Utopia and Gender: Short reflection on Queer(ing) Hetero-normativity
‘I think that when the unreal lays claim to reality, or enters into its domain, something other than a simple assimilation into prevailing norms can and does take place.’ (Butler, 2004, p.27)
‘The queer is the taboo-breaker, the monstrous, the uncanny.’ (Castle, 1995, p.383) Raphael, a well travelled and enlightened sailor, is the main protagonist in Thomas Moore’s Utopia. In Raphael’s opinion, Utopia was the only commonwealth which could accurately be called a “commonwealth”,- all citizens there were treated equally and given equal opportunities and possessions: “When no one owns anything, all are rich.” One could only be happy when production was based on the equal participation of everyone regardless of their identity, their status and collectively create harmony of differences where hierarchy, patriarchal dominance and monopolistic “masculinist social construction of gender” are challenged. Gender has always been the crux of all Utopian thinking since dystopias are constructed and framed around the idea of “authoritarian male suppression” of the “ other”.
Normative definitions of gender were first called into question in the 1960s by feminists who contested the subordination of women in a patriarchal society based on structuralist theories; de Beauvoir famously exclaimed: "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman" rejecting gender as a state of nature but rather claiming it to be a cultural construction. Queer theory aims to transform public sensibilities towards the relationship between sex, gender and sexuality in the social context and thereby change our understandings of gender and sexual identities. It deconstructs these hegemonic categories which reduce identities to hetero-normativity - gender roles conformed to cultural norms of all-male/all-female and heterosexuality as the normal sexual orientation - and which in turn keep the patriarchal matrixes of society in...
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