Author's School

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Additional Affiliations

Assistant Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program; Faculty with the Feminist Critical Analysis Seminar

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Originally Published In

Musser, Amber. "Masochism: A Queer Subjectivity."Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge (11/12) (Fall 2005/Spring 2006). Available at


Judith Butler's Gender Trouble elaborates what may be called a queer subjectivity. Characterized by non-essential, performative identity, her theory has been criticized because, according to its critics, it does not give the subject political agency. Liberal theorists, such as Seyla Benhabib, have been particularly concerned with the political effects of this form of subjectivity on already marginalized social groups while other theorists, such as Susan Stryker and Ed Cohen, have articulated concern that the theory does not sufficiently account for embodiment, affect, and identity. This essay brings Deleuze's theory of masochism in dialogue with Butler's theories of subjectivity in an attempt to reformulate the notion of queer subjectivity in light of these criticisms.


Originally published in rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, Issue 11/12 (Fall 2005/Spring 2006), >