The Irish Ga(y)ze, or Whither my O/other?

Author: Adrian Goodwin (Independent Scholar)

 “He was a polymorph, unintegrated, could-become-a-person creature.”[1]

“For my perception […] is as much a fact as the sun.”[2]


At its broadest level, the central focus of this paper is the dynamics of seeing, being seen, and not being seen within Irish queer culture. Through a close reading of a recent queer autobiography, namely that of the drag artist Pandora “Panti” Bliss, I wish to analyze the ocular vicissitudes of Irish queerness―what I will refer to, in psychoanalytic terms, as the “Irish ga(y)ze.”

Importantly, any discussion of a psychoanalytically defined gaze must shape itself vis-à-vis the “other” toward whom that gaze is directed. By “other” here I refer not only to one’s visual, intersubjective other, but also to one’s constitutive and yet inassimilable big Other. That Other is the root and cause of one’s desire that, whilst at the level of the gaze, is situated beyond one’s visual capacities. This, in simplified terms, is the gaze qua Jacques Lacan’s subject, as the latter is constructed on three separate yet interconnecting planes: the Imaginary (the plane on which intersubjectivity turns), the Symbolic (the imprint of language on the subject’s body), and the Real (that “Other” substance in and of the self, which is the cause of, yet is anathema to, how that self desires).[3]

Where is the Irish queer’s other/Other at the level of the gaze? Or where, alternatively, is his or her queer desire located on a visual plane? These are the two fundamental questions I seek to answer here. Significantly, it is Panti’s autobiography that is exemplary precisely because it illuminates the O/other at the very center of Irish queer desire. It is this otherness moreover that, from the point of view of a cultural heterosexism, has been rendered incompatible with that same queerness. As Michael Warner puts it in his well-known critique of the somewhat tenuous link between homosexuality and narcissism as instated by psychoanalytic thought, “if it were possible to admit that any relevant forms of otherness operate in homosexuality, then the main feature of heterosexual self-understanding would be lost.”[4] It is the insidious identification that woman is Other, Warner tells us, that is the template for any heterosexist understanding of same-sex desire as overtly narcissistic. Homosexuality—the desire for the self-same—is thus diagnosed as incompatible with Otherness, signifying a regression to an earlier, infantile stage of narcissism. In his response to this mostly Freudian account of same-sex desire, however, Warner argues for a narcissistic connection to Otherness that is not only as hetero- as it is homo-specific, but is also, given the psychic processes of identification/idealization, universal:

[Freud does not] acknowledge that to describe homosexuality as merely a version of narcissism is counter-intuitive. The homosexual is interested in others in a way that is not true of the narcissist in general. Ovid tells us that Narcissus rejects not just the girls who love him, but also the boys. Those boys then have an interest in other persons […]. [S]econdary narcissism does not preclude a recognition of alterity. Everyone undergoes—and indeed requires—the kind of narcissism Freud describes.[5]

Warner’s critique of Freud is, as Tim Dean puts it, a critique “of the assumption that heterosexuality represents the principal axis of one’s relation to the other,” and thus “challenges the primacy of sexual difference.”[6] The queer—cathecting as he does to the “self-same”—is the socialized and abjectified “challenge” to that same “primacy.”

Far from such otherness being incompatible with queer desire, however, the mainspring of the present reading of Panti’s text is to appreciate how the Irish queer (like all other queers) is in perpetual visual enthrall of the other, and thus at the helm of a desire both imaginary and intersubjective. At the same time, I wish to delineate how such desire is engendered from a point beyond visual possibility. In short, how is Irish queer desire constructed around another’s gaze—one that remains wholly intractable to the queer eye watching or being watched?

The psychoanalytic nexus of this enquiry must take its primary cue from the fundamental blocking-off that our emergence as subjects brings about—that is to say, subjectivity itself is at a remove from both an unseen and unseeable gaze, as well as the real, unlawful desires of which such a gaze is representative. At the same time, it is that forbidden and unseeable gaze that remains essential to the foundation of the unseeing subject. The latter paradox seems to gain corporeal eminence in, and inadvertently act as a conceptual tool for, the subculture of Irish drag—and it is specifically Panti’s drag artistry I am referring to here, an artistry that has become the most politicized engenderment of the latter subculture. Furthermore, my reading of Panti’s text is concerned with how she subtly earmarks, in and out of drag, one’s subjective attempts at approaching this unapproachable gaze. In Lacanian parlance, drag offers variant lines of vision for the eye to approach the ocular “screen” that separates us from the gaze that is both our source and our undoing. It is this screen that thus remains essential, for without it, not only would we become privy to the reality of our desire (the cause of our desire as our objet a) but our potential as desiring subjects would be irremediably cut-off. It is one’s screen that saves the subject from the Other’s gaze, and thus from becoming a non-subject. The very possibility, moreover, of allowing for a Lacanian appreciation of Panti’s text is made possible by virtue of the fact that, in the foreground of Panti’s political agenda—an agenda that becomes indissociable from her drag artistry—is an acute self-obsession trigged and sustained by a phantasmagoric gaze. In short, Panti’s drag artistry is informed by a gaze that is impossible for her to see and yet, paradoxically, inextricable from how and what she sees at the same time. We might say that the focus here is on the queer coordinates of Panti’s “screen”—that which cordons her off from the very gaze that, as we will see, establishes her as a subject in the first instance.

Concomitantly, Panti’s drag artistry, I suggest, allows her to “play” with the coordinates of both her “screen” as well as that of others. In fact, her self-appointed role as “gender discombobulator,” to use her own self-appointed conceit,[7] is refashioned here as having the potential to out the other’s Other gaze, thus underscoring the very tenuousness of that other’s (gay or straight) desire.

However, such “discombobulation” has its limitations. From a psychoanalytic perspective, recent socio-cultural advances regarding same-sex identity—namely and exclusively the passing of gay marriage legislation both in Ireland and elsewhere—have allowed for pertinent re-readings of Lacan’s theory of the gaze, primarily with respect to the subject’s (already limited) agency when it comes to circumnavigating that obfuscating screen. And it is precisely the political subtext to Panti’s drag artistry—that is, her unilateral support for (even embodiment of?) marriage equality, with its potential to domesticate and solemnize drag’s ability precisely to out the fragile contours of the other’s desire—that, in respect of an overarching schema, can be said to drive the present analysis.


Dragging the Ga(y)ze

The publication, in mid-2015, of the autobiography of Pandora “Panti” Bliss took place not long after the successful outcome of the “Yes” campaign in the referendum for marriage equality in May of that same year. It was, however, a speech Panti herself gave the previous year that became the allocutory sin qua non on behalf of marriage equality. The speech was a response, in large part, to the decision of Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTÉ, to compensate certain journalists who, because they publicly denounced the gay right to marry, were criticized by Panti—out of drag, as Rory O’Neill—on Irish television weeks before. However, the subsequent popularization of the speech is seen as having been instrumental in the eventual passing of the referendum.

In the following analysis, I concentrate on the text of Panti’s speech, delivered first in January 2014 and then included in the aforementioned autobiography. I believe the speech to be one of particular significance for any dissemination of how significant the gaze remains in contemporary queer culture. Moreover, the speech itself will act as a mainspring for variant readings of Panti’s autobiography. I am particularly interested in how Panti’s drag artistry— and how she herself describes the intricate aspects of drag—contributes to her potential, as queer, to rework the semiotics of the gaze around which the ideological nexus of her speech is formulated.

I am going to concentrate on what I consider to be the most important aspects of the speech—those that, notwithstanding the speech’s general interrogative style, indirectly reflect Panti’s own experience of oppression and disenfranchisement. I enumerate these aspects as follows:

  1.  “Have you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car drives by and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out of the window as they go by and shout ‘Fag!’ and throw a carton of milk at you?”
  2.  “It’s afterwards that I wonder and worry and obsess—what was it about me? What did they see in me?”
  3. “I hate myself for it but I check myself to see what is it about me that gives the gay away. And I check myself to make sure that I’m not doing it this time.”
  4.  “Have you ever been on a crowded train with one of your best gay friends, and inside a tiny part of you is cringing because he is being so gay, and you find yourself trying to compensate for his gayness by butching up a little, or by trying to steer onto safer, ‘straighter,’ territory? Now this is you, who have spent the last thirty-five years of your life trying to be the best gay possible, and yet there is still this small part of you that is embarrassed by his gayness.”
  5.  “And I hate myself for that, and that feels oppressive. And when I am at a pedestrian bloody light I am checking myself.”
  6.  “And you go outside and you stand at the pedestrian crossing and you check yourself.”
  7. “But I do sometimes hate myself. I fucking hate myself because I fucking check myself when standing at pedestrian crossings.”[8]

Despite the fact that I wish to read the speech, as I enumerate it here, from a psychoanalytic perspective, no such reading can or should substitute for one that takes full account of the feelings of oppression and dehumanization from which it stems. The psychoanalytic subtext of the speech takes its cue, moreover, from the after-effects of the latter event. For example, how might we begin to interpret the vicissitudes of “checking” that Panti begins to obsessively act out after the incident takes place? And what exactly does such “checking” have to do with the carton-wielding “lads” themselves? In asking such questions, I am trying to gain understanding on two intersecting planes: first, how the abuse levelled at Panti—and the psychological after-effects of that abuse—is emblematic of the ways queer sexuality is underwritten, at the level of the visual, by a gaze first seen and then unseen; and second, how Panti’s drag artistry has the potential to disturb the contours of that unseen gaze.

The speech highlights an important phenomenological shift: the “lads” are there, then they are not; and yet crucially, they “remain.” After all, it is the gaze of the (lower-case) other as Panti sees it—the gaze, as we saw at the end of the last section, that affects us at a symbolic level—that might be said to shape or constitute her queerness in the first instance. In other words, it is the recognized and recognizable experience of abuse that prefigures how Panti self-defines as queer in the incident’s aftermath.

Conversely, however, what signifies the perpetual reconstitution and maintenance of her queerness after the event itself is a gaze that is not actually on the level of the intersubjective. There is no one watching her, or there for her to watch, that leads to her need to “check” herself. And yet the “lads” themselves, Panti infers, are the cause of her need to continually check herself.

For Lacan, that which is not seen marks both the foundation and sustaining of the subject. Subjectivity, in short, is instituted via an ocular “slip.” “In our relation to things,” Lacan hypothesized, “in so far as this relation is constituted by the way of vision, and ordered in the figures of representation, something slips, passes, is transmitted, from stage to stage, and is always to some degree eluded in it—that is what we call the gaze.”[9] To become “figures of representation”—to become subjects, in other words—with the very (queer) eye we see with, is to have something become elusive within that same visual economy. As Joan Copjec in her reading of Lacan puts it:

[The] point at which something appears to be invisible, this point at which something appears to be missing from representation, some meaning left unrevealed, is the point of the Lacanian gaze. It marks the absence of a signified; it is the unoccupiable point, not […] because it figures an unrealizable ideal but because it indicates an impossible real. […]

The subject is the effect of the impossibility of seeing what is lacking in the representation, what the subject therefore wants to see.[10]

This “wanting to see” with respect to Panti needs clarifying. Panti’s need to check herself thus indirectly retains the so-called “lads” on the lineaments of that same act. To be clear, I am in no way suggesting that Panti goes “looking” for the “lads” who levelled abuse at her. What I am suggesting is that to read Panti’s speech within a psychoanalytic framework is to appreciate the closer ties between the matrices of seeing and not seeing on the one hand, and being seen and not being seen on the other (and, correlatively, between the symbolic and the real) from a queer/drag vantage point.

At the same time, because the abuse Panti highlights is and has been historically more resonant within queer communities, we might say that queer “representation,” to recall Copjec, is more insistent, precisely in order to preempt such abuse, in its need to “attract and induce the gaze”[11]—even if that now indeterminate gaze is centered upon one that was demonstratively homophobic at a symbolic level. Panti sees the “lads” throwing the carton of milk at her—this is at a symbolic level. But these “lads,” now de-phenomonalized, continue to inscribe themselves on Panti’s queerness through the latter’s self-reflexive need to “check” herself—this is at the level of the real. The real is thus absorbed by the symbolic and vice-versa.

If the real is the unknowable yet perpetually evocative precinct of the Other’s gaze, then the question Panti’s speech invites us to ask is where the act of “checking” places her body in relation to that gaze. To what extent, in other words, is the body she “checks” established at that interstitial point between that which is a seen gaze, and the gaze of the Other as that which is irreducible to another human being? To reiterate, the abusive treatment she experiences engenders a form of self-surveillance that is indirectly influenced by intersubjective others that are not now reducible to phenomenal bodies per se. And this is the confusing nexus of gaze theory that is characteristic of both Jean-Paul Sartre’s gaze theory and that of Lacan’s.

