Dissident feminisms, anti-racist politics and artistic interventionist practices

Contextualization of dissident feminisms

My thesis is that today, minoritized women including immigrants, transgender people, sex workers, lesbians, etc.—here I am referring to the title of by a text written by Luzenir Caixeta in 2011 (reprinted 2013)star (*4), “Minoritized Women Effect a Transformation in Feminism” — are those who are making a transformation in and of feminism. My reference is to dissident movements within feminism that transform its white, heterosexual, essentialized perception (based on features that are seen as natural elements of a category called “woman”) into dissident feminisms (that is, feminism in plural!). Luzenir Caixeta, a philosopher and theologian who works at maiz. Autonomous Center of and for Migrant Women in Linz, Austria, on health prevention, counseling and education of migrant sex workers, states:

(I)n recent years, a number of authors have become well known around the world who are of the opinion that the new feminism must go much further beyond the old demands of white, Western and heterosexual middle-class women for legal equality. Attention should be given to the women who have always been marginalized, and the causes leading to differentiation based on class, ethnicity and gender should be opposed (Caixeta 2013: 146).star (*4)

Even more, she straightforwardly subtitled a section in her aforementioned text, “Dissident Currents within Feminisms” and states that this section refers directly to the essay by the Spanish philosopher Beatriz Preciado, “Report after Feminism: Women on the Margins” (2007).star (*7) Caixeta, in reference to Preciado, argues that in opposition to a past feminism that developed its political discourse based on the division “between men (as dominators) and women (as victims), modern feminism is developing new political concepts and strategies for action that call into question what has previously been regarded as generally true: namely that the political subject of feminism [was] women — meaning women in their predefined biological reality, but especially women according to a certain notion: white, heterosexual, submissive and from the middle class” (Caixeta 2013: 146)star (*4). Therefore, the dissident demand in feminism asks for a process of radical differentiation. Beatriz Preciado asks for “feminisms for the excluded” (Preciado 2007, quoted after Caixeta 2013: 147star (*4)). Or, as s/he argues in the text “Pharmaco-Pornographic CapitalismPostporn Politics and the Decolonization of Sexual Representations,” these new feminisms for the excluded are “dissident projects for the collective transformation of the 21st century” (Preciado 2013: 251)star (*8). Dissident feminisms stand in opposition “to a gray, normed and puritanical feminism, which sees in cultural, sexual or political distinctions a threat to its heterosexual and Eurocentric image of women” (Caixeta 2013: 147).star (*4)

I emphasize that Preciado talks about the “proletariat of feminism” — a coinage that s/he uses in reference to the writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes — that includes all those “monstrous bodies” left out of puritan Western feminism. These are subjects such as “whores, lesbians, raped, butch, male and transgender women who are not white … in short, almost all of us” (Preciado 2013: 251).star (*8) Preciado lists names and delineates a genealogy of positions that challenge the naturalness and universality of the feminine condition. I quote from Preciado’s text “Pharmaco-Pornographic CapitalismPostporn Politics and the Decolonization of Sexual Representations” in order to propose the genealogy of dissident feminisms:

The first of these shifts is in the hands of theoretical gay and lesbian theorists like Guy Hocquenghem, Michel Foucault, Monique Wittig, Michael Warner and Adrienne Rich, who define heterosexuality as a political regime and a control device that makes the difference between men and women and transforms the resistance to gender standardization into pathology. Judith Butler and Judith Halberstam insist on the processes of cultural significance and stylization of the body through which the normalization of differences between the genders is effectuated, while Donna Haraway and Anne Fausto-Sterling bring into question the existence of two sexes as biological realities, regardless of the scientific-technical processes representation is constructed with. Moreover, along with the processes of emancipation of blacks in the United States and the decolonization of the so-called “Third World,” the voices of criticism are also raised against the racist assumptions of colonial and white feminism. We have become empowered with projects and thoughts by Angela Davis, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa and Gayatri Spivak, and black feminist, postcolonial, postChristian, postJewish, postMuslim projects, or those from the Diaspora that will require thinking gender in its constitutive relation to the geopolitical differences of race, class, sexuality, migration and human trafficking (Preciado 2013: 251).star (*8)

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Anzaldúa, Gloria / Moraga, Cherríe L. (2002): This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press.

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Lôbo, Marissa (2013): Iron Mask, White Torture: What is Anastacia Keeping Silent? What Does Anastacia See? In: The Editorial Group for Writing Insurgent Genealogies (eds.): Utopia of Alliances, Conditions of Impossibilities and the Vocabulary of Decoloniality. Vienna: Löcker, pp. 269–275. Translated from the German into English by Njideka Stephanie Iroh.

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Lugones, M.: Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System. Hypatia 22, no. 1 (Winter 2007), pp. 186–209.

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Caixeta, Luzenir (2013): Minoritized Women Effect a Transformation in Feminism. In: The Editorial Group for Writing Insurgent Genealogies (Carolina Agredo, Sheri Avraham, Annalisa Cannito, Miltiadis Gerothanasis, Marina Gržinić, Marissa Lôbo, and Ivana Marjanović) (eds.), Utopia of Alliances, Conditions of Impossibilities and the Vocabulary of Decoloniality. Vienna: Löcker, pp. 145–148. Translated from the German into English by Aileen Derieg.

