Archives de Tag: Genre

In neoliberal d…

In neoliberal discourse, married women are assumed to be responsible for children and dependent on wage-earning husbands, and are often advised to stay at home during their children’s early years to build self-esteem and independence in the young. They are also encouraged to volunteer, as the bulwarks of civil society and « faith-based » social service provisions, with their unpaid labor underpinning the privatized social safety net. Single, divorced, and widowed women may « choose » to work in a gender and race-segmented labor market without affordable childcare or public assistance in order to build their self-esteem and independence—or, some welfare reformers suggest, they may « choose » to put their children up for adoption by married couples, or house them in orphanages. Lesbian and gay, bisexual or transgendered parents may choose only to take their chances amid the patchwork legal minefield of inadequate to hostile partnership provisions, custody rulings, adoptions laws, social services, employment and health insurance practices, and educational (in)visibility.
For men, neoliberal policy wonks and politicians have advocated « law and order » programs, including the « war on crime » and the « war on drugs, » « zero tolerance » policing, « quality of life » crackdowns on crimes against public order, and the mass incarceration of young poor men, especially black men.

Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality : Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy, p. 17-18



Neoliberalism w…

Neoliberalism was constructed in and through cultural and identity politics and cannot be undone by a movement without constituencies and analyses that respond directly to that fact. Nor will it be possible to build a new social movement that might be strong, creative, and diverse enough to engage the work of reinventing global politics for the new millennium as long as cultural and identity issues are separated, analytically and organizationally, from the political economy in which they are embedded.
What the progressive-left must understand is this: Neoliberalism, a late twentieth-century incarnation of Liberalism, organizes material and political life in terms of race, gender, and sexuality as well as economic class and nationality, or ethnicity and religion. But the categories through which Liberalism (and thus also neoliberalism) classifies human activity and relationships actively obscure the connections among these organizing terms.

Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality : Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy, p. 3

The most succes…

The most successful ruse of neoliberal dominance in both global and domestic affairs is the definition of economic policy as primarily a matter of neutral, technical expertise. This expertise is then presented as separate from politics and culture, and not properly subject to specifically political accountability or cultural critique. Opposition to material inequality is maligned as « class warfare, » while race, gender or sexual inequalities are dismissed as merely cultural, private, or triv- ial. This rhetorical separation of the economic from the political and cultural arenas disguises the upwardly redistributing goals of neoliberalism—its concerted efforts to concentrate power and resources in the hands of tiny elites. Once economics is understood as primarily a technical realm, the trickle-upward effects of neoliberal policies can be framed as due to performance rather than design, reflecting the greater merit of those reaping larger rewards.
But, despite their overt rhetoric of separation between economic policy on the one hand, and political and cultural life on the other, neoliberal politicians and policymakers have never actually separated these domains in practice. In the real world, class and racial hierarchies, gender and sexual institutions, religious and ethnic boundaries are the channels through which money, political power, cultural resources, and social organization flow. The economy cannot be transparently abstracted from the state or the family, from practices of racial apartheid, gender segmentation, or sexual regulation. The illusion that such categories of social life can be practically as well as analytically abstracted one from another descends from the conceptual universe of Anglo- European Liberalism, altered and adapted to the U.S. context during the early nineteenth century (see chapter 1). While reasserting this ideology of discrete spheres of social life, in practice contemporary neoliberal policies have been implemented in and through culture and politics, reinforcing or contesting relations of class, race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. The specific issues, alliances and policies have shifted over time and across differing locales, but their overall impact has been the upward redistribution of resources and the reproduction of stark patterns of social inequality.

Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality : Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy, p. XIV

The configuration of gender relations in the student movement is very different today than it was in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Female students have far more power than women of my generation ever had. They are the majority in most classes and are preparing for a life of autonomy and self-reliance, at least autonomy from men if not from capital. But relations with men are more ambiguous and confusing. Increased equality hides the fact that many of the issues the women’s movement raised have not been resolved, especially with regard to re-production. It hides the fact that we are not engaged collectively in a socially transformative project as women, and that, with the advance of neo-liberalism, there has been a re-masculinization of society. The truculent, masculinist language of “We are the Crisis,” the opening article of “After the Fall,” is an egregious example of it. I fully understand why many women feel threatened rather than empowered by it.

