In this essay, Rubin discussed the trafficking of women, which she believes results from the "sex/gender system," a phrase she originated, meaning "the set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality into products of human activity, and in which these transformed sexual needs are satisfied."
-She takes as a starting point writers who have previously discussed gender and sexual relations as an economic institution (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) which serves a conventional social function (Claude Lévi-Strauss) and is reproduced in the psychology of children (Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan).
-She asserts that these writers fail to adequately explain women's subjugation; therefore, Rubin offers a reinterpretation of their ideas.
-Rubin addresses Marxist thought by identifying women's role within a capitalist society.
--> She argues that the reproduction of labor power depends upon women's housework to transform commodities into sustenance for the worker.
--> A capitalistic system cannot generate surplus without women, yet society does not grant women access to the resulting capital.
-Rubin argues that historical patterns of female oppression have constructed this role for women in capitalist societies.
-She attempts to analyze these historical patterns by considering the sex/gender system.
-According to Rubin, "Gender is a socially imposed division of the sexes."
--> She cites the exchange of women within patriarchal societies as perpetuating the pattern of female oppression, referencing Marcel Mauss' Essay on the Gift and using his idea of the "gift" to establish the notion that gender is created within this exchange of women by men in a kinship system.
--> Women are born biologically female, but only become gendered when the distinction between male giver and female gift is made within this exchange.
--> For men, giving the gift of a daughter or a sister to another man for the purpose of matrimony allows for the formation of kinship ties between two men and the transfer of "sexual access, genealogical statuses, lineage names and ancestors, rights and people" to occur.
-When using a Marxist analysis of capitalism within this sex/gender system, the exclusion of women from the system of exchange establishes men as sellers and women as their commodities fit for exchange.
-She ultimately hopes for an "androgynous and genderless" society in which sexual difference has no socially constructed and hierarchical meaning.
-central to feminist theory or feminist method
-challenges traditional notions of authority and objectivity and questions existing power structures, of our own experience, and of theory itself
-Through consciousness raising, women grasp the collective reality of women's condition from within the perspective of that experience, not from outside it. . . . Its claim to women's perspective is its claim to truth
-reveals that "sexuality is that social process which creates, organizes, expresses, and directs desire, creating the social beings we know as women and men, as their relations create society"
-Consciousness raising means recognizing that women's experience of discrimination, violence, and sexism are objective conditions resulting from specific social, political, and economic structures. It is the central method of feminism because it shows that radical change in the structure of these public spheres, not just inclusion of more women within existing structures, is necessary to end women's subordination.
-MacKinnon's work largely focuses on the difference between quality of social and economic conditions for women in both the private and public spheres of life.
-MacKinnon believes that society fails to recognize the existing hierarchies present within it that have subordinated women in particular for such a long time that they have been perceived as natural.
-"Men's forms of dominance over women have been accomplished socially as well as economically, prior to the operation of law, without express state acts, often in intimate contexts, as everyday life"
-MacKinnon writes about the interrelations between theory and practice, recognizing that women's experiences have, for the most part, been ignored in both arenas.
-Furthermore, she uses Marxism to critique certain points in feminist theory and uses feminism to criticize Marxist theory.
-She sees hypocrisy in much of Marx's theory due to his failure to mention women's oppression in relation to class oppression.
-MacKinnon notes Marx's criticism of theory that treated class division as a spontaneous event that occurred naturally.
-Marx saw class as an unnatural status quo resulting from the ownership of the means of production while at the same time thinking of women's responsibility for child-rearing as a "natural" sex role.
-She understands epistemology as theories of knowing and politics as theories of power.
-She explains, "Having power means, among other things, that when someone says, 'this is how it is', it is taken as being that way. . . . Powerlessness means that when you say 'this is how it is,' it is not taken as being that way. This makes articulating silence, perceiving the presence of absence, believing those who have been socially stripped of credibility, critically contextualizing what passes for simple fact, necessary to the epistemology of a politics of the powerless."
MacKinnon's ideas may be divided into three central—although overlapping and ongoing—areas of focus:
(1) sexual harassment
(3) international work
1) Sexual Harassment: In her book, MacKinnon argued that sexual harassment is sex discrimination because the act reinforces the social inequality of women to men.
-She distinguishes between two types of sexual harassment:
--1) "quid pro quo": meaning sexual harassment "in which sexual compliance is exchanged, or proposed to be exchanged, for an employment opportunity"
--2) the type of harassment that "arises when sexual harassment is a persistent condition of work"
2) Pornography: MacKinnon, along with late feminist activist Andrea Dworkin, has been active in attempting to change legal postures towards pornography by framing it as a form of sex discrimination and, more recently, a form of human trafficking
-She (and Dworkin) define pornography as follows: "We define pornography as the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and words that also includes
--(i) women are presented dehumanized as sexual objects, things, or commodities; or
--(ii) women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation or pain; or
--(iii) women are presented as sexual objects experiencing sexual pleasure in rape, incest or other sexual assault; or
--(iv) women are presented as sexual objects tied up, cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt; or
--(v) women are presented in postures or positions of sexual submission, servility, or display; or
--(vi) women's body parts—including but not limited to vaginas, breasts, or buttocks—are exhibited such that women are reduced to those parts; or
--(vii) women are presented being penetrated by objects or animals; or
--(viii) women are presented in scenarios of degradation, humiliation, injury, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual."
-MacKinnon writes, "Pornography, in the feminist view, is a form of forced sex, a practice of sexual politics, and institution of gender inequality."
-MacKinnon chooses a few points to focus on specifically, depicting the sexual exploitation of women as a means of showing their inferiority by displaying them as sexual objects, things or commodities, which dehumanizes them.
-She argues that any display of women enjoying humiliation or pain should be a violation of the law.
-She writes, "Pornography contributes causally to attitudes and behaviors of violence and discrimination which define the treatment and status of half the population."
-"Pornography, in the feminist view is a form of forced sex, a practice of sexual politics, an institution of gender inequality"
3) International Work: we don't focus on this in our class
Bio-power (how modern governments control populations):
1) anatamopolitics: individual body; medical, scientific, behavioral optimization of human body (bodily best sex)
--> centered on the body as a machine: its disciplining, the optimization of its capabilities...the parallel increases of its usefulness and its docility, [and] its integration into systems of efficient and economic control"
2) biopolitics: body as part of populations; population study and control, developmental norms, institutional organizations
--> the practice of modern nation states and their regulation of their subjects through "an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations"
--> refers to practices of public health, regulation of heredity, and risk regulation, among many other regulatory mechanisms often linked less directly with literal physical health
--> biopower is a technology of power for managing people as a large group; the distinctive quality of this political technology is that it allows for the control of entire populations (biopower is closely related to a term he uses much less frequently, but which subsequent thinkers have taken up independently, biopolitics)
Bersani and Hong also talks about biopolitics
-In his book, Foucault explored what he called the "repressive hypothesis".
-It revolved largely around the concept of power, rejecting Marxist theories of power and rejecting psychoanalysis
-Foucault explained that his work was less about analyzing power as a phenomenon than about trying to characterize the different ways in which contemporary society has expressed the use of power to "objectivize subjects."
--> These have taken three broad forms:
-1) one involving scientific authority to classify and 'order' knowledge about human populations.
-2) A second, and related form, has been to categorize and 'normalize' human subjects (by identifying madness, illness, physical features, and so on).
-3) The third relates to the manner in which the impulse to fashion sexual identities and train one's own body to engage in routines and practices ends up reproducing certain patterns within a given society.
-Though American feminists have built on Foucault's critiques of the historical construction of gender roles and sexuality, some feminists have accused him of androcentrism, adopting exclusively male perspectives on subjectivity and ethics.
-Foucault's resistance to identity politics and the rejection of sexual object choice as fixed foundation for sexual behavior, stands at odds with some formulations of queer or gay identity.
-divergentist view of feminism because she believes every political issue will marginalize some and benefit others
-"by supporting black male suffrage and denouncing women's rights, men are showing their sexism"
-black movement simply wanted more inclusion in society, rather than a change of society which is what women's suffrage wanted
-"endurance is not to be confused with transformation"
--> when white women see black women's struggle and say "they are so 'strong'," they are saying that it is better for them to endure the suffrage than to change it
--> endurance becomes another word for acceptance of poor treatment/discrimination
-if white women were to acknowledge black women as an existing entity/a thing, then the analogy between gender as forms of oppression would be unnecessary
-the word woman usually means white women and the term blacks usually means black men
--> reveals a sexist-ract attitude toward black women within the civil rights moments
-"silence of the oppressed": flipside of the endurance talk
--> women are told to be quiet to be ladylike and blacks are told to be quiet to be objective
-Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination
-Noting a lack of diverse voices in popular feminist theory, bell hooks published this work in 1984. In Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, she explains that those voices have been marginalized. "To be in the margin is to be part of the whole but outside the main body."
--> Hooks argued in her work that if feminism seeks to make women equal to men, then it is impossible due to the fact Western society does not view all men equal.
--> She claimed, "Women in lower class and poor groups, particularly those who are non-white, would not have defined women's liberation as women gaining social equality with men since they are continually reminded in their everyday lives that all women do not share a common social status."
--She used the work as a platform to offer a new, more inclusive feminist theory.
--> Her theory encouraged the long-standing idea of sisterhood but advocated for women to acknowledge their differences while still accepting each other.
-Bell hooks challenged feminists to consider gender's relation to race, class, and sex, a concept coined as intersectionality.
-Hooks covers the importance of male involvement in the equality movement, that in order to make change men must do their part.
-Hooks also calls for a restructuring of the cultural framework of power, one that does not find oppression of others necessary.
-Additionally, she shows great appreciation for the movement away from feminist thought as led by bourgeois white women, and towards a multidimensional gathering of both genders to fight for the raising up of women.
-Another part of restructuring the movement comes from education; bell hooks points out that there is an anti-intellectual stigma among the masses:
--> Poor people don't want to hear from intellectuals because they are different and have different ideas.
--> As bell hooks points out though, this stigma against intellectuals leads to poor people who have risen up to become graduates of post secondary education, to be shunned because they are no longer like the rest of the masses.
--> In order for us to achieve equality, people must be able to learn from those who have been able to smash these stereotypes.
--> This separation leads to further inequality and in order for the feminist movement to succeed, they must be able to bridge the education gap and relate to those in the lower end of the economic sphere.
she's interested in cultures' purity-seeking/chastity and how that affects women
-when we don't recognize our white privilege, we reinforce the dominant system/racist system
-Anzaldúa is highly known for this semi-autobiographical book which discusses her life growing up on the Mexican-Texas border.
-Borderlands examines the condition of women in Chicano and Latino culture.
-The first half of the book is a series of essays, which feature a view into a life of isolation and loneliness in the borderlands between cultures.
-The latter half of the book is poetry.
-Anzaldúa writes this book in two variations of English and six variations of Spanish.
--> By doing this she makes it difficult for non-bilinguals to read without being frustrated.
--> This was done on purpose in order for people to understand the frustrating life Anzaldúa grew up in. Language was one of the barriers Anzaldúa dealt with as a child. She wanted readers to understand how frustrating things are when there are language barriers.
-This book was written as an outlet for her anger and encourages one to be proud of one's heritage and culture.
-She made contributions to ideas of feminism and contributed to the field of cultural theory/Chicana and queer theory.
-One of her major contributions was her introduction to United States academic audiences of the term mestizaje, meaning a state of being beyond binary ("either-or") conception, into academic writing and discussion.
-In her theoretical works, Anzaldúa called for a "new mestiza," which she described as an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these "new angles of vision" to challenge binary thinking in the Western world.
-She points out that having to identify as a certain, labelled, sex can be detrimental to one's creativity as well as how seriously people take you as a producer of consumable goods.
-The "new mestiza" way of thinking is illustrated in postcolonial feminism.
-In the same way that Anzaldúa felt she could not be classified as only part of one race or the other, she felt that she possessed a multi-sexuality.
--> When growing up, Anzaldúa expressed that she felt an "intense sexuality" towards her own father, to animals and even to trees.
--> She was attracted to and later had relationships with both men and women.
-While race normally divides people, Anzaldúa called for people of different races to confront their fears in order to move forward into a world that is less hateful and more useful.
-In "La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness," a text often used in women's studies courses, Anzaldúa insisted that separatism invoked by Chicanos/Chicanas is not furthering the cause, but instead keeping the same racial division in place.
-Many of Anzaldúa's works challenge the status quo of the movements in which she was involved.
--> She challenged these movements in an effort to make real change happen to the world, rather than to specific groups.
--> Scholar Ivy Schweitzer writes, "her theorizing of a new borderlands or mestiza consciousness helped jump start fresh investigations in several fields -- feminist, Americanist [and] postcolonial."
-analysis of discursive, conceptual, historical, economic, geopolitical, ideological sources, legacies, effects of Western colonial and imperial occupation and rule
-viewing these eastern or other cultural, economic, and historical situations that these women are in and determining how to come up with strategic coalitions based on the positions and situations that these women are in RATHER than simply declaring them backward
-investigates how colonialism has affected women
-Mohanty says that western feminist discourse creates the idea of the "3rd world woman" and how the Western feminists want to change the 3rd world women to become more like them
-defined the term subaltern: "subaltern is not just a classy word for "oppressed", for The Other, for somebody who's not getting a piece of the pie... In postcolonial terms, everything that has limited or no access to the cultural imperialism is subaltern—a space of difference. Now, who would say that's just the oppressed? The working class is oppressed. It's not subaltern.... Many people want to claim subalternity. They are the least interesting and the most dangerous. I mean, just by being a discriminated-against minority on the university campus; they don't need the word 'subaltern'... They should see what the mechanics of the discrimination are. They're within the hegemonic discourse, wanting a piece of the pie, and not being allowed, so let them speak, use the hegemonic discourse. They should not call themselves subaltern."
-Spivak also introduced the terms essentialism and strategic essentialism to describe the social functions of postcolonialism:
--> The term essentialism denotes the perceptual dangers inherent to reviving subaltern voices in ways that might (over) simplify the cultural identity of heterogeneous social groups, and, thereby, create stereotyped representations of the different identities of the people who compose a given social group
--> The term strategic essentialism denotes a temporary, essential group-identity used in the praxis of discourse among peoples.
--> The important distinction, between the terms, is that strategic essentialism does not ignore the diversity of identities (cultural and ethnic) in a social group, but that, in its practical function, strategic essentialism temporarily minimizes inter-group diversity to pragmatically support the essential group-identity.
-Spivak developed and applied Foucault's term epistemic violence to describe the destruction of non-Western ways of perceiving the world, and the resultant dominance of the Western ways of perceiving the world
--> Conceptually, epistemic violence specifically relates to women, whereby the "Subaltern [woman] must always be caught in translation, never [allowed to be] truly expressing herself", because the colonial power's destruction of her culture pushed to the social margins her non-Western ways of perceiving, understanding, and knowing the world
-"women" referring to white, western women
-Refers to the "white" and "western" woman; implicit distinction between woman as woman and other women who don't fit that definition - average third world woman is constructed as very homogenous
-implies need or help from western women
-average 3rd world woman (uneducated, ignorant, poor, family-oriented, victimized) creates the average first world woman (modern, educated, having control over their own bodies and sexualities, and the freedom to make their own decisions)
-west will always be "ahead" of the 3rd world, and trying to help them make them more like "us"
--> perpetuates the hierarchy of society, even when they are trying to "dissolve" it
-western women need 3rd world women to construct an ideal feminism
-She became known for her essay "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses", in which she states: "The relationship between 'Woman'—a cultural and ideological composite other constructed through diverse representational discourses (scientific, literary, juridical, linguistic, cinematic, etc.)—and 'women'—real, material subjects of their collective histories—is one of the central questions the practice of feminist scholarship seeks to address."
-In this essay, Mohanty critiques the political project of Western feminism and its discursive construction of the category of the "Third World woman" as a homogenous entity.
-Mohanty states that Western feminisms have tended to gloss over the differences between Southern women, but that the experience of oppression is incredibly diverse, and contingent upon geography, history, and culture.
-Her paper was a seminal work, highlighting the difficulties faced by feminists from the Third World in being heard within the broader feminist movement, and it led to a "redefining of power relationships" between feminists within the First and Third worlds.
-In 2003, Mohanty released her book "Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity".
-In this work, she argues for a bridging of theory and praxis, and the personal and the political.
-Major themes addressed include the politics of difference, transnational solidarity building, and anticapitalist struggle against neoliberal globalization.
-Mohanty "reiterates her belief in the possibility, indeed necessity, of building common political projects between Third World and Western feminisms"
-interested in critiquing what representation (self-representation) means
-->according to Spivak, no, the subaltern cannot speak
-she's interested in who is left out of the discussion regarding what is knowledge, science, moral
-subaltern is inside the circuit of epistemic violence and also outside because they have no clue it's happening
--> thus they cannot speak
-no work is apolitical
-subaltern has no happy ending
-given the international division of labor, how can the Western realize the subaltern?
-"white men are saving brown women from brown men" vs. "the women actually wanted to die"
--> represents the subaltern because they are assuming what the women desire, saying that she cannot speak
--> these statements are political and impose Western culture
--> in neither statement do the women speak for themselves
--> geopolitical, social construction of what is desired
-In "Can the Subaltern Speak?" Spivak discusses the lack of an account of the Sati practice (refers to a funeral ritual within some Asian communities in which a recently widowed woman commits suicide by fire, typically on the husband's funeral pyre), leading her to reflect on whether the subaltern can even speak.
-Spivak recounts how Sati appears in colonial archives.
-Spivak demonstrates that the Western academy has obscured subaltern experiences by assuming the transparency of its scholarship.
-Spivak writes about the process, the focus on the Eurocentric Subject as they disavow the problem of representation; and by invoking the Subject of Europe, these intellectuals constitute the subaltern Other of Europe as anonymous and mute.
In this essay, she asks "how and why women's choice of women as passionate comrades, life partners, co-workers, lovers, community, has been crushed, invalidated, forced into hiding"
-Writes about Compulsory heterosexuality - idea that heterosexuality is a social norm and anything that deviates from it is deviant
-heterosexual privilege in society
-"heterosexuality, like motherhood, needs to be recognized and studied as a political institution - even, or especially, by those individuals who feel they are, in their experience, the precursors of a new social relation between the sexes"
-personal experience cannot be extracted from a larger social structure
-not all women are forced into relations
-even the most egalitarian relationships (between a man and woman), it still exists within a bigger structure in which heterosexuality is the norm/reigns
-areas of critique: pornography, rape, heterosexual romance
-she isn't condemning individuals, she's insisting that individual choices are constrained by societal norms
-Rich argues that heterosexuality is a violent political institution making way for the "male right of physical, economical, and emotional access" to women.
-She urges women to direct their energies towards other women rather than men, and portrays lesbianism as an extension of feminism.
-Rich challenges the notion of women's dependence on men as social and economic supports, as well as for adult sexuality and psychological completion.
-She calls for what she describes as a greater understanding of lesbian experience, and believes that once such an understanding is obtained, these boundaries will be widened and women will be able to experience the "erotic" in female terms.
-Rich claims that women may not have a preference toward heterosexuality, but may find it imposed, managed, organized, propagandized, and maintained by society.
--> She holds that women receive messages every day that promote heteronormativity in the form of myths and norms perpetuated by society.
-Rich argues that part of the lesbian experience is an act of resistance: specifically, a rejection of the patriarchy and the male right to women.
-Rich writes that lesbians have been denied a continuity of their personal and political history, and that when included in history, they have been simply the female versions of male homosexuals, with no distinctiveness.
--> At certain points in history, homosexual men and lesbians have shared a social existence, and acknowledged a common fight against society; but Rich writes that to treat the lesbian experience as a version of male homosexuality is to discard it, denying the female experience and the realities it brings, falsifying lesbian history.
-Rich proposes that all women should separate themselves from men and engage in some form of lesbian relationship, whether it leads to a mere lesbian expression at one time or another or an identified lesbian sexuality.
--> Only then, will it be possible for a woman to truly decide if heterosexuality is the right thing for her.
-(those that we can see and conceptualize) are those which in some sense institute and maintain relations of coherence and continuity among sex, gender, sexual practice, and desire
--> if you have 2 X chromosomes, a vagina, a womb, have sex with strictly men and WANT to have sex with men then you are the most "intelligible woman"
--> but she argues that these are never aligned, which she calls "gender trouble"
" "Intelligible" genders [of those that we can see and conceptualize] are those in which some sense institute and maintain relations of coherence and continuity among sex, gender, sexual practice, and desire" (17)
Although these three are performed simultaneously, their 3 definitions are nuanced:
1) Active: gender as an activity
--> performance as activity
--> we ACT OUT genders - we DO gender or ACT gender (ex. dressing as a woman)
--> gender is not a natural product of the body, but something that we act out based on what society determines a "man" or "woman" should do
2) Theatrical: impersonating a character
--> critical aspect of theatrical performance is the presence of witnesses to the performance (audience) as well as their reaction or response to the performance
3) Constitutive: speech-acts that change or create conditions, relations, events
--> ex: "I now pronounce you man and wife", actually makes something happen by speaking
--> ex: naming a child, leaving a will
--> all examples of not just saying soothing, but creating/making something by saying it
-Butler sees gender not as a noun but actually as a verb: "Gender proves to be performative - that is, constituting the identity it is purported to be. In this sense, gender is always a doing" (25).
-These three aspects of gender performativity are interrelated and can occur simultaneously
-In addition, anyone can perform any kind of gender; the performance of gender is not related to the genitals of a subject. That is to say, gender stereotypes of what is considered "masculine" or "feminine" does not necessarily pertain to certain genitalia.
--> For example, a man can have a penis but not be considered "masculine"
--> It is in this sense that Butler argues that gender is completely determined by performativity.
-representation of women is circular: the very concept of women and subordination is synonymous
-temporal fiction: femininity comes first and legal and political structure are a reflection of that nature
--> ex: gender is one of the things first printed on a birth certificate, but gender comes with cultural signification whereas height/weight do not
--> THUS, naming someone a boy or girl is MAKING them a boy or girl
-original vs. copy: "gay is to straight not as copy is to original, but, rather, as copy is to copy."
