Feminist Change and the University: Keynote Address by Wendy Brown (Video 3 of 3)

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Feminist Change and the University: Keynote Address by Wendy Brown (Video 3 of 3)

Good afternoon I’m Debbie Weinstein, the Associate Director of the Pembroke Center, and I’m delighted to welcome you back to our symposium on Feminist Change and the University I have the distinct honor of introducing our distinguished keynote speaker, Wendy Brown, whose work has had widespread readership well beyond her own field of political theory I also must regrettably announce that Evelynn Hammonds had to cancel at the last minute and will not be speaking today Wendy Brown is Class of 1936 First Chair Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley Professor Brown received her PhD in political philosophy from Princeton Prior to joining the faculty at Berkeley, she taught at UC Santa Cruz and at Williams Her critical theoretical work on formations of power, political identity, sovereignty, democracy, and political subjectivity has had truly wide cross-disciplinary and international impact Indeed, her work has been translated into more than 20 languages She is the author of seven books, the co-author or editor of three additional volumes, and the author of numerous articles and book chapters Her books include Manhood and Politics (1988), States of Injury (1995), which, I want to remark, had a significant impact on me when I first read it, as it did for so many others, incurring the logics and modes of subject formation at work in certain kinds of oppositional politics, a critique, in other words, not of power as something external that acts upon pre-formed subjects, but of the paradoxes at work in some of feminist’s most closely held categories, identity, freedom, rights, and so on Additional books Politics Out of History (2001), Edgework (2005), Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Empire and Identity (2006), and Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010), which was awarded the David Easton Prize in Political Theory for broadening the horizons of contemporary political science Her most recent book, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism to Stealth Revolution is just out from Zone, and translations are already forthcoming in German, Italian, Spanish, and French And as I prepared my introductory remarks today, I looked again at States of Injury, published now already 20 years ago, and noted that the concluding sentence of the preface ends on a note of, quote, “the difficult labor of collective self-fashioning that is democratic politics Undoing the Demos turns to a related term, democracy, in order to think about how neoliberalism has reshaped the very rationalities and constitutive elements which might even make up the possibility of a democratic politics.” In other words, in these books and elsewhere, Wendy Brown pushes us to interrogate the very categories with which we can imagine democratic politics and alternate futures and forms of subjectivity Professor Brown’s work is a staple in gender and sexuality study courses here at Brown, and I think here of her book chapters on wounded attachments, suffering the paradoxes of rights, and the impossibility of women’s studies The latter was initially published in a special issue of the Pembroke Center’s journal, Differences, and seeing as this is an event at the Pembroke Center, I want to acknowledge Wendy Brown’s vital contributions to the intellectual engagements of that journal She has not only published several articles there, but has served as guest editor for a special issue on feminist theory and the Frankfurt School in spring of 2006 Beyond her written work, Professor Brown has held a number of distinguished fellowships She lectures around the world and is regularly interviewed by academic and public media She is speaking to us today on “Women Dissolved or Defended: The Naming Debate and Reproductive Freedom.” It is my great pleasure to turn things over to Wendy Brown [APPLAUSE] Thank you Thank you for that lovely introduction It’s a great pleasure to be at Brown, always And it’s a particularly great pleasure because, for me, this is always a place where there are friends, colleagues, and comrades in a kind of left as well as feminist work inside and outside the Academy, and where those conversations just seem to continue and persist, especially in an interdisciplinary fashion I cannot think of very many other places that feature this So whenever you’re feeling grumpy about your institution, remember you have this I want to especially thank Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg for inviting me, and Donna Goodenow now for all the logistics and all the invisible labor that goes into something like this, mostly female Not entirely, but mostly I’ve learned an enormous amount, actually, over the last couple of days And it’s also been an occasion for real reflection I’ve been thinking about why I need Louise in Berkeley

I teach in a Department of 40 full-time faculty, 1.5 of which are senior female faculty And out of the last 17 regular hires, that is, hires through what I call the front door, since 2008 two of those were women So Louise You could do a traveling thing Of course, I’ve been working at this I had a lot to say and a lot to think about while we were discussing the advantages of proceduralism, transparency, objectivity, and so forth, all of which my political science colleagues bandy about ferociously while explaining why we look the way we do in terms of gender and diversity Ah, the other thing about my department, it has never, ever in its proud history had a single African American tenure track faculty member Astonishing Public university But that’s not what I’m going to talk about today Today I’m going to talk about feminist studies and politics inside and outside the university, focusing on a particular problem And I want to just begin by reminding us of what we know We know the story, roughly, of feminist studies in the university First we argued that women were both the oppressed and excluded inside and outside the university That is part of their oppression They were occluded from every dimension of university curriculums, history, philosophy, literature, to the sciences, social sciences, and so forth But immediately after making that kind of a politics, we began arguing about what women were, what norms of race and class and sexuality vexed our initial claim We began arguing about what the group marked women did and didn’t share, arguing about whether gender was bound to sex or semiotics, whether gender or sex were facts or meanings or performatives We argued about whether there was any possible unity or stability or tenacity in the meaning of gender across other aspects of identity, space, time, and other things Feminism and feminist studies came in waves, first giant, long waves First wave, the second wave And then the waves got quicker and faster and began to operate in cross tides But what, it seems to me, has persisted in our understanding of those waves is a certain presumption of progressivism That is, it seems to me that each wave has been presumed to improve upon or correct the false conceits, the exclusions, or the limitations of the previous waves, and that retrospectively each previous wave appeared perhaps passionate and committed, but wrongheaded and hence superseded by the theoretical advances and the deeper and the wider emancipatory aims of the next one And what I’m going to do today is consider a contemporary problem, a problem that has been brought to me by activists on both sides of what is a pretty vexed problem, a problem that forces us, I think, to reach back into this presumption and query the progressivism Not to reverse it, not to say, oh, it used to be good, and now what is this fourth wave stuff? But rather to ask whether this idea of a supercession and an improvement and an expansion and a deepening is quite the right way to be thinking I’m going to ask whether the presumption of supercession is always right, and I’m going to worry the politics that comes from that presumption a little bit A couple of more prefatory remarks before I give you the problem The conundrum I’m going to present this afternoon, one that, actually, I first discussed with a wonderful group of Columbia faculty, some of whom are in this room The conundrum is a conundrum that some of you will have significant stakes in, and that others of you are going to regard as absolutely bizarre or trivial or stupid or worse And what I want to urge is that both of you suspend those stances to the degree that you can, Elizabeth, not simply to be judicious– our beloved Elizabeth– the reason I’m asking you to suspend those stances is, first of all, because I think we need to embrace both positions I think we need the deepest and most compassionate and most sympathetic and most politically astute

