Queering Narrative

As I am beginning to read Judith Roof’s Come As You Are I am thinking about the Eng reading we did, and some of the discussion we had in class around heteronormativity and homonormativity. Something that stuck with me from last class was our discussion around the narrative that sexual encounters are predicated on the assumption that people are looking for a relationship that leads to marriage/children, and how this leads to the idea that a relationship is considered a failure when those things don’t happen. It seems like Roof’s piece ties into this when it talks about narrative needing an ending to make sense. Roof writes “without the expectation of an ending, we have difficulty discerning a story, its pleasures, terrors, lessons, its making sense of things,” I think that radical queerness that critiques marriage disrupts the expected narrative arc, making the lives of queer people (their ‘pleasures, terrors, ways of making sense of things’) more difficult to be read and controlled by the patriarchy.  I’m also thinking about my own approach to intimacy, and the things that I have been taught to value in my relationships. I am really interested in thinking more about the ways that we talk about and value different kinds of relationships, and the language we use around relationships and intimacy. I think it is useful to think about narrative to do this, and I’m excited to read more of the Roof piece.

Scattered Thoughts

This week’s readings and viewings were somewhat of a challenge for me, mostly because I don’t have a lot of context on narrative theory (or psychoanalysis or queer theory for that matter!), and have never watched the Little Mermaid!  That being said, here are some of my thoughts on Judith Roof’s “Come As You Are” and the two viewings:

  • When I first watched Moonlight, I felt a slight sense of confusion or dissatisfaction at the end, like maybe I had missed something.  After reading Roof’s discussion on endings, I understand my reaction as a response to the narrative I have been constructed to expect: one with a clear, climactic ending, involving sexual climax, death, or a related metaphor.
  • One of the most poignant understandings I gained from Roof’s piece is the role that homosexual and deviant sexual behaviors play in the middle of a narrative, as the heterosexual ending is re-inscribed.   This is an important critique on the way homosexual sexuality, when it is portrayed as such, continued to uphold the necessity of a heterosexual, reproductive end.
  • I felt confused about the connections drawn at the end of Roof’s piece to capitalism.  I understand the commodification of queer identity, but still have questions about the ties to narrative.
  • In relation to “Be Prepared” from the Lion King and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid, Roof’s arguments are really interesting.  Scar lays out a clear end—the deaths of Mufasa and Simba—that will lead to the coming story where he is the King.  We anticipate this ending, even as we know it will not happen.  In “Be Prepared,” Ariel chooses to participate in devious behavior—using the magic of Ursula, a non-normative character in terms of gender portrayal and sexuality—to take her to the inherent end—heterosexual matching and potential reproduction.

All of this made me think about our class, “Queer Narratives”—now that we have begun to unpack what a narrative is, I’m excited to deepen my understanding of how we understand and use the word queer.