Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nobody reinforces the gender binary & nobody subverts it either (plus some retrospective thoughts about Whipping Girl)

I usually don’t publicly respond to critiques of my writings. People inevitably interpret (or misinterpret) things that I have written in all sorts of ways, and I usually just strive to articulate my ideas better the next time around. However, in the last two weeks, I have stumbled across numerous instances where people have accused me of claiming that two-spirit and other indigenous non-binary-identified people “reinforce the gender binary.” This notion so goes against everything that I believe and have written in the past that I feel compelled to address the matter here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How Double Standards Work (understanding the unmarked/marked distinction)

This is one in a series of blog posts in which I discuss some of the concepts and terminology that I forward in my writings, including my recent book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive

In Excluded, I argue that instead of focusing on only one or a few forms of sexism and marginalization, we should acknowledge that there are myriad double standards out there. And given this, it is crucial for us to more generally recognize and challenge double standards whenever and wherever they occur.

To be honest, I think that we as activists tend not to be very good at doing this—it is a main reason why people who are quite familiar with one particular form of marginalization (typically one that they are personally impacted by) will nevertheless continue to single out and invalidate other groups of people, often using the exact same tactics that they abhor when used against members of their own group. In other words, a failure to recognize and understand how double standards function in a general sense is what enables various forms of exclusion to run rampant within our movements. It is also what enables numerous forms of sexism and marginalization to proliferate in society at large.   

I discuss this issue over the course of Excluded, but I address it head on in Chapter 14: “How Double Standards Work”—it is one of the pieces of writing that I am most proud of.