Queer/Race

Outrageousness as Responsibility?

Posted in Uncategorized by Keguro on February 25, 2010

Following our discussion on the relation between responsibility and pleasure, specifically that the two are often thought to be developmental stages and, to some extent, mutually exclusive (for instance, Freud argues that babies are narcissists while heterosexual adults have learned altruism), I am wondering about what feels like a responsibility to be outrageous. Perhaps another way to phrase it, not as an alternative, but as a think-along-with might be the responsibility to perform a particular kind of queerness (or something designated AS queerness).

While this “responsibility” shares something with the tokenism broached by AJ and suggested, albeit implicitly, by Connor, I am interested (or troubled) by how it functions to contain what might be radical, or perhaps a better word is rude or impolitic about a kind of queer presence, a queer embodidness. Here, the “image” of the queer as somehow “image”–well-dressed, fabulous, interesting, the “men” who “never age like other men”–serves hetero-masculinities and is, in some fundamental way, contained.

Might it be possible, then, to take Delaney as a point of departure to think of practices of pleasure and pleasantness, the “nice” and the “fun,” that are deeply crucial to queer survival? And I raise the specter, the ever-present specter, of survival because it seems so absent from the pleasure side of the pleasure-responsibility divide.

This is not to say that queerness, or certain versions of queerness, should not serve hetero-masculinities, but that such service should neither truncate certain queer versions and visions of pleasure and pleasantness, nor should it abstain from critiquing those forms of hetero-masculinities. (And the debate on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell raises really interesting points in the kinds of masculinities it seeks to protect and promote.)

More broadly, I am interested in the social function of pleasure and pleasantness. I have in mind a scene from Modern Family in which intimate pleasure is divorced from familial responsibility, in which to enjoy pleasure is to take a “vacation” from certain kinds of hetero-responsibilities. What might this vision of hetero-responsibilities truncate or otherwise make invisible? Might there be a way that Delaney’s advocacy of pleasantness and pleasure might help us to have a more holistic view of hetero-responsibilities (what might be called heterosexual adulthood)?

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