” (1999:73). There are of course occasions when the exploration of conversations in cyberspace might engage chatters in critical self-reflection-a user might be surprised about his interactions and be challenged to rethink race-based presumptions. But this happens in the real world bars as well, and I would even suggest that spontaneous acts leading to confrontations with and challenges to “race” -based expectations may be more likely to happen in bars than cyberspace. For example, suppose that I believe that I am not interested in forming friendships or relationships, or having sexual encounters With Japanese men. I might, however, walk into a bar and encounter a Japanese man whose gestures, body, or manner are attractive to me. Such a real-life meeting might challenge my imagination t …

Student Discussion

Larsa Younadim posted Dec 5, 2020 3:33 PM

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What I got from the asexual documentary is that the public has different ideas of what asexual means and they are usually wrong. People respond to asexuality in the way that they don’t think it’s real to not feel the need to be sexual. They try to come up with different reasons why someone doesn’t feel sexual towards men and women. The public doesn’t seem to accept them in the way that they would accept people in the lgbtq community. I think in time people will begin to understand it more.



Week 8: Asexuality & The Tension of Emerging Counterpublics Publics and “queer counterpublics” – what is a public? This concept is the the anchor of this week’s central essay, “Sex in Public.” What comes to mind when you hear the term? You might think of public shaming, public meltdowns, public transportation, and so on. Also consider its opposite: “private.” Some major differences seem to be about things like visibility (we do things like defecate and have sex in private, out of sight from others); accessibility (sidewalks are public lands, usable by all, whereas our individual kitchens are not); and moral decency (again, it would be wrong to defecate or have sex in view of others). We could provisionally define “public” as denoting that which is not private, or that which is accessible to “the public” regardless of other mitigating factors. “Publics,” then, constitute social spheres of shared things and ideas – constituted by physical infrastructure like trains and roads, economic ones like government assistance programs, and cultural ones (as in publicly available, popular television and internet media). A public is always for someone. Consider the recent presidential debate – why don’t either candidate refer (in their careful/more precise moments) to Black people as “Black”? Why “African American”? Despite the slightly waning popularity of this designation, it remains a central structuring concept for understanding who U.S. democratic institutions include in the “public” they serve. They say “African American” because they mean Black citizens, and not all Black people. The final note on “publics” is many – almost countless – exist in the same spaces and times, overlapping and even conflicting. You can think about marketing techniques as one route to mapping those publics – to whom is content geared, and what symbols attract the attention of that particular group? There are nearly as many publics as there are shared identity designations, and each one has its own history, strength/consistency of existence (how long does it stick around?), and inclusions/exclusions. This is a primary term for Berlant & Warner as they begin to talk about counterpublics, or “indefinitely accessible world[s] conscious of [their] subordinate relation[s].” They emphasize the fact that LGBTQ+ social movement have produced a larger cohesive counterpublic, but also many smaller ones that compete for space, resource, and attention to continue existing. This new set of tensions is perfectly marked in this week’s documentary, Asexuality, which tracks the rise of AVEN (the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) as a global center for an asexual counterpublic. Counter to whom, though? For your discussion this week, begin familiarizing yourself with “Sex in Public,” and view Asexuality in its entirety. (I do NOT expect you to finish and fully understand “Sex in Public” by the time this is due, given how long and dense it is; that said, you should make attempts to have a working knowledge or gist of their points.) Once you’ve done this, discuss in your initial post some of the issues facing this emerging counterpublic. How do more familiar issues around sexual regulation and gender normativity impact the documentary’s subjects, thus making them part of the larger “LGBTQ+” counterpublic? How do they deal with issues beyond that counterpublic, thus making it counter to the already existing larger one? To summarize, discuss the tensions they have in common with, and contrast from, the larger LGBTQIA+ communities they encounter. Make sure to rely on specific moments or examples from the documentary to illustrate your response. In your response, use your classmate’s observations to think about what some fundamental conceptual or material problems/differences are that produce this tension. What are the particular “issues” people have with