Angela Ellsworth and Tina Takemoto Her/She Senses Imag(in)ed Malady, 1994 Blown Veins/ Jelly Hand ÂŠ Angela Ellsworth and Tina Takemoto.
ERUPTION a definition by hysteria
Eruption is a response to limits drawn on our bodies, thinking, lifestyle. Something explodes in us because these limits exist. Eruption is not only ejaculation, though it could be. It was the first time I had ever seen her erupt with sheer rage and hate, smashing plates and glasses until nothing was left to smash. Erupt my menstruation, all over your face. Eruption can only happen where there is pressure and oppression, and yet is so often directed away from the practices that put pressure on us. Something has to change, must change, change me now, please. Definitions themselves cool the eruption. Concrete eruptions are better than abstract definitions. It is not simply saying “I can’t take this anymore”, but also saying “I am going to live a different life that will be beyond what is”.
Early Victorian erotic photograph.
PANIC a poem by fatimah asghar
J.A. Nicholls all of my days, oil and acrylic on canvas ÂŠ J.A. Nicholls.
CHOREOGRAPHY FOR THE BOSPHERUS HUG a memoir by joon oluchi lee 1. HOLLOW In 1996, there was no way my body could have been mistaken for that of Kristin Scott Thomas; nevertheless, I wished hard. Her dark hair had been dyed the colour of rosin and it was as if the entire room, including her body and that of her lover, took on the colour of that hair spread in neat chunks across the pillow. She looked up at her lover as he sectioned off her torso with his finger, performing the cartography of ownership as post-coital snacking, and she neither lapped it up nor kicked the bowl over; rather, she observed him from where she lay supine through half-lidded eyes with more than a little condescension. Her nipples stuck straight up and looked as sturdy and soft as something small made of rubber, but these were not nipples of lactation, because everywhere you looked in that rosin-coloured room where the body bled into everything, no breasts could be found. Where there ought to have been plush flesh there was only thin-skinned bone: ribs and sternum of starving children or fashionable females. The male lover was drawing up a treaty to colonise not bountiful breasts but her suprasternal notch, just a bit of space connecting thin bones. Like all colonisers, he gave it a ridiculous name—the Almásy Bosphorus—and she neither submitted to nor revolted against it. 2. BREASTS I actually had breasts back then. But you and I both called them ‘pecs’ because I was male and surrounding my own nipples were not decadent ducts and candy floss veins that all led to China-blue milk, but thick strips of muscle like packs of steak fresh out the freezer. Still, they were full enough to shove into neat double-A cups. I was 21 years old and hitting the gym two hours a day, seven days a week in a neat cycle of alternating days that hacked up my body into segments of discipline: shoulders, chest, arms and neck (neck??) on the first; back, abs, butt and legs the day after, with thirty minutes of cardio (Stairmaster) every day after the weight training. But when I first started lifting weights, I was seventeen and had no idea what I was doing. I had xeroxed pages of bodybuilding exercises from a library book and memorised the moves before venturing to the weight machine station in a corner of the indoor track at the Field House. I did everything wrong so I threw my back out within a few weeks and had to re-learn, properly, how to lift those functionless but precisely weighed piles of metal without breaking myself. Then, I found, I could understand the secret language of my own cells. I could make these cells expand and multiply against their will to become something I wanted to become. I made those cells work for their existence. Whipping them into submission was a coup of nurture over nature, turning the tables on biological essentialism and I hadn’t even become a ‘pomo-deconstructionist’ yet. I was such a baby Leni Riefenstahl, dazzled by the magic of my own willpower that could transform tissue paper flesh into something akin to imported marble. Every ounce of muscle and every inch of bicep I added pushed away a not-so-
distant past: a skinny-Minnie boy who would have made a pretty good girl, if he weren’t so ugly on the outside. 3. CUT Or not. I was slightly embarrassed to carry those workout books to the dime-a-page xerox machine, but not entirely filled with shame, because while I was an ‘underbodied’ male who wished to bulk up, being found with those books would be proof of my will to bulk up. Two or three years earlier, what I had not xeroxed, but only read without taking home, entirely with shame and deep, actual fear, was a book on transsexualism. It must have been an old book, even by early ‘90s standards, because while I no longer remember the title, or any words that I actually read, I do remember how the book felt in my hands as I stood as small as possible, pressed between skyscraper book shelves. The book had been re-bound in that strange library-grade vinyl that looked like goosebumpy skin. The pages were oily, and I’m not sure if it was the cheapness of the paper stock or my own cold sweat that makes me remember the ink coming off on my fingertips. In my memory, the book has only two pages, an extinct Rorschach butterfly: four images spread overleaf, black-and-white photographs of some poor transsexual’s crotch, before, after, and recovering from genital reconstruction surgery. The ease and speed with which I could slice off my own torso and sew it onto the body pinned in these pages made me want to puke in terror. I don’t know how I had imagined the surgical procedure that would transform my penis into my vagina. It’s not as if I were afraid of blades—I had already become a proficient cutter by this time—but I did imagine it all to be clean, precise, quick. What did I think, that the ragged edges of my cut genitals would form the bound edges of ribbons and my cock-blood would turn to coral pearls upon hitting oxygen? As dumb as that naïveté seems now, that is what I must have imagined. I researched “transsexualism” with snowballing fanaticism, but in the end, it was simply an exercise in masochism of self-hatred as my love affair with tiny scissors. Each book, each microfiche article, filled me with trepidation and fear and it seemed that becoming a pretty good girl was a pretty difficult enterprise, requiring the kind of bravery that, I was discovering, I did not possess. My body taunted me. My bones were slender enough and to this day, I can shave my face every morning with just a disposable razor and hot water. Physically, I would have made an ideal candidate for surgical transsexualism, the envy of all those actual transsexuals with linebacker builds. But I was afraid, and my fear felt like cowardice. I couldn’t face the horror flick violence of the surgery, nor worse, the cold, oily violence of becoming a clinical subject to be pressed into a hard old medical textbook. Blood gushing forth was definitely better than having my legs held spread apart on a table, shirt pushed up to my chest, camera flashes popping above fresh stitches. I wimped out of becoming transsexual, and began teaching myself to be satisfied with becoming a gay man. I found a copy of The Joy of Gay Sex soon after, predictably shocked but aroused by diagrams (line drawings this time, not photographs) of the practice of “sixty-nining.” I was standing tight between shelves then too, and, because the Iowa City Public Library was on the Dewey Decimal system, not that far from the loophole of retreat in which I read, over and over, the butterfly pages of transsexualism.
4. COPY MACHINE Or not. Is it embarrassing to admit that I had begun fantasising about having sex with boys as a boy only after reading about it in a book? When I began researching transsexualism I had no idea what boys had between their legs, even though I had one myself. That is to say: by that time I had already made a practice of developing huge, inappropriate, passionate attachments to certain boys physically bigger than me. But I was obsessed with the warm curly feelings between us, not the organ in their shorts. Looking back, though, I wonder if those boys felt something sexual for me. Something made them reciprocate my affection for them, despite the weird embarrassment they must have felt. And I wonder if in sixth grade, John took long walks with me alone around the playground, and Ryan held me tight against him and spun me round and round, because in spite of it all, to them, I was physically a pretty good girl. The pleasure of being misread/mistaken for a girl must have been imprinted in me at a very young age. What was the first time I locked my joints in such a way that produced pleasure in both some older or bigger male, and myself, a pleasure whose synchronicity felt like a big fat click? I don’t at all remember, but like a puppy being housebroken for the very first time, I pant, constantly longing to return to that soft damp warm place. 5. FEMININITY Old Rock Chick Realness Vintage Queen Realness Grunge Diva Realness Associate Professor Realness Schoolmistress Realness Sylvia Plath Realness Artwife Realness Korean Jewish Mother Realness Handbag Slut Realness Eldest Sister Realness Queer Theory Expat Realness Black Feminist Realness Buttercream Binger Realness 6. STRAWBERRY MILK I watched The English Patient again the other day and realised that I do resemble Kristin Scott Thomas. I’ve figured out that I am transgender, but I didn’t know it when I was young. In 1996 I thought I was happy with my body, because I figured its hard heavy muscles constituted the successful transfiguration of my spare flesh that had not only encased, but made abjectly legible, my femininity. Little did I know it was not a transmogrification but a carapacing. I thought I was escaping the violence of transsexual identity by becoming a properly homosexual male. But what I was doing was taking a detour from the destiny of my psyche and body by using violence of a different kind (Thankfully, it was only a detour). I was so
proud of achieving that muscular, masculine body through my sheer force of will, not realising that adding extraneous protein unto my flesh was a violence as sure as cutting away what I’d always had. In willing myself into the body of a gay man, I was mistaking the process of becoming as a matter of will, forgetting that becoming a girl in spite of male physiognomy was never simply a matter of wilful body modification. I lost sight of my deep and insistent wish to transition between genders, and the transformative work that such wishing-imagining had already and would always accomplish. Rollo May’s elaboration on intentionality urges us to remember “wish” as an integral partner of “will”: ...every meaning has within it a commitment. And this does not refer to the use of my muscles after I get an idea in order to accomplish the idea....a sheer movement of the muscles...is exactly what you don’t have. You have, rather, a human being intending something....Each act of consciousness tends toward something, is a turning of the person toward something.... May proposes a kinaesthetic understanding of intentionality: intention to accomplish an idea is inseparable from movement of muscles. Bodily articulation is not an effect of mental acts of willing, but an integral and simultaneous collaborator in the act of creating the idea, of a self legible to the self. Before you can muster the will to do something, to do something about becoming something else, you must first wish it. Wishing to become something else, you are already turning your body toward its futurity. “Wish” is “intentionality” insofar as it is a commitment to the reality of possibilities, corporeal and temporal. Will without wish forces you to perceive your body as a tool, as the ultimate object, serving only to reflect or express an omnipotent interiority. But your interiority is not omnipotent, and your body is not just an inert object, a tool to be upgraded to match the appetites of your psyche. The reality is that exteriority can impress upon interiority: if you look like a girl, you may feel like a girl in a way that allows you to not reach but create the true depth possibilities of that gender. In other words, there is a way in which articulations of the body can produce the very feelings that come to comprise your interiority. All through the second half of the ‘90s I supplemented workouts and huge college dorm meals with strawberry flavoured protein shakes but I couldn’t get my weight past 145 pounds, and I never did. My body was trying to whisper something to me: it isn’t, it wasn’t, it ain’t never gonna be. My feminine body had given my feminine psyche a gift, and I had turned my back on it. It had had enough; time had come for it to turn me towards becoming a girl. So it all feels as though I had sliced up and diced up my flesh for all those years after all. Some undergo knives and hormones to reach their transgender selves; I had to pack on pounds of muscle for the purpose of losing it all. I had to understand what “male” meant in a kinesthetic way before I could reject it, and properly turn my entire self towards a femininity that felt authentic to me. A decade ago, I wrote about a lot of the same things in an essay called “The Joy of the Castrated Boy.” As the title makes obvious, I was still thinking about my femininity—and any
feminist feminine identities consequent from my self-analysis—as the drama of violent power struggle over the penis. I was still working out my identity as a girl in terms of terror and violence, using queer theory to incorrectly yoke vaginoplasty to castration. What I described then as “castration” now seems to me not so much something that involves blood, sweat, tears, and tearing of flesh but a simple reduction of amassed weight, shaking loose of tension, dissolving of solids into honey. It’s a different time now than when I started letting my muscles dissolve into my manifested destiny, and wilfulness and power struggles no longer seem instrumental to the construction of a functional feminine self. At age 40, my body has dissolved down to the body I had as a fifteen- year- old: 120 pounds of mostly barely- marrowed bone. But in those 25 years I have learned to be thoroughly happy with this slight and feminine body. It feeds me knowledge, amusement, and the bravery I forsook in youth. It makes me feel like I have to turn a critical eye to my happiness in 1996 and wonder if those years of pumping iron had actually been a necessary and elaborate way by which I could reclaim the abject femininity of a transgender adolescence. Did I build up a physically masculine body just so I could destroy it gently, so I could learn to love the dainty rubble?
Maëlle Gross STRIKE A POSE, 2013, video with Ariane Vlerick © Maëlle Gross.
THE MODERN DAY CIVILIZING MISSION: WHERE ARE THE SAVAGES NOW? an essay by rebecca e. anderson In 2008, The Drag Festival took place in Kreuzberg, (in)famous for being Berlin’s queerest neighbourhood. Unfortunately, a group of festival-goers were attacked while leaving the festival, allegedly by Turkish Muslim men. Several newspapers responded to the incident, including Jungle World - a German left-wing weekly newspaper, which dedicated its June 26th, 2008 edition to the attack. This short paper aims to interrogate the discourse that surrounded this attack in order to show how Fabian’s concept of “Political Time and Space” (Fabian, 1983) can be used not only in mainstream media, but more surprisingly by progressive publications to mask racialized intolerance. In doing this, the narrowness of the subject position or positionality that progressive discourse affords non-normative subjects is also exposed. In order to do this I will build upon Jin Haritaworn’s (2012) analysis of the cover of Jungle World from June 26th, 2008 and Fatima El-Tayeb’s connection between the racialisation of religion and political time/ space. For the purposes of this paper, I will take inspiration from Fatima El-Tayeb’s definition of a queer subject, which is not necessarily connected to sexuality or gender fluidity but instead indicates deviating from hegemonic discourse’s prescriptive norms (2011). This is particularly useful because it helps us to take an intersectional approach to who is considered to be deviating from hegemonic norms. Similarly, subject is used to mean a person who is afforded agency
by a certain discourse and is the opposite of abject, which refers to a person who due to their positionality has no agency available to them. Originally, Fabian developed this theory in order to show the constructs of time and space as “ideologically constructed instruments of power” (Fabian, 1983:144). We can see time and space being used in this way during the colonial period in order to shape a discourse, which reinforces the superiority of Western states. Colonial discourse created a binary opposition between states that were civilised, and therefore modern, and those, which were barbaric, and thus stuck in the past of modern states. This allowed the need for ‘modern’ states’ civilising mission to be reinforced (Anderson, 2015). In this example, this discourse is being reworked in order to cast Turkish migrants as intolerant and German people as more progressive. Anti-migrant racism is hidden by presenting the migrants as the intolerant group. Thus, allowing German society to carry on colonial Europe’s civilising mission. Political time/ space can therefore be considered as the “evolutionary notion that human civilization had proceeded in a linear and unidirectional fashion from an initial state of nature through successive stages leading up to Western civilization” (Boatca, 2013:8). The cover image (Jungle World, 2015) shows two groups engaged in battle with the back-
drop of a non-descript urban landscape. As Haritaworn underlines, the sharp “contrast” between the two groups is highlighted by their differences in clothing. The ‘Queers’ are dressed in colourful drag whereas the ‘Turks’ are all dressed in uniform grey (2012:24). The ‘Queers’ are wielding sex toys as weapons and several of the ‘Turks’ are marked as such by caricatured features such as large noses. It is important to note that the festival-goers who were attacked described the event as a “drunken road rage incident” and highlighted they had been overwhelmingly harassed by German football fans (Haritaworn, 2012). Nonetheless, this event became the first of many termed as “migrant homophobia” by the press (Haritaworn, 2012:20), regardless of the discrepancies over whether any migrants were actually present. The event uses stereotypes of intolerant migrants to place them at the scene and then reinforces these stereotypes by framing the migrants as homophobic. Furthermore, in repeatedly labelling the event as homophobic (the lead article uses homophobia 22 times, whereas transphobia is absent from the title and used only once) the presence of trans-people are actually erased. This erasure points to the implicit transphobia that is present in this discourse as it refuses to recognise trans subjects. The ‘Turks’ are portrayed as ‘primitive’ due to their low, swinging arms and fixed square bodies (Haritaworn, 2012: 24). Some of the Turkish group are identified as Grey Wolves1 by markings on their clothes, and therefore, 1 The Grey Wolves are a Muslim, Turkish nationalist organisation with radical right wing views and the
group has been linked to facism.
a suggestion is made that they are Muslim. They form a sharp contrast with the ‘Queers’ who are associated with modernity by their weapons, diverse appearance and association with movement, created by the “lively” strokes they were painted with (ibid). The ‘Turks’ are portrayed as neolithic cavemen while the sex-toy-wielding ‘Queers’ (on the surface) embody liberal, modern Western society. This firmly locates the ‘Queers’ in the future and the ‘Turks’ in the past. The ‘Queers’ are drawn as leaning towards the ‘Turks’ and advancing towards them. This not only presents “mobility as the prerogative of the West” (El-Tayeb, 2011 :99) but also represents the role of Western nations in bringing modernity to these ‘uncivilised’ nations. Modernity is depicted as both dominant and inevitable due to the urban backdrop which contrasts with the Turkish group and the fact that the ‘Queers’ are advancing. This is the essence of the political time concept, or in other words, “a linear model of progressive time” which locates non-Western societies in relation to the West (El-Tayeb, 2011:89). According to this model, “the Other lives not only in the past but in the West’s past” (ibid) and is therefore progressing towards the West, which is its destiny. The mobilisation of time and space in this way is becoming increasingly problematic in the modern context because, as this example shows, it is often masqueraded as progressive discourse that champions minority groups’ rights. If we return to the image of the ‘Queers’ we can see another layer to this image. Sex toys and modified, metallic genitals do not usually make an appearance in the public sphere. While one could consequently argue
that doing so is potentially revolutionary by normalising the “Queers” existence, we need to unpack this representation. In this example they are caricatured to the extreme and presented in the most vulgar and ridiculous way possible. Not only that but an association is also made between them and violence: the ‘Queers’ are implicitly framed as a threat. As Haritaworn points out, they are depicted here in this way to invoke disgust (2012:25). This isn’t meant simply to invoke modernity but modernity gone astray, modernity gone too far. On one hand, this illustration, alongside Jungle World’s repetition of homophobia instead of transphobia, showcases the limits of its “progressive” discourse. Only a certain kind of queer subject is portrayed with dignity and respect, which in this case, following the erasure of trans-people and their ridiculous depiction, is denoted as homosexual. In this way, there are clear limits to how much a subject can deviate from hegemonic norms. What this really highlights is the consequences of deviating beyond these limits: because the trans-people breach hegemonic norms, they suffer trans-erasure in the article’s text and are depicted disrespectfully in the cover image. On the other hand, Western societies are championing the cause of the “Queers” despite this disgust, they “tolerate them as an inevitable by-product of a free society” (Haritaworn, 2012:16). The “Turks” are portrayed as backward not for feeling disgust but for not tolerating a society that will protect ‘the disgusting’ and their lifestyle. In one move, the West is framed as superior and the transphobia (wrongly labelled as homophobia), which is inherent to the way in which
the image is presented, is relegated to the ‘Turks’ and Muslims more generally. In this way a dichotomy of progressive and Muslim is formed. Displacing the transphobia to the Turkish group distracts from the transphobia that exists within the progressive left, which is implicitly showcased here by the disrespectful depiction of the trans-subjects and the refusal to explicitly take a stand against transphobia by naming it. The idea of Western progressiveness, and therefore, superiority is thus allowed to stay intact. Consequently, this type of progressive discourse is not only intolerant toward trans people, but also toward immigrants. The protection of some queer subjects (those who identify as homosexual) acts as a red herring that distracts from the intolerance toward trans subjects and presents intolerance toward migrants as logical as they supposedly stand against the values of contemporary European society. What is actually revealed here however is that hegemonic discourse relies on examples like this one in order to moderate queer subjects. It reiterates the limits of acceptable deviation from hegemony by highlighting that queerness will only be accepted if it follows a recognisable heteronormative pattern. Dominant European discourse mobilises political time/space in order to disguise anti-Muslim racism as progressive discourse and hide the narrow confines of liberal discourse. What this example demonstrates is that discourse can masquerade as progressive and tolerant as a way to abjectify subjects who do not conform to its limits. The binaries that ensue relegate people that defy
its limits or refuse to adhere to its stereotypes to a kind of “twilight zone” (ElTayeb,2011:89) in which they cannot exist. When we encounter any discourse we have to first ask whom it is making abject rather than whom it is privileging. In this example, this allows us to see the ways in which anti-immigrant racism and transphobia is masked by a liberal discourse. Instead of carrying postcolonial tropes forward we need to dismantle progressive state-sanctioned discourse. This is the only way to confront the fact that the “intolerant savages” could very well be hidden in our own mirrors.
Link to the Jungle World Cover: Jungle World, Bissu Schwul Oder Was?(2015). Jungle World Cover 26/6/2008. [image] Available at: http://jungle-world.com/images/000/000/703/2008-26-cover-a. gif [Accessed 27 Apr. 2015]. References Anderson, R. (2015). How are border violence and violence against women/girls/lesbians/transgender interconnected and rely on (post)colonial geopolitics?. SOAS University of London. London Boatcă, Manuela (2013): “Multiple Europes and the Politics of Difference Within”. In: Worlds & Knowledges Otherwise (WKO). Uneasy Postcolonialisms. 3 (3), online: https://globalstudies.trinity.duke. edu/wp-content/themes/cgsh/materials/WKO/v3d3_Boatca2.pdf [20.01.2014]. Bozic, Homophobic Turkish Youth and The Fear of Racism Allegations, Jungle World, Jungle World, 28/08/2008 El-Tayeb, Fatima (2011): “Secular Submissions: Muslim Europeans, Female Bodies, and Performative Politics”. In: European Others. Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota. pp. 81-120. El-Tayeb, Fatima (2011): “Introduction: Theorizing Urban Minority Communities in Postnational Europe”. In: European Others. Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota. pp.xi-xlvi. Fabian, Johannes. Time And The Other. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983. Print. Haritaworn, Jin (2012): “Colorful Bodies in the Multikulti Metropolis: Vitality, Victimology and Transgressive Citizenship in Berlin”. In: Cotten, Trystan T. (Hrsg.) Transgender Migrations. The Bodies, Borders, and Politics of Transition. New York: Routledge S. 11–31. Jungle World 2008 “Bissu schwul oder was? Homophobie unter Turken und anderen Deutschen.” No. 26 (June 26).
Lærke Cecilie Anbert © Laerke Cecilie Anbert.
Mary Sibande I’m a Lady © Mary Sibande, Courtesy of Gallery MOMO .
THE MOON IS ON THE WHITEYS a poem by unique hughley The moon is on the Whiteys, And I don’t think they can Handle it It’s dark the elephants have there candles lit , the donkey’s throats are slit. It’s civil war inside of these politics, we politely put are pleads in poems. Asked for are reparations in respect but yet, they fled when we tryed to cash there faulty reality checks. Whitey went to the moon, at 6 a clock noon, in found away to segregate that too. Never investigated the dark side, are side was part tied up in a gangbang between the streets, in promiscuous government sluts .
They thought we gave up when they gave us climetia in Tuskegee but that didn’t break us. That’s why whitey went to the moon , Shit that didn’t phase us we went too. Eclipsed it brought a couple poet trees to it, found capitalism lynched it, then went banana apes on there zoo. Made mistakes out of pigs and blue, finally confronted the elephant In the room exposed the donkey in office for his jackass moves . They was yelling for the coons to retreat back to earth , but we had eclipsed that too. Whitey on the news, whitey in the White House contemplating plans like what should we do. Them niggas trippin next couple of days the White House missing replaced with the moon they still Tryna broadcast us While there stuck, they said we didn’t land on Plymouth rock Plymouth rock landed on us . The moon is on the Whiteys .
ONE DIMENSIONAL? an interview with nina power and ruth miller I Met Nina Power in London at the Southbank Centre. I had read her work and was looking forward to entering into a powerful and challenging discussion about current political, philosophical, and feminist issues. In her dominant role at the front of a campaign dedicated to the right to protest and having a voice that can be heard, I had hoped to be in the presence of robust statements which challenged conventional confines and gave new insight to my questions. Power offered some interesting discussion and clearly showed passion and knowledge towards things that were of her interest – leaving a dialogue that certainly transcended the One Dimensional… Feminism is more a way of seeing the world, a prism rather than a kind of set of demands. Nina Power RM: You’ve written quite widely on protest and are the co-founder of the DEFEND THE RIGHT TO PROTEST Campaign. You focus specifically on police violence and restrictions that are implemented during conventional protests. How do you think protest and what it means and represents has shifted over the last hundred years or so? And do you think it is still an effective method for bringing about changes? NP: Sure. Last hundred years – ha ha. Well there is a lot that could be said about that. I will start with the last question. I think it’s obvious that historically a lots of juncture protest have been central in forcing change from the sort of bottom up, and even where protests are sort of deemed to be outside of what is politically acceptable, usually the things that people are protesting for become kind of common-sense within a couple of decades or so. I think it is also unavoidable. There are certain situations where there is such widespread discontent, so like going to war or some kind of widely perceived injustice that you know it is just going to happen anyway. I suppose I think some of what we are
doing is trying to help those people who get arrested at protests and deal with that, because it is obviously one way that puts people off protests and makes them seem less kind of attractive... RM: Do you think that it’s especially poignant for women? The violence, that is? NP: I think at the student protests there were quite a lot of women who were sort of leading the protests. So I mean, you know, obviously if you’ve got small children and so on and if the police say it’s going to be a dangerous protest it’s obviously going to make most reasonable people question whether they might want to go on it. Yeah, I think the police are often responsible for making protests much more violent and much more unpleasant than they should be, think about kettling and baton use and mass arrest and all of these sorts of things that we see quite a lot of. I obviously think the media also often tries to present protest violence as coming from the protestors or at least coming from both sides, whereas invariably it is the police who kind
of instigate it. I think there is a lot of that kind of portrayal of protest as potentially kind of dangerous.
doesn’t transport weapons to kill people, then that is property damage but, I don’t have a problem with that at all.
RM: To what extent do you think things like underground protest magazines and social media can help with protest and bringing about political change? Is this sort of new politics the way forward? Do you see the landscape of protest changing in the future? Will social media become more pivotal in bringing about changes? NP: I don’t think it is an either or. I think that social media is obviously used a lot to organise and it can be a useful tool, but it can also be very transparent and can be looked at by the authorities as well. So I mean there is obviously room for more private and secret organising. But, as a way of mobilising, a lot of people to go on the streets, it’s kind of unparalleled really as a tool. A lot of people who might be involved in online activism will also be people who would protest outside as well. People just adapt to what is going on.
RM: So, I guess my question is, does the passion and desire to protest whatever it is you might be protesting, outweigh certain ethical behaviours? Is there like a... NP: It doesn’t make sense as an abstract question. You know, it depends on a particular protest you are trying to do. Is there an example?
RM: So you focus quite a lot on the suppression and restriction that protestors get from police and other authority figures. Do you think there’s a need or room for a kind of self-imposed restriction or regulation for protestors themselves? You talk about the violence from the other side (i.e., the police), but isn’t there also a limit to what protestors should or shouldn’t do themselves? NP: I don’t know, I think it really depends on the context you know. Obviously keeping each other safe would be primary, but obviously people do that anyway … I don’t know you can’t really ask that question in the abstract... I think it’s dependent on what you are doing. I mean if you’re sabotaging an aeroplane so it
RM: Let’s take the example you’ve just given us. Do you think that you send a utilitarian message that some violence is okay whereas other violence is unacceptable? In another example, Nelson Mandela was named both a freedom fighter and a terrorist – this is much the same dilemma. NP: I think it is the wrong question to ask. I think, if you’re protesting a violent system that doesn’t respond to anything that you do, I think it’s ok. I have nothing against property damage or attacking police particularly… RM: Ok, so you think it is a reciprocal thing? NP: It is a systemic thing. It’s not just about the particular situation. I mean if you are in a situation in which you know police officers are never even indicted for murdering routinely, habitually murdering people. It’s hard to say why there should be limits on the response of protestors? RM: I suppose my questions is you are the cofounder of a campaign that defends the right to protest, so is there a way you think, an ideal or some guidelines on how the sort of ‘perfect protest’ can take place that wouldn’t result in violence?
NP: Protestors don’t arrest themselves. So I don’t know. As I said, keeping each other safe, looking after each other but that just seems obvious. And that is what people do anyway. RM: You’ve written on Judith Butler on her book Gender Trouble... NP: Yes. RM: Taking her notion of performativity as basis, do you think women in politics – or even the workplace in general – are forced to perform a more dominant role to fit in with a predominantly and historically male environment? NP: I think that is not what she means by performativity. On the second question obviously there is this idea of a sort of neoliberal suggestion that women need to sort of be more perkily involved in work and work harder. You know, again I have a strong anti-work politics, and I have no interest in having more female CEOs; it is not my primary political concern. I think the whole system of work as it is currently performed and instituted is not kind of beneficial for anyone, but particularly women with children – as if maternity is some sort of new thing that has only just happened. So, yeah, I think the question of performativity is about gender which is slightly different question and not about work in that way...
i.e., being ‘ballsy’ and performing in a particularly male way? Does this therefore lead to inauthentic behaviour, which is inescapable should women want to succeed? NP: I’m not sure if anyone behaves in a more or less authentic way. I mean I’m not sure that category is useful – it’s certainly not a useful category for Butler. I don’t know... that question isn’t really the one she poses. I think people use a variety of strategies to get through the working day. I mean my problem is more with work and the way in which people perform it. RM: What is the problem with work? NP: Well, you know that anyone has to sell their time in order to eat and live is something that I fundamentally oppose. Work is just a massive waste of time and you do things you don’t want to do for vast potions of your time. You know it is often not fulfilling, the very idea of working with people that you don’t know and don’t like makes people very unhappy. I think not working is not the same as doing nothing. I think there are loads of other things that people could be doing and might want to do but they can’t because they need money. You know I’m not keen on sort of saying that there are particular strategies that people need, or need to use in order to get through work.
RM: I suppose being inauthentic – perhaps bringing in Sartre here would aid, performing the dance of the waiter - how society sees he should be1 – do you think women are forced to perform in a certain stereotypical manner,
RM: So you don’t think there is a pressure for women to perform in the work place? NP: I think it depends on which type of job; some might require you to be more personable, more attractive, some might require assertiveness. I don’t know.
1 Sartre, Jean-Paul (tr. and intro. Hazel E. Barnes and Mary Warnock) (2003). Being and Nothingness. Oxon: Routledge.
RM: Okay. You have written on the relationship between women and work, you suggest that
to discuss one is to discuss the other. It’s good to talk about those things as a collective. So, I suppose my question is where do women who exercise their right to choose to stay at home, or not work, or be a mother or any of those sorts of things, fit into this model of feminism? And on a wider level, do you think that some women might feel excluded from the feminist battle because it is often quite exclusive and quickly becomes an academic discussion? Can feminism subconsciously stigmatise women who fit the role of the ‘traditional’, ‘nuclear’ women? NP: Well I mean I have discussed this in my book and I say that women don’t really have a choice so this question doesn’t really make sense in that way – as in it’s not really a real choice, it’s always based on money. Childcare isn’t really affordable for most women or couples. It’s not a real choice, not in the sense if it is to mean anything at all – it’s, I think, a narrow feminism that focussed on women in the workplace that is not very relevant. Wouldn’t that be the sort of lean in stuff? I mean you know. RM: Okay, so do you think there is exclusivity to feminism? Do you think some women might feel excluded from the feminist battle? NP: Well it’s too broad, feminism is not one think... I don’t know. RM: Okay. Modern-day feminism: what’s going on now, discussions of solidarity and all of these concepts? Do you think some women might feel excluded from that? NP: I don’t know I suppose it depends on how it might come across. I mean, again it seems if feminism is just narrowly identified with, I don’t know, getting more women to be CEOS then I think, yeah, the vast majority of women
would feel excluded from that, because it is not relevant and it is not going to happen. But there are multiple overlappings of discussions on feminism, some of which pay much more attention to things like housing, childcare, poverty and others. There are lots of anti-austerity feminisms, lots of feminists that talk about the intersection of class and race. RM: I suppose feminism, arguably, has still got a negative image in society. It’s still stuck in the 70s, second-wave feminism sort of stigma, and arguably a lot of that negativity comes from women themselves – statements such as, “oh what are you talking about; we’ve got the vote what more do you want?” Why do you think this is? NP: I don’t know, I think there has been a real resurgence in the discussion of feminism actually. I’m not sure to what extent that kind of stigmatism is still true. I think there is a lot of online feminism and a lot of people are encountering feminism much earlier, certainly earlier than I did. I don’t know... I think it is an ongoing discussion that gets broader and broader. RM: Do you think there is an endgame with feminism and equal rights for women? If so, what would this look like and do you think it is actually achievable? And if so, do you regard feminism as an end in itself or as a tool for political change? NP: It depends; I think, on what your feminism is tied in to, whether it’s economic, political analysis – whatever. I certainly don’t think getting the vote means equality has been solved. And I don’t think getting the majority of women into work has solved it, given that I don’t accept the terms in the first place on
which the discussions of equality are happening. I am more interested in the feminism that is systematic and attacks everything. Like work, and phoney choices that people are offered. I’d say no politics worth of its name would be anti-feminists or racist. It’s not a question to be solved; it is a starting point in that sense. So I would say feminism is more a way of seeing the world, a prism rather than a kind of set of like demands. In a sense who are you demanding them from? You know people are only ever going to give the most minimal thing of what you ask for because they don’t want to give it to you, you know? So yeah, I think it is a much bigger question for me. And feminism would be part of a bigger political project that would be quite radical. RM: Do you think then that protest is tied up in working towards this picture? I mean what can young women, or readers of HYSTERIA do to achieve what it is you’re talking about? NP: Well you know if I think if people are not already doing or involved in it, getting involved in political groups or campaigns is important and whatever it is you care about... you just learn so much more than sitting in your room on your own. You might get some good ideas, but you only really learn much more if you are actively involved in trying to change things for the better. All of that stuff is quite difficult, but how else are we ever going to work together? I think it is relatively easy to get involved in things – even if it is stopping the local library from closing – I think it has to be a practice, rather than just a set of principles on something. I mean even if it were principles you would have to apply them every day, behaving in particular ways and you know, treating people in the way they ought to be treated. I mean that’s a
politics too, but there are a lot of things people can do – maybe much more easily than they might think. RM: What do you think about the fees protest? NP: Well I’m sure you’re well aware I was very active in the fees protest; obviously I’m completely against it. I think higher education should be completely fee. There are more than enough resources to pay for it. Even the argument about austerity doesn’t work, because even a lot of other countries made a different decision to invest in higher education rather than abolish the deficit – which they haven’t even done any way. Germany has recently abolished tuition fees. Now lots of people in the UK are going abroad to study which I think is interesting. Not surprised though, it is brutal and has incredibly detrimental effect on the way that people can study, like my students at Roehampton: so many of them have to work and it takes a lot of time, and everyone is in this very stressed, anxious sort of state all the time. Graduating with £30–£40K worth of debt in a very precarious job market is negative in every way really. RM: So you have spoken about austerity quite a lot, that is obviously something you are passionate and interested in, do you have any future books /writing plans? NP: Well, I write quit a lot, I do lots of journalism, and then longer, middle-length essays, between academic and journalistic, and some more experimental writing for art magazines. I’m very interested in writing in different styles, and in that sense I’m not a very good academic because I hate academic writing because I think it is awful and boring and they don’t think enough about the way they write. So I try to do more different forms of writing because it keeps me entertained.
