Andrea Smith’s foreword in Undoing Border Imperialism by Harsha Walia states, “a liberatory vision for immigrant rights is one that is based less on pathways to citizenship in a settler state, than on questioning the logics of the settler state itself.” This expansion of decolonization, a revolution to undo “zones of invisibility, exclusion, and death,” requires a radical vision and daily practice of justice. For those of us who are not indigenous to the nations we occupy, liberation is no longer a theoretical space you can opt in and out.
Undoing Border Imperialism is a collective expression of a migrant justice movement grounded in healing justice. Starting from a place of opportunity, “as a prefiguring framework, decolonization grounds us in an understanding that we have already inherited generations of evolving wisdom about living freely and communally” Walia shows us a future few movement theory books dare dream. Through various entry points in the book, which are beautifully supported by poets, philosophers, and activist’s lived experiences, the reader is profoundly transformed.
Undoing is not used haphazardly nor as a metaphor. We are asked to enthusiastically have a decolonized orientation to self and others. The systems few move through with ease are relational, which is political and embodied. Borders are human-made. That’s one clear justification for resisting violence with nonviolent direct action. If one needs a concrete example, follow #NoDAPL.
Chapter 3 entitled Overgrowing Hegemony: Grassroots Theory puts everything into perspective. Consider this your manifesto.
Given all the power-over we have internalized, traumas we have metabolized, and walls and hierarchies we have maintained between one another, it is imperative that we unravel and confront these effects of border imperialism within our movements as we work to dismantle the systems that propagate it.
Name it. Analyze how power functions and distorts. Commit to steering “movement strategies and relations toward collective liberation.” This requires consent, accountability, and communication that is transformative, not transactional.
We all have a role in this vision.
Strategy cannot be applied in a cookie-cutter approach; it requires collective deliberation, trial and error, and reflection. It necessitates a willingness to experiment, and make mistakes, and humility to change our ways.
Syed Khalid Hussan’s epilogue is a reminder that “our actions are just as much visceral as they are analytical, theoretical, or intellectual.” It’s time to declare that we are no longer obligated to be monogamous in identity, story, or victory. However, we are bound to practice compassion, respect, forgiveness, and evolve our ways of being in community with each other. Walia, and the voices she shares this revolution with, moves us beyond those never-ending conversations that center frameworks (talk). A tactic designed to distract and delay justice. This embodied power is found through a decolonizing praxis that honors generational resistance. To deny this is to remain complicit in settler logic.
We can, as Smith so clearly states, dismantle the logic of the settler state. And in its absence, we move freely with self-determination.
We are a cramp nation. Involuntary, restrictive, a tool.
our periods, collectively, are politically vogue
as gender representation reflects without liberation
we process its reclamation as speculative transmissions
even the clouds
and now their patterns
the simplest narratives are stored in the bends of our flesh
rancor its own habitual expression, a saturation of cultural static
transfigurations of competitive positivity, a sharing economy
Angela Davis said the political reproduces itself through the personal
She maps “squad” as a term and concept to 90s hip-hop culture.
Arriving at a boundary of solidarity, she challenges the reader to not be tricked into defaming masculinity. She connects masculinity to strategies that have avoided “sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.” Is this what being a man feels like?
It’s an interesting charge for us to study the “immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history,” which assumes male bonding has been productive and that production has been positive. This is where her contradictory ahistorical argument wanders into abstract proposition.
Yet Paglia’s scolding tone is enticing and visionary. “For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts.” Let us be blessed and count our fortune to be in a squad that is “about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects.”
What is driving this iteration of the gender wars propensity to want to thrive on grievance? Is it the emotionalism or the sexual jealousy that Pagila names?
Connection, collaboration, and bonding (which requires affection and trust in order to be safe and healthy) are the inherent politics of any community-oriented experience, regardless of gender assignments. It is a shame those practices have accumulated such heavy and fractured gendered prescriptions.