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MacCarroll, Margaret Catherine (2005): May Ayim: A Woman in the Margin of German Society. MA Thesis. Florida State University. Online: http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses_1/available/etd-04102005-231408/unrestricted/MaggieC.MacCarrollThesis2Sp05.pdf (last visited: January 10, 2014)

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Mohanty, Chandra Talpade (1984): Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. In: boundary 2, vol. 12/13, Spring–Autumn, pp. 333–358.

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Preciado, Beatriz (2007): Reportaje después del Feminismo. Mujeres en los márgenes [Report after Feminism: Women on the Margins]. In El País, January 13, 2007, http://webs.uvigo.es/pmayobre/textos/varios/despues_del_feminismo.pdf, (last visited: March 8, 2011)

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Preciado, Beatriz (2013): Pharmaco-Pornographic CapitalismPostporn Politics and the Decolonization of Sexual Representations. In: The Editorial Group for Writing Insurgent Genealogies (eds.): Utopia of Alliances, Conditions of Impossibilities and the Vocabulary of Decoloniality, Vienna: Löcker, pp. 245–255. Translated from Spanish into English by Marina Gržinić.

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Quijano, A. (2000): Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America. Nepentla: Views From the South 1(3), 2000, pp. 533–580.

Katharina Oguntoye is a historian and has influenced the Afro-German movement; she is a co-editor of the book Showing our Colors (1986)
and is the founding member of the “Initiative of Black People in Germany.”

FeMigra (abbreviation for: “Feminist Migrants”) in Germany is an activist women’s group mostly consisting of members with an academic background or work in the social sector. They are also involved in strong networking activities with other ethnic, migrant, and Jewish women in Germany. FeMigras’ theoretical reflection of how to act politically as feminist migrants is strongly influenced by the reception of post-structuralist, black and post-colonialist authors such as Gayatri Spivak, Nira Yuval-Davis, Adrienne Rich or Angela Davis.

Lale Otyakmaz works at the University of Duisburg-Essen on and with questions of Diversity Management.

Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez works at the Institute of Sociology Justus-Liebig University Gießen (Germany) and is known for the book Decolonizing European Sociology. The book challenges the androcentric, colonial and ethnocentric perspectives eminent in mainstream European sociology. Cf. http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754678724

The Combahee River Collective was a Black feminist Lesbian organization active in Boston (USA)from 1974 to 1980. They are perhaps best known for developing the Combahee River Collective Statement, a key document in the history of contemporary Black feminism and the development of the concepts of identity as used among political organizers and social theorists.

Gloria Anzaldúa (1942–2004) was a scholar of Chicana cultural, feminist, and queer theory. Her most well-known book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987) is on her life growing up on the Mexican-Texas border and incorporated her lifelong feelings of social and cultural marginalization into her work.

Gloria Jean Watkins (1952), better known by her pen name bell hooks (written without capitals), is an American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing focuses on the interconnectivity of race, capitalism, and gender and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. Primarily through a postmodern perspective, hooks has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media and feminism.

Angela Davis (1944) is an American political activist, scholar, Communist, and author. She emerged as a nationally prominent counterculture
activist and radical in the 1960s, as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights to abolish the prison-industrial complex. Her research interests are in feminism, African-American studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music, social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. Her membership in the Communist Party led to Ronald Reagan’s request in 1969 to have her barred from teaching at any university in the State of California.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1942) is an Indian literary theorist, philosopher, and university professor at Columbia University, where she is a founding member of the school’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Spivak is best known for her contemporary cultural and critical theories to challenge the “legacy of colonialism” and the way readers engage with literature and culture. She often focuses on the cultural texts of those who are marginalized by dominant Western culture: the new immigrant, the working class, women, and other positions of the subaltern. Her best known essay was published in the 1980s with the title “Can the Subaltern Speak?” is considered a founding text of postcolonialism.

The description is taken from the text published online. See http://grzinic-smid.si/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Rear2010tikulacija10111213.pdf (last visited: December 5, 2013).

The references are from Araba Evelyn Johnston-Arthur. She is a social justice activist born and raised in Vienna to a Ghanaian family. Johnston-Arthur, as reported by Kali TV, succesfully co-founded a pan-African movement in Austria, “Pamoja,” which has brought together young Africans in Austria to fight for their rights and against racism in Europe. Published online March 26, 2013, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIiXyjOJj9U&feature=youtu.be (last visited, December 5, 2013)

Grada Kilomba’s book Plantation Memories. Episodes of Everyday Racism, (Münster, Germany: UNRAST Verlag, 2008), deconstructs the normality of racism, making visible what is often made invisible; the book is described as essential to anyone interested in Black Studies, Post-colonial Studies, Critical Whiteness Studies, Gender Studies, and Psychoanalysis.

Audre Lorde (1934–1992) was a Caribbean-American writer and civil rights activist. She described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” and dedicated both her life and work to confronting and addressing the injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Unfortunately, the pdf-Version is not able to convert some of the special signs. We apologize for that!

Marina Gržinić (2014): Dissident feminisms, anti-racist politics and artistic interventionist practices. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #04 , https://www.p-art-icipate.net/dissident-feminisms-anti-racist-politics-and-artistic-interventionist-practices/