Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pornography is the Depiction and Documentation of Sexual and Racial Oppression

image is from here
Below is a revised and expanded version of a comment I posted to a Kyler J.'s blog, A Radical Black Feminist Teenager. To read her post, titled "Erotica is not feminist and other things like Porn, BDSM, and Prostitution", please click *here*.

This is my response, adding to the discussion:
As a white gay intergender [anti-gender] male who has witnessed the effects of pornography on gay males over the last thirty years, I'll add a few thoughts about how corporate pimps exploit the LGBTIQA community.

I completely agree with you that "lesbian porn" is consumed by het men for het men's pleasure. There's nothing progressive about it in terms of its overall social effect, even if the intention by a very few lesbian producers is progressive. (Needless to say, most "lesbian porn" is not produced by lesbians.) Many times het men have asked me, "What about the porn that lesbians make for themselves?" Aside from noting that the question is blatantly (if not always consciously) self-serving, my response is this: Any such porn is such a tiny percentage of the whole of the horrific pornography-prostitution-trafficking industry; to pretend it actually effects any sort of progressive to radical change in the overall aesthetics or agendas of controlling forces (that, in the Western world, is predominantly rich white het men) is to engage in wishful thinking not backed up by "hard-core" reality. And whatever lesbians make, for whatever purposes, will, if it is public (such as being on the internet or for sale), be appropriated by het men. Once consumed by het men, it is then in service to their patriarchal, misogynistic sexual appetites, which, far too often, are acted out against pimped girls and women, usually poor and of color, with no lesbian empowerment in sight. And, as you well note, most of it is not distinguishable from dominant non-lesbian pornography in overall style and content.

The pornography that is marketed to gay males is also produced and owned by white het males and functions to reinforce white supremacy, het supremacy, male supremacy, corporate capitalism, and Western anti-Indigenous imperialism. Gay males have been willing to consume this material for complex reasons, but the effect on our community has been to teach us how to "do sex" the way patriarchal het men "do sex", except to one another not to women and girls. But the aesthetics of het pornography show up in white gay men's actions. A disheartening example of this in the "legitimate" film industry is the new film "Rock of Ages", which Adam Shankman had a strong hand in shaping as the director: the "look" (which means the racist misogynist behavior and the values) of white het men's pornography is infused into it. (You can get a sense of that from the movie's trailer:

The effect of gay male consumption of het male-made pornography has been to promote and promulgate white power, masculinist power, and anti-queer heterosexism among gay males of all colors and ages and to forge an alliance between gay and het men against feminist lesbians who have been taking on the rulers of pornography and prostitution, showing them up for what they are: corporate pimps, serial rapists, traffickers, and slave traders of girls and women of all colors.

The pornography of allegedly "transgender" people has been historically racist, anti-transgender, anti-gay, anti-lesbian, and anti-woman. It, too, serves the same dominant forces mentioned above. And it also promotes some very dangerous ideas about what being transgender is: male-bodied people with silicone breast implants and bleached, straightened hair, for example. Similarly to females in the sexxx-ploitation industries, gay and non-gay males, and intersex and transsexual people are economically coerced to alter our bodies to appear the way white het male consumers, procurers, and pimps insist we appear--and do what they profit from us doing. Similarly to "lesbian porn", very destructive portrayals of transsexual people of all colors are marketed by the pornography industry's owners as a niche fetish for non-transgender male consumers.

Liberals habitually promote "gender" as a social difference in need of greater diversification, while the radicals I know believe that it is the power of capitalism and heteropatriarchal white supremacist gender hierarchies that must be abolished. Gender has been diverse outside of white imperialist societies; this is both destroyed and forgotten by ruling classes of people. To argue for diversification of gender while keeping ruling structures in place is to participate in anti-Indigenous genocidal behavior.

Pornography, as an industry, is virulently anti-queer, anti-woman, anti-female, anti-transgender, anti-Black, anti-Brown, anti-Asian, and anti-Indigenous. The fact that many gay males and other queer people have supported it financially and otherwise only speaks to the effectiveness of the ruling class in trying to convince all oppressed people believe that we need to buy what the ruling class sells as if our sexual and social lives depended on it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network is hosting a free session on environmental issues on Jun 17, 2012

image is from here
This is a cross-post from CODE RED Feminist Caribbean Collective. For the original post at that site, please click *here*.

Interested in Caribbean environmental issues?

CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network is hosting a free session.  Places are limited so register early. 

Details & registration at the link.

We’re strengthening Caribbean feminist voices on ALL issues which face the region.


Background on the June 17, 2012 session:

CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network

On May 18+19, 2012 the Catch A Fire: Next Generation Caribbean Feminist Grounding took place in Barbados with 24 feminist activists from across the English-speaking Caribbean and Haiti. Our intention is to build a movement and collaborate regionally for social, economic and gender justice. We are creating a database of similar and interested organisations and individuals in order to expand our network and build a more inclusive movement. Please complete the form [here] to be added to the database.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ten Thoughts on the Current Conflicts Between RadFem and Transgender Activists

photograph is from here
[Note: this post may also be read *here* on Tumblr.]

Keywords for this post could include "Sheila Jeffreys" and "RadFem2012", although the post is about issues beyond any one activist and that single event. Nonetheless, for some of the most current discussion serving as partial background for what follows, please see *here* and *here* (each at The Guardian).

1. I strongly believe female women ought to able to organise politically in social spaces free from harassment and interruption from male men, and from males who don't identify as men, and from transgender and transsexual-identified people, and from queer-identified and male-identified people who are anti-radical and anti-feminist. To the female women who are attempting to do so: Good luck with that.

2. The current conflict between RadFem-identified women and transgender-identified people is glaringly white. As far as I can tell, the spokespeople for both groups are white with other structural advantages too; they appear to represent white-majority and white-dominated groups. Nowhere are the experiences of women of color and trans people of color centered. This means that it is likely that only white ways of resolving conflict will be employed and that other-than-white ways of resolving conflict will be avoided and ignored.

3. "RadFem" is not a synonym for Radical Feminism or Revolutionary Feminism, if Radical and Revolutionary Feminism, in and also beyond the U.S., is centrally (read: not peripherally, parenthetically, or through footnote) the work of activists and authors including Flo Kennedy, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Barbara Smith, bell hooks, Andrea Smith, Patricia Hill Collins, and hundreds of other radical, womanist, and feminist women of color. "RadFem", as far as I can tell, is a term owned and promoted by an exclusively white group of female women. Such exclusive whites-only and/or white-dominated organising functions to maintain white supremacy even as it seeks to eradicate male supremacy.

4. "Transsexual" and "Transgender" are anglo-centric, white-centric terms and ways of dealing with a white male supremacist sex-race hierarchy based on the subordination of girls and women to everyone else. The analysis and practices that come from white transsexual and transgender activists often minimises or overtly ignores male and white supremacy while promoting liberal ideas and theories about sex and gender. Overall, white transgender theory and practice is, in my view, anti-radical and anti-revolutionary. Its theorists and spokespeople refuse to put women of color--many of whom do not embrace terms like "transgender" or "radical feminist"--at the center of their theories and practices. Many women of color who resist euro-/anglo-/white supremacy and Western cultural imperialism have their own understandings and experiences of gender and resistance that are not linguistically (or otherwise) existent in the white trans and non-trans imaginations.

5. White het male supremacist societies, such as many in the West, are dominated by liberal and conservative economic and social philosophies and value systems. In such systems and societies, there are two fundamental and ruthlessly enforced rules or codes of conduct:
  • female girls and female women are supposed to exist in service to everyone else of every age. This includes being accessible, accommodating, acquiescent, appeasing, pleasing, arousing, submissive, silent, subservient, and subordinate.
  • people of color are supposed to be of service to whites across sex. This includes being the opposite of "uppity", being respectful to whites in ways whites determine to be respectful, not being threatening, and being submissive, silent, subservient, and subordinate.
A third rule is that whites and men ought never be fully or consistently accountable to women of color. If it appears to happen it will be accidental or in service to maintaining white control and male power.

6. There is a map of gender that whites have constructed and live by. It is a map detailing various routes of conquest and access into the lives of females of all ages, including girls and women across region, race, and age. It is a map of how to be a male man, which posits "man" as the opposite of and in a supremacist position over everyone female and feminine, as male men define and enforce such terms. It is a map of how to be white while ignoring the meaning and power of whiteness, including in progressive and radical white groups. It is a map that currently while marginally allows for the existence of transsexual and transgender people. But beneath that map are other, older maps. If you peel away or scrape off the surface map, you may find these older maps with other languages and ways of being. There are also contemporary social spaces where people of color are redefining and re-inventing non-white ways of being gendered without ignoring or minimising the power and prevalence of white and male supremacy. The disruption and interference, both psychically and physically, perpetrated by whites and men over and against female, intersex, and other people of color is so ever-present as to be unremarkable and unnoticeable by whites and men.

7. In many of these current debates, what female girls of color experience globally is ignored or unknown. How heterosexualised white and male supremacy, Western cultural imperialism, globalised corporate capitalism, and formal and covert militarism each impact the lives of girls of color is not consistently centralised in the theories, policies, and practices of whites who claim to be fighting for liberation. When girls of color are mentioned, it is usually to make points that (consciously or not, intentionally or not) either reinforce the rampant white supremacy in liberal and radical political struggles by and for whites, or reinforce the ruling male supremacy in conservative and orthodox political systems by and for men.

8. Right now, there are non-trans female people of color, and trans people of color, and third gender, and other-than-trans, and other-than-cis-gender people of color who do not see or experience each other as "the  enemy" and who work together on small-scale and larger-scale liberation projects against the many forces that seek their invisibilisation and destruction.

9. I support female and intersex women and trans people of color being centrally involved in all revolutionary liberation struggles in ways that they determine to be politically viable and mutually respectful. Indigenous and non-Indigenous women of color are organising and sustaining most liberation struggles around the world. Far too many whites and men ignore them or try to subordinate and silence them, ignoring the destruction, disappearance, and deaths of girls and women of color, by murder and other means, including in the midst of very contentious debates between RadFem-identified whites and transsexual- and transgender-identified whites.

10. If your own liberation work doesn't name, address, and consistently centralise the many economic, sexual, and raced hardships and horrors that over-determine and destroy the lives of millions of girls and women of color globally, and if your own civil rights and human rights work doesn't employ the survival strategies and revolutionary values and practices of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activist women of color, why doesn't it?