response we can have to both positions, but also because I think it’s only through really thinking them together that we might be able to expand the horizons of the problem– I’m going to tell it to you in a minute, I promise– and make it speak for more than itself So that’s my aim, is not to solve the problem You’ll see I’m not going to solve it And I actually do take a side But I think that the problem helps us think through this thing I just talked about, the question of progressivism and supercession One other prefatory note In recent years, as most of you know, queer and trans politics has proliferated a new and splendid experimental gender vocabulary Pronouns, ways of naming people, and so forth Because of our intergenerational and academic and non-academic constituency here today, I’m not going to deploy this vocabulary, and I know that’s going to ruffle a few feathers But I think it will allow the talk to be more widely accessible So I hope that you can push the feathers back down OK Here’s the problem Early last year a group of trans activists and supporters launched a petition to pressure two leading reproductive health care advocates and provisioners, NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and Planned Parenthood And they petitioned these two organizations to become trans-inclusive in both their health care services and their advocacy messages What this entailed, in part, was simply becoming more welcoming of trans persons– in clinics, in personal interactions, in intake forms, interviews, procedures, bathrooms, and so forth– and developing and expanding provisions for trans health care, including the needs of those who were transitioning, and the particular reproductive relations that trans people may find themselves engaged in These challenges both NAROL and Planned Parenthood were very eager to address, and they have been addressing them But there’s something else that these petitions demanded of NAROL and Planned Parenthood, namely, that in their clinics, advocacy messages, mission statements, and campaigns, both organizations cease completely speaking of women– women’s health, women’s reproductive health, women’s freedom, women’s choice, women’s control over their bodies The petitions asked that women’s health clinics abandon that nomenclature and that reproductive freedom campaigns give it up as well No more discussion of war on women or women’s right to control their bodies Why? Since there are people born into biologically female bodies or assigned female gender at birth who don’t identify as women, and since there are people born into biologically male bodies or assigned male gender at birth who do identify as women, and since there are people born into sexually ambiguous bodies who may or may not, the claim is that women is a misnomer for those needing what these organizations promise to offer, to fight for, to defend, to advance Moreover, goes the argument, because trans men need what we still call gynecological care and may also need access to contraception, abortion, and pregnancy care, organizations that are expressly dedicated to women’s health and to expanding women’s reproductive freedom are trans sexist They reinscribe the marginalization and the suffering of trans people by requiring them to seek health care and reproductive freedom under a manifestly inaccurate gender sign Moreover, argues the what comes to be called pro-choice, pro-trans campaign, these organizations are perpetuating the falsehood that the term woman simply aligns with female anatomy And rather than using their influence and importance– the influence and importance that the pro-choice, pro-trans group assigned to Planned Parenthood and NAROL– rather than using that influence and importance for trans justice and trans inclusion, these mainstream organizations are doing the opposite And in this way, they’re perpetuating rather than healing a breach between feminist and trans queer justice projects that’s been floating about inside and outside universities and activist sites for the last 15 to 20 years

So the campaign being launched, the pro-trans petition was to get these organizations to change their language and change their naming practices, to drop all references to women, and instead simply present themselves and advocate for reproductive autonomy for all, use the language of persons, reproductive health, choice, autonomy And here’s where Planned Parenthood and NAROL, quite predictably, have been resistant But I want to break down the reasons for this resistance First, these organizations, their employees, boards, funders, and supporters understand themselves as providing far more than services Rather, both organizations understand themselves as, among other things, trying to overturn biological women’s near-universal historical lack of control over their bodies, sexuality, and reproductive capacities in male dominant societies They understand themselves– and Planned Parenthood advocates in particular stress this point to me– as enhancing women’s capacity to control their fertility in order to support women’s autonomy and facilitate access to education, employment, economic, social, and political power around the world Indeed, the ability of mainstream reproductive rights projects to raise money, awareness, and support depends upon a modest, intuitive, liberal feminism, one framed by the idea that lack of control over sexuality, fertility, and reproductive practices has been a linchpin of gender inequality worldwide and across history So that’s the first reason for the resistance It has to do with the understanding of the project in relationship to women’s positioning, in relationship to reproductive capacity in biologically female bodies The second reason that NAROL and Planned Parenthood have been resistant to the petition is that in addition to trying to overturn history, both organizations understand themselves as front liners against an anti-feminist backlash currently seeking to limit access and funding for fertility control And you all know about this backlash in the case of the United States, where it includes challenges to Roe v. Wade, the affirmation of the more recent Supreme Court decision Hobby Lobby, curtailing access to abortion in many states through eliminating funding, through intimidating practitioners, through closing clinics, establishing parental consent laws for teen access to contraception and abortion, mandating pro-life counseling for pregnant women, and of course, now, a couple of decades of Republican efforts to tie UN and World Health Organization funding to anti-abortion mandates In addition, Planned Parenthood has learned through its own message testing– their words, not mine– that in the US, framing cuts to health funding and access as a tax on women’s health care, or as a war on women, that that framing is actually highly effective and lucrative It brings in money, supports, and votes, while pro-choice language, or reproductive choice language, does not do so So not only just Planned Parenthood want to continue to reach out to women for political and historical reasons, they also understand themselves as most successful politically and financially by casting what they do under the sign of a kind of remarkably uncontroversial formulation of women’s equality and rights, a cause that many socially mainstream women and politicians identify with Now to the extent that the pro-choice, pro-trans campaign has responded to these concerns, it’s been to argue the following First, that mainstream organizations need to be out in front in changing views of their constituencies, their funders, their supporters, not simply sampling the support of such constituencies or playing to existing viewpoints They need to be educating changing Mostly, however, the pro-trans, pro-choice campaign has reiterated its position The current language, the current messaging, the current representation is injurious, deeply injurious to a marginalized and demeaned population, and that feminist reproductive health campaigns and clinics ought to be inclusive, not exclusive OK

So one way to conceive the predicament at this point is that Planned Parenthood and NAROL are framed, in all senses of the word, by an essentialist liberal feminism that cannot comprise or comprehend gender deconstruction. , Or, to put it in the shorthand of feminist history, they’re stuck in feminism’s second wave, where everything was about biological female subordination and inequality, and that they’re being challenged by the inevitable political conclusion of feminisms’ third and fourth waves, which radically deconstructed gender, detaching it from sexed bodies and opening out into queer politics as it does so That’s one way to conceive the problem Another way to conceive the predicament is that there are two really important but irreducibly different political projects here The trans aim to right the historical wrong of trans pathologization, trans erasure, trans occlusion, trans exclusion, to make a world where trans people are not always standing outside bathroom doors and every other gendered point of access with literally no place to go And on the other hand, a feminist aim to right the historical wrong of biological female bodies that have been gendered, rendered, and positioned as reproductive chattel for the human species, punished for a sexuality that they often don’t control, and constrained or restricted in other dimensions of life by that condition So even though both projects concern the making and the meaning and the organization of gender, they pertain to very different aspects and effects of gendered regimes Perhaps they even pertain to different regimes of gender Still, mustn’t they meet somewhere? Perhaps in the root of the wrong, or perhaps in common enemies, which is what the pro-choice, pro-trans petition often claims Or perhaps in common goals or normative ideals or visions of emancipation I’m going to return to these issues toward the very end of my talk, and I’m going to suggest that each of these avenues for reconciling these two projects reprises some troubling and not so helpful political myths But I want to turn first to some other considerations that we need in order to better develop and grasp and sort this dilemma One has to do with the politics of names and signification And the other has to do with various histories, shaping and imbricating and heating up the conflict between these two projects So first the politics of naming As I suggested at the beginning, your initial reaction to this whole dustup might be that it’s silly, that it’s not serious politics, especially compared with the Syrian refugee crisis, or ISIS, or the epidemic of police killings of American blacks, or rising anti-semitism in Europe, or even the future of Greece and the eurozone Those are things on my mind, at least You’ve got your own list But really, the claim here goes, aren’t these petitions and all the noise around them on the blogosphere simply the product of too many gender studies and queer theory classes? Isn’t this just a crazy little obsessional world of its own that is not legible to the so-called real world or capable of making a dent in it? And here we need to remember what we know, which is that from Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman,” to Stokely Carmichael’s use of black power to differentiate a new set of goals from integration, to the uptake and resignification of the terms dyke, fag, and queer by a new movement for gay pride, the politics of words and names have been hugely important in social movements and political change Moreover, from Austen to Foucault, Wittgenstein to Derrida, we know words never simply identify or describe They bring worlds and subjects into being They stabilize, normalize, and secure certain beings and certain formations, and they prevent others from being legible or intelligible or imaginable at all We know– we used to teach this a lot, even if we’ve gone on to teach other things now– that words can create and violate and eliminate They can make certain things present or absent, normal or deviant If, for example, a kindergarten teacher greets class

each morning– as one kindergarten teacher I encountered 15 years ago did– with the phrase, good morning, boys and girls, many things are here signified and conveyed That boys and girls are at once fundamental, natural, visible, and above all, benign yet important categories of existence The teacher does not say, good morning Jews, Muslims, and Christians, or good morning, blacks and Koreans, or good morning, poor and rich What’s also signified is that everyone in the class knows who they are and who everyone else is, that you’re only one or the other, and that this is also true of everyone else And then in being one or the other, a future lies in wait for you in which you will inhabit your boyishness or girlishness and have a certain relationship to it, as that greeting is eventually replaced by, good evening, ladies and gentlemen Also signified by this little utterance is that if, for some reason, you do not easily and intuitively know which you are, if you don’t inhabit it and you don’t reach for that future, the problem lies in you, not in the world Indeed, the longer we linger with this innocuous little greeting, still so common, the longer we see the order of gender that it secures and reproduces and represents on the one hand, and what it makes unthinkable and perverse on the other But there would be those who do not and cannot properly heed the call, which is what this putative description turns out to be, a call, not a description And we see that equally important, this call produces and reproduces a world in which biological sex has been equated with gender, made decisive, and yet at the same time naturalized, depoliticized in determining everything from self-understanding to life expectations and possibilities to relations with one another So this, which we all know reminds us that words are never just words, naming is never innocent, never free of power There are reasons why we mostly no longer speak of department chairman or of man in naming the human species There are reasons why Indian has been replaced with Native American, colored with black or African American, Oriental with Asian, why the Washington Redskins are being pressed to give it up, why white people calling black men boys is a violent act, or why it’s appropriate to speak of US foreign policy in the Middle East being shaped by a pro-Israel lobby but not by the Jewish lobby, and why the difference really matters Similarly, there’s no small politics in relabeling garbage cans as landfill, reminding us both where it’s going and signifying its difference from recyclables and compost, or in speaking of learning disabilities rather than slowness, or of physical disability rather than being crippled, and so forth We know all this about words And those of us who’ve been through feminist theory classes, we know even more about the power of gender lexicons and discourse From Riley’s Am I That Name?, Irigaray’s The Sex Which is Not One, Butler’s Gender Trouble, Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet, Spivak’s Can the Subaltern Speak?, Anzalduas Mestizas, Hill Collins’ Outsiders Within, Haraway’s Cyborgs, Crenshaw’s intersectional identities, Joan Scott’s Gender As a Category of Analysis, and more, we learned that the terms of gender never merely describe, but stipulate, regulate, exclude We learned how gender is constituted and iterated through semiotics of the body, organizations of sexuality, sexual divisions of labor, varied discourses of masculine and feminism across different vectors of power, including race, caste, class, colonialism, and through linguistic and bodily performatives So there is most certainly a politics of words and signification, even if it can sometimes go to silly places, but all politics can But what this quick recollection of theorists and dimensions of gender signification and regulation also reminds us is that the terms of gender carry not one modality of subject construction, but a boatload of possibilities, each of which intersects or fuses with other subject constituting discourses So we should not be wholly surprised to find a variety of potentially incommensurate it political projects flying under the aegis of gender equality,

inclusion, or freedom And in the case before us, two different projects of gender resignification, two different projects of changing what gender means historically The NAROL Planned Parenthood project aims to lighten the saturation of the term woman– a saturation by forced reproduction and a sexuality subsumed to it by a condition of eminence in nature– and to replace that with a figure of women planning and choosing, women having rights and access to contraception, to abortion, to control over their own fertility This resignification aims to counter a signification of women as objects or passive vessels, of women’s sexuality as wholly bound to reproduction, and of women as rightless in those domains On the other hand, the pro-choice, pro-trans project aims to detach gender from sex assignment, to separate sex from gender once and for all, to make gender relentlessly subjective and performative and emancipate it from a given physiology presumed determinate and determining If both are vital projects of resignification, they’re not clearly assimilable to one another One aims to resignify gender by challenging a conventional semiotics of woman The other aims to resignify gender by challenging the conventional semiotics of immutably sexed bodies All right So that’s what I want to do just to set the stage with the naming problem And now I want to turn from this problem of multiple resignification projects to the problem of polyvalent histories And there are several different histories that I think each of which could be its own hour-long lecture But they each bear, in the compressed form that I’ll offer them here, they each bear on our problem Let me start just with the histories constituting each identity It’s very close to what I’ve just been discussing In Feminism 101 we learned that, historically and cross-culturally, although everywhere differently, everywhere women have had limited control of their sexuality and fertility And at the same time, women have been identified with and assigned the work of child rearing and sequestered from political, social, and economic power through masculinist orders based on this sexual division of labor That’s just what you learn over a few weeks compressed into a sentence So women’s historical identification with and lack of control over reproduction, more than just being burdensome in itself, is a keystone in their subordination and exclusion from other domains of existence and power This is why many feminists have argued that lacking control over reproduction while being consigned to it is as significant to making a subordinate sexual class as lacking control over production while being consigned to it is to making a subordinate working or laboring class Now in addition, this means that women have lacked sexual autonomy, the capacity for sexual freedom without lifelong consequences That, I’m suggesting, is a history constituative of the identity that’s framing the project of reproductive rights and freedom at the site of the signifier woman The history constituting trans identity is really different, does not rest in control of heterosexual reproduction or a sexual division of labor It rests in compulsory gender performances by sexed bodies, performances that maybe violently at odds with gender imaginaries and desires The coding of bodies in a gender binary, gender essentialist fashion, in which certain genders are permitted or performable only by certain bodies, has generated policing, erasure, violence, pathology, exile, and deep suffering for those who do not line up properly with the coding Now of course there are relations and intersections between these two histories But it’s not clear that the identities they produce, to the extent that our identity is produced historically, that the identities they produce– women subordinated by and through their reproductive capacity in a sexed division of labor on the one hand, and trans subordinated by and through gender performance in a gender binary order on the other– it’s not clear these can be assimilated to one another OK So that’s one set of histories relevant to our problem The next one is closely related It’s an understatement to say that the world of health care has been a nightmare for trans people,

