LE QUEER TROP SEX,
PAS ASSEZ ANTI-PATRIARCAT?
_ Un échange critique entre deux activistes via
une liste mail anarcha-féministe en Europe
[premier texte – Queer is on my agenda – publié
en Europe par milla le 12 octobre 2007]
i've been travelling a lot this year. and all over europe i've noticed strong tendencies of queer politics speaking over the feminist agenda.
the oppressive nature of patriarchy is pushed aside for a discussion on things "not being so clear", and the "right to define" oneself and the "freedom to choose" - all leading the focus away from discussions on *power*.
there have been queer feminists (few.. or basically only one woman in poland...) that i have met and that have had a feminist base to stand on and to speak from, but most of the queer people i've met have been promoting things like sadomasochism.
i think a clear example of the uncritical nature of power structures in queer camps comes across in a symbol i saw at the Reddelich camp [G8] in the the queer barrio. A flag with a glittery star with a high heeled shoe in the centre of it.
these shoes make women have back problems + they/we! can not run + feet problems + being in constant pain... just to look and walk --> "sexy". so: that inequality is an issue when we talk about what we are attracted to, and what we perceive as sexually stimulating, is a reality which i can not steer away from. but that queer politics has on it's agenda to promote as "individual choice", "freedom", "right to define oneself".
here's another flag with lipstick to give you an idea:
i was talking with a queer man who called me manhating when i brought up the issue of sexism, and said that her [i try to call everybody "she"] ... her way of bringing some equality into this world was not to look at "gender" but to see "people" instead. which made it perfectly fine for her to look at some friends of her, a hetero-couple, where the man was beating the woman, as more "complicated" than the regular poweranalysis, and that it didn't fit in to the overall pattern of male domination, but that that case was breaking away from the mold and just being "two individuals", where one happens to assault the otherone physically. sexism not having anything to do with it. whatsoever. and i was a manhater for thinking so...
the feminism i promote looks at powerstructures and sees heterosexism, heteronormativity, twosomeness (couple relations) and a lot of other things as important to bring up.
but i've found it really difficult to do my work when i've been accused of "essentializing" and "creating a divide" when i'm trying to point out that there is a class of people called "women" and another class called "men" and that there is a clear power imbalance between these groups (women of all races, ages, classes etc face the same type of domination. for instance rape.)
blaah i don't know if i'm making any sense here... but. i see a great danger in promoting queer politics without putting out the information of the powerful forces promoting clear anti-feminist thinking within that movement.
most of the people connected with queer have been wanting to "play around with gender" that is: a guy putting a dress on and making "girlie" movements with her hands. or a woman tying her breasts and being "macho". seeing these things as "transgressive" instead of having a serious look at the system where these roles come from, thinking that it's enough to be a little bit of both or more towards one end than the other in this behavioral power spectrum, when in fact, we need to think about: what is humanity? what qualities do we want to promote in order to improve the ways of this world? tenderness, sensitivity, lovingness etc is not only capable and possible to realize in the female half of the population.
instead of queer, in order to bring in a more complex view on on power structures i would maybe talk of concepts like
* intersectionality. (race, class etc)
and of course: heteronormativity, heterosexism, criticism
of twosomeness. etc
that's all for now. but i will definitely start talking more about these things. i just wanted to say: there is a problem with queer. and we need to talk about it.
[Réponse au texte – Queer is on my agenda– publié
à Montréal par lolagouine le 12 octobre 2007]
i would like to answer to the text of milla, not because i want to counter back what she said but because as she said "we need to speak about queer".
Funny, yesterday evening we were with some friends and other hundreds of people, mostly women and not only white women, to the conference Christine Delphy was making here in Montreal. The subject of the speech was "the notion of achieved equality = poison". While i was nicely surprised of hearing her talking about the necessity for femism to make race and class analysis within the mouvement and for western feminism to listen to feminisms of color and to accept that we , white women, don't hold the universal truth, i was quite shock, aswell as my friends and quite a bunch of people in the big room, to hear that queer is just talking on sex. After the conference we went for some drinks and talked about this representation of queer.
Let's make a point.
Feminism is not unique, feminism is an enormous and powerful source of analysis and action, feminism is not something someone can hold, feminism does not belong to anyone.
Queer movement is directly inspired by feminism, let's say it other way, without feminism there's no queer. Because the field of research explored by Queer theory and action is the one of gender, and this notion comes straigh away from feminism. Exploring gender doens't mean we only talk to sex time, sorry to disapoint feminist critics, exploring gender means we look into how people are constructed by society, how gender are tatooed on babies before even being born, how gender is a social prison, what are the consequences, personal and social, of this gender mark. Feeling that one can choose her gender is a great liberation feeling.
Indeed, reactions against 2nd wave feminist included the "insult" that these women were not women enough, that they were not acomplishing what it was their "women role" and wanted to be men. It's true that, because they revolt and they think they were going out their women gender, because women gender teachs biological women not to revolt, not to think. If they were treated as lesbians, it was not because they were having sex with another women, but because they cross the borders of women gender.
I agree that Queer speaks a lot about sex. But sex is political too, it's not only a question of fucking. Sex will be political as long as we'll live in an heteronormal society. Sex, as created (so not natural) by our heteronormal society, is a system of power, dominat-dominee, submission of one gender (always the same, guess who?) to the other. It is aswell an economics system: making babies and sex work due by the woman to the man.
I agree that Queer doesn't make analyse enough into economic and social large system, and that it doesn't take so much into account that society will look only by bi-gender glasses, no matter what you have decided in your room. I agree that queer lacks of larger perspective in many fields.
Instead of summing up queer to S/M, prostitution and tattoos (i don't know why we shouldn't talk about and take position in these subjects, sometime i feel some feminist has become too influenced by herosociety moral values), or saying that queer refuses to see domestic violence as gender violence (there are stupid queers as there are stupid feminists. Maybe only add that for many years some feminism has refused the reality of violence by women to women because they were not inscribed into a men-women relation. This is still a problem in our groups), instead of critizing all over, i think feminism and queer have many things to talk about, many things that feminism and queer share and many things that they can discover one in each other.
Last point. Treating queer as pedophiles is like treating feminists of men-haters. It only shows the ignorance of the person talking, and it doesn't help in anything. It makes me sad to realize that while the big white rich male heterosex society is still pushing us down, we are still fighting agaisnt ourselves. That's backlash.
PS. please, there are so many more interesting feminists than Sheila Jeffreys saying nonsense, let's please read some bell hooks or leslie feinberg and listen to what other people has to say about feminisms.