Friday, March 9, 2012

The White Male His-story of Sexuality, and the Power of The Marginalised Voice

image is from here

Unlike some of my peers, I do not regard Sigmund Freud as unworthy of study. But nor do I place him at the center of such study. Across cultures and eras, white men have had some really bizarre ideas about sexuality and gender. They've theorised there's only one sex, and that there are only two (opposite) sexes. However many genders and sexes white men believe exist, they seem incapable of imagining a world in which men do not dominate and control women and "women's sexuality"--often enough a sexuality designed by men for men. I've watched enough white male science fiction wherein the white male writer or producer creates new worlds in future eras. I've watched enough to know that however far into the universe the white het male supremacist's mind goes, he cannot creatively conceive of women *not* dressing in tight outfits designed for his voyeuristic pleasure. He cannot conceive of her as not existing for him.

Whatever the theories, they have tended to serve both white and male supremacy against the bodies and and human rights of millions of women and girls of all colors and cultures. Their theories are also traditionally anti-lesbian and anti-gay. Their theories have functioned to promote the humanity of white (and usually het) men (the minority) while denigrating and demonising the humanity of everyone else (the majority). His inhumanity is often enough rendered invisible, or is termed something else--the product, perhaps, of unfortunate events early in his life. That white men, as a class, ensure that unfortunate events will systematically scar the lives of girls globally seems not to worry him. In this theories and in his world, only white men act out their pain in gynocidal and genocidal ways. White men traditionally theorise their pain as an explanation for their abusive actions. If painful childhoods, troubled by rape and invasion, were the source of acting out violence against other people, and if victimised people were allowed do violence to their perpetrators, men the world over would have a lot to worry about. And white men who travel the world over to rape trafficked and enslaved girls and women would have cause to worry a great deal.

What I look for in theory is a human story, a humane understanding, that reveals to the reader the role of white and male supremacy, among other forces of institutionalised ideology, in making things as they are. I look for theory to bring into focus the experiences and worldviews of the people who whites and men seek to silence and destroy.

One such theory of sexuality is found in Catharine A. MacKinnon's essay "Does Sexuality Have a History?", which may be read here:;page=root;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=image;xc=1

I've praised the following work before, and this time won't be the last. But one of the best essays on sexuality, one of the best theories on sex that I've seen, is the one that follows. Referencing the video (well, the audio), I don't quite understand the laughter from the audience at one point. Although times have changed and margarine isn't regarded in the same way as it was in the 1970s, nothing about her analogy is funny to me. Taken without today's negative associations, I see it as useful to her points, especially as it conjures such a tactile, sensual relationship to her ideas on the Erotic.

This is an early version of a speech and essay that later appeared in her brilliant collection of speeches and essays called Sister Outsider. It was delivered at a radical and feminist conference on pornography and prostitution in the late 1970s in San Francisco, CA, USA.

Here is a link to the speech as presented in that book:

Please consider the theories of radical feminist women of color as necessarily central to our understandings of all of us, and organise your revolutions around their ideas and visions.

image is from here