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11 March 2015

Jack Halberstam (1961–) academic. Part II

Continued from Part 1.

The next year, 1999, in an interview in Genders, Halberstam wrote:
"The term 'female masculinity' stages several different kinds of interventions into contemporary gender theory and practice. First, it challenges the notion that genders are symmetrical - in other words saying that gender is "performative" may be particularly helpful when thinking about femininity but less useful in relation to masculinity. Masculinity, in fact, often presents as non-performative or anti-performative (think of Clint Eastwood's laconic roles for example). Second, female masculinity disrupts contemporary cultural studies' accounts of masculinity within which masculinity always boils down to something like 'the social, cultural and political effects of male embodiment and male privilege'. I hope my book will force masculinity studies to make a radical break from white men's studies."
"I embrace categorization as a way of creating places for acts, identities and modes of being which otherwise remain unnamable. I also think that the proliferation of categories offers an alternative to the mundane humanist claim that categories inhibit the unique self and creates boxes for an otherwise indomitable spirit. People who don't think they inhabit categories usually benefit from not naming their location. I try to offer some new names for formerly uninhabitable locations."
The same year, Halberstam (using the name 'Jack' for the first time in a book credit) published The Drag King Book with photographs by Del LaGrace Volcano, which encountered resistance from drag kings who insisted that they were just having fun, and that their behavior would not bear the theoretical weight that she was putting on it.

Halberstam also appeared in the documentary films Venuz Boyz and Boy I Am.

In the 2005 book, In a queer time and place: transgender bodies, subcultural lives. Halberstam analyses the murder of Brandon Teens and its representation in mainstream media, considers the transgender gaze, and the influence of drag king culture on hetero-male films.

In 2007, Halberstam was co-author of Rrose Irrose, a 700+ page catalogue of an exhibition at New York's Guggenheim Museum devoted to gender variant photography.

Maracena & Jack in Oprah magazine
In 2008, Halberstam, having broken up with a lover of 12 years, took up with Chilean immigrant sociologist Macarena Gomez-Barris, mother of two, who had broken up with her husband. The next year their relationship was featured in an edition of Oprah magazine.

In the 2011 book, The Queer Art of Failure, Halberstam explores loss, forgetting and failure as alternatives to the capitalist heteronormative model. He offers queer analyses of Finding Nemo and Dude, Where's My Car, and explores 'shadow feminisms' grounded in negation, refusal, passivity, absence and silence, and looks at a thread in the history of male homosexuality that has been significantly downplayed: that of homosexuality and fascism.

The 2012 book, Gaga Feninism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal, which lists the author as J. Jack Halberstam, advocates creative mayhem using the image of Lady Gaga, an exemplar of a new kind of feminism that privileges gender and sexual fluidity.

Later that year, on his blog, Jack sort of explained his gender:
"first, I have not transitioned in any formal sense and there certainly many differences between my gender and those of transgender men on hormones. Second, the back and forth between he and she sort of captures the form that my gender takes nowadays. Not that I am often an unambiguous 'she' but nor am I often an unambiguous he. Third, I think my floating gender pronouns capture well the refusal to resolve my gender ambiguity that has become a kind of identity for me. I watch friends, one after the other, transition, mostly from butch to TG male and I wonder whether I am just sitting on a fence and not wanting to jump. … I still use women’s restrooms and I avoid any and all contact on going in or coming out. If someone looks frightened when they see me, I say 'excuse me' and allow my 'fluty' voice to gender me. If someone looks angry, I turn away but mostly I just ignore what is going on around me in the restroom and do what I am there to do. … I also wish more people would adapt to a pronoun system based on gender and not on sex, based on comfort rather than biology, based on the presumption that there are many gendered bodies in the world and 'male' and 'female' does not even begin the hard work of classifying them. … And ps: grouping me with someone else who seems to have a female embodiment and then calling us LADIES, is never, ever ok!" (September 3, 2012).
  • Judith M. Halberstam. Parasites and perverts: anti-Semitism and sexuality in nineteenth-century gothic fiction. PhD thesis, University of Minnesota, 1991.
  • Judith Halberstam. "F2M: The Making of Female Masculinity". In Laura L. Doan, The Lesbian Postmodern. Columbia University Press, 1994.
  • Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston (eds). Posthuman bodies. Indiana University Press, 1995.
  • Judith Halberstam. Skin shows: gothic horror and the technology of monsters. Duke University Press, x,215 pp1995.
  • Jenni Olson & Judith Halberstam (dir). Looking Butch: A Rough Guide to Butches on Film. US 100 mins. 1995.
  • Judith Halberstam. Female Masculinity. Duke University Press, xiv,329 pp 1998.
  • Annamarie Jagose. “Masculinity Without Men: interview with Judith Halberstam”. Genders Online Journal. 29 1999. Online at:
  • Del LaGrace Volcano & Judith 'Jack' Halberstam. The Drag King Book. Serpent's Tail, 1999.
  • Rachel Adams. "Masculinity without man" A review of Female Masculinity. GLQ, 6,3, 2000: 467-478.
  • Gabrielle Baur (dir & scr). Venus Boyz, with Judith Halberstam, Del Lagrace Volcano, Dianne Torr and many other drag kings and masculine females. US/Switzerland 102 mins 2002.
  • Judith Halberstam. “What's That Smell?: Queer Temporalities and Subcultural Lives”. S&F Online - Public Sentiments. Summer 2003.
  • Judith Halberstam. “Foreword”. In Claudine Griggs. Journal Of A Sex Change: Passage through Trinidad. Berg, 2005.
  • Judith Halberstam. In a queer time and place: transgender bodies, subcultural lives. New York University Press. 256 pp 2005.
  • Sam Feder & Julie Hollar (dirs). Boy I Am, with Nicco, Norie, Keegan and Judith Halberstam, US 2006.
  • Jennifer Blessing, Judith Halberstam, Lyle Ashton Harris, Nancy Spector, Carole-Anne Tylor, Sarah Wilson. Rrose Irrose. Harry N. Abrams, 2007.
  • Mary A Fischer. "Why Women Are Leaving Men for Other Women". O, The Oprah Magazine, April 2009.
  • Judith Halberstam. The Queer Art of Failure. Duke University Press, 2011.
  • Philip Gambone. "Judith (Jack) Halberstem". Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans. University of Wisconsin Press, 2010: 138-144.
  • J. Jack Halberstam. Gaga Feninism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal. Beacon Press, 2012.
  • Judith Halberstam. "Heini Halberstam obituary". The Guardian, 30 January 2014.
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Around the same time as Halberstam published Female Masculinity, Riki Wilchins published Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender. What they have in common is that they both pay attention to persons who fall between the standard gender categories. I have not found any account that compares the two.

In the Female Masculinity chapter on John Radclyffe Hall, Halberstam has interesting things to say about the rich English masculine women who spent time in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. I would have liked Halberstam's comments on the Parisian masculine women such as Violet Morris and Madeleine Pelletier who so much resemble trans men and yet retained their female name.

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