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Hall of Mirrors: Phallocentrism in the Novels of Jean Genet

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journal contribution
posted on 28.04.2017, 05:53 by Elizabeth Stephens
"The representation of homosexuality in the novels of Jean Genet has provoked an almost unanimously negative critical response. Contemporary gay writers and critics see Genet as part of a vanished generation, who abjectified their gayness and eroticised their own oppression. Genet's fantasies of swooning before uniformed tyrants, of being raped by Hitler, or, during his coverage of the 1960s student protests, his unstinting praise for the tight trousers of armed policemen, have all been seen to reinforce heterocentric assumptions about the simpering effeminacy of gay men and to naturalise the dominance of macho heterosexuality. In this paper, however, I want to consider the extent to which Genet's representation of masculinity and male bodies, both gay and straight, are informed not by a system of sexual normativity but one of phallocentrism and phallic privilege. Genet's scrutiny of the system of phallocentrism, and the role of the phallus within it, cannot be seen to unquestioningly valorise heterocentric assumptions about binarised sexual categories but rather elucidates the logic underlying these."


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