RM: Do you think this makes your work more accessible? NP: Yes, I think there is a duty. I think academics are too quick to isolate themselves. They don’t for some reason feel compelled to present their ideas in a public way, which I think they should do, especially considering how dire the state of a lot of things are. And I think that quite a lot of academics supported the students in the first place, but once people were arrested there was a drop off in support. More academics should do more. It seems obvious to me that staff and students should both be against management – because we both have a lot more to lose than they do. But in terms of future things, I need to do some more lengthy academic writing (ha ha). RM: That doesn’t sound like something you’re particularly looking forward to? NP: No, it’s fine. It’s just difficult to do when your working life is so fragmented. I’ve got two part time jobs and do so many things, so it’s difficult to find time to do sustained research really, especially when I’m writing a lot. So I need to find someone to give me some money so that I cannot teach for a year. I get quite bored, and stop writing about things. If I were to be a good academic I’d need to focus on one thing for like 20 years and that would have to be my thing. Yeah, so fragmentation of time is a problem. So in that sense I can understand why many academics might just be very selfish, but I don’t think ethically it’s OK.
Enrico Nagel Something Stirring in Space, 2011, collage mixed media © Enrico Nagel.
COMING FROM THE VAGINA IN MY HEART a documentary by popo fan The first time I saw a performance of the Vagina Monologues was in June 2011, performed by the Zhihe Society of Fudan University. It was also the first performance in Fudan history that drew such a large audience; the auditorium with 600 hundred seats was packed with nearly 1000 people. The effect of the scene was stunning, not only because of the drama itself, but also because of the enthusiasm, companionship and emotion of students who were acting. My friends that are gender equality activists had already participated in the play, and therefore understood its influence on spectators. This project was presented through spoken narrative; it was not preaching, but it had such a powerful dissemination and acknowledgement of arguments, it had the same point of view as our original idea had. It was then that I realised the play could make an excellent documentary subject: because the play itself was directed at society from the theatre, then recording and transfering the idea would perhaps make it possible to spread it to a larger space and for a longer period of time. It would be a complete and vigorous journey. I originally had the idea of taking part in the documentary in March 2013, so I met with two members of the Beaver Club in Shanghai. I initially thought I would help them with moviemaking and fundraising. I thought it would be better to find a female director, that a person with a vagina should direct this film. We received a subsidy from Oxfam, with the condition that the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” movement documentary would be finished in 2013. That way, the film’s release would correspond with mainland China’s 10th anniversary of screening the Vagina Monologues. I was not convinced that finishing the film within this timeframe was important, but did not have the option of doing otherwise. Due to the fact that we had not found another suitable person, I, encouraged by Xiao Yan, was obliged to direct the film In October 2013, I was in Guangzhou. I went to Professor Ai Xiaoming’s home for a dinner and to do the interview. When we were talking about The Vagina Monologues’ influence on society, she did not completely accept my idea: “It is no more than a drama, society cannot change because of one play.” I was shocked: compared with the majority of people who were certain of the play’s influence on society, Ai’s opinion astonished me: “When we are playing a part, we declare our intended thoughts more securely than in real life.” Later, approximately two weeks after my visit at Ai’s, discussions surrounding gender equality and the Vagina Monologues happened to be quite popular online, and those discussions
Fan Popo Stills of the VaChina Monologues.
inevitably confirmed Professor Ai’s opinion. In the beginning of November 2013, photos from The Vagina Monologues taken by a female student from the Beijing Foreign Studies University lead to an online storm. I was astonished by the deriding online reactions towards this play performed in China for 10 years already - how come there were so many people who did not know about it? When I was shooting the documentary during the play’s performances, I always got positive opinions and answers in person, so how come this feedback changed so much online? Is it because those who took part were of diverse positions and because the setting was different, so everybody dared to say the truth? I had to admire teacher Ai’s accurate course observation and profound review. While filming, there was one thing that was problematic for me - I was the director’s filming assistant, who was a heterosexual man. After shooting the whole afternoon, we watched miss Bcome’s rehearsal process from The Vagina Monologues. While eating diner, he suddenly explained that his ex-girlfriend had some issues with male chauvinism, he suggested that Bcome should tell him reasons for becoming volunteer, and furthermore why she didn’t agree to become assistant of business affairs. This was all because he had seen the play rehearsal’s content. Although we also often doubted and were wondering whether we could change society, sometimes even feeling despair, this moment made me realize that the change always starts with ourselves and that it is in our hands. By the end of November 2013, I finished a short movie called The VaChina Monologues that discussed The Vagina Monologues in China. After screenings, I was often asked why I made this kind of movie: I’m personally not very sensitive about my own “psychological gender,” until other people clearly indicate “You are a guy, why did you film The Vagina Monologues?” My mind unintentionally went back to a period six years ago, when I was shooting a documentary about homosexuals, I also had to deal with similar questions – why are you making movie about homosexuality? I always without slightest hesitation replied “Because I’m gay, I’m proud of it and I want to do something for my community.” However, after making this statement, it became harder and harder to convince myself of this answer: one reason was my own sexuality, as I explored new discoveries about my body; the second reason being that I raised more questions about my own community. Every time I attend male homosexual meetings, I heard some unfriendly expressions towards women or prejudices towards lower-income classes. This also often exists in communities that have tags, even within the LGBT community, which is flooded with self/mutual discrimination: in one lesbian bar, T was saying that P is bisexual and unreliable; one blind gay person went for a one night stand, counterpart asked “You are blind and still want 419?”; one transgender said “Some gays are too ladylike, I’m into real men…” So sexuality and race/ethnicity, social class, municipality or village, disability are kinds of layers, tangled and complicated. If we are only listening to ourselves, the result often is even more oppressive behavior.
Thus I became a person who doesn’t care at all about tags or labels, I might be gay, or maybe I’m a transgendered person who doesn’t want to have any change with my body, or bisexual who has not had sexual intercourse with a woman yet, or maybe I like light SM and in the future I will try more dominatrix…but maybe I’m not anything at all. I wouldn’t judge other people’s orientation, because orientation is not something for making presumptions. But when I am close to discovering my identity, sometimes I unintentionally give myself tags: being cursed for being Chinese, being humiliated because of race, as I am Chinese; when someone is mistreated due to sexual orientation, I wish to be homosexual; violence against and exclusion of migrant workers, repression of cultural minorities, I was willing to be one of them…Women being pushed aside, attacked, harassed, I’m a woman! Sure, my vagina grown in my heart. Yet, I was still reflecting, why was the one who had finished this movie me and not a director who has a vagina. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with gender, but I’m wondering if a director “who has a vagina” in situations when there was almost no funding, when it was necessary to raise heavy equipment while traveling around, would have faced challenges. Perhaps she would reschedule interviews due to menstruation; on her way back home in the evening after filming she might be followed by someone with bad intentions; if she has children, she might be interrupted by the cry of a baby during editing …if the delays were so long to the extent that she would give up, some people might say “Female directors are not hard working enough!” due to her gender. When I look back on the year 2000 and some documentaries about homosexuality from that period, I observe that most of them were directed by heterosexual men. These directors were not only particularly sensitive to these issues, but they also had the appropriate resources and superiority to make their films. This access to better resources might be in connection to their sexual orientation. Until recent years, there are more and more members of LGBTQIA communities that are taking part in directing. Although individuals who went to film school are contributing their knowledge and expertise, endowments from the State are still insufficient to fully capture the many stories to be told, With more access to technology, funding, and other resources, Chinese society will have a more complete image of the LGBTQIA community through the work it produces, as ordinary LGBTQIA community members might increasingly shoot their own films. I’m looking forward to future images that will put more stress on ideology based on what is coming from heart and not on essentialization. Let’s not allow the dominance, especially physiological dominance to become necessity to create. It is then that we will be able to hear stronger voices coming from vagina, coming from disabled people, coming from poor people coming from minority communities. Translated by Zuzana Pavlonova
我第一次现场看《阴道独白》的演出是在2011年6月，复旦大学知和社的版本。那一场也是复旦史上最为爆满的一次，600个 座位的礼堂涌进了将近1000人。现场效果很震撼，不仅仅因为戏剧本身，也因为参与演出的学生们的热情，他们的友谊与情 感。联想到，之前我遇到好几位做性别平等倡导的朋友都参与过这个剧，可以想象它对于这些个人的影响。这个项目用讲故事 的方式，不说教但又很有力量地传播一些道理和认知，这跟我们做影像的初衷不谋而合。当时我就意识到这是一个很好的纪录 片题材，因为它本身从剧场走向社会，如果能够再由影像纪录，也许可以传播到更广的空间跟时间维度，这将是一个完整而有 力的旅程。 我初步有想法参与纪录片是在2013年3月。当时跟上海海狸社两位成员见面，一开始的想法是帮她们做制片，筹款。当时我觉 得导演还应该找一位生理女性——即有阴道的人来做。后来我们顺利地得到乐施会的资助，对方希望可以在2013年的“十六 日行动”完成，这样刚好趁着《阴道独白》中国大陆首演十周年的时候放映。我也觉得这样意义非凡，但时间就非常紧迫。由 于没有找到其他合适人选，我在小燕的鼓励之下临危受命。 2013年10月份，我在广州去艾晓明老师家里吃饭，兼做采访。当说起《阴道独白》的社会影响时候，她有点不以为然“这只 不过是一部戏剧，社会不可能仅仅因为一部戏剧而改变”。我感觉有点被“泼冷水”，相比较大部分人对这部戏剧社会影响力 的肯定，艾老师的看法让我有点惊讶：“当我们借助一个角色的外衣的时候，我们比较安全的说出我们想说的话。当我们去掉 这些角色的外衣的时候，哪怕说出一点点都是无比困难的，甚至是令人畏惧的。” 就在大约两周之后发生了流行在网络上的一件事，不免精确地印证了艾老师的那几句话。2013年11月初，北外女生几张“阴 道说”图片引起网络的轩然大波。我很诧异于很多网友谩骂式的回应，对于这部已经在中国各地演出了十年的戏剧，怎么会那 么多人不知道？我在演出现场拍摄的时候，总是收到很多正面的看法与答复，可是一旦到网络上大家怎么了？这是因为参与者 身份的不同，还是因为场景不同大家更敢说真话？不得敬佩艾老师在这个过程中敏锐的观察力，以及深刻的反思性。 拍摄过程中有一件很打动我的小事，我在北京的拍摄中招了一位导演助理，性别身份为异性恋男性。一整个下午的拍摄，他 看了Bcome小组《阴道之道》的排练过程。晚饭的时候，他忽然向我反思了自己与前女友相处过程中的大男子主义问题，他向 Bcome提出了想做志愿者的意愿，并且怎么都不肯收下作为助理的劳务。这一切因为看到排练的戏剧中所讲的内容。虽然我们 也常常怀疑与困惑，影像到底能否改变社会，有时甚至感到灰心丧气。这一刻我还是感觉到了：改变总是从我们自己和身边开 始。 2013年11月底，我完成这部关于戏剧《阴道独白》在中国本土化过程的短片《来自阴道》，在放映交流的时候常常被问起“ 为什么要做这个片子”，我对自己的“生理性别”不是特别敏感，直到别人明示或者暗示我“你是个男的！为什么要拍阴 道？” 我不由得大脑绕到更远的一个地方，六年前刚开始做同志纪录片的时候，我也理所当然的被这样提问“你为什么要做同性恋电 影？”。当时我还是身份政治的拥笃者，我总是毫不犹豫地说“因为我是一个同性恋，我为身份骄傲，我要为我的社群做些事 情”。
然而后来这种说法越来越难以说服自己，一方面源于自己性别身份、身体探索的一些新发现；另一方面，我也对自己所处身 份的群体产生了很多的疑问。每次男同志的聚会总会听到一些对女性不友善的表达，抑或对低收入阶层的偏见。这也往往存在 于每个具有单一标签的群体中，哪怕仅就“LGBT”社群内，都泛滥着自相/相互歧视：拉拉酒吧里一个T说P都是双性恋，靠不 住；一位盲人男同志去约炮，对方说“你一个瞎子还出来419？”；一个跨性别说你们这些gay都太娘了，我搞的那些直男， 纯爷们……性别身份与种族、阶级、城乡、残障种种身份的交叠，错综复杂。如果仅仅为自己的身份发声，结果往往是一个更 具有压迫性的行为。 因此我变成一个对标签特别无所谓的一个人，我可能是一个男同志，也可能是一个不想对自己身体做任何改变的跨性别，可能 是一个还未跟生理女性发生插入式性交的双性恋，可能是一个做过轻口味SM未来会尝试更多的女王……但我也可能什么都不 是。我也不对别人的性别、性取向做预设。 可是我又离我的身份很近，在某些时候，我不得不给自己贴上标签：当中国人被冠以恶名、因种族被侮辱的时候，我是一个中 国人；当性取向带给人带来不公平待遇的时候，我愿意是一个同性恋；当农民工被污名，少数民族文化被忽略，我愿意是他们 中的一员…当女人被排挤、暴力、骚扰，我就是一个女人！没错，我的阴道长在心里。 可是我仍旧在思考，为什么最终来完成这个影片的人是我，而不是一个“有阴道”的导演。这不一定与性别相关，但你可以 想象，一位“有阴道”的导演在很少资金的情况下，扛起沉重的器材走南闯北市多么具有挑战。或许她有时要顶着经痛采访， 拍摄到很晚回家的路上却遇到不怀好意的尾随者，如果她有了孩子，那么在剪辑的时候可能经常被婴儿的啼哭打断……如果她 最后拖稿，甚或放弃了，别人可能因为她的性别而说：女导演不够努力！ 回溯到2000年左右，当时的几部同志纪录片，大部分都是由（自我认同身份为）男异性恋的导演拍摄。他们有好奇心和行动 力，同时又有相应的资源和优势去做。这些资源或多或者与他们的性别身份有关系。直到近几年，才有越来越多本身是性少数 身份的人参与。但毕竟“专业导演”的拍摄还带着某种精英意识，赋权还不够充分。后来渐渐随着技术和理念更新，才有社区 影像的概念。普通的LGBT也可以拍摄自己的作品。 我期待未来的影像，更加去中心主义，去精英化。让优势，特别是生理的优势不再是创作的必要条件。也只有这样，我们才 能听到更多来自阴道的声音，来自残障者的声音，来自无产者的声音，来自少数族群的声音。
QUEER ERASURE a conversation against equality collective and mathias klitgård sørensen “This Against Equality anthology reminds us and the world that there is a queer radical/ left history that has not been co-opted into meaningless support for ‘gay rights’ at the cost of furthering neoliberalism. It exists to document our resistance to a gay agenda that has actively erased radical queer history by rewriting recent events into a narrative of progress, one where gays and lesbians flock towards marriage, military service, hate crime legislation, and the prison-industrial complex.” This statement figures in the introduction to the Against Equality collective’s recent book Against Equality: Queer Revolution Not Mere Inclusion (2014). The work is a collection of three previous publications: Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage (2010), Against Equality: Don’t Ask to Fight Their Wars (2011), and Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You (2012). The compilation contains a series of articles by activists and scholars that comprise critical and queer investigations into the fight for gay marriage, the right for gays and lesbians to serve openly in military, and the increasing focus on hate crime legislation for mainstream LGBT advocates, respectively. HYSTERIA’s Mathias Klitgård Sørensen sat down with editor Ryan Conrad and the Against Equality collective to discuss issues of erasure of radical queer narratives, economic marginalisation and what it means to be critically queer. MKS: At the time of this interview (February 2015) you are touring Australia and New Zealand with the Against Equality compiled anthology. In your book, however, many articles point to factors specific to the US that give reasons to oppose gay marriage, gays in military and hate crime legislation. What do you regard to be the most important general reasons for rejecting these struggles, beyond the particular scope of the US? AE: Despite the different geopolitical contexts in which gender and sexual politics happen all over the world, most of us are at the mercy of capitalism, neoliberal austerity governments, and social policy organised around markets meeting our every need. Against Equality offers a critique that doesn’t take queerness to simply be a cultural identity, but one that exists within
an economic framework. By doing so, there are numerous points of crossover between the US context and other so-called “Western” democracies. Sharing our critique in a global way also disrupts this singular progress narrative being exported through US foreign policy and various forms of mass/social media. We hope our work can serve as a warning signal for those that might want to emulate the US or provide fodder for those already struggling against dominant US cultural imperialism that attempts to dictate gender and sexual politics globally. MKS: In also considering queerness within an economic framework, an interesting angle to queer struggles appears in your work. You have yourself contributed with an article on the effect of the fight for gay marriage
in Maine being that “de-prioritization and de-funding of critical queer and trans community issues/organizations/services” (p. 57), and similarly we read Kenyon Farrow arguing that “military service is not economic justice” to members of the LGBTQ community (p. 107), and E. Meiners, L. Michaud, J. Pavan and B. Simpson show how hate-crime legislation increases the prison and surveillance budget, with the more or less explicit intention of controlling people LGBTQ, homeless people and people of colour (p. 231ff). All these contributions also seem to depict, a material reality for the queer struggle of today. How should we understand the project of being ‘critical’ or ‘critically queer’ within such a framework? AE: Part of our work here is to point out how a cultural critique of assimilationist gay and lesbian politics is not enough. Inclusionary gay and lesbian politics are not merely ruining a discrete queer cultural identity (i.e. gay marriage will make us boring and cut short our sex lives), but are actually part of the machinery of neoliberalism that is killing marginal queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people. So to be critically queer, we must take into account the material reality of our conditions in addition to the psychic or cultural violence that assimilation unleashes. To be clear though, cultural critique and material critique aren’t mutually exclusive. Of course some critiques of neoliberalism may just rearrange pieces on the chessboard of capitalism, much like so-called Obamacare and other half-assed social programs in the US and abroad. But at the heart of our critique is an anti-capitalist vision that takes seriously the utopian world-making project of forging an existence without
hierarchies or exploitation. One of the difficult questions is how to get there, a question which many of us on the radical left struggle with as we do the work we do, but amongst the Against Equality collective, we share common ground in knowing there is no future in capitalism. MKS: Would you say that being critically queer, one necessarily also has to be anti-capitalist? Maybe you can comment on the relation between queers and neoliberal exploitation. If gay marriage, repeal of DADT and hate crime legislation do not benefit queers, who does benefit from them? AE: I don’t know whether one necessarily has to be an anti-capitalist, but as a collective we aren’t all that interested in fighting for a future that isn’t deeply critical of capitalism. In terms of whom these institutions benefit most, I think it’s instructive to think again in terms of situating sexuality in an economic framework. For example, marriage as the nexus through which benefits are distributed allows the State to abdicate its responsibilities to ensure the wellbeing of its citizens. Additionally, marriage has been used as a strategy to kick people off state assistance. Once married, double-income families always have their benefits reduced the US military functions as a de facto jobs program for the poor, only to be used to secure resource extraction and emerging markets for corporate empire building. And prisons, which are increasingly run by private corporations in the US and elsewhere, provide a captive population contracted to corporations to work for pennies by the hour. To not grasp the economic function of these institutions while screaming about LGBTQ exclusion from them leaves
any political organising short-sighted. In the long run, our inclusion only further entrenches the neoliberal logic enabled by these institutions. MKS: When we talked prior to this interview, you said that the Against Equality project is in a sense also to fight against your own erasure. What do you mean by that? AE: There is a singular, linear progress narrative that is told by mainstream gay and lesbian organisations and the media. The story being told is that all queer and trans people are on board with gay marriage, gays in the military, and hate crimes legislation as the most important and next logical steps, and that we are all aligned with this political goal. In contrast, our project collects and elevates voices that break this assumed political consensus, voices that are ignored and actively silenced by mainstream gay and lesbian political organisations. By archiving these voices in our digital archives and publishing them together in our print anthologies, we are refusing to be silenced, isolated, and ignored. We have written our own counter-histories. MKS: How do you see your project as a positive formation of ways of living a (queer) life, and which critical imperatives can you give to non-theorising everyday-queers? AE: Our work is grounded at the intersection of action, analysis, and resistance to the steamrolling of our lives and dreams by a neoliberal machinery that has learned to use gay politics in particular to great effect. As radical, anti-capitalist queers, we believe that a knowledge and understanding of queer resistance, both historically and culturally grounded, is essential to
our survival, and that is why we began this on-going project as an archive of written and visual materials that recorded a history that is continually being erased. We believe that these are the necessary tools with which to begin the end of the coercive state, and we do not distinguish between theorising resistance and acting upon it. Certainly, there is a vast difference in simply mouthing off theoretical paradigms and abstractions and resisting the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brutality with our lives and bodies. But we firmly believe that to be queer, to have to constantly negotiate a world where oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very existence is under threat or questioned is in itself to embark upon a theory of our existence, to continually wonder about what better, bigger possibilities might be dreamt about. So, in that sense, our strongest critical imperatives would be for queers to believe that knowledge about our histories, our radical pasts, and the possibilities of radical futures is essential.
Tracey Rose For King and Cunt, 2007, Inkjet print, London rain, 215 x 166 cm ÂŠ Tracey Rose, courtesy Dan Gunn, Berlin.
PARTIAL INDEX OF LIES I HAVE TOLD MY SISTER a poem by fatimah asghar Borrow Books from her; 2, 5, 8, 22, 27, 31 Clothes from her; 25, 28, 33, 37, 42, 45, 51 Breakfast, I ate; 3, 17, 65, 66, 72 Brush, my teeth; 9, 10, 12, 48 Clean my body is; 12, 15, 17, 41 the house is; 41, 58, 92 Condom, I used a; 44, 58, 59, 60, 73, 74, 75 Dinner, I ate; 6-14, 21-25, 47-53, 76-85 Fine, I am; 10, 17, 34, 44, 59, 75 Fun, I had; 13, 30, 44, 58, 83 Hands, I washed my; 4, 5, 8, 14, 17, 50 Health Did not have infections; 10, 17, 18, 21 Got tested for STDS; 49 Was not in pain; 10, 17, 31, 44, 52, 76, 93 Went to the doctor; 8, 46, 77, 93 Insurance, I got; 57 Laundry Washed my clothes; 18, 25, 47, 53 Washed my sheets; 21, 28, 32, 60-67 Washed the towel I gave her; 60-67 Lunch, I ate; 3, 15, 22, 26, 60-70, 85 Mad, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not- 27 Money, I have; 6, 7, 20, 33, 37, 44, 49, 63 Panties, I am wearing; 71 Pick, at skin; 40 Sex Did not have with x; 58, 59, 60, 75 Said yes to; 44, 59
Nakeya B. Untitled from ‘Gestures of my Bio-myth’, Inkjet Archival Print, 16”x 20” © Nakeya B.
EXPRESSING SUPPORT OF SISTERS TO EAT WHATEVER THE FUCK THEY PLEASE a resolution by jocelyn macdonald August 7, 2012 Ms. Teal submitted the following resolution: Marking the End of Prohibition
Whereas in Our Patriarchy, eating meat is manly, Whereas the bodies of egg-laying, milking, calving animals are all juicy, breasty, pieces of, well, meat Whereas I know that eating animals is not only wrong, it is misogynistic: I have known it in my tender breast tissue, in my blood-spotting, birth-controlled body, I have known it seeing cows die, knee-high in their own shit, age three, after being bred to death; However, in the interest of feminist bipartisanship, I’m letting go of wrong. Whereas it is true that this same patriarchy has starved the Sisters: economically, educationally, but above all hungrily, has taught us that food is dangerous, but lack of appetite sexless, that being fat is being stupid & lazy, but being too skinny is neurotic, boyish, Whereas this same patriarchy had you hiding in the pantry, stuffing your mouth full of Cheez-Its, just to remember the feeling of solid food, its salty paste, lingering a moment, then anxious not to absorb any calories through your tongue, spitting it into the trash, covering it with spent paper towels, this is the same patriarchy that produced your mothers, aunts, sisters who look at your protruding clavicle, shoulders wide and stretched, supporting a too-large head; the women say, “I can tell you’ve really been working hard. I’m so proud of you,” Whereas this patriarchy was not your big idea, and while you relentlessly scratch at it, beat it
Benyamin Ghochagh © Benyamin Ghochagh.
back, unscrew it, you’re really working up an appetite. Therefore, be it 1. Resolved, that I, Jocelyn Teal, Veteran Vegetarian and Sister, hereby release you from all moral superintendence, all opening of cabinets just to close them immediately and raise eyes heavenward, all leverage of menu or scale: 2. you can eat animals 3. you can eat animals 4. you can eat organic and/or free-range 5. you can eat animals as small as a deck of cards (also) the palm of your hand 6. You can eat animals big enough to get your barbecue sauce-smeared mug on the wall 7. you can eat what you couldn’t raise (also) what you couldn’t kill 8. without restriction or rider, you can eat animals (except) Chick-Fil-A 9. ok, ok, you can eat a goddamned Chick-Fil-A Yes, resolved, Sisters, as long as you are starved or stuffed based on television or runway season rather than planting or harvesting season, you are allowed to eat whatever the fuck you please and this includes meat, fish, eggs, and cheese.
Agata Cardoso Part of the ‘Archetypes’ series © Agata Cardoso.
STARVED SURVIVORS a fairy tale version by linda mary montano
Film: Linda Mary Montano
Editing and Animation: Tobe Carey
Text: Linda Mary Montano
Reader: Paul McMahon
Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, in a very, very verdant green Italian village, there lived a girl child, an orphan girl child. All the other girls who lived there had long, thick, dark hair, olive skin, world-sharpened eyes and a freed up throat that could scream, yell, talk and cry. Orphan Girl, who was almost a mute, had blond hair, green eyes and as a cultural outsider, was shunned by her classmates who called her Orphan Girl. The name echoed in the mountains, “Orphan Girl, Orphan Girl, where are you?” She went into the forest, sat with the trees and flowers, drank cafe late from a thermos that she always carried and wrote nice words on the surface of a mountain stream, loving it when they instantly disappeared. Of course, like in every fairytale, there is someone who represents wisdom and in this story, the deus-ex-machina is a wizened, wrinkled, long skirted, foul smelling, crabby, bent, rough talking but truth telling woman elder. Was she really a woman? It was hard to tell because her features had glued themselves together-----her nose to her chin, almost; her eyebrows to her cheeks, almost; her toenails grew into the bottoms of her crusty feet, almost. The gossipy villagers called her lots of names: witch, strega, bad news, nuscience, bother, charity case, pest, liability, and on and on...but for Orphan Girl she was a refuge and like-minded soulmate. For the beauty of this story, let’s give this elder an extraordinary gift and talent....it seemed simple and was nameless and it was that she could tell when the train which stopped in her village was 33 miles away and with her acute sensitivity she predicted the exact time the train would arrive at the station. Of course this savant knowing and sensing was so non-consequential that it impressed no-one but Orphan Girl. Who wants to listen for a train by putting your ear to the earth? Not a very practical skill! Of course, she passed on this pedestrian knowledge to Orphan Girl but hidden beneath this simple circus-like-act was something more spectacular, something more usefull..a secret knowledge she handed onto Orphan Girl one rainy November day when the veil between life and death; the veil between truth and ignorance; the veil between suffering and happiness is very thin. Here’s how it happened: they were sitting in front of an open-pit fire, poking sticks at the embers, and the elder said: “ Today is the day for me to tell you the complete story. Yes, I listen for when trains are near but also I know when they have wrecked. I know when trains have wrecked 700 miles away and Orphan Girl , it is important to know that life has many , many , many train wrecks because life is about change, vulnerability, flux, unpredictability, old age, sickness and death. You think you have it bad, being an orphan but I want to tell you the whole story about other weird and terrible things that have happened, might happen and could happen. Close your eyes and I will read you a story that I call: ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A TRAIN WRECK. Shhhhh. Let’s listen.”
ENTER Admittedly we are all sensing a pre-renaissance black-out, a â&#x20AC;&#x153;dark ageâ&#x20AC;? with recognizable and historically accurate symptoms witnessed by historians of the fall (and/or transformation) of other dynasties teetering on the brink of armageddon.(The Roman ,Ottoman, German, British Empires perchance?) BREAK Canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t we all agree that in this 21st century, we are communally experiencing a bad taste and aftermaths from universally experienced phenomena such as:
CIRCLE 475 PHENOMENON Financial fumblings, cultural buffooneries, pervasive paranoia, modified mea culpas, bipartisan shenanigans, uncompassed morality, bipaped starvations, political circus acts, theological tsunamis, global tamperings, cyclical catastrophes, faux apologies, misleading marketing, conspicuous consuming, muddled multitasking, apocalyptic battering, padded documenting, salted wounding, power shifting, self loathing, hierarchical covering, pious grandstanding, spasmed tremoring, bankrupted dreaming, disintegrated remembering, virtual relating, techno crazing, outrageous compensating, congressional bullying and foreclosed trust!
CIRCLE 189 PHENOMENON Diseased despondents, surrendered suicidals, unheld newborns, hooded jihadists, fundamental fanatics, antsy therapists, inattentive nannies, selfish narcissists, bonused buddies, media darlings, unconscienced thieves, suffocating egoists, discarded seniors, trafficked innocents, self inflicting terrorists, vulnerable victims, jolly junkies, over dutiful daughters, celebrity addicts, killer drones, spiritual materialists, scheming CEOs, interminable visitors, jealous sisters, stubborn students, lying boasters, ungrateful patients, cyber bullies, skeletoned anorexics, emotional mutes, nasty narcissists and miserable millionaires!
CIRCLE 362 PHENOMENON Creepy oppressors, hypersexual prowlers, Holocaust deniers, death cheaters,
ers, scud sharp shooters, carbon foot printers, attention mongers, greedy brokers, depressed designers, public apologizers, prepared preppers, subcutaneous cutters, sophomoric obsessors, inappropriate responders, furious professors, tormenting victimizers, parent starvers, neurotic neighbors, reputation slanderers, magnetic womanizers, surprise attackers, glad handers, halitosed dancers, grid locked commuters, grieving skaters, arrogant outsiders, soul sellers, gift refusers, aggressive reporters, sloppy visitors, pill stealers, animal abhorrers, hate disseminators, stinky passengers, authority balkers, sloppy foodmakers, name callers, energy suckers, germ spreaders, information secretors, junk hoarders, saccrine sympathizers, sweaty hand shakers, misguided worshippers, internet scammers, morphed murderers, obese outsiders, child abusers, frozen floormatters, dysfunctional reconfigurers, beauty kidnappers, unread biographers, gender assaulters, monumental mistakers, satanic afflicters, silent contemptors, counterindicated elders, hungry survivors, childhood stealers, guilted enjoyers, ponzi schemers, medical compromisers, careless caregivers, enraged partners, jailed minors, paralyzed players, unemployed loners, adulterous trespassers, vaccinated teenagers, double crossed informers, technological traumatizers, disabling humiliators, monetary misusers and nose pickers!