not only in getting support for transitioning, where it’s wanted, but obtaining all facets of health care from unsympathetic clinics, practitioners, and insurers Trans people report dealing with ignorant and hostile receptionists, intake nurses, attendants, and doctors All of this can be one of the most difficult and humiliating experiences that trans people have, precisely because of the intimacy with transness at the site of the body Now given this history, it’s no accident that health care would be a nodal object of political reform for trans activists and advocates On the other hand, one aspect of the feminist backlash in recent years has been the insistence that men are as entitled as women to determine the fate of a pregnancy The reasoning goes, if men are held legally and financially responsible and expected to share child care or child rearing or at least child support, if this is not exclusively women’s domain– thank you, feminism– then men ought to have an equal say about pregnancy itself It’s not a matter of women’s bodies, women’s right, but our pregnancy, our decision Meanwhile, as I’ve already suggested, parental consent laws have succeeded in restricting teen access to contraception and abortion, and even to sex education in an increasing number of states And decisions like Hobby Lobby, permitting firms to remove coverage for contraception and abortion from insurance provision to their employees, all of this has compounded the long history of women’s lack of control over their bodies, sexualities, and reproductive lives and produced a new set of challenges Given this history, it’s no accident that Planned Parenthood and NAROL are invested in fighting for women’s right to control their bodies as women So that’s the second relevant history, the history of relationship to health care and access and treatment in reproductive health care conditions Third relevant history Mainstream feminism Mainstream identity-based campaigns and organizations, of course, have a troubling history of repudiating or disavowing their marginal, less acceptable, and often seen as weaker or weirder populations The iconic instance of this, which no one in this room can ever forget, was Betty Friedan, who as head of NOW in 1969, decried lesbians as the lavender menace, infiltrating, potentially destroying feminist organizations with their agenda But the history of progressive groups repudiating their most socially unacceptable members, and often rehearsing mainstream social hostility and pathologization, has also been prominent in, for example, the marriage equality campaign, which has tended to ostracize queer modalities thought to undercut the image of normal gay monogamous families So SM dykes, trannies, fairy queens, anti-monogamous queers, all are seen as damaging the cause of mainstream acceptance and the campaign for that acceptance through the gay marriage campaign And indeed, one charge against NAROL and Planned Parenthood from the pro-choice, pro-trans petitioners is that they’re very hesitance in complying with the petition stems from regarding the trans population as small, marginal, fringe, and bizarre, damaging to the cause OK Fourth history Radical feminists and transgender activists This history reaches back to second wave feminism, and it adds a lot of heat to the pro-trans, pro-choice position There’s a little subset of feminists who’ve not simply excluded or ignored trans causes and folk, but have been directly and intensely hostile Effectively, aligning with the trans is unnatural, ungodly, and perverse attacks that you get from the right Starting in the late ’70s, continuing through the present, so-called radical feminists, rad fems, Janice Raymond, Sheila Jeffries, and others have denounced trans men as self-hating women and trans women as patriarchal infiltrators infiltrating women’s bodies from within, and the whole trans movement as anti-feminist and reactionary in every way This is also the view of Maryland State Attorney Kathy Brannon, who has a viciously and publicly attacked trans people and written briefs for the UN against including gender identity in human rights protections

Brannon and her followers also run something called The Gender Identity Watch Project, and like all watch projects, it’s designed to track and harass targeted political agendas and developments, in this case, to write gender identity protection into law Wherever The Gender Identity Watch Project spies this effort, the presumption is that gender identity protection and campus codes or in legal codes or other things is going to cancel protections of sexuality and gender– and women, rather Now few feminists actually subscribe to these positions Seems like there’s a few thousand when you kind of go through the lists and study this thing I haven’t studied it formally, but it looks like a few thousand, maybe a little more than that But it’s even more important to note that the so-called rad fems don’t have a lot of economic or political power But what this positioning does is allow trans activists to continue with the argument and the belief that second wave feminism is, as one put it, useless at best, at worst reactionary And the fight itself seems to me very much part of what animates the pro-choice, pro-trans movement There have been several voices in that movement who’ve declared that, quote, “anything that pisses off Kathy Brannon must be right.” And the petitioners have said that they know Planned Parenthood and NAROL are not really like that and that they are trans supportive, but that changing the language would prove it and, quote, “establish which side you’re on.” So this particular bit of history helps produce, again, a set of political positionings and identities So there are at least four historical threads relevant to our problem, not simply producing the scene, the animosities, and the stakes in this dustup, but generating the discourses, constituting the identities themselves, their content, their orientation, and their relationship to one another And I’m saying this just to remind us again of what we already know, that a non-essentialist social theory of identity rests in the recognition that that identity is the constellated effect of certain histories It’s not simply internal and unchanging By way of concluding– I’m not that close to the end, but you have to say that at a certain point so people don’t you’re just going to go on and on, but I’m making a turn now What I want to do is gather the histories and the way that they shape struggles over resignification and identities And I’m going to gather them into a set of admittedly very tendentious political notes for movement politics, left, feminist, queer, racial, and others, in which, in each case, what I’ll be suggesting is the need to move away from single origin stories, a politics of primacy, trump, or I hurt most, a politics rooted in anti-privilege, politics of resentment– been there before, but I have a way to renew that argument now– but they also move away from a politics of comprehensiveness, universal inclusion, political totalities or unities, and a politics of teleological or, as I said at the beginning, steadily progressive political narratives And each one urges, as well, a move away from a politics of theoretical perfection and a reminder that theory and politics are not identical There are seven of these That’s just what there happen to be And I’m going to list them fairly briefly, though each could be, again, its own essay So the first one is theories and practices of emancipation at the site of identity do not unfold progressively The idea that each successive generation of gender theorists and activists simply overcomes the blind spots and limitations of previous ones seems to me a form of bad Hegelianism, of antiquated enlightenment historiography It seems to me to partake of the idea that we simply are getting smarter, wiser, freer, more inclusive, more egalitarian, and so forth And if there’s one thing that post-Marxism and post-structuralism and a whole bunch of other Nietzscheian and other kinds of critiques suggested is that we really need to give up that mythology Not to say that there haven’t been places where it’s better now than it was then But sometimes it’s a different now than it was then And sometimes we’ve lost sight of something

