that many try to ignore or suppress.  Watch Derrick Jensen’s controversial talk at the Eugene Public Library in Oregon, USA  (video below) and see how he gets shouted down by young students who are outraged when he talks about Queer theory’s defence of pedophilia.  In Graham Linehan’s interview of Heather Brunskell-Evans, she confirms and expands on it further (Foucault & Butler for Grown-ups).