--> what it means: we know what it means to "act out" gender roles in a relationship. the heterosexual couple is not the "original" because it is not natural, it is copying an already-formed model. so when a "butch-femme" couple takes on gender roles (or a "drag-man" couple), they are not copying an original, they are copying a copy
--> gender is continually being copied/multiplied: there is no "original" idea of a man or a woman
--> drag queens: if a man dresses up just as much as a woman does to achieve the same look, it shows much much femininity is imitated as opposed to natural
-Butler is most well known for her books "Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex"", which challenge notions of gender and develop her theory of gender performativity
-The crux of Butler's argument in Gender Trouble is that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality—the natural-seeming coherence, for example, of masculine gender and heterosexual desire in male bodies—is culturally constructed through the repetition of stylized acts in time
-These stylized bodily acts, in their repetition, establish the appearance of an essential, ontological "core" gender
-Regulative discourse includes within it disciplinary techniques which, by coercing subjects to perform specific stylized actions, maintain the appearance in those subjects of the "core" gender, sex and sexuality the discourse itself produces
-Thus, by showing both terms "gender" and "sex" as socially and culturally constructed, Butler offers a critique of both terms, even as they have been used by feminists
--> Butler argued that feminism made a mistake in trying to make "women" a discrete, ahistorical group with common characteristics.
--> Butler said this approach reinforces the binary view of gender relations because it allows for two distinct categories: men and women.
-Butler aims to break the supposed links between sex and gender so that gender and desire can be "flexible, free floating and not caused by other stable factors".
-The idea of identity as free and flexible and gender as a performance, not an essence, is one of the foundations of Queer theory
-Representational intersectionality: bc focus on white woman's rape case rather than black woman's rape puts white woman into a higher standard or more purity
-law itself is often one-sided
-part of Crenshaw's interest is the ways in which its very difficult for black women to represent themselves in the court in legal rape cases
-shes interested in the ways in which the paradigm of a black male perpetrator on a white female victim leaves out the black female cases
-On April 19, 1989, a white woman jogging in Central Park is attacked, beaten, and raped by a group of black youth
-That same week, 28 other first degree rapes or attempted rapes occur in NYC, none of which attract media attention
--> Why did this rape attract attention?
-"Historically, the dominant conceptualization of rape [has been] as quintessentially Black offender/ white victim"
-Antiracists work to confront and dispel the construction of black masculinity as a threat to white womanhood
-Feminists work to attack the good women/bad woman dichotomy that devalues the testimony of sexually autonomous women
-"The primary beneficiaries of policies supported by feminists and others concerned about rape tend to be white women; the primary beneficiaries of the Black community's concern over racism and rape, Black men"
-"Blacks have long been portrayed as more sexual, more earthly, more gratification-oriented. These sexualized images of race intersect with norms of women's sexuality, norms that are used to distinguish good women from bad, the madonnas from the whores. Thus Black women are essentially prepackaged as bad women within cultural narratives about good women who can be raped and bad women who cannot"
-Gendered sexual system (constructs rules appropriate for good/bad women) and a race code (images defining allegedly essential nature of black women)
-Effect that these discourses can have on black women
-Feminists used the central park rape case to draw attention to violence against women, consequences for black men—contributing to stereotypes of black men by only focusing on this case
3 main questions she asks:
1) what happens when the revolutionary aims of feminism are required to work within a nonrevolutionary (liberal constitutional) framework?
2) what if one has revolutionary goals to change society itself, and yet is working as a lawyer or legal scholar, constrained to think within the actual limits or potential limits of the law, the courts and legislation?
3) do rights have any value for feminists who wish to undo the constraints and equal power relations that the formation of individual subjects constituted by the law sets into action?
-She has established new paradigms in critical legal studies and feminist theory; she is widely taught in courses in political theory, anthropology, sociology, geography, public policy, feminist theory, education, cultural and critical theory.
-In particular, she has produced a body of work that draws upon:
--> Marx's critique of capitalism
--> Nietzsche's usefulness for thinking about power and the ruses of morality
--> Max Weber and the modern organization of power
--> Freudian psychoanalysis and its implications for political identification
--> the early Frankfurt School
--> Michel Foucault's work on governmentality, sovereignty, and neo-liberalism
--> and other contemporary continental philosophers to diagnose modern and contemporary formations of political power, and to discern the threats to democracy entailed by such formations
-She has offered a trenchant critique of the discourse of "tolerance", showing how it is differentially used to augment forms of official intolerance.
-Brown returns time and again in her work to the question of democracy, posing the question within the present state of things of how to make a world together, emphasizing that sharing power for the purposes of making a common world must remain an ideal, however far from realization it remains at this time.
-"The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life" is a book by Michael Warner that discusses the role of same-sex marriage as a goal for gay rights activists
-Warner argues that the right to marry is an inadequate and ultimately undesirable goal for gay rights activism
-As well as addressing marriage, he considers other areas in which public discourse stigmatizes certain sexual behaviors, including through sensationalist coverage of sex scandals, public zoning initiatives that marginalize the sex industry, and the attempted use of shame to manage sexually transmitted disease
-argues that same-sex marriage should not be the sole goal for gay rights activism; that gay activists should work toward equal benefits for domestic partners and unconventional families
-When national LGBT activists insist on the overriding importance of marriage, the book argues, it stigmatizes queer people who choose other types of relationships, while ignoring a broad range of legal benefits that could help the entire community, not just legally married couples.
-Warner contends that the institutional sanctioning of certain types of relationship always comes at the expense of others, which are constituted by contrast as abnormal, inferior, and shameful
-He argues that any queer rights movement would do better to abandon the pursuit of normality in favor of campaigning for the recognition of broader varieties of sexual expression as dignified
3 topics she covers:
-Halberstam's writing focuses on the topic of tomboys and female masculinity and has published a book titled after the concept of female masculinity.
-"Female Masculinity" famously discusses a common by-product of gender binarism, termed "the bathroom problem," outlining the dangerous and awkward dilemma of a perceived gender deviant's justification of presence in a gender-policed zone, such as a public bathroom, and the identity implications of "passing" therein
-In Female Masculinity (1998), Halberstam seeks to identify what constitutes masculinity in society and within the individual.
