Queering the Docile Body


  • Emma Kauffman




Increasingly, there is a view that the recent emergence of sexual and gender diversity has helped to move mainstream society towards the eradication of the normative privileging of particular genders and sexualities. However, when we look beneath the surface it is more likely to be a reconfiguration of the heterosexual matrix, a term defined by Judith Butler as that grid of cultural intelligibility through which norms are created and maintained in bodies, genders, and desires and how they appear natural (Butler, 24). Using Judith Butler’s heterosexual matrix as my foundation, this paper will demonstrate the ways in which gender and sexuality become naturalized in order to explore the normalization process of both heterosexual desire, or orientation, and the gender binary. It will argue that although we are in the midst of a historic mobilization of diverse and complex (trans)gender movements, the sphere of intelligibility continues to be subject to hegemonic interpretations. These interpretations privilege a binary model of genders and sexual behaviors, thus resulting in a continuation of normative identities and desires. Further, as this essay will explicate, the heterosexual matrix, in accordance with neoliberalism, work as a mechanism of power that designates what is an intelligible life. As such, without first locating these functions of power, the push for a more fluid and open understanding of gender, sexuality and desire will continue to fail, and the space for widespread change will dissolve.




How to Cite

Kauffman, E. (2016). Queering the Docile Body. Political Science Undergraduate Review, 1(2), 56–62. https://doi.org/10.29173/psur19