from marxist feminists

anonymous asked:

Is it possible to be gender critical without being a TERF? I just feel more and more like gender is just a big divide and conquer scam and it does more harm than good and why can't we just treat everyone as people? And I want to express that feeling but I don't want to hurt trans people because, well, they're people and deserve to be treated well. And I don't want to sound like I want to erase their identities or keep them from transitioning, but also I want to get rid of all gender categories?

Radical feminists certainly aren’t the only ones who believe in dismantling gender! Simone de Beauvoir, the author of The Second Sex, was an existentialist feminist who proposed that women “become” women through cultural, economic, psychological, and social structures rather than women having some intrinsic biological “essence” that makes them women. Her work actually provided the foundation for a lot of different feminist theories - liberal, radical, post-structural, marxist, and psychoanalytic. 

The radical libertarian feminists who believe in dismantling gender and instituting a sort of androgynous utopia are different from the radical cultural feminists who essentialize femininity to “empower” women - the former include feminists like Shulamith Firestone and the latter includes feminists like Adrienne Rich and Mary Daly (both of whom are notoriously transmisogynistic). 

However, as a marxist and postcolonial feminist, I believe that the abolition of class is not possible without the abolition of gendered and racial hierarchies and oppression. Moreover, a lot of the boundaries between different feminist theories aren’t so immutable - many ideas flow from discourse to discourse. As a marxist feminist I do not think class consciousness/the abolition of class is possible without dismantling white supremacy or patriarchy, because white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism reproduce each other and work hand in hand. 

Dismantling gender would actually liberate trans people as well, as it would liberate all people. However, there are ways to approach this discourse that can either be transphobic and transmisogynistic (the way many radical feminists approach it) and there are ways to approach it that actually emphasize trans people’s, particularly trans women’s, struggles. Trans women are an oppressed class under capitalist heteropatriarchy. They struggle under the capitalist heterosexualized gender binary in unique ways.

And trust me, many critical trans theorists and writers have already written about a trans politics that seeks to abolish gender too. Gender is an oppressive construct for trans people and it continually reproduces itself to enact violence against trans people and women. 

Dismantling gender will help everyone in the long run, but it is impossible to dismantle gender without abolishing class or race! This is where marxists differ from radical feminists - radical feminists believe patriarchy is transhistorical and that the ultimate location of women’s oppression is in the sex/gender system. The sex/gender system certainly does oppress women, but patriarchy is constructed by capital and culture. Radical feminists don’t historicize properly, nor do they employ an intersectional framework in their analysis, which is why their theories are largely inadequate and either exclude or only marginally apply to women of color, nonwestern women, or trans women. So trust me on this - while radical feminists in the 60′s and 70′s published a lot of crucial literature on dismantling gender, they are not the first to posit that gender is socially constructed, and they are not the only ones who believe that it has to be dismantled. 

womanifesto pt. 1

Revolutionary Feminist Bruja Consciousness in the 21st century requires a commitment to both cultural and economic radical theory and praxis.

Urban patriarchal culture and modern capitalism work in tandem to repress all youth. It isn’t difficult to identify the ways in which urban culture has developed patriarchy, yet the way in which it also advances capitalist ideology is both grotesque, ironic, and rarely addressed. Skateboarding, Music, Visual Arts, mediums the underground have dominated and used to incite critical consciousness, are indisputably dominated by men. Women are still seen and used as props and imagery by men. Meanwhile women who are participating artists are subject to harassment, tokenization, fetishization, and disrespect at the margins. What effects does this create on the labor and economic reality of urban women? Brujas, as revolutionary feminists seek to combat the subordinate and overly sexualized positioning of women by producing and representing ourselves authentically in media, however our goals as a collective should and do stretch beyond asserting our right to representation in urban culture. Representation in many ways connotes “buying in” to a system already designed to exploit the laborers that sustain it. Economic disruption is thus the most important element of our vision of social progress.

Despite living in an abundantly wealthy imperial center, we recognize that the post-industrial economic reality of urban working class youth is bleak. Repression as severe as pre-mature death and incarceration threaten our community on a daily basis while also leaving those “free and alive” trapped in the seemingly unavoidable monotony of the service industry. 