now that we had sight of then And moreover, what’s really important is to see that if there are several different projects of emancipation at the site of gender produced by a number of different histories and powers of gender, then it’s a mistake to simply see each wave as appropriately succeeding overcoming the difficulties or limitations of the previous one That is, it’s a mistake to see queer as the theory and practice of gender that rightly succeeds feminist theory, and trans as the theory and practice of gender that rightly succeeds queer and feminist Instead– and I would say these past two days have been a kind of study in this– it may be appropriate to think about what these different waves and angles and nomenclatures and histories each feature and each occlude, what’s illuminated and what’s shadowed in them, what gets left behind that is still important to address, and what’s no longer utterable or speakable in certain cases, but that hasn’t been replaced with a way of identifying or speaking about certain problems and certain objects that a new forbidding of language or discourse covers up OK So the first suggestion is simply that theories and practices of emancipation at the site of identity should not be understood as simply progressive Related, number two, there’s no single origin of oppression or matrix of subordination for which there is a unified project of political redress To put it in the terms that we’ve been thinking about together, there is no single gender system for which there is one theory and one politics, and that will come apart when the right thread is pulled Every gendered injustice cannot be tracked to the sexual division of labor, or the organization of reproduction, or the organization of sexuality, or heteronormativity, or gender dimorphism Each produces different traps of gender, but they do not call emancipate from a single origin or weld into a single system implicating all of us in the same way We’ve been down that single origin, single explanation road before For reconstructed Marxists, capitalism held the key to everything Communism would redeem every wrong from class to colonialism, male dominance to racism And then in the early days of second wave feminism, patriarchy was posited as the root of all historical horror, war, slavery, labor exploitation, plunder of the earth, not to mention subordination of women And as this analysis was challenged by women of color, by lesbians, by disability, queer, trans, and more, the system kept being renamed Racial patriarchy, racial capitalism, hetero-normative racial patriarchal capitalism, et cetera But all of these were efforts systematize powers that produce different kinds of excluded, subordinated, or abject subjects And always something was missing, settler colonialism or caste or apartheid or ecological and animal exploitation, or something else But what I’m suggesting is there something deeply wrong with this kind of thinking It’s politics on a theological model, where God is replaced as a unified system or oppressive power But still, what we’re imagining is something monothetic, omnipotent, total, complete I’m suggesting what we know but sometimes forget, I think, in these kinds of debates, that the complex histories and multiple forces and powers constitutive of human orders aren’t systematic and unified They’re not intelligently designed They emerge in strands and patches in partial and local logics, and above all, in different spaces, places, and histories Of course some forms of power exploit others Capital exploits the vulnerability of racialized underclasses, immigrants, undocumented, et cetera But these kinds of intersections an imbrications don’t add up to a systematic, unified order of power They don’t produce one class that holds the standpoint for seeing the whole and whose emancipation emancipates all And this means that all progressive causes cannot be assimilated to one unified struggle for justice Note three Inclusion through signification is sometimes a retrograde politics If there’s not one single origin of wrong, and if injustices issue from a range of different discourses

or relations of power, even at the site of gender, and if there’s not one unified way of experiencing any particular wrong, and if the powers of naming never resolve but always respond to particular historical eruptions and conjunctures, all of this is what a politics of inclusive naming turns its back on In fact, a politics dedicated to inclusive naming in some ways revives the troubling liberal humanist conceit that everything can be included under a single sign if we just make it abstract enough, man, or human, or person, or trans with an asterisk So in political life, what we need to ask, I think, is when are umbrella terms occluding and obscuring of constituting powers rather than emancipatory? might they be misrecognizing rather than inclusive? And above all, what political alternatives to inclusion might there be to exclusion? What other possibilities are there on the field? Fourth note All valuable political projects cannot be reconciled or even united If there’s not one universal project of social justice, then is coalition the right alternative political formulation? Certainly the two projects I’ve described have some conjoined investments They both seek to denaturalize gender and gender subordination They both seek to generate reproductive autonomy They both seek to destigmatize sexuality and kinship and reproduction that’s outside of conventional or sanctioned family forms But all of this doesn’t mean they share goals or tactics or constituencies Coalition is generally understood as joining together diverse political strands or identities for one common goal, so different identities that come together for a common goal But not all social justice politics works this way, especially, again, if we give up a Manichaean view of a we who is good and a they who are evil, if we give up the theological fantasy of one oppressive system and one beautiful post-revolutionary order where all is good and free and abundant So perhaps non-rivalrous affirmation could be a more useful aspiration But of course even this is not always manageable Sometimes ecological and labor politics collide Sometimes diversity and equality aims collide Even feminist campaigns have certain internal collisions The question we need to ask ourselves is, why is it so difficult, especially for activists on the left and the right, to live with that, to live with disunified political life, not to connect all the dots? Those in the middle seem to be able to hang out there a lot But on the left and on the right, we look for these total stories and complete projects and absolute unity, and a which side are you on kind of politics So here I’m just posing the question, why is it so hard for us to let particular left campaigns do their work? Why must every campaign cover every wrong? Fifth note You have to listen closely here, because I’m going to sound more reactionary than I already have sounded And I promise that’s not what I mean So here’s the statement Anti-privilege makes lousy politics Privilege is sometimes a very useful category of analysis in understanding or criticizing points of view and the positions from which they emanate But I think it rarely leads to a useful framework or strategy of political transformation It more often leads to a kind of labor camp politics A politics of anti-privilege– and I didn’t cover this too carefully, but part of the pro-trans, pro-choice position is that trans are the least privileged of any social grouping and gender that you could find, and hence ought to have their needs and position most honored A politics of anti-privilege tends to argue, you can’t have your political project because mine is where the real pain is Only mine reaches to the bottom of the human ladder of suffering or powerlessness, and hence should trump But pain and powerlessness an ontological basements, important as they are for developing political analyses,

theory, and awareness, do not necessarily translate into a political vision Attacking the privilege of another is often a way of redistributing that pain, disseminating that powerlessness, but not necessarily removing, redressing, or resolving Note six Theory is not identical to politics, and political correctness is not the same as political effectiveness Activists must not expect theory to coincide with politics Theory can incite, illuminate, and help transform political life, but it’s not identical with it And we learned this a long time ago from Stuart Hall, who said, look, at its most basic, theory opens up meaning, makes meaning slide in a potentially infinite way Politics is about bids for hegemony over meaning It aims to fix meaning for your team rather than the other one And these are really two different kinds of tasks, and each is extremely important in the world That’s why we have the Academy, and why it’s not identical with Washington, DC Moreover, what’s philosophically and logically right, or even right as a principle, isn’t always politically right, tactical, or useful That is, a logical claim– trans men need access to reproductive health care associated with female bodies, but are not women– that logical claim doesn’t have the automatic political entailment Therefore we must eliminate the term women from all reproductive health projects This isn’t just a mistake of political correctness, but of a certain rationalist Kantian and Habermassian epistemology and justificatory scheme in political life That kind of a scheme assumes that politics involves logical entailments, consistent moral categories, principles, and line drawing, and a lot of linguistic stability and transparency But that’s not the landscape of the political world The landscape of the political world is a potted, historical, discursive, contextual world where powers and meanings are not subject to philosophical discipline It’s a messy world where strategically appropriate and rhetorically powerful claims, not simply philosophically logical ones or even morally correct ones, win the day I am not saying that moral principles are irrelevant to political life But I am saying they can’t be decisive Rather, we need to learn, or think, historically, contextually, and above all, strategically, rather than only at the level of principle, logical consistency, and moral correctness That’s what’s really vital for a potent politics of justice And that leads to my very last note Provincialism is an ever-present challenge to all progressive political projects On the one hand, political projects are necessarily inflected by local, historically specific, problematics, definitions, discourses, and understandings There is no universal global and trans-historical political positioning That’s what’s wrong with the idea of global citizenship and Universalist claims We know that But on the other hand, activists have to constantly struggle to expand our frame of reference, get out of our bubbles, be mindful of the constraints and assumptions and conventions shaping our world, our injuries, our demands, our needs And in this vein, Planned Parenthood had to learn that reproductive freedom means far more than birth control in most parts of the universe It may often mean enabling reproduction for people whose fertility is colonized or despised, where what has to be engaged are histories of forced sterilization or abortion, eugenics, prohibitions on single or lesbian or trans pregnancy and parenting, or different valuations of children for different classes and races, or different valuations of boy and girl children On the other hand queer and trans activists have had to reckon with a different bubble politics, namely how the languages of gender developed on North American college campuses and urban queer spaces sound or play elsewhere, including how those languages of gender may occlude certain powers or turn their backs on certain powers I’m going to stop here, not with a resounding conclusion, but just this From the histories and the political landscape that I’ve been touring, it would seem there’s almost an inevitable clash to the pro-choice, pro-trans position and mainstream feminist reproductive health projects But what I’ve been trying to suggest

