Trans-cendental trauma: Public bathrooms as panoptic sites of gender policing, violence, and trauma in trans and gender non-conforming people

What’s in a bathroom? Indeed, who’s in a bathroom? Many politicians, legislators, and members of the general population will tell us that the referential signs on bathroom doors must match the referential signs for gender located in one’s pants. As a result of their gender-nonconforming identities and because of the inherent power structures latent in cisgendered heterosexuality, trans and gender non-conforming people are disproportionately affected by institutional structures and experience interpersonal and collective trauma at rates higher than their cisgender counterparts. This paper will take up how public bathrooms function as panoptic sites that surveil and police trans and gender non-conforming bodies and ultimately act as perpetrators of interpersonal and collective trauma. Continue reading “Trans-cendental trauma: Public bathrooms as panoptic sites of gender policing, violence, and trauma in trans and gender non-conforming people”

Phallic phanaticism: Men’s sexuality and its relationship to the superweapon and security discourse as tools of oppression

Nuclear weapons are plagued by paradox. The most fundamental paradox of nuclear weapons—the paradox from which all others are derived—is that they complete the logic of maintaining national security through force while at the same time leaving the United States more vulnerable than ever before. The superweapon continues to exist since its creation during World War II, and will continue existing forever—after all, the possession of nuclear power is one of the major ways we assess a country’s power, status, and security. Discourse about nuclear weapons is infused with a series of false dichotomies which underpin the primary signifiers of masculine/feminine, favouring masculinity over femininity in almost all respects.1 We obfuscate the language of the military to distract ourselves from the devastation and calamity that armed conflict and warfare actually inflicts. This paper will take up the ways in which the language of the bomb, nuclear warfare, and national security reifies stereotypes of men’s sexuality as dominating and conquering of women across various media, travelling through time from the Cold War era to our current, post–9/11 existence. Continue reading “Phallic phanaticism: Men’s sexuality and its relationship to the superweapon and security discourse as tools of oppression”

  1.  Claire Duncanson and Catherine Eschle, “Gender and the Nuclear Weapons State: A Feminist Critique of the UK Government’s White Paper on Trident,” New Political Science 30, no. 4 (December 1, 2008): 546, doi:10.1080/07393140802518120.

Tomboy prince(ss)?: analyzing Princess Nokia’s 2016 song, “Tomboy”

What do we consider ‘sexy’? How much of this construction of sexiness is innate, and how much is impacted by external, sociocultural factors? In her 1984 article, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” Gayle Rubin identifies six salient ideological formations that comprise the ways that we contemporarily think about sex and ascribe political value—or the lack thereof—to different ways of having sex. In an attempt to relegate sex and sexuality solely to the bedroom, modern ideological viewpoints surrounding sex has instead pulled sex further into public discourse, creating an ‘open secret’ of sorts. As a result, we see sex being alluded to, discussed, and depicted in various forms of mainstream media, including in music videos, a medium which is known to push the boundaries with respect to what we consider to be culturally acceptable. Princess Nokia’s 2016 song and video “Tomboy” subverts normative sexuality by depicting women who look and act ‘like men’ while still identifying, acknowledging, and empowering female sexuality—in stark contrast to the mainstream practice of rendering women like the ones in this video as barren, desolate, and ultimately unsexy. Continue reading “Tomboy prince(ss)?: analyzing Princess Nokia’s 2016 song, “Tomboy””

Virtually queer: the cyborg body and sexuality

What constitutes a body? Feminist, queer, and trans studies have placed notions of gender, sex, and the body under critical review (Salamon 2010, Prosser 1998, and Stryker 2006). The body is essential to the patriarchal conception of our selves, which plays out across all media. The internalization of the social constructs of gender and our biological valuation of the body further complicates our ideas of what it means to identify with the self. The digital–virtual era calls into question even further the degree to which we value our physiological imprints on the world. What, then, does it mean to lose the body? The space that the disposability of the body holds in cyberpunk and postcyberpunk texts opens up discussions about body politics as they relate to gendered sexual intercourse—and cyborg sex. Indeed, when talking about the disposability of the body, it’s necessary to tread lightly into posthumanism and its relationship to cyberpunk (Hayles 1999, Badmington 2003, and Foster 2005). I argue that, while cyberbodies appear to cost us a great deal, there may be a welcome exchange in empowering the marginal being of queer or trans sexuality.

Specifically, I am interested in the way that these ideologies proliferate through film and television, comics, and video games. Potential cultural texts on which I plan to conduct my research include Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 film (and subsequent franchise) Ghost in the Shell, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, and Hiroshi Hamasaki’s 2003 television series Texhnolyze, as they all fall under the rough cyberpunk categorization of ‘high-tech, low-life’. Donna Haraway’s discussions on cyberfeminism (1996 and 1997) and her recent transition into ecofeminist work (2016) also provide the theoretical underpinnings that may help to answer some of my questions. As well, Michel Foucault’s works about sexuality, surveillance, and power can all be applied to these cultural texts (1990, 1995, and his work on the techniques of self), as can Judith Butler’s discussions about gender, performativity, and sex (2004 and 2011). Continue reading “Virtually queer: the cyborg body and sexuality”