Monday, December 6, 2010

How Much "Gender Variance" Will CRAP Tolerate? A Radical Profeminist Query

image of a kind of androgynous gender restroom symbol is from here

Across queer cultures, particularly class- and race- and region- privileged ones, I see discussion after discussion about the need to promote gender variance in media and in society beyond media.

I support media projects that seek to visibilise people who are not represented by dominant media if and when those invisible people are fighting against racism, heterosexism, misogyny, genocide, and ecocide. Without defining the much-needed politics, one may be left supporting abstract goals of "more visibility for everyone"--a very liberal notion--which would, by definition, include more exposure in media to the pursuits of those who think slavery is awesome, white nationalism is desperately needed, anti-Muslim terrorism needs to be amped up, and lesbian feminist women are nothing more than "man-haters", "prudes", "transphobes" and "intolerant bigots". The lesbian feminists I have been honored to know across my lifetime are sheros, warriors, and radicals who refuse to accept conditions of race and gender oppression as natural or inevitable. They are not man-haters: they are woman-lovers; they are not prudes: they are passionate and prudent; they are not transphobes: they offer a critique of queer and dominant cultures that include investigating and interrogating the depths of sex and gender, turning over every stone, not just the ones easiest to lift. And they are not bigots: they are women who speak truth to power.

I await filmmakers making films that promote radical points of view, revolutionary actions, anti-WHM conservative and anti-WHM liberal stances on everything under the sun. I await media that names white het male supremacy as a globalised endemic problem, a murderous and otherwise tyrannical and lethal one.

If whites and class-privileged folks wish to promote gender as "in need of variance" without naming male supremacy and patriarchy as the forces which keep it narrow and hierarchical, they are participating in a dangerous form of liberalism, of invisibilisation of the cost of gender to over half the population of people on Earth: women raised as girls. The promotion of "women" as a category that is de-politicised, that is assumed to be able to exist apart from its ties to white het male supremacist objectives and aims that are explicitly and egregiously oppressive-to-women-and-girls, is an anti-radical, anti-profeminist project, in the view of this blog.

I oppose the patriarchal, pro-pimp promotion of wearing or implanting fake breasts as a way to "be a woman". I oppose CRAP's medical establishment promoting genital surgery, such as labiaplasty, as a way to "be a woman". I am against cultural and academic efforts to pretending that contemporary Western womanhood is a disembodied experience, as if most women and girls aren't in bodies that are specifically targeted for specific forms of invasion and violation, punishment and predation, objectification and dehumanisation.

In our lived lives, human "vaginas" and human "female breasts" are targeted for exploitation and violence because they are seen by male supremacist as "parts" of women that must be abused and violated, along with every other "part" of women's bodies and lives.

To "deconstruct" (read: abstract and delegitimise) women from the bodies most women live in, and have lived in since birth through girlhood to adulthood, is to remove from analysis the experiences of that political group of people, rendering claims that it is a political group "exclusivist" or "bigoted". Whose interests are served by taking the focus off of what happens to that political group? My answer: Men's and patriarchy's.

On a related note: why don't those of us who are intersex, intergender, transsexual, and transgender demand from the State, the government, the right to be identified "as we are" regardless of what levels of hormonal or surgical procedures we have had or will have. "What we are" is this: intersex, intergender, transsexual, and transgender, and why can't, for example, TG be listed as our "sex/gender" on forms that ask for such information? Why do we all have to be forced into saying "I'm a woman" or "I'm a man" if we're adults? There are, after all, intersex people who may not be "female" or "male". Why can't intersex people gain legitimacy as being "I" for intersex, not "F" or "M"? I'm not saying that some intersex people don't or won't identify as male or female. But when surgeons are at the ready to snip and cut children's genitals to "make them male" or "make them female" one has to ask: why can't genitals be something else too? Why does the binary have to be surgically enforced against the will of people who never asked for it or welcomed it?

I'm advocating for a progressive to radical "Gender Variance" movement, which does exist in some places among some individuals, that rejects the inhumanity and tyranny of dominant culture forcing of all of us into only binary categories. And I also support acknowledging that people assigned female at birth, raised to be girls, who are then identified and treated and structurally positioned as "women" in adulthood, or mistreated for being femme women, or mistreated for being butch women, be validated and respected as a distinct political group, who have the right to offer one another social-political services and support, who have the right to gather together, without other people insisting they are part of that group when they are not FAAB, raised to be a girl, socially statused as a woman as an adult.

There is, without much question or challenge, a distinct political group called "men" who were assigned male at birth, raised to be boys, and institutionally identified and structurally positioned as "the superior gender" over and against women. To blur or obfuscate the meaning of this group as anything other than "the dominant sex/gender" is to make organised resistance to that group's oppression of non-males and non-men more difficult, in the view of this blog.


Owl Eyes said...

"If whites and class-privileged folks wish to promote gender as "in need of variance" without naming male supremacy and patriarchy as the forces which keep it narrow and hierarchical, they are participating in a dangerous form of liberalism"

This is exactly, completely and beautifully dead on. This is dangerous and it's happening at an alarming rate.

I constantly see women being left out of so-called women's movements, because there is almost all of the focus on queer male issues and trans issues. Of course, I have no qualms with people caring about queer men and trans issues, but radical politics are being pushed aside for more 'fence sitting' liberal agendas that frankly, like you said, ignore radical women, particularly radical feminist lesbian women.

It makes me think back to a woman i used to be friends with, she never said "lesbian" as a way to describe herself but rather strictly "queer"

I'm not sure if this was on purpose, but it seems like a lot of women hate the term "lesbian" which makes me really sad. But really, lesbians are so poorly represented anywhere and now that the liberal males like the dan savages of the world, are taking the spotlight.

We are told, as women, that our bodies, sexuality and the like are wrong and need to be shifted, and like you said, this is taking form of mutilation of breasts, vulva etc...because being a woman is "disgusting" apparently. We're always "ugly, fat or old"
Great post, as usual. I shall share this on FB.

Julian Real said...

Thanks so much, Owl Eyes.

Your comment inspired me to add more to the second paragraph.

dedgurlcingztheblooze said...

I just want to note that it isn't "trans" issues that have been at the forefront, but white, mostly first world middle/upper class MTF trans issues that have been at the forefront of queer politics recently.

On another note, Julian I have one more final to go, then I'll be sending you a long message.

Julian Real said...

Point noted and taken, dedgurlcingztheblooze!

Thanks for making it here, for others to read as well. I sure look forward to more comments from you, and any guest posts you wish to make here.

Yes indeedy: most everything "het" or "queer" that is in the forefront of the West, in corporate media particularly, is only white and class-privileged.

And it has now been pointed out by several ppl, you included, that "trans activism" really amounts to a few very privileged First-Worst World M2F folks taking the proverbial stage and the mic and not letting anyone else in trans/intergender/radical feminist/feminist lesbian community address the crowd.

Occasionally a First-Worst World white F2M person speaks out as well. Meanwhile, most trans/inter people are silent or feel silenced by being shamed as "only bigots".

That's sure been my experience.

Good luck with the last exam!!!!! (Hurray! You're almost done!!)