 For Sartre, the gaze of the Other is intimately related to the vulnerable nature of one’s subjective status. That is also to say, the gaze is consistent with the subject’s being “shocked” or made to feel shameful by others. However, such feelings are not coextensive with a visually present other. “A gaze surprises [the subject],” Lacan writes of Sartre’s gaze theory in Four Fundamental Concepts, “in the function of voyeur, disturbs him, and reduces him to a feeling of shame. The gaze in question is certainly the presence of others as such.”[12] And yet for Sartre, the “other” is not reducible—as it is for Lacan—to a symbolic configuration, or one that foregrounds intersubjectivity. As Sartre argues in Being and Nothingness, “The other [of the gaze] is inapprehensible; he flees me when I seek him, and possesses me when I flee him.”[13]

Lacan’s axiom that the “gaze I encounter is not a seen gaze, but a gaze imagined by me in the field of the Other,” is the immediate corollary to the “inapprehensible” nature of the Sartrean gaze.[14] However, Lacan’s divergence from Sartre’s theory, particularly in relation to how the gaze of the Other is the causal force behind one’s acculturation, is important to take account of here, given that Panti’s speech tacitly illuminates that same divergence.

In her account of Sartre’s theory, Joan Copjec tries to understand how “the presence of the Other is sensible to me.”[15] “If the gaze is revealed to me,” Copjec observes, “it is not insofar as I am a disembodied subject, through pure cognition; it is rather as embodied subject, through sensible indications, that I encounter the gaze of the Other.” This being “embodied” confirms not that “‘there is someone there, [but] that I am vulnerable, that I have a body which can be hurt.’”[16] Rather than being equable to a body that can be “hurt” on a physiological plane, moreover, it is, as Copjec goes on to tell us, a body that is “hurt” on an intellectual one. “Unaccountably,” Copjec reasons, “it is not the body but ‘mind’ or consciousness that is ‘bruised,’ as it were, by this mechanical notion of contact.” And then, in a sentence that allows for a more immediate Sartrean adduction of Panti’s speech, Copjec states, “Traces called sensations are formed in the mind, and from them one is supposed to be able to refer back to the particular external objects that caused them.”

From a Sartrean perspective, then, we might understand Panti’s “checking” herself in terms of the trauma elicited through memory—as a form of psychic recidivism, in other words, centered upon an encounter with the other. But to read Panti in such a Sartrean light does little in our apprehension of how the Other, as opposed to the other, contributes to her need to “check.” For, as Copjec goes onto to delineate, the Sartrean Other is “not the object of a possible cognition,” but rather the “experience of the gaze” on a “prenumerical” plane.[17] “Prenumerical” here alludes to the difficultly in objectivizing the Other “either as something unifying and abstract [or as] a formal condition of knowledge that will […] ensure that what I see is objectively true, or a ‘scientific’ community that can confirm, on the basis of the norms and procedures we share, the validity of my perceptions.”[18]

That the gaze of the Other does not amount to what Copjec calls “a formal condition of knowledge,” pinpoints Lacan’s divergence from Sartre’s theory. After all, as I have already observed, it is the former’s thesis that it is the Other’s gaze, in all its phenomenological indeterminacy, that determines the coordinates of the subject, and that allows for the very “condition of knowledge” upon which that subjectivity is, to invoke Copjec, “objectively” placed. And to read her speech closely, moreover, is to realize that Panti’s mode of self-checking—what amounts to her “condition of knowledge,” as it were—is indissociable from the effects of the Other’s gaze, effects that Lacan, unlike Sartre, sees as fundamental to one’s being made culturally recognizable. Thus, whilst Panti’s “checking” herself can be read from the point of view of Sartrean “prenumericality,” especially with respect to the “trace sensation” of actual others Copjec observes, her speech is illustrative of the extent to which she is a symbolic manifestation or residue of the Other’s gaze—of that gaze as it is illuminated under a Lacanian light. What I am also referring to here is Panti’s “screen.”

In what seems like quite a self-evident formulation, Lacan at one point states, “in the scopic field, the gaze is outside, I am looked at….”[19] He then goes on to say: “I am a picture.” This pictorial “I” is a result of what Lacan refers to as my being “photo-graphed”: “It is through the gaze that I enter light and it is from the gaze that I receive its effects. […] [T]hat gaze is the instrument through which light is embodied and through which […] I am photo-graphed.” Yet this process of being configured through light from outside is in no way self-orchestrated: as Lacan states earlier on, “perception is not in me.”[20] Moreover, the light from outside through which I am emitted reveals my “I” as a “picture,” but it is a light from which I myself, the seeing subject, am omitted from seeing. In short, the “I” that is the end-product of light is that which I am perpetually cut-off from. As Lacan explains, “That which is light looks at me, and […] is an impression, the shimmering of a surface that is not, in advance, situated for me in its distance.”[21]

There is thus something in the en-lightened construct that is “me” from which I am debarred. This “something,” as we have already alluded to, is the Other’s gaze: that which emits the light from which I am “looked at” and hence rendered a subject. Crucially, moreover, it is this light that paradoxically cuts me off from seeing it. In other words, to be “photographed” by the gaze is to be subjectivized between light and darkness. “Mediating,” as Lacan puts it, “between the subject and the light of the gaze, is the ‘screen’”[22]—that which “predetermines,” to quote Kaja Silverman, the “shape assumed by the subject.”[23]

What is revealing about the “screen” from which we assume shape is the “split subject” that we inevitably become: that is, between that being that cannot see what is beyond the screen—that gaze of the Other—and that being whose perpetual desire it is to see beyond it. This is the “breaking up” of the self, as Lacan referred to it, between “the [subject’s] being and its semblance, between itself and the paper tiger it shows to the other.”[24] And yet paradoxically, it is that “semblance” that is sustained vis-à-vis the desire to be “reacquainted” with what the subject thinks is their “real being.” To recall Joan Copjec here, “the subject is the effect of the impossibility of seeing what is lacking in the representation, what the subject therefore wants to see.”[25] This wanting-to-see accounts for the fact that, as Lacan tells us, we are never fully sustainable as imaginary beings.[26]

On the other hand, and to initiate a more proximal alignment between Lacan and Panti, we can now ask: what is Panti’s “paper tiger” in need of “checking”? What, in other words, are the psychic coordinates of that body that she consistently “checks”? What the speech reveals is a close psychological proximity between the body being “checked” and the bodies of the “lads” that become the external signifiers of that need to “check.” In fact, the body being “surveyed” by Panti is under a similar form of heterosexist policing as that initiated by the “lads” themselves. Hence, she “looks” for that which “they” saw “in her,” for that which, in her, “gave the gay away”—numbers 2) and 3) above. Further, her subsequent feelings are of oppressiveness and self-hatred—numbers 4) to 7) above—the same feelings that the “lads” precipitated, but which are now rerouted, having become, in short, self-reflexive. This movement of the heterosexist gaze inwards is more patently recognizable in what Panti states in number 4) above. The compensatory need on her part—and on behalf of the other train passengers—to “butch up a little […] to steer onto safer, ‘straighter’ territory,” in light of a friend’s all too overt display of queerness, emblematizes Panti’s transition from being the object of the homophobic gaze to being the subject of one. She, in short, becomes the queer in the throes of homophobic observation.