-The text first suggests that masculinity is a construction that promotes particular brands of male-ness while at the same time subordinating "alternative masculinities."
-The project specifically focuses on the ways female masculinity has been traditionally ignored in academia and society at large.
-To illustrate a cultural mechanism of subordinating alternative masculinities, Halberstam brings up James Bond and Goldeneye as an example, noting that gender performance in this film is far from what is traditional: M is the character who "most convincingly performs masculinity," Bond can only perform masculinity through his suave clothing and gadgets, and Q can be read "as a perfect model of the interpenetration of queer and dominant regimes."
-This interpretation of these characters challenges long-held ideas about what qualities create masculinity.
-Halberstam also brings up the example of the tomboy, a clear case of a youthful girl exerting masculine qualities—and raises the complication that within a youthful figure, the idea of masculinity expressed within a female body is less threatening, and only becomes threatening when those masculine tendencies are still apparent as the child progresses in age.
-Halberstam then focuses on "the bathroom problem.": Halberstam argues that the problem of only having two separate bathrooms for different genders, with no place for people who do not clearly fit into either category to use, is a problem.
-The assertion is further made that our bathroom system is not adequate for the different genders found in society.
-The problem of policing that occurs around the bathrooms is also a focal point for examination of the bathroom problem; not only is this a policing on the legal level, but also on the social level.
-The social aspect of policing, according to Halberstam, makes it even more difficult for people who do not clearly and visibly fall into one category or another to use public restrooms without encountering some sort of violent or uncomfortable situation.
What is disability?
-dictionary definition: A physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities; the fact or state of having such a condition
--> physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, or developmental
--> this meaning though, is slippery -- what about glasses and hearing aids?
-origin: Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS)—Paul Hunt's 1971 editorial in The Guardian
--> The field examines social, cultural, political, and economic factors that shape disability
--> DS works to de-stigmatize disability through the interrogation of medical practices
--> Fundamentally, the field asks: what does it mean to be human? How can taking account of disability ask us to rethink
1) A system for interpreting bodily difference
2) A relationship between bodies and their social environments
3) A set of practices that produce able bodies people and disabled people
-dirt: "matter out of place"
--> not only are the disabled "put of place", but disability is also somewhat like dirt that it is a contaminant of purity
--> dirt can touch anyone, thus nothing is really pure
--> just as purity and dirt are so interconnected, so are ability and disability
--> someone can easily go from being pure to being dirty, just as someone can easily go from being able to being disabled
-this theory draws our fragility to the "able" state, and at one point we will ALL be disabled (if we live long enough)
-Disability, like dirt, which threatens to contaminate, get people sick, it is dangerous
-Social value systems engage in rigid boundary maintenance and expunge those with minds and bodies who are considered "impure, unbeautiful, or unfit"
-Dirt becomes a metaphor for all that must be rejectd from carefully constructed social scenes
-a notion that time is valued as long as it follows the Western linear-progessive model
--> as time goes on, things get more liberal, progressive, rational, and better
-seen as problematic because it not only sees progress in Western, but also sees the West as the paradigm of modernity and progress while it sees the East as always a little behind
-modernist ideology which deems history in linear terms as moving from the primitive to the developed, confers similarity on the other as the past of the self
-What western nations have achieved ideologically, politically, socially, is seen as the pinnacle of progress with non western peoples and nations having to catch up
-Geographical and cultural difference is mapped on to cultural difference
--> Asymmetrical Cosmopolitanism
Ex: Chinese history of women's rights
1) liberal feminism (1920s)
2) revolutionary feminism (1930s)
3) socialist, state-sponspored feminism (1949-980s)
4) refeminization (mid-1980s on)
-in Chinese history of women's rights and feminist movements, Chinese women actually achieved legal equal rights as men in the 50s (which is what US women were just starting to fight for)
-"refeminization" occurred as communism was starting to be banned, and capitalism was slowly replaced it
-because Chinese women had been assimilated with men for so long, and had been considered "equals" for so long, they felt that it was necessary to reestablished their feminism/"regender women"
--> this was seen as a step backwards to Westerners, who are trying to achieve equality with men
2 Myths about Chinese Women
1) Chinese women's liberation in the 1950s: "Western women did not realize that we entered society in the condition of a very low productivity standard, and because of the heavy burden of labor, including social and domestic labor, Chinese women had not really achieved real liberation. You said we were liberated, and we said we were exhausted." (99)
--> You said we were liberated by being able to work as much as men for the same pay, they said they were exhausted
--> "You said, we said" represents Westerner's assimilation of Chinese women
--> Women were legally defined as workers and given all of the same rights before the law as men were
--> Chinese women were assimilated into category of men
--> Because of low productivity standard and heavy burden of labor Chinese women were given the right to work as hard, for as little money, and as awful conditions as men
2) Chinese women's "double oppression": double oppression by tradition/the traditional family and by undemocratic politics and an underdeveloped economy
--> In the 1980's when China reentered global markets, Chinese women adopted new tension to what it means to be a woman as opposed to a girl
--> From the western perspective this wasn't seen as progress, but backsliding—the antithesis of progress
--> Return to tradition and the traditional family as one form of oppression
-"In these two diametrically opposed myths, there is an unquestioned, contradictory assignation of temporal value to Chinese women, first as "forerunners," thus ahead of Western women, and then as backward sisters living in an "underdeveloped" country under "double oppression."" (99)
--> Depends on taking western timeline as an objective truth as opposed to merely one perspective on what time and progress mean
