I never feel more masculine and heterosexual than when reading about feminism and queer theory. I don’t say that to brag (because what kind of thing is that to brag about? and how seriously can you take someone who’s bragging about being masculine on his blog while baking vegan banana bread in the background anyway?) even though it may come off that way. What I mean is just that I don’t find any sympathy in myself for what people write about under those headings.
The final assignment in one of my philosophy class asks me if feminism is dead, so naturally I go look up some papers on the topic and start reading. Feminism is something that a lot of people have concerned themselves with quite a bit for decades, yet nothing in any of the papers I looked through was in the least bit interesting. There were no poignant philosophical debates. No ethical dilemma to ponder. No greater meaning to comprehend. Sure, sexism is bad, but does that necessitate an entire philosophical framework to believe?
At many points it bordered on what I have heard termed “queer theory”, by talking about social constructions of gender, etc. From my earlier post on hetero-normativity, it’s probably pretty clear that I don’t have much sympathy for these questions either. It’s not that they don’t deserve to be answered, it’s just that the answers aren’t very interesting.
Yet reading these articles make me feel not only that a prerequisite to being feminine or queer (neither of which describes me) is to believe that these issues are, in fact, issues at all, but that if I don’t think these things are important then I must be misogynist and homophobic (queerphobic?). I’m inclined to think that the South Park quote on that same earlier post applies to these topics as well. Regardless, I find it disturbing to think that in order to identify with, say, the queer community, I must identify their causes with my own, even when they border on being militant phobias in their own right.
I’m sure in most cases it isn’t as antagonistic as that. It’s quite likely that the vast majority of people who write about feminism or queer theory, certainly in academia at least, do so because they are interested in these topics. It is the same reason that I would tend to write about religion and cosmology and study astronomy, even though I’m certain many people out there don’t care about the particular features of the big bang might be. The difference is that to be an astronomer you must learn about astronomy, but you need not learn about feminism to be female.
In the end I’m faced with the same dilemma of writing about feminism in a moral context where I believe that it not only has nothing to do with morality but also nothing to do with philosophy at all. At best it is mere cultural studies, as is queer theory. Attempts to define either of them and give them some context are lost on me. I can only hope it’s more for the same reasons Stan and his friends didn’t find the South Park flag racist than the alternative.