Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Civil Rights are Not Enough: Beyond Queer Inclusion to Liberation from CRAP

image of a queer march on Washington, DC is from here

I've been reviewing how some in our community are telling our stories. I've had occasion to view After Stonewall, a 1999 documentary about queer struggles from 1969 through the rest of that century, primarily in the U.S., but also in places like Australia and South Africa. What is reflected in film is demonstrated in life: civil rights, while necessary and worth fighting for, cannot and ought not be the sum total goal of any radical social justice work, because any sustainable form of justice can't exist inside a society which requires poverty, genocide, trafficking, and rape to continue unchallenged.

If you have the chance to see After Stonewall, note especially Barbara Smith's observation about the third Lesbian, Gay, and Bi March on Washington. When our celebrations are about finding routes into two of the most racist, patriarchal institutions on Earth: marriage and the military, surely the oppressors have won. Because if we determine victory, or freedom, by the measure of how thoroughly we can be welcomed into dominant society we missed our most important objectives, to dismantle dominant society.

I have been told by many people across many political spectrums that my refusal to support Equal Marriage Laws--meaning, specifically, that I won't work to pass them and I also won't work to oppose them--is anti-gay and homophobic. When someone shows me how marriage does anything liberatory for girls and women globally--liberatory, as in radically anti-patriarchal--I'll reconsider my stance on that issue.

What we see in After Stonewall, is an entirely uncritical examination of marriage, the military, and its smaller scale enterprise, the city police force. There's never any suggestion that these institutions are problematic beyond being exclusionary.

The fundamental problem with CRAP isn't that it is exclusionary to queer people. The problem is that it is genocidal, gynocidal, and ecocidal. The problem is that it will only accept any outside group in if the outside group agrees to not challenge the core values and practices of CRAP.

I reject as inhumane any social justice work that doesn't address the atrocities which inhere in racist heteropatriarchies, including the ones called the U.S., the UK, and Australia.

If you watch After Stonewall, notice how there's no analysis of what gay men wish for lesbian women to be other than not around or care-givers. The film is carefully structured to not get into how some lesbians fought to expose the white and male supremacy of dominant sexuality and its production; instead this part of our history is written off as being co-opted by the Right, which was never the case. What was the case was that the Conservatives and the Liberals, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, didn't want anything done to stop male access to women. Neither political group has ever sought to stop male access to women.

As I consider issues that are present before me within queer community, one of them remains the entitlements men and males have to claim the following as "ours": women, including women's bodies, energy, and support. To object to an idea that males and men should have full and complete access to women, for nurture, for cooking, for cleaning, for manual labor, for getting water, for child-rearing, is to be perceived as many things, and among them "selfish" or "transphobic". So this leads me to ask my trans and intergender sibs, what is our position on men and males having unmitigated access to and the right to appropriate women, including women's bodies? In what ways do we critique a medical and psychiatric model that empowers grossly misogynist industries and institutions to reproduce women's body parts--fake ones--and pretend they are just the same as female-born women's bodies? I ask this about our support of doctors who are in the business of surgically constructed so-called female body parts onto and within female adults, male adults, intersex children or adults, or transsexual adults?

What is our political position on whites having access to and the right to appropriate Indigenous people, cultures, and land? In what ways do our efforts make Indigenous women on reservation land freer from rape by white men, for example? Or is that outside our sphere of concern?

What is our political position on the force the police and military use to beat and kill people? Do we stand with the police and military, only because some of our own are allowed to serve? What other reasons do we have for standing with them? They commit racist, genocidal atrocity daily, do they not?

What is our political position on capitalism that is ecocidal, disproportionately poisoning and polluting the land where poor and Indigenous people live? Do we stand with corporate industries and businesses because some of our own are in upper management within them? Or because the richest and whitest males among us can live in various places around the world, considered "for the taking" by anyone with enough money?

What is our political position on slavery, trafficking, and pimping? Do we stand with the most harmed around the world or with the most liberal and privileged among us, on these issues?

After watching some skewed telling of "our" story, I have to conclude that Barbara Smith was right: our LGBTIA movement died with the third march on Washington. And nothing radical or revolutionary has been done in our name since.

That the current struggle is visibility for cis gender and trans people who are queer, without any questioning at all about male entitlements to act out white het male supremacist sexuality and to take possession of women's bodies, or facsimiles of them, without any interrogation about the role male supremacy, white supremacy, anti-Indigenism, heterosexism, and capitalism play in shaping our desires, identities, efforts, and endeavors, ought to sound some loud alarms. Are we listening for them?

I hear some queer theorists speak of the need to "queer up" society. To make it "less straight". What does that mean, if we attempt to unpack those expressions and rephrase them in terms that distill how much white and male supremacy and corporate capitalism live in them?

Are we still wanting to argue that gay males are "real men"? And if so, why? Are we still wanting to argue that adults are either real men or real women, and if so, why? What is "a real woman"? Can anyone in queer circles answer that in ways that are anti-racist, pro-Indigenist, and anti-heteropatriarchal?

Are we supposed to care that Queer Theory and Queer Studies is largely if not entirely anti-feminist, anti-activist, anti-radical, and anti-Indigenist? Which queer people are we fighting for? White radical lesbian feminists? Lesbian feminists of color? First Nations? American Indians? If none of those people, what are the ethics that guides our courses of organised political action? Who does our activism exist to serve? If Queer Theorists largely reject the tenets and activist aims of radical feminism, what does it replace it with that ensures that white male supremacy is challenged and transformed? Can any Queer theorist or academician answer this question?

If we achieve legal equality with our masters and oppressors in a legally corrupt State that is perpetually at war against women, at war against the poor, at war against U.S.-located people of color including immigrants, at war against Indigenous, Brown, Black, and Asian people worldwide, what and who are we?

I'd say we're still worshiping at the alter of that giant white cock called The Washington Monument, just like in the image above.

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