Beyond parody, gay men’s identification with heteromasculinity, in its dead seriousness, appears to Bersani as being almost mad. In spatial terms, madness marks a proximity to—and not a distance between—powerfully normative images of gender. In his reading of the dynamics of madness, Bersani embraces this instability of identification that may ultimately cause the subject to collapse. Gay sex practices provide the occasion for this scene of vertigo, which, in Bersani’s work, opens a space that exists after the fall of the ego and that is often further explored through a turn to art: following the death of the psychoanalytic subject, the aesthetic subject appears. This essay, however, returns to the scene of the sexual. It traces the path of sexual practices discussed by Bersani, from gay anal intercourse to rimming, finally introducing fisting as a sexual practice that deserves to be read in Bersanian terms, insofar as it produces a form of “new masculinity.”
peter rehberg is a writer, critic, and curator. From 2018 to 2022, he worked as the head of collections and archives at the Schwules Museum in Berlin. He is a visiting associate professor in the Department of Asian, East European, and German Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He edited and wrote the afterword to Christian Maurel’s Für den Arsch (August, 2019), a text that was formerly attributed to Guy Hocquenghem and appeared in English as The Screwball Asses. He is the author of Hipster Porn: Queer Masculinities and Affective Sexualities in the Fanzine Butt (Routledge, 2022), a collection of short stories, and two novels. His fiction has been published in translation in Quertext: An Anthology of Queer Voices from German-Speaking Europe (University of Wisconsin Press, 2021). Currently, he is working on his third novel and a collection of essays on queer visual culture.
Peter Rehberg; Fisting. differences 1 May 2023; 34 (1): 119–125. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-10435646
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