Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why isn't the Misogyny and Anti-Radical/Anti-Feminism in and beyond Queer communities being seen as just as important to challenge and uproot as Anti-Trans practice?

image of book cover is from here
As I see it and experience it, gender is force more than it is choice; it is dominance more than it is difference. As I see it, contemporary white, academically privileged Queer Theorists are increasingly rejecting that reality for one that is far more abstract and also far more supportive and protective of white het male supremacy.

I'm hearing from Lesbian and Queer women who are not transgender that misogyny is running rampant in Queer and Queer-friendly spaces, often in the form of anti-Lesbianism, as well as anti-Radical Feminism. In communities that often proclaim feminist values and politics, privileging the experience, views, theories, and politics of a few privileged trans activists and theorists has become the norm in spaces and places that are already anti-Lesbian, anti-Radical, anti-Feminist. Turns out the feminism that is being embraced is liberal at best and anti-feminist at worst. And radical feminism is being distorted, misrepresented, and/or homogenised into something it has never been.

Of particular concern to me, as someone who has attempted to find a home in Queer spaces as a radical activist and a pro-feminist, is the level of unqualified and unmodified misogynistic anti-Lesbian politics, views, attitudes, behaviors, and political practice, including the practice of theory-making, that attempts to shame or marginalise women who are not trans, who wish to acknowledge that they are women with no prefix.

I also have great concerns over the ways in which women who organise around various health and medical/social/cultural/environmental issues, like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions, illnesses, and challenges that face girls and women in various ways (and in varying proportions depending on age, ethnicity, ability to get health care, and so on) are being shamed, ridiculed, or otherwise scorned with terms like "essentialist" by academically privileged (if not also race-, region-, and class-privileged) individuals who want us to believe "woman" is an identity more than it is the group of people targeted for violence, subordination, and many forms of discrimination, marginalisation, and ostractism due to not being men.

I have learned recently of a woman who has been treated medically/surgically for a form of cancer originating in one of her reproductive organs. There appears to me to be newly acquired post-traumatic stress associated with medical offices, doctor visits, and phone calls. Her body has been compromised by cancer but also by the misogyny and anti-woman's body practices which pretend either that women are only their bodies or, more recently, that female bodies aren't necessarily part of being a woman at all. I am a male person who has seen how the medical-surgical industrial complex hates on girls and women, and expresses this hate against girls' and women's bodies directly, and against female and intersex bodies when those bodies are socially treated as not boys and not men's. Some of the ways this has been done historically is by forcibly removing from women their reproductive organs or ability to conceive, by poisoning girls' and women's bodies, by interpersonally and intimately violating and doing violence to girls' and women's bodies, by equating sexual well-being with being heterosexual, and by medically neglecting women, particularly and especially girls and women without class, region, and race privileges.

I reject (as harmful to girls and women) a political theory of gender which would posit as inconsequential the bodies we have from birth in understanding the gender we are forcibly made to have.

We are told by PoMo academics to understand women's bodies as being "text" or "textual" primarily--bodies upon which men write misogynist myths and lies. I don't hear from women in my life that their primary complaint or experience with men is that they are being "read" and "rewritten" upon. The chief complaint is one of being subordinated--not necessarily using that term. "Put down", "insulted", "degraded", "raped", beaten, and violated in innumerable ways are major complaints I hear about and support being brought to the powers that be, to end. "Being read incorrectly" is one way to discuss the issue of violence against women without naming the violence done to women by men. I find that an anti-woman/pro-male supremacist practice.

As someone who has identified as intergender, who has understood myself as being under the umbrella with people who are transgender, I stand with radical lesbian feminists who refuse to not name misogyny and anti-Lesbian practices where and when they occur, including in Queer spaces.

For more discussion of some of these issues, please read the following:

Andrea Smith, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide

Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch:Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation