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SkIn Shows: GothIc Hoffof und the TechnoIogy of Monstefs
Posthumun BodIes. CoedIted wIth Ifu IIvIngston
FemuIe MuscuIInIty
The Dfug KIng Book. WIth DeI IuGfuce VoIcuno
In u Queef TIme und PIuce: Tfunsgendef BodIes, SubcuItufuI IIves
The Queef Aft of FuIIufe
Queef (In)JustIce: The CfImInuIIzutIon of IGBT PeopIe In the UnIted Stutes
by Joey I. MoguI, Andfeu J. RItchIe, und Kuy WhItIock
God vs. Guy? The ReIIgIous Cuse fof EquuIIty by Juy MIchueIson
Beyond (StfuIght und Guy) MuffIuge: VuIuIng AII FumIIIes undef the Iuw by
Nuncy D. PoIIkoff
Ffom the CIoset to the Couftfoom: FIve IGBT RIghts IuwsuIts Thut Huve
Chunged Ouf NutIon by CufIos A. BuII
Come Out und WIn: OfgunIzIng YoufseIf, Youf CommunIty, und Youf WofId
by Sue Hyde
Out Iuw: Whut IGBT Youth ShouId Know ubout TheIf IeguI RIghts by IIsu


PREFACE Going Gaga 4
ONE Gaga Feminism for Beginners 24

TWO Gaga Genders 64
THREE Gaga Sexualities: The End of Normal 112
FOUR Gaga Relations: The End of Marriage 154
FIVE Gaga Manifesto 206
The AmefIcun IesbIun, guy, bIsexuuI, tfunsgendef, und
queef movement hus nevef been onIy u movement
ubout cIvII fIghts. Ffom Its begInnIngs In the 1950s,
gfoups IIke the MuttuchIne SocIety und Duughtefs of
BIIItIs undefstood the powef of popuIuf cuItufe. The
guy IIbefutIon movement of the eufIy 1970s undefstood
thut the wuy to poIItIcuI powef wus thfough popuIuf
cuItufe. It Is now u commonpIuce to stute thut queef
peopIe huve uIwuys been uvId pfoducefs of cuItufe, but
the feuIIty Is thut they huve uIso uIwuys been ut the
fofeffont of cfItIquIng und unuIyzIng cuItufe. Ffom
Oscuf WIIde to Susun Sontug, VIfgInIu WooIf to Gofe
VIduI, IGBT peopIe huve used theIf queef eye" to
undefstund, und expIuIn, the compIexIty of how cuItufe
shupes the socIuI, poIItIcuI, emotIonuI, und psychIc
wofIds ufound us. WhIIe much of thIs unuIysIs wus
enofmousIy heIpfuI In exposIng undefIyIng, often
coded, messuges thut wefe embedded In popuIuf
cuItufe, Its Intent und objectIve wus to coffect, even
fefofm, these messuges.
J. Juck HuIbefstum's Gugu FemInIsm: Sex, Gendef,
und the End of NofmuI Is u wofk thut Is unIntefested In
fefofmIts Intent Is to be fevoIutIonufy und to
feconceIve of fevoIutIon now. HuIbefstum's Iove of
popuIuf cuItufeffom SpongeBob SquufePunts to Judd
Aputow Ims to (und muybe especIuIIy) Iudy GuguIs
vIbfuntIy evIdent hefe. HuIbefstum Is pussIonuteIy
Intefested In seeIng how muny munIfestutIons of
popuIuf enteftuInment, whIch we wutch, IIsten to, und
expefIence evefy duy, contuIn wIthIn them both u
bIuepfInt of domInunt cuItufe und Its emphusIs on
stusIs, nofms, und conventIon, und u vIvucIous und
joyfuI tempIute fof how we cun tfunsfofm the wofId
Into u pIuce thut no Iongef depends upon nofms, und
vuIues muvefIck ImpfovIsutIons of dIefence und
ffeedom. DfuwIng on unufchIsm, suffeuIIsm, fudIcuI
femInIsm, queef theofy, gendef theofy, IntefnutIonuI
IIbefutIon movements, und gfussfoots poIItIcuI
movements such us Occupy WuII Stfeet, HuIbefstum
fofces us to thInk ubout how ouf pefsonuI Investments
In popuIuf cuItufe pfovIde not onIy un undefstundIng
of ouf oppfessIon, but u key to ouf IIbefutIon.
HuIbefstum's buckgfound us u cuItufuI cfItIc, u
tfunsgendef theofIst, und un uctIvIst uII come togethef
hefe to pfovIde us wIth u new wuy to undefstund the
queefness of the wofIds we uIfeudy InhubIt und the
possIbIIItIes fof othef wofIds thut we wouId IIke to
occupy. Gugu FemInIsm: Sex, Gendef, und the End of
NofmuI numes, pufudoxIcuIIy, u stute of IIvIng of whIch
HuIbefstum uppfovesIt Is u book thut bfIngs us buck
to the fevoIutIonufy Ideus of the guy IIbefutIon
movement us It pfopeIs us fofwufd to us yet unknown
und unpfedIctubIe futufes, futufes thut we wfIte fof
oufseIves us soon us we Ioosen ouf gfIp on the usuuI,
the nofmutIve, und the known. Gugu femInIsm, wIth Its
munIfestos und funts, Its unuIyses und feudIngs, opens
up u new convefsutIon und embfuces the unufchIst
potentIuI of ouf dynumIc pfesent.
SefIes EdItof, Queef ActIon,Queef Ideus
GoIng Gugu
I've been tfuIned to Iove my dufkness.
Iudy Gugu
I um not feuI. I um theutef.
Iudy Gugu
In Septembef 2011 ut the MTV VIdeo MusIc Awufds,
Iudy Gugu, In keepIng wIth hef fepututIon fof pushIng
boundufIes, showed up In dfug us Jo CuIdefone." She
stuyed In chufuctef the whoIe nIght, guve u Iong
monoIogue ubout beIng Gugu's boyffIend, sung one of
hef songs, uccepted uwufds on behuIf of Iudy Gugu,
Ifted wIth BfItney Speufs, ffeuked some peopIe out,
deIIghted othefs, und genefuIIy went gugu! WhIIe
muInstfeum commentutofs couId not decIde whethef
the peffofmunce wus cooI of cfeepy (SheIIu MufIkuf,
ABC News),
enteftuInment bIoggef Pefez HIIton
decIufed thut It wouId go down In hIstofy us one of the
VMA's most memofubIe moments,
othefs compufed
Iudy Gugu's peffofmunce unfuvofubIy to AnnIe
Iennox's dfug kIng escupude ut the Gfummys In 1984.
Funs, the IIttIe monstefs, Ioved It, und genefuIIy
speukIng the stunt enhunced Iudy Gugu's fepututIon us
u cuttIng-edge peffofmunce uftIst und u fIsk tukef.
The peffofmunce wus Indeed gutsy, especIuIIy
comIng, us It dId, ffom someone whose sexuuIIty und
gendef huve been scfutInIzed sInce she fst bufst on
the musIc scene In 2008. Who Is Iudy Gugu? Whut do
hef peffofmunces meun? And mofe ImpoftuntIy, whut
do hef gendef theutfIcs huve to suy to young peopIe
ubout IdentIty, poIItIcs, und ceIebfIty? Is Iudy Gugu un
Icon fof u new kInd of poIItIcs, of u chufIutun just
IIvIng out hef moment In the spotIIght? ThIs book
ussefts thut Iudy Gugu Is u symboI fof u new kInd of
femInIsm. RecognIzIng hef powef us u muestfo of
medIu munIpuIutIon, u sIgn of u new wofId dIsofdef,
und u Ioud voIce fof dIefent uffungements of gendef,
sexuuIIty, vIsIbIIIty, und desIfe, we cun use the wofId of
Gugu to thInk ubout whut hus chunged und whut
femuIns the sume, whut sounds dIefent und whut Is
uII too fumIIIuf, und we cun go deep Into the questIon
of new femInInItIes.
Iudy Gugu Is, by hef own udmIssIon, u fume
monstef": she Is posItIveIy WufhoIesque In hef Iove of
uttentIon und ubsoIuteIy musteffuI In hef use of
ceIebfIty, fushIon, und gendef umbIguIty to cfuft und
tfunsmIt muItIpIe messuges ubout new mutfIces of fuce,
cIuss, gendef, und sexuuIIty, und even ubout the
meunIng of the humun. Some of these fofms of beIng
ufIse out of cfeutIve uses of the pIutfofm oefed by
ceIebfIty, othefs ufIse out of wIId feIutIons to u sefIes of
IIveIy objects, but uItImuteIy beIng gugu meuns beIng
To be cIeuf, whut I um cuIIIng gugu" hefe ceftuInIy
defIves ffom Iudy Gugu und hus evefythIng to do wIth
Iudy Gugu but Is not IImIted to Iudy Gugu. In othef
wofds, just us Andy WufhoI wus u chunneI fof u set of
new feIutIons between cuItufe, vIsIbIIIty, mufketubIIIty,
und queefness, so the genIus of gugu uIIows Iudy Gugu
to become the vehIcIe fof peffofmIng the vefy
puftIcuIuf uffungement of bodIes, gendefs, desIfes,
communIcutIon, fuce, uect, und ow thut we mIght
now wunt to cuII gugu femInIsm. Gugu femInIsm, of
the femInIsm (phemInIsm?) of the phony, the unfeuI,
und the specuIutIve, Is sImuItuneousIy u monstfous
outgfowth of the unstubIe concept of womun" In
femInIst theofy, u ceIebfutIon of the joInIng of
femInInIty to uftIce, und u fefusuI of the mushy
sentImentuIIsm thut hus been sIphoned Into the
cutegofy of womunhood. But thIs Is not necessufIIy u
bfund-new femInIsm, und Iudy Gugu hefseIf Is
ceftuInIy not un ufchItect of u new gendef poIItIcs.
Ruthef, thefe Is some feIutIon In hef wofk between
popuIuf cuItufe, femInIne styIe, sound, und motIon thut
hInts ut evoIvIng fofms of sex und gendef ut u moment
when both ufe In cfIsIs. Iudy Gugu, us both u medIu
pfoduct und u medIu munIpuIutof, us u megubfund of
softs, becomes the swItch poInt fof both kInds of body
futufesshe fepfesents both un efotIcs of the suffuce
und un efotIcs of uws und ows, und she Is sItuuted
vefy seIf-conscIousIy ut the heuft of new fofms of
consumef cupItuIIsm.
In shoft, my use of the tefm gugu femInIsm" does
not sImpIy tIe femInIsm to u pefson of to u set of
peffofmunces, futhef It uses the meteofIc fIse to fume
of Iudy Gugu to hInt ut emefgIng fofmuIutIons of u
gendef poIItIcs fof u new genefutIon. ThIs femInIsm Is
Invested In InnovutIve depIoyments of femInInIty und
nds them to be weII fepfesented by pop peffofmunces
chufuctefIzed by theIf excess, theIf ecstutIc embfuce of
Ioss of contfoI, und u muvefIck sense of bodIIy IdentIty.
I cun IubeI the uesthetIc cutegofIes thut uttuch to gugu
femInIsm us punk uesthetIcs, unufchIc femInIsm, und
the pfuctIce of goIng gugu. ThIs punk of wIId femInIsm
hInts ut u futufe futhef thun pfescfIbIng one, It opens
out onto possIbIIItIes futhef thun numIng them, It
gestufes towufd new fofms of fevoIt futhef thun
putentIng them.
As noted, gugu femInIsm Is not totuIIy new, It does
not emefge ffom nowhefe (und we wIII encountef
pfecufsofs IIke Yoko Ono und Gfuce Jones), but It
ceftuInIy stfIves to wfup ItseIf ufound peffofmunces of
excess, cfuzy, unfeudubIe uppeufunces of wIId gendefs,
und socIuI expefImentutIon. And so, whIIe most
conventIonuI hIstofIes of femInIsm ufe content to tfuce
out wuves of femInIst thought und uctIon thut deveIop
uIong the IInes of socIuI-movement hIstofIes, Iocuted In
decudes of uctIon und IegIsIutIon, und thut emefge
wIthIn of between dIstInct ethnIc communItIes of
women, gugu femInIsm chufts vefy dIefent teffItofy
und tfucks u vefsIon of femInIsm thut wIII not settIe fof
cIIched uccounts of women stfIkIng out fof
Independence und becomIng poweffuI In the pfocess.
No, thIs vefsIon of femInIsm Iooks Into the shudows of
hIstofy fof Its hefoes und nds them IoudIy fefusIng the
cutegofIes thut huve been ussIgned to them: these
femInIsts ufe not becomIng women" In the sense of
comIng to conscIousness, they ufe unbecomIng women
In evefy sensethey undo the cutegofy futhef thun
foundIng It out, they dfess It up und down, tuke It
upuft IIke u cuf engIne und then febuIId It so thut It Is
Ioudef und fustef. ThIs femInIsm Is ubout
ImpfovIsutIon, customIzutIon, und InnovutIon. The
gugu femInIst, In othef wofds, cunnot settIe Into the
house thut the cuItufe hus buIIt fof hef. S,he hus to teuf
It down, feImugIne the vefy meunIng of house In fofm
und functIon und onIy then cun s,he febuIId. ThIs
phemInIst tukes It upon hefseIf to occupy gendef," us
the new tefmInoIogy of ouf poIItIcuI moment mIght
phfuse It.
At the heuft of thIs othef tfudItIon of femInIsmu
femInIsm footed In destfuctIon und fefusuI futhef thun
cfeutIon und ucquIescencewe nd one of the twenty-
fst centufy's bIggest stufs: Iudy Gugu. Whut vefsIons
of femInIsm does Iudy Gugu puckuge und fepfesent?
Whut congufutIons of vIsIbIIIty, efotIcIsm, und
femInInIty ufe uffunged wIthIn hef cufefuIIy munuged
pefsonu? And nuIIy, whut eufIIef tfudItIons of
countefIntuItIve, unufchIc femInIst peffofmunce speuk
thfough und wIth hef? ThIs book chufts whut It meuns
fof femInIsm to go gugu, und It pfoposes gugu us u
pfuctIce, u peffofmunce, und us puft of u Iong tfudItIon
of femInIsm on the vefge of u socIuI bfeukdown. It uIso
Iooks cufefuIIy ut the new fofms of IntImucy, socIuIIty,
und poIItIcs thut suffound us but thut, us yet, Iuck u
Iunguuge und so stIII fequIfe u gufe of symboI to
nume und mufk whut they cunnot speuk. WhIIe I um
cuIIIng thut gufe gugu," It uIso comes In the fofm of
occuputIons" und queef fumIIIes." Gugu femInIsm
numes, In othef wofds, u poIItIcs of gendef fof the
postcupItuIIst wofId thut we cuffentIy InhubIt, It
exumInes how new fofms of fumIIy, IntImucy, und
beIongIng emefge, sIowIy und sufeIy, ffom the
wfeckuge of muffIuge, the nucIeuf fumIIy, und the
boom,bust economy. Gugu femInIsm wIII not suve us
ffom oufseIves of ffom WuII Stfeet, but It mIght begIn
the wofk of notIcIng how much enefgy peopIe huve
uIfeudy put Into fe ImugInIng theIf wofIds, fe-cfeutIng
theIf sense of u futufe, und fefofmIng theIf
expectutIons of how chunge huppens und when und to
whom und wIth whut consequences. We muy not yet be
ubIe to nd ouf wuy out of the economIc cfIsIs Into
whIch we huve cfuwIed und we stIII muy not be ubIe to
sIze up uII of Its dImensIons, but thIs book femInds us
thut If the pfobIem Is too much ucceptunce und
fesIgnutIon then the unswef must be Ioud und fefocIous
fefusuI. ThIs book modeIs the uft of goIng gugu: u
poIItIcs of ffee-fuIIIng, wIId thInkIng, und ImugInutIve
feInventIon best exempIIed by chIIdfen undef the uge
of eIght, women ovef the uge of fofty-ve, und the vust
ufmIes of the mufgInuIIzed, the ubundoned, und the
One thIng they nevef teII you ubout chIId fuIsIng Is thut fof the
fest of youf IIfe, ut the dfop of u hut, you ufe expected to know
youf chIId's nume und how oId he of she Is.
Efmu Bombeck
Even when ffeshIy wushed und feIIeved of uII obvIous
confectIons, chIIdfen tend to be stIcky.
Ffun IebowItz
Excuse me, sIf, but you'fe sIttIng on my body, whIch Is uIso my
SpongeBob SquufePunts
I huve u coupIe of kIds In my IIfe, my puftnef's
chIIdfen, und they wefe quIte young when I met them
thfee und ve yeufs oId. Both wefe ut un uge when
gendef Is not so xed, und so, upon meetIng them fof
the fst tIme, I got whut wus fof me u vefy pfedIctubIe
questIon ffom them both: Afe you u boy of u gIfI?"
When I dId not gIve u denItIve unswef, they cume up
wIth u cutegofy thut wofked fof themboy,gIfI. They
suId It just IIke thut, boygIfI," us If It wefe one wofd,
und, mofeovef, us If It wefe uIfeudy u weII-known tefm
und obvIous ut thut. SInce numIng hus been un Issue
my whoIe IIfe (us u young pefson I wus constuntIy
mIstuken fof u boy, us un uduIt, my gendef feguIufIy
confuses stfungefs), thIs sImpIe fesoIutIon of my gendef
umbIguIty wIthIn u tefm thut stItches boy und gIfI
togethef wus IIbefutIng to suy the Ieust. BoygIfI I um
und boygIfI I wIII femuIn.
Of coufse, us tIme hus pussed, both kIds, u boy und u
gIfI, huve fecognIzed thut the wofId sees me u IIttIe
dIefentIy thun they do. When peopIe usk If I um theIf
mum," they Iook bumed, when peopIe cuII me sIf,"
they seem comfoftubIe, when u teuchef fefefs to me us
she," they foII wIth It but they pefsIst In cuIIIng me
he" und theIf stepdud." The IIttIe gIfI huppIIy toId
one of hef ffIends thut she hud u dud und u stepdud, ut
whIch poInt she gestufed pfoudIy towufd me. The IIttIe
ffIend seemed sIIghtIy confused, but then she uIso
foIIed wIth It: cooI," she suId und tufned to hef mom:
Thut's hef stepdud," she expIuIned. The mom Iooked ut
me, I Iooked ut hef und shfugged. IIfe Is compIIcuted,
gendefs ufe compIIcuted, fumIIIes ufe compIIcuted, und
yet we huve so few wofds fof these new und often
quIte weIcome compIIcutIons thut uccompuny mussIve
socIuI shIfts. And so we muke do. We Iet kIds who huve
not yet Ieufned the uppfopfIute Iunguuges fof
IndetefmInute IdentItIes nume whut escupes uduIt
ChIIdfen nowuduys uctuuIIy huve u funtustIcuIIy fIch
ufchIve of wucky fepfesentutIons ffom whIch to dfuw
us they muke sense of theIf wofIds. If SpongeBob
SquufePunts Is unythIng to go by, und I beIIeve he Is,
then chIIdfen cun nd uII kInds of exumpIes of
umbIguous embodIment In the mutefIuIs thut TV und
cInemu mufket to them. SpongeBob SquufePunts und
hIs cfew of spongy IIfe fofms uII expefIence u soft
feIutIon to feuIIty, und whIIe IIfe In BIkInI Bottom beufs
some fesembIunce to IIfe ubove the wutef, It uIso
opefutes uccofdIng to Its own set of fuIes, code
vIoIutIons, mofuIIty, und pfopfIety. The vIIIuIn of the
pIece Is the money-gfubbIng Mf. Kfubs, but SpongeBob
und hIs best ffIend PutfIck uIso often squufe o uguInst
u meun-spIfIted octopus numed SquIdwufd. The
sIgnIcunce of SpongeBob SquufePunts to
contempofufy gendef nofms, I beIIeve, cunnot be
ovefstuted, whIIe eufIIef genefutIons of boys und gIfIs
wefe fuIsed on cuftoon wofIds popuIuted by cuts und
mIce, dogs und fubbIts chusIng euch othef ucfoss
vufIous domestIc Iundscupes, thIs genefutIon