As writing and literature approach the present day, it becomes more frequent and commonplace to see divergences from traditional sexual and gender binaries appear in postmodern texts. As post-modernity seeks to instate new realities to replace old perceptions taught to society as truth, it is only fitting as the literary movement that would begin to explore and seek to “normalize” queer identities that had been smothered and rejected in the past. As the audience of Queer Temporalities in Postmodern Geographies by Judith Halberstan bears witness to, the conduction of authoritative research studies about individuals who subscribe to non-traditional gender roles also became a published topic of interest.
This text discusses new social interactions available in urbanized areas for the homosexual male (i.e. porn theatres). It also notes a lack of a parallel social interaction for women – which suggests to me that though society is gaining some acceptance of alternative sexualities, men are still favored with acceptance while society stays skeptical and afraid of female sexuality as it has done in the past. Demonizing the feminine body is not a new practice: take the fearsome myth of Vagina Dentata, for example. As Gemma Angel of the University College London stated in her recent paper on the topic:
“The mythical theme of the vagina-with-teeth can in most cases be read as an attempt to render the potentially dangerous sexuality of women nonthreatening to patriarchal power, through heroic acts of ‘pulling the teeth.’”
Perhaps these fears are still subliminally engrained in society’s mind, making a shift to the idea that a woman does not need a man too radical a change for those raised by a phallocentric generation to comprehend.
Queer Temporalities also uses the life and death of Brandon Teena as an example of how the new age has inspired acceptance largely thanks to the online world. Aside from cyberbullying, the internet has provided a community space that allows people to express themselves honestly with a sense of security: of the potential millions who read any given article, there are bound to be people who agree and identify with each. It allows people to reach out to each other in ways that were preciously impossible. With the exposure of this queer voice that had been absent, individuals who happen to fit traditional norms began to try to understand hardships that have happened in the past, realize that they are ongoing today, and seek to help put an end to the nonsensical perception that everyone has the same sexual preferences. Knowledge is power, and no tool spreads information faster than the web. It promotes gender flexibility in the sense that it allows people to come together over shared beliefs to create a safe community that was not present before.
Gender and sexuality are topics that have been historically dismissed as easily definable as a set of consistent personalities and behaviors determined by one’s physical sex. However, as time has progressed, the realization that this belief is false has begun. With the emergence of postmodern literature and more recently online communities, people everywhere are more easily able to not only express themselves but also find and communicate with others who share the same values, loves, and lifestyles.
Angel, Gemma. “Pulling Teeth: Ovarian Teratomas & the Myth of Vagina Dentata.” UK: University College London, 2013. 30 July 2013. Web. <http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/researchers-in-museums/2013/03/04/pulling-teeth-ovarian-teratomas-vagina-dentata/>