Summary Of Blood And Guts In High School, By Kathy Acker

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Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School, through a vulgar, unreal narrative, critiques and mocks the gender expectations of our patriarchal society. Acker writes a narrative that routinely switches between various forms: imagery, fairy-tale, drama, poetry to name a few. As one progresses through Acker’s comically un-realistic story, her scathing critique of patriarchy in society becomes clearer. Acker’s writing can be viewed through the lens of Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Butler stresses on the fact that modern society views sexuality as a primary element of one’s identity. Additionally, gender as part of one’s identity is socially produced through repetition …show more content…

The scene conveys the message that Janey’s agency is never within her control. Every action that she takes is predicated on obeying the authority represented by a man. Janey’s Boss begins berating his workers for not working hard enough. Her response begins with “I hate…” before she gets interrupted by Sahih, a slave worker for the Boss. In their interaction Sahih being Janey’s equal as a co-worker is neglected and instead preceded by him being a man. He tells her, “I didn’t tell you you could open your mouth” (132). Suddenly the Boss and Sahih become equal partners in degrading Janey and the reader realizes that the author is aware of how humiliating such a scene would be for any woman to endure. Acker’s social understanding of the world beyond the place where she comes from shines through in this scene. She understands that a lot of men all over the world who are not particularly successful in their lives still find pride in believing that they are superior to women. Sahih further ridicules Janey and her ability to work. He says, “You have to understand that you’re stupid. And you’ll never be able to make enough money to get away by working” (Acker 132). The reader is aware by now that Sahih himself considers Janey below him on the social ladder. He starts overpowering Janey and scaring her that she would not be earning enough to desert …show more content…

Right from the initial conversations that Janey has with her father, it becomes evident that her agency is within his control. She tells him, “I love you. I adore you. When I first met you, it’s as if a light turned on for me. You’re the first joy I knew. Don’t you understand?” (Acker 9). Acker does not wish to write and create some sort of sexual liberation. Instead, she presents desire as a graspable entity which is better than sex because it does not require one to submit to the dominant discourse. It is usually a woman who is viewed as subservient and continuously requiring a man to provide stability in her life. The reality is that most societies in the world either explicitly or implicitly believe in this belief. This leads to girls being taught from a very small age on how to behave in public, and how to act around boys. The conversations in the play scenes of the novel are indicative of the practice of “teaching” children how to enact their gender in society. The connection between the performances in the novel to Butler’s work is now easier to make. Gender, for Butler, is performative. People perform and imitate acts that ‘cite’ a gender until they become unconscious and natural. These “ acts, gestures, enactments, generally constructed, are

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