The decline of feminism as a social movement has also meant that the experience of collectively organizing around women’s issues is unknown to many female students and everyday life has been de-politicized. What priorities to choose, how to balance waged work and the reproduction of our families so that (learning from the experience of black women) we keep something of ourselves to give to our own, how to love and live our sexuality—these are all questions that female students now must answer individually, outside of a political framework and this is a source of weakness in their relations with men. Add that academic life, especially at the graduate level, creates a very competitive environment where those who have less time to devote to intellectual work are immediately marginalized, and eloquence and theoretical sophistication are often mistaken as a measure of political commitment.

A crucial lesson we can learn from the past is that in the presence of power inequalities, women must organize autonomously even to be able to name the problems they face and gain the strength to voice their discontent and desires. In the ‘70s, we clearly saw that we could not speak of the issues concerning us in the presence of men. As the authors of “Direct Action as Feminist Practice ” so powerfully write, you do not need to be “silenced,” the very power configurations that rob us of our voice take away our ability to name the specific working of this power.(6)

How autonomy is achieved can vary. We do not have to think of autonomy in terms of permanent separate structures. We realize now that we can create movements within movements and struggles within struggles, but calling for unity in the face of conflicts in our organizations is politically disastrous. What we can learn from the past is that by constructing temporary autonomous feminist spaces we can break with psychological dependence on men, validate our experience, build a counter discourse and set new norms—like the need to democratize language and not make of it a means of exclusion.

I am convinced that coming together as women and as feminists is a positive turn, a precondition for overcoming marginalization. Once again, women in the student movement should not let the charge of “divisiveness” intimidate them. Rather than being divisive, the creation of autonomous spaces is necessary for bringing to the surface the full range of exploitative relations by which we are imprisoned and expose power inequalities that unchallenged would doom the movement to fail.

« Political Work with Women and as Women in the Present Conditions: Interview with Silvia Federici » in Reclamations, Issue 3, December 2010

The witch-hunt, then, was a war against women; it was a concerted attempt to degrade them, demonize them, and destroy their social power. At the same time, it was in the torture chambers and on the stakes on which the witches perished that the bourgeois
ideals of womanhood and domesticity were forged.
In this case, too, the witch-hunt amplified contemporary social trends. There is, in fact, an unmistakable continuity between the practices targeted by the witch-hunt and those banned by the new legislation that in the same years was introduced to regulate
family life, gender and property relations. Across western Europe, as the witch-hunt was progressing, laws were passed that punished the adulteress with death (in England and Scotland by the stake, as in the case of High Treason). At the same time prostitution was
outlawed and so was birth out of wedlock, while infanticide was made a capital crime. Simultaneously, female friendships became an object of suspicion, denounced from the pulpit as subversive of the alliance between husband and wife, just as women-to-women
relations were demonized by the prosecutors of the witches who forced them to denounce each other as accomplices in crime. It was also in this period that the word “gossip,” which in the Middle Ages had meant “friend,” changed its meaning, acquiring
a derogatory connotation, a further sign of the degree to which the power of women and communal ties were undermined.
Also at the ideological level, there is a dose correspondence between the degraded image of women forged by the demonologists and the image of femininity constructed by the contemporary debates on the “nature of the sexes,” which canonized a stereo­typical woman, weak in body and mind and biologically prone to evil, that effectively served to justify male control over women and the new patriarchal order.

Silvia FEDERICI, Caliban and the Witch, p. 186

La culture néolibérale est – et c’est un point important – masculinisée dès le départ. Le modèle de l’ « acteur rationnel », autour duquel la théorie économique néolibérale s’est construite, est une figure masculine. Les politiques néolibérales, dans leur rejet de toute forme de démocratie participative, n’ont cesse de recourir à la figure politique de l’« homme fort » et vouent un culte à la prise de décision autoritaire, rationnelle, efficace et sans pitié. La marchandisation des sports de compétition masculins, de la Formule 1 à la Coupe du Monde de football, constitue un laboratoire fascinant pour l’étude du néolibéralisme et des dynamiques de masculinité.

Mais il existe des connexions plus concrètes entre masculinité et néolibéralisme, notamment via le management entrepreneurial. La globalisation néolibérale produit de nouvelles institutions et de nouveaux espaces sociaux qui s’étendent à l’échelle globale – notamment à travers le world wide web, l’État sécuritaire transnational, les marchés mondiaux et les firmes multinationales. Chacune de ces institutions est organisée par un régime de genre complexe et géographiquement étendu.

Ce sont des arènes de formation de la masculinité – et ce sont aujourd’hui parmi les arènes les plus importantes à étudier. Nous avons besoin de plus de recherches dans ce domaine. Il faudrait que les études localisées sur les masculinités soient davantage attentives aux connexions entre les contextes locaux et ces arènes globales.

