Dedoxifying gender identity through language and sexuality: Kathy Acker's abjection of western phallocentric traditions and the feminist Utopian sublime
Petro, Christian Sean
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In an attempt to ascertain identity Acker rejects the Phallocentric traditions of Western Culture having assigned Acker an identity of weakness based on biological and physical attributes; hence, a psychological slavery, reinforced by physical slavery, hard-boiled by sexual slavery. Given the indissolubleness of art and the political Acker uses their bond to rebuff traditions via sexuality and language although these methods are used by phallocieties to enforce female subjugation. This is why Acker plagiarizes classic boy adventures in order to corrupt the canon, including the bible, of the phallocentric culture so as to decenter the real through the imaginary. This decentering is why we discover the radical shifts in; character stability; timelines; plot structure; and the fluidity of "I" as the narrator leading to gender confusion and sexual binaries within the novels. Since sexuality is used to control women Acker takes back its control so it can no longer be weaponized against women to enslave them physically or as a means to define gender roles socially. Restricted in reality by these phallocentric traditions, Acker creates a hyper-reality free of their control where language is the real power, not the penis, giving her the ability to escape the control of men through her novels which is part fiction part autobiographical. The upshot of Acker's phallocentric rejection is an association with feminism, however just because both desire an end to phallic dominion does not mean they are the same. Feminists want to restructure the hierarchy which is merely another form of gender/identity slavery while Acker wants to destroy the hierarchy altogether.