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After Halberstam: Subversion, female masculinity and the subject of heterosexuality

Deasey, S 2010, After Halberstam: Subversion, female masculinity and the subject of heterosexuality , PhD thesis, Salford : University of Salford.

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    Abstract

    Because female masculinity seems to be at its most threatening when coupled with lesbian desire, [...]! concentrate on queer female masculinity almost to the exclusion of heterosexual female masculinity. I have no doubt that heterosexual female masculinity menaces gender conformity in its own way, but all too often it represents an acceptable degree of female masculinity as compared to the excessive masculinity of the dyke. Judith Halberstam: Female Masculinity. Heterosexuality has been, and continues to be, a controversial subject in feminist analyses surrounding discussions of penetrative sex, marriage, sexual violence, rape, pornography, domestic labour and representation. Although the 1990s and 2000s have witnessed the proliferation of debates and theorisations of heterosexuality in which it is interrogated and dissected, it is no longer simply condemned and dismissed as it was by early radical feminism. For early radical feminists, 'heterosexuality was the enemy to be struggled against. Its destruction was a prerequisite for the feminist revolution. Heterosexuality had to go. None of it was retrievable for feminist purposes' (Thompson in Wilkinson & Kitzinger, 1993: 171). Nevertheless, there are traces of such thought in current theorisations of gender and sexuality. Heterosexuality has not fully shaken its legacy, and is rarely regarded as a source for celebration and subversion, and/or as exemplary for feminist politics. In this thesis, I look to the work of Lynne Segal, Stevi Jackson and Wendy Hollway who have contested and problematised radical feminist theorisations of heterosexuality. There is an emergent desire and call for more celebratory theorisations of heterosexuality whilst simultaneously there is an ongoing theoretical scepticism in the emergent queer literature. However, in the 1990s, queer theory paradoxically began to engage with the subversive potentials of heterosexuality precisely within the auspices of queer critique, which raised questions on established models of radicalism. Just as Hollway, Segal and Jackson theorised a feminist heterosexuality, ramifications were tangible in queer theory as Calvin Thomas and Segal mobilised a body of work which attempted to theorise subversive heterosexuality amidst the unproblematised celebration of non-heterosexualities. It is my intent to conduct this thesis by tracing this simultaneous celebration of nonheterosexualities and foreclosure of heterosexuality through the work of contemporary queer theory, focussing on the work of Judith 'Jack' Halberstam, author of the magnificent Female Masculinity (1998). The project intervenes in wider debates and theoretical developments that seemingly hinder radical readings of heterosexual identities, and addresses the theoretical discourses of transgression, butchness, queerness and the phallic. Can these tropes be reworked so heterosexuality can be reconfigured into a sexuality that is tolerated or even viewed as subversive by theorists, or is heterosexuality doomed to be always theoretically derided? Film: Calamity Jane (1953), Aliens (1986), Johnny Guitar( 1954) and Kill Bill Vol. I & Vol. II (2003 & 2004)

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Contributors: Kilby, J(Supervisor)
    Additional Information:
    Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Institutional Repository
    Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2012 14:34
    Last Modified: 17 Feb 2014 14:00
    URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/26636

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