 It is our belief that male artists athletes intellectuals and entrepreneurs form cultural solidarity driven historically and often unconsciously by economic strategy. So while the seemingly endless number of groups of male friends may seem like a benign social phenomenon, these groups actually create channels for their own economic survival together, making their exclusivity more violent and dangerous for women creatives. Excluding women principally through cultural patriarchy ultimately deprives women of creative livelihoods, relegating working class women to a new kind of “domesticity.” Women’s recent participation in the workforce and democratic process has defined a new age of economic progress and independence for women. Yet, women in the global south comprise the overwhelming majority of factory and sweatshop workers. Meanwhile, young women working in the first world service industry clean cook organize and care-take for wages. Women may no longer be housewives but they are still performing predominantly servile labor. Every missing woman from your roster (from skate brands to record labels and lineups) is a missing participant in the creative economy. 

We, as Brujas, encourage women’s participation in the creative economy. Yet we also draw from Marxist-Feminist, Anti-Racist, and Anarchist knowledge traditions to challenge our community to think more critically about scarcity and competition. There is no winning in a system designed to reward some and fail others. We reject Capitalism and the current state of reliance on scarcity and competition to produce everything from art to basic life necessities. Given the fact that it is the system that has simultaneously excluded and exploited us for its success we choose to build and imagine alternatives instead of obsessing over wealth, fame and success. Obsession with success is in itself a dangerous form of materialism driven by capitalism. Everyday we wake up asking ourselves am I doing enough, am I killing it, am I doing something? We are inflicting pressure on ourselves to succeed in an economic system designed to fail us, and “doing something” usually means making some sort of art and getting recognition for it. It is unfortunate and sad to see young people in the process of rejecting the monotony of work under capitalism only to obsess over producing and selling art and cultural services. (Its like y’all want out of this shit, yet the avenues your taking still involve even more complex, self involved forms of commodification). 

Marxism to the conscious revolutionary is one of the most important forms of political thought because it problematizes the commodification of labor, i.e. selling your labor. Have you ever thought to yourself, is it wrong that in order to survive I have to sell my time to somebody else who is making more value off of it than I am receiving in return? The gap between the value of what laborers produce and what compensation they receive (surplus value) is what drives capitalism. You know its weird and wrong to produce value for somebody else, You, I, and everybody else want to produce things themselves, and these things we self-produce usually take the form of cultural artifacts, or art. This is how fundamentally anti-capitalist sentiments bring us to artistry, the drive to self produce comes from an aversion to the exploitative structure of capitalism. However these sentiments are rarely given the space to breathe and manifest into full formed anti-capitalist ideas. These usually non-realized anti-capitalist urban youth start racing to be involved in the market of selling art. They start drowning in it, loosing sight of the quest for autonomy over their work and time and obsessing over market success. The market asks its merchants to compete with one another, and this competition drives artists to not only commodify their products, but now they must commodify themselves. In the context of the post-industrial service economy in the U.S, the rise of the personal brand can thus be seen as a phenomenon by which generational sentiments that reject traditional and exploitative labor relations are channeled back into capitalist valuing and commodification. The anti-capitalist sentiment driven by the desire to self-produce is almost completely lost in the whirlwind of competing in the market for success. Brujas is not this. We believe that Audre Lorde’s words are as relevant as ever, she reminds us that “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” And with this reminder the revolutionary feminist bruja rises above the games by remembering that their goal is not success but autonomy. Brujas are harnessing the radical potential of lifestyle and personal branding to organize youth in a way that is culturally relevant and familiar, yet explicitly anti-capitalist. We are searching for a new popular model that is going to bring agency empowerment, material and emotional support to our community. All power to the people.  

Our basic principles are informed by the movement for queer and transgender liberation, the movement for universal basic income, prison abolition, workers sovereignty, de-colonial and indigenous power, black power, third world liberation, environmentalism, holistic healing, and curanderismo, radical feminism and centuries of anti-capitalist resistance… to be continued.