Oh, our poor bodies/minds are dodging the toxic arrows of it all! Dodging thoughts about pcb’s and thoughts of no more potable water or no more fish or ice-sliding-glaciered polar bears! Thoughts about what to do about our arthritic thumbs twittered to spasm. Thoughts about ourselves and the suffering others! Not only thoughts but also memories of once looking in the mirror at our faces sweetly smiling back with innocent anticipation of a McDonalds. NO MORE. In preparation for a post-modern re-look at Revelationed-robotization, our current faces are facebooked/addicted into social shyness, not to be relieved by a 1970’s Kumbayaah singing picnic on a green, chemical free lawn. That chapter is closed, my friend. DELETE
Now, our poor bodies, steel-tight with earthquaked fear of the next day’s news or trembling over the calories and sugar content of the morning’s Starbucks or tripping out of buildings quickly when rumblings at yet another fault-line are recognized by sensitive dogs,....our battered bodies.... run on PTSD/empty seeking refuge in second-lifed, C-PAPED-accompanied nightmares.
But wait, out of this harrowing scenario of a reality show gone bad, comes Hope? SHIFT
* The fairytale ends here and the old woman said, “That’s it, Orphan Girl, you know the whole story. Now open your eyes and your voice and don’t ever be surprised again when you encounter a life-wreck. They happen all the time and you are prepared, never to be surprised when strange things happen in your life.” Orphan Girl was elated, glad she had been taught these important secrets and danced the OPEN HEART VOICE DANCE, around the fire. That night, at 8pm, they both slept with their ears to the earth, in silent preparation for the next train to come. The beginning of an end. 2010 Saugerties, NY
Shirin Barthel Ectoplasm, Spiritual Energy exteriorized by a physical medium. May 2015 for HYSTERIA , 35mm, black and white © Shirin Barthel. (next page)
ெ கா லி ே ல் ம ரு த் து வ ம ே ம கா ே ம ல க ்க ண டு வ ி ழ ி த் ப ே ழு ே ல் ஆங்கிலத்ேில்: லிதேகானகார் டீஃெர் ேமிழ் பமகாழிபெேர்பபு: ப்ககாற்றமவ பெண்களுக்ககான ெகாலுறவுத் தேர்வு மற்றும் ெகாலுறவு அேி்ககாரம் குறித்து சம்ககாலங்களில் ெலவிேமகான பசகால்லகாடல்்கள் நி்கழ்ந்துவரும் தெகாேிலும், ஒரு ஆணகாேிக்க சமூ்கத்ேில் பெண்களின் ெகாலுறவு அனுெவமகானது எபதெகாதும் ‘மற்றமம’்களகாதலதே ்கட்டுபெடுத்ேபெடு்கிறது. பெரும்ெகாலகான பெணணிேவகாேி்கள் இமே ஒபபுகப்ககாள்்கின்றனர். அதேதவமள, ெகாலிேல் விஷேத்ேில் இதுவமர நிலவி வந்ே இரட்மட நிமலபெகாடு ேற்தெகாது மமறந்துவிட்டது எனவும், குமறந்ேெட்சம் மவேீ்க மேங்களின் ஆேிக்கம் இல்லகாே நகாடு்களில் பெண்கள் ெகாலுறவு சுேந்ேிரம் பெற்றுவிட்டனர் என்றும் இன்று ெலரும் ்கமேக்கின்றனர். இருபெினும், ெழஙகுடிப பெண்கள், மகாற்றுத் ேிறனகாளிப பெண்கள், ெேின்ெருவ வேதுப பெண்கள், ்கல்லூகாிேில் ெடிககும் பெண்கள், ்ககாேல் வேபெட்டு ஆடவருடன் ஊர்சுற்றும் பெண்கள் (dating women), ேிருமணமகான பெண்கள், முேிே வேதுப பெண்கள் மற்றும் ெலப பெண்கள் இவவகாேத்மே மறுக்கின்றனர். அவர்்கள் எழுேிே நிமனவுககுறிபபு்கள் மற்றும் அவர்்கள் ெற்றிே ஆய்வு்கள் மூலம் இது பேகாிேவரு்கின்றது. ெகாது்ககாபெின்மம, துேரம், மற்றும் அபெட்டமகான ்கீழ்ெடுத்துேலகால் தநரும் ஏமகாற்றம், அவமகானம், ம்கிழ்்சசிேின்மம மற்றும் நம்ெிகம்கேின்மம தெகான்ற உணர்்சசிள் எவவகாறு வழக்கமகா்கிவிட்டது என முக்கிேத்துவம் ப்ககாடுத்து விளககும் ்கமே்கள் பெண்களின் ெகாலுறவு வகாழ்கம்க ெற்றிே ெேிவு்களில் வழக்கமகா்கிவிட்டது. ெகாலுறவு வகாழ்கம்கேில் ஆணகாேிக்க ேகாளத்ேிற்கு ஏற்றவம்கேில்ேகான் நகாம் ஆடு்கிதறகாம் என்ெமே ஒபபுகப்ககாள்வேகால் உடல்காீேிேகான இன்ெம், உண்சசிபபூர்வமகான பநருக்கம், சரச விமளேகாட்டு்களில் உளவிேல்காீேிேகான அேி்ககாரம், சுே-இன்ெம் அல்லது ஏதேகா ஒரு ேருணத்ேிலகாவது கூட்டுபெகாலுறவு தெகான்றவற்மற பெண்கள் அனுெவிக்கவில்மல என்று பெகாருளில்மல. மகாறகா்க, ெகாலுறவில் இன்ெமமடேல், பநருக்கம் மற்றும் அேி்ககாரம் தெகான்ற உணர்்சசி்கள் நமது ஆணகாேிக்க சமூ்கத்ேின் அங்கங்களகா்க இருககும் பெருநிறுவனங்கள், ஊட்கங்கள் மற்றும் ்கல்வி நிறுவனங்கள் ஆ்கிேமவ வமரேறுத்துள்ள
எல்மல்களுககுள்ளும், விேி்களுககுள்ளுதம நி்கழ்்கின்றன என்று வலியுறுத்துவதே எமது தநகாக்கம். இவவகாறகா்க, பெணணிே ்கணதணகாட்டத்ேில் கூறுவேகானகால், ெகாலுறவு விடுேமல என்ெது இன்னமும் பேகாமலதூரத்ேில்ேகான் உள்ளது. சம்ககால ேகாரகாளவகாே சமூ்கத்ேில், ெகாலுறவு விேி்கமளயும், எல்மல்கமளயும் ்கட்டுபெடுத்தும் ேரவு்களுக்ககான ெிரேகான மூலமகானது “ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது உடல்நலம்” எனும் பசகால்லகாடமல முன்மவத்து பசகாற்பெகாழிவு வடிவம் பெற்ற அரசகாங்கக ப்ககாள்ம்க்கள் மற்றும் வணி்கநலன் சகார்ந்ே தெகாேமன்களிலிருந்தும் உருவகா்கிறது. மகாறகா்க அவவுமரேகாடல்்கள், “ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது ஒரு பெகாழுதுதெகாககு,” “ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது உணர்்சசிப பெருபவள்ளம்,” “ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது இேல்ெகா்க ஒரு ்கற்றல் நடவடிகம்க,” அல்லது “ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது ெரந்ே ென்மு்கபெட்ட ்கலகா்சசகார பவளிபெகாட்டின் கூட்டுத்பேகாம்க,” தெகான்ற ்கருத்து்கமள முன் மவத்து நடபெேில்மல. ஆனகால் அமவ, சுவகாசிபெது தெகால், ஜீரணிபெது தெகால் அல்லது தூக்கம் தெகால் “ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது ெகாலுறுபபு சகார்ந்ே உல்களகாவிே ெகாிணகாமவிேல் நடத்மே மற்றும் தேமவ” என்றும் முன் மவக்கின்றன. இந்ே வமரேமறககுள் இருந்து ெகார்ககும்பெகாழுது, உடலுறவு்ச பசேல்ெகாடற்ற வகாழ்கம்க அல்லது ேிருமணமகானது ஆதரகாக்கிேமகானேல்ல, உடலுறவு என்றகாதல அது ெகாலுறுபபு்ச பசேல்ெகாட்மட உள்ளடக்கி இருக்க தவணடும், உ்சச்கட்டத்மே அமடவதே உடலுறவின் உ்சசெட்சம், குமறவகான உடலுறவு்ச பசேல்ெகாடு்கள் இேல்ெகானேல்ல, உடலுறவு என்ெது ஆதரகாக்கிேத்மேயும் நீணட ஆயுமளயும் இன்னெிற ஆேகாேங்கமளயும்… ப்ககாடுக்கவல்லது. இதுதெகான்ற ்கட்டமமபபு்கள் ெகாலுணர்வு என்ெமே உேிகாிேல் நலன் சகார்ந்ே ஒரு பசகால்லகாடலகா்க முன்மவக்கின்றன. அேன்மூலம் அமவ, இேல்ெகான்ச பசேல்ெகாடு, இேல்புககு மகாறகான்ச பசேல்ெகாடு என வம்கபெடுத்ேி மக்களுககு ெகாலிேல் குறித்ே விளக்கங்கமளயும் அறிவுமர்கமளயும் வழஙகும் அேி்ககாரம் ெமடத்ே மத்ேிேஸேர்்களகா்க மருத்துவர்்கள் மற்றும்
மனநல மருத்துவர்்கமள உருவகாககு்கிறது. நம் சமூ்கங்களின் ெகாலுணர்வு நிபுணர்்களகா்க இம்மக்கள் ெேவி உேர்வு பெற்றவர்்களகா்கிவிட்டனர். இக்கட்டமமபமெ மகானிடவிேலகாளர்்களும், சமூ்கவிேலகாளர்்களும் “மருத்துவமேமகாக்கல்” என்று விளிக்கின்றனர். தமலும் அவர்்கள், 20ஆம் நூற்றகாணடில் மருத்துவமேமகாக்கலின் வளர்்சசிமே ஆய்வு பசய்துள்ளனர். ஏபனன்றகால் அக்ககால்கட்டத்ேில்ேகான் மனிேர்்களின் அன்றகாட வகாழ்வின் உணர்வம்சங்களகான மனநிமல, உறக்கம், ெசி, உணர்்சசி்கள், மதுபெழக்கம், பசேல்ெகாட்டு அளவு, உடல் எமட, மூபெமடேல், ்கர்பெம், மகாேவிடகாய், தெகாமேப ெழக்கம், மனத்ேிடம், சமூ்க நடத்மே மற்றும் இன்னும் இேர அம்சங்கமள முழுவதுமகா்க பெகாதுமமேகாக்கிேதேகாடு, அதுகுறித்ே ஒரு துமறசகார் புகாிேமலயும் ஏற்ெடுத்தும் மகாபெரும் மகாற்றம் நி்கழ்ந்ேது. இமவேமனத்தும் உடல்நலம் (தநகாய்) சகார்ந்ே அம்சங்களகா்கிப தெகானது. தமலும், சமூ்க விேிமுமற்களிலிருந்து மகாறுெடும் எதுபவகான்றும் மருத்துவ அல்லது மனநலப ெிர்சசிமனேகா்க அமடேகாளபெடு்கிறது. ெல்லகாேிர ஆணடு்ககால ஆணகாேிக்க மேக த்ககாட்ெகாடு்களின் விமளவகால் ெகாலின்ெ வகாழ்கம்க குறித்து நிலவும் ஒழுக்கபநறி ்கணதணகாட்டமும், அபதெகாேமன்கள் மற்றும் நமடமுமற்களில் பெண்களுக்களிக்கபெடும் அேி-ஒழுக்க முன்நிெந்ேமன்கள் ப்ககாணட இடத்மேயும் மவத்து இந்ே ெகாலிேல் மருத்துவமேமகாக்கல் என்ெமே “ெகாவத்ேிலிருந்து தநகாேகா்க” (sin to sickness) மகாற்றபெடும் ஒரு நி்கழ்வகா்க மட்டுதம நகான் ்ககாண்கிதறன், ்கட்டுபெகாட்டிலிருந்து விடுேமலககு மகாறும் நி்கழ்வகா்க அது இல்மல. ெகாலுணர்வகானது 1980்கள் மற்றும் 1990்களில் ”ெகாலிேல் மருத்துவம்” எனும் ஒரு புேிே சிறபபு மருத்துவப ெிகாிவகா்க வளர்்சசிபெறத் பேகாடங்கிேதெகாது, ஒரு பெணணிேவகாேிேகா்க ெகாலிேலகானது மருத்துவமேமகாவது குறித்ே ஆர்வம் எனககு ஏற்ெட்டது. அேகாவது, உணமமேில் அத்துமறேகானது, ெகாலின்ெ நகாட்டத்ேிலும், அனுெவத்ேிலும் சமூ்க விேிமுமற்கமள மீறும் பெண்களுககு சி்கி்சமச வழஙகுவேற்்ககா்க, உேவுவேற்்ககா்க அல்லது சகாிபசய்வேற்்ககா்கப ெிரத்தே்கமகா்க உருவகானத் துமறேகாகும். இருபெினும், முந்மேே மருத்துவ வளர்்சசிக ்ககால்கட்டங்கள் தெகால், ேன்ெகாலின்ச தசர்கம்கேில் ஈடுெடும் பெண்கள் அல்லது ெகாலின்ெ பவறி ெிடித்ேப பெண்கமள அடககுவேற்்ககா்க
உருவகான ெகாலிேல் மருத்துவமல்ல, ஆனகால் உடலுறவில் ஆர்வமற்ற ேிருமணமகானப பெண்களின் அசமந்ே நிமலமே்ச சகாிபசய்வேற்்ககா்க உருவகானது. இதுதெகான்ற பெண்களுககு “உேவுவேற்்ககா்க” எடுக்கபெட்ட முேற்சி்கள், வேகா்கரகா மற்றும் விமறபபுத் ேன்மமயூக்கி்களின் வரவுககு வழிவகுத்ேதேகாடு, வகாழ்நகாள் முழுதும் ெகாலுறுபமெ உட்பசலுத்தும் உடலுறவிலும், உ்சச்கட்ட இன்ெத்மே அமடவேற்கும் உேவும் மருந்து்களுக்ககான விளம்ெரங்கள் மூலம் ஆண்களுக்ககான ஊககுவிபபு்களும் நடந்ேன என்ெது ்கவனத்ேிற்குறிேது. ஆணடுதேகாறும் த்ககாடிக்கணக்ககான டகாலர்்கள் / ெவுணடு்கள் அல்லது யுதரகா மகானிேங்கமளப பெற்றுத்ேரும் ஆண்களுக்ககான வேகா்கரகாவுககும் அேி்கமகான வருமகானத்மேப பெற்றுேரவல்ல பெண்களுக்ககான “இளஞசிவபபு வேகா்கரகாவுக்ககான” தவட்மடமே மருந்து நிறுவனங்கள் பேகாடங்கின. பெண்களுக்ககான தவட்ம்க / ்கிளர்்சசி மருந்து்கள், ஊக்கி்கள் விளம்ெரபெடுத்ேபெட்டன. சந்தே்கமின்றி, அமவ ென்னகாட்டு கூட்டு ஸேகாெனங்களின் நலனுக்ககா்க என்தறகா, விளம்ெர நிறுவனங்களின் நலனுகப்கன்தறகா விளம்ெரபெடுத்ேபெடவில்மல! ஆனகால், பெண்கள் மத்ேிேில் ்ககாணபெடும் ெரந்ே ெகாலின்ெ்ச பசேல்ெகாட்டின் தெகாேகாமம மற்றும் துேரத்மேப தெகாககும் தேமவேகா்க, பெண்களின் அத்ேிேகாவசிே சுே தேமவேகா்க முன்மவக்கபெட்டன. பெண்களின் ெகாலுறவுப ெிர்சசிமனயும், நிமறவின்மமயும் பெரும்ெகாலும் சமூ்க மற்றும் ஒருவருக்கிமடதே ஒருவர் ப்ககாள்ளும் உறவுசகார் ெிர்சசிமனேின் விமளவு என்று விளககும் சலமவப ெட்டிேல் தெகான்ற (இ்சபசகால் தவணடுபமன்தற தேர்ந்பேடுக்கபெட்டுள்ளது) நீணட, ெரந்ேளவிலகான ஆய்வு்கள் மூலம் முன்மவக்கபெட்ட தெகாேிலும் இந்ே தவட்மட ெல ஆணடு்களகா்கத் பேகாடர்்கிறது. ஏபனன்றகால், “பெண ெகாலுறவுப ெிழற்்சசி”ககு சி்கி்சமசேளிககும் மருந்து ்கணடுெிடிக்க இதுவமர தமற்ப்ககாள்ளபெட்ட எணணற்ற மருத்துவ தசகாேமன்கள் தேகாற்றுபதெகா்க, மருந்து்களுககு அபமகாிக்க அங்கீ்ககாரம் ்கிமடக்ககாே நிமலதே அேற்குக ்ககாரணம். ஆனகால் இதுவும் ேற்்ககாலி்கமகானதே, ஏதேகாபவகாரு மருந்து நி்சசேம் ெகாிதசகாேமனேில் பவற்றி பெரும். அேன்ெிறகு, ்கிமடககும் அத்ேமன பேகாடர்ெகாடல் ஊட்கங்கள் வகாேிலகா்கவும் அவவளவு ஏன், இன்னும்கூட ்கணடுெிடிக்கபெடகாே ஊட்கங்கள் வகாேிலகா்கவும் ”நற்பசய்ேி” என்ற ேமலபெில் விளம்ெரத்
துமறேகானது ெரந்ே அளவில் அேமனக ப்ககாணடு தசர்ககும். ்கடந்ே இரணடு ெத்ேகாணடு்களகா்க என்னுமடே பசேல்ெகாடு்களும், ்கல்விேிேல் ெணி்களும் இந்ேப ெகாலிேல் மருத்துவமேமகாேலுககுப ெின்னகால் உருவகாகும் அமமபபுமுமற மற்றும் வமலபெின்னமல அம்ெலபெடுத்துவேில் ்கவனம் பசலுத்தும் விேமகா்கதவ இருந்துள்ளது. ஒரு உளவிேல் சி்கி்சமசேகாளர் மற்றும் ஆய்வகாளரகா்க எனககு வழங்கபெட்ட வரம்புககுட்ெட்ட எனது பேகாடக்க்ககாலப ெேிற்்சசிமேக ்கடபெதும், நுணணகாய்வு பெகாது்ச சு்ககாேகாரம் மற்றும் மருத்துவத்துமற ெற்றிே சமூ்கவிேல் ஆய்வு தெகான்ற ெிகாிவு்கள் குறித்ே எனது அறிமவ விகாிவுெடுத்ேிகப்ககாள்வதும் எனககுப பெரும் சவகாலகா்க இருந்ேன. பெணணிேம் எனகப்ககாரு அடிபெமட நிமலபெகாட்மட வழங்கிேது – ெகாலிேல் என்ெது உடல்நலனுககுறிே உேிகாிேல் மருத்துவம் என்ெமேக ்ககாட்டிலும், அது ஒரு ்கலகா்சசகார ஏற்ெகாடு என்று புகாிந்துப்ககாள்வது – ஆனகால், உல்க அரங்கில், முடிவுககு வரகாே, ்ககாலத்துககும் நீளும் வம்கேிலகான ெகாலுணர்வு ஆய்வு்கள், தநகாேறிேல் மற்றும் சி்கி்சமச தெகான்ற ்கட்டமமபபு்கள் வழி பேகாழில்முமறக கூறு்களும், வர்த்ே்கக கூறு்களும் உல்க அரங்கில் எவவகாறு ெகாலுணர்வு குறித்து உமரேகாடு்கின்றன என்ெமேப புகாிந்துப்ககாள்ள எனககு நீணட ்ககாலம் ெிடித்துவிட்டது. பமகாத்ேத்ேில், நிமலமமமே நகான் இவவகாறு புகாிந்துப்ககாள்்கிதறன்: நு்கர்வுல்கத்ேில் ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது ஒரு ெணடமகா்கிவிட்டது. ஆளும் அேி்ககாகாி்களகால் ேற்தெகாது ெகாலின்ெம் என்ெது “உடல் நலம்” எனும் ஒட்டுபமகாத்ே நு்கர்வு வம்கேினத்ேிற்குள் அடக்கபெடும் ஒரு பெகாருளகா்கிவிட்டது. நிேமிக்கபெட்ட ெகாலிேல் ஆதலகாச்க நிபுணர்்களகா்க மருத்துவர்்கள் ்கருேபெடு்கின்றனர். அேன் மூலம் அவர்்கள் ேங்களது ‘தசமவ’ ெற்றிே ஒரு சுேநிேகாேபெடுத்ேலில் ஈடுெட்டவகாறு ேங்களது அேி்ககாரத்மேயும், பெகாருளகாேகார வகாய்பபு்கமளயும் ேக்கமவத்துகப்ககாள்ளும் வம்கேில் பசேல்ெட முடியும். ஆதரகாக்கிேமகான மற்றும் வேதுகத்கற்ெ பேகாடர்ந்து மகாறு்கிற ெணபுமடே ெகாலுறவு வகாழ்ம்க என்ெது த்கள்விக்கபெகாற்ெட்ட உகாிமமேகா்கவும், சமூ்க அவசிேத் தேமவேகா்கவும் உருவகா்கிவிட்டது. பெரும்ெகாலகான மக்களுககு ெகாலிேல் அறிவுறுத்ேல்்கள் ்கிமடபெேில்மல, அேனகால் அவர்்களின் ெகாலுறவு வகாழ்கம்கேகானது ேேகார்த்ேத்ேில் எேிர்ெகார்பபு்கமளப
பூர்த்ேி பசய்ே முடிேகாே குமறெகாடுமடேேகா்கிறது. ஆனகால், அத்ேம்கே ஏமகாற்றங்கள் என்ெது சமூ்கத்ேகால் உருவகாக்கபெடும் ஒன்று என்ெமே மக்கள் புகாிந்துப்ககாள்ளத் ேவறிவிடு்கின்றனர், தமலும் இேலகாமம உணர்வு தமதலகாங்க அவர்்கள் ேங்கமள குமறெகாடுமடேவர்்களகா்க எணணி மருத்துவ வடிவமமபபு்களுககும், ்கண்ககாணிபபு்களுககும், ேமலயீடு்களுககும் ெலிேகா்கிவிடு்கின்றனர். அதே அனுமகானங்களுககு ஊட்கங்களும் வசபெட்டு, பவறும் பசய்ேி பவளியீடு என்று பசகால்லத்ேக்கத் ே்கவல்்கமளக கூட ஏதேகா பெகாிே ்கணடுெிடிபபுப தெகால ஊேிப பெருககு்கின்றன. இவவகாறகா்க ெகாலிேல் மருத்துவமேமகாக்கல் என்ெது பேகாடர்ந்துப்ககாணதட இருக்கிறது.
Rae Landahl Ilorin Eggz from the series ‘dert’, 2015 © Rae landahl Ilorin.
FACEBOOK RAPE CAMPAIGN a poem by prudence chamberlain
When I get off the train & commuter-tight breathless walk into afternoon bright: I put my ipod in my jeans zip up the leather of my jacket feel the concrete through converse I hum it’s my consumerism & I’ll buy if I want to buy if I want to & Ocado is advertising with a woman pushed down some stairs & Vistaprint is advertising on domestic violence: don’t make me tell you twice & iTunes is advertising with a bruised bitch who didn’t know when to STFU So today I am taking chances in familiar places deviating through the crowd with Ahmed in my bag & phenomenology all over my tongue like what I did last night I want to remove everything from you with my teeth but the things I want to do are so soft outside of online spaces & different
but ours nonetheless when we take this to my room we won’t be advertised & the removal of your jeans dirty & quick will not be sponsored by Zipcar & BBC Radio 1 is advertising on don’t wrap it & tap it: tape her & rape her & Dove is advertising with ‘next time don’t get pregnant’ & Sky is advertising women deserve equal rights & left hooks While I am theorising all our erotic encounters fantastical respectful I pack up my ethics in the poem & send it your way trigger warning you off me maybe But when we sit in the tepid dark of a bar there will be no harm done here & the surprise of your fingers on my wrist where it has hurt before turning & holding like consideration fine-boned & fleeting we are a snapchat photograph with a three second lifetime but its yours on mine & there’s something in that
I am face down in your conversation I want to be at the ballet seeing legs moving in time I want to go on cinema trips: be consensual with you all these questions of want & temporality & will you say yes as I wonder why anyone would go near Dalston Superstore & why dungarees are making a comeback that I might objectify you just enough to make you a subject again & I’m boycotting & voting - watching bbqt - refreshing twitter for the most recent news & I’ll be up all night for good fun; ‘til the sun; or to get lucky
Eva-Marie Elg M-E: A VIDEO
at Wotever DIY Film
by Emie // Eva-Ma-
rie Elg, video stills
23rd August 16.00
© Happy Endings
@ Cinema Museum,
CONTRA-INTERNET a project by zach blas
Contra-Internet describes the emerging artistic militancies and political subversions of neoliberal, networked digital technologies. Recognizing the internet as a premier arena of control today, contra-internet is both a refusal of the internet and also an attempt to build aesthetico-political alternatives to its infrastructures. At once conceptual, practical, and experimental, contra-internet is a framework for uniting explicitly political positions that understand internet technologies as bound to mechanisms that vehemently police and criminalize populationsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;biometric regulation, drone attacks, and data surveillance, to name but a few. Contra-Internet spans three areas of focus: 1) contra-internet activity carried out by social movements, mass protests, and uprisings, such as the creation of autonomous mesh networks, darknets, and other alternative networking tools; 2) control allegories of the internet, such as the cloud, black box, and prism; and 3) tactics of networked withdrawal, including the abandonment of social media and cryptographic practices.
Contra-Internet: Userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Agreement I, the bio-informatic aggregate herewith ___________________ foreswear, by my own will, body, affects, and digital-technical avatars, of my biopolitical position as a user of the Internet, of any privilege (whether social, economic, material, or technical) and of any commitment (whether social, economic, professional, personal, sexual, intellectual, or extracurricular) resulting from my networked, intersectional position as physical-data bodynodes within the naturalized, capitalist Internet system. I recognize myself and others as embodied bio-informatic aggregates that exceed the brutal quantification and standardization of digital Internet logics. In addition, I acknowledge the Internet as a neoliberal zone of labor exploitation, financial violence, global surveillance, and political precarity. Thus, I refuse to enter into a naturalized network relationship with another bio-informatic aggregate and will never connect to that aggregate outside of contra-internet agreements and contracts. I declare myself a network fugitive, a producer and distributor of contra-internet arrangements. I radicalize network technics through cryptography, autonomous networks, and utopian experiments. I transform Internet-centric subjectivity, producing myself and my data as zones of contra-internet potentiality. I renounce all privileges and obligations that could derive from unequal power positions generated by consensual uses and re-inscriptions of contra-networks within the framework of this userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s agreement. I declare myself an antiweb and worker of the antiweb. I resign all Internet-based modes of kinship (friends, likes, followers, posts, tweets, texts) that have been assigned to and accumulated by me within the Internet regime, as well as all privileges and obligations derived from them. I understand this necessitates deleting corporate network accounts, withdrawing from social media monoculture, and collectively resisting the addiction of staying connected to the Internet. I resign all property rights over the digital data and information that composes myself as a bio-informatic aggregate. I recognize that privacy is not the ultimate political goal of contra-internet practices, and thus, acknowledge the right to use my data and information only within the framework of a consensual contra-internet userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s agreement. I resign all property rights over the bio-informatic aggregates of knowledge, pleasure, bodies, and technology produced within the context of contra-internet practices. This agreement is valid during a period of time of _____ days, _____ months, _____ years.
DIGITAL FEMINIST MANIFESTO a draft by margaret rhee After Mina Loy The digital feminist movement as at present instituted is
if you want to realize yourselvesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;you are on the eve of a devastating technological upheaval. What is it about
the digital that offers feminist possibility? (Trust me, we look really good together.) Feminist thinkers remember that technology is not a business, if we take it seriously as feminist theory and activism, you must ask yourself whether you are making technological labs and theory in order to profit? Or to push the movement forward? (Damn, right.) Tied to corporations? (Not cool.) Ask yourself, constantly, how are you stealing (as Moten and Harney write) and giving resources to the Undercommons? Women you are equal to men. (Fuck yes.) But it does not mean you have to behave like men. How many times have I watched older women tear down younger women? Because, as she takes a tendril of your hair behind your ear, You look like me and therefore I must
tear you down.
NO! That is not feminism. Non! That is not the digital.
(That is cruelty. Plain uncool.) Look, It’s not just about
(there is so much more to me than hardware.)
when you’re typing on your computer, on your IPhone, coding, when you’re soldering, you are working with your hands, and there are way more feminist possibilities with your hands than tearing another women down. Let’s build something together like: Feminist Feminist Feminist Feminist Feminist Feminist Feminist
Collectives Coalitions Programs Journals Conferences Chocolate Clubs Robots
Do you want to be a goddess or a cyborg? (For you? Both, baby. Let’s do it all.) Let’s go for
(Open your soft legs for me.)
a digital kundiman for feminists of our near future: michacárdenas KaraKeeling AlexJuhasz
CharisThompson EvelynNakanoGlenn CarolStabile RachelLee TaraMcPherson AlexisLothian BrittneyCooper HoangNguyen zachblas JuanaMaríaRodríguez RadhikaGajjala FionaBarnett
Your names mean something to me. Deeply, tattoo thank you on my wrist. (Your blood runs into mine.)
On another night. I ask you to
write feminist poetry all over my body.
I whisper this to you, while you make love to me. This is why I do not see women as enemy. I see her only as magnificent possibility, her neck so soft, her brain so big and blaringly smart. (Travel with me, love.) Thank you for
Feminists of the digital age. (Yup.) Use that # to advocate. (#BlackLivesMatter) If another person asks me at a Q/A, how is this creative? (I will scream.) Of course, activism is creative. Lesbian dive bars exquisite. Of course,
feminism is the digital.
(to be continued)
Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s end here with this: 01010100011010000110010100100000011001000110100101100111011010010111010001100001011011000010 00000110011001100101011011010110100101101110011010010111001101110100001000000110110101101111 01110110011001010110110101100101011011100111010000100000011000010111001100100000011000010111 01000010000001110000011100100110010101110011011001010110111001110100001000000110100101101110 01110011011101000110100101110100011101010111010001100101011001000010000001101001011100110010 00000000110100001010010010010110111001100001011001000110010101110001011101010110000101110100 01100101000011010000101000001101000010100101011101101111011011010110010101101110001000000110 10010110011000100000011110010110111101110101001000000111011101100001011011100111010000100000 01110100011011110010000001110010011001010110000101101100011010010111101001100101001000000111 10010110111101110101011100100111001101100101011011000111011001100101011100111001011101111001 01101111011101010010000001100001011100100110010100100000011011110110111000100000011101000110 10000110010100100000011001010111011001100101001000000110111101100110001000000110000100100000 01100100011001010111011001100001011100110111010001100001011101000110100101101110011001110010 00000111000001110011011110010110001101101000011011110110110001101111011001110110100101100011 01100001011011000010000001110101011100000110100001100101011000010111011001100001011011000010 11100010000000001101000010100000110100001010010101110110100001100001011101000010000001101001 01110011001000000110100101110100001000000110000101100010011011110111010101110100001000000000 11010000101001010100011010000110010100100000010001000110100101100111011010010111010001100001 01101100001000000000110100001010011101000110100001100001011101000010000001101111011001100110 01100110010101110010011100110010000001110000011011110110110001101001011101000110100101100011
Acknowledgments: BjĂ¸rk Grue Lidin, Prudence Chamberlain, and for digital feminists everywhere.
DAWN ON THE INTERNET: A GOLDEN HANDIWORK a poem by raewyn connell
How we touch online at a kind of angle, slideways. There and not-there, text into Vision, stopping, sleeping, launching. At midnight on the Emperor’s pavement flit the tesselated hopes of time. Slipping among them, coming round with the sun, goes a quiet message to a drone. No trumpets, no tapping on the wires, no monstrous thunder of the guns. Now it’s an encrypted Go to a cold thing in the sky – one family’s Enola Gay.
