Essentialism or Social Construction??

When reading “Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name,” about Roy and Silo a same-sex penguin couple, I immediately thought about an episode of the show Parks and Recreation, where the main character Leslie marries a same-sex penguin couple at the local zoo. When searching this episode online I found out the episode was based on a same-sex penguin couple from the San Francisco Zoo, Harry and Pepper. While I am not trying to make a point, I thought it was interesting to see a story similar to the article portrayed on television and a fun fact.

Real Life Same-Sex Penguins Harry & Pepper -

Parks & Recreation penguins –









As for the readings, while reading a few of the assigned readings from this week I was intrigued to learn many new things that I had no insight to before, like essentialism, and I noticed a couple things about them. Looking at “Essentialism and Queer History” written by Rictor Norton in the book Major Problems, the article “Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name” by Dinitia Smith, and one of our in-class discussions there are similar themes, ideas that are certainly challenged, and interesting facts that can be taken away.
The similarities taken away from reading the article and the essay was the idea of essentialism. Rictor Norton’s essay is mainly about essentialism and the history surrounding that. Norton writes, “I believe that homosexuals are born and not made.” (Norton, 12) In addition to that, in class we have discussed how essentialism, a concept I am only just becoming familiar with, means you are born with it or it is in your biology. These definitions correlate with the information I am seeing and learning from the penguin article, that sexuality is in a person or animal’s nature. And it is not just penguins in the animal world, Bruce Bagemihl wrote a book about “homosexual activity in a broad spectrum of animals.” (Smith, 2) Continuing with essentialism and also tying in something I found interesting is Norton on different versions of being an essentialist. When writing about queer culture Norton states, “…my own version of essentialism, which might be called ‘queer cultural essentialism.’” (Norton, 12) I find, and will continue to find, the different types of essentialists interesting and the differences among them. Which leads me into the ideas that have been challenged so far.
The main challenge I have encountered when reading these works was from a past essay, but something we brought up in our in-class discussion on Tuesday, which involved Jeffrey Weeks’ essay, “The Social Construction of Sexuality.” Weeks’ essay is all about the social forces that shape sexuality. He gives the categories that he states are the main social forces, such as family, economics, and politics. (Weeks, 7) While I understand this concept and believe it has very good evidence to back it up, I am now torn after reading the penguin article. Against that, the concept of social forces does not make any sense for animals. It does, however, make a lot of sense for humans. So overall, they both definitely challenge each other. I feel the raising questions, I am just not sure what those questions are since I don’t feel I have learned enough to form them just yet, but I am sure in the next few weeks I will.
I hope I have done a successful job at explaining what I found interesting, similar, and challenging in my first blog post. I am excited to see how the readings over the rest of the semester go into the category of essentialism, social construction, or a whole other category of its own.

1 Comment

Filed under HIST 3164

One Response to Essentialism or Social Construction??

  1. Cool site. Cheers for posting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *