Post #10 Quare Theory

Johnson says that if gender (race, class, etc.) are performative as Butler says, then people actually perform them, and we can study those performances. Doing so will force us to recognize that performances are both constrained and enabled by flesh—by the concrete embodiment of the performers. This kind of study—taking account of both the discursive nature of performativity and the fleshy nature of performance—is what Johnson calls quare. Think about your own typical gender, class, and racial performances. How is your behavior or self-presentation limited and enabled by the concrete aspects of your physical embodiment?

Here is an example that I think we talked a little about obliquely two weeks ago in class. I was very nervous about how I should dress for my inauguration day. My anxiety had to do mainly with class performance and to some extent with gender performance. I lack the skills and knowledge to perform “upper-middle class” convincingly, and I feared the situation required me to try.

Are there times when you have anticipated or actually been in a situation where you felt you were at or near the limits of what you could perform (in terms of class, race, gender, etc.)? Where were you? What did it feel like to be there? What did you do? What happened? How might your experience look from the perspective of quare theory?

EPJ web image 1

E. Patrick Johnson

France is, I think, a much more formal country than the US. Gender, race and class expectations are often really strong. I remember one time where I feel really bad during a dinner with people not belonging to the upper class. I felt that my shirt and my pants were not enough fancy for them. No one makes me a comment but I felt their eyes judging me. I felt ashamed of my class. I didn’t fit into the category. I didn’t know their class-codes. I was not confortable in speaking because I didn’t know if my sayings would be judged as legitimated. I feel anger, because there was a lot of stupid people who were saying stupidities about the way the things are. They were compassionate for the poor but they weren’t truly compassionate. I felt really bad and as in a straightjacket. I wanted to breath because this world was awful. Their jokes—often racist or/and homophobic or/and sexist—were not bearable. I remember that all my body was sweating. I was not confortable at all. I remember that I remain silence and that I left the dinner as sonner as possible.

I think that the quare theory is interesting. I was torn: inside me, I performed my class but outside, I performed what I was not, I passed. But I felt into my body, my flesh, that I rejected that situation because it was not me. My identity was like a stigma. It was really not pleasant.

I would not like to add something to this post.


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