The “bearded lady” has just won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. The person concerned is a fictional character called Conchita Wurst who is, to all appearances, female; in fact, the artist imitates a women in dress and aesthetics, but confuses us by keeping a beard. Where does this character come from? Is it a one-off event, a media game or is there some academic theory to sustain it?
Before the appearance of Conchita Wurst, various queer theorists have written about this type of aesthetics that plays at confusing and mixing the typically masculine with the typically feminine, to which they awarded, furthermore, the category of identity. Beatriz Preciado, one of the most influential queer theorists at international level, tell us that “the politics of queer multitudes is not based on a natural identity […] they are the drag-kings, the dykes, the bearded ladies […]”. It would seem that these theories are a single occurrence of a philosophical group or school with no major repercussions beyond a certain academic field. However, that is not the reality. We found a number of news items that present masculinity and femininity overlapped, confused, blurred, i.e. perverted. Really striking cases, such as the option of choosing between 56 genders on your personal Facebook profile available to American users, the case of Australian Norrie May-Welby, who in April this year managed to be officially recognised as of “non-specific” sex, or the case of “transgender” actor Laverne Cox, show that the queer theory are being put into practice, and that today they have a direct impact on our lives. Along this line, the New York Times is already talking about the Queer Generation: it is attempting to open the circle of the classic LGTB (lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual) and incorporate other identities, many others, comprised of the designations of “intersexual” and “asexual”, but especially with that of “queer”, which serves as an umbrella term for all types of “non-conventional” or “alternative” identities, the so-called LGTBQIA (lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer, intersex and asexual). With more repercussions still, UNESCO, hand in hand with GSLEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), the major LGTB organisation in education in the United States, and with the advice of 30 of the leaders of the largest global LGTB organisations, has worked on a queer agenda to bring to education and thus establish queer education from nursery school.
These, among others, are examples of the impact that the queer theory are having on our society. They generate a distorted conception of masculinity and femininity based on constructionism. In all the cases seen, the gender, even the sex, is presented as something that we ourselves create at any given time and in any given act. Today we are facing an unprecedented anthropological revolution, where the person disappears, neither male nor female.
Definition of the queer theory
The queer theories are the latest trend in gender ideology, but they go one step further. It is constructionism taken to the extreme, where sex is part of gender, is identified with it: “Perhaps this construct called ‘sex’ is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all”. Thus questions Judith Butler, another of the best known queer theorists at world level. What happens then, with the sex chromosomes? Do they not say anything? When asked this question, Beatriz Preciado, in an interview in Spanish newspaper El País answered: “they are a theoretical model that appeared in the twentieth century to try to understand a biological structure, full stop”. Constructionism is even brought to science. It is anti-essentialism, where it is not understood that human nature exists. An attempt is made to resolve the vacuum that remains after reducing sex to gender with the performativity theory. The term “performativity” comes from the word “performance”. As its meaning indicates, the performativity theory considers that the identity is performative, because it plays a role, it is an act. i.e. that since identity cannot be based on fixed aspects, as are the natural ones – sex, male and female – it is movable, changing, with respect to the time and act. So, if a male has relations with another male he constructs his identity within same-sex attraction; if he immediately dresses as a woman but keeps his beard, his identity changes in turn, reproducing, for example, that of the bearded lady. The same applies if he has relations with animals or children, as identity only depends on the act, with no morality or natural restraints. Thus, for the queer theorists, all identity is focused on the gender, which is, therefore, an act:
“There is neither an “essence” that gender expresses or externalises nor an objective ideal to which it aspires, and because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender create the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all”.
Therefore, I will be insofar as I act and that act is what I am, nothing more. The theory of performativity starts from the Nietzchean statement that there is no doer behind the deed, that the deed is all there is. This is one of the main problems facing the queer theorists: how is any act possible without a subject or gender without a subject, since they deny the pre-existence of any subject prior to the social construct, i.e. they deny any natural subject. However, they themselves talk of sexual practices or acts, but who is behind these acts? The absence of subject is taken as a postulate, rather than a strictly argumentative statement. Due to the vacuum that remains after reducing sex to gender, the identity of the person is understood only as a construct. Thus, masculinity and femininity, as an expression of the gender, will also be constructs. Nevertheless, the queer theorists have a peculiar way of explaining this (supposed) construct of gender and identity: they often direct their studies towards masculinity, since, as Beatriz Preciado points out, suspicion about the real existence of the category ‘woman’ “did not know its counterpart: ‘does man exist?’” . Thus, they start from the idea that gender studies have only been aimed at femininity (women’s rights, demands, social and employment equality, etc.) leaving aside the characteristic of the male, masculinity. In this sense, feminism would have explained the social construct that femininity implies; but it would have forgotten, and therefore left intact, masculinity. Hence, it would have generated a view of naturalness in masculinity compared to femininity, even when both (not only femininity) are roles and, therefore, constructs. “If de Beauvoir’s slogan ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman’ has dominated the evolution of feminism in the twentieth century, up to the post-feminist about-face of the nineties, no-one will venture to their masculine declension, “man is not born”. Judith Halberstam has developed the queer critique to the idea of a natural masculinity through her concept of female masculinity. In her most important book entitled “Female masculinity”, she presents masculinity through different identities that do not correspond with the male: “tomboys, butch, masculine heterosexual women, saphists, nineteenth century tribades, inverts, transgenders, stone butch and soft butch, drag-kings, cyberbutch, athletes, bearded ladies, and the list does not stop there”. She considers that thus, the social construct is made clear: if we all – including women – have access to masculinity, it will be because it is not peculiar to or natural to males. Thus, Halberstam proposes: “What is “masculinity”? […] If masculinity is not the social and cultural and indeed political expression of maleness, then what is it? I do not claim to have any definitive answer to this question, but I do have a few proposals about why masculinity must not and cannot and should not reduce down to the male body and its effects”.