Thus the queer body in need of self-inspection—in or out of drag, given that the speech does not specify which body, Panti’s or Rory’s, must be “checked”—is established and maintained through a (self-generated) heterosexist gaze. Such a thesis nonetheless is warranted given what Panti herself says toward the end of her speech. Referring to her audience at the Abbey, with the audience acting metonymically for those unknown “lads,” she says, “I don’t hate you. […] I do, it is true, believe that almost all of you are homophobes. But I’m a homophobe. It would be incredible if we weren’t! To grow up in a society that is overwhelmingly and stiflingly homophobic and to somehow escape unscathed would be miraculous.”[27]

Here, Panti’s screen works to confer upon its subject a significant moment of self-awareness, for Panti understands that the body in need of “checking” is the product of a homophobic gaze in which she herself participates. In so doing, there is no difference, in a psychosocial sense, between Panti’s queer body and the bodies that force her into the shame of having to self-survey. Panti, in Lacanian terms, “mimics” the heterosexist gaze from which her body is not only produced but also continually reproduced in the perpetual act of “checking.” And for Panti to “mimic” is to be before her obfuscating “screen”: not only that which produces the (homophobic) light that, in turn, subjectivizes her, but also that from which she is, as a subject, cut off from. This is, once again, what Lacan referred to as the “bi-partition” of the subject, which “splits” the subject between its “real” self and the socio-symbolic “paper tiger” it shows the world:

[T]he being gives of himself, or receives from the other, something that is like a mask or a double, an envelope, a thrown-off skin, thrown off in order to cover the frame of a shield. It is through this separated form of himself that the being comes into play in the effects of life and death, and it might be said that it is with the help of this doubling of the other, or of oneself, that is realized the conjunction from which proceeds the renewal of beings in reproduction.[28]

The “mask” Panti wears is, as I have been arguing, thus “borrowed” from the heterosexual other. Her “mask” is, to recall Kaja Silverman, the very essence of how she is “visually articulated” vis-à-vis the “passive duplication of a pre-existing image.”[29] That “pre-existing” image that is mimicked and thus immanent to the queer self is, as Panti herself observes, a homophobic one.

It’s important to stress here that, by alluding to “masks” and “mimicking” à la Lacan, I am in no way alluding to Panti’s drag artistry. The very process of mask “acquisition,” as it were, and mimicking engenders subjectivity tout court. Consequently, both Panti and Rory O’Neill are subject to the gaze of an Other that acts as the model of their status as bodily subjects.

But Panti and Rory O’Neill are different. As Panti tells us, unlike Panti, Rory “is a real person with an ordinary person’s baggage.”[30] Consequently, we must gain understanding as to the process of “duplication” upon which the identities of both Panti and Rory rest, by virtue of the transition from non-drag to drag. In other words, does Panti in drag—as opposed to out of it—affect the coordinates of her gaze?

In asking, I am reassessing Panti’s Other gaze through the ideological fulcrum of gender performativity as formulated by Judith Butler. After all, if the unseen gaze of the Other is a heterosexist one that Panti mimics, then we can say that it is that gaze, in all its indeterminacy, that is the scopic coeval of the fictionalized Other upon which the “fantasy” of “gender coherence,” to quote Butler, is structured.[31] This, as I have stated, is a gaze that neither Rory nor Panti can fully transcend. And yet there is a way to read the performative potential in drag that Butler theorizes through an optic lens. It is Panti’s self-appointed role as “gender discombobulator” that might be said to give her the opportunity to “play” not only with the screen with which she has been dealt but also with that of others’ screens.

The gaze of the Other is, as we have noted, a phantasmatic one. Moreover, it is this phantasmatic gaze that emits the light with which we are constituted as subjects. And as my reading of Panti’s speech ascertains, this “light” is, in terms of the sex/gender binary, centered upon heterosexist “emissions.” In other words, this “light” institutes subjects, and subjective relations, within the framing mechanism of heterosexuality. Panti’s bodily presence on the street/bus-stop transgresses the heterosexual self-understanding that this “light” is in the service of keeping in place—hence, the thrown milk carton.

We might reconfigure this phantasmatically “lit” subject by reading it alongside the theory of phantasmatic identification foregrounding Butler’s thesis on performativity. At one point Butler enquires as to what the body is before it is “marked” by sexed identification.[32] Butler, describing the “fictionalized” constitution of the subject, remarks that, “there is no body prior to its marking. […] [W]e can never tell a story about how it is that a body comes to be marked by the category of sex, for the body before the mark is constituted as signifiable only through the mark.” There is no body before the mark; and, correlatively, there is no body—Rory’s or Panti’s—before the “light.”

For Butler, the mark of “sexual difference” comes into effect as a result of Oedipal identifications that are in the service of what she refers to as the “false stabilization of gender in the interests of heterosexual construction.”[33] But such identifications become intrinsic to the sex/gender system on fallacious grounds. It is the imaginary threat of castration that allows for the “stabilization of gender” to become the blueprint of identity construction. “To identify with a sex,” Butler contends, “is to stand in some relation to an imaginary threat, imaginary and forceful, forceful precisely because it is imaginary.”[34] Butler goes on to elicit this imaginary matrix within a Lacanian framework: “The symbolic marks the body by sex through threatening that body, through the deployment/production of an imaginary threat, a castration, a privation of some bodily part: this must be the masculine body that will lose the member it refuses to submit to the symbolic inscription; without symbolic inscription, that body will be negated.”[35]

If the gaze of the Other is that which frames Panti’s bodily subjectivity, that framing is then coextensive with the symbolic inscription of the body qua imaginary castration of which Butler speaks. Furthermore, the outcome of not fully adhering to the precepts that allow for such “inscription” to take place is two-fold. Firstly, Panti is the victim of the homophobic gaze—a gaze that is also an immediate, physical act of depredation. Secondly, that gaze becomes internalized: the “lads” become the public at large, only for Panti to gain understanding as to how she, too, comes to stand for that “public” involved in the same act of queer surveillance. These are the visual by-products, as it were, of the gender non-compliance that both Panti in drag and Rory O’ Neill as queer, represent. As Butler points out, if “women are always already punished”[36] by always already being castrated, then the “binarism of feminized male homosexuality, on the one hand, and masculinized female homosexuality, on the other, is itself produced as the restrictive spectre that constitutes the defining limits of symbolic exchange.”[37] In other words, that binarism is recognized as abject—and the subjects of such binarism abjectly abused­—because it is made to represent the failure of the castration fantasy upon which male, heterosexual “symbolic exchange” is negotiated. Underwriting the ocular exchange that thus develops between Panti, the “lads,” and the public more generally, is one centered upon the intrinsic failure of symbolic exchange, of which Panti and Rory, as queer, are seen as abject reminders.

