The Ethics of Opting Out
In its quest for effective forms of political resistance, queer theory often promotes the opting out of our culture's dominant ideals––particularly its neoliberal narratives of success, cheerfulness, good performance, and self-actualization––to the extent that the field seems synonymous with a permanent state of critique. How should we understand this stance? Is it the best foundation for queer theory? In The Ethics of Opting Out, Mari Ruti cautions queer theorists against turning antinormativity into a new norm while highlighting the ways in which opting out rewrites ethical theory and practice in genuinely transformative ways. She offers a comprehensive overview of the current state of queer theory, including debates about affect theory, subjectivity, negativity, defiance, agency, and bad feelings. In doing so, Ruti provides an accessible yet theoretically rigorous account of the political divisions that have animated the field over the last decade. The Ethics of Opting Out grapples with queer negativity, particularly in the work of Lee Edelman, Jack Halberstam, and Lynne Huffer, and with the rhetoric of bad feelings found in the work of Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, José Muñoz, David Eng, and Heather Love. In this wide-ranging and thoughtful book, Ruti maps the parameters of contemporary queer theory to rethink the foundational assumptions of the field.