‘INDIA’S DAUGHTER’ an interview with devika parashar & ridhi malik RM: What do you think about the ban of the documentary India’s Daughter in India? Is it justified? DP: The documentary did not tell me anything I didn’t already know. I took issue with a series of problems with the documentary as I will further elaborate below, but it also made some important reiterations about issues that need our immediate attention. I feel very strongly that the ban wasn’t justified. I might have been able to understand a postponement or ‘stay’ on the documentary with required edits, but I definitely don’t think a ban is something we should be indulging in. For me to have an opinion and analysis on the movie requires me to have actually watched the movie—a ban also prevents healthy dialogue. RM: Is the title of the documentary suitable? DP: Not at all; the documentary discusses one of the (many) ways patriarchy plays out in the world and at the same time gives the rape victim a patriarchal label as India’s Daughter. To me, the title defeats the entire point of the documentary. This falls into the same patriarchal rhetoric that defines women by their familial relationships
Enrico Nagel About White, 2013, collage on paper © Enrico Nagel.
to men as wives, brothers, sisters and the like. RM: Why do you think violence against women, particularly rape, is so pervasive in India? DP: The idea that this is just an Indian problem is problematic in itself. Violence against women is, unfortunately, a malaise that plagues a large part of this world. Having said that, we cannot deny how pervasive the problem is in our own country. Violence against women, particularly rape, is an act of power that is a result of the system of patriarchy. There are a series of interrelated reasons that allow for violence against women to exist so rampantly: lack of education, problematic mindsets, weak laws, lack of redressal options, and social and cultural stigmas, to name a few. A great thing that I have seen happen recently, at least in India, is the increase in conversation around these issues. RM: Do you think it is appropriate to interview a convict/his lawyer? DP: I think that journalists have stories to tell and they tell these stories the way they would like to. Having said that, I believe that there definitely needs to be a sense of responsibility while telling these stories. In my understanding, they did take the appropriate permissions and were within the legal framework, but I would have liked to have heard the questions that were asked to be sure of the context in which these things were said. Of course, that doesn’t
excuse anything that was said; no context can justify most of those responses. So, to your question, I believe it was appropriate to interview the lawyer and the convict if everything was within legally allowed boundaries, but I think this could have been handled more responsibly. A lot of people have been saying that this should have been released later—after the final verdict because it could sway a decision. I think that is disrespectful to our judiciary— to say that the Supreme Court could be influenced by a BBC documentary.
RM: According to you, what need to be done in India for women’s safety? DP: This isn’t an easy question to answer in a few words because ‘women’s safety’ isn’t limited to a particular area. There is so much involved when it comes to understanding women’s safety in the home, on the streets, at the workplace, in public spaces and more. However, since this interview is with reference to the documentary and Jyoti Singh’s case, I would assume we are talking about women’s safety on the streets and in public places. There are a series of short and long term solutions like education, awareness, change in mindsets (particularly important) that are already much talked about, but I would like to focus on what is definitely not a solution to be touted. Restricting women from leading their daily lives in the way they would want to to prevent harassment on the street is not a solution. Victim blaming of so many different kinds is unacceptable; asking women to take responsibility to prevent rapes fits into this same mould. This could be misinterpreted and so I will
explain. Telling women to wear ‘electric bras’ or wear anti date rape nail paint or learn martial arts to prevent rape is subtly putting the responsibility of these rapes on the shoulders of women. If women would like to do all of these things out of their own free will and interest, that is fine, but to suggest to women to indulge in these things to prevent gender violence is something I find extremely problematic. Popular culture (not just in India, but all over the world) is ridden with misogyny. This is what almost 100% of us consume on a daily basis. I personally believe that popular culture, in all its forms, is an extremely powerful tool for information sharing and exchange and strongly lobby for the use of this platform to bring about awareness, education and change in mindsets. Curriculum in schools and colleges needs to be gender sensitive; maybe introduce gender studies as a compulsory subject? Redressal needs to be made easier; women should be comfortable to report these issues without fear of mistreatment. Additionally, we must definitely make use of technology to make these spaces safer for women. We run the Delhi chapter of Hollaback and realise the importance of leveraging technology to be able to fight street harassment. There is no one stop solution—this is a tumor that runs extremely deep—and multiple approaches through many different media is what is going to allow for the change we would like to see happen. The conversation has begun and is continually growing stronger. It will take time, but with so many people becoming more aware and conscious of these issues, I see hope.
Daniela Yohannes Dead Fish In Water, Paper and Acrylic on Canvas panel ÂŠ Daniela Yohannes.
yoga liberation an eruption by suzanna barkataki Any truly liberatory practice erupts into protest and freedom when it is oppressed. Under British colonial occupation, yogis erupted. They formed spiritual, strategic groups focused on disrupting empire. How could they not? Any practice that fuels liberation will naturally erupt into protest if freedom is threatened. Yoga is a mind, body, spirit practice that invites deeper breath and presence through movement aligned with breath. It is a powerful practice and its potential for liberation is immense. What is the eruption of a liberatory yoga practice today? It is a decolonised practice. We decolonise our practice when we humbly and respectfully consider yoga’s history, context, its many branches and practices. By doing this, we give ourselves a fighting chance at achieving yoga’s aim: enlightenment of mind, body and spirit. Decolonising our yoga practice is the art of asking questions both on and off of our mats—of living a yoga of inquiry and protest. As with the yogis of yore, yoga can bring us liberation from every construct, including those of race, gender, time, space, location, identity and even history herself. The practice of this liberating journey is one of creation. It is not a regression, of ‘getting back’ to a pure form of yoga that probably doesn’t and never has existed, but rather a reclaiming, decolonising and re-envisioning of its history and the current moment. It is a compelling journey: a search to understand ‘what is liberatory yoga?’ and ‘How do we locate it in ourselves and in a culture so heavily built, informed and impacted by neo-colonialism and its equally oppressive ancestor, colonialism?’ Since these systems of complex power and oppression exist all around us and inform the very structures of our existence, what we can and must do is subvert, challenge, and protest these power structures. This is the necessity of a liberatory practice. It is a quest that invites the means to match the ends. To erupt the norm, be anti-colonial, decolonising, in our methods. It invites us to ask the question, ‘Where do we find truth?’ Is truth in our brains, in libraries, in historical texts, old documents, stories
told by villagers and grandparents, on our yoga mats, in scholarly texts or in our hearts? Or in some combination of all? The key is not to devalue any one source or to privilege another. Liberation is a journey that invites us to our practice. To breathe, study, inquire within and without, to stay heart-centered and humble. A liberatory practice looks radically different for each person. It is, always and still, a journey of discovery. It is any act/action of creativity of breath and movement. Even in the ancient world, practice was varied and completely non-standardised. Yoga was originally intended to prepare the body as a foundation for unity with the spirit. So today perhaps an authentic practice is one that leads to deeper breath and space and freedom, just as in the time of the early Vedas, around 3000 BCE when ancient Indian truth-seekers were experimenting with practices to bring liberation. Part of what a decolonised yoga journey might look like is one willing to understand, know and feel the legacy and pain of colonisation, usurpation, orientalisation, a complete obliteration of cultures and legacies and their subsequent replacements: globalisation to be replaced by consumer culture. We are accountable to honestly inquire about the impacts of this legacy of colonisation on yoga and therefore on ourselves. When, under colonisation in the late eighteenth century, the yogis in Northern India used their role and powers to address colonial domination, the British didn’t take this dissidence lightly. The yogis were spiritual and strategic, forming armies to undermine the British East Indian Trade routes that transected their communities. “So powerful were these armed ascetics that throughout the final decades of the eighteenth century the British found themselves pitted against a yogi insurgency that would come to be known as the Sanyasi and Fakir Rebellion,” writes David Gordon White in his essay, ‘Yoga in Transformation’, 2012. The British response was to outlaw yogis from parts of the empire—the yogis’ homes and sacred places. The British tactic of dehumanisation, so perfected by over a century of re-writing colonised African bodies, continued. Early eighteenth century descriptions of yogis often recorded them as “degenerates engaging in sexual excesses or as weapon carrying mercenaries,” White notes. Orientalist fascination or violent and legalistic suppression were the responses of the colonial British to Indian yogic cultures. Yogis, of course, persisted in their practices. This process of dehumanised sexualisation has in many cases been continued by neo-colonial cultures across the continent of Asia, continuing today with the portrayals
of young girls as brides, sex toys and generally objects for ownership by men. The colonised body goes on to colonise those it perceives as weaker than itself, this is perhaps the severest contemporary effect of colonisation. This leads us to ask about the legacy of yoga’s roots, which themselves lie far before colonialism. Is our practice liberatory? Is it freeing? Does it disrupt oppression? Is it leading to greater freedom for ourselves and for others? We decolonise by making meaning for ourselves. It is not about finding enemies in the Empire or staying stuck in the violence done long ago, but about honestly facing its impact and allowing ourselves as well as the perpetrators of that violence to be transformed. It is about owning the ways that we, too, may be a part of all this. Asking how are we complicit? It’s about getting to interconnectedness and loving ourselves and our ‘enemies’ enough to honestly transform one another. It is eruption into freedom, liberation, and the ability to question our own motives and those of our teachers. If we are sharing the practice for profit, how are we beholden to the marketplace, to our patrons/clients? Are our intentions acquisitive rather than reflective and giving? Just like the motives ti-colonial Sanyassis today we find the yoga rently in the service terests from the true
the British were protecting when they tried to suppress the anand yogis to protect their financial interests and trade routes, practice is co-opted, de-cultured, packaged, branded and curof global capitalism. Are we able to separate the economic ininquiry and practice?
Let’s ask the questions and do the research together on this! An eruption of liberatory yoga is on the horizon. These may not be easy questions for us to ask or erating mindset, we can grow and build together, a stand for a new paradigm in what the future of that more closely resembles a pre-colonial past. our own liberatory practice.
to answer. But with a creative, libshare a meaningful practice and take yoga can be. Perhaps it will be one Only we can re-invent and co-create
A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS? an essay by jago rackham The debate around ‘Islamic feminism’ centres around two points of contention: first, the discursive sustainability of the term, and second, the movement’s material capability for enacting positive change for women. The latter can, again, be split into two ideological positions: a: whether or not ‘Islamic feminism’ is capable of enacting structural change and, b: whether or not it can achieve (incremental) change within the system. Here, the argument rests on the ideological position of the scholar qua the value they place on structural change from outside of the system, or vice versa. It is important to note that that ‘Islamic feminist’ is not a synonym for Muslim feminist. The former is ‘an analytical concept in feminist research and feminist theology, or… a discourse’,1 while the latter is a religio-cultural self/Other imposed, categorization. The title quotation comes from a statement by the (exiled) Iranian feminist Mahnaz Afkhami which reads: ‘“Our difference with Islamic feminists is that we don’t try to fit feminism in the Qur’an. We say that women have certain inalienable rights. The epistemology of Islam is contrary to women’s rights. But you can use what you need to [to advance women’s positions]. I call myself a Muslim and a feminist.
contentions around ‘Islamic feminism’. First, it places feminism in two camps: Islamic and (secular) non-Islamic.3 Second, it contrasts feminism goals (‘rights’) with Islam, concluding that Islam cannot be reconciled with feminism and seeing it (and other religions) as ‘institutions… founded with the aim of ensuring the perpetuity of the existing social order… in particular, male domination’ concluding that ‘no amount of progressive interpretations or reformism from within will change that.’4 This posits a (‘perverse’) reading of religion that views it as ‘monolithic and static’5 with identifiable ‘aims’ and consequences. However, ‘Islamic feminists’ like Fatima Mernessi have worked to uncover the manoeuvres and positions employed to ‘uphold misogynist constructions of Islam’6, showing that Islamic feminists can (at least, in scholarship) challenge the way in which ‘male domination’ exists within the Islamic ‘discursive tradition’7. However, Shahidian and Mojab (two Iranian 2 Afkhami, M., quoted in Moghadam, V. M., ‘Islamic Feminism and Its Discontents: Toward a Resolution of the Debate’, Signs, Vol. 27, No. 4, (Summer 2002), pp. 1135-1171, pp. 1152. 3
Not necessarily, as Afkhami points out, non-Muslim.
4 In her article, Bronwyn Winter compares progressivism within religion to progressivism within the police force and the ‘family’. (Winter, 2001, pp. 33.)
This quotation succinctly sums up the main
Badran, 2001, pp. 51.
6 Ibid, pp. 50. 1
Tohidi, 2003, pp. 138.
leftists) argue that such ‘attempts are futile, given the strength of conservative, orthodox, traditional, and fundamentalist interpretations, laws, and institutions’8 and therefore, ‘do not have the potential to be a serious challenge to patriarchy’.9 However, these arguments are not concerned (as they claim to be) with the discursive viability of the term (whether or not it is an oxymoron) but with the kind of activism ‘Islamic feminists’ are capable of. Shahidan and Mojab (et al) contend that Islamic feminists cannot achieve systematic change and, accordingly, deny that they are feminists at all. However, if this shallow definition of feminism (an engine of structural change) is carried through, one does not exclude only Islamic feminism, but liberal feminism in liberal states, socialist feminism in socialist states, et cetera. Instead, Islamic feminism should be viewed as a discourse that employs the vocabulary of its (Islamic)10 situation in its attempts to enact change within a plural conception of ‘feminism/s’ that does not give definitional preference to a specific form of struggle. Critics of ‘Islamic feminism’ seek recourse to a critique of its capability as a 7 Talal Assad describes a ‘discursive tradition’ as a ‘historically
feminist movement. They argue that the reforms it is capable of are ‘limited’ or, worse, complement the (oppressive) Islamic frameworks within which they exist.11 Thus, Mojab charges Iranian Islamic feminists with supporting and legitimizing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ‘gender apartheid’ because it offers small improvements to the position of women without addressing wider concerns about the structures that incur their ongoing oppression.12 However, Mojab neglects to address two areas of tension: first, that it may be necessary/ expedient (e.g. in Iran) to work within the dominant/’indigenous’ framework in order to achieve material gains13 and legitimacy.14 Second, that many feminists she/we call ‘Islamic’ may not wish to disassociate themselves from their cultural-religious identity.15 The example of Islamic feminist legal activism in Iran gives credence to my assertion that it is useful for feminists in ‘Islamic contexts’ to work within (rather than against) such structures. For instance, ‘pro-women’ amendments in the divorce law of Iran in 1992 were heavily influenced by feminist lawyers working within the legal boundaries of the Islamic State.16 As one Muslim feminist puts it: ‘The Mullahs
extended, socially embodied argument’. Though he is writing about Islam, I think this description is also suitable for ‘feminism’. (Asad, 1983, pp.
11 Moghadam, 2002, pp. 1152.
12 Mojab, 2001, pp. 142.
8 Moghadam, 2002, pp. 1150.
13 For instance, by working within the ‘Islamic legal’ system.
9 Mojab, 2001, pp. 131.
10 This is not to say that all feminists in Muslim majority countries/
Western and appeals to ‘indigenous’ symbol and language.
communities exist within a so-called ‘Islamic situation’, but that Islamic
15 Tohidi, 2003, pp. 136.
feminists, working within/against Islamist movements/governments do.
16 Mofhadam, 2002, pp. 1146.
For instance, by presenting a feminism that does not seem ‘alien’ or
are trying to use the Quran [sic] against us, of Iran in 1992 were heavily influenced by feminist lawyers working within the legal boundaries of the Islamic State. As one Muslim feminist puts it: ‘The Mullahs are trying to use the Quran [sic] against us, but we have a surprise for them, we’re going to beat them at their own game.’ In other words, Islamic feminism offers ‘a mechanism’ for persuading17 those in power to ‘listen’.18 Moreover, in a situation where the popular political environment is ‘Islamist’ and/or anti-Western/imperial, many women may feel the need to (or indeed wish to) ‘attempt to “nativise” or legitimate feminist demands in order to avoid being cast as Western import.’19 This has a very practical side too: Leila Ahmed argues that reforms undertaken in a ‘native idiom’ may be more persuasive to traditional classes and therefore, perhaps, more durable. Therefore, by acting as ‘Islamic feminists’, activists may be able to circumvent the common charge that feminism is Western while persuading a greater section of the population of their arguments’ validity. Finally, ‘Islamic feminists’ do not always see their allegiance to Islam in purely instrumental terms, but can be tied to their identity and may even see it as 17 I originally wrote ‘forced’. However, as the power lies on the side of ‘those in power’ they never need to listen. The mechanism, then, is one that increases likelihood, rather than the certainty, of in-system change.
‘liberatory’.20 To expect a stream of feminism that is mixed not only with religion, but with anti-colonialism, culture and identity, to simply separate itself from this situation is spurious. This takes very little notice of the emotional/intellectual choices made by ‘Islamic feminists’. It also, I think, unfairly targets ‘Islamic feminists’ while allowing Western feminists to retain ties to the less ‘liberatory’ elements of their background without disqualifying them from the category of feminist. I have argued, first, that through a conception of Islam and feminism that views each as amorphous and changing ‘discursive traditions’ (Islam/s and feminism/s), the term’s discursive sustainability is allowed for. Second, that ‘Islamic feminism’, as a movement self-consciously situated within a specific situation/tradition, is inclined towards pragmatic in-system change rather than structural overhaul. This is because its actors do not (necessarily) seek to subvert, or ‘emancipate’ themselves, from ‘Islam’. Bearing this in mind, it is spurious to exclude ‘Islamic feminists’ from their place at the liberatory table. Instead of seeing ‘their’ ‘movement’ as ‘a contradiction in terms’ I think that the most practical, but also most intellectually viable, direction is to add an ‘s’ to feminism and accept that feminism/s are ‘borne from juxtaposing and interlacing multiplicities… that react to histories of subjugation.’21
18 (Tohidi, 2003, pp. 139.) Similarly, no one would criticize civil rights and union leaders in the USA for using the American legal system in their
20 Badran, 2001, pp. 50.
campaigns. (Paul, 203.)
21 ‘HYSTERIA MANIFESTO’, HYSTERIA (website), accessed at http://www.
19 Ibid, pp. 139.
hystericalfeminisms.com/manifestos/ on 10/3/15.
Bibliography Ahmed, L., Women and Gender in Islam, Yale University Press: New Haven, 1992, pp. 168. Asad, T., The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam, Occasional Papers, Washington DC: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown, 1986. Badran, M., ‘Understanding Islam, Islamism and Islamic Feminism’, Journal of Woman’s History, Vol. 13, No. 1, (Spring 2001), pp. 47-52. ‘Between Secular and Islamic Feminism/s: Reflections on the Middle East and Beyond’, Journal of Middle East Woman’s Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, (Winter 2005), pp. 6-28. Moghadam, V. M., ‘Islamic Feminism and Its Discontents: Toward a Resolution of the Debate’, Signs, Vol. 27, No. 4, (Summer 2002), pp. 1135-1171. Mojab, S., ‘Theorizing the Politics of ‘Islamic Feminism’, Feminist Review, No. 69, The Realm of the Possible: Middle Eastern Women in Political and Social Spaces, (Winter 2001), pp. 124-146. Paul, F., ‘Acting When Elected Officials Won’t: Federal Courts and Civil Rights Enforcement in U.S. Labor Unions, 1935–85’, American Political Science Review, Vol. 3., (August: 2003), pp. 483-499. Tohidi, N., ‘“Islamic Feminism”: Perils and Promises.” Middle Eastern Women on the Move (2003), pp. 135-146. Winter, B., ‘Fundamental Misunderstandings: Issues in Feminist Approaches to Islamism’ Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 13, No. 1, (Spring 2001), pp. 9-41.
RECM* a poem by mĂźesser yenĂŽay
Outside is night inside is separation this must be the last day of the world -that I think of himlove ends heart remains as a woman who was stoned to death in the middle of reality my heart, is the biggest stone that God threw at me
*recm is a kind of punishment in Islam for someone who has an adultery relationship and who is stoned to death by the people around.
UNDERNEATH a poem by maryam ala amjadi
for Lubna al-Hussein The butterflies of my headscarf are pilgrim worms that have always crawled up the laddered gloom of my vocal cords. And by the strident testimony of my heels the life I walk is half dead on the blindness of scales while the immature conquerors of our alien triangles feed on the generous familiarity of our circles. Tell me, How many shrouds of laughter and wrath should we stitch, so the trampled body of this silence is never vertical again? The flowers of our drowsy dresses no longer wish to await a mating wind that scatters motherless dreams on the dizzy denial of an earth that can offer equal warmth only to horizontal feet and avenge the uneven passion of the pair that treads on her. Skirts unite the stupor of legs for trousers to divide and rule.
APPROPRIATION OF LABOUR OF THE TURKISH CASE1
an essay by ece kocabicak Is the capitalist appropriation of labour the only form of appropriation within the society, or, there is also patriarchal form of appropriation? For the fathers of Marxist thought, the capitalist appropriation of labour is the only dynamic which shapes the conditions of women within society. In Origin, Engels states that women’s participation in the labour force undermines men’s control over women within the working class family. Harry Braverman also argues that the market provides all the products and services provided by women within the home. Thus, for him, women will be disassociated from housework and pulled into the realm of free wage labour.2 However, Turkey demonstrates a peculiar case where capitalism provides jobs for men but 1 A different version of this paper is presented in the conference, titled The strength of Critique: Trajectories of Marxism – Feminism, organised by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Berlin, 20-22 March 2015). I want to thank Kate McNicholas Smith for her helpful suggestions and criticisms. I also want to thank the editors of Hysteria magazine for their generous help with the English language. 2 The objects of work (raw materials) and the instruments of work (roads, tools, machines) together are called the means of production. The private
not women. The level of women’s paid employment in Turkey is almost half of the countries with the same level of capitalist development (i.e. Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Malaysia, and South Africa). Turkey is in the top 20 per cent of worldwide manufacturers. However, its rank drops to the bottom 10 per cent when it comes to women’s paid employment. Why is the majority of free wage labour in Turkey undertaken by men? In order to answer this question, I have investigated to what extent men’s appropriation of women’s labour has shaped the Turkish capitalist development. I argue that the male dominance of landownership, the dominance of small medium scale farms, and female unpaid family workers are the distinguishing features of Turkish agriculture. As the family mediates the surplus extraction relationship as the heads of households, men have established a strong control over women within small medium scale farms. Thus, women are not simply ‘free’ to join the free wage-labour. As a result, men’s appropriation of women’s labour within agriculture has shaped the trajectories of capitalism and patriarchy in Turkey.
ownership of the means of production in the hands of the bourgeois class is a prerequisite for the capitalist appropriation. Labourers must be separated from the means of production through the proletarianisation process so they cannot produce and sell the product of their labour. Thus, the free wage labour is a key feature of capitalism.
Why is it important to analyse the conditions of patriarchal appropriation of labour? An attempt to investigate the ways in which
men benefit from women’s labour is important with regards to assessing whether or not patriarchy can be reduced to a matter of gendered norms and behaviours. This attempt also contributes to a discussion about the relationship between patriarchy and capitalism by demonstrating that the advanced stages of capitalist development do not inevitably diminish patriarchal appropriation. In doing so, it supports the feminist movement in developing an effective fight back strategy. In this article, first of all, I will investigate the historical preconditions for the male dominance of landownership in Turkey. Afterwards, I will briefly explain the implications of patriarchal appropriation over the proletarianisation process. Finally, I will discuss whether or not the capitalist appropriation of labour is the only form of appropriation within the society. What are the preconditions for the male dominance of landownership in Turkey? In order to answer this question, I have investigated historical evidence from the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire onwards. Here, I will summarise the preliminary findings of my research. First of all, I will explain the reasons for the dominance of peasant proprietorship. Later, I will explore the dynamics that maintain male dominance over land ownership. Dominance of peasants’ petty proprietorship 1. Ottoman peasant revolts During the nineteenth-century Ottoman
Empire, the reform program called Tanzimat (1839-1876) aimed to increase the governance between the central and local state. Since the taxation was the main mechanism of surplus appropriation, the Tanzimat reforms focused on the rural taxation. The transformation of the rural taxation was a complicated process in which various groups in the local state negotiated with the central state. Despite the tension within the appropriator class, their mutual agreement was to limit peasants’ freehold access to the land, shift their status to tenancy, and increase the agrarian surplus through taxation. Consequently, the previous tax farming system was replaced with the new land-tax system. However, the Tanzimat period witnessed a strong rural unrest in the Empire. Ottoman peasants refused to pay double tax (tithe and land-rent). Their refusal was due to the political consequences of tenancy rather than the level of taxation. As a result, the Ottoman peasant revolts succeeded in defending peasants’ freehold access to the land against the local state’s claims of landownership. 2. The state-led agrarian commercialisation Until the 1990s, peasants in Turkey were relatively successful in utilizing the Republican state. Therefore, the state drove the agrarian commercialization in the following ways sustaining the dominance of peasant proprietorship: (1) the state distributed land to the peasants with the 1926 Civil Code, the 1930 and 1934 Land and Settlement Laws, and the 1945 Law of Giving Land to the Farmers, (2) the state became the primary trader of the agrarian goods.
It purchased the goods from the farmers. In doing so, the state supported peasants in keeping a relatively higher proportion of agrarian surplus, (3) thirdly, the state provided incentives to small produces, for example, financial credits and technical trainings, and (4) small agrarian producers were able to survive only if female peasants worked as unpaid family workers. Thus, the Republican state supported male peasants in establishing a strong control over female peasants by limiting women’s access to education, employment, financial credits, land ownership and technology, and by ignoring men’s abuses of women’s inheritance rights and male violence against women. Male dominance over landownership So far, I have explained the reasons for the dominance of peasant proprietorship. However, peasant proprietorship did not result in men and women equally sharing land ownership. Men predominantly own and manage the land. What follows are the three major foundations of the male dominance over land ownership: 1. Tanzimat legal system In contrast with the observations of Western travellers, Muslim women were not passive victims of the Islamic patriarchal society who were unable to challenge the authority of their fathers, brothers and husbands. Although until the mid-nineteenth century, women in the UK, Canada or France did not have the right to own property, since the seventh century, the property rights of women who lived under the Islamic law have been in place. In order to defend their property rights against men’s
abuses, Ottoman women were also relatively successful in utilising the Hanefi School of Islamic law and the Ottoman legal system. However, during the Tanzimat period, the central state limited the authority of Islamic courts to the family related issues, and transferred the property related issues to the new established Nizamiye courts. The contemporary changes within the legal system were designed to empower the local state in establishing a greater control of the land. However, the transformation of the legal system also provided opportunity to men to abuse women’s right to landownership: (1) The involvement of professional attorneys, (2) a higher court fees, (3) an increased usage of complex legal language, (4) an increased importance of documented evidence and expert reports, and (5) a greater distance of the Nizamiye courts limited the majority of women’s ability to utilise the legal system. Nevertheless, the 1926 Civil Code completely blocked women’s access to the legal system. 2. The first secular civil code The implications of the 1926 Civil Code over women had a twofold character. On the one hand, the code provided a certain rights to women who lived under the conditions of increasing wage dependency.3 3 In the turning point of the nineteenth century, the first wave of the feminist movement (1890s- 1930s) and the manufacturers in Turkey shared two overlapping demands: Women’s rights to education and employment. Although polygamy practices were limited to a few rich families in the urban areas, it was an important demand for the elite women of the first wave. As a result, the 1926 code (1) outlawed the polygamy practices, (2) provided full suffrage, (3) accepted women’s education and employment rights (but the latter was depended on husbands’ consent), and (4) recognised women’s
On the other hand, it supported men in increasing their control of women’s properties in the following ways. First of all, the 1926 Civil Code completely abolished the Islamic law and courts that, for centuries, women had a certain level of knowledge and experience of. Secondly, before the 1926 Code, the Islamic principle of absolute separation of husband and wife’s properties was the legal rule and common practice. The Code replaced this principle by enforcing the unification of family property under the authority of husband. Subsequently, a wife was obligated to sacrifice her property for the sake of the family. This change could have a positive impact on women under the conditions of the single-male breadwinner family model. However, for the rural society that relies on the ownership of agrarian means of production, it increased men’s control over women’s properties. Thirdly, the Code outlawed Islamic marriage practices. Couples were obligated to follow civil marriage practices. This was a great opportunity for men since by avoiding registering their marriages, men illegitimated their wives and children (particularly, their daughters). In doing so, until the 1970s, men secured their control over women’s land. This situation stricktly limited women’s access to any legal system. Finally, until the mid-1940s, the state distributed the land to peasants. Since wives and daughters were excluded from the official records and cannot access to the legal system, women did not claim any right on the land. equal rights with men with regards to inheritance and initiating a divorce.
3. The state-led agrarian commercialisation The Republican state did not only drive the agrarian commercialisation in a way, which maintained the dominance of male peasant proprietorship. The state-led commercialisation also promoted men as the appropriators of agrarian surplus, but degraded women as the direct producers. In order to do so, the state 1) distributed the land to male peasants, 2) provided financial credits and technical courses to male peasants, 3) allowed men to establish a strong control over women by limiting women’s access to education, employment, and by ignoring male violence against women. As a result, under the conditions of increasing agrarian commercialisation, men’s control of landownership supported male peasants in becoming the appropriators of the agrarian surplus. However, for women, losing the control of the land meant being the direct producers as unpaid family workers. What are the ways in which male peasants’ control over female peasants has prevented women from joining the free wage-labour? The evidence that I have investigated thus far suggests that men strictly limit women’s mobility, access to education and utilise violence against women. As mothers, sisters, or wives, women stay in the village, and work as unpaid family workers. Under the conditions of male peasant proprietorship, the rural to urban migration appears to be predominantly men. Consequently, women’s exclusion from the proletarianisation process results in a shortage of free wage labour. The lack of free wage-labour has a positive impact on monthly wages since it
increases the workers’ negotiation power against the employers. Therefore, Turkey has a relatively higher level of monthly wages in comparison to other countries with the same level of capitalist development. This situation supports the single malebreadwinner family model within the society. As a response to the higher level of monthly wages, the bourgeois class has increased the average working hours per week. Nevertheless, the longer working hours are extra-barriers to women’s labour force participation – particularly, under the conditions of a lack of public provisioning of domestic services. For the last decade, the peasantry is relatively less powerful over the state. Consequently, peasants have entirely lost the state-led incentives. For the first time, they face the market without any protection. Under these conditions, the subsistence level of landowning male peasants depends on the availability of female peasants who work as unpaid family workers. The evidence indicates that since the 2000s, women’s exploitation within agriculture has intensified. Female peasants work for longer hours and handle very heavy tasks. Furthermore, the post-2008 regulations imply that the state still supports men in maintaining their control over women within the small medium scale farms. Therefore, I expect that the abolishment of the state’s incentives to agriculture will not immediately dissolve the male dominance of land ownership in Turkey. Patriarchal form of appropriation Karl Marx argues that at the initial stage
of capitalism, the great masses of men and women are “suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence, and hurled as free and ―unattached proletarians on the labour-market” (Marx, 1976a: 876). Nevertheless, within the third volume of Capital, where he investigates the conditions of petty commodity production within agriculture, he emphasises the possibility of small producer to exploit others’ labour: In this form, too, greater differences arise in the economic condition of individual immediate producers. There is at least the possibility of this, and the possibility for the immediate producer to obtain the means whereby he may exploit the labour of others (Marx, 1976b: 931, my emphasis) The evidence from the historical context of Turkey implies that under the particular conditions, men dispossess women of the land and exploit women’s labour within agriculture. Therefore, the capitalist appropriation of labour is not the only form of appropriation. There is also patriarchal appropriation that relies on men’s exploitation of women’s labour. While, the bourgeois class’ exploitation of surplus value is the only form of capitalist appropriation, patriarchal appropriation has two different forms: 1) men’s exploitation of women’s domestic labour within the home, and 2) men’s exploitation of women’s labour within agriculture. Furthermore, as the appropriation of labour is purely a social relationship, as appropriators, men constantly need to utilise the state, family, violence, sexuality, and the
cultural and religious conditions in a way which maintains the power of patriarchal appropriation. Finally, there is neither a one-sidedly determining relationship between capitalism and patriarchy, nor does capitalism supply the motor power of social transformation. Both patriarchy and capitalism mutually shape each other.
References MARX, K. 1976a. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Vol I), England: Penguin Books.
MARX, K. 1976b. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Vol III), England: Penguin Books.
ÂŠ Nil Yalter.