asexuality, and what do those issues seem to be more about? Finally, consider some ways to resolve such differences, or considerations that might lessen this tension. Alternatively, if the tension seems irresolvable, explain how, and how such tensions might be worked around. ®SAGE FOR INFORMATION: SAGE Publications, Inc. 2455 Teller Road Toousand OakS, California 91320 E-mail: oroer@sagePlJb.com Copyright © 2018 by SAGE Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. SAGE Publications Ltd. 1 Oliver’s Yard 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data United Kingdom SAGE Publications India Pvt. Ltd. B 1/11 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044 India SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte. Ltd. 3 Church Street #1Q-04 Samsung Hub Singapore 049483 Names: Meem, Deborah T. (Deborah Townsend), 1949- author. I Alexander, Jonathan, 1967- author. I Gibson, Michelle, author. Title: Finding out : an introduction to LGBTQ studies/ Jonathan Alexander, University of California, Irvine, Deborah T. Meem, University of Cincinnati, Michelle A. Gibson, University of Cincinnati. Description: Third edition. I Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE, [2018] I Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016037993 I ISBN 9781506337401 (pbk. : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Homosexuality-History. I Gays-History. I Bisexuals-History. I Transgender people-History. Classification: LCC HQ76.25 .M45 2018 I DOC 306.76/609-dc23 LC record available at https:// lccn.loc.gov/2016037993 Acquisitions Editor: Karen Omer This book is printed on acid-free paper. Editorial Assistant: Sarah Dillard Production Editor: Tracy Buyan Copy Editor: Pam Schroeder Typesetter: Hurix Systems Pvt. Ltd. Proofreader: Caryne Brown ~~ –~ -~ Certified Chain of Custody -SUSTAINAIILE P””””‘”‘115-“” Fat–, SFl-01268 Indexer: Julie Grayson Cover Designer: Michael Dubowe Marketing Manager: AAfy Lammers 17 18 19 20 21 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Queers and the Internet 339 READ1NGS ► Andil Gosine (2007), Canada •Brown to Blond at Gay.com: Pass.ing White in Queer Cyberspace· in love with the image and idea of white manhood, which is everything I am ~ot a~d want to be, and if I cannot be that at least l can have that, if only for the night, 1f only for one week or the month. ({Reginald] Shepherd 1991 ) 1 am I would lo~e to be_wh~te. Not forever, but perhaps a weekend. Don’t you ever get sick of bemg a mmonty? . .. I have posed this question to other minority artists, and get stumped by answers like ”No, not ever have I ever wanted to be white. And I just don’t buy it. Why would you not want things to be easier? (!Margaret] Cho 2005) 0 So much social, economic, and cultural capital is invested in the idealiz.ation of white bodies (and in the devaluation and denigration of non-white ones} that neither Shepherd’s confessional yearnings nor Cho’s caustic daydream is surprising-nor are the disapproving reactions from those who find their declarations uncomfortable, even upsetting. Fantasies and anxieties about the realization and loss of whiteness inform the configuration of social relations and production of knowledge in much of the contemporary world. Since at least the fifteenth century, white has connoted purity, virginity, beauty, and even Godliness in European nations, and the accident of white sk.1n has authorized its bearers to claim, conquer, and colonize the lands and cultures of nonwhite peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Whiteness, w~ites Kal~n_a ~ad~ Crooks, is a n master signifier that establishes a structure ?f relations, a s1gmfymg ~h~m that through a process of inclusions and exclusions constitute~ a pa~ern for org~nmng human difference” (2000:3-4). Through the production of Onentahsm, non-white subjects are characterized as a function of the white subject and are allowed no autonomy and purpose except as a means of knowing the w_h ite..self (Said 1978). Consequently, white people are systematically privileged and enJOY unearned “advantage and _conferred dominance” in Western societies (McIntosh 1992:74). They create t~e dor:nmant images of the world and don’t quite see that they _construct the wodrld in theedeirownd irna .. ,, f humanity by which they are boun to succ . an_ ge, and they set standards O eludes· usin is Negro as Virtue 1s others bound to fail” (Dyer 1997:9). Frantz Fanon con · White” (19 67: 138). . h h·te people are able to perform non’.here are longstanding rituals thro~gh wh_ic ~~rs in Asian roles in films, donning fhrte racialized ethnicities (e.g., ca st ing w~_ i te at costume parties) and for non-white irnonos or turbans to play Japanese o_r In ~~nr:cialized identities (e.g., _Ameri~an M inPeople to perform exaggerated expr~s_ sions d fl ) but not many choices exist for a Strei shows, representations in telev1s1on ~n A’ m ‘r·1can like Shepherd to assume white Korean-Arnerican comic like C ho or an African- .dm e h. d a new venue for non-w 1te people racial identities. The advent of cyberspace prov1 e erience that was part of a parcel of to e · • · h1teness-an exp Xpenence racial crossing into w ◄ 340 CHAPTER 11 opportu~ities ~eing tru~peted .by queer, feminist, and cyberculture critics anticipating the liberating potential of virtual worlds (Turkle 1995; Plant 1996; Sunden 2001 . Gross 2004). • In Novemb~r 1998, I ~ngaged [in] _”race” play in o/berspa_ ce as a way of examining claims about its revolutionary promise, and of racial crossing. For five consecutive days, I participated in conversations in the “Toronto” chat rooms at gay.com, and kept a journal of my online interactions. Selecting a gay website feature to consider the operation of ” race” in cyberspace made sense for several reasons, including my own ties to and investments in queer culture, and the fact that queer scholars were among those leading the celebration of this technological advance. Many of them, including Larry Gross, for example, imagined that for queer men and women, the net would present more opportunities to inhabit sexual desires and identities, connect and create community, and refuse gender and class restrictions that structured their offline, “real world” lives (2004). A focus on chat rooms also seemed appropriate. As Lisa Nakamura observes, “cyberspace is a place of wish fulfillments and myriad gratifications, material and otherwise and nowhere is this more true than in chat spaces” (2002:32). Textual chat spaces, she says, “encourage users to build different identities, to take on new identities … to describe themselves in any way they wish to appear” (Nakamura 2002:32). My chat room experiences did not prove to be as liberating an event as proclaimed in the cyberutopian rhetoric. Although opportunities to unfix and reconstitute meanings of identities and social markers were certainly available, processes of racialization were evident in and seemed to have an important structuring influence on the organization, flow of dialogues and relationships between users in the chat rooms. Returning to review the site seven years later, in 2005, I also found that whatever potential may have existed for dominant, colonial narratives of “race” to be displaced or undermined in cyberspace are fading (or have faded). Changes to gay.corn’s chat services since 1998 appear to have further reinforced racial categories and ensure the reproduction of “real life” racism. In this respect, the development of virtual worlds has been shown to be not unlike other technologies, merely mimicking dominant socioeconomic relations rather than challenging them. What also emerged from this study of the chat rooms were compelling insights about desires for passing white. Very often, racial crossing from non-white to white is read as evidence of investments in racial imagery and symbolism. This presumption underlies the outrage expressed by Cho’s friends about her wanting to be white for a weekend and the persistence of epithets to describe non-white people accused of “acting white” (e.g., “coconut” for South Asians, “banana” for East Asians). But analysis of the operation of “race”-racism in the gay.com chat rooms suggests that passing white is not simply the exercise of desires by non-white people to become white or fetishize whiteness, but, rather, to experience the privileges afforded t? whiteness. Passing white expresses longing for the experience of racial disembodiment that cyberspace promises, but does not ultimately appear to fulfill. … Passing White: Resource Access and the Exercise of Agency In one of her studies qn white people engaging [in] racial passing in cyberspace, Nakamura observed that “many users masquerading as racial minorities in ch_ at spaces tend to depict themselves in ways that simply repeat and reenact old racial stereotypes,” including, for example, “users masquerading as samurai and geishas, Queers and the Internet 341 lete with sV’w’.~rds:. kimonos, and ot_ her paraphernalia lifted from older media such cori:P and televIsIon (2002: 107). This type of play, she says, “reenacts an anachas f_il~ version of ‘Asian-ness’ that reveals more about users’ fantasies and desires 1stIc I l’k ro n 1 ·t does about w h at .it ‘fees I e’ to be Asian either on- or offline” (2002 :107). than_ white, however, may serve a different purpose, not exclusively an exercise pass1n 9 . d t· b . fantasy or anxiety pro uc ion _ut an opportunity to experience the material and 111 ltural privileges affo~ded to white people. Unlike its reverse ritual, racial crossing cu m non-white to white may not be primarily motivated by fetishistic conscious or froconscious desire, but by struggles for access to resources and for experience of un .. cultural and po1ItIca1 agency. Accessing Resources one of the reason~ queer scholars cheered the development of cyberspace was their expectation that virtual spaces would be better able than bars or clubs to provide affirmation for “many who do not find themselves welcomed or validated by the increasingly commercialized and mainstreamed institutions of the newly respectable GLBT communities, including marginalized sub-culture groups” (Gross 2004:xi). Keith oorwick argues, One thing online communication has changed radically is that men can now speak to men they’d never speak to in the bars. The social barriers between races, between “hot men” and “dogs” or “trolls” and between younger and older men are much lower online. (Alexander et al. 2004) But characterizations of chat rooms as more egalitarian spaces do not hold up on more