Despite its so-called “failure,” however, one cannot ignore the monolithic nature of such “exchange,” or the abuse that is wrought as a result—Panti’s speech being the very testament to such abuse. But what about Panti/Rory in drag? And how are we to understand the semiotics of “gender discombobulation” that Panti sees herself as engendering, if she herself is the very product of that “exchange”—not only in symbolic terms, but in terms of the heterosexist gaze that is a by-product of that symbolic process? Does such “discombobulation” amount to an effective means of challenging that same process? This is not to inquire as to how the psychosocial effects of the abuse Panti’s speech gives voice to might undergo some process of sublation; nor is it to inquire, for that matter, how such abuse might be preempted in the future. Rather, it is to inquire as to whether Panti’s self-understanding as a drag artist—one that comes close to Butler’s own account of the potential in drag—has any potential to reroute the parameters of the heterosexist gaze she herself plays a collusive role in.

In her autobiography, Panti explains what she understands to be the intricacies of “gender discombobulation”:

[D]rag plays with notions of gender and identity. It constantly asks questions about what gender is. Is gender just performed? Is it real at all? Does it matter? Does how we present our gender affect how other people react to us? […] I am presenting a character that is neither male nor female, neither one nor the other, but rather something else entirely. And there’s power in being something else entirely.[38]

The “power” of which Panti speaks is subsequently equated with the drag artist’s ability to be offensive without it seeming so. She continues: “The drag queen as caricature, as larger-than-life cartoon, as court jester, as colourful fool who is allowed to say from behind her mask of lashes and powder and hair and corsetry what the regular peasant would be beheaded for. […] Almost everyone understands the court-jester role played by the drag queen and, anyway, it’s difficult to take offence from a cartoon.”[39]

Panti’s speech at the Abbey definitively answers one of her own questions: that how we present our gender—in or out of drag—does affect “how other people react to us.” Moreover, Panti’s question as to whether gender is “performed” is one she herself also answers. In drag, she plays the “cartoon”-type role of “court-jester,” the Bugs Bunny-like character “wielding the metaphorical skillet.”[40] This, however, is not the limit of Panti’s self-awareness, for she is pursuing a line of questioning that is rhetorical at best, conveying as it does, and however implicitly, an awareness of how drag is a performance (on stage, in costume, and so on), on the one hand, and how such performance is differentiated from the performative constituency of gender identity itself, on the other. In the epilogue to her memoir, Panti quotes the maxim of another famous drag artist, RuPaul: “We are born naked, the rest is drag.”[41] Here is the more universalized drag queen-as-“court jester” Panti describes earlier. It is also an axiom that positions drag on the plane of ontological necessity. After birth, in other words, the acquisition of a gendered “self” is coextensive with the accession to a certain kind of “drag” artistry.

This coheres with Butler’s theory of the performative. As quoted earlier, Butler observes the intrinsic factitiousness of symbolic “exchange.” Hence, the performative is elemental to that same exchange process, and precisely because it obfuscates its factitious nature. Thus, the body has no “internal core or substance,”[42] Butler contends, because the process of identification upon which symbolic exchange turns is a fantasy. As a result, she explains,

acts, gestures and desire produce the effect of an internal core or substance, but produce this on the surface of the body, through the play of signifying absences that suggest, but never reveal, the organizing principle of identity as a cause. Such acts, gestures, enactments, generally construed, are performative in the sense that the essence or identity that they otherwise purport to express are fabrications manufactured and sustained through corporeal signs and other discursive means. […] [The gendered body] has no ontological status apart from the various acts which constitute its reality.[43]

These gendered “fabrications” are what constitute reality, overshadowing at the same time the fact that “reality” is without an “internal core or substance.” In drag parlance, we might refer to this as the “dragging” of a primordial “nudity.” And yet such “fabrications” determine what is “other” to them—thus Butler’s adage that “the ‘performative’ dimension of [identity] construction is precisely the forced reiteration of norms.”[44] Because of symbolic reality’s intrinsic “lack,” gender must be performed through “forced reiteration” in order to perpetually overcome that “lack.” The effect of such a reiterative process is the constraint placed on gender and sexual identities considered “other” to the norms in need of reinforcement.

Thus the axiomatic primordial “nudity” Panti recognizes can also be read as the tacit understanding of our being born a blank sheet, as it were, of having no “original” model of or for the self. And it is the drag artist that, as Butler famously suggests, mimics not an “original” gender but a gender that is itself a form of mimesis:

The notion of gender parody […] does not assume that there is an original which such parodic identities imitate. Indeed, the parody is of the very notion of an original; just as the psychoanalytic notion of gender identification is constituted by a fantasy of a fantasy, the transfiguration of an Other who is always already a “figure” in that double sense, so gender parody reveals that the original identity after which gender fashions itself is an imitation without an origin.[45]

“Originality” in gender terms is thus the “myth” that drag “imitates.” And despite the fact that the gender mores being imitated are, as Butler puts it, “clearly part of the hegemonic, misogynist culture,” they are “nevertheless denaturalized and mobilized through their parodic recontextualization.”[46]

But what does such “recontextualization” actually look like? And what are the limitations of such a “recontextualizing” process? There is, I suggest, an important crossover to be made here between the “lack” of an original gender that Butler elicits, the potential for recontextualization that that “lack” allows for, and the coextensive “lack” that characterizes the gaze of the Other through which the subject is founded. It is Panti’s memoir, moreover, that is the blueprint for how we adduce such a crossover. There are two variant ways of describing what I mean here. If it is the heterosexist gaze that institutes Panti/Rory as subjects—a gaze that, as I have argued, both Panti/Rory collude in—then how, at the same time, does the specific drag appropriation of that gaze isolate the tenuous nature of the other’s gender? Or, how does the “dragging” of Panti’s/Rory’s “screen” allow for an understanding of the other’s “screen” from the point of view of its gendered coordinates?

