Queer Theory Ks

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Thesis: Queer Theory Kritiks are a relatively commonplace Kritik on the circuit, typically read in a pessimistic fashion (abbreviated as Queerpess or QueerPess), but can similarly be articulated through lenses of futurism or nihilism. The thesis of the Kritik begins with the orientation of civil society towards deviance (those who deviate from its norms); for example, a common thesis-level claim in Queer Pessimism is that civil society's futuristic lens, i.e., protecting the future from a threat, marks justification for repression. A pessimistic interpretation of Queer Theory would argue that, on the basis of this security lens that society possesses, it is irredeemable, and we should thus not engage with society. Futuristic Queer Theory differs in its orientation towards the world. As the name may suggest, it does not openly condemn society as irredeemable, but instead isolates antiqueerness in society and poses the thought that there is a departure from that antiqueerness into a better future. Similarly, nihilism takes pessimism a step further and makes it material, turning order into disorder and calling for an active revolt against civil society.

Though the line between Pessimism and Nihilism can sometimes be obscured, the best way to think of it is that Pessimism is more abstract. Since Pessimism thinks in terms of symbolic value, it thinks more in an abstract interpretation of what queerness/deviance might be and how that might be rejected (baedan typically thinks through this lens, though also takes nihilistic directions). Nihilism is more direct and material, directly declaring war on society and thinking through concrete rejection of society (Eric A. Stanley is a very material thinker and utilizes a more nihilistic lens).

Link: A simple but common link to an Affirmative, for a debater reading Queer Theory, is the Affirmative's engagement within the structures of the state. Regardless of the lens of the authors, Queer Theory is generally less willing to work within the structures of the state (with Pessimism and Nihilism openly refusing to do so), and so use of the state can serve as a link to the criticism. Generally, however, the Kritik rests upon the notion that the Affirmative's rhetoric, representations, actions, or any combination of assumptions made by the Aff are inherently problematic in that they reify difference and retrench oppression.

Impact: The impact depends on the literature base (Queer Theory is quite a broad lit base), but a common author on this Kritik is baedan. baedan makes it quite clear that any violence is justified via reproductive futurism (the thesis of the Kritik, that protecting the future from threats and securing said future is good, which is harmful), which gives a clear impact of total violence. The Aff's mindset, orientation to the world, or actions will reify antiqueerness in debate and possibly the real world.

Alt: There are numerous different forms the alternative within a Queer Theory Kritik can take, which typically stem from the literature base and lens those authors take. For example, authors like Stanley (a nihilist) typically advocate for refusal - refusing the ideas of antiqueerness in debate through rejecting the Aff - as well as broader calls for revolt or similar. Political apostasy is also a common alternative which engages in a rejection of the political sphere.

It is important to note, however, that all of the above explanation is predominantly that of Lee Edelman, who is the prominent author used in debate for Queer Pessimism. He is often seen as a problematic source due to being transphobic and/or racist.

HOWEVER, there are also so many more queer theorists and theories beyond just that of Edelman's, which are important to know about. Below are three of the most commonly read queer theorists and an example of a queer theorist that has not yet been read in debate (but has potential). Note that these explanations are simplified and meant for a beginner audience–it is by no means an extensive explanation.

1. Lee Edelman

Edelman's thesis was described above. Some other good reads in this field of queer pessimism/negativity: baedan's works - available for free online, https://theanarchistlibrary.org/category/author/baedan

Stanley, 2011, "Near Life, Queer Death: Overkill and Ontological Capture."

2. Jasbir K. Puar

Puar, less common than Edelman but still sometimes read, is primarily related to topics regarding terrorism, security, and citizenship. Puar argues that the agenda of LGBTQ+ rights by the West has become a tool of western imperialism. Post-9/11, Western states strategically posit themselves as a “queer-friendly nation” to legitimize and reinforce their own power while weaker, “homophobic states” are seen as in need of a savior. This has especially been applied against Muslim and Arab nations to result in massive violence through surveillance, racial profiling, and intervention. Furthermore, it creates a problematic logic that “the white straights save brown queers from brown straights.” For this reason, gay liberal rights discourses are still tied to the idea of citizenship due to their inherently racialized nature and thus are still problematic. The most commonly read alternative is to “affirm the queer suicide bomber.” Puar is not affirming violence, but rather arguing that we should disrupt the notion of a fixed West and broken rest. Whereas it is easy for the West to explain and justify colonialism (in the name of LGBTQ equality), it is difficult for the West to explain why people have committed suicide because suicide is tied to fear. If they cannot explain or justify certain atrocities in other countries, it becomes difficult for the West to use liberal-LGBTQ discourse as a bargaining chip for their political motives. Furthermore, the suicide bomber is especially powerful because it is invisible–anyone can be a bomber, and it can detonate at any time. By seeing queerness as no longer permanent and constantly shifting–once again–iit becomes difficult for the West to hold onto it as a political bargaining chip.

To read more about this, see: "Terrorist assemblages: homonationalism in queer times"

3. Paul B. Preciado

A prominent author on healthcare topics, Paul B. Preciado analyzes the intersections between gender, sex, pharmaceuticals, and pornography. He uses his experiences as a transgender man to analyze broader systems of capitalism. He argues that we are in a “pharmacopornographic era” due to the commodification of gender and desire. If you look at industries such as pharmaceuticals, pornography, gender-affirming care, etc–all of these are provided by capitalists desiring profit. What’s even more concerning is that these very same capitalists are the ones that make us desire these commodities (ex: advertisements make us feel ugly if we don’t have the latest trend in fashion). In this sense, the new system of capitalism CREATES our subjectivities and defines our identities. People are denied the ability to be themselves/express their gender or desires if they lack the economic resources–in this way, only some people’s gender and identity are validated by society. The most common alternative is some variation of the gendercopyleft movement, which essentially advocates for the intoxication of various hormones beyond capitalist systems. Anyone and everyone can take whatever they want, and as such, it becomes impossible for our identity to be coded by gender norms and capitalism’s limiting constraints. To read more about this, see: “Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic era”

4. Queer Theory Not Yet Read!

Despite debaters reading a select bunch of authors, queer theory as a field beyond debate is so much more diverse. Something particularly fascinating is that there are subfields of queer theory that analyze a specific identity group–such as asexuality, bisexuality, transgender studies, etc. If queer theory is to become more prominent in the future, this could be one avenue for exploration. Below is a sample file (incomplete) of what specific identity-based queer theory could look like: