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ArticlesThe absurd is everywhere: Gender Theory, Sexuality and Existence...

The absurd is everywhere: Gender Theory, Sexuality and Existence – Gopi Shankar, Madurai


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Gender theory refers to contemporary investigations of what it means to “have” or “act” a particular gender. As described above, there is no fast and ready theoretical rubric for what constitutes gender itself. In fact, in recent years the entire conception of gender has been dissected for various reasons. With the rise of Western feminism, or more specifically feminist uprisings in the United States, there have been questions about the roles of men and women. These quests into what it means to be a woman or man led inevitably to what the words “man” and “woman” mean. Of course this is not an entirely Western or US America project of the 1960s sexual revolution; this type of questioning from Betty Friedan’s ‘The Feminine Mystique’ in the US to Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘The Second Sex’ in France came with long time correlates from a variety of cultures. As the West shook during the 1960s, waves of lost ways of being and new interests in Eastern, Native American and multicultural practices opened up even more spaces for identity creation.

The effects of sexual and gender revolutions in the 20th century are still being felt as we – that is genderqueer theorists – begin to take up the confusing work of identity promulgations. As diffuse realities break up into even more nebulous circuit boards of cybernetic and capitalist choice, the neoliberal ideology of the self-made self melts into the abyss of its own creation. Economically gender is a category that imbues various matrices of power with asymmetry. The feminization of poverty raises questions about whom and what determines wages, health care, basic services like sewage maintenance and street cleaning. Although the category of “woman” exists as a stable, recognizable and generally agreed identity, it is not entirely connected to femininity or feminization. As the proliferation of identities under patriarchy grow many genderqueer individuals self-identify and/or are labeled as feminine. The consequences of this identification are both economic and sexual.

When a subject, or simply a person, interacts with the symbolic order of the other(s) they take on certain aspects of it. Desiring subjects, who include most Homosapiens, are driven to be in place that they are not. There is a constant need to be outside oneself, yet secure within oneself, why? Because of various factors that include our perception of choice, agency and activity engaging with structural paradigms that limit the spectrum of the acceptable. What is proposed is an opening of structural paradigms, but not just any opening will do, for the genderqueer person needs not only rights and liberties under the aegis of the Law, but to be able to inscribe within the law its own instability. In other words, queer, genderqueer and so personas show what the Law of the Father is, or what patriarchal capitalism is already has. There is no need to radicalize the law, or create prescriptions for its enhancement within this first assault on patriarchal capitalism because the very notion of “man” and “capital” are queer and absurd within themselves. Like all lived identities they are both concrete subjectively, but become chimeras the further from the site of the individual. Paradoxically, the further one leaves oneself, the closer one retains oneself for one cannot leave home without first being at home. Home is here literally where “the heart is.” To leave is to enter in a more radical way.
When the straight homophobic male expresses his rage, exerts himself and even tries to destroy the fragile identifications of new neoliberal subjectivities, he is actually showing his impotence within the new voids created for him. He himself is the neoliberal subject, and therefore he needs to latch himself onto the queer dynamic to disprove or disavow his own absurdity. The beginning of any queer analysis should be to show the entire sexual and gendered matrices are themselves absurd. All categories, taxonomies and identities are imbued with absurdity. Absurdity is enhanced when we related identity to death. Death is the ultimate marker, or end point of all identity relations. It is here, at the moment of death that all sexual, economic and gendered subjectivities, personas, animas, beings, and affectations submerge into the unknown (able).

So, let us start with death when we analyze genderqueer identities in relation to the heteronormative systems of patriarchy and capitalism. All of these categories categorically fold into a Zero Point through the midnight of the Self, for the Self cannot contain itself despite its struggle for recognition. At some point the body reveals itself to be a monster, a demon and a pain. The sheer physicality of bleeding gums, broken limbs, sweaty palms etc. unite the proletariat and the bourgeois alike. This physicality also sweepingly unites, but does not make same, the heterogeneous, diverse and multiple genderqueer realities, identities and monstrosity.

Gopi Shankar Madurai, Intersex & Genderqueer person, founder of Srishti Madurai Department of Religion, Philosophy and Sociology, the American College, Madurai. Recipient of the Commonwealth Youth Worker Asia Regional Finalist Award & Her Majesty The Queen’s HCRY Leader, London, Student of “Leading Change QYL Program” University of Cambridge, U.K

Editorial Team of Indian Ruminations.


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