--> "The obsessive critique of temporalizing the Other, Fabian's "chronopolitics" always already posits Chinese women as the perennial Object of study and does not presume the necessity of equal and genuine dialogue and exchange" (103)
-How do the border crossings of these two women expose and confront the Western centric regime of power and representation where difference is variously value coded in terms of time, space, ethnicity, and subjectivity
--> Time= the backward/past
--> Space=under developed and remote geographical areas
--> Ethnicity=the racialized/ethnicized
-All of these factors are saturated with subjective values, not neutral objective terms, they are value encoded terms
-She wants to think about how do the border crossings of the two women she talks about expose and confront a western centric regime of power and representation of difference
There are two problems that she analyzes in the essay
1) The non West's mimeticism of the west consolidates western universalism and passively participates in the colonial and neocolonial circulation of knowledge
-Universalizing western postcolonialism
2) The affective technologies of nativism and cultural nationalism produce another set of legitimizing conterdiscourses that often reproduce and replicate the very dynamics that are being opposed
The 3rd critique: Chinese, or the Limits of Chineseness
-"Nation-bound US multiculturalism has always ethnicized minority peoples as embodiments of ethnic cultures where ethnicity is displayed and commodified as the site of difference. With globalization, we increasingly see national cultures in geographical locations outside the U.S. being readily transformed into ethnic cultures" (113)
-Problem with US multiculturalism in the domestic sphere is that it assumes that US born white people share an innate culture; non US born non white people born in the US share an ethnic heritage
-Isn't tied to any history or socioeconomic background
-Ethnicity replaces history
-A cultural heritage replaces actual experiences of other political social economic places
-Specificity of difference is drained away and culture or ethnicity replaces understandings of national and geographic history and difference
-With globalization this becomes increasingly translatable to the global realm where other countries are seen not as placed within particular concrete orders but instead groups of cultures
-Limits of multiculturalism and limits of ethnicization and why they are particularly dangerous in political terms
-When Chineseness is reduced to ethnicity the infinitely complex institutional, political, ethnic, class, and gender determinations of Chineseness within China appear by one stroke of the magic ant to be homogenized
-Chinese ethnicity is conflicted with Chineseness
-All difference get reduced to one's ethnic heritage
-Shih's solution: pose an Ethics of transnational encounter beyond affect and recognition
-Ethics may be defined as that relationality beyond affect and recognition
-Wider analysis of gender positions
-Argue for a wider analysis of gender positiosn to think about gender including men not just women
-Attention to original historical, geographical, political, economic context
-Attention to other factors not just allowing ethnicity to stand in for all of those things
-Multidimensional analysis of simultaneity of loss and gain for all ideologoies from multiple and contradictory perspectives
-Min and Li with regards to Chinese women would be seen as 2 among many perspectives as opposed to competing truths about what Chinese women feel
Traditional capitalism: capitalism as production
-divides heterogeneous surplus labor (women, minorities, and non-normative sexualities) vs. homogeneous citizenry (white, male, middle class)
Neoliberal capitalism: based on speculation, not material product (service, communication, and finance)
-post WWII shift from white supremacy to liberal race paradigm based on abstract equality, market individualism, and inclusive civic nationalism
--> everyone can aspire to have a car, ownership, etc
-this is because "In the wake of the liberation movements of the mid-20th century, we have seen a new form of power."
--> people who don't own things are seen as CHOOSING this life: subjectification became organized as a choice
-neoliberal capitalism actually requires the "production of surplus populations as nonlaboring subjects, that is, the populations
Problem: "Feminism's dream, to make discrimination on the basis of sexual and gender difference a thing of the past, has not been realized, partly as a result of feminists' unwillingness to surrender certain ideas about sex and gender."
-more specifically: "Critiques of the exclusionary and conservative potential of rights and the liberal project on which they are based have blunted the tools of transformation and left progressive movements, including feminism, rudderless and without a political vision."
Main focus of analysis: Indian legal engagements and their impact
1) Feminism in India (revolutionary vs. nationalist goals)
2) Problem of modernity, religion, and secularization in India
3) Offer proposal for how to recover a politics of transformation and restore feminism as an intellectually and politically viable force
Proposal/thesis: philosophical rethinking can open up 2 possibilities for feminists
1) "First, it offers the possibility of thinking about freedom and liberation in a way that is not confined to or exclusively aligned with the liberal tradition, especially in the guise of a demand for more rights and more law."
2) "Second, such rethinking enables Indian feminists to provide a powerful challenge to the Hindu Right's shallow claims to be the exclusive exponents of "authentic Indian culture," without themselves falling into a culturally nationalist or nativist position."
Universal: essentialism, idea that there is one set gender binary, male or female that applies to everyone
-Sinha critiques this and wants to bring a global perspective on gender to feminism
Global: we want to build a global idea of feminism where we are keeping different meanings of gender
-"a truly global perspective on gender - rather than merely the extension of an [earlier/older] conception of gender to different parts of the globe - must give theoretical weight to the particular contexts in which it is articulated. It offers, in lieu of an already known understanding of gender, a radically open conception that derives meaning from the work it does in particular contexts."
--> different meanings of gender dependent on different contexts and locations
-"we must dare to risk the disassociation of gender from its one-dimensional modern European association with binary sexual difference."
1) Example 1: gender is so hopelessly compromised by its particular European constitutions as to have no relevance for understanding social relations in precolonial Africa
-core to African identity is seniority and social class, NOT gender. gender is a distinction like eye color but not an identity
2) Example 2: "beardless male" belonged to a different logic of gender in which the point of reference for masculinity was not femininity but an adult male masculinity
-how does the "beardless male" represent masculinity without thinking of gender?
