Perreau, Bruno. “Queer Theory: The French Response”, Stanford University Press, 2016.
The French Reaction
Many French citizens openly demonstrated against the bill on gay marriage and denounced its damaging effects but they also claimed that the origins of the bill came from “gender theory,” an ideology which had been imported from the United States. For the French, “gender theory” meant queer theory in general and, more specifically, they meant the work of Judith Butler. With support from the Vatican, the French attacked school curricula that explored male/female equality and they claimed that this is further proof of gender theory’s growing empire. There was fear that “this pro-homosexual propaganda will not only pervert young people, but destroy the French nation itself”.
It is ironic that queer theory is seen as a threat to France in that it was basically inspired by French thinkers. Writer Bruno Perreau looks at changes in the idea of national identity in France and the United States and examines mutual influences in both countries. As he does, he offers a new theory of minority politics and gives an ongoing critique of norms that bring about a feeling of belonging, the very foundation of citizenship. This analysis of queer theory’s controversial arrival on the French scene considers the full range of repercussions of this cultural encounter and translation. We see how debates on sexuality, gender, and parenthood hit at the basis of national belonging. We get a demonstration that queer theory becomes something new and foreign in France. There is reason to be upset but there is also a lot to learn here. Looking into “the ‘straight mind of the nation’ and the parochialism of ‘homonationalist’ critiques connect fantasies of sovereign geographies to demonization and systemic violence”.
Perreau’s work breaks down the fears that of the French in their opposition to the “marriage for all. This is a deconstruction of queer theory’s “return” to France along with a diagnosis of the cultural fantasies at play. Below is the table of contents:
1 Who’s Afraid of “Gender Theory”?
2 The Many Meanings of Queer
3 Transatlantic Homecomings
4 The Specter of Queer Politics