Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction

By Wendy Gay Pearson; Veronica Hollinger et al. | Go to book overview

Queering Nature: Close Encounters
with the Alien in Ecofeminist Science
Fiction

Helen Merrick

[Q]ueering what counts as nature is my categorical imperative…

— Donna Haraway, 'A Game of Cat's Cradle' 60

'Queering nature' seems an appropriate theme for enquiries into sexuality in science fiction, especially from the perspective of feminist and queer theories. While it may not immediately suggest an overt comment on sexualities, it is inarguable that 'nature' as well as 'culture' is heavily implicated in our understandings and performances of sexuality.1 Indeed, just as our constructions of sexuality (and the strictures of normative heterosexism) infuse every aspect of our culture/s, so too do sexualized assumptions underpin our constructions of 'nature'. And further, the ways we think about 'nature' impact upon and constrain our notions of sexuality. Wendy Pearson observes that science fiction has the potential to 'interrogate the ways in which sexual subjectivities are created as effects of the system that sustains them' ('Alien Cryptographies' 34). I want to further her argument to suggest that the variety of discourses and 'know ledges' that have come to stand for (or take the place of) 'nature' are one such system.

Attention to nature is an important facet of critical considerations of sexuality, particularly considering the pre-eminence of the biological sciences in (over)determining the category or categories of 'sex', and the fact that 'for many people…sexuality – and particularly heterosexuality – can be envisioned only within the category of the [natural]' (Pearson, 'Science Fiction' 149). I want to re-visit the loaded space of 'the natural' and consider how 'queering nature' might further question normative notions of sexuality and gender. While queer theory obviously engages with 'nature' on the level of regulatory discourses around notions of biology, feminist science studies and ecofeminist theory have a particular

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