--> age: a boy is more different from a grown man than he is different from a girl
3) Example 3: Bengali language domestic manuals
-"the genre serves precisely in the fashioning of a new masculine gender identity constructed in opposition to family elders"
-Bengali manuals were written by men (English manuals were written by women), these were written for a male audience who were trying to redefine their masculinity from the context of age to the context of the couple
4) Example 4: MSM (men who have sex with men)
-"MSM was designed to capture the multiplicity of frameworks for sexual behavior that did not fit within the standard framework of sexual orientation or gender identity"
-all of these are examples of the larger argument: "the larger point, however, is not merely the predictable one of contrasting theoretical abstractions with the immediacy of practice. It is, rather, about deriving the theoretical abstractions and the conceptual categories - in this case, the concept of gender - from the empirical material itself."
--> she wants to draw out general/theoretical concepts from particular/empirical cases, whereas feminists do the opposite
--> feminists keep folding gender back into male vs. female
-based on pity and cultural superiority of the West
-European bourgeois sympathy for the suffering of the colonized Other has historically gone hand in hand with a feeling of superiority as a sympathizer, an agent of change, and a purveyor of civilization, thereby producing "the very inequalities it decries and seeks to bridge."
--> critiquing structure of pity/sympathy: when you feel pity, you're also recognizing the difference between you and Other
-reblogging feels like action, but it's an easy REaction rather than deep political debate
- "This discourse has mobilized Western LGBTQ rights to produce a stronger distinction between a presumably tolerant, modern, and secularized West and a presumably intolerant, antimodern, and religious (Islamic) East, which underscores and feeds the emotional repertoire of anti- Muslim/Arab racism in the United States and Western Europe."
-she thinks about 3 specific emotions and what these emotions bring to politics:
-feelings of identification with the "gay" — and therefore presumably innocent — victims seen as expressing their individuality against religious conventions
-"by pairing the claims that the youths were in love and that they were innocent, these statements imply that they could not both be in love with each other and participate in a rape of another boy."
--> sympathy is held for victims who we identify with, and identification depends on the victims' innocence (because we see ourselves as innocent), which is established by describing the teens as in love
-feelings of sympathetic terror for what the youths experienced at the hands of religion, resonating with many other fears articulated in both Western LGBTQ experience and the war on terror
-"Despite this explicit disassociation between the Western and Iranian con-texts, there is also an implicit resonance articulated in a fear of homophobic violence as crossing many borders."
--> LGBTQ people identifying with these boys leads to fear... "that could've been me"
-the fear encapsulated in the photographs was also generalized and amplified to be a fear experienced by all Americans, or Westerners, of what is deemed an Islamic threat
-feelings of revulsion at violence that could be seen as religious in source and therefore wholly distinct from Western secular forms of violence
-While love is often expressed as a form of identification, a feeling that "that could have been me," expressions of disgust produce a strong differentiation and feeling of the superiority of the (Western) sympathizer
-Fear in turn bridges these two emotions, at times serving to intensify the identification with the victims, while at other times amplifying disgust at what is deemed a wholly foreign and horrifying violence, although one that also threatens "us" in the "civilized West."
-Therefore, through these three emotional responses, identification and differentiation with the sympathetic victim were produced in a manner that reinforced an essential civilizational difference that undergirds anti- Muslim/Arab racism.
-these photos generalized Islam and the EAST, leading to fear of what they do "over there", thus increasing cultural distinctions and fear, leading to a "war on terror" which is a war fighting what we are afraid of
-she wants to move away from the assumption that happiness is "the goal" (for both feminism and for life)
-general project of her book: "I am interested in how happiness is associated with some life choices and not others, how happiness is imagined as being what follows being a certain kind of being."
--> 1st being = "means"
--> 2nd being = "becoming", attempting to become
--> 3rd being = "a person"
--> repetition of the word being is central to her argument: the word being as performative
3 figures that she focuses on (they overlap):
1) Happy Housewife
-she doesn't care about whether or not these individual women are happy, she's interested in how this image creates job separation between genders
-classic feminist response would be that the answer is for a woman to leave the house and work
--> Ahmed critiques this because although it seems to be aimed at all women, it is really just aimed at white women, and left to make minority women do the domestic labor
-the woman who embraces the "happy housewife" and is happy to do the domestic labor: her job is not only the domestic labor, it's also to be happy while doing it
2) Feminist Killjoy
3) Angry Black Woman
-Ahmed's The Promise of Happiness (2010) "takes on the long-standing philosophical affinity for happiness in exposing ways in which the concept of happiness functions to justify oppression and to recast social norms and human goods."
-"Ahmed is not concerned with what happiness 'is' but with the kinds of cultural, phenomenological, and political work it does. She historicizes the concept, attending to the 'happiness turn' at work in popular culture and in science, arguing that 'by finding happiness in certain places, [the science of happiness] generates those places as being good, as being what should be promoted as goods' —or as 'happiness objects,' which orient us or compel us to turn toward them to generate "accumulative positive affective value as social good'."
-Ahmed argues for the space to be unhappy as a sign of political will and freedom, given that happiness is conditional to proper subjectivity and citizenship within heteronormative and multicultural societies
-The book includes the essay "Feminist Killjoys," in which Ahmed critiques the role of happiness in women's culture and the depiction of feminists as unhappy, bitter, or "killjoys" because they disrupt our ability to enjoy the things that make us happy.
-According to Ahmed, feminism is largely constructed around the fantasies of the happy housewife, which as she quotes is "a fantasy figure that erases the signs of labor under the sign of happiness."
--> This figure operates under the assumption that working for the family makes women happy and that happiness motivates the work they do.
--> This figure also conceals the domestic labor done by women of color and working class women whose work done outside of the home is not a matter of choice.
-From here, Ahmed moves through an analysis of how happiness is used to justify unequal divisions in labor and education as an orientation device to a particular type of social values to an argument about how happiness is used as a sort of boundary on gender roles.
-From there, Ahmed explicates several different philosophies of happiness, including conditionality, sociality, communities of feeling, and fellow-feeling.
-Ahmed argues that the happy housewife's "happiness" is not really about happiness but that happiness is used as an instrument as hegemony.