Au cœur des firmes multinationales – ainsi qu’au-delà de ces firmes, dans d’autres arènes globales – se déploie la masculinité des nouvelles élites managériales et patronales. Ces élites étant difficiles d’accès, y compris pour les chercheurs du Nord, différentes stratégies d’approche ont été mises en place : l’étude des représentations médiatiques des managers, l’étude de leurs traces documentaires, ou encore l’entrée par la jeune génération (cela a été mon approche). Quelques chercheur•e•s ingénieux/euses sont parvenu•e•s à avoir un accès plus direct et je suis sûre que l’on apprendra bientôt beaucoup des résultats de ces recherches.

La recherche sur les masculinités n’est bien sûr pas la seule clé de compréhension de l’ordre néolibéral mondial. Mais celle-ci aidera à la compréhension du fonctionnement des institutions néolibérales, ainsi que des contextes dans lesquels les décisions sont prises et les stratégies arrêtées. Comment, par exemple, les projets des firmes multinationales qui saccagent les terres, déplacent des populations, détruisent des écosystèmes, génèrent de la violence sociale ou déversent de la pollution pour les prochains milliers d’années sont-ils pensés et mis en œuvre ? L’analyse de la dimension genrée de la culture managériale, ainsi que des projets de vie des hommes qui dirigent ces firmes, nous permettra de mieux comprendre et ainsi de mieux lutter contre ces modes de gestion et d’exploitation.

« Masculinités, colonialité et néolibéralisme, entretien avec Raewyn Connell; à lire sur Contretemps

A parallel investigation of the two figures of whores and niqabées reveals the current exclusionary dynamics embedded in the nation-building process as both veiled women and prostitutes function as symbolic signifiers of national difference within the Republic. They are construed as “bodies-boundaries” within the larger new frontiers of the French Republic.50
In doing so, the French state echoes larger European trends. As Jasbir Puar and Judith Butler argue,51 new configurations of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, and ethnicity are realigning in relation to contemporary forces of nationalism. In this reconfiguration, some feminists and different political factions instrumentalize sexual freedoms to assert Western exceptionalism, to define the preconditions of citizenship, and to shape the image of the ahistorical “other” trapped in barbarian monstrosity and bound to remain untouched by modernity. Those evolutions also reveal what Didier Fassin and Dominique Memmi have described as “the greater and deeper targeting, by policies, of the private relation that an individual holds with his physical destiny, but also the growing concern for issues related to bodies, health, and life [and we could add sexuality] in the government of societies.”52
The analysis of the political handling of these two figures highlights the specific use that is made of French republicanism. Some republican feminists support politicians in asserting that whores and niqabées are oppressed and blind to their own oppression. What is striking is that this coalition of some feminist discourses with the current political views actually re-enacts and re- enforces a virile version of nationalism. As McClintock puts it, “all too often in male nationalisms, gender difference between women and men serves to symbolically define the limits of national difference and power between men. Excluded from direct action as national citizens, women are subsumed symbolically into the national body politics as its boundary and metaphoric limit…. Women are typically construed as the symbolic bearers of the nation, but are denied any direct relation to national agency.”53 In contemporary France, gender differences are again used to define national boundaries: the rhetoric of the oppression of women, supported by the republican values of equality, freedom, and dignity and mobilized by the state with the complicity of some feminists, serve to exclude “other” women from the “imagined community.” In short, this rhetoric of oppression is the moral grammar that justifies the denial of women’s agency and full citizenship, and their exclusion from the public sphere. According to this view the French female citizen has to embody a sexuality that is neither commoditized, nor tightly controlled by an institution like religion or patriarchy. Sexuality, which has become a central component of identity in postmodern societies, is no longer left to individual self-governance: by identifying and excluding two sexualized figures of female citizens, the state also prescribes a new regime of sexual normativities—shaping a sexual citizenship—through a rigid and contradictory injunction to sexual freedom. Those exclusionary processes mark the installation of a gendered regime of visibility that defines and disciplines women’s appearance in the public domain. Like during colonial times, politicians target women’s bodies as national territories whose surface and appearance must be compatible with a set of state-defined recommendations. However, as we have suggested, the complicities of a certain feminist discourse with the political power rhetorically produce “visual victims” only to promote a larger political agenda, enforcing a virile nationalism, prescribing new sexual normativities, and criminalizing immigrants and those living at the social margins.

Billaud, Julie; Castro, Julie, “Whores and Niqabées: The Sexual Boundaries of French Nationalism”, in:  French Politics, Culture & Society, Volume 31, Number 2, Summer 2013 p. 97-98