The (Un)Queer Planet
In Michel Warner’s Fear of a Queer Planet, Warner refers to the ‘Pioneer Plaque’- an image that was sent on board the 1972 Pioner 10, spacecraft and later the Pioneer 11 in 1973 (Warner & STC, 1993). The crafts were sent by NASA as part of their space exploration program and were built to feasibly travel beyond our solar system. The plaque- designed by astronomer Carl Sagan and his wife- was designed to give basic information about humanity, in case extra-terrestrial life were to encounter the probes.
Warner observes that the plaque represents humanity through the image of a white, naked man and woman (ibid). He describes how this representation says much about the normative assumptions upon which Sagan, and by extension the American institution, understand ‘humanity.’ On the two figures, Warner writes:
They are not just sexually different; they are sexual difference itself. They are nude but have no body hair; the woman has no genitals …To a native of the culture that produced it, this bizarre fantasy-image is immediately recognizable not just as two gendered individuals, but as a heterosexual couple…, a technological but benign Adam and Eve. It testifies to the depth of the culture’s assurance (read: insistence) that humanity and heterosexuality are synonymous. This reminder speeds to the ends of the universe, announcing to passing stars that earth is not, regardless of what anyone says, a queer planet (ibid: 21). [Read more…] about Al Ewing’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the Pursuit of Queer Planets