I refer here to two separate passages from Panti’s autobiography. The first is of a story Panti recalls toward the end of the chapter entitled “Gender Discombobulation.” On presenting a bouquet of flowers to a college tutor at the end of a fashion show, Panti was met with the following reaction: “In front of all the proud parents, younger brothers and sisters of the students,” Panti tells us, “[the woman] turned, looked at me proffering the flowers and screamed, ‘FUCK OFF! I’M A FULL BLOWN WOMAN AND I’VE NEVER BEEN SO INSULTED IN MY LIFE!’”[47]

The second passage comes toward the end of the memoir itself. In it, Panti describes the significant role drag played in how she campaigned for marriage equality, and how it was toward Panti and not Rory that the ensuing support she received was directed. “I was well aware,” she tells us,

that in many ways [such support] had little or nothing to do with me. I mean, there would never have been shop window mannequins dressed in ‘Team Rory’ shirts […] because Rory is a real person with an ordinary person’s baggage. Rory has ex-boyfriends who are pissed off with him and a mother whose birthday he never remembers. But Panti has none of the messy baggage associated with being human. Panti doesn’t poop. So it was easy for people to turn her into an avatar. An avatar for the kind of Ireland they wanted. The kind of Ireland that would choose a drag queen for a kind of figurehead.[48]

Just as the public’s eyes were a significant determinant to how Panti presented herself on stage at the Abbey­—“let [the audience] look all they needed to till they had answered their own questions about my hair, my makeup, my corset, my breasts”[49]—these passages illuminate how, at the level of the gaze, the sight of Panti in drag both disrupts or rearranges the coordinates of one’s screen, only to then realign those coordinates in conventional terms. What we must consider with respect to both passages is what it is the woman, in the first passage, and the Irish public more generally, in the second, “see” when they see Panti.

In relation to the first passage, the woman’s outburst denotes a form of gender panic that can be read from an ocular perspective. In simplified terms, what the woman sees when she sees Panti is not a “woman” in the conventional sense of the word. Consequently, an immediate distinction is drawn between the woman and Panti: the former is a “fully fledged” or “full blown” woman and, by way of implication, the latter is not.

In his astute piece on the importance of Panti’s drag artistry as that which inspires feeling, affectivity, and connectivity between people, Fintan Walsh rightly refers to the latter incident as pointing to “deeper concerns of gender passing.”[50] Such “concerns,” Walsh goes on to suggest, threaten the affective/connective nature of Panti’s drag performances. “[T]he implicit fear,” he argues, “generated by a strange encounter with the embodied other points precisely to the anxiety of being infiltrated by that same figure. In turn, […] phobias of dissolution […] or non-identity lead to a production of affect aliens, as in Sara Ahmed’s coinage, whose daily lives are policed by hatred, fear, and shame, rather than just legislation.” Walsh then suggests that “Panti’s performances are undergirded by a drive to systematically undo this affective peripheralization.”

But these “concerns about gender passing” reveal a more complicated schismatic interplay between self and other than Walsh’s reading allows for. Hence, I want to suggest that Panti not only misaligns the gender “binarism”—to quote Butler above—that presupposes the woman’s self-appointed “full blown” status, but also misaligns, at the level of the gaze, that same woman’s preconceived notions of how that binary structure should meet her eye. After all, any encounter with an “other”—affective or otherwise—presupposes an ocular relation to that other. Crucially, however, such misalignment can only highlight the potential for misalignment within such a binary structure, and not a means for fully dislodging the hegemonic logic that founds such a structure in the first place. Such dislodgement is, in short, theoretical at best. I say this because Walsh’s suggestion that Panti’s performance “undoes” such affective disunity would seem to imply the possible destabilization of gender and sexual mores. In Panti’s case, this may not only prove problematic but also, as we will see, effectively counter-productive.

The dialectical opposition that the woman’s outburst reduces gender to—woman as “full blown” or not—would seem to point back to the misconception of there being an “original” gender. And yet, the outburst is also indirectly symptomatic of the opposite—that, as we have already noted, there is no “original.” Thus, for the woman in question, Panti is the visual reminder of that lack. As such, the woman’s outburst might be understood as the by-product of what Butler calls gender “constraint”—that is, the “constraint” that, for the precise reason that they have no elemental originality, impels the “forced” performative “iteration” of gender norms.[51] Butler adumbrates the socio-cultural effects of such “constraint”:

[In] the domain of sexuality these constraints include the radical unthinkability of desiring otherwise [to that which “institutes” the normalization of (hetero)sexuality], the radical unendurability of desiring otherwise, the absence of certain desires, the repetitive compulsion of others, the abiding repudiation of some sexual possibilities, panic, obsessional pull, and the nexus of sexuality and pain.[52]

By invoking Butler here, I am trying to fully comprehend the heterosexism immanent in the woman’s reaction, and the “affect alien[ation],” as Walsh calls it, that comes about as a result. For the “panic” that can be said to characterize that reaction emanates from the fact that, for the woman, Panti demonstrates not only what Butler sees as the “radical unendurability” of desiring otherwise but also the presentation of oneself as a gender other to the one biologically given. Moreover, the fear of “non-identity” that Walsh sees as being symptomatic of such “alienation” is synonymous with another of the woman’s fears: that is, the fear that her “unoriginal” womanhood will be, or is in the process of being, effectively outed by or in Panti’s presence―given, that is, that the latter represents, to invoke Butler, the parodic potentiality of that unoriginality. Like the “lads” before her, the intrinsic failure of the woman’s symbolic identity is unconsciously made manifest through Panti.

But the important upshot here is that this fiction of gender “originality” is very much related to the visual exchange between Panti and the woman in question. Taking as my point of departure both women’s Other gaze, I want to appreciate Panti’s drag artistry for how it undercuts the so-called “stable” nature of the other woman’s femininity.