is that some reflection on the political traps and eddies that have been generated by contemporary American political discourse and culture, including its refraction in university feminist politics and queer politics, that some reflection on this might help release us a bit from these skirmishes I’ve also been trying to suggest that these skirmishes may hold some lessons for more effective political activism across a range of projects and possibilities That’s why my approach has not been to try to resolve the impasse, but to contextualize and analyze and theorize it, which it seems to me is one of the things feminist studies retains as its mission, as part of its promise in both scholarly research and the classroom That is, one of the most important things that we have done since the beginning and need to continue to do without end is to do the kind of work that encourages thinking, sorting, arguing, criticism, self-reflection And this seems to me the feminist studies classroom that we cannot live without Thanks [APPLAUSE] So you want me to call on people? OK I think you need a– you’ve got to have a mike Thank you so much That was so insightful and cogent, as always So what I was confused about in the beginning of the trans pro-choice movement is, why would– so my understanding of NAROL and Planned Parenthood is that they believe that they’re providing something that should be a universally available accessible right anyway So they’re doing something– they’re like a stopgap measure They’re providing something that should be provided already by a more socially responsible society Someday they would put themselves out of business That’s the aim, that free and available access to reproductive health care should just for everybody A basic human right And so? And so why, , then, would you ask the people who are providing– it’s almost like asking Doctors Without Borders in politically corrupt societies, yeah, give us voting too Like they’re not the people you should be asking You should be asking your– the people who are in charge of your political structure So what the pro-choice, pro-trans petitioners have said in response to that– I’ll just channel them here– is that precisely because states are not providing the sort of thing, but NAROL and Planned Parenthood– and they’re, I think, beginning to target some others as well– are mainstream feminist organizations advocating for this, that they are the ones who should be leading the way in a gender inclusive society in which reproductive capacities, reproductive rights, reproductive autonomy is guaranteed for all And precisely because that fight has not been won, because we don’t have that as the world that we live in, what needs to be addressed are the mainstream organizations, the most powerful organizations that are leading the project of emancipation So I just wondered if your argument would look differently if both of those work together addressing the states, instead of one asking from the other Can’t hear you Give her the mike back So my question was whether Wendy’s argument would look different if trans pro-choice and NAROL and Planned Parenthood were together demanding what they wanted from the state, instead of the trans demanding it from Planned Parenthood and NAROL And then would your seventh point look different? Sure My argument would look really different I wouldn’t have had any argument at all, because you would have a campaign that’s coming from a pro-choice, pro-trans positions that recognizes that it’s not identical with the position that is represented by Planned Parenthood and NAROL, that they are coming out of two different histories and two different problematics, and if they both could look over at each other and say, yes, let’s link arms and fight for this together, but let’s fight for it in our name, each in our names, then I would’ve talked to you about something else, maybe But here’s the thing Planned Parenthood has tried to make some assessions in this direction They’ve taken out a number of ads now in queer papers

and queer sites– I don’t know why I still talk about newspapers I think there’s three of us who still read them in this room– but anyway, queer sites and magazines and so forth, that lead with headlines like, you don’t have to be a woman to have a cervix And then it’s all about why you need to get a pap smear and so forth And so they’ve tried to do this addressing inside a world that still won’t give up the word woman But sure The position I think you’re arguing for is one in which you get something more like a linking of organizational aims without an insistence that the organizational aims become identical and become one And that’s what the mainstream feminist organizations have argued for But that has not been at all satisfying to the petitioners And you can understand why, because they’re saying, as long as you’re making this argument– I mean, that’s why I’m trying to get us to hang out in that space of tension That get at your question? Thank you So we’ll go to you first, and then the woman right behind you Yeah Thanks Well, thank you for a brilliant presentation And I think I understand why the trans community has targeted NAROL and Planned Parenthood because of their association with reproduction and medicine But I’m wondering if this is just the opening salvo, if the next round they’re going to go after other feminist organizations that are promoting women’s rights and statuses and so forth, or whether they’re going to be content with finding some satisfaction with changes in these organizations So I’m thinking about how to answer you while slightly shifting the timbre of your question, because it had a kind of, they’ll never be satisfied, soon they’ll conquer the world, which is the Kathy Brannon position So I want to just back off from it a little, just a little bit, while recognizing what you’re saying So certainly trans politics has targeted a number of women-only spaces, including women-only colleges, and other– and the infamous Michigan Women’s Music Festival they’ve been struggling about for three decades And my own view on those things is that those are appropriate Those are right Those are places that can take up this challenge and be properly– be effectively and powerfully transformed by it, as it were, without losing the mission and the project that I’m suggesting is constituted at the site of reproductive histories and women’s bodies as sites of reproduction I think it’s such a specific problem That’s why I’ve tried to do the analysis with that kind of specificity I think that Wellesley and Bryn Mawr and Smith opening their doors to trans women is going to just– it’s not going to hurt, and it’s going to do quite marvelous things There are issues There are tricky things to adapt to But coeducation required adapting to issues I mean, many of us have either gone to or been faculty in colleges that recently went coeducational, and they’re in paroxysms of adaptation that is not always so smooth And I think the problem that I’ve tried to identify here is one where one political aim essentially cancels or compromises, radically compromises another, and not at the level of purity, but at the level of aim, at the level of end, like what does a women’s health clinic in Texas signify, and what happens when it ceases to have that title? What does the idea of women’s reproductive health campaigns around the world signify, and what happens when you have to take that language away? And what does the language of a war on women being waged by those who would retrench women’s reproductive freedoms signify that you lose when you simply talk about persons?

