Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The United States of Tara and the Question of Identity

Within the reading for today, the question of what queer theory actually is was brought up. Society seems to automatically categorize people as male and female, which determines your gender, which then determines who you are attracted to. Queer theory turns from this way of thinking and in the reading defines people has having a body, performing an identity and having desires (Gauntlett 149). This takes gender completely out of the equation and allows for individuals to think outside of the boxes that society has placed the two genders into. The part of the reading that stood out to me is that gender is a performance, a thing that we are taught to do through our culture and society. Having this idea has to make you rethink everything. How have I been limited by my culture's idea of a woman? Have I repressed dreams and ideas because my culture didn't associate them with my sex/gender? We have all been give this unsaid rule book for how we are to be and it is so much harder to think in this way than to think in the way that the dominant society has pointed out for everyone.
In the show the United States of Tara, Tara is a woman who has three different personalities besides herself. She is Tara but then can turn into the fifties housewife Alice, the teenager T, and Buck her gun loving male personality. Now in this show Tara is allowed to explore all sectors of gender. She is able to be herself, which is a mix of masculine and feminine qualities, or ultra female or ultra masculine. Tara fulfills queer theory because she has no definition of gender between her four selves. Each personality is able to live through her and explore those questions.
This show, in its own quirky and unusual way, is able to show the problems of defining gender through the way that our culture tells us to. While watching the show with my friend I am constantly asking is she gay? is she bi-sexual? is she masculine? The fact that I am always looking for a way to label her reveals how society has shaped my perspective. Through the queer theory it is understood that gender is a performance of society's dictation and that living by the theory is to look at it will simpler terms and not to automatically try to label.

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