Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer by Riki Wilchins


Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer - Riki Anne WilchinsFor much of Queer Theory, Gender Theory, I was in love with the content of this book, but I may have gotten an ARC or something by accident because the writing was a bit of a mess. When it comes to books about issues and activism, I have hard time judging them on grammar, so let’s get into the content first.

This would be an amazing book for any book club, but particularly for those that are feminist. Honestly, it may be great for an LGBT book club too, but there’s a good possibility they’ve already dug into this more than feminists and it may seem like old news to them. It seems that most feminists are straight and ciswomen and there’s a lot here for us to consider.

First of all, we do need to be more inclusive of all bodies within the feminist movement and there have been considerable fourth wave strides to do so. Unfortunately, we still seem to miss the mark more often than we make it. I understand the argument for women to not be removed from the center of our own movement, but we definitely need to inclusion in order to accomplish our larger goals, many of which are addressed in this book. Well, feminist issues aren’t specifically addressed, as this book is not about us, but gender stereotypes and how they effect everyone.

The book begins by outlining what postmodernism and deconstruction is as it pertains to gender, the feminist movement, the gay movement, and finally for the transgender community. It makes distinctions between these communities often because we do have a tendency to focus on our base and it would make sense that the others do too. Unfortunately, as the case that is made in the book, this also keeps us from working together better to tear down the gender stereotyping out there that might just be at the core many of all our issues.

There are several places where the deconstruction follows a line of thought that is worth discussing, which is why I would love to book club this book. I’d love to debate almost every single piece of it and see where a group ends up. I did talk some to my husband about different segments, which was fun and interesting. We are not specifically detached and having an “intellectual” debate as is so condescending to say about issues in general, but we are more the exception couple to the stereotypes and do get into a lot of conversations that seem designed to make us feel negatively about our choices. It’s books and concepts like these that helps us articulate to others that we are not actually beholden to our gendered stereotypes. I do not have to be good at kid’s birthday parties to be a real woman. I do not have to decorate the house, or cook amazing meals, or be responsible for most of the cleaning. I am a breadwinner, and 40% of us are women these days. I should not be made to feel bad about this or like I am taking something from my husband for it. Likewise, he shouldn’t be made to feel like he is failing his family for doing something that everyone would applaud me doing, even if it put us in poverty for me to quit and him to get any job he could scrape by with. But this is the message society and the confused glances of friends would have us receive.

This is exactly where the book talks to all of us, though it does tend to focus on that feminists and the LGBT community at large are the biggest transgressors of gender stereotypes. There are so many people out there getting beaten into their stereotypes by parental mandate, school bullying, and media bombardment that the idea of ungendering is far more compelling on some days than simply adding genders. Why do we do these things to ourselves?

Anyway, all the theories and deconstruction are worth greater debate than I have capacity to facilitate from my small part of the world, but I do hope to one day have an online feminist book club that has these discussions. I’m sure there are some out there who already have talked about it. The book does end with a long explanation of GenderPAC, what it was designed to be and some directions it took, successfully or not. The book seems to be designed to explain their stance on centering on gender but not transgender. It’s an interesting stance, though not one that appeared to work for them long. They were around from 1995 to 2009 and plagued by the issues that are covered in the last chapter.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and all of the theory and discourse that it presented, though I understand that it’s a slippery slope to set an agenda on for an organization. Still, the book lives on to present the gender issues and theory in an interesting way that strives to include all forms of discrimination and exclusion.

Queer Theory, Gender Theory was my Letter Q for the Litsy A to Z challenge. I borrowed this book on Scribd, but it’s also available for purchase at several outlets. To find them, click on the cover image and be redirected to the BookLikes book page or add it to Goodreads for later.


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