Friday, June 5, 2009

Theory Thursday Links and Pictures

Oh, y'all, I promise that sometime soon I will write an actual blog post. I'm a few dozen pages into The History of Sexuality Vol I so you'll get some deconstruction of that soon. I've just been working a lot and reading a lot; summer is harder than I thought.

Harvard endowed a chair for "gay studies" (emphasis on that it's called gay studies, for crying out loud--that's so 1992). Harvard is saying it's the first school to endow such a chair, but whatever Harvard--the University of Louisville has had the Audre Lorde endowed chair in Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality for four years now. I guess that if it's not about white gay men then it doesn't count as the "first" endowed chair about sexuality.

This doesn't have much to do with theory, but the World Beard Championship was about two weeks ago, and there were some awesome beards.
The photo is from Kempt.

Both cripchick and Wheelchair Dancer (in response to Brown Femi Power's post about What is Butch?) took on the butch/femme dichotomy a few days ago and discussed how disability interacts with gender. Well, not just interacts with gender, but completely reshapes it, and also how ideas about gender and gender theory are rather whitewashed and portrayed as able-bodied.

I've been thinking a lot about fucking up lately--what exactly does it mean to "fuck up," particularly in the context of being someone with a privileged identity fucking up and being oppressive around folks with marginalized identities. It's really complicated, and I think that for me, being a trans person that people don't think is trans, fucking up around me is super complicated. I'm thinking particularly of the time (there are of course, countless other times) I met someone's new boyfriend, who in all other respects was a great guy, really funny, and extremely respectful of my friend. But at one point in the night, "tranny heels" passed from his lips in regards to someone's particularly high shoes. I didn't say anything to him, and I always regret it, because I think standing up for not just myself but other trans people would have been really good. But what does it boil down to to call people out? And why do we fear being called out when we say something stupid or wrong or oppressive?

This is a really interesting juncture of theory and praxis, I believe--here are these instances, these missteps, that remind us of oppression when we've forgotten about it for a moment, and then we have our own instances and missteps where we choose to say things or not say things. I'm being rambly, but that's because I'm thinking through it. Part of what I want to write more about this summer is when theory fucks up--for instance, when Judith Butler uses women of color to prove her point that "woman" as the subject of feminism is too universal, but then just drops any other analysis of race after she's used the theories and bodies of women of color to prove her fucking point. That's some theory fucking up. So it is too when Foucault sort of forgets about women in his whole History of Sexuality and all. How do we address fucked up theory? How do we interact with it, still use it, write about it, and not be fucked up ourselves? Is there any way around it?

Anyways, BFP wrote a post contextualizing fucking up. Talking about a clinic where some terrible stuff happened, BFP wrote:
for women of color centering the lives of women in the worst part of the city–this is what happens when they “fuck up.” the women that need the most help are brutally murdered, and twenty years later, the guilt, the violence, the regret, the horror is still with those who were trying to help. this is learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t. this is learning the hard way what “movement” really means. this is courage, massive huge radical fucking courage: because that clinic didn’t fold under the guilt, the violence, the regret, the horror. Twenty years later, it is still centering women, fighting for women, believing in women with every fiber it has. A whole lot wiser–after a whole fucking world of mistakes.

doesn’t being called “a racist” or being told “that is racist” (or any other thing out there), seem a lot less horrifying now?

it really should.

See you soon, y'all. I don't think I can say much more after that.

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About Me

I'm a young trans person living between two states, trying to make ends meet, both intellectually and monetarily.