Law in Contemporary Society

Queering Law School

-- By KokoZhang - 25 Feb 2020

I majored in Gender and Sexuality Studies in college and I studied a lot, but really a little, about queer theory.

It is amazing how I talked fervently about my passion towards queer justice in my personal statement in order to come here, but secretly/publicly, I am planning to go to biglaw firms. There are a lot of reasons: student loans with insane interest rates for international students, vanity, my culture, my family, and the desire to come out to them without fear of losing economic support, etc. Not to say that these are acceptable reasons, because I know well that I will participate in the oppressive system and keep the oppression running.

Still, I want to break free. I know I am trapped by the system, but I won’t let it for too long.

That is how I want to queer law school a little bit and find some inner peace.

There are numerous ways of defining queerness. However, in my definition, queerness is the unsettling, the unknown, the subversive, the deviant.

“Touching” the Law

First, instead of desiring to know a clear answer about the law, I remind myself to “touch” the law. Jack Halberstam, in Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability, argues that to understand the trans* body, it is useful to follow the “haptic” technique used in sculpture: “Haptic . . . is a perfect frame for the trans* body, which, in the end, does not seek to be seen and known but rather wishes to throw the organization of all bodies into doubt” “Haptic”, as he defines it, involves the process of touching, rather than merely seeing and naming. Being a hardcore science student back in China, I am always eager to know: “WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER??” There must be an answer, somewhere in the book, something the professor said. But no. There is no answer, and that is the point. I always wondered how Judges in the US can be so creative and imaginative in writing their opinions. Probably, it is because they are “touching” the law. Law is just like the trans* body. It wishes to throw all the organizations, all the structures, all the establishments into doubt. But at the same time, just like the trans* body, law is policed by the structure as well. Law struggles with the history, the culture, the environment. I thought I could see it through the statutes and the cases, but as soon as I felt I was getting it a bit, it was gone and became fuzzy again.

Law is queer. Studying law is also a queer process. “Touching” the law is to embrace the uncertainty, the fluidity and the changing nature of law. It is that one has accepted the fact that they will never see the whole picture, that they are constantly confused. The world has enforced the idea of “either this or that”. Man or woman, Democrat or Republican, homosexual or heterosexual. However, the law is never either this or that. It is the unsettling ideas in between and it is never static.

I wish to be settled in the unsettling.

Mindfulness in Law School

Second, queerness also closely interacts with mindfulness. Mindfulness involves accepting, embracing and welcoming this moment without judgment. Queerness also calls for being at peace with who you are and how you live in this world. I realized that being mindful in law school is crucial to my mental health, as well as to the study of law. A mindfulness instructor has told us to ask ourselves: “May I meet this moment fully? May I meet it as a friend?”. “This moment” in law school has constantly been peer pressure, the urge to find an answer, and the sense of low self-worth when not being able to grasp the answer. Do I meet it as a friend? I certainly do not most of the time. Mindfulness tells people to notice, rather than being judgmental about what is happening. With the whole world shouting “A is good, and B is bad”, I could not help judging myself based on my grades. The fact that law goes way beyond these grades makes it queer, since it is deviant from the man-made standard and subverting the law school structure. Law school may not be queer, but law is. I came here to learn law, not law school. Queering law school therefore means that I meet law school, grades, peer pressure and so forth as my friend without judging.

Another reason that I plan to go to biglaw is that I am afraid of uncertainty. If I can queer law school a little bit more, if I can be more mindful right here, right now at this moment without judging and looking forward in fear, I can choose otherwise and I can free my mind.

I wish to meet law fully, and meet it as my friend.

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r1 - 25 Feb 2020 - 01:59:23 - KokoZhang
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