Gender lines
By Renee Janiak

Main Point.Edit

 Queer theory attempts to break down the binary thinking on gender, gender stereotypes, and sexuality. Queer theory states that gender is a performance, which either sex can undertake (Butler: 1990). Gender is not biologically inherent, but instead expressed through socially constructed actions of what is feminine and masculine, then those actions are associated to either the female or male sex (Butler: 1990). The “queer theory” term grew in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s (Pickett: 2002). The theory is a post-structuralism response against the idea of what is “normal”. Queer theory challenges heteronormativity and the idea that gender is a part of the identification of the individual self. It is instead based upon the socially constructed nature of sexual acts and identities (Murphy: 2009). Heteronormativity consists of social norms that support heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexuality. Feminism has allowed for topics such as gender, gender roles, and sex to be talked about and questioned in society, which paved the way for queer theory. To be queer means, “fighting about social injustice issues all the time, due to the structure of sexual order that is still deeply embedded in society” (Warner: 1993). Queer people are not assigned into a specific group or category, which would be comparable with any other type of grouping such as “class” or “race” (Warner: 1993). Queer people have made a change with how they identify themselves, they went from “gay” to “queer”. The self- identification change is due to that fact that “queer” represents the struggle of not wanting to fit into the systems of being “normal”. Queer theory has allowed for new political gender identities (Butler: 1990). Queer theory is opening up in a way that feminism did for the understanding of gender and understanding problems that were not gender-specific (Warner: 1993). Ultimately, queer theory allows for gender to become irrelevant to the identification of the individual self. 

Key Figures.Edit

David Halperin, (b.1952)

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, (b.1950), (d. 2009) 

Judith Butler, (b.1956)

Michael Warner, (b.1958)

Teresa de Lauretis (b.1938)

Key Text.Edit

Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge.

de Lauretis, Teresa.Queer Theory : lesbian and gay sexualities.1991.Indiana University Press.

Harperlin, David. 1990. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: and other essays on Greek love. Routledge.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 1990. Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Warner, Michael. Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory. 1993. Univ of Minnesota Pr.


Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge.

Heteronormative. Oxford Dictionaries. Accessed March 2, 2015.

Murphy, Michael D. "Anthropological Theories." The University of Alabama: Department of Anthropology. January 1, 2009. Accessed March 2, 2015.

Pickett,Brent. "Homosexuality". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition). August 6, 2002. Accessed March 2, 2015.

Warner, Michael. 1993. Introduction: Fear of a Queer Planet. U of Minnesota Press.