Heroic Desire: Lesbian Identity and Cultural Space
"Lesbians are adept at constructing survival strategies. Our being in this world exacts a cost, and our identities mutate to incorporate and resist that cost. The reality of our world is our relentless demand for presence, an occupation of space which we have colonized for ourselves, in the name of a configuration of desires we call 'lesbian', -- the more reflective we can become about these tactics, the more powerful is our rhetoric of existence".
This book is concerned with the ways contemporary lesbians have taken up imaginative and material space. It describes the mechanics of presence, how modern lesbians have produced a discursive space which offers a refutation to the closet. Identities are produced, expressed, and authenticated by and through space. Understanding "real" and metaphorical spatial structures helps us to discover new sites of presence and resistance. Some famous spaces, such as New York, Paris, and Berlin, have been constitutive of modern gay and lesbian identities. Social spaces teach us something about the relations of domination and subordination around us, and we have seen recently in that struggle "to be", a growing politics of location and locatedness.
Space is also taken imaginatively. Our narratives, which have become moral and political handbooks, provide role models for building and consolidating identities and communities. By processes of interpretation, drawing from literary and cultural theory, the author displays ways in
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I think the concept of the heroic, multivalent self has the potential to offer the most
resistance to homophobic discourse, as an external strategy to reverse the
discourse of heterosexism, and as an internal strategy to combat shame and its ...
Nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century sexologists were complicit in using the
colonial discourse of raced and 'hysterical' bodies. Sustaining the classificatory
project of imperialism (to know and implicitly to own the other), they tried to
Donoghue notes in her historical study how 'lesbian culture seems to have been
understood [by participants and by legal discourse] as a matter of relationships
and habitual practices rather than self-identifications'.12 'Lesbian' desire was ...
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