And we can do it at one other site that I think is really important, and it touches on some of the things that people are concerned with right here at Brown right now I think the whole concern about sexual assault on campuses and violence against women obviously also affects trans and queer, and often in much more traumatic, dramatic ways than it affects heterosexual identified women But I don’t think that means that you can’t have a Violence Against Women Act And I think if you lose the Violence Against Women Act, and you cease to have a violence Against Women Act in Congress, and instead you have a Violence Against Persons Act, you’ve lost something important So I think there are sites– sexual violence, reproduction, we could probably name a few others– where it really matters And then there are other sites where those histories aren’t as important I was long-winded and not even what you asked I’ll try to be more on target next time OK There was a woman right behind you Hi Hi My question was actually also going to be about women-only colleges and about whether or not you saw the stakes of those debates being different I think you just kind of addressed that, so if somebody else has a question OK All right Yeah I did kind of address that And I do think they’re different I do think it’s a really interesting time I think it forces us to rethink why some of us still defend women’s colleges, and not male colleges and all-male colleges, and why we think or don’t think it’s OK for the meaning of women to get resignified by trans And as I said, I think there are some spaces where that resignification can be quite great, and other places where I think it can be of politics of erasure I think you were next And then I’ll go right to you Thanks, Wendy I really found that very stimulating paper I have a question about the privilege part of the argument, because I agree with so much of what you said There isn’t one universal politics that will encompass everything But it seems to me you were speaking out quite strongly– I’m going to ask you to speak up just a little because I’m watching people do this OK I was thinking you were speaking out quite decidedly against, sort of, check your privilege campaigns And I think they have a purpose, and it is to call attention to blind spots that actually hurt other people, when, in the name of women, you argue for something which actually excludes an awful lot of women, that at that moment you need to have your privilege checked So that is not to call for a completely coalition– I mean, a politics where everything is under a master narrative But it is to really transform people’s awareness of the position they hold And I think that’s an important part of political action right now Great So I want to completely agree with you and then try to make a slightly finer distinction then I apparently succeeded in making I try to make a distinction between the value of alertness to privilege in speaking, in forming viewpoints, in positioning and even in organizing– and I think that value is just there, for all the reasons you just mentioned– and the place of privilege in formulating a political vision of the future So my distinction goes like this It is one thing to have check your privilege campaigns, to talk about privilege in, quite literally, how we speak to one another, how classrooms are organized, how positions get taken, and how color blindness gets argued for or not, and so forth That’s important So I suggested it’s very important to be alert to it in a critique, and in an analysis, and in an evaluation of who’s speaking about what, how, whom Not reducing us to it, but being alert to it But what it seems to me the pro-choice, pro-trans position suggests is that the political project of reproductive freedom that addresses women ought to be trumped by a less privileged group in formulating a project of reproductive freedom because anti-privilege trumps And that’s where I’m nervous That’s where I’m concerned And I don’t know if my distinction will hold, between what I’m calling critique and analysis on the one hand and formulation

of a political vision on the other But what I’m worried about is that a politics centered on privilege and who’s at the bottom, when it comes to give shape to a political vision or a political program, that I’m not convinced we always get a political program that is, as it were, emancipatory I think sometimes what we get is a political program that is suffused with the hurt and the pain and the desire to triumph over those most available to being triumphed over, which are those, as it were, already on the left, already willing and alert to– you couldn’t possibly bring this campaign to many– and this maybe goes back to your point– to many large, state-organized things So that that’s my worry So I need to work this out It’s not a paper yet I’m speaking from notes And in some ways I probably won’t publish this I’ve given it a few times, but because– you’re looking at me, like, with curiosity– I feel like it has the quality of something that I want people to think about together in a room like this, rather than Tweet about as– you know, it’s already been Tweeted about– but you know, and another reactionary blow against– I actually want it to be about us thinking together about these problems, not just the problems of the debate itself, but the problems of thinking, of how we do our politics together And I’m not convinced that works well on the written page, and where people are hurting and positioned and huddling and so forth Anyway, that’s my thought about that But what I’m trying for is this distinction between checking your privilege in all senses of the word, as we think together, work together, and think about the different ways we see and understand the world, but not make privilege the basis– especially a kind of a reversal of privilege– the basis of a future, because I’m just not convinced it makes a good future So that that’s where I’m thinking there OK I’m trying to think if there was an order Yeah, it was you and then Nancy Because you’ve had your hand up for like four hours, like the last session, and you never got called on Who are you? My name is Penina Penina Poser, class of ’92 OK But I can’t quite hear you for some reason Can you hear me now? Yes, I can All right Penina Poser, class of ’92 I wanted to ask you– recently in mainstream media Ruth Bader Ginsburg was interviewed And she talked about the issue of reproductive freedom, reproductive rights, and access to abortion, and said that women of privilege will always be able to have access, but that women who are in a position of socioeconomic weakness will be the ones that will suffer because of what’s going on That’s right And through your talk today, I was thinking about the issue of how gay rights, discourse about racism, and other more micro-oriented examples of groups that are trying to speak about wanting to have a voice are getting more traction than the basics of women having socioeconomic fairness, is something as simple, historically, as the Equal Rights Amendment There’s so many basic things where women are just not getting their fair share And I wanted to ask you if you could address that, because it seems to me that fundamentally, the ways in which women have been treated unfairly goes back the longest and is the most basic And these other issues, although valid, are subsets of what we’ve gone through as women and still go through to this day in academia, outside in the world at large And there’s been tremendous gains, but in those gains a politeness and a kind of a reticence, I think, has come about over time And there’s not the same level of a assertion that is happening now And I wanted to ask if you could talk about that Wow You said a lot of things I’m just going to say one piece of it back and see if this is at the heart of it Are you suggesting very politely that there’s a kind of long haul to– I’m just going to put it this way– women’s subordination, but that then there’s a lot of other developments from feminism and from that subordination– Subgroups Subgroups that are getting attention

OK Like the trans community, for example, is a very valid argument But if you look at the basic foundational needs of women, we’re not where we should be, even though we’ve been in the long haul OK So this makes me nervous Your question makes me nervous for a couple of reasons Because I think it is partly the very thing that trans folk experience, that they’re seen as recent, trendy, small, and privileged compared to the long haul of 50% percent of the world’s population and holding up the sky and all the other things that we don’t say anymore So the reason it makes me nervous is that I think another way to tell the story is that there have been people living silently and abjectly with all kinds of powers and experiences constituting that silence and abjection that have emerged in recent decades– and I’d say trans is one and disability is another– that are not subgroups but are identities whose very possibility of being able to speak and be legible is recent, does depend on a range of civil rights discourses and emancipatory discourses that are not simply feminist, but really, in this country, certainly emerged, I think fundamentally, from the black civil rights movement making possible everything that piggybacks on that But I think that to say they’re subgroups, and that then there’s this sort of main and important thing, is to do two things It’s to organize the spatial politics in our heads in a way that I think is neither historically accurate nor, I want to say, politically useful, because I think to become legible late often only means that one has been made more severely abject or monstrous than anybody else Or it means that there’s an articulation that’s, how shall I put it– I’m going to just put it really simply I’m going to do it differently I think that what I’m arguing for is the possibility of political and strategic incommensurability that neither adds up to hostility nor to coalition, and that unless we are able to think that thought, unless we, in a so-called progressive or left world, are able to think that way, we will continue to operate in terms of who gets the limelight, or who subsumes whom, or whose naming or political project comprises whom And if that happens, I actually think, among other things, it’s going to mean permanent war between feminism in its more mainstream projects and trans and queer projects And I think that’s a huge loss on all sides, huge And I think the pro-choice, pro-trans petition feminists– and it’s the first time I’ve told you that that’s how they understand themselves– really understand that I don’t think they are simply trying to destroy NAROL and reproductive rights campaigns more generally I think they’re really trying to make them inclusive, trans inclusive And if I’ve suggested that the one project may suppplant or cancel the other, I don’t think that’s the aim And I do think we need to figure out how to get this sorted out, rather than think in terms of subgroups or latecomers Oh, sorry I didn’t realize how long it was going on OK Brief, two questions, and they’re going to be brief I mean, I’m going to be brief So Nancy’s going to pass because she can’t be brief So I’m sorry Nancy can be brief OK I see you and I see you So why doesn’t Louise go first, and– but you’ve

