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Layton, L. (1998). Against Proper Objects: Judith Butler. Differences. More Gender Trouble: Feminism Meets Queer Theory. VI, 2/3, 1994. Pp. 1-26. Psychoanal Q., 67(2):344.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Against Proper Objects: Judith Butler. Differences. More Gender Trouble: Feminism Meets Queer Theory. VI, 2/3, 1994. Pp. 1-26

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(2):344

Against Proper Objects: Judith Butler. Differences. More Gender Trouble: Feminism Meets Queer Theory. VI, 2/3, 1994. Pp. 1-26

Lynne Layton

In this introduction to a special issue, Butler objects to “queer” theory's way of grounding itself in opposition to feminism. She rejects the claim that feminism's proper object of study is gender and queer theory's is sexuality. By separating sexuality from gender and thus ignoring or repudiating sexual difference, some versions of queer theory risk shoring up the traditional symbolic order in which there is only one sex and it is male. She also protests the Foucaultian turnaway from psychoanalysis, wherein sexuality becomes a regulatory system separate from kinship systems. The bracketing of sexuality from kinship fulfills the fantasy of a “desire to desire beyond the psyche, beyond the traces of kinship that psyches bear.” Declaring herself in opposition to the way disciplines found themselves on exclusions and repudiations of other disciplines, Butler reminds us that there are pro-sex feminist positions that laid the groundwork for queer theory (that MacKinnon's theory of sexuality does not exhaust feminist positions), and that the feminism of women of color has shown that genders are no less ambiguous than sexualities. She wants feminism and “queer theory” to focus on the tensions between social practices and the symbolic, the way that particular practices render the symbolic dynamic, unstable, changeable.

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Article Citation

Layton, L. (1998). Against Proper Objects. Psychoanal. Q., 67(2):344

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