The queer revolution goes against what its theorists have called heteronormativity. Heteronormativity refers to a mandatory system for a number of mechanisms (education, religion, legislation, sports, advertising) identified mainly with the Western system, which is built on fictitious dualities, such as natural/artificial, normal/abnormal, good/bad, truth/lie…but also on the distinction masculine/feminine, homosexual/heterosexual, and finally on male/female, the ultimate duality. This system would positively value one part of the dichotomies, in this case the part referring to the male, the heterosexual, the normal, etc., while the other (the female, the homosexual, the abnormal) is negative. This system maintains the dominant/dominated relationship in all the dichotomous categories. They are based on the proposal by Michel Foucault, who understood society as a web of power relations in which there is room for nothing but resistance, since any relationship necessarily involves power, there is no alternative. Thus, the ultimate embodiment of the domination game occurs, according to the queer theorists, in the male/female relationship, which would be the most widespread of all the other domination pairs. Nevertheless, for the queer theorists, the categories male and female remain fictions. This context affects man in his own essence, since it deprives him of aspects as fundamental as the truth of his own being: who he is essentially, as essentially man and essentially woman. “Man, therefore, is dead”, Forment will say, citing Foucault. “In our day”, said Foucault, “it is not so much the absence or the death of God that is affirmed as the death of man […]; it becomes apparent, then, that the death of God and the last man are engaged in a contest with more than one round: is it not the last man who announces that he has killed God, thus situating his language, his thought, his laughter in the space of that already dead God, yet positing himself also as he who has killed God and whose existence includes the freedom and decision of that murder? Thus, the last man is at the same time older and yet younger than the death of God; since he has killed God, it is he himself who must answer for his own finitude; but since it is in the death of God that he speaks, thinks, and exists, his murder itself is doomed to die; new gods, the same gods, are already swelling the future Ocean; Man will disappear”.
Impact of the queer theory
There is already a queer agenda that encompasses various fields, from the media (an important cog wheel in the transmission of this new anthropology) to politics and academia, via, of course, education. This latter is worth mentioning, because it is working in favour of the queer theories in universities and schools, and aims to do so in nursery schools. Although Conchita Wurst, Facebook and others, such as Laverne Cox or Norrie May-Welby have a very large impact, the assimilation of the queer theories by society is happening, or will happen, from education. In this respect, the most powerful American LGTB organisation in education, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), together with UNESCO, has drawn up a document entitled Fostering a Global Dialogue about LGTB Youth and Schools. This is a novel educational proposal, a plan aimed at education based on queer approaches. Moreover, the promotion of queer manuals to be used in schools is increasingly common. This is the case of Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue about Sexualities and Schooling, which has a many implications and furthermore, has a prologue written by the ex-director of the GLSEN, Kevin Jennings, who was an assistant deputy secretary in the U.S. Department of Education. The Trojan horse that is allowing queer anthropology (and practices) to enter schools and nursery schools is anti-homophobic and anti-bullying policies. On precisely this point it agrees with Christian thinking, since the Church has always positioned itself against any type of “unjust discrimination” and in promoting that young people with same-sex attraction be “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity””. In contrast, the queer theorists believe that anti-homophobic policies must go hand-in-hand with the promotion of their theories and practices (sexual, political). In this respect, Jennings claims that “being finished [with our work] might some day mean that most straight people, when they would hear that someone was promoting homosexuality, would say “Yeah, who cares? ”…That is our mission from this day forward”.
The situation in education is critical, such that the Cardinal Van Thuân International Observatory has classified it as an “education alarm”, where “the new fact is the eruption of gender ideology into education”. Pope Francis has also echoed the situation, and faced with the education alarm warned that “there is no messing around when it comes to children”, and then:
“we must reaffirm that children have the right to grow in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. Continuing to grow up and mature in a correct relationship represented by the masculinity and femininity of a father and a mother and thus preparing for affective maturity […]The horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the 20th century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals and, with the pretence of modernity, push children and young people to walk on the dictatorial path of “only one form of thought”.
“It is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question” within an “anthropological revolution” that has still not halted its march today. The current cog of gender ideology places us in denial of human nature in its own essence, as male and as female: we are facing the Queer Theories.