spoken several times before, and I’m a quantitative, egalitarian Democrat, so– OK So these two, and then– I just have information– I have several different comments, and I’ll try to make only maybe two What I really liked about your presentation was this idea that they’re different historical trends And what you seem to be arguing for is a both/and kind of politics, where we can be X and support Y, and do things for each other in some kind of way But I think that there’s also this political environment that we’re in where the right has picked things to sort of argue against And I think the example of the marriage equality movement, when people go to argue that, for example, in front of a legislature to get rid of [INAUDIBLE] whatever, they’re pushed into this normative position by the fact that they’re trying to answer or rebut the idea that marriage is only between a man and a woman And so they end up picking normative gay families And so I think there’s a lot of what goes on here is related to the environment in which a lot of this stuff is being attacked by the right And I think you have a way of trying to think about this so that their possibilities of doing this both in politics, but not ending up in the exclusionary sorts of categories that are pretty harmful Great So let’s take all three questions Let’s take yours and yours, and then I’ll respond all three at once, or comments, if they’re not questions So what? Who? Elizabeth? OK There you are I actually had a little bit more of a comment on terminology And it’s sort of a little bit lighthearted But it occurs to me that it seems like there’s disagreement on what women and female means and what that is, but maybe more agreement on what it isn’t And if they were to think about terminology that they might agree on what they’re not, which is non-male, it seems, which has its own stumbling blocks No, because it’s trans men who need access to these clinics But don’t they– I guess I’m oversimplifying I was thinking about the 7-Up and the Uncola You could be un-male or non-male Nice try If there were agreement on what they weren’t, that might be a way to get a dialogue where they don’t spend time trying to figure out what they are That was the only thought there And Nancy I’m not sure whether this is a theoretical question or a practical question, but it has to do with the privilege issue One of the things that I’ve been intrigued by more generally about these arguments about privilege is the willingness of large chunks of protesters to rail against the privileged as if destroying their privilege in any way addresses any of the other issues I can imagine leaving both the Koch brothers and George Souros alone, and arguing very seriously about what the society should do about jobs and health care and economic support, and all the other things for all sorts of people who are marginalized, and just figure that the discussion about privilege is a distraction, which doesn’t mean you don’t talk about checking it in the sense that you were talking about, but whether the insistence on railing about privilege is a distraction from doing something about problems that need addressing and doesn’t actually get us anywhere Great Just on the naming question, a couple of trans friends have suggested to me that we think about embodiment rather than gender naming as a root here And I think there are some obvious ways to solve the problem linguistically and other ways The question is, are you’re solving the problem politically? And that’s what I’m trying to keep afloat here, which is, it’s one thing for us to figure out how to get it right And it’s another thing to figure out how to signify to a world that’s not having this particular conversation And I’m totally respectful of the idea

that we shouldn’t just signify inside the conventions, that it’s one thing to keep continuously pushing those And I think that’s partly what reproductive rights organizations have understood themselves as doing with the very idea of women And you know, while we’re at it, I think it’s probably way past time for Planned Parenthood to give up Planned Parenthood as a name, even though they’re fearful about it because so many of us have been contributed for so long because of what they represent But that is ’50s eugenics I mean, it has a terrible colonial and imperial history But that’s another talk OK So I think solving the naming I want to keep as a political question rather than as a linguistics and semiotics and feminist theoretical one, even while continuing to think about it in this other way But that’s what I meant about theory and politics being productive provocateurs of one another rather than identical That’s the magnificence of scholarly and theoretical life is that we get to pull these things apart, and that it’s not identical with politics But I do think sometimes the activists that we mint in the university imagine that what’s happened in queer theory and feminist theory classes translates and transmutes immediately into political life And that’s part of the problem I’m trying to identify Louise, you know, I think of course you’re right The environment– I mean, political context produces particular kinds of political campaigns They’re going to be effective to the extent that they respond to this context But that’s always true And I also think that we need to look at the ways in which our own local left political context produces these things as well So yes, on the gay marriage campaign it’s certainly the case that a pathologization of same sex partnerships produces a political response that wants to treat them as normal But that’s the moment– right there is the moment to say, OK, and what does that normalization do to a larger queer community to which we are also– yeah So you agree, of course And I’ve seen that effort on the part of some of my same sex marriage equality campaign advocate friends, and not on the part of others So it’s a mixed thing, privilege and occupy and the 1% I don’t know, Nancy I think one of the few good times the left has really had over the past five years has been Occupy, right? I mean, it hasn’t been that good for a really long time OK, but and what? And what? What happened? Here’s what happened It’s changed the nature of the political conversation about inequality in the United States and throughout the European Union I do not underestimate that capacity to change a discourse Now, you can still say, and then what happens? What happens once that conversation changes? I don’t think, also, that what Occupy and the attack on the Koch brothers and others– well, not the Koch brothers, but let’s just say the 1%– was doing was simply attacking privilege I think it really was about a certain– I mean, it wasn’t a sufficient discourse The 1% doesn’t get us all the way down the road with the analysis and the politics that we need But that said, I do think that calling for a just, fair, sustainable, non-racialized, non-punitively gendered society is really different than attacking the privilege of the few So there we agree, that the formulation that we come up of the future we want is really different from the sting and the injury of being on the wrong side of privilege And then, again, I want to go back to the first conversation that we had about this, which is that it’s an unquestionably important thing to be able to analyze the positions from which people’s viewpoints emerge and speak We used to call this class position Now we call it privilege That’s OK I mean, it just means that there’s no sense of– whatever So I don’t think that we– I think there can be something very galvanizing in something like the Occupy discourse about the 1% And then, again, we have to go beyond it to formulate a vision of the world in which we want to live

and that we think it’s possible to bring about at this point in the history of human civilizations Thanks [APPLAUSE] So I have just a couple of announcements before people disperse I want you to join me in thanking, again, Wendy, but really all of today’s speakers You did a wonderful job Thank you so much [APPLAUSE] And I just was a couple words of thanks before we break for the reception The Pembroke Center owes a deep debt of gratitude to everyone who helped make today possible, certainly to Jean Howard, whose leadership of this whole endeavor has been inspired and inspiring Thank you, Jean Oh, yes Hang on one second And then I would also like to extend, on behalf of the Center, thanks to the rest of the Symposium Planning Committee for their dedication to the project Nancy L. Buck, Karen Newman, Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Kay Warren, and Elizabeth Weed The Pembroke Center is really blessed to have a fantastic staff, and I want to thank Christy Law Blanchard, Donna Goodenow, and Martha Hambllin for everything you did today to make it possible I also want to thank the Pembroke Center’s archivist, Wendy Corwin Where is Wendy? Hi, Wendy Wendy’s dedication to this project has just been remarkable So as you leave I hope that you will check out the related exhibits, the Lamphere case, the sex discrimination suit that changed Brown, which is on display on the first floor through commencement And there were several students who worked with Wendy Corwin, Nancy L. Buck, and myself over the past year and a half on the research that informs that exhibit And I want to take this opportunity to thnk them Abigail Edelman, Lorena Garcia, Jane Pullman Harbison, Bennett Knox, Lee Thomas, and Sarah Yahm Thank you, all of you