black feminism & separatism
Although we are feminists and Lesbians, we feel solidarity with progressive Black men and do not advocate the fractionalization that white women who are separatists demand. Our situation as Black people necessitates that we have solidarity around the fact of race, which white women of course do not need to have with white men, unless it is their negative solidarity as racial oppressors. We struggle together with Black men against racism, while we also struggle with Black men about sexism.
[W]e reject the stance of Lesbian separatism because it is not a viable political analysis or strategy for us. It leaves out far too much and far too many people, particularly Black men, women, and children. We have a great deal of criticism and loathing for what men have been socialized to be in this society: what they support, how they act, and how they oppress. But we do not have the misguided notion that it is their maleness, per se—i.e., their biological maleness—that makes them what they are. As BIack women we find any type of biological determinism a particularly dangerous and reactionary basis upon which to build a politic. We must also question whether Lesbian separatism is an adequate and progressive political analysis and strategy, even for those who practice it, since it so completely denies any but the sexual sources of women’s oppression, negating the facts of class and race.
THE COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE, “The Combahee River Collective Statement” (1978).
Men have asked over the centuries a question that, in their hands, ironically becomes abstract: “What is reality?” They have written complicated volumes on this question. The woman who was a battered wife and has escaped knows the answer: reality is when something is happening to you and you know it and can say it and when you say it other people understand what you mean and believe you. That is reality, and the battered wife, imprisoned alone in a nightmare that is happening to her, has lost it and cannot find it anywhere.
Andrea Dworkin, A Battered Wife Survives, in Letters from a War Zone 100, 104 (1988).
Anonymous said: why is your blog dead?
I was going to respond with something about how I moved recently, & I’ve been overwhelmed & that something has to suffer, something must give, you know, but reviewing these most theatrical lamentations, I believe none of this is true at all & I just haven’t wanted to post much lately but please stay.
feminism, Foucault, & the law
Foucault’s central interest is with the production of the concept of sexuality and categories of sexuality (‘homosexual’, ‘heterosexual’, ‘paedophiliac’, etc.) through knowledge/power networks. By contrast, feminists are more interested in those knowledges which create a differential relationship between men and women, or that act against women as a group. Knowledges which suggest that women need men in order to experience sexual satisfaction, which situate lesbianism as a deviant sexual choice, which depict masculine sexuality as inherently predatory, have been considered by feminists not simply as powerful knowledges that constrain all individuals, but as powerful knowledges that differentially constrain women. Crucially, the central concern of feminism is the way in which these ways of understanding sexuality have operated to make women subordinate to men as individuals and as a group.
The major feminist criticism of Foucault’s thesis on sexuality therefore is that he fails to consider what one might term the gendering aspects of sexuality. What he fails to do is consider how the strategies of sexuality affect the relationship between men and women as gendered individuals.
Vikki Bell, Interrogating Incest: Feminism, Foucault, & The Law (1993).