FEMINISM: BEYOND PATRIARCHY an essay by kotravai To politicise the oppressed is to engage them in dialogue, to raise awareness and provide them with the knowledge necessary for them to emancipate themselves and society as a whole. The process of fighting for gender equality is commonly termed feminism. Yet unlike the other freedom movements of caste, race and class, in which the respective populace often agree that they are oppressed, women’s rights movement must contend with dismantling internalized beliefs that women’s subjugation is natural. Heterosexual and familial relationships often command great social control. The replication of wider gender oppression within these smaller units is rife. Thus women are subjected to a ‘dual-oppression’: one domestic and the other social. This duality leads women to endure intraantagonisms beyond those experienced by other oppressed groups. Sexism in many heterosexual domestic relationships is so naturalized that many women often dismiss or overlook it. One could even term this situation ‘tamed slavery’. Women are tamed through societal insistence on submissiveness as a desirable feminine trait, a process that privileges men and disempowers women. Feminist movements have long put forward the theory of patriarchy as a structural method of analyzing gender oppression. The 1980s saw mainstream feminism’s increasing shift from this theory towards the concept of intersectionality. Crenshaw’s theory argues
that the systemic oppression of women is multilayered, interrelated, and influenced by intersecting systems of race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity. Yet often missing from this broader analysis of oppression is an acknowledgement of the role of class. This approach allows for greater structural analysis of the present and provides a stronger framework on which a future egalitarian society might be based. Oppression operates on both ideological and material levels. Gender, race, religion, caste, ability, nationality, sexuality and cultural oppressions have ideological origins while the roots of class oppression are material. Yet in practice both these categories overlap, as ideology cannot be enforced without material effects. Hegemony, the standardization of ruling class norms and the ensuing entrenchment of ruling class power, comes about through lived experience. Feminism cannot afford to ignore the material conditions that give rise to the spectrum of gender oppression. A blinkered focus only on ideological factors results in too narrow an approach. Casting feminism as an isolated issue belies its strong links with other freedom movements and results in conflicts and hostility with other liberation struggles. Let me ask this: would the abolition of patriarchy—the male domination structure— lead to the abolition of racial, religious, caste-based, sexuality-based, and ability-
based oppression? No. Not at all. Furthermore, with an atomized approach we cannot identify the root cause of this social discrimination. If we have to choose to eliminate one oppression after the other, it will again have its own consequences and antagonisms. Moreover, when the base is not altered, different variations of hegemony will manifest and emerge again over a period of time. Oppression, an agent of hegemony, cannot have existed from time immemorial. We therefore need to probe into the historical evolution of the issue. In the case of women, we can see from historical studies that human beings lived in groups, as in communes, and, according to some studies, biological paternity was not considered an important issue. “It was long thought – and it still is believed in certain primitive matriarchal societies – that the father plays no part in conception…”1 In a matriarchal society women held higher positions to men, gathered food, went hunting, led the clan and people were not subjected to any form of oppression. We may call it primitive communism. “The communistic household implies the supremacy of women in the house... because of the impossibility of determining the natural father with certainty, signifies high esteem for women...”2
A study of the past society reveals that production did not happen for the accumulation of wealth; there were no ‘goods’, there was no money and essentially there was no buying of labour. Subsequently there was also no exploitation and no hegemony. “Production at all former stages of society were essentially collective, and, likewise, consumption took place by the direct distribution of the products within larger or smaller communistic communities.”3 Production of ‘things’ is necessary for human survival. It requires the use of raw materials, tools and auxiliary materials. Even if these are all available, production is not going to take place just by placing them next to each other: somebody has to work on it. Therefore, we require labour. We need both the means of production and labour in order to produce ‘things’. Developments in the production process led to division of labour and formation of classes. The conditions that contributed to the growth of the prevailing economic system became the social order of the society. Social scientists have codified various types of society as primitive (more or less communal), slave, feudal and capitalist. We shall deal with capitalist production that currently dominates the world economy and the feminist theory advocated by capitalism. Under capitalism, production for survival turned into production for accumulation of
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Vintage, 1977, pg. 39
2 F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State,
3 F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State,
Progress Publishers, pg. 49
Progress Publishers, pg 170
wealth. Profit is not a natural mandate. It is harnessed by capitalists for accumulation of wealth, for which workers are subjected to ruthless working hours, under brutal working conditions. Marxists call this new value created by excess labour power ‘surplus value’ and this is appropriated by capitalists as profit. This appropriation of surplus value is the basis for the hegemonic social relations and its manifestations. Karl Marx delineates the division of labour in the earlier modes of production and under capitalism, summarized below: Under capitalism, division of labour is based on private property and thus the owner–wage labourer relationship that emerges in this system is hierarchical. The labour relationship under capitalism saw the emergence of new mode of compensation for the labourer in the form of wages [money]; things became ‘goods’, means of production4 became capital5 , and the exploitative formula was termed ‘profit’. This system of purchasing labour power by the owner of the means of production and the appropriation of surplus as profit is called exploitation of labour. This mode of production and the economic system based on private property is called capitalism. Let us first briefly analyse social relations and then probe into personal relations at household level, as the division of labour is visible in both.
4 Simplified and generalized for the sake of briefing, natural resources and labour have been included in it, but labour is autonomous. 5 Karl Marx explains it in detail in his works.
We as humans have to produce and consume in order to survive. Production is an economic activity, and a determinant of human life. Thus, human beings on both an individual and social level are subjected to product and labour relations. If labour relations are exploitative and unfair, it is very apparent that the resultant social relations will also be exploitative and unfair. If a mode of production and the resultant hegemonic social order are materially based, limiting the feminist struggle to only patriarchy or any such ideological forms would be deficient. For argument’s sake, if we agree that by eliminating patriarchy we manage to establish gender equality, ➢ how do we stop war and famine? ➢ How do we eliminate poverty? ➢ How do we eliminate the commodification of women’s bodies? Manmade social order underpinned by unchecked desire for wealth engenders conflicts and it does not allow fair distribution. Karl Marx defines this as class antagonism in relation to property. He categorizes antagonistic groups as: 1) bourgeoisie (who own the means of production and whose source of income is profit), 2) land owners (whose income is rent from tenancy), 3) proletariat (who own labour and sell it for wages). With an isolated approach on antagonisms and formation of state we appeal to the state to demand political reforms, ignorant of the fact that state is directly and indirectly ruled by those who control the means of production and that the state apparatuses only exist to support the existing
hierarchies of power: “As the state arose from the need to keep class antagonisms in check, but also arose in the thick of the fight between the classes, it is normally the state of the most powerful, economically ruling class, which by its means becomes also the politically ruling class, and so acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class….”6 Engels here demonstrates that the state and its legislative, judiciary, and military apparatuses will only work for the benefit of the ruling classes. Constant struggle may yield piecemeal reform. Yet as long as the economic system remains capitalist, we will not achieve equality: the internal logic of capitalism demands divide and rule to ensure a permanent disadvantaged, low-waged underclass. To those who may argue that this argument is economically deterministic, and that patriarchy and other forms of oppression existed before class conflict arose, this denies the interrelatedness of social and economic disempowerment. Women, people of colour, LGBT folks, and people with disabilities comprise the lowest-paid members of the workforce, while many others are also homebound, drowning in poverty or pushed into sex work because of unemployment. From the above discussion, it is clear that the evolution of society from communal
living, to slavery, feudalism, and capitalism led to the creation of a modern system intent on producing profit and accumulating private property. The laws of commodity production and increase in wealth by those who possess of means of production further reduced any equality between men and women. The family became an economic unit of the society, in which sexual division of labour developed in line with the tools and mode of production. “According to the division of labor then prevailing in the family, the procuring of food and the implements necessary thereto, and therefore, also the ownership of the latter, fell to the man.”7 With developments in stages of production, a third division of labour was introduced in which the means of production were plundered and acquired by groups that took no part in production. “Here a class appears for the first time which, without taking part in production, captures the management of production as a whole and economically subjugates the producers to its rule ... and exploits them both.”8 Thus it is clear that working men, the owners of the means of production, were denuded of those means, and were subjugated into slave-labour under feudalism and later as wage-labour under capitalism. “The process, therefore, that clears the way for the capitalist system, can be none other than the process which takes away from the laborer the possession
7 F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Progress Publishers, pg 55 8 F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State,
Progress Publishers, pg 162
of his means of production; a process that transforms, on the one hand, the social means of subsistence and of production into capital, on the other, the immediate producers into wage laborers”.9 The pursuit of profit by the owners of the means of production established hegemonic dependency through the process of appropriation, enslavement, and institutionalisation of the domesticated women living with the male breadwinners, while increasing the dependency of the breadwinner on the owner of the means of production for their living requirements. Once again, it becomes evident that economic conditions and the consequent social order form the root cause of enslavement, in this context the enslavement of women, and the consequent ideological-social categorisation. This categorisation—the valuation and devaluation of different categories of labour power—allows for cheap labour and thus for profit accumulation. Further, under manifested power relations as patriarchy and capitalism, Woman, with her reproductive capacity, is devalued as a commodity of labour and is looked upon as a reproductive unit responsible for sustenance of labour power through maintenance of the labourer, as well as the reproduction of new labour power through procreation. Thus, now that we have examined a root cause, or at least a catalyst, of patriarchy, we must ask, what process will eliminate the hegemony that perpetuates gender discrimination for cheap labour and control over women’s reproductive capacity?
Answer: The end of capitalism—that which appropriated the means of production, that which enslaved us and subjugated us for the sake of attaining wealth, and made us dependent, even for basic survival; that which estranged labour; that which exploits the entire human race irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, and even religion. Capitalism must be overthrown and a new mode of production based upon collective ownership over means of production established. It is not in my aim to replace feminism with Marxism, yet the Marxist approach aims to liberate far more women than does bourgeois feminism, which is concerned primarily with eliminating patriarchy. The bourgeoisie feminist flock (of any gender and sexuality) that demands economic empowerment based on the female accumulation of private property is not egalitarian. What must be remembered here is that “The granting of political equality to women does not change the actual balance of power. The proletarian woman ends up in the proletarian, the bourgeois woman in the bourgeois camp. We must not let ourselves be fooled by Socialist trends in the bourgeois women’s movement which last only as long as bourgeois women feel oppressed”.10
9 Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1, pg.668 10 Clara Zetkin,
However, though the bourgeoisie is the capitalist class,11 the bourgeoisie feminist ideology, the ideology of the ruling class, often influences and embraces all classes of women, including the proletariat. Working class women, ignorant of the self-interested nature of bourgeois politics, are frequently seduced by its ideology and fall into libertarian camps. It is from this understanding and position of solidarity on humanitarian basis, Marxists express solidarity to all women’s movements: “.. this movement also contains a more profound spiritual and moral aspect. The bourgeois woman not only demands her own bread but she also requests spiritual nourishment and wants to develop her individuality… The economic as well as the intellectual and moral endeavors of bourgeois women’s rights advocates are completely justified”.12 Furthermore, Marx says:
11 “Bourgeoisie: Engels described the Bourgeoisie as the class of great Capitalists, who in all developed Countries are now almost exclusively
“In short, the communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. In all these Movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time”.13 In conclusion, patriarchy, though it may be a quasi-independent, as argued by bourgeoisie, in the present historical condition, it is comprised in or is absorbed by capitalism. Oppression is an exploitative mechanism and thus sex-based oppression is also found in capitalism with the motive providing cheap labour and higher profit. In the Indian context, this is further intensified by caste—another form of division of labour. Thus, patriarchy has become constituent of capitalism. Hence it is obvious that when the exploitation of labour based on private property is abolished and a socialist division of labour is established, patriarchy will also wither away14 in the state, because under such equitable conditions, relationships between men and women will be more natural, as family will no longer be the economic unity of profitoriented production.
in possession of all the means of Consumption, and of the raw materials and instruments (machines, factories), necessary for their production (Principles of Communism, 1847); and as ‘the class of modern Capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour’…. The Bourgeoisie, as in this sense the Economically dominant class, which
“Men and women will not be bound together by pre-determined roles and notions of what is or is not ‘natural’, or out of economic necessity. Rather they will be free to enter
also controls the State apparatus and Cultural production, stands in opposition to, and in conflict with, the working class….”, Tom Bottomore, A
13 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto, combined
dictionary of Marxist Thought, edited by Tom Bottomore, A Maya Blackwell
edition with Economic and Philosphic Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marx,
book, 2nd edition. P. 36.
translated by Martin Milligan, Prometheus Books, New York, 1988. P. 243
12 Clara Zetkin,
into relationships which are suited to the emotional needs of the particular individuals concerned”.15 It is in this context that Marxist feminists suggest that the feminist struggle should be directed in the line of class struggle, alongside fighting the patriarchy. Such revolutionary struggles will carry the fight for: 1) equal division of household labour, 2) property rights 3) decision-making rights 4) fight for physical, cultural, and economic rights 5) fight for equal social division of labour of all and abolition of private property. The eruption of the feminist self and of feminist politics if not anchored by class politics, if not brought into dialogue with socialist class struggle, will lose the at the emancipation of proletariat women. So, if feminism intends to be all-encompassing, then socialism16 is its guiding light. The new type of socialist society following the dictatorship of the Proletariat will not only be gender balanced, but also free of exploitation of labour, thus eliminating the encumbrance and conflicts arising out of dual labour. Such an existence will truly be a higher form17 of living. 15 F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Progress Publishers, pg. 162 16 As defined by Marx and Lenin, Socialism is essentially a transitional stage on the road to communism. 17 Being a transitional stage it will be, as called by Marx ‘the higher stage of communist society’, under which the state will wither away, a totally different attitude to work will prevail, and society will be able to inscribe on its banner the motto ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’. Tom Bottomore, A dictionary of Marxist Thought, edited by Tom Bottomore, A Maya Blackwell book, 2nd edition. P. 500,501.
ப ெ ண ண ி ே ம் : ஆ ண கா ே ி க ்க த் ே ி ற் கு அ ப ெ கா ல் … ப்ககாற்றமவ பெணணிேம்: ஆணகாேிக்கத்ேிற்கு அபெகால்… ப்ககாற்றமவ ஒடுக்கபெட்டவர்்கமள அரசிேல்மேபெடுத்துவபேன்ெது, அவர்்கதளகாடு உமரேகாடுவது, விழிபபுணர்மவ ஏற்ெடுத்துவது, தமலும் ேமககும், ஒட்டுபமகாத்ேமகா்க சமூ்கத்ேிற்கும் விடுேமல பெற்றுத்ேர தேமவபெடும் அறிவிமன வழஙகுவது என்ெேகாகும். இவவம்கேில், ஒடுக்கபெட்ட இனமகான பெண்களுககு அவர்்களது உகாிமம்கள் குறித்து அறிவூட்டுவதும், ெகாலின சமத்துவத்ேிற்்ககா்கப தெகாரகாட தெகாேிபெதும் பெணணிேம் என்றமழக்கபெடு்கிறது. இருபெினும், ேகாம் ஒடுக்கபெடு்கிதறகாம் என்று உணர்ந்து அேற்ப்கேிரகா்கப தெகாரகாடும் சகாேி, இனம், வர்க்கம் தெகான்ற மற்ற விடுேமல இேக்கங்கள் தெகால் அல்லகாமல், பெண விடுேமல இேக்கங்கள் நூேனமகான ஒரு சவகாமல எேிர்ப்ககாள்ள தவணடியுள்ளது: பெண அடிமமத்ேனம் என்ெது இேற்ம்கேகானது என்று விமேக்கபெட்டுவிட்ட ஆழமகான நம்ெிகம்க்கமள முேலில் ே்கர்த்பேகாிே தவணடியுள்ளது. எேிர்ெகாலின மற்றும் குடும்ெ உறபவன்ெது மனிே வகாழ்வின் ஒரு முக்கிே அம்சமகா்க இருக்கிறது. இருபெினும், மகாபெரும் சமூ்க அமமபெின் அ்சசிறிே பசேல்ெகாடகானது, ஏற்றத்ேகாழ்வு நிமறந்ேேகா்கதவ உள்ளது. ஆண பெண உறவு்களில், ெகாலின ஒடுககுமுமற நிலவு்கிறது, அேனகால் பெண்கள் “இரட்மட ஒடுககுமுமறககு” உள்ளகா்கிறகார்்கள். ஒன்று குடும்ெ மட்டத்ேில், மற்பறகான்று சமூ்க மட்டத்ேில். இந்ே சவகாலகானது மற்ற விடுேமல இேக்கங்கமளக ்ககாட்டிலும் அேி்களவிலகான உள் முரணெகாடு்கமளக ப்ககாணடேகா்க இருக்கிறது. ஆண பெண உறவில் வளர்த்பேடுக்கபெட்ட ஆணகாேிக்க மதனகாெகாவத்ேின் விமளவகா்க, பெண்கதள கூட ஆணகாேிக்கத்மே மறுபெவர்்களகா்க இருக்கின்றனர். பெண்களுககுள் ்ககாணபெடும் இந்ே உள் முரணெகாட்மட நகாம் “ெழ்கிவிட்ட அடிமமத்ேனம்” என்றுபசகால்லலகாம். சமூ்கமேமகாக்கலில், ஆண்கள் தமலகானவர்்களகா்கவும், பெண்கள் ்கீழகானவர்்களகா்கவும் மகாற்றபெட்ட ஒரு நமடமுமறேின் மூலம் அடிெணிேமல பெணமமத் ேன்மம என்று ்கருதும் விேமகா்க பெண்கள் ெழக்கபெடு்கின்றனர். ெகாலின ஒடுககுமுமறமே புகாிந்துப்ககாள்வேற்்ககான ஒரு முமறேகா்க ஆணகாத்ேிக்கம் எனும் சித்ேகாந்ேத்மே பெணணிே இேக்கங்கள் ெலநூறு ஆணடு்களுககு முன்னதர முன்மவத்ேன. 1980்களின் இறுேிேில் இ்சசித்ேகாந்ேத்ேில், ஊடறுககும் ்கருத்ேகாக்கங்கள் (intersectionality theory) எனும் சித்ேகாந்ேம் ்கவனம் பெற்றது. கபரன்ஷகாவின் த்ககாட்ெகாடகானது பெண்கள் மீேகான அமமபபுகாீேிேகான ஒடுககுமுமற என்ெது ெல அடுககு்கமளக ப்ககாணடது என்றும், ஒன்தறகாடு மற்பறகான்று பேகாடர்புமடேது என்றும், இனம், ெகாலினம், வர்க்கம், ேிறன் மற்றும் ெல்தவறு அமமபபு்களின் ேகாக்கத்ேிற்கு உட்ெட்டது என்றும் முன்மவத்ேது. இருபெினும், பெண ஒடுககுமுமற குறித்த் இந்ே ெரந்ே அளவிலகான ஆய்வு்கள் வர்க்க முரணெகாட்டின் ெகாத்ேிரத்மே ஒபபுகப்ககாள்ள பெரும்ெகாலும் மறுக்கின்றன. ஆனகால் வர்க்கப ெகார்மவேகானது இன்மறே அமமபபு்ச சூழல் ெற்றிே ்கட்டமமபமெ விளககுவதுடன் எேிர்்ககாலத்ேில் ஏற்றத்ேகாழ்வற்ற ஒரு சமுேகாேமகானது எந்ேக ்கட்டுமகானத்ேின் அடிபெமடேில் அமமே தவணடும் என்ெமேயும் விளககு்கிறது.
எந்ேபவகாரு ஒடுககுமுமற வடிவமும் இரணடு ேளங்களில் நி்கழ்்கின்றன, ஒன்று ்கருத்ேிேல் ேளம் மற்பறகான்று பெகாருளகாேே ேளம். இேமன அடிபேகாட்டி நகாம் ஒடுககுமுமற எனும் ெிர்சசிமனமே ஆய்வு பசய்தவகாமகானகால் – ஆணகாேிக்கம், இனம், மேம், சகாேி, ேிறன், குடியுகாிமம, ெகாலிேல் தேர்வு, ்கலகா்சசகாரம் தெகான்றமவ – ஒடுககுமுமறக்ககான ்கருத்ேிேல் வடிவங்கள் என்ெதும், வர்க்க ஒடுககுமுமற என்ெது பெகாருளகாேே அடிபெமடேிலகானது என்ெதும் விளஙகும். இருபெினும், ்கருத்ேிேல் காீேிேகான ஒடுககுமுமறேிலும்
பெகாருளகாேே ெின்விமளவு்கள் இருககும், ஏபனன்றகால் தமலகாேிக்கத்ேின் தேகாற்றுவகாதே பெகாருளகாேே அடிபெமடேிலகானது, அவவமமபெிற்குள் பெகாேிந்ேிருககும் அேி்ககார உறவு்களகானது தமல்மட்டத்ேில் ெிரேிெலிக்கின்றது. தமலகாேிக்கம், ஆளும் வர்க்கத்ேின் பெகாதுபெடுத்தும் விேிமுமற்களும், அேன் விமளவகான ஆளும் வர்க்க அேி்ககாரத் பேகாடர்்சசியும் வகாழ்வனுெவத்ேின் மூலம் வளர்த்பேடுக்கபெடு்கிறது.
விடுேமலக்ககான பெணணிே தெகாரகாட்டமகானது ஒடுககுமுமறமே மமேபெடுத்ேி இருக்கதவணடுதம ஒழிே, ெகாலினத்மே மட்டும் மமேபெடுத்ேி இருக்கககூடகாது. ஆ்கதவ அது ெகாலின ஒடுககுமுமறககு அடித்ேளமகாய் இருககும் பெகாருளகாேே நிமலமம்கமள புறக்கணிக்கவிேலகாது. ஆனகால், முேன்மம அல்லது அடிபெமட ெிர்சசிமன என்று அவரவகாின் குமறெட்ட ெகார்மவேினகால், நகாம் குறு்கிே அணுகுமுமற்கமளதே ்ககாண முடி்கிறது. இந்ே முற்சகார்ெகானது ஒடுககுமுமறேின் ஒவபவகாரு வடிவத்மேயும் ஒரு ேனித்ே ெிர்சசிமனேகா்கக ்கருே வழித்ககாலும், அேன் விமளவகா்க, ெல்வம்க ஒடுககுமுமறேிமன ெிமணககும் மூல ்ககாரணத்மே அமடேகாளம் ்ககாணத்ேவறிவிடும் சூழல் உருவகா்கிறது. இேன் விமளவகா்க, ேமககுள்ளகா்கவும், மற்ற இேக்கங்கதளகாடும் முரணெகாடு்களும், ெம்கமமயும் வளர்ந்து, பெரும்ெகாலும் அது சுே-விரகேிேில் பசன்று முடி்கிறது. பெண பவறுபபு குறித்து இஙகு நகாம் தெசிகப்ககாணடிருபெேகால், நகான் இந்ேக த்கள்விமே த்கட்்கிதறன்: “ேந்மே வழி்ச சமூ்கம், அேகாவது ஆணகாேிக்க அமமபபு ஒழிக்கபெட்டுவிட்டகால் இனகாீேிேகான ஒடுககுமுமற, சகாேிே ஒடுககுமுமற, மேவகாே ஒடுககுமுமற மற்றும் ேிறன், ெகாலிேல் தேர்வின் அடிபெமடேிலகான ஒடுககுமுமற்கள் ்கமளேபெட்டுவிடுமகா?” இல்மல. இல்லதவ இல்மல! தமலும், அ்கவகாே ்கணதணகாட்டத்ேினகால் சமூ்கப ெகாகுெகாட்டின் தவமர நம்மகால் அமடேகாளம் ்ககாணவும் முடிேகாது, அேனகால் ்கருத்ேிேல்காீேிேகான உருமகாற்றங்கள் நி்கழக ்ககாரணமகாய் இருககும் அடித்ேளத்மே மகாற்றிேமமககும் முேற்சி சகாத்ேிேமற்ற ஒன்றகா்கத் தேகான்று்கிறது. ஒவபவகான்றகாய் ்கமளதவகாம் என்று நகாம் முடிபவடுத்ேகால், ேன்னளவில் அது பெரும் ெின்விமளவு்கமளயும், முரண்கமளயும் ப்ககாணடேகா்கிப தெகாகும். தமலும், அடித்ேளம் மகாறகாே நிமலேில் தமலகாேிக்கமகானது உருமகாறிகப்ககாணதட இருககும், குறிபெிட்ட ்ககால்கட்டத்ேிற்குப ெிறகு அது தமபலழும்.
ஒடுககுமுமற, தமலகாேிக்கத்ேின் மு்கவரமமபெகானது பேகான்றுபேகாட்ட ்ககாலம் முேல் இருந்ேிருக்க வகாய்பெில்மல, ஆ்கதவ அேன் வரலகாற்று வளர்்சசிமே நகாம் ஆய்வு பசய்ே தவணடியுள்ளது. ெல்தவறு ்ககாரணி்கள் ெடிநிமல அமமபெிற்கும், தமலகாேிக்கத்ேிற்கும் ்ககாரணமகாய் இருக்கின்றன. பெண்கள் விஷேத்ேில், வரலகாற்று ஆய்வு்களின் துமணதேகாடு நகாம் ெகார்கம்கேில், மனிேர்்கள் குழுக்களகா்க, கூட்டு்சசமூ்கமகா்க வகாழ்ந்து வந்ேனர் என்ெமேக ்ககாணலகாம். ேந்மேேின் இரத்ே வம்சகா வழி என்ெது முக்கிேமகானேகா்கக ்கருேபெடவில்மல என சில ஆய்வு்கள் பேகாிவிக்கின்றன. “பேகான்று பேகாட்ட ்ககாலங்களில் – இன்னும் சில புரகாேன ேகாய்வழி்ச சமூ்கங்களில்கூட – ்கருத்ேகாிபெில் ஆணுககு எந்ேப ெஙகும் இல்மல என்தற ்கருேபெடு்கிறது… ”அ ேகாய்வழி்ச சமூ்கத்ேில் பெண்கள் ஆண்கமளக ்ககாட்டிலும் உேர்நிமலேில் இருந்ேனர். அவர்்களும் உணவு தச்ககாித்ேல், தவட்மடேகாடுேல், இனககுழுவிற்கு ேமலமம ேகாஙகுேல் தெகான்ற ெணி்கமள்ச பசய்து வந்ேனர். மக்கள் எவவிே ஒடுககுமுமறககும் உள்ளகா்கவில்மல. இேமன நகாம் புரகாேன ்கம்யூனிசம் என்்கிதறகாம். “்கம்யூனிச சமூ்க குடும்ெ அமமபெகானது இல்லங்களில் பெண்களின் உேர்நிமலமே சுட்டிக்ககாட்டு்கிறது…. ஏபனன்றகால் ஒரு குழந்மேககு உணமமேகான ேந்மே ேகார் என்ெமே அமடேகாளம் ்ககாண முடிேகாே நிமலேகானது பெண்கள் பெற்றிருந்ே உேர் மேிபமெ உணர்த்து்கிறது…”ஆ ்கடந்ே்ககால சமூ்கம் குறித்ே சமூ்க விஞ்கான ஆய்வகானது – அேகாவது உற்ெத்ேி முமறேின் அடிபெமடேிலகான சமூ்க ஆய்வகானது – சந்மேகப்கன உற்ெத்ேி நமடபெறவில்மல என்ெமேயும், அபதெகாது ‘சரககு’, ‘ெணம்’ குறிபெகா்க கூலி உமழபபு
இருக்கவில்மல என்ெமேயும் உணர்த்து்கிறது. அேனகால் அபதெகாது சுரணடதலகா தமலகாேிக்கதமகா நிலவவில்மல. “சமூ்கத்ேின் ஆரம்ெ ்ககால உற்ெத்ேி்கள் அமனத்தும் கூட்டு உற்ெத்ேி முமறேிலகானமவதே, அதேதெகால் பெகாிே அல்லது சிறிே அளவிலகான ்கம்யூனிச சமுேகாேங்களுககுள்ளகா்க தநரடி விநிதேகா்கம் மூலமகா்கதவ நு்கர்வும் நி்கழ்ந்ேது.” இ _____________________________________ அ. சிதமகான் தே பெகாவவகா, பசக்கணட் பசகஸ, விணதடஜ், 1997, ெக. 39
மனிேர்்கள் வகாழ்வேற்கு ‘பெகாருள்’ உற்ெத்ேி என்ெது ஒரு அத்ேிேகாவசிேத் தேமவேகாகும். ்க்சசகாப பெகாருட்்கள், ்கருவி்கள் மற்றும் துமணக ்கருவி்களின் ெேன்ெகாடு அேற்கு முன்நிெந்ேமனேகா்கிறது. இமவபேல்லகாம் ்கிமடத்துவிட்ட தெகாேிலும், ஒன்றுகப்ககான்று அரு்கரு்கில் மவத்துவிட்டகால் உற்ெத்ேிேகானது ேகானகா்க நி்கழ்ந்துவிடகாது. அேன் மீது ேகாதரனும் உமழபமெ பசலுத்ே தவணடும் – ஆ்க, இஙகு நமககு உமழபபு என்ெது தேமவபெடு்கிறது. இவவகாறகா்க, ஒரு பெகாருமள உற்ெத்ேி பசய்ே நமககு உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்களும், உமழபபும் தேமவ. உற்ெத்ேி முமறேின் வளர்்சசிேில் ஏற்ெடும் மகாற்றமகானது உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமனககும், வர்க்க உருவகாக்கத்ேிற்கும் வழித்ககாலிேது. அபதெகாமேே பெகாருளகாேகார அமமபெின் வளர்்சசிககுப ெங்களித்ே சூழ்நிமல்களகானது அபதெகாமேே சமூ்க ஒழுங்ககா்கிப தெகானது. சமூ்க விஞ்கானி்கள் அவவமமபபு்கமள முமறதே புரகாேன (ஏறககுமறே ்கம்யூனிச) அமமபபு, அடிமமயுமடமம சமூ்கம், நிலபெிரபுத்துவ சமூ்கம் மற்றும் முேலகாளித்துவ சமூ்கம் என்று விளக்கியுள்ளனர். இன்மறே உல்கப பெகாருளகாேகாரத்ேில் ஆேிக்கம் பசலுத்தும் ஒரு உற்ெத்ேி முமறேகான முேலகாளித்துவம் குறித்தும், அேனகால் தெகாேிக்கபெடும் பெணணிே சித்ேகாந்ேம் குறித்தும் நகாம் விகாிவகா்கக ்ககாணதெகாம். அடிபெமட வகாழ்வகாேகாரத்ேிற்்ககான உற்ெத்ேி என்ெது முேலகாளித்துவத்ேின் ்கீழ் பசல்வக குவிபெிற்்ககான உற்ெத்ேிேகா்க மகாறிபதெகானது. இலகாெம் என்ெது இேற்ம்கேகான ஒரு விேிேல்ல. பசல்வக குவிபெிற்்ககா்க முேலகாளித்துவத்ேகால் ்கணடுெிடிக்கபெட்ட ஒன்றகாகும். அேற்்ககா்க பேகாழிலகாளர்்கள் மி்கவும் ப்ககாடூரமகான ெணி்ச சூழல்்களில், இரக்கமற்ற ெணி தநரங்களுககுககு ஆட்ெட்டு ்கடுமமேகா்க உமழக்க ்கட்டகாேபெடுத்ேபெடு்கின்றனர். அந்ே உமழபபு்ச சகேி்களின் அேி்க உமழபபு தநரத்ேினகால் ஈட்டபெடும் மேிபமெத்ேகான் ‘உெகாி மேிபபு’ என்று ்ககாரல் மகார்கஸ விளககு்கிறகார். அவவகாறு அெ்ககாிககும் அந்ே உெகாி மேிபமெத்ேகான் முேலகாளித்துவமகானது இலகாெம் என்று பசகால்்கிறது. இந்ே உெகாி மேிபபு அேி்ககாிபதெ தமலகாேிக்க சமூ்க உறவு்களுககும், அேன் ெடிநிமல பவளிபெகாடு்களுககும் ்ககாரணமகா்க அமம்கிறது என்ெதே அவரது விளக்கம். முந்மேே உற்ெத்ேி முமறேிலும், முேலகாளித்துவத்ேிலும் ்ககாணபெடும் இந்ே உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமனமே மகார்கஸ பேளிவகா்க விளக்கியுள்ளகார். அேன் சகாரகாம்சம் ெின்வருமகாறு:
முேலகாளித்துவத்ேின் ்கீழ், ேனியுமடமமேின் அடிபெமடேிலகான உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமனேின் விமளவகா்க உருவகாகும் உறவுமுமற்கள் தமல் ்கீழ் அடுககுமுமற அமமபெிலகானமவ. எஜமகானர் – பேகாழிலகாளி என்று அது வமரேறுக்கபெடு்கிறது. முந்மேே அமமபெிற்கும், முேலகாளித்துவ அமமபெிற்குமகான முக்கிே தவறுெகாடு என்னபவனில் உமழபபுககு ஈடகா்க கூலி (ெணம்) எனும் புேிே முமறேிலகான ஒரு இழபபீடு வழங்கபெடு்கிறது; பெகாருட்்கள் ‘சரககு’்களகா்கின்றன; உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கள்2 ‘மூலேனம்’* ஆ்கின்றன, சுரணடல்வகாே சூத்ேிரம் இலகாெம் என்று அமழக்கபெடு்கிறது. உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்களின் ‘எஜமகானர்’ உமழபபு்ச சகேிமே வகாங்கி, உெகாி மேிபமெ இலகாெம் என்று அெ்ககாிககும் இந்ே முமறதே உமழபபு்ச சுரணடல் எனபெடு்கிறது. ேனியுமடமமேின் அடிபெமடேிலகான உற்ெத்ேி முமறயும், அேன் ்கீழகான பெகாருளகாேகார அமமபபும் முேலகாளித்துவம் எனபெடு்கிறது. இேன் மூலம், முேலகாளித்துவ பெகாருளகாேகாரமகானது சுரணடலின் அடிபெமடேிலகானது, ஏற்றத்ேகாழ்வு மிக்கது என்ெமே பசகால்லவும் தேமவேில்மல. முேலில், நகாம் சமூ்க உறவு்கள் குறித்து ஆய்வு பசய்துவிட்டு ெின்னர் ேனிபெட்ட உறவு்கமள, அேகாவது குடும்ெ அளவிலகான
ேனி நெர் உறவு்கமள ஆய்வு பசய்தவகாம், ஏபனன்றகால் இரணடு உறவு்களிலும் ்ககாணபெடும் ெிரேகான முரணெகாடு: உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமன. ____________ ஆ, இ. எங்கல்ஸ, குடும்ெம், அரசு, ேனி்சபசகாத்து ஆ்கிேவற்றின் தேகாற்றம், ெக. 49 2. ்கட்டுமரக்ககா்க சுருக்கபெட்டுள்ளது, இேற்ம்கேில் ்கிமடககும் ்க்சசகாப பெகாருள்்களும், உமழபபும் அேில் அடக்கம், ஆனகால் உமழபபு என்ெது சுேந்ேிரமகானது. வகாழ்வேற்்ககா்க மனிேர்்கள் பெகாருமள உற்ெத்ேி பசய்ேவும், நு்கரவும் தவணடும். உற்ெத்ேியும் அேதனகாடு பேகாடர்புமடே நமடமுமற்களும் பெகாருளகாேகார நடவடிகம்க்களகாகும். அேனகால், மனிே வகாழ்வின் நிர்ணே சகேிேகா்க அதுதவ விளஙகு்கிறது. இவவகாறகா்க, மனிேர்்கள் ேனிநெர் அளவிலும், சமூ்க அளவிலும், உற்ெத்ேி உறவு்களுககு உள்ளகா்கிறகார்்கள், அேன் மறுபெேர் உமழபபு உறவு்கள். உமழபபு உறவு்கள் சுரணடல்ேன்மம ப்ககாணடமவேகா்க, நிேகாேமற்றமவேகா்க இருக்கின்ற தெகாது, அேன் விமளவகா்க ஏற்ெடும் சமூ்க உறவு்களும் சுரணடல்ேன்மம ப்ககாணடமவேகா்க, நிேகாேமற்றேகா்கதவ இருககும். ஓர் உற்ெத்ேி முமறயும், அேன் விமளவகான சமூ்க ஒழுஙகும் தமலகாேிக்கமும் பெகாருளகாேே அடிபெடிேிலகானேகா்கவும் இருககும்பெகாழுது, பெணணிே தெகாரகாட்டத்மே பவறும் ஆணகாேிக்க எேிர்பபு என்தறகா அல்லது அத்ேம்கே ்கருத்ேிேல் வடிவங்களுககு எேிரகான தெகாரகாட்டமகா்கதவகா மட்டும் பேகாடுபெபேன்ெது தெகாேகாமம நிமறந்ேேகாகும். விவகாேத்ேிற்்ககா்க, ஆணகாேிக்கத்மே ஒழிபெேன் மூலம், நகாம் ெகாலின சமத்துவத்மே அமடந்துவிட்தடகாம் என்தற மவத்துகப்ககாள்தவகாம், ➢ ➢ ➢
தெகாமரயும், ெஞசத்மேயும் நகாம் எபெடி தெகாககுதவகாம்? ஏழ்மமமே எபெடி ஒழிபதெகாம்? பெண உடல் ெணடமமேமகாக்கபெடுவமே எபெடி ஒழிபதெகாம்?
