Notes: Jeffrey Bennett, “‘Born This Way’: Queer Vernacular and the Politics of Origins”

Bennett, Jeffrey. “‘Born This Way’: Queer Vernacular and the Politics of Origins.”Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 11.3 (2014): 211-230.

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Summary:

Bennett takes the Born This Way blog as an object of analysis to discuss the way queer people can disrupt normative scripts by tactically adopting vernaculars.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Rhetorics, LGBTQ, Sexuality, Vernacular, Cultural Rhetorics

Sources:

Charles E. Morris III and John M. Sloop, “What These Lips Have Kissed: Refiguring the Politics of Queer Public Kissing,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 3 (2006): 1–26

Isaac West, “Debbie Mayne’s Trans/scripts: Performative Repertoires in Law and Everyday Life,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 5 (2008): 245–63

Quotations:

“As with the appropriation of scientific parlance to combat the criminalization of homosexuality, LGBT people borrow from the ambiguous lexicon of being “born this way” to articulate the self in ways not fully engaged by medical epistemologies. Far from an essentialized identity, the assorted everyday performances of gender and sexuality found on the blog recast attention to ethical imperatives that generally rest outside scientific spheres by engaging profuse identities, practices, and embodiments” (213).

“This approach, which allows contributors to impart a shared commonsense reading of the pictures across audiences, enables a rethinking of the epistemology of the closet in contemporary culture and subtly recrafts the conditions that mediate coming out” (214).

“The claim that people are hardwired with their sexual orientation is precarious because the diversity of the human world prevents a complete classification of desire, identification, and praxis” (215).

“Born this way” discourses have the capacity to underwrite claims about embodiment, highlight struggles over identification, and lend force to tactics of resistance.17 In the digital landscape of the Internet, these vernacular appropriations can be shared broadly, performing cultural work that shapes ideas about reasonableness and instigates public conversations about choice, identity, and belonging” (215).

“The narrative and visual logics of the “born this way” vernacular have the potential to situate transgressive performances as accessible, pleasurable, and ultimately productive” (215).

“As diverse LGBT communities expand the terrain for articulating their identities to new cultural forms and narrating their lives in novel fashion, it is imperative to continue investigating the ways vernacular rhetorics are brought into being, silenced, or overlooked” (228).

 

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