April 7th, 2002

you think you know...

more on expectations, and connections

1) In 4 to 5 typewritten, double spaced pages in font no smaller than this, write a paper that examines what the concept "queer" is understood to be by at least three of our speakers. Some of the questions you might examine are: How has each employed a specifically queer criticism to enlighten their topic? What element(s) of their lecture/topic have been advanced by a specifically queer critique? What does a queer critique allow the speaker/author to do that would not have been possible by other methods or approaches?

Finally, what is the goal of a queer critique as you understand it? In other words, how do you understand "queer"? Which of the speakers you have heard comes closest to articulating your vision of what a queer critique should be?

Um, this is only Introduction to Queer Studies. Because of this class, i’m developing a summer reading list so i can learn more about queer theory and why it doesn’t work for me, but for now i don’t really know what it is. (And of course part of the problem is that part of the essence of “queer” is defying categorization.) (This is also interesting.)

Layna’s friends Becky and Kim are visiting this weekend. I hung out with them for a while yesterday. Becky was talking about life after Smith and mentioned something I have already noticed since I go home frequently. At Smith, she was considered very much center, but in the mainstream, without having actually changed her politics at all, she’s seen as very left. She audited the 2-credit version of Queer Studies, and felt like she totally didn’t belong there, like if she ever actually said what she really though about anything, she’d be lynched. (“But we are just like everybody else.”) I totally understood, and i’m in the 4-credit version, which includes a discussion section, so it’s worse. Generally i don’t say anything because everyone in the class knows so much more than i do and i’m totally out of my league, but also because i’m so not “queer.” I embraced Lauren Martin’s definition of it, because it really fit my sexual identity, but the more i learn about the politics, the less they fit for me.

A friend of a friend wrote a great post on how things are referred to as being just a phase as if that were a bad thing, as if that makes them less valid. Just because something may change later doesn’t make it any less valid for now.

James is Catholic. Unbeknownst to him, forty years from now, he will marry a Jewish woman and convert. Therefore, he's not truly Catholic.

That’s one reason why i embraced Lauren Martin’s definition of “queer,” because it allows for fluidity and change. None of the categories work for me right now, anyway. Let’s see, mostly asexual, recent crushes have been on males, totally into slash fanfic... yeah, “queer” works quite well.

A friend of mine is totally fulfilling the stereotype of gay men having “like 800 boyfriends a year” (his words). This bothers me, but at the same time there’s something to be said for Nicole’s method of just enjoying dating instead of getting all intense and forever-y. Partly i’m just amused that in New Hampshire he can find a bajillion boyfriends and here at Smith i haven’t found any women i want to date. I said i’m all high standard-y, like i don’t wanna date someone i couldn’t see myself marrying down the road, and he made a joke about most lesbian relationships being based on renting a U-Haul. It took me a few minutes to get it because i’m at Smith where Nicole jokes that “monogamy” (and “heterosexual”) doesn’t exist. I think that’s what bothered me most about the conversation. Different attitudes toward dating, fine, but this blatant buying into stereotypes, especially from someone who’s otherwise very cool and activist and race/sex/class aware.

Buffy: I mean, look at me obsessing about being with someone. It's like... I don't need a guy right now. I need me. I need to get comfortable being alone with Buffy.
Xander: Well, I'll say this, she's a pretty cool person to be alone with.
-from “I Was Made to Love You” (BtVS 5.15)

Not really related, my dad e-mailed this to me with the subject line “Silly, but entertaining.” And it is quite entertaining. I particularly like the bits on Baked Alaska and on food that “passes.”

Sheesh, this could have been titled “the queer post” or something. I hadn’t actually meant for everything to connect quite so much. I’ll have to rant about something else next time.
you think you know...

and the connections just keep on coming...

My dad sent me a link to an article about "The farcical Middle East peace process." (I agree with my dad that it has a serious tone problem; "it reads like preparation for a debate" not a farce in which "you come to the end screaming, 'How can anyone in the real world take this seriously?' ")

Anyway, i start reading. Partway through, i see the "Our Top Stories" inset. It includes "The Fans Who Help Write Buffy." No article can hold my interest enough to pull me from that. Obviously a lot of it resonated with me even though i’m a spoiler virgin. The part that hit me was:

Reading an edited-out line in the shooting script—such as Buffy character Tara's recent cut statement, "I'm a fag, sweetie"—can offer a level of insight into the writer's original intentions, much like scanning an original manuscript for the editor's hatch marks.

So of course i had to do a web search, find out where that was cut from. It was cut from the end scene of "Dead Things" (written by Steven S. DeKnight). (Interested parties can check out the shooting script and transcript.)

BUFFY: You don't know how hard it is. Lying to everyone you love about who you're sleeping with.
TARA (smiling kindly): Sweetie, I'm a fag. I been there.

Interestingly, just yesterday in a conversation with someone i was trying to think of a quote (the “alone with Buffy” quote from the last post) and in my websearching that day i ended up at the shooting script and found a part of the exchange between Buffy and Xander which had been cut from the episode. (I checked the transcript to be sure.) Certainly extraneous, but interesting nonetheless. It’s extra-interesting because just recently Sharon and i had been talking about my Buffy obsession and whether i should add the script books to my wishlist. She said usually when lines get cut the same point or joke or whatever is accomplished with a look or something, and basically, when stuff gets cut, it’s usually for a reason. (She was more articulate.) I would certainly agree in this case. “Fag” seems very out of character for Tara, even given how much stronger she has become since we first met her a couple seasons ago. Plus, when Tara says “I won't tell anyone. I wouldn't do that,” i think most of us made the connection to Tara’s own secretive past. It’s a great little joke, but i’m glad they left it out. The scene was very emotional, and i think it would have jarred the audience too much to hear Tara say “fag.” Not because of issues of PCness or discomfort with the word or anything like that (although those would be factors, too) but because it seems jarringly out of character. One of the things i mentioned to Sharon is that when i used to have time to read Buffy e-lists people often posted scenes or lines which had been cut, so i had them in my head anyway. This is making me wanna be obsessed again and start reading the shooting scripts once new episodes start again.