attentive examination. Anxieties about race-held by both white and non-white men-may sometimes determine who is solicited for conversation, friendship or sex in bars, but they perform the same function in cyberspace as well, as evidenced by the shutting down of conversations after responses to the “background” question confirm non-white racial identity and, also, by the preferred status afforded to white men. Of the many identities I adopted in the Toronto chat rooms at gay.com, blue-eyed and blond haired “Robbie” was easily the most fun to inhabit. Robbie fit my own physical description except, importantly, that he was blond and blue-eyed; I enjoyed the most attention from other online chatters than in any other representation of myself. I was overwhelmed with requests for private window conversations and many ~imes I was chatting separately but simultaneously with five or six of the thirty users ~n the room. Changing only information about hair and eye color to indicate a white identity, I was invited to participate [inl conversations with many more men and have an ~!together different experience than when my descrip_ to~ indicate? that I was nonwhite. Others engaged in similar projects have reported s1m1l~r experiences. For exan:’ple, one Taiwanese-born college student posting to ~ Bulletin Board S~tem ?ased 1_ n ?ran~e County, California, also found that imm~d1ately after c~angmg ~1s_et~nic Ident1ty from “Chinese” to “Caucasian,” he received more queries and mv1tat1ons to chat (Tsang 2000 :435). Tsang also reports that consequent ~o th~ir experiences of ~uee~ spaces on the Web, many non-white users re~used to ‘?ent,1.~ themselves, or Ident1fied themsel es as “Other” or “Mixed” when given a choice, in the hopes that their _chances [to ~nteract with other men] would be improved” (2_000:43~). In the Physical world, non-white men have often been refused entry to wh1te-dom1nant gay C 342 CHAPTER 11 bars and clubs; i~ cybe~space, self-identification as white often serves as a qualifier to access conversations with other users. Exercising Agency lnt~ra~tions in the Toronto gay.co~ chat rooms ~ake clea~ that the act of passing white 1s also an attempt to experience another kind of privilege of whiteness: the opportunity ~o .be _vie”‘.ed_ as ~c.tive, dynamic ~nd complex agents. Dominant processes of rac1ali~at1on fix 1de~t!t1es for non-white people in ways that generally do not apply to white people. Wntmg about gay bars and clubs in the real world, Mercer and Julien observe that representations of non-white men are “confined to a narrow repertoire of types-the supersexual stud and the sexual savage on the one hand, the delicate and exotic ‘Oriental’ on the other” ([Julien and Mercer] 1991: 169). Choices placed to non-white men appear to oscillate between the two: Far too many of the white men I see in . .. clubs look at me as if to say, “I couldn’t sleep with you. You’re black.” Or they desire me because I am black. (Shepherd 1991 :54) These representations, rooted in the experience of colonialism and empire, are circulated again in cyberspace. Toronto resident “Marshall,” a twenty-six-year-old Asian male who regularly goes online, references a common experience among non-white men: I find that a lot of guys won’t consider me because of my background . . . a lot of guys are not into Asians, or, if they are, are only into submissive Asians, but I’m a top .. . . I’ve had guys say to me . . . “if I were into Asians I’d totally get with you.” I don’t exactly consider those compliments, but they’re part of my reality and so I deal. (Cited in Sanders 2005:83) Similarly, “Big_Wolf” says of his experiences on IRC, “if they suspect or find out you are black MANY immediately go to the penis size thing” (Campbell 2004:79). Byron Burkhalter makes the important point that racial identification occurs differently online. “Stereotyping in face-to-face interaction follows from an assumed racial identity,” but on line interaction, he says, “differs in that the imputation tends to go in the other direction-from stereotype to racial identity” (1999:73). In real-life situations, the complex, multidimensional realities of raciallzed peoples also serve to reveal race as a lie. Online, however, fixed stereotypes are the means through which users are received in interactions. “In online interactions,” Burkhalter points out, “perspectives resist modification because participants confront an immutable text” (1999:73). There are of course occasions when the exploration of conversations in cyberspace might engage chatters in critical self-reflection-a user might be surprised about his interactions and be challenged to rethink race-based presumptions. But this happens in the real world bars as well, and I would even suggest that spontaneous acts leading to confrontations with and challenges to “race” -based expectations may be more likely to happen in bars than cyberspace. For example, suppose that I believe that I am not interested in forming friendships or relationships, or having sexual encounters With Japanese men. I might, however, walk into a bar and encounter a Japanese man whose gestures, body, or manner are attractive to me. Such a real-life meeting might challenge my imagination t …
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