The Stake and the Wedge
September 15, 2009
The female is immanent, the female is bone-deep, the female is instinct. With Lili’s
eager complicity, The Professor drives a massive wedge between the masculine and
The “Professor’s” use of the wedge cuts like a knife to distinguish, separate, rule, master. This is neither the stake nor the wedge I call for. While a wedge holds within it much that might be queer—some of the cheesiness of camp, the tip of a stable heel, or the sexual toying (of a wedgie)—I want to use the term in relation to issues…wedge issues.
In common parlance we use wedge as does The Professor: to mark, signal, and create divides. But I’d like to think about how we dealt with the “wedge issue” of butch/trans while making The Owls as the queer sort of wedge I aspire to.
By inviting Jack Halberstam to the set to begin a conversation about this issue, the OWLS Parliament signaled its interest in naming (not hiding) this controversy amongst the cast and crew, and within the script itself. While individual actors went on to make choices about the gender/sexuality identification of their characters along lines that were rather traditionally butch/femme (and which closely matched their own lived enactments), the conversations surrounding this (many of them filmed) began to create ripples across the Parliament. The fiction part of the film ended up recording Cheryl’s (and the cast’s) vision of this issue, but the documentary part of the film recorded something else: the discord and debate, and then, related transformations. Once cut into the film, these documentary moments will inevitably change and grow the “story,” allowing for the dissonance of the dialectical. Wedge as conversation, not as division. The stake opens it up, and the wedge becomes the stage for dialogue and for dreaming.