Kept in the Hollywood gaze, as Pagila has strategically framed, the reader is reminded, as consumers of said culture, that supporting girl squads can be a way towards “expanding female power in Hollywood.” Let’s hope that power doesn’t replicate the same product as the boys.
“You chose your journey long before you came upon this highway.”
– Leonard Cohen Winter Lady
It turns out reoccurring dreams of hallways actually means something. The hallways I’ve sleepwalked have been long but surprisingly well-lit. Even in my dreams, I march.
For most of my thinking life, I have privileged the mind because I believed my body to be a source of betrayal, transgression, and, for a long time, a place of jeopardy. The somatic evidence cultivated through reinforced fundamentalist myths (god bless the tight mechanics of a Southern Baptist repression machine) and physical violations made this belief concrete. My dichotomous life was established and safe. I feel more comfortable circumscribed by theory and words.
Yet my body introduces itself and all those heavy gendered prescriptions before I even have a chance to form vowels and articulate my consonants. This strategy of tangental communication isn’t effective. In an essay entitled, “Fucking with Fucking Online,” from Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?, Michael Faris and ML Sugie have succinctly captured the journey I am currently on.
“If what we want is intimacy, if we want to feel connected, if we want to experience sexuality then we have to actively participate in it. … Part of this takes a radical interrogation of one’s own desire.”
This radical interrogation has required me to map the false continental divide I have maintained between mind and body. I’ve had to acknowledge the dynamic contours of my desires and chart the choices that led me to this location.
As the last traces of your touch evaporate into epitaph, I add the weight of your influence to the cartography of my corporeal self.
Embodied Resistance, a new anthology edited by Chris Bobel and Samantha Kwan, accurately summarizes “just how complex, contextual, and contingent such [embodied] resistance really is.” Every day we resist and we accommodate. Patriarchy is an efficacious system.
The spectrum of copacetic is endless in a world filled with milquetoasts.
Let us have intentionality “because relations of power are social, it follows that they are constantly under deliberation, a perpetual give-and-take.”
Have you ever heard of a better argument for consent and for stirring up gender trouble?
Like silt, it felt settled.
There’s a lot going on and it may or not be televised. Or rather, it may not be uploaded, downloaded, posted, reposted, not even “hearted.” Are we really aghast that sharing information has become a target to shut down? SOPA is a shiny wedge introduced to shatter our disparate foci.
We’ve learned to virtually organize ourselves and they seek to gaslight us. They will fail because we have learned that we are right, after so much sharing. We must trust our perceptions of our reality.
Newt Leroy Gingrich woke up smiling this morning. It’s likely he felt extra smug about his South Carolina primary victory, despite, or because of, the obvious “news” that he is non-monogamous. All those Southern Christians sizing up Gingrich’s “sin” and wishing they could wear his shoes as they roll over and see their anchored loved ones sleeping next to them.
Your observation that the male gaze is about suffering feels concrete based on somatic evidence. The essentialism of such politics fascinates. Tell me how you resist.
Happy 39th anniversary to Roe v Wade. I can’t wait to see you turn 40!
* Gaelic, “Quietness without loneliness” (Next Stop Wonderland)
An Escalade, a night with the same sex, and some of the best original jokes I’ve heard in a long time; what is a Saturday night adventure.
I’m reading a book entitled, Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination. Only an inch into the book and I’m feeling urges to take a personal day so I can finish this exploration of fringe academia. Who knew you could think about bathrooms, sexuality, gender, architecture, and intersections of power for a living?
Sheila Cavanagh states, “…the unconscious, like the toilet, is a dumping ground for the unacceptable impulses, practices, identifications, and desires.” It’s enough to make you blush.
Since I can’t take a day off, I’ll have to settle with bringing the book to work and reading it in the bathroom. I will be able to privately think about “how the gendered spacial design of the public bathroom is dependent upon a cissexist and heteronormative ideal.”
It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks of such things and it heartens the soul to know that the education system isn’t completely anemic of stimulating knowledge production.
I missed Feminist Coming Out Day (March 8th, mark your calendars for next year). I can’t reconcile the image below in a way that is comfortable to me. I’m both impressed and honestly horrified at the intensity of those amazing t-shirts. An explosion of transgressions that dares you call them anything but a feminist. It’s also radically essentialist with little context as to why this equals feminism. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of cunt with vajajay that’s throwing me off.
The busman’s holiday is not only an idiom, it’s an axiom.
Reading Gender/Body/Knowledge/Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing has been my vacation treat, my busman’s holiday if you will. So far (I’m up to page 92) I’ve had the intense pleasure of knowing the following:
“Eroticism is calm passion.” This almost turns me on.
“…unless women can authentically voice their own desire and pleasure, then all forms of political liberation will be to no avail.” This may be why silencing women’s voice is golden in a capitalist society and “well-behaved women seldom make history.” What is authenticity in a culture that does not allow autonomy?
“Woman’s body is already colonized by the hegemony of male desire; it is not your body.” Good. Let them own a body that bleeds but doesn’t die. The horror!
Helene Cixous invented the word “sext” in 1981. According to Cixous, sexts is a pun on sex and texts. Because the body is a text. Or as Susan Bordo so eloquently notes, “Our conscious politics, social commitments, strivings for change may be undermined and betrayed by the life of our bodies…the docile, regulated body practiced at and habituated to the rules of cultural life.”
“Erotic experience is extraordinary, lying somewhere between dream and daily life.” This turns me on.
Exploring resistance and the erotic construction of building knowledge has left me feeling very satisfied.
After reading this article about passing as stupid results in prestigious job,I would use this as Exhibit A that patriarchy, does in fact, still exist. Despite the rhetoric that education is the bootstrap on the American dream boot, not all are welcome to pull themselves up.
Chick-fil-A recently announced that their uniforms will now be “gender-specific.”
The tops will be tailored. The bottoms will be cut “with respect to gender.” There are optional accessories like caps and the always fashionable visor. No word yet on what accessory is specifically masculine or feminine.
Does this mean that lucky employees will be able to choose more feminine bottoms? More masculine tops? Perhaps a hybrid combination? What will the androgynous gender anarchist do? The gender binary will finally be dismantled!
The idea that fast food uniforms will be modeled after strict gender codes in order to sell more chicken is disturbing. Who determines how specific the gender-specific uniforms will be? Someone in the corporate offices of Chick-fil-A decided that this multi-million dollar investment would help the bottom line, boost profits, and increase the carnivorous demand for chicken and chicken-like food items. Someone who never worked behind the counter while masculine dudes order their chicken breast fillets while looking at your specific gender.
Rumor has it the old Chick-fil-A uniforms are already selling at inflated prices on eBay.
An experiment in gender or a no-brain look at how advertising shapes our consumer desires?
Forbes magazine recently listed the top selling masculine and feminine cars.
“Women buy cars that are affordable, practical and safe, and with a dash of design flair. Men, on the other hand, appear to love luxurious, high-performance cars.”
The Most Masculine Brands
Percentage Of Male Registrants This Year
The Most Feminine Brands
Percentage Of Female Registrants This Year
Dodge winning the masculinity war doesn’t have anything to do their recently commissioned survey by Harris Interactive, does it?
Commenting on the significance of gender stereotypes and the utopian ideal of static gender roles, Carrie Lukas, director of policy with the Independent Women’s Forum states:
“It just shows that there are some things that you can’t change and that, while feminism for a long time has been pushing us towards androgyny with little girls with trucks and guys with dolls, women tend to have feministic traits and guys the opposite. If anything, it shows what feminism hasn’t been able to accomplish.”
_________________________________________________________________ In honor of Danica Patrick – the first woman to ever lead the Indy 500, holding the lead for 19 of 200 laps.