The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life

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Harvard University Press, 2000 - Social Science - 227 pages
In this lively and surprising essay on the dangers of normalcy, Michael Warner sends a warning shot to the gay rights movement, which has cleaned up its image in order to blend in with the mainstream. By taking as its raison d'etre the fight for gay marriage, gay politics has abandoned its historic fight against the stigmatization of sex. But, as Warner shows, when gays agree to separate their 'sex' from their 'identity,' they are only rewarded with oppressive trends like stricter zoning of gay clubs and businesses, the 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' policy in the military and, ironically, the 'Defense of Marriage' act. Warner presents a piercing and cogent analysis of the politics of shame and the stigma of sexual identity. He offers an alternative ethical vision that proclaims sex is as varied as the people who have it, and honesty and morality are not limited to those with a marriage license. His powerful indictment of all that's wrong with the trend to 'normalize' will spark heated debate among all readers; gay and straight, liberal and conservative.

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THE TROUBLE WITH NORMAL: Sex, Politics and the Ethics of Queer Life

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Warner (English/Rutgers Univ.) challenges the current stodginess of queer activism—focused as it is on the gay community's hope to be considered "normal"—through his incisive critique of the ... Read full review

The trouble with normal: sex, politics, and the ethics of queer life

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"In this book I am trying to point out the way current conflicts within the gay and lesbian movement, especially debates about public sex and marriage, are not so much debates with shared assumptions ... Read full review


The Ethics of Sexual Shame
Whats Wrong with Normal?
Beyond Gay Marriage
Zoning Out Sex
The Politics of Shame and HIV Prevention

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About the author (2000)

Michael Warner is Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. He is the editor of American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King and Fear of a Queer Planet. He also writes for The Nation, The Advocate, The Village Voice, and other periodicals.

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