One’s “screen,” as we have already noted, is quintessentially that which is both the product of the unseen gaze of the Other and what blocks us off, at the level of the eye, from that gaze. The screen is also that which allows us to be made “visually articulate.”[53] To become “visually articulate”—to be, as we noted earlier, “photographed”—is also to be subjected on an imaginary plane. However, for Lacan, the subject is never “fully” inside this imaginary structure. Unlike the animal, he observed,

[T]he subject[,] the human subject, is […] not entirely caught up in the imaginary capture. He maps himself in it. How? In so far as he isolates the function of the screen and plays with it. Man, in effect, knows how to play with the mask as that beyond which there is the gaze. The screen is here the locus of mediation.[54]

To “play” with one’s mask or screen is not, however, to move beyond the contours of the symbolic; nor is it to gain more forceful access to the realm of the Real―such access, as we have been made aware, is impossible. Neither is “playing” a means of mitigating the effect of subjectification by mimicking already established modes of “being.” However, Lacan’s point regarding “playing” is, as Kaja Silverman observes, that “it becomes possible to impute to the subject some kind of agency,” with the pertinent qualifier, “albeit one hedged about with all kinds of qualifications and limitations, not the least of which is the impossibility of that subject ever achieving either self-presence or ‘authenticity.’”[55]

There is an implicit referencing to drag artistry in what Silverman considers to be authentic—but never fully “authentic”—ways of “playing” with one’s screen. “Authenticity” refers specifically to those modes of playing that already mirror the culture in place. “The subject,” Silverman tells us,

can only be “photographed” through the frame of culturally intelligible images. Those attempts at collective self-redefinition which rely upon masquerade, parody, inversion, and bricolage will consequently be more successful than those aimed at the ex-nihilo creation of new images, since they work upon the existing cultural imaginary.[56]

Panti’s self-described drag is the essence of culturally inscribed screen-playing. To give just one example: Panti giving her speech at the Abbey. It is there, on stage, that two forms of “drag” come to pass. The first is Panti in drag, that which “plays” not only with gender mores but also with Panti’s own “screen,” one which, whilst inextricably linked to her biological gender, is being “played” with—what is tantamount, that is to say, to a gender redefining of that screen. The second is the audience as the genus of cultural “inscription” at the heart of Panti’s drag; in other words, it is the audience’s “screens” that must be first taken into consideration for Panti to perform. Recall Panti’s own words regarding her audience: “They would expect me to brash and outrageous and silly. They would expect me to be light. But I was aware of that and knew how to handle it.”[57]

As I argued earlier, Panti’s artistry, like all drag, misaligns conventional gender structures but only by taking into consideration (as her latter rehearsal illuminates) the culture at large. It is thus never a full misalignment. This directly contrasts with Fintan Walsh’s argument that Panti “disidentifies with [normative] culture [through] mobilizing queer communities of feeling,”[58] a mode of “disidentification” that ironically Walsh conceptualizes via a different rendering of the word “play”: “play as preparation for an alternative way of life.”[59]

My argument does not, however, preclude an attempt at understanding what happens to the other’s screen vis-à-vis Panti’s artistry, with the “other” in this case being a straight or gay other. Let’s return briefly to the woman enraged at Panti in drag. How does her “screen” come into play when contrasted with Panti’s “screen”? One could make the argument that the woman, unlike Panti, is too much inside her imaginary register. Alternatively put, the clash of screens, as it were, as a way of understanding the woman’s paroxysm visually, denotes how she abides more forcefully than Panti to the gender coordinates of her screen. The woman does not, in short, “play” with her screen to the same extent as Panti. Indeed, it is the perpetuation of (heterosexist) convention for which one’s “screen,” for Lacan, is in service. “[I]t is with the help of this doubling of the other,” Lacan states, speaking about the “other” self behind one’s screen or “mask,” “that is realized the conjunction from which proceeds the renewal of beings in reproduction.” And later: “It is no doubt through the mediation of masks that the masculine and the feminine meet in the most acute, most intense way.”[60]

It seems one’s screen allows for a “conjunction” between self and other that is heterosexist, conventionally gendered, and thus journeying toward procreation. Returning to Panti’s interaction with the woman, however, let me offer the following reading. The woman’s reaction not only illustrates a form of genderphobia at the level of the gaze, but Panti’s all-too-legibly “playing” with the gender coordinates of her screen isolates the fact that one’s screen in general is mutable, with convention being “screened” from a number of different angles. Indeed, for Panti to play as such unconsciously reveals to the woman that there is no one screen—in fact, that no one’s screen is paradigmatically “original” in a gendered sense. After all, one’s “screen,” like one’s “gender,” emanates, as we’ve noted throughout, from a point of Real nothingness―from an intrinsic void that must be performatively made and remade into something. “I AM A FULL BLOWN WOMAN” is an invective thus unconsciously precipitated by the woman’s symbolic failure and at the same time Panti’s embodiment of that failure.

To turn, finally, to the second of our quoted passages above: what is the significance of Panti’s drag persona as that of an “avatar” for others—an avatar, as Panti puts it, “for the kind of Ireland they wanted”—from a visual perspective? What, in other words, does such drag status say about the screen of the other that projects such a persona onto Panti? I want to suggest here that Panti allows for the other to “play” with their screen over and beyond the conventional lineaments of those screens. By “conventional” here, I am referring in particular to the politics of Irish queer identity. For Panti-as-avatar is inextricably bound with the politicized figure she becomes during the campaign for marriage equality, the very purpose of which was the reformulation of conventions relating to the matrimonial act. However, in arguing in this way, we begin to understand just how conventionalized Panti’s art becomes in its avatar role. In giving others the opportunity to play with their screens, Panti inadvertently neutralizes drag’s capabilities to sustain its own particular kind of disruptive play.

For Lacan, one’s screen is imbricated with that of another’s—hence, the necessary mimetic frame around subjectivity. In point of fact, the mask from which one’s screen derives can be “borrowed,” for Lacan, from the other. “[T]he being,” he avers, “gives of himself, or receives from the other, something that is like a mask, a double, an envelope, a thrown-off skin, thrown-off in order to cover the frame of a shield,”[61] Silverman reads this “shield” as a “defensive weapon,” a “lure” or a “tool for seduction.”[62] This is the movement on from “playing” with one’s own screen to the symbiotic relationship that can expand out of such playing. And because, as Panti tells us, the parodic nature of drag “serves to exaggerate and amplify our emotions, […] becom[ing] open books, with every fleeting feeling readable,”[63] such parody becomes infectious or, as her memoir consistently describes it, the receptacle for other people’s wishes and desires. In psychoanalytic parlance, Panti’s screen is that of a “blank” screen upon which the public—and at less broad level, her audiences­­­—can, in a projective sense, play with the diameters of their screens. Indeed, such projection cannot be overestimated. On her own admission, Panti becomes the cultural embodiment of a “new Ireland”: “the kind of Ireland that would choose a drag queen for a kind of figurehead.”

It is this that we must keep in mind when assessing the political subtext to such drag “blankness,” and no more so than with regard to how such politics has a neutralizing effect on drag’s “discombobulating” potential. Given how Panti, in Lacanian terms, has been utilized as a political “tool of seduction,” the transfiguration of the once disruptive force of Panti’s drag act becomes indisputable. Again, Panti shows discernible self-awareness. “When I was writing my last show,” she tells us,

I found myself being affected by people’s new expectations of me. I’d write a salacious joke, then find myself thinking, Panti can’t say that! I had to make a conscious decision to go ahead and do the joke. To be who I’ve always wanted to be. Part of the appeal of drag, a large part of the reason I was drawn to it, is its inherently transgressive nature.[64]

But such transgressive potential has now been called into question and, as Panti admits, “It’s a question I’m still working out the answer to.”

We can attempt a variation on the answer Panti has yet to give. The politicization of her drag artistry has weakened the potentiality of that art form to imagine variant modes of cultural expression within the hegemony of which it is part and parcel. Panti’s having become the paragon of marriage equality, with gay marriage the newly queered institution mimicked on heteronormativity, denotes a conventionalization of drag that could, in another light, be deemed the consolidation of Panti’s colluding in the heterosexist gaze so notably elicited in her Abbey speech. (As Butler warns us, we must be able to distinguish between those “parodic repetitions” that are “truly troubling,” and those that “become domesticated and recirculated as instruments of cultural hegemony.” [65])

At the very least, her involvement in the drive toward marriage equality has rendered problematic the affectively queer effect of “Panti.” Fintan Walsh’s belief that Panti can “undo” affective “peripheralization,” and that she stands for a queerly “reparative” mode of feeling and “intervention,” is undergirded ideologically by the impossibility to fully “signify” queer.[66] “Instead of rushing to normativize the queer,” Walsh writes, “as so many utopian strands of discourse on partnership, marriage, and adoptive rights suggest, we might revel in the queer itself, and the disorientating affect that so much queer performance effects on ours and others’ lives.”[67] It would seem that given how Panti has become what amounts to the synecdochal representative of a newly marriageable queer republic, the effects of such affect have arguably become greatly diminished.



The latter readings cannot deflect from the central argument of this paper: the Irish queer is a cultural construct of the O/other’s gaze. My reading of Panti’s autobiography is an exercise in eliciting the vicissitudes of that self-O/other dialectic, no more so than to its conflicted, even counter-productive nature. At the same time, this is by no means to belittle, overlook, or underdetermine the homophobic effects of that same dynamic.

At an even more basic level, my readings here have sought to fully undercut the homosexual/narcissistic dyad that has shored up (and continues to shore up) heterosexist ideology. More thought must be given to how Irish policy regarding same-sex rights has been historically affected by such a dyad, and whether the advent of marriage equality has allowed for such a dyad to be undercut. Perhaps the final and most pressing point has to do with how the queer remains transgressive—or “recalcitrant” as David Lloyd puts it[68]—inside the queer self/hetero-O/other dialectic. If nothing else, my discussion of Panti has shown that, inside such dialectic, the dynamics of revolution and convention hold one in equal sway.


[1] Massud R. Khan, The Long Wait and Other Psychoanalytic Narratives (New York: Summit, 1989), 99.

[2] Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,” in Essays (New York: Harper and Row, 1951), 47.

[3] In addition to Lacan’s Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (1981), the four other main texts I have consulted for close critical readings of this Lacanian triad are Joan Copjec, Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994); Kaja Silverman, “Fassbinder and Lacan: A Reconsideration of Gaze, Look, and Image,” in Male Subjectivity at the Margins (London: Routledge, 1992); Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (New York: Verso, 1989); and Tim Dean, Beyond Sexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000).

[4] Michael Warner, “Homo-narcissism; or, Heterosexuality,” in Engendering Men: The Question of Male Feminist Criticism, ed. Joseph A. Boone and Michael Cadden (London: Routledge, 1990), 190-92. See also Leo Bersani, The Culture of Redemption (Harvard: Harvard UP, 1990); Bersani, Is the Rectum a Grave? and Other Essays (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2010); and Dean, Beyond Sexuality.

[5] Warner, “Homo-narcissism,” 193.

[6] Tim Dean, “Homosexuality and the Problem of Otherness,” in Homosexuality and Psychoanalysis, ed. Tim Dean and Christopher Lane (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 120.

[7] See Rory O’Neill, Panti: Woman in the Making (Dublin: Hatchette, 2015), esp. 169-278.

[8] Ibid., 257-262.

[9] Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 73.

[10] Copjec, Read My Desire, 34-35.

[11] Ibid., 34.

[12] Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 84.

[13] Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, Trans. Hazel Barnes (New York: Washington Square Press, 1992), 529.

[14] Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 84.

[15] Joan Copjec, Imagine There’s No Woman: Ethics and Sublimation (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004), 211.

[16] Sartre, quoted in Copjec, Imagine There’s No Woman, 211.

[17] Ibid., 211-212.

[18] Ibid., 212.

[19] Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 106.

[20] Ibid., 80.

[21] Ibid., 96.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Silverman, “Fassbinder and Lacan,” 147.

[24] Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts,107.

[25] Copjec, Read My Desire, 34-35.

[26] See Copjec, Read My Desire, 37, and Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 107.

[27] O’Neill, Panti, 261.

[28] Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 107.

[29] Silverman, “Fassbinder and Lacan,” 147.

[30] O’Neill, Panti, 268.

[31] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (New York: Routledge, 1990), 186-190.

[32] Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (New York: Routledge, 1993), 98.

[33] Butler, Gender Trouble, 184-185.

[34] Butler, Bodies That Matter, 100.

[35] Ibid., 101.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid., 104.

[38] O’Neill, Panti, 177-178.

[39] Ibid., 178.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid., 276.

[42] Butler, Gender Trouble,185.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Butler, Bodies That Matter, 94.

[45] Butler, Gender Trouble, 188.

[46] Ibid.

[47] O’Neill, Panti, 180.       

[48] Ibid., 268. [Emphasis added]

[49] Ibid., 255.

[50] Fintan Walsh, “Touching, Feeling, Cross-dressing: On the Affectivity of Queer Performance. Or, What Makes Panti Fabulous,” in Deviant Acts: Essays on Queer Performance (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2009), 64.

[51] See Butler, Bodies That Matter, 94-95.

[52] Ibid., 94.

[53] See Silverman, “Fassbinder and Lacan,” 149.

[54] Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 107.

[55] Silverman, “Fassbinder and Lacan,” 149.

[56] Ibid., 150.

[57] O’Neill, Panti, 254-255.

[58] Walsh, “Touching, Feeling, Cross-dressing,” 65.

[59] Ibid., 67.

[60] Lacan, Four, 107.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Silverman, “Fassbinder and Lacan,” 150.

[63] O’Neill, Panti,176-177.

[64] Ibid., 272.

[65] Butler, Gender Trouble, 189.

[66] Walsh, “Touching, Feeling, Cross-dressing,” 64-68.

[67] Ibid., 68.

[68] David Lloyd, Ireland After History (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999), 105.