“As queer theory begins questioning the institution of marriage, single-partnered romantic relationships, family structure, and reproductive sex, let us still make room for conscious consent.”
A crisis is what it takes to re-inscribe gender onto ourselves (cf Butler). Whether it is the one fine morning I look into the mirror and realize that my hair, when left untied, fucks with my tried masculine presentation, or the time when I decide to take off the black dress I was wearing just to go to the dining hall for a bagel, it takes that moment of risque uncertainty, that gender can partake in surrealism (over and on the real) as re-inscription. But at both these times, I decided that a normative gender should re-inscribe itself unto me. I tie up my hair. I take off the dress. But a crisis can not only fuck gender, it fucks with your methodology – your way of thought. It leaves it dangling precariously and in danger of crashing to the floor. And when it shatters onto the ground, you kneel to pick up the broken pieces.
I want to examine the moment between its precarious dangling and the moment of shattering on the ground. The moment where height is translated into speed towards the inevitability of a disorder. Coming off a praxis where the body takes central stage in the studies of gender and sexuality, I am always left confronting my own naked body, in all its erotic and insecure dimensions. Whose bodies can we talk about? Through whose bodies can we talk about other bodies? How far out should I distend my body and embodiment to look at the multiplicities of Other bodies, bodies that stand on the crossroads of multiple variables? In other words, can I embody Other bodies without consent? And what does consent mean and how do I get it?
Bringing it back to the bodily, my crisis begins where people in groups share a sexual act. Speaking of the particularity of the bodies, where can we place these bodies to set the scene? Friends, each with partners who are not present. In a profuse overflow of spontaneous lust, they begin groping and exchanging saliva, beating the mixture of saliva and dinner’s grease with the tongue. Smells. Limbs here, there. And then they stop. It was all play. A play in desire, a play of pleasure. And through this sharing of an intimate experience, the boundaries between the bodies are blurred, rendered ambiguous, liminal and full of potential for queering. And as this project takes form, a relieved sigh, shared secrets and skins, they go home. The project is for now stalled, and the partners and their bodies were not told of their shared project within that liminality. Partners on the margins, the liminal becomes the conspired center of shared sensuality.
This is where methodology gives in and falls into the threshold of gravity’s pull. The thin thread breaks and it falls to the ground. What was once praxis for a theory of the body from the margins, a theory of the embodied in all its crummy sexual and gendered nakedness, is about to shatter onto the ground. Without consent, gender and sexuality theory becomes another branch of the hegemonic heteropatriarchy it seeks to disable. Bodies are snatched, abandoned without consent. There are now bodies that kiss and caress in a room and bodies that are exlcuded beyond.
Nakedness. This is my crisis of queer methodology at stake: in a body of knowledge and practice that puts the sensual, the sexual, and the sensuous as its departing point for activism and critique, I worry that we leave behind non-consenting bodies. Sex is all good and merry as an act of inclusion, a spiritual and bodily exchange across boundaries. Notwithstanding that desires are specific to particular bodies, the fucking that excludes without consent endangers praxis. Not only are bodies not given the space to be informed and included, but that these bodies are silenced and not allowed to signify. Fucking can be a source of political activism only if it is without the enforced boundaries of exclusion and with the reciprocity of enthusiastic consent.
Or it will only shatter on the floor so that we can begin blaming conservative values, morality, and judgementalism for it all. But it has yet to fall. We are in a crisis. What should we re-inscribe? And how?