Misner 1 Jillian Misner Professor Griffin Communication 315 4 October 2012 From the Outside Looking In: A Dialectical Understanding of Feeling Different “Memory depends on void, as void depends upon memory, to think it. Once void is thought, it can be canceled. Once memory is thought, it can be commodified” (Halberstam, p. 47). In Judith Halberstam’s chapter entitled “Unlosing Brandon”, Anne Carson’s opening quote exemplifies a relational way of thinking easily applicable to feelings of difference. In a society, if there was no group or feature on the outside, or what some call an Other, the inside would have no significance. This concept of relational identity pervades all human experiences, especially those in which the body itself acts a site of obvious difference. As social norms are constantly negotiated through the maintenance of binaries, different ways of existing subvert these social structures, complicating notions of accepted variations of identity. Transgender and disabled bodies exemplify the Other, daring to exist on an ontological spectrum that most people are not even able to see. Yet while no one would deny that these categories of people challenge the socialized psyche, stories of transgender and disabled bodies are vital for turning cultural gears. In regards to disability and transgenderism, archetypal narratives carved out of an outside perspective largely inform the majority of people’s experiences. Books, television, movies, and all media shape not just perceptions of the bodies, but of
Misner 2 ourselves, as well. That narratives embedded in film about transgender or disabled people do not accurately reflect the lived and felt experiences of their subjects is not just an understatement, it is ignoring that the stories show us what the Other looks and acts like, crafting understandings of what we should not be. Bodily difference as a site of subversion of the norm is necessary to maintain the status quo, for marginalized groups both disrupt and fuel comfortable social structures. A Dialectic arises in which narratives constructed from outside the perspective of lived experiences of difference paint a harrowing picture of the Other, while they simultaneously attract attention due to their importance in stabilizing relational social identities. Understanding how we create narratives of transgender bodies indicates how the stories function on a larger scale. Halberstam’s chapter from In a Queer Time and Place articulates the fallacies in recalling the lives of transgender people. She highlights three motives of narration: rationalization, stabilization, and trivialization (pp. 54-5). Because the binaries of male and female are embedded into the English language, biographers tend to impose a narrative structure onto identities that are inherently fluid. A rejection of
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 7 pages?
- Fall '12
- Sociology, Jillian Misner