பசல்வக குவிபபென்னும் தவட்ம்கேினகால் ்கடிவகாளமிடபெட்டுள்ள மனிேர்்கள் உருவகாக்கிே சமூ்க ஒழுங்ககானது முரணெகாடு்களகால் நிமறந்ேிருபெேகால் அது நிேகாேமகான விநிதேகா்கத்மே (உற்ெத்ேிமேயும்) அனுமேிபெேில்மல. ்ககார்ல் மகார்கஸ இேமன பசகாத்துமடமமதேகாடு பேகாடர்புமடே வர்க்க முரணெகாடு என்்கிறகார். அத்ேம்கே முரணெட்ட குழுக்கமள அவர்: 1) பூர்ஷஷுவகாக்கள் (உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கமள உமடதேகார், இலகாெம் எனும் வருவகாய் ஈட்டி வகாழ்ெவர்்கள்) 2) நிலப ெிரபுக்கள் (வகாடம்க அல்லது குத்ேம்க எனும் வருவகாய் ஈட்டி வகாழ்ெவர்்கள்) 3) ெகாட்டகாளி வர்க்கம் (கூலிக்ககா்க உமழபபு்ச சகேிமே விற்ெவர்)3 என்று வம்கபெடுத்து்கிறகார். முரணெகாடு்கள் மற்றும் அரசுருவகாக்கம் ெற்றிே ேனித்ேனிேகான அணுகுமுமற்களகால், அரசு என்ெது தநரடிேகா்கவும், மமறமு்கமகா்கவும் உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்களின் உமடமமேகாளர்்களகால்ேகான் ஆளபெடு்கிறது எனும் புகாிேல் இன்றி நகாம் அரசிடதம அரசிேல் சீர்த்ேிருத்ேம் தவணடி நிற்்கிதறகாம். அரசு இேந்ேிரங்களகானமவ நிலவும் அேி்ககார அமமபபு்களுககு ஆேரவகா்க இேஙகுெமவ: “… வர்க்கப ெம்கமம்கமளக ்கட்டுபெடுத்துவேன் அவசிேம் ்ககாரணமகாய் அரசு தேகான்றிேது; அதே சமேத்ேில் அந்ே வர்க்கங்களுககு இமடேில் நமடபெற்ற தமகாேல்்களின் மத்ேிேிலிருந்தே அது தேகான்றிேது. ஆ்கதவ, அது பெகாது விேிேகா்கதவ, மி்கவும் வலிமமேகான, பெகாருளகாேகார காீேிேில் ஆேிக்கம் பசலுத்து்கின்ற வர்க்கத்ேின் அரசகா்கிறது. அந்ே வர்க்கம் அரசன் மூலமகா்க அரசிேல் ஆேிக்கம் பசலுத்து்கின்ற வர்க்கத்ேின் அரசகா்கிறது. இவவழிேிதல ஒடுக்கபெட்ட வர்க்கத்மே நசுக்கி்ச சுரணடுவேற்கு அது புேிே சகாேனங்கமளப பெறு்கிறது.”4 அரசும் அேன் நிர்வகா்கக குழுவகான நீேித்துமற மற்றும் இரகாணுவம் ஆ்கிே அமனத்து அரசு இேந்ேிரங்களும் ஆளும் வர்க்க
நலனுக்ககா்கதவ ெணி புகாியும் என்ெமே எங்கல்ஸ இஙகு பேளிவகா்க விளககு்கிறகார். பேகாடர் தெகாரகாட்டங்கள் துணடு துணடகான சில சீர்ேிருத்ேங்கமளப பெற்று ேரலகாம். ஆனகால், முேலகாளித்துவ பெகாருளகாேகார அமமபபு நிலவும் வமர நகாம் சமத்துவத்மே அமடே முடிேகாது. முேலகாளித்துவத்ேின் உள்ளகார்ந்ே ேர்க்கமகானது ெிகாித்ேகாளும் ேந்ேிரத்மே உள்ளடக்கிேது, அபதெகாதுேகான் அடிமட்ட கூலி பெறும் ்கீழ் வர்க்கம் எனும் ஒரு நிரந்ேர ெின்ேங்கிே வர்க்கத்மே அபெடிதே மவத்ேிருக்க முடியும். ______________________ 3. மூலேனம் நூலில் ்ககார்ல் மகார்கஸ இமே விகாிவகா்க விளககு்கிறகார். 4. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/ch09.htm இது பெகாருளகாேகார நிர்ணேவகாேம் என்றும் ஆணகாேிக்கம் மற்றும் ஒடுககுமுமறேின் மற்ற வடிவங்கள் அமனத்தும் வர்க்கப ெம்கமம உருவகாகும் முன்தெ உருவகானமவ என்றும் வகாேிடுதவகார் ஏற்றத்ேகாழ்வில் பேகாடர்புமடே சமூ்க மற்றும் பெகாருளகாேகார ்ககாரணி்களின் பேகாடர்மெ நிரகா்ககாிக்கின்றனர் என்தற பசகால்ல முடியும். பெண்கள், ்கறுபெினத்ேவர், மகாற்றுப ெகாலினத்ேவர், மகாற்றுத் ேிறனகாளி்கள் ஆ்கிே அமனவரும் குமறவகான (அடிமட்ட) கூலி பெறும் ெிகாிவினரகாவர். அதேதெகால் கூலி உமழபெில் ஈடுெடகாது வீட்டு உமழபெில் மட்டுதம முடக்கபெட்ட இபெிகாிவின் ஒரு ெகுேிேினர் ஏழ்மமேில் மூழ்்கி துன்புறு்கின்றனர் அல்லது தவமலேின்மம ்ககாரணமகா்க ெகாலிேல் பேகாழிலில் ேள்ளபெடு்கின்றனர். தமற்பசகான்ன வகாேங்களிலிருந்து, கூட்டு்ச சமூ்க வகாழ்விலிருந்து ெகாிணகாம வளர்்சசி அமடந்து அடிமம்ச சமூ்கம், நிலபெிரபுத்துவம், அேன் ெின் முேலகாளித்துவம் என்று உருமகாறி நிற்கும் சமூ்கத்ேின் வளர்்சசிேகானது இலகாெம், ேனி்ச பசகாத்து வடிவிலகான பசல்வக குவிபபு எனும் இலட்சிேத்மே ப்ககாணட ஒரு நவீன அமமபெின் உருவகாக்கத்ேிற்கு வழிவகுத்ேது. இந்ே அணுகுமுமறமேக ப்ககாணடு நகாம் ஆணகாேிக்கத்ேின் ஆணி தவமர தேடி்ச பசல்தவகாமகானகால், சரககு உற்ெத்ேிேின் விேி்களும், உற்ெத்ேி சகாேன உமடமமேகாளர்்களிடம் குவிந்ே பசல்வத்ேின் விமளவகான அேி்ககாரமும் ஆண பெண சமத்துவத்மேக குமலத்ேது என்ெது விளஙகும். குடும்ெம் என்ெது சமூ்கத்ேின் பெகாருளகாேகார அல்ககா்கிப தெகானது, அேில் உற்ெத்ேிக ்கருவி்கள் மற்றும் உற்ெத்ேி முமற்களுககு ஏதுவகானபேகாரு உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமன உருவகானது. பெகாருளுற்ெத்ேி மற்றும் புேிே உமழபபு்ச சகேிேின் உற்ெத்ேி இரணமடயும் ெிரேகான பசேல்ெகாடகா்கக ப்ககாணட அேில் ெகாலின தெேத்ேின் அடிபெமடேிலகான ஒரு உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமன உருவகானது. “அன்று குடும்ெத்ேில் நிலவிே உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமனேின்ெடி, உணமவயும் அேற்குத் தேமவேகான ்கருவி்கமளயும் பெறுவதும் அேன் விமளவகா்க, அவற்றின் உமடமமேகாளரகா்க இருபெதும் ஆணின் பெகாறுபெகா்க இருந்ேது…”5 உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கள் ெகாிதெகான நிமலேில், பெண ஆமண்ச சகார்ந்து வகாழும் நிமல உருவகானது.
உற்ெத்ேி முமறேின் வளர்்சசிப தெகாக்கில், உற்ெத்ேிேில் ஈடுெடகாே சிலர் உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கமள அெ்ககாிபெில் ஈடுெட்டனர், அேன் விமளவகா்க மூன்றகாவது வம்கேகான உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமன ஒன்று உருவகானது. “இஙகு, இபதெகாது உற்ெத்ேிேில் ஈடுெடகாே ஒரு வர்க்கம் முேன் முமறேகா்க உேிக்கிறது, அது உற்ெத்ேி நிர்வகா்கத்மே ஒட்டுபமகாத்ேமகா்க ம்கபெற்றுவதேகாடு, உற்ெத்ேிேகாளமரயும் அேன் விேி்களுககு ்கீழ்ெடியும் நிமலககுத் ேள்ளு்கிறது… இரு ேரபமெயும் சுரணடு்கிறது”6. இவவகாறகா்க, ஆண்கள், அல்லது உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்களின் அபதெகாமேே உமடமமேகாளர்்கள் உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கள் ெகாிக்கபெட்டவர்்களகா்க, நிலபெிரபுத்துவத்ேின் ்கீழ் அடிமம உமழபெகாளி்களகா்க மகாற்றபெட்டனர், ெின்னர் முேலகாளித்துவத்ேின் ்கீழ் அவர்்கள் கூலி உமழபெகாளி்களகாக்கபெட்டனர். “இவவகாறகா்க, முேலகாளித்துவ அமமபெிற்்ககான ெகாமேமே வழிேமமத்துக ப்ககாடுத்ே அந்ே நமடமுமறேகானது, உமழபெகாளிேிடமிருந்து அவனது உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கமள ெகாித்ே நமடமுமறேகா்க அல்லகாமல் தவறகா்க இருக்க முடிேகாது; ஒருபுறம், வகாழ்வகாேகாரத்ேிற்்ககான சமூ்க வழிமுமற்களும், உற்ெத்ேி வழிமுமற்களும் மூலேனமகா்க மகாற்றபெட்டன, மறுபுறம், அபதெகாமேே உற்ெத்ேிேகாளர்்கள் கூலி உமழபெகாளி்களகா்க மகாற்றபெட்டனர்”8 உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்களின் உமடமமேகாளர்்களின் இலகாெ பவறிேகானது அெ்ககாிபபு, அடிமமெடுத்துேல் மற்றும் நிறுவனமேமகாககுேல் மூலம் வீட்டில் முடக்கபெட்டவர்்களகான பெண்கள் ஆண்கமள்ச சகார்ந்து வகாழ்வமேயும், ஆண்கள்
உற்ெத்ேி சகாேன உமடமமேகாளர்்கமள்ச சகார்ந்து வகாழும் நிமலமமமேயும் உருவகாக்கிேது, இந்ே உறவுமுமறேகானது தமலகாேிக்கம் நிமறந்ேேகா்க நிமலபெற்றது. உற்ெத்ேி உறவு்களிலிருந்து தவறூன்றிே இந்ே தமலகாேிக்கமகானது அமனத்து மனிே உறவு்களிலும் ெிரேிெலிக்கின்றது. இேன் அடிபெமடேில் நகாம் பெண அடிமமத்ேனத்மேயும், அேமனப ெிமணககும் சமூ்க ்கருத்ேிேல் வம்கபெடுத்துேமலயும் ஆய்வு பசய்தவகாபமனில் பெகாருளகாேகார சூழ்நிமலமம்களும், அேன் பேகாடர்்சசிேகான சமூ்க ஒழுஙகுதம அடிமமெடுத்துேலுக்ககான மூல்ககாரணமகா்க இருக்கின்றது என்ெது மீணடும் பேளிவகா்கிறது. இந்ே வம்கபெடுத்ேலகானது – உமழபபு்ச சகேி்கமள ெல்தவறு வம்க்களில் மேிபபீடு மற்றும் மேிபெிறக்கம் பசய்வேகானது – உமழபபு்ச ச்கேிமே மலிவகா்கக ம்கபெற்றவும், அேன் மூலம் பசல்வக குவிபமெ தமற்ப்ககாள்ளவும் வம்க பசய்்கிறது. தமலும், ஆணகாேிக்கம் மற்றும் முேலகாளித்துவம் என்று பவளிபெடும் அேி்ககார உறவு்களின் ்கீழ் – பெணணகானவள், அவளது உற்ெத்ேி சகேிதேகாடு உமழபபுக்ககான ஒரு ெணடமகா்க மேிபெிறக்கம் பசய்ேபெடு்கிறகாள்; அவள் ஒரு உற்ெத்ேி அல்ககா்க – உமழபெகாளமர ெரகாமகாிபெேன் மூலம் உமழபபு்ச சகேிமே புனரமமககும் பெகாறுபபுமடே, குமழந்மேப தெறு மூலம் புேிே உமழபபு சகேிமே மறு உற்ெத்ேி பசய்யும் பெகாறுபபுமடே – உறெத்ேி அல்ககா்க மகாற்றபெடு்கிறகாள். __________________ 5, 6, எங்கல்ஸ, குடும்ெம், அரசு, ேனி்சபசகாத்து ஆ்கிேவற்றின் தேகாற்றம், முன்தனற்றப ெேிபெ்கம் (ெக. 55, 162) 8. ்ககார்ல் மகார்கஸ, மூலேனம், பேகாகுேி 1, ெக. 668 இவவகாறகா்க, மூல ்ககாரணத்மே, குமறந்ேது ஆணகாேிக்கத்ேின் விமனயூக்கிமே நகாம் இபதெகாது ஆய்வு பசய்துவிட்டெடிேகால், “மலிவகான கூலிக்ககா்கவும், அவளது மறு உற்ெத்ேி சகேிக்ககா்கவும் ெகாலினப ெகாகுெகாட்மட நிமலநிறுத்தும் அத்ேம்கேபேகாரு தமலகாேிக்கத்மே ஒழித்துக்கட்ட நகாம் என்ன பசய்ே தவணடும்?” ெேில்: முேலகாளித்தும் – உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கமள அெ்ககாித்ே, பசல்வப ெசிதேகாடு நம்மமபேல்லகாம் அடிமமபெடுத்ேிே, உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்களற்று சகார்ந்து வகாழும் நிமலமே உருவகாக்கிே, உமழபமெ அந்நிேபெடுத்ேிே, ெகாலினம், இனம், தேசம், ெகாலினத் தேர்வு, மேம் என்று எவவிே விலககுமின்றி நம்மமபேல்லகாம் சுரணடு்கின்ற அந்ே பெகாருளகாேகார அமமபபு – தூக்கிபேறிேபெட தவணடும். உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கள் பெகாதுவுமடமமேகாக்கபெட்ட ஒரு புேிே உற்ெத்ேி முமற உருவகாக்கபெட தவணடும். பெணணிேத்ேிற்கு மகாற்றகா்க மகார்கசிேத்மே முன்மவபெேல்ல எமது தநகாக்கம், இருபெினும், ஆணகாேிக்கத்மே மட்டுதம ஒழித்துக்கட்ட விரும்பும் பூர்ஷஷுவகா பெணணிேத்மேக ்ககாட்டிலும், மகார்கசிே அணுகுமுமறேகானது பெற்றுத்ேரக கூடிே விடுேமலேகானது அமனத்து வர்க்கப பெண்கமளயும் உள்ளடக்கிேேகாகும். பூர்ஷஷுவகா பெணணிேமகானது ஆணகாேிக்கத்மே ஒழித்துக்கட்டி, பெண்களின் ேமலமமேில் ேனியுடமம பசல்வக குவிபமெ நிறுவ முமன்கிறது. அேனகால் அேில் சமத்துவம் ்கிமடேகாது. நகாம் இஙகு நிமனவில் ப்ககாள்ள தவணடிேது என்னபவனில், “பெண்களுககு அரசிேல் சமத்துவம் வழஙகுவேகால் மட்டும் அேி்ககார சமன்ெகாடு ஏற்ெட்டுவிடகாது. ெகாட்டகாளி வர்க்கப பெண ெகாட்டகாளி மு்ககாமிலும், பூர்ஷஷுவகா பெண பூர்ஷஷுவகா மு்ககாமிலும் நிமலப்ககாள்்கிறகாள். பூர்ஷஷுவகா பெண்கள் இேக்கங்களின் இந்ே தசகாஷலிசப தெகாக்கினகால் நகாம் ஏமகாற்றபெடுவமே அனுமேிக்கககூடகாது, பூர்ஷஷுவகா பெண்கள் விடுேமல பெறும் வமரதே அவவிேக்கம் நிமலத்ேிருககும்”9 இருபெினும், பூர்ஷஷுவகா என்றகாம் முேலகாளித்துவ வர்க்கம்10 என்றகாலும், பூர்ஷஷுவகா பெணணிே ்கருத்ேிேலகானது, அேகாவது ஆளும் வர்க்கக ்கருத்ேிேலகானது பெரும்ெகாலும் அமனத்து வர்க்கப பெண்கமளயும் அரவமணக்கின்றது. அேனுமடே சுேநல அரசிேமல அறிேகாே பேகாழிலகாளர் வர்க்கப பெண்கள் அேன் ்கருத்ேிேல்்களில் மேங்கி ேகாரகாளவகாே சிந்ேமன்களுககு
இமரேகா்கின்றனர். ________________ 9. ்கிளகாரகா பஜட்்கின், https://www.marxists.org/archive/zetkin/1896/10/women.htm 10. எங்கல்ஸின் விளக்கபெடி: பூர்ஷஷுவகாக்கள் என்தெகார் முேலகாளித்துவ வர்க்கத்ேினர் ஆவர். அமனத்து வளர்ந்ே நகாடு்களிலும், ேங்கள் உற்ெத்ேிககுத் தேமவேகான அமனத்து உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்கள், ்க்சசகாப பெகாருள்்கள் மற்றும் அமனத்து ்கருவி்கமளயும் (இேந்ேிரங்கள், ஆமல்கள்) ேங்களின் ேனியுடமமேகா்கக ப்ககாணடிருபெவர்்கள்; ‘நவீன வர்க்க முேலகாளி்களகா்க, சமூ்க உற்ெத்ேி சகாேனங்களின் உமடமமேகாளர்்கள் மற்றும் கூலி உமழபெகாளி்கமள அமர்த்ேி உமழபமெ விமலககு வகாஙகுெவர்்கள்…. இந்ேப பெகாருளில், பூர்ஷஷுவகாக்கள் என்தெகார் பெகாருளகாேகார காீேிேகா்க ஆேிக்க வர்க்கத்மே்ச சகார்ந்ேவர்்கள், அவர்்கதள அரசு இேந்ேிரத்மேயும், ெணெகாட்டு உற்ெத்ேிமேயும் ்கட்டுபெடுத்துெவர்்கள், பேகாழிலகாளர் வர்க்கத்ேிற்கு எேிரகானவர்்களகா்கவும், முரணெட்டவர்்களகா்கவும் இருபெவர்்கள்…”, டகாம் ெகாட்டம்தமகார், மகார்கசிே்ச சிந்ேமன அ்கரகாேி, மகாேகா ெிளகாகபவல் ெேிபபு, ெக. 36
இந்ேப புகாிேலிலிருந்தும், மனிேகாெிமகான அடிபெமடேிலகான ஒற்றுமம எனும் நிமலபெகாட்டிலிருந்துதம, மகார்கசிேர்்கள் அமனத்து பெணணிே இேக்கங்களுககும் ஆேரவு பேகாிவிக்கின்றனர். “இந்ே இேக்கத்ேிலும் ஆழமகான ஆன்மீ்க மற்றும் ேகார்மீ்க அம்சங்கள் நிமறந்ேிருக்கின்றன. ேனது பசகாந்ே பெகாருளகாேே தேமவக த்ககாருவதேகாடு மட்டுமன்றி, பூர்ஷஷுவகாப பெண்கள் ஆன்மீ்க ஊட்டமளிபமெயும் த்ககாரு்கின்றனர். ேமது ேனித்ேன்மமமே வளர்த்துகப்ககாள்ள விரும்பு்கின்றனர்…. பூர்ஷஷுவகாப பெண்கள் தமற்ப்ககாள்ளும் பெகாருளகாேகார, அறிவகார்ந்ே மற்றும் ேகார்மீ்க முேற்சி்கள் முற்றிலும் நிேகாேமகானதே”11 தமலும், ்ககார்ல் மகார்கஸ பசகால்்கிறகார், “சுருங்கக கூறின், ்கம்யூனிஸடு்கள் எஙகும் ேற்தெகாதுள்ள சமூ்க, அரசிேல் நிலவரங்களது அமமபபு முமறமே எேிர்த்து நமடபெறும் புரட்சி்கர இேக்கம் ஒவபவகான்மறயும் ஆேிகாிபெவர்்கள் ஆவர். இந்ே இேக்கங்கள் ேகாவற்றிலும் அவர்்கள் பசகாத்துமடமமப ெிர்சசிமனமே, இதுவமர அது எந்ே அளவுககு வளர்்சசி பெற்றிருக்கிறது என்ெமேப பெகாருட்ெடுத்ேகாமல், ேமலமமேகான ெிர்சசிமனேகாய் முன்னிமலககுக ப்ககாணடுவரு்கிறகார்்கள்.” 12 முடிவகா்க, ஆணகாேிக்கமகானது, பூர்ஷஷுவகாக்கள் வகாேம் பசய்வதுதெகால் ெகுேிேளவில் சுேகாேீனமகானது எனினும், இன்மறே வரலகாற்று சூழலில், அது முேலகாளித்துவத்ேகால் உட்பசறிக்கபெட்டுவிட்டது. ஒடுககுமுமற என்ெது ஒரு சுரணடல்வகாே இேஙகுமுமறேகாகும், அேனடிபெமடேில், ெகாலினகாீேிேகான ஒடுககுமுமற முேலகாளித்துவத்ேிலும் ்ககாணபெடு்கிறது. மலிவகான உமழபபு்ச சகேிமே விமலககு வகாஙகுவதும் மற்றும் அேி்க லகாெம் ஈட்டுவதுதம அேன் குறிகத்ககாள். இந்ேிே்ச சூழலில் அது சகாேிேத்ேகால் – உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமனேின் மற்றுபமகாரு வடிவம் - தமலும் ேீவிரமமடந்துள்ளது. இவவகாறகா்க ஆணகாேிக்கமகானது முேலகாளித்துவேின் முக்கிே அங்கமகா்கிவிட்டது. எனதவ, ேனியுடமமேின் அடிபெமடேிலகான உமழபபு்ச சுரணடல் ஒழிக்கபெட்டு, தசகாஷலிச முமறேிலகான உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமன நிறுவபெட்டுவிட்டகால் அரசு உேிர்வது தெகாலதவ ஆணகாேிக்கமும் உலர்ந்து உேிர்ந்து தெகாகும்13. ஏபனன்றகால், அத்ேம்கேபேகாரு சமத்துவ நிமலமமேில், ஆண பெண உறவகானது இேல்ெகானேகா்க அமமயும், இலகாெத்மே அடிபெமடேகா்கக ப்ககாணட உற்ெத்ேிமுமறக்ககா்க குடும்ெமகானது ஓர் பெகாருளகாேகார அல்ககா்க இருககும் நிமல அபதெகாது இருக்ககாது.
“முன்னதர ேீர்மகானிக்கபெட்ட ெகாத்ேிரங்களகாலும், ‘இேல்ெகானது’ அல்லது ‘இேல்ெல்லகாேது’ எனும் ்கருத்ேகாக்கங்களகால் ஆணும் பெணணும் இனியும் ெிமணக்கபெட மகாட்டகார்்கள். மகாறகா்க, அவரவகாின் ேனிபெட்ட உணர்வுத் தேமவ்களுககு ஏற்ெ ஒரு உறவுமுமறமே அமமத்துகப்ககாள்ள அவர்்கள் சுேந்ேிரம் பெற்றவரகா்கத் ேி்கழ்வர்”14 ________________ 11. ்கிளகாரகா பஜட்்கின் https://www.marxists.org/archive/zetkin/1896/10/women.htm 12. ்ககார்ல்ஸ மகார்கஸ, எங்கல்ஸ, ்கம்யூனிஸட் ்கட்சி அறிகம்க மற்றும் பெகாருளகாேகார, ேத்துவ குறிபபுக்களின் ம்கபேழுத்துபெடி்கள், ெிரதமகாத்ேிேஸ பவளியீடு, ெக. 243 13. http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/pamphlets/women-and-socialism 14. எங்கல்ஸ, குடும்ெம், அரசு, ேனி்சபசகாத்து ஆ்கிேவற்றின் தேகாற்றம், முன்தனற்றப ெேிபெ்கம், ெக. 162
இந்ேப ெின்னணிேில்ேகான் மகார்கசிேப பெணணிேவகாேி்கள் பெணணிேப தெகாரகாட்டமகானது ஆணகாேிக்க எேிர்பபு என்ெது வர்க்கப தெகாரகாட்டப ெகாமேேில் இருக்க தவணடும் என்று வலியுறுத்து்கின்றது. அத்ேம்கே புரட்சி்கர தெகாரகாட்டங்கள் ெின் வரும் தெகாரகாட்டங்கமள உள்ளடக்கிேேகா்க இருககும்: 1) குடும்ெத்ேிற்குள் சமமகான உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமன 2) பசகாத்துகாிமம 3) முடிபவடுககும் உகாிமம 4) உடல், ெணெகாடு மற்றும் பெகாருளகாேகார உகாிமம்கள் மற்றும் 5) அமனவருககுமகான, சமத்துவ முமறேிலகான சமூ்க உமழபபுப ெிகாிவிமன மற்றும் ேனியுமடமம ஒழிபபு. பெணணின் சுேமும், பெணணிே அரசிேலும் பவடித்துக ்கிளம்பும்தெகாது அது வர்க்க அரசிேலகால் நஙகூரமிடபெடகாமல் தெகானகால், தசகாஷலிச வர்க்கப தெகாரகாட்டத்தேகாடு உமரேகாடல் நி்கழ்த்ேகாமல் தெகானகால், ெகாட்டகாளி வர்க்கப பெண்களின் விடுேமல த்கள்விககுறிேகா்கிப தெகாகும். அேனகால், அமனவமரயும் உள்ளடக்கிேேகா்க பெணணிேம் இருக்க தவணடுமகானகால், தசகாஷலிசதம15 அேன் ்கலங்கமர விளக்கமகாகும். ெகாட்டகாளி வர்க்க சர்வகாேி்ககாரத்மேத் பேகாடர்ந்து உருவகாகும் புேிேபேகாரு தசகாஷலிச சமூ்கமகானது ெகாலின சமத்துவம் ப்ககாணடேகா்க மட்டுமின்றி, உமழபபு சுரணடலற்ற சமூ்கமகா்கவும் இருககும். இவவகாறகா்க இரட்மட உமழபெினகால் ஏற்ெடும் முரணெகாடு்கமளயும் சுமமமேயும் அது ஒழித்ேிடும். அத்ேம்கேபேகாரு வகாழ்வகானது நி்சசேமகா்க தமலகானபேகாரு16 வகாழ்வகா்க அமமயும்.
____________________ 15. ்ககார்ல்ஸ மகார்கஸின் விளக்கத்ேின்ெடி, தசகாஷலிசம் என்ெது ்கம்யூனிசத்ேிற்்ககான ெகாமேேில் ஓர் இமடக்ககாலக ்கட்டம் 16. இமடக்ககாலக ்கட்டமகா்க இருபெேகால், மகார்கஸின் விளக்கபெடி அது, ‘்கம்யூனிச சமூ்கத்ேின் ஒரு தமலகானபேகாரு ்கட்டமகா்க’, அரசு உேிர்ந்து, உமழபபு ெற்றிே ஒரு முற்றிலும் புேிே அனுகுமுமற நிலவும் ஒரு சமூ்கமகா்க, ‘உமழபபுகத்கற்ற கூலி என்ெேிலிருந்து தேமவகத்கற்ற கூலி’ எனும் பெகான்பமகாழிமே பெகான்தனட்டில் பெகாறித்துகப்ககாள்ள ஏதுவகானபேகாரு சமூ்கம். டகாம் ெகாட்டம்தமகார், மகார்கசிே சிந்ேமன அ்கரகாேி, மகாேகா ெிளகாகபவல் ெேிபெ்கம், ெக. 500,501.
LOVING A WOMAN a poem by K. SATCHIDANANDAN To love a woman is to resurrect her from stone, to fondle her from tip to toe until her blood frozen by curse is warmed by a dream.(1) To love a woman is to turn her soot-laden day into a skylark that breathes the flower-dust of paradise; to turn oneself into a tree in bloom for her tired wings to rest at night. To love a woman is to set sail on a storm-swept sea under an overcast sky in search of a new continent; to carry a red balsam from your frontyard to an unseen shore and plant it there. To love a woman is to exchange the harshness of your muscles for the tenderness of a flower,(2) to free yourself of the armour and the crown, bare, cross another sky and leave your flesh to the winds of another planet, to another water. To love a woman is to help her unearth a ray-sharp sword from her ancient scars and lie pressing your heart on its blade until you are drained of all your blood. I have never loved a woman. 1992 Translated from the Malayalam by the poet Notes: 1. Remember the tale of Ahalya turned into a stone by the curse of her husband the Rishi Viswamitra and restored by Rama. 2. Bhima, the strongest of the Pandavas was sent to the forest by Draupadi, the wife of the five brothers, to fetch the Saugandhika flower that he did, overcoming many obstacles.
Nur Koçak Nur Koçak, Denizli Cock, 2012 acrylic on polyester, 100 x 100 x 75 cm © Nur Koçak.
“THEIR PATH TO TERRORISM”: THE ERROR OF OMISSION a comment by anna zobnina l Alongside the mighty free-speech conundrum, which emerged in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings, there reside issues much less considered in media debates. Compared with the fatal shootings, the plight of a single mother, a migrant and a prostitute, as well as the culture of violence that has marked her entire life, are much less newsworthy subjects. The brothers, Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, were two of five children raised in extreme conditions of poverty and social exclusion by a woman of Algerian origin, who was also a prostitute. When the boys were 10 and 12, she ended her life, either deliberately or accidentally, overdosing on some kind of medicine. This is how the media accounts for “their path to terrorism”. They said almost nothing of their dad. According to Evelyn, the social worker who oversaw the two boys in the troubled neighbourhood, nothing at all was known of him. She also said it could be the case that the boys had different fathers . They could have been, for example, the sons of an Algerian dad, who had died when they were young children, as some pieces have reported. Their dad could have been a hard-working man whose heart failed as he was hurrying home to his kids and wife. Or he could have been a manipulative drug dealer who coerced his girlfriend into selling sex, as manipulative drug dealers often do. We can also speculate that their father(s) may have been two French gentlemen. Potentially, they were good French citizens and good fathers of good French kids, as are many men who visit prostitutes and demand unprotected sex. And if you wanted to probe the mystery behind the Kouachis’ background and ponder their villainy further, the brothers may have been the products of rape, to which women in prostitution are routinely subjected. Naturally, any hypotheses about the paternal background of Chérif and Saïd cannot make any difference for the dead cartoonists, the police officers, or the Kouachi brothers themselves. They will offer little insight to the decided ‘Je suis Charlie’ multitudes, for whom the family history of the two siblings is no more relevant to the Paris shootings than the history of Elliot Rodger’s pathological hatred of women was to the Isla Vista killings. Whichever the actual story of Kouachi’s dad, he will not be the one to provide answers. He was not there anyway. Yet the trope of a missing man is an important entry point to revisit the story.
II The absent father is a universal trope, one that delegates the duties of child-rearing to women. All around the globe the burden of care is still considered unequivocally ‘women’s business’ and even when women do ‘men’s business’, they still find a second shift waiting for them at home. The absent father is handy for patriarchy. It is used to protect male rights—the rights of not doing something and the entitlement of being parenting. It is also used to remove the burden of responsibility, in does not turn out to be a good child, say, if he commits a crime, let strous atrocity, as the Kouachi brothers did.
negative left free—in case his child alone a mon-
Things are different with ‘absent mothers’. Even if a mother is not physically absent, as is the case in the tiny minority of lone-parent families, we are still ready to brand her absent under a variety of circumstances—if, for example, a single mother fails to perform as well as a mother with a supporting partner, or if, for example, she decides to pursue a full time career. In a situation where a single father, by virtue of doing a job ‘unnatural’ for a man, is already a good father, a single mother, performing the same parenting job, is only half as good. And if something goes wrong with her child, she will be judged twice as harshly as a single dad. Coming back to the case of the Kouachi brothers, with such discrepancies in parental responsibilities between the sexes, it would be hardly surprising to chance across a morally argued analysis of ‘their path to terrorism’ that would trace the moral corruption of the two brothers all the way to their mother. Offered as evidence for their crimes would be her lapses as a parent, her failure, in Robert Frost’s words, to “make men out of her boys”, her unwomanly indecency as a prostitute, and her decision, one ordinary afternoon, to end her life. III Obviously, we will never know exactly what the two boys had been exposed to before they were transferred to the orphanage following their mother’s death. Even very basic psychological research points to the vital importance of the first years of a child’s life, which can have profound, lasting, and often suppressed effects upon the psyche of an adult. The need to address psychological traumas, carried over from childhood into maturity, is precisely why there is a need for psychotherapy. Much like bad migration and integration policies that only show their disastrous results decades after being implemented, the traumatic experiences of childhood and adolescence may have a devastating impact on the ways one deals with reality in adulthood. There is no rule for this. But there might be a pattern. Based on the little we know from Evelyn’s report, the mother of Chérif and Saïd was single, had to work as a prostitute to survive, and was so poor that she could not
pay for her kids’ food in the canteen. She was also, in Evelyn’s words, “not the type who would ask for help”. According to the front-line service providers, very few women in prostitution do ask for help. Street-walking, or ‘faire le trottoir’, is infamous for sex-buyers’ violence. The risk of a prostitute dying from the hands of her client is higher than that of a soldier sent to any war zone. Both in France and across Europe, street prostitution is a reservoir for migrant women, one that is rife with drug abuse, homelessness and petty crimes. For many migrant women who find themselves in the sextrade, it is a catch-22 situation that many cannot escape. If they do, their ‘prostitution experience’ rarely leaves them unscathed. The fact that most ex-prostitutes would conceal their experience in the trade, does not stand for the social stigma as much as for their first-hand understanding of what prostitution is and what it entails. For the many women who are not trafficked into prostitution, the business of selling sex to men often appears a pragmatic calculation undertaken to meet their financial needs. For those at the lowest end of social spectrum—and that’s where single migrant mothers often are—prostitution may look the best option among the worst set of choices available to them. Once you are in the game of turning tricks, asking for help—be it a monetary assistance to pay the rent, support programme to get out of addiction, or re-housing from a neighbourhood where you have been already branded as a whore—seems for most women to be a complicated, time-consuming, and unfeasible solution to their immediate problems: problems of sustainable income, (un)employment, legal status; problems involving kids, difficult partners, aging parents; problems of health, housing, transportation, justice and welfare; finally, too, the problem of remaining sane, while dealing with a sheer multitude of problems. Asking for help also has its risks: exposure to authorities, deportation, violence from former clients, or violence from those who want to control your income. But even without these risks, asking for help means announcing to the outside world that you are in need of it. In a world as judgmental as ours, asking for help signifies self-pity from the position of defeat. It is not a position any of us would want to be in, least of all an already-stigmatised, impoverished single mother of non-European origins who is convinced that the only help she can possibly count on that given night is the €30 a guy will pay her for helping him get off. Because, as he complained, his French wife with a PhD in Philosophy would not. When one’s daily task is survival in the face of gender, racial and class stigmatisation, not asking for help might well serve the purpose of re-establishing the agency denied you on all other fronts. In this context, the choice of Saïd’s and Chérif’s mother to quietly end her life instead of approaching a social worker cannot be seen as surprising.
IV The notion of personal agency is intrinsic to human rationality. As such, it has also been a plight behind many attempts to theorise prostitution through the lenses of personal choice and to disassociate it from the implied victimhood that the absence of agency signifies. However well intentioned such endeavours might be, they have no capacity to impact the praxis of prostitution; suspending one’s sexual autonomy for pay remains its intrinsic premise through which men’s sexual entitlement meets sex-sellers’ economic needs. In the context of absent fathers, the economic needs of single mothers are instrumental for the market of sex. For many women in prostitution, providing for their children is an important motivation for coping with the many dangers and disadvantages of this trade. Of course, single mothers do not need to be in prostitution to find themselves a part of a disadvantaged group living at the margins of the society, a group exposed to some of the greatest risks of unemployment, poverty and mental health problems. Across the EU, single mothers steadily make up between 85% and 95% of all lone parents. Among them, fewer than half have a full time job and one in six has no job at all. This number drops even lower in the UK, where every third single mother is unemployed. The younger a woman is when she becomes single mom, the lower her chances of entering the labour market. The longer she stays unemployed, the more difficult it becomes for her to find a job. These figures account only for documented persons: little is known of statistically invisible women living under precarious legal status. What is apparent is that for a migrant woman, the already difficult conditions of single parenting would be still further exacerbated. The economic and psychological impasse, in which many single mothers are caught is not unlike prostitution, where impoverishment, de-skilling, and stigma go hand in hand. Once a single mother enters the precarious grounds, the domino effect kicks off: she cannot find a full time job because there is no one to take care of her child; she cannot get a part-time job because she has no diversity of skills demanded in flexible work arrangement; she cannot upskill herself because she has no resources and no time for education; an employer will not invest in her training because she is viewed as an unreliable labour asset and is at any moment at risk of falling out of the job force. As a result, the poverty risk for children living with single mothers is almost twice as high as the average poverty risk for all children combined. With the exception of a minority of single mothers—those supported by their parents or those on a steady career path prior to giving birth, the pool of single mothers in Europe is a province of destitution. Without a structural change in our highly gendered labour and care systems, the social support programmes diminished under austerity measures can hardly make any difference.
For a single mother, whatever she does, however well she does it, it is almost never enough—not enough time, not enough money, not enough sleep. Where four hands could do the job, she only has two. At the end of the day, what many single mothers know is that someone will have to pay the price for the lack of resources: if not the mother herself, then possibly her child. V It is an unrewarding exercise to attempt to reconstruct the childhood of the two Charlie Hebdo assailants. But there might be a lesson to learn from this. Chérif and Saïd’s childhood involved living every day at the crux of economic–sexual–physical– psychological–racial–structural VIOLENCE. It meant accepting the fact that violence is life and life is violence. Not something to escape from, but something to live with. And if we doubt the correlation between the aggregated exposure to a composite of poverty+prostitution+racial segregation+social exclusion+struggles of single motherhood AND vulnerability to being drawn into violent radicalism, we are indeed in a serious need of reality check. As Hannah Arendt said, to understand how violence works, “we hardly need to experiment with rats. One day spent in a slum of any big city should have sufficed”. To address this violence, one hardly needs freedom of speech for cartoonists. What one needs is policy change, adequate social support system, integration measures, just distribution of resources, and a rudimentary exercise in basic empathy, an appeal that, ironically, falls more inaudible against the backdrop of impassioned cries for freedom of expression in the face of the perceived attack on the European values. VI To speculate about the Kouachi brothers’ childhood is to not presume that a kid of a prostitute in a migrant ghetto will end up being a mass killer. It is also to not assume that any violent perpetrator should have such a background. The logic of violence is not that simple. It is not limited to bad housing, poverty, or even prostitution. In the interview to the NBC News, the French Antiterrorist Judge said, “We are facing a new phenomenon” . But the phenomenon is hardly new. Out of the six items covered by the Euronews ‘in brief’ today, five were on violent clashes, persecutions, attacks and state-instigated sanctions in Syria, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Yemen, and Ukraine. Almost all of these acts of violence were perpetrated
by ‘stronger’ men against ‘weaker’ men. What followed these horrific events on Euronews was an advertisement for the new game called “Forge of Empires” where the hyper-muscular faces of hyper-masculine men postured against panoramic battlefields and fiery explosions. Killing is bad, but killing bad guys for fun is OK. It is, in fact, inevitable, if we want to prosper as a society, a society that selectively praises, selectively condemns, and selectively overlooks different types of violence. In the debates on violence, the error of omission or the selective observation commonly employed by our media and experts, appears at work once again. One in five women assaulted by their intimate male partner, prostitutes killed by their male clients, single impoverished moms committing suicides, and non-existent fathers are subjects deserving little or no coverage. Despite Beyoncé’s feminism, violence perpetrated against women has no space in the media frames. The epitome of the enactor of violence, we are told, is a (non-European) man with a ‘prophet’ acting against a (European) man with a ‘newspaper’. And this might well be the case. However, what is omitted in these interpretations of violence is that men do not need their prophets offended to resort to aggression. Elliot Rodger did not have a prophet at all. What he had was his father’s gun and his hatred of women “because girls gave affection, sex and love to other men”. It was his male entitlement that was offended when he decided to “slaughter every single spoilt stuck up blond slut” that he had wanted but didn’t get. The Kouachi brothers had a Kalashnikov and a commitment to slaughter every ‘stuck up’ cartoonist who they felt had desecrated their religion. To have a reason based on ideology for taking a Kalashnikov and shooting a dozen fellow humans, one does not need a prophet. To enable an individual to conceive of a ‘theory’ that would sufficiently justify a violent action, one needs violence as praxis. Violence against a perceived male competitor, neutralised through its glamorisation or violence against women, trivialised through its omission, are but essential lubricants that help the patriarchy machine work. As long as men are conditioned to partake in this praxis, they will always come up with a justifying theory behind it. Whether this praxis is neo-colonialism or misogyny, and whether this theory concerns ISIS or men’s sexual needs makes no difference.
REPRODUCTIVE SOVEREIGNTY OR BUST! a statement by carol downer My radical feminist group states on its website that their goal is reproductive sovereignty. We radical feminists aim to end patriarchal rule in all societies, whether capitalistic, socialistic or communistic. I totally support that goal, but how are we going to achieve it? Sovereignty means being independent or autonomous. A nation is sovereign when it can enforce laws within its boundaries without interference. An individual is sovereign when they can decide their own destiny without interference from the State. (Note: all person’s ability to celebrate their sexuality without societal interference and females’ sovereignty over their reproduction are each aspects of the larger vision of bodily autonomy, but this discussion is limited to reproductive autonomy). Males in modern society have almost complete reproductive sovereignty. If a male chooses to have sex with a female, he can prevent impregnation by using contraception under his control, such as a condom, or by having intercourse with a female using contraception. When pregnancy results, the male’s body continues unaffected. Only when he is married, do most States reliably enforce a married male’s responsibility for financially supporting his child. He has no legal responsibility for personally nurturing the child. When a female becomes pregnant, unless she or natural forces intervene, the pregnancy causes profound changes to her every cell and organ to enable her to
gestate for almost a year; when the baby is born, unless she adopts it out, most States will expect her to nurture and care of the child throughout childhood, even providing economic support, but she may lose her parental rights if the State finds her unfit. In the mid-twentieth century, contraception became legally available to married females in parts of the United States, and various states reformed their abortion laws to permit abortions under very limited circumstances. Illegal safe abortion was available to many well-to-do females and chancy or unsafe abortion was sometimes available to those who had the means to seek it out and pay for it. A female’s ability to control her reproduction depended on her relationship to the man who impregnated her, her age, her social class, her ethnicity and her geographic location. The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 did not give females in the United States sovereignty over our bodies; it gave us the right to an abortion, but the procedure is still heavily regulated by the State. In recent years, some State legislatures have passed laws that minors need parental consent, and new oppressive regulations are “in the pipeline” in many states; that is, they’re proposed; or they’re enacted but their enforcement is enjoined until a Court rules on the injunction; or they’re either partly or fully implemented. In Texas, the partly enforced regulations have resulted in the closure of most abortion clinics. Females in the U.S. do not have sovereignty over their birthing experiences
either, even though they can choose their birth setting and birth attendant/s. As with abortion, however, the States’ regulation of birth attendants limits the actual amount of choice available. States’ licensing laws determine the qualifications and sharply restrict midwives’ scope of practice. Females’ are able to choose a home birth attended by a midwife in only a handful of states, and even in those states, midwives work in a hostile environment where ordinary birth complications can result in prosecution, loss of license and legal penalties. Imprisoned pregnant females are shackled during birth. Our patriarchal society, through its laws and with the assistance of the male-dominated medical profession, controls every step of the female reproductive process. Years of political agitation have brought a few rights, but these rights have to be renegotiated with each new State and Federal legislative session. A Modest Proposal I’d like to propose that females hold meetings to do vaginal self-examination together as a giant step toward seizing the means of reproduction. All who participate in such meetings-- seeing their own cervix and the cervices of other females-- will gain immediate knowledge, and experience an immense respect for their female body. Some will go on to learn to collectively manage their own fertility and birth. As more groups are established, and work together or independently, it will build a movement that can change the power relationship between all females and the State. The alternative to a self-help movement is to demand, beg, petition, vote, and/
or, lobby, sue, or rabble-rouse for the government and the medical profession to provide us with contraception and abortion. It is feasible for a female, working and learning with other females, to become more in charge of her own health, in fact, it’s already been done. In the late l960’s and early 70’s, a female health movement arose. In Boston, college students researched existing medical literature and made the basic information available to all. “Women’s Nights” were held at the local Free Clinic. Self-funded rape crisis centers and shelters for battered women were started. Among this upsurge of collective female health projects around the country, some female health activists, using the simple technique of doing vaginal self examination, discovered in the 1970’s how to control our fertility with safe, effective contraception and how to abort early pregnancies safely. We did so with herbal abortafacients or with simple equipment that can be used by minimally-trained females. The idea spread. Some trained themselves to be midwives to assist females to have safe and natural home birth. Thousands of U.S. females participated in these efforts, holding self-help clinics, establishing female-controlled clinics and midwifery services. Grassroots females’ groups used the technique of breast self-examination done in a collective setting to gain the knowledge to assist one another with breast-feeding. Self-Helpers used simple technology to do artificial insemination with semen donated by supportive males. We shared home remedies and treated common vaginal infections. We fit each other with barrier method devic-
es, such as diaphragms and cervical caps. We used the speculum to observe the monthly changes in our cervix that enabled us to avoid exposure to sperm during the times we were likely to be fertile or conversely to be sure to have penis-vagina sex to get pregnant. Actually seeing the cervix and catching the mucus when it first comes out of the cervix greatly enhances the reliability of the fertility awareness method of contraception (the standard method involves using one’s fingers to catch a bit of the secretions containing fertile mucus from the uterus and secretions and discharges from the vagina to test whether it’s slippery). With regular self-examination, we found we could detect changes that alert us to seek diagnosis and treatment from medically trained personnel.
of tissue along with a watery fluid which flowed rapidly down the tube. Menstrual fluid was deep red and came out very slowly. How different this experience was from the medical procedures that we observed each week when we accompanied women to the hospital for a legal abortion. There was no surgery, no doctors, no forms to fill out. There was no need for anesthesia nor disrobing. There was no sadness, just relief in an atmosphere of sisterly concern and support. Follow-up consisted of keeping in touch for the next week or so to be sure there was no temperature indicating that some tissue was still in the uterus. This did happen rarely, but the problem was easily dealt with by getting back together and repeating the procedure to take out the decayed material.
The first self-help group evolved in 1971 from a small group of abortion rights activists who determined to learn to do early abortion using a hand-held device used by an illegal abortionist in our community. At our first self-help clinic meeting, we showed this device to a meeting of females. One of the group was Lorraine Rothman who came to the next week’s meeting with a prototype of a modified device that simplified the procedure so that the contents of the uterus could be suctioned out by a team of minimally-trained women. We called this procedure Menstrual Extraction, because it could be used to safely and relatively painlessly extract a menstrual period or a very early pregnancy. We could see retrospectively if we were dealing with a pregnancy, because as the uterine contents came through the clear plastic tube to be collected in a bottle, products of pregnancy looked different than the material from a menstrual period. Products of pregnancy were tan colored bits
If the experience of extracting our periods or early pregnancies seems utopian, it isn’t. Of course, gaining sovereignty would necessitate us doing more than reading books and attending sex education classes to learn about our bodies’ anatomy and physiology (as valuable as books and classes are). The knowledge from holding self-help groups would need to be shared widely with small groups of women by peer facilitators. Large numbers of women need to learn how to incorporate it into their own health and hygiene, and demand that their doctors be respectful and include them in the medical exam experience by answering their questions fully and showing them their cervixes with hand-held mirrors. Understandably, unless there are many wider and deeper changes in our society, peer female’s health education would not be the choice of the majority of females. Due to religious or other personal beliefs or convenience, they will continue
to rely on a medically certified person for health education and even their routine health care. Politically, that’s not a big problem. In order to protect females from oppressive legislation, it would not be necessary to have all, or even a majority of females, incorporate female-controlled health care into their lives. What is necessary is to have females that are better informed about their reproduction and who realize that most forms of contraception presently available are unnecessarily dangerous and no more effective than less dangerous, female-controlled methods. These females need to know that home birth in safe and most medical intervention in birth is unnecessary and inappropriate. For the reproductive sovereignty movement to make significant changes, it would not be necessary to have an army of self-helpers. A viable network of females’ health centers throughout the nation, staffed by females trained through self-help, would make it possible for any woman to use safer methods of birth control, or terminate an early pregnancy without having to go to a clinic, or have a midwife-assisted home birth. And when a significant number of women have benefitted from these experiences and had access to this body of knowledge, the State would be deterred from arbitrarily depriving women of access to health care, not only because of the general outrage it would cause among a broad swath of knowledgeable women, but because a significant number of women could defy such State action successfully. A relatively small number of women with this knowledge could change the terms of the debate. It’s a tall order to spread this knowledge. But, if we don’t take direct control of our reproduction, any alter-
native will be a pretty tall order too. We’ll have to raise millions of dollars to help sisters to travel to get abortions whose nearby clinics have been shut down. Distributing drugs by mail to cause early abortion has its legal and physical dangers also, and the State can cut off the supply at the source. Dramatic protests can draw attention to injustice, but they can at best spark wider protests, which will then require massive turnouts of people again and again. Who’s Fighting the Battle for Reproductive Rights Now? The most serious problem for feminists who work for reform is that current women’s reproductive rights reform efforts are not funded or led by feminists. The efforts to promote midwifery and home birth and breast-feeding depend on the support of anti-abortion State legislators and the Catholic Church. The efforts to protect access to contraception and abortion depend on funding by foundations and organizations that promote population control. None of these well-established organizations are controlled by feminists. The anti-choice legislators are supported by influential right-wing foundations that are pro-natalist. They want to promote women having more babies, which usually goes along with a more traditional lifestyle. The pro-choice organizations, in particular, Planned Parenthood, are concerned with reducing women’s fertility. This usually goes along with women postponing marriage and childbearing in order to have careers. The tactics of these warring factions (pro-natalists and anti-natalists) are more conservative than those of feminists, even reformist feminists. Planned Parenthood seized leadership of the battle for abortion rights in the 1980’s,
defining it a “pro-choice”. They are well established, due to their decades of work on the birth control issue, consisting largely of running birth-control clinics and public opinion campaigns. In the first part of the twentieth century, they were founded with funding from the elite population control foundations, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, before the U.S. government and the Ford Foundation provided funding for the population control programs in third-world countries. On the home front, they espouse a concern for female’s reproductive rights, but they have no interest in promoting female’s rights in childbirth or breast-feeding and have promoted the Pill and the IUD until it is now difficult to obtain a barrier method like the diaphragm. No woman will ever see her cervix at a Planned Parenthood, and she will be pressured to use contraception. The efforts of the anti-natalists to protect the attacks on Roe v. Wade have been unsuccessful due to the concern of many people that the population in the United States and Europe is declining so rapidly. They fear that not only is our economic growth being threatened, but our very “way of life” is being threatened. So, it can be inferred that the setbacks in abortion availability reflects a lessening of support for anti-natalist measures like legalized abortion at the highest levels of our society. At the La Leche League conference in Newport Beach in 2012, I was requested to remove any mention of abortion or birth control from my table of female health literature. I was told this was because they would lose UN funding if they displayed it. So, given that the pro-choice movement
is being ineptly run by non-feminists, the Courts are not supporting us, and the State legislatures are bent upon gutting our reproductive rights, isn’t this a good time to change the playing field from electoral politics or mass mobilization to grass roots feminist organizing? (Note: there are stirrings of some rebellion among feminist abortion activists. In Texas, StopPatriarchy.org demonstrated against regulations that is causing abortion clinics to close by carrying large posters of women who died from illegal abortion and signs saying “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology”. So, even if it is feasible to achieve reproductive sovereignty, is it practical? The good news is that the number of female who choose to have a natural birth at home is increasing and so are the number of midwives, and the midwives are struggling in each State to maintain their independence from the male-dominated medical profession. Some feminist health centers remain, but they exist in a hostile environment created by anti-abortionists, some who camp on their doorsteps and others who use their influence within the state bureaucracies to harass them. There is a burgeoning movement of alternative health providers, such as breast-feeding consultants, fertility-awareness teachers, full spectrum doulas , which are making female-controlled health care a reality. Those who want reproductive sovereignty need to build on these solid gains made by feminists over the last 40 years. Would the State attack females learning to take charge of our health care? Yes, they have and they will continue to do so. My arrest in 1972 for practicing medicine without a license for put-
ting yogurt in a woman’s vagina for the treatment of a yeast condition resulted in national coverage and an expansion of our movement. The arrests of midwives are extremely damaging to them and to the movement, because females don’t understand the physical realities of birth and therefore don’t support them. A selfhelp movement would build a real base of support for them. Despite the obstacles, isn’t it time to stop putting our radical feminist energies into political agitation to fight for access to medical services that can be regulated away. Isn’t it far better to fight for the independence that comes from knowing about how our own bodies work and then creating and sharing our own solutions?
DOCTORS AND DILDOS: A LOVE HATE RELATIONSHIP a statement by lea phillips I don’t date. You could attribute this to a myriad of reasons: my insecurities, ‘not enough time,’ bad relationship history, or a general distrust for men. But the truth is: I feel uncomfortable telling people that I don’t have sex. In this sex-positive revolution of sexual empowerment, saying that you don’t coplate is like saying that you don’t use your dominant hand. The word abstinence seems to be synonymous in the contemporary lexicon with ‘sexually repressed,’ conjuring up images of Catholic sweethearts who marry just so they can experience their first orgasm. However, this perception of abstinence perpetuates the notion that one cannot find sexual release without penetration and denies the experiential reality of people like myself who enjoy sexual pleasure but cannot engage traditional sex. Of course, I cannot expect for there to be a conversation on this topic if I’m not comfortable offering up my story. It’s time for me to admit it: I don’t have sex. Unfortunately, this sexual lifestyle is not exactly my choice. I have this funny little problem I now know is called vaginismus. It means that my pelvic floor, the muscle surrounding the vaginal region, is in a constant state of tension. After a life of involuntarily overengaging my pelvic floor, the whole area is incredibly inflamed and sensitive. While Freud considers the vagina to be a metaphorical wound, vaginismus sometimes seems like the literal manifestation of this theory. Even tender touch is often uncomfortable. While vaginismus manifests itself in different ways for different people, for me, it makes sex an embarrassingly painful venture. This exalted act of pleasure feels more like surgery without anaesthesia. While most women lose their virginities once, I get to relive the experience every time I have sex, stained sheets included. For the longest time, I thought this was all relatively normal. My friends advised me to “just relax” or “use more lube”, as if a certain amount of discomfort was expected on the woman’s part. I kept on entertaining the hope that it would get better with the ‘right guy’ or some practice. After a particularly terrible sexual experience, I decided to call my gynaecologist. With rubber-gloved hands, they poked, scraped, inspected, and tested me for an array of infections and STDs. When the results came back negative, my gynaecologist panicked and prescribed me everything she could think of. I tried numbing lotion, steroid creams, apple cider vinegar baths, and all-cotton underwear. I went through a period where I sprayed myself with bottled water each time I peed. I went off the pill to lower my oestrogen intake. When that didn’t work, my mom took me to see a naturopath, who recommended a combination of fifteen vitamins a day, more than any person under the age of sixty should take. In addition, she created a concoction of a bitter alcohol-based potion that made my mini-fridge stink. My cabinet became a collection of failures: an assortment of empty pill bottles and twisted ointment tubes. When nothing worked, I blamed myself. Maybe I wasn’t consistent enough with the pills or accidentally wore ninety-three percent cotton underwear. Maybe I really did just
need to suck it up and deal with the pain. As vaginismus is largely overlooked within the medical community, it took over two years before I could put a name to my symptoms. Eventually, my doctor sent me to another doctor, who sent me to a physical therapist who told me the problem was my tight pelvic floor. Unlike a yeast infection, the problem couldn’t be solved with a pill alone, and the only solution the doctors offered was incredibly invasive to say the least. Picture this: a medical room with dimmed lights and a clichéd eighties soundtrack playing in the background. You lie on the bed, legs spread, torso barely veiled by a papery sheet, while a physical therapist inserts a lubed finger inside of you. She tells you that she’s massaging out the spots where the muscle is tight—‘trigger points’, as they’re aptly called. All this while your mother sits to the side of the room, averting her eyes and making polite conversation with the woman. You’re told to ‘relax into the pain’. The process, however, went beyond the doctor’s office. I was no longer able to alienate myself from my vagina, relying on doctors to fix me. Instead, I was forced to get my hands dirty, so to speak. I was given my very own set of vaginal dilators, a fancy medical term for dildos. I got small ones, the size of my pinky, and large ones, the size of a cucumber and they all fit inside each other like a set of Russian nesting dolls. I am supposed to use them for about a year, fifteen minutes every night. The idea is to massage the tension out of my pelvic floor, but it often seems like I am really just practicing penetration until I become numb to the pain. Eventually, I started to wonder why I was putting myself through this. If female pleasure is mostly centered around the clitoris, why worry about penetration at all? It seemed as though the physical therapy was more for some guy’s future sexual gratification than for my own. It’s not like men can’t come without ‘traditional’ sex; this I know from firsthand experience. I believe that it would be possible to have a sexually fulfilling relationship without intercourse. The trick is finding someone who agrees with me. I’ve asked my male friends and a few acquaintances about the role of sex in a relationship and almost all of them thought it was important, if not necessary. One common remark was that penetrative sex establishes an emotional connection that other orgiastic methods cannot. I found this claim dubious as I’ve built many close relationships with friends without any genital stimulation. Additionally, my most successful romantic relationships took place in high school before penetration was even expected. The harshest criticism I heard was from my best friend. She told me it was negligent to not have sex with a boyfriend, implying that making him come by other means was simply not going to be enough to keep him satisfied. This acerbic remark says a lot about how our culture glorifies intercourse, and often leaves the responsibility of providing sexual satisfaction to women. Yet, as much as I have worked to believe that a relationship doesn’t need penetrative
sex, I still don’t know how to explain my issues without shame. I recently created an OkCupid account, figuring that I’d find someone who didn’t mind forgoing sex. However, I never had the courage to meet up with anyone. I hardly even responded to the messages I received, terrified by the inevitable disappointment I assumed that I’d inflict on any poor guy trying to become intimate with me. I know that sex isn’t as important as it seems but I feel incapable to date without it. No matter how much of a feminist I am, I still struggle to integrate my beliefs into the realm of my personal life; acknowledging that the personal is political doesn’t make it easier to live by: If I were really confident in myself, I’d boldly declare my abstinence on my OkCupid profile: “Sexy, intelligent young woman looking for love without penetration.” But what if my needs are inter-preted as inadequacies or I end up compromising my limits to make someone else happy? I’d rather turn down men than be exposed as ‘sexually damaged’. I’d rather be the illusive flirt than a prude. Instead of putting myself in a position of vulnerability, I have chosen to avoid romantic interactions all together. After deleting my OkCupid account, it became clear that my self-deprecating thoughts prevent me from dating as much as any physical barriers. There seems to be a hierarchy of sex acts: dry humping, hand jobs, fingering, cunnilingus, fellatio, sex, and finally anal for some. Certain sex acts are treated as more satisfying or erotic than others. Men often claim to prefer vaginal penetration, but are likely to orgasm from fellatio and hand jobs at the same rate. On the other hand, many women do not come from intercourse alone and find other methods such as oral sex to be more stimulating. While penetration is treated as the pièce de résistance of sex acts, the female orgasm is anything but guaranteed. This suggests that the sex acts are not ranked by how conducive they are to an orgasm; rather, they are shaped by cultural and religious norms that treat penetration as the magnum opus of sex acts while writing off other ways to climax. As someone who lives in America where our puritanical background continues to influence nudity laws and sex education in schools, it is easy to infer that religion has played a part in shaping how we think about sex. The Bible takes a strong stance against women copulating, premarital sex is against the ten commandments outside of wedlock while mutual masturbation hardly gets mentioned. The religious text creates a chasm between penetration and all other ways to reach a climax by treating some acts as more sinful than others. While some people abstain from penetration because of the Bible, it has the ability to have the opposite effect on others. By glorifying sex as a sin, the text makes it seem like the ultimate taboo. Like the forbidden fruit, we all want a bite. While many of us no longer identify as religious, our culture still maintains an aggrandized view of penetration. We like to imagine sex as this intimate act powerful enough to irrevocably transform a virgin into a new person simply from the insertion of a penis. Clinging to the idea that sex consummates a relationship, most societies by default deny the legitimacy of celibate relationships, where no form of sexual stimulation takes place, as well as abstinent rela-tionships where only non-penetrative forms of giving pleasure are utilized.
While this emphasis on penetration makes dating particularly difficult for those of us who don’t or can’t partake, I no longer see my abstinence from sex as well as dating a personal failure, nor a necessarily permanent choice. While it is impossible to completely separate my relationship with sex from the complex power dynamics that are deeply embedded in our culture, I’ve found that without the Sisyphean task of seeking male approval, I’ve had one of my happiest and most accomplished semesters in college. I have had the time and energy to pursue new interests and garner my identity as an individual. Without the burden of pleasing the male gaze, I have set my own standards of beauty, shaping my appearance as it I like. I hope to date eventually, but with great friends and some excellent masturbation techniques, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. As for the exercises, they are painful and yet rewarding. There’s something special about spending fifteen minutes with my body a day. I’m not necessarily learning how to let a man penetrate me, but I’m taking the time to develop an intimate relationship with my vagina before anyone else does. Some women are born with fully functioning vaginas, but I have to work for mine, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Bjørk Grue Lidin and Yasmine Akim CONSENT FUCKED, performed at public spaces in London, December 2014. Photographer: Yasmine Akim, featured in ‘Vagina Dentata’ by Yasmine Akim © Bjørk Grue Lidin and Yasmine Akim
THE LAST SNOWFLAKE* an account by heather dillaway
My kids and I read a book about ‘the last snowflake’ a few years ago. The story was about the last snowflake to hit the ground each winter: he feels lonely because his friends were ahead of him and probably melted already, or maybe carefree and floating on the wind to say the last goodbye to winter. This year my kids and I keep wondering when that last snowflake will fall. Was it a few weeks ago? No. Was it last weekend? No. It was snowing again yesterday. This morning I woke up to evidence of a hard frost so maybe there is more snow to come. The last snowflake is a great thing to philosophise about: when will it come, what will it look like, will I miss it when it’s gone, am I ready for what comes after it, and, in general, how do I feel about the transition it represents? Am I glad to see that last snowflake of the season, or am I melancholy about it? Am I ready for the warmer weather, or did I like wearing warm sweaters and fleece pyjamas? I like winter after all, even though it’s hard and long and seemingly never-ending, until it’s over. I like spring a lot but the spring is such a short season in Michigan and we often head right into hot weather—there’s really not much in between. Plus spring and summer mean the ramping up of activities and a different and busier schedule—am I ready for that? Snow has definitely made my life harder and can be so cumbersome at times. A few particularly difficult snowy days are etched in my mind forever and I want to move past them. Can I feel two things at once? Can I be sad and glad to see that last snowflake? I’m conflicted over how I feel. Why am I writing about the last snowflake? Because in 2012, I read a piece on the Red Hot Mamas website about a menopausal woman’s last period that reminded me of my thoughts about the last snowflake. In “A Gentle Good-bye,” Christine Merser talks about missing the chance to say goodbye to her last period at age 42, that it came too fast, and she mourns (at least in part) the idea that she’ll never menstruate again. She acknowledges the hardships menstruation sometimes caused and the hassles that were part and parcel of it, but also reminisces in its life-giving qualities and feels a sense of loss. She feels her last period was a “benchmark moment” and suggests that in not knowing that her last period was indeed her last, she did not get to say a “gentle goodbye.” She also talks about menopause as representing the October of her life, signifying ends rather than beginnings, but at the same time she hopes that it might mean new and better things. The idea that the last period cannot be predicted but is hoped for, but then may be bittersweet when it’s finally reached, is something that I’ve heard from so many middle-aged women. Menstruation is hard, especially when it is unpredictable in perimenopause or before, but a part of it is also safe and representative of a kind of stability and vitality that is hard to let go of. Merser proposes that cessation of menstruation is the “first thing she can’t fix” about her body. Regardless of the freedoms that women might acquire when it’s over for good or the hassles of it that they
will gladly give up, women aren’t always quite sure they really want to be done with menstruation forever once they sit back and think about its meanings. So they ask, Am I glad to see that last period, or am I melancholy about its passing? Am I ready to give up my monthly reminders of ‘womanhood’ and vitality? Do I like menstruation after all, even though it’s hard and long and seemingly never-ending until it’s over? Am I ready for midlife and beyond, or did I like being younger? Midlife seems like a good life stage, but how long will I really be in this stage? Will midlife be short and will I then head right into aging for real? Does a part of me miss my period before I’ve even seen my last one? According to clinical research and medical diagnosis guidelines, menopause is defined by the lack of menstruation for twelve consecutive months. It is truly a moment that women experience unknowingly, defined only after women realise it has been twelve months. Middle-aged women wait for their last menstrual period as the marker of ‘being done’ with menstruation and, thus, menopause. Postmenopause begins as perimenopause is over, making menopause something that women wait for but only realise they’ve reached when the moment has passed; in short, they realise it retrospectively. Research shows that the transition to postmenopause is not diagnosed until as much as two years after the cessation of periods because women must be able to remember exactly when they began to miss menstrual periods—something that is extremely difficult if irregular periods come first (or if periods were never regularly occurring in the first place). In addition, women might be period-free for almost twelve months and then menstruate, or go several months without a period and then menstruate regularly for another several months, all on their way to their final menstrual period (for more information on the stages of reproductive aging, see Dillaway & Burton  and Dillaway ). The last menstrual period is elusive and uncertain. Biomedical researchers have tried to predict the transition from perimenopause to menopause, yet there is no foolproof way to track these transitions. Women experiencing menstruation also try to use their own measurements of whether menopause is close at hand, yet they are imprecise and undecided as well. We know change is ahead and we know change is probably already in process, yet the road ahead is hazy and undefined. We are glad (at least in part) that change will ensue but we are also anxious about when and how that change might transpire. We’d love for that change to happen with an eruption, a big moment, a celebration, but it probably won’t. All of a sudden we will realise we’ve already made the transition and we’re done. I’ve interviewed over 130 middle-aged women about their menopausal transitions in the last 15 years and have had informal conversations with many, many more perimenopausal women. By far, one of the most frustrating and unnerving parts of reproductive aging is the fact that the last menstrual period is so hard to predict. Women wait and wait and wait, and never know when it will finally happen. Just when you think you might have had your last menstrual period, here it is, back again. And the end is anticlimactic—you can only define it in retrospect and, really, it seems like it was a non-event. There is no big moment, no big transition into postmenopause, no eruption into a new midlife. You just realise one day that it’s already happened. Just like you realise that it hasn’t snowed in weeks, and you’re probably done with winter, but only after the fact. There’s no celebration at the time, no significant transition, because you don’t know
it’s real until afterwards. The overall experience of menstruation is paradoxical for women from the start. It is common for women to be ambivalent or attribute multiple meanings to menstruation. Despite the fact that menstruation can represent health, vitality, and normalcy (and women do sometimes acknowledge the positive connections between menstruation and health), negative constructions of menstruation are writ large as well. All women become well acquainted with negative constructions of menstruation (see Dillaway et al.  for more information). Menstrual cycle researchers remind us to simply think of the various words and phrases that individuals still use to refer to menstruation (e.g., ‘the curse’, ‘the rag’) or the fact that women feel forced to hide their monthly cycles, and we can recognise that menstruation still has a bad reputation in American culture. Menstruation is constructed as a hygiene crisis that must be effectively managed and a great shame if others (particularly men) discover it. Like snow, menstruation can be burdensome and hassling, and we can be very happy to say goodbye to this bodily capacity. In this way, menopause is absolutely welcomed. But for those of us accustomed to the good and healthy parts of each natural season, we might also be somewhat sad to see snow and menstruation leave us. Especially if we don’t get to say a chance to say goodbye. *A shortened version of this piece appeared initially on the blog, re:Cycling, the blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, on April 24, 2013. The original blog appears at this address: http://menstruationresearch.org/2013/04/24/the-last-snowflake/
Sources Cited Dillaway, Heather. (2006). When does menopause occur, and how long does it last? Wrestling with age- and timebased conceptualizations of reproductive aging. National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Journal (now Feminist Formations) 18(1): 31-60. Dillaway, Heather, & Burton, Jean. (2011). “Not done yet?! How women discuss the “end” of menopause. Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 40(2): 149-176. Dillaway, Heather, Cross, Katherine, Lysack, Cathy, and Schwartz, Janet. (2013). Normal and natural, or burdensome and terrible? Women with spinal cord injuries discuss ambivalence about menstruation. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research 68(1-2): 107-120. Merser, Christine. (2012). “A Gentle Goodbye.” Blog Entry appearing on the Red Hot Mamas website: http:// redhotmamas.org/a-gentle-good-bye/
Georgia Henn From the series Skin Close-up, 2015 © Georgia Henn.
AGE (STILL) MATTERS a statement by toni calasanti
When I was writing my 2001 book (with Kate Slevin) we found that our friends—academic and not—were interested to know we were writing a book, but discussion stopped when they realised that the topic was aging. If pushed, everyone thought that aging is an important topic, and would even admit to the existence of ageism. But no one wanted actually to talk about it. As far as research topics go, it was—and is—as far away from ‘sexy’ as it is possible to be. Kate and I followed this book with the 2006 edited volume, Age Matters: Re-aligning Feminist Thinking. I wish I could say that the attitude we came up against no longer holds, or that age matters less, or that feminist thought has recognised the importance of age inequalities; but recognising a few feminist scholars as the exception, I cannot say that. Despite the popular forecasts that ‘aging baby boomers’ will dilute ageism, this has no more happened than gender equality has been achieved. Indeed, much like the fight for gender equality, the picture has merely shifted: just as all women need do is ‘lean in’, neoliberal ideology assures us that, with effort, one can ‘age successfully’. Blame for inequality falls on the shoulders of elders. How often does feminist inquiry focus on old age? Despite some recent concern about aging (likely a result of feminists arriving at middle age), rarely do feminists study those whom we would consider old. Similarly, while feminists are concerned about intersecting power relations, we still ignore the intersecting axis of age. To be sure, some attention has been paid to the ‘double standard of aging’ (by which women are judged to lose their physical attractiveness more quickly than men do—a concept introduced in 1972 but not developed since). But focus remains on issues of middle age, the stage when physical markers of aging, such as menopause and wrinkles, emerge, as well as the issue of care work for aging parents. While these issues and time of life are important, we should not conflate this with concern or study of old women or taking them and their lives seriously. For instance, almost none of the care work research examines old women who give or receive care. And for the most part, feminists have not actually talked to old women to explore their daily experiences. And none of the few exceptions examine old age itself critically, in terms of age relations. Our ageism—exclusion of the old—is apparent not only in what we study, but how. When we do consider age, how do we do it? We may see old age as a social construction, and critique the gendered double standard, but we do not critique the construction of old’ itself as a stigmatised status. We have given lip service to age relations by including it on lists of oppressions, but we have rarely theorised it. Analogously, with gender relations, we have analysed how terms related to girls and women are used to put men and boys down while also reinforcing the presumed inferiority of women. But we have not examined the age relations that underlie our use of markers for old age to keep both
older and younger age groups in their normative places. Feminist theories are based primarily on young and middle-aged women’s experiences. For example, balancing work and family is a central concern to feminist theory. But this focus allows for little attention to those who are not engaged in labour markets in later life, or to the different kinds of unpaid work that old women (and some old men) perform, such as spousal care work or care for grandchildren, work that is often even more invisible than childcare earlier in life. Feminists have paid little attention to the ways in which such work is exploitative and occurs at a time of life when physical changes makes its performance all the more difficult. And the biases can be far more subtle as well. For example, much of the feminist argument against cosmetic surgery and the skin-care industry centers on its male-defined nature; there is no recognition that aging constitutes an inequality that intersects to exclude old women, and many old men as well, in unique ways. Given the negative sexual imagery and powerlessness of old women, an issue more salient to them than sexual exploitation might be that of being cast aside—of being invisible altogether. Such invisibility occurs not only in relation to men, but also in relation to women, including younger members of the women’s movement and lesbian communities. The nature of this invisibility calls forth a different set of issues and dependence than that experienced by younger women. Although some scholars have noted the growing invisibility of aging women as sexual beings (with the withdrawal of the male gaze, for instance), this recognition falls short of putting old women’s sexuality at the center of theorising. How might our theories change if we explore the lives of old, heterosexual women who are interested in men, who still see themselves (or might want to see themselves) as sexual? Age relations intersect with other social inequalities to shape old women’s de/sexualisation. For instance, younger women benefit from this ‘casting aside’ of old women, in much the same way that white women have benefited from the subordination of women of colour. Younger heterosexual women are relatively advantaged by their ability to be sexual partners and to align with those with power—men. Many younger women can benefit from the depiction of old women as less/undesirable, as this would enhance their opportunities with privileged men. What I have described results from the ageism rooted in age relations. Similar to gender relations, age relations encompass the ways in which age serves as a social organising principle (appropriate behaviours and obligations are based on age) such that age groups gain identities and power in relation to one another, with consequences for life chances—for people’s abilities to enjoy the good things in life. People recognise their own placement, and that of others, into different age categories, and they gain identities as they strive to live up to age-specific ideals of behaviour; these categories matter for power. One or more age groups gain advantages at the expense of another. Thus, age is not only the basis for differentiation, but it is also a system of inequality. Gender, class, and other systems of inequality may influence when ‘old’ occurs, but the result is a loss of power for all those so designated, regardless of
position on these other hierarchies. Old age does not just exacerbate other inequalities, but is a social location in its own right. Similar to other relations of privilege and oppression, age relations result in unequal distributions of authority, status, and money, such that those who are advantaged feel entitled to exclude the oppressed group from the networks and institutions in which they manage money and other resources; stigmatise and devalue the oppressed group; and regard these inequalities as determined by a natural order and thus beyond dispute. For instance, ageism in the labour market, both overt and the more subtle incorporation of age in staffing and recruitment strategies, career structures, and retirement policies, results in lost status and income. In addition, the inability to earn money in later life means that most old people must rely on others—family or the state. And when we consider the economic dependence of old people, the oppressive nature of age relations become apparent. The fiscal policies and welfare retrenchment occurring across many countries provide one lens through which to examine the discrimination faced by old people, as they face cutbacks while younger groups are protected. Demographic projections about aging populations are often used to justify such changes, even though appropriate evidence is often lacking. In their daily lives, old people experience powerlessness in their loss of authority and ability to be heard and exert control over their bodies and personal decisions. Doctors may dismiss their symptoms as ‘just old age’ rather than as signs of illness or injury that merit care. Family members or medical personnel may make decisions at odds with an old person’s desires on the grounds that they are protecting them, while young men, for instance, may engage in life-threatening behaviours without overt interference. Ageism can be and is in fact used to make judgments about capabilities because of the equation of mental and physical incapacity with old age; in the workplace, this logic may intervene such that older workers in positions of authority are expected to step aside. Finally, that old age bears stigma is apparent in the anti-aging industry that grows throughout the global North. Indeed, the fact that an industry can call itself ‘anti-aging’ without censure is itself noteworthy; would an industry designated as ‘anti-woman’ exist, let alone thrive, without remark? Old age has been framed as a natural and unavoidable process that leads to inevitable decrements, and this view has resulted in limiting the rights, respect, authority, and autonomy of old people. If so much is at stake, it is no wonder that people go to great lengths to avoid visible signs of aging. Ageism is expressed in two different ways, one of which is much harder to see than the other, but both of which communicate the same idea: to be old is to be different (from those ‘not old’), and difference is unacceptable. The first expression of ageism echoes this: People who are ‘not old’ regard old people as different—diseased, wrinkled, forgetful or demented—and thse characteristics are judged as bad, laughable, worthy of scorn, mockery, and devaluation. I often use an exercise in my classes wherein I ask students to explain to me the cues they would use to designate someone as ‘old’ when they first meet them (just as we might judge someone’s gender or race). They often start
tentatively. But soon someone mentions slow drivers or funny clothes. Others laugh; students grow bolder, and come up with more indicators that amuse them. Like most of us, these students understand this level of ageism. They know that they have spouted negative stereotypes. When pressed, they define ageism as acting as if the negative stereotypes about old people are true, and not giving the individual a chance to show that they are, in fact, ‘young’. This brings me to the second, more hidden form of ageism. A superficially more positive stance, it emerges when we say that old people are acceptable because they can be like younger people. For instance, we applaud those whom we feel are ‘young at heart’; we point to 90 year-old athletes, and laud them as examples of how old people can be ‘ageless’ (by which we mean not old). “‘Old’ is in your mind,” people will say; and so some old people, then, really are not ‘old’ because they ‘still act young’. But underlying these seemingly positive images is the idea that old is different, and that is not ok. The only way that old people can be accepted and valued is they are not old—if they are like ‘the rest of us’. I first recognised this ageism within myself when I noticed my tendency to avoid saying ‘old’ in the classroom. At some point, I heard myself using the term ‘older people’ with my students. I am sure I had said that numerous times before I really noticed it, but I began to wonder why I was doing it. I realised that it was an attempt to ‘soften’ students’ perceptions of old people; to encourage them to care, to see old people as not so distant or different from themselves. But despite my positive intentions, in trying to help my students see that ‘old people are people too’, I was implicitly reinforcing ageism, by trying to say that we are all the same, regardless of age. Good intentions aside, we are not the same. To be sure, there are similarities across age groups; but old age does matter. Old age is a social location, and a subordinate one. Stigma does accrue. Disadvantages accumulate. Lifetime experiences shape us. And old people face ageism. This second sort of ageism, in which we turn a blind eye to social realities of old age, is akin to saying that we should be gender-blind—for instance, saying that women can be in the paid workplace and be valued, if they act like men. Or that Black people are acceptable in corporate boardrooms or prestigious universities as long as they act like white people. To the extent that we don’t acknowledge that these groups can be different and still be acceptable, we are being sexist or racist. In the same way, if we cannot say that old people are different, and that this difference is ok, we are ageist. Saying that ‘old age’ is just a social construction—something in your mind, and nothing more—reflects this ageism. As Molly Andrews (1999: 302) observed some years ago, all lifecycle stages are social constructions, but ‘there is not much serious discussion about eliminating infancy, adolescence, or adulthood from the developmental landscape. It is only old age which comes under the scalpel’. In other words, we don’t have the same difficulty saying that childhood is different and that it is ok; unlike old age, childhood we value.
Finally, understanding and theorising age relations is critical for looking at all inequalities. Age relations differ from other power relations in a critical way, theory of which should inform our understandings of all inequalities. Age is fluid, and group membership shifts over time, such that people can experience both advantage and disadvantage over the courses of their lifetimes. Such dramatic shifts in other social locations can occur but remain uncommon. By contrast, we all grow old or die first; where individuals stand in relation to old age must change. And it does so slowly, such that one can experience the process of passing into disadvantage (indeed, this is the impetus for the anti-aging industry). The fluidity of age relations, and the fact that ageism is the one oppression we will all face, complicates theories of gender (and other forms of) privilege as it means that even those whose lives have been most shaped by advantage will lose status (even if this is cushioned by certain privileges); and they may be the most surprised by this loss in power. They may come to see how precarious their position actually is, and power relationsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;including their own privilegeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;may become more apparent. This consciousness can provide the potential for social change not only in relation to ageism but also to other systems of inequality.
References Calasanti, Toni M. and Kathleen F. Slevin. 2001. Gender, Social inequalities, and Aging. CA: Alta Mira Press. Calasanti, Toni M. and Kathleen F. Slevin (editors). 2006. Age Matters: Re-Aligning Feminist Thinking. New York: Routledge.
SKYGIRLS a poem by cade leebron
draw me a man made of stars and sky his skin opaque against my translucence his lungs pushing me down when he breathes & i don’t breathe at all no i don’t i don’t i don’t & i heard girls don’t get raped here draw me a man blue like the sky above green like wet grass against my bare ankles red like the doors to the rooms the rooms his room a place forevermore mine no stop it’s mine white like the t-shirt he put on after i ran away or white sheets sweaty like technicolor man draw me a man who looks through me or down at me on the floor bruising some indigo like night sky on my nothing self shhh i am someone said girls don’t get raped here & i agree we are beautiful heavenly celestial bodies we are raped up in the night sky & then we fall we are always falling to earth & we shatter look at our craters we were never built for re-entry
SUGAR a poem by cade leebron
even before i was sweating & bruising in a dorm room breathing & lying in a bed not mine his instead him instead it was too late too late no sugar no sugar sometimes he & i graduate on the same hot red day sometimes he & i are the same we leave the same we walk the same one time i beat him up in our hallway & my dumb roommate screamed stop punching him but i mean câ&#x20AC;&#x2122;mon & i wondered where was she to scream on my infamous september 3 i wanna forget where was my mother the cops my father my scream everything was pretty quiet just crying the usual & as i slam his heavy body into rough carpet i think this is nowhere close, buddy, this is nowhere close but ooh it is nice to be the sober one flexing mean muscles it is nice to say look at you drunk boy you be my target practice let me whip out a cock & come inside you yeah no condom fuck you too make you bruise & worry get tested for all my STDs instead i leave him there pathetic, goodnight, friend sometimes even sugar sweet girls need some bloody knuckles
Maura McHugh Furry Chest, pen, paper, water, fire, 20in h x 13in w ÂŠ Maura McHugh.
LIBATION POEM FOR JAMAICAN WOMEN a poem by taitu heron I am … who mi name? Child of Anlo, Dzagba of 1805 exchanged for a cup of salt somewhere along the west coast of Africa Lining the bottom of a ship with other captured Africans Ankle to ankle, coffle to coffle, blood to blood, urine to urine, tongue to tongue twisted with pain-salted wonders to the sea Making its way like flotsam back to the Gulf of Guinea I am Dzagba I am … who mi name? Nunu of 1812, high priestess of the Akan recovered by Sankofa “tossed and driven battered by the angry sea….” By angry men, rapacious white men thirsty for black flesh My legs spread and ripped thousands of miles apart from every intrusion along the passage of my middle During this passage of the sea My tears a long trail from the Atlantic sea leaving me with a mulatto child to kiss the shores of the Caribbean Sea embraced only by Olokun Where shall I find peace? I am Nunu I am…. Who mi name? Phoebe of 1779, Creole slave of Egypt Estate Running, running running miles away from Thistlewood Running running running miles away Oh Creator get me away from Savannah la Mar Run I run I run I run my mind my dreams through cane piece dodging rats and dogs, slave drivers and overseers Dodging in my dreams a life without Thistlewood Who takes my body to shame and back Between cart road and great house Where can I find peace? I am Phoebe I am…. Who mi name? Mary (Clarke) of 1849 Woman of “abandoned character” they call me Jostling blows from riotous colonial police Shielding blows against my back protecting the child silent within my belly My blood leaves trail of clot unrecognised so that at least she can know her place in this Sun Where shall I find peace? I am Mary
I am … who mi name? Caroline Grant of 1865, a “Queen of Rebels” hailing from St Thomas I who has been branded “vagrant of the lowest description” A “harlot and a vagabond” because I dared to march like a soldier with Paul Bogle from Stony Gut to Morant Bay I want justice too Write my name right…. persistent rebel am I. Enduring a pregnancy of 144 years and meet me again in the 21st century And ask mi mi name….. I am … who mi name? I am Natalie of 2004, a 14 year old girl from St Catherine Raped by a neighbour man My body tossed in a cane field Each rip of the flesh Each lash on the breast A whip as wide as the years of cane waiting for redemption Waiting for my family to find me My tears dressing cane soil hoping to make the sweetness of Appleton instead Where shall I find peace? I am Natalie I am… who mi name? I am Sheryl Ann of 2006, Woman of Mountain View Fleshed consumed by a Don for breakfast Area leader for lunch And my mother beaten for dinner when she protest And father shot in the chest when him get vex Where do I find peace? I am Sheryl Ann I am …who mi name? I am Barbara of Annotto Bay 2006 Raped, strangled and burnt to death by my boyfriend My spirit roams the Bay haunting men who creep and crawl in search for more bait more bite and more blood to suck Where do I find peace? I am Barbara I am … who mi name? I am Michelle of 2007 You will find me in the Western part of this island Where my husband chopped me to death Severed my hands and feet Drive from Kingston to Negril straight on to Montego Bay and you will find my limbs across St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover and St James
I whose spirit roams to find peace among my scattered limbs I am Michelle I am … who mi name? I am Letesha of 2008 Hacked to death by my husband My feet bound, my body burnt Take a walk to my son’s school Use the pit latrine and there you will find my head I am whose spirit still wants to be here to stop the suffering of my child Left behind to carry my burden of pain I want to hug him and say – “don’t worry mi chile yuh don’t haf turn out like your father” Where shall I find peace? Where shall he? I am Letesha I am…. Who mi name? I am Nancy of 2009 Stabbed and chopped to death by my husband I can barely speak Forgive me for my throat has been slashed I am still waiting for the judge to speak on my behalf More than half is lost But the Police is not interested in bodies lost and not found My daughter knows but is traumatized into silence A counselor is but a dream among the ancestors as I watch her pain helplessly Where shall I find peace? I am Nancy Who am I? I am a woman a long existing woman of spirit and mind Disembodied through time and continuing space Awaiting justice Whose spirit longs to Re-member protection Re-member warmth Re-member respect Re-member love I am a woman a long existing woman Who wants no part of the damn ramping shop Who wants release from the cane fields Who wants freedom from the don’s cage Who doesn’t want to be dragged into no hol dung an tek crew I am Dzagba Nunu Phoebe Mary Caroline Natalie Sheryl Ann Barbara Michelle Letesha Nancy Jamaica More I am a woman a long existing woman whose spirit wants peace Ase
Untitled (Magic women),
Untitled (Magic women),
Untitled (Magic women),
2014, Black Chalk, Oil
2014, Black Chalk, Oil
2014, Black Chalk, Oil
painting on Linen Canvas,
painting on Linen Canvas,
painting on Linen Canvas,
120 x 180 cm © Guillaume
120 x 180 cm © Guillaume
65 x 95 cm © Guillaume
caron. (on next page)
caron. (on next page)
caron. (on next page)
BIRCH ARMY a poem by emily sheepy how beaten with repetition, the symbol of the storm with the weather the female infantry, the strong set forth into the world, paternalistic and wooden this girl, awe-struck initially ran too close to the street, where the others lined up birch trees, simple, straight, beautiful, soft and the sad thing is the most truthful to note that they(we?) left the school (yes, we) but still weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re standing here mostly veteran resiliency holds upright these dappled heads in the face of our apparent disability our lack of finish when we ought to be stained and polished symbols of delivery suppliers of those other symbols, of freely roaming individuals that evidently subtract from us our feet, for once we settle we become so firmly rooted and as we get one or two brothers to stand by in line they too question whether it is so simple, whether it is for us to stand by rustling when the storm fills the rivers and the rivers spill over the street-cum-stream to which our skins longs to dispatch themselves to form a flexible vessel not just of sanctuary but extraordinary speed resilience discounted for lack of muscle when the clouds begat bolts this girl ran too close to the street and there, struck by an armored truck she fell and cracked open her skin fell away she climbed into it, and rode the rising torrent the truck, traction overcome by the swelling nascent waterway, slammed repeated against the line of trees they bend and crack their skins fall away in pieces, branches tumble, some lost to the furious waters, some safe and dry tiny crafts speed away this girl awoke brimming with rhetoric skin firmly attached to this 100 pounds of ridiculous
Rosanna McNamara Solar Anus from from Daughters (wet - holes), 2014 ÂŠ Rosanna McNamara.
VAGINA?VAGINA.VAGINA!VAGINA a poem by prerna bakshi
V A G I N A Good Now that I have your attention Maybe I can ask a few questions But, before that I see You are still stuck at My utterance of “vagina” So I owe you an answer? Actually No I Don’t As it is you have been asking questions Demanding answers Throughout history Why is uttering “vagina” still a tabboo? It’s no big mystery When my very utterance of “vagina” is considered an act of transgression What more can be said about The state of oppression By now, you would have already Judged me, Called me names
So I’ll let you keep that impression and Move onto the next session So I’ll ask you this Why does my utterance of “vagina” make you uncomfortable? Do you feel it brings ‘dishonour’? Dishonour to whom though? To the fathers, brothers and husbands The only ones with ‘honour’ and Those who claim their right to honour Through the ownership of our bodies? Why is it, for instance, that when a woman gets raped You say her honour was stolen? I reject that a woman’s ‘virtue’, her ‘honour’ Is located in her vagina I’ll tell you What’s located in my vagina A toxic waste of patriarchy And all of its baggage From which, I routinely Relieve myself from By taking a piss And on special occasions By bleeding red, I flush it Out of my system Down the toilet
Victorean early erotic photography.
I CUNT, THEREFORE I BECOME a response by rosanna mcnamara
BECOMING-CUNT. CUNT IS A VERB. TO CUNT IS TO BE CUNTING. YOU ARE BECOMING-CUNT. The cunt: fluctuating between swallowing and spitting, in a constant state of flux, never BEING, only ever BECOMING. Becoming-cunt is power. Subjectivity is no longer singular, but multiple. You are ‘becoming-more-than-one’1. You are AT-LEAST-TWO. And Deleuze was onto something. But folding seems too... passive. Cunts are ERUPTIONS. Within the labyrinthine pleats and folds of matter2 are infinite frenzies of fluxes. The cunt doesn’t ‘lack’3 anything, it is not empty; it overflows with the fluids of infinite representation, bursting the phallomorphic banks of Sameness, flooding the inhabitants of Plato’s womb-cave. Becoming-cunt disrupts Irigaray’s ‘vessel/place’4 ; the subject isn’t ‘invaginated’5 but actually implodes, like a black hole, swallowing the singular and then violently squirting it back out as infinite fragments of AT-LEAST-TWO. The skin becomes a threshold for the self6. I cunt, therefore I am becoming. The cunting subject is no longer separated into mind and body7 but always on a ‘trajectory of transformation’8. The Cartesian dichotomy is smashed apart: the mind and body are splintered into endless facets of subjectivity, colliding and traversing in multiple fluid motions, curving and crisscrossing back and forth through the thresholds of matter. Descartes couldn’t handle my CUNTesian philosophy. 1 Patricia McCormack, ‘Becomings-Cunt: Flesh, Fold, and Infinity’, Frozen Tears III, John Russell, ed., (Birmingham: ARTicle Press, 2007), 812 2 Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, 4th ed., (London: Continuum, 2006), 3-15 3 Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference, Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill, trans., (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 35 4 Ibid, 38 5 McCormack, op.cit, 807 6 Ibid, 815 Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method and The Meditations, F. E. Sutcliffe, trans., (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1968), 54 8 McCormack, op.cit, 801
Ren Rathbone Ren Rathbone, Orifice (Or, A Fist) from Reflex/Reflects, 2014 ÂŠ Ren Rathbone.
a statement by ruby wednesday Ruby Wednesday is a London based drag artist. She performs regularly with The Familyyy Fierce, her drag family, including Meth, her drag mother of two years. The queer cabaret venue, The Black Cap became a home for several performers of the same ilk and at its enforced closure in the name of capitalism, many became enraged. Here, Ruby Wednesday speaks her anger; Gentrification is a nasty word but unfortunately there are few others that can be used to describe what is happening to our beloved city. This will be my fifth year in London and after packing up and starting a new adventure here, I have seen so much change already and in such a short space of time. I moved to Brixton during my second year of studying at Wimbledon College of Art, and even after such a brief time the area has become something almost unrecognisable, such transformations are occurring all over London. Whilst living in Brixton I was adopted by Meth and welcomed into the Familyyy Fierce. Together, we carved our name into the queer hearts of London, going against the grain, from strength to strength. Finally, about a year and a half ago, we found ourselves at The Black Cap in Camden. It’s insane to think that after such a brief time we grew so connected to a building, of all things. This is the problem with gentrification. The rich call it how they see it, as a spade is very much a spade and nothing else. I mean, maybe they have the capacity to see pound signs with their eyeballs bulging from their skulls whilst grinding their teeth and drooling down their suits, but I wouldn’t go any further than that.
A building has no life to these people; a building has no community, no history, no pulse, no heart, no feelings. A building is an empty vessel waiting to be filled with money. Along with this, they don’t care about how anyone feels about the situation. Why would a hetero-normative individual have worry about queer spaces? Oh yes, of course. They don’t, simply because they’ve never felt as if they can’t express themselves. They’ve never felt as if they need a haven to visit, surrounded by like-minded people who respect and love one another. These people feel comfortable with one thing; money. They are unable to love and unable to feel connected to anything but material things and wads of cash. London is dying. I’ve said it once, twice, three times a non-gender binary individual, London is being murdered. With the recent election and the grave misfortune of the Conservative party once again “running the country”; I worry about the future of London, as we know it. I feel that it is fair to say that all public services will be privatised. I see Cameron, like Thatcher, selling whatever he can, ensuring that the lives of the working class will be pushed to the very limit again. Above all else, our NHS is at risk along with other components of the ‘welfare state’ funded by tax payers. However, taxes will only increase while we remain baffled as to what we’re actually paying for anymore. Services that are already privately owned will become increasingly expensive. As a result, death tolls are likely to rise and it is doubtful that services will improve. I fell in love with the idea of London at a young age. I always aimed to be here when I
was old enough to flee the nest, when I felt ready to take it on. Now I’m not so sure. My drag home was stolen from me. It was stolen from those of us who felt safe, warm and welcome there. It is painful to be in this situations while surrounded by people with copious amounts of money who are just plain laughing at us. They follow us to areas because they’re deemed cool or quirky. When they arrive, they sit in penthouses and gastro pubs with coffee that’s been filtered through a monkey’s digestive system. They wonder what the fuck happened when we’ve all moved out because they’ve driven us further and further away. It’s a vicious cycle that seems never ending, as if a plague of locusts is swiftly digesting everything we know and love. Despite this gloomy tale, we will not be broken. The members of the Familyyy Fierce, and many others, are taking on new projects and new venues. To echo Martin Luther King, we have a dream, it’s a queer, all encompassing, all loving kind of dream, but we have it. We have hope and a burning desire to continue to do what we do best. The queer agenda is an unstoppable force that will carry on burning wherever we are and, of course, you’re all invited. The loss of The Black Cap was truly devastating. Our final evening was full of tears and anger but we powered through. The moments that I will hold forever close consist mainly of having nothing else to say but to hold one another. The bleeding mascara mimicking our bruised hearts only kept beating through the sheer sense of community, respect and love. Yes, it hurts to have our queer spaces taken away from us due to sheer greed, but I can absolutely damn well guarantee that it
hurts these people a hell of a lot more that they have never, and will never, feel the love and support from so many people, and that is something that money will never ever fucking buy.
Paul Kindersly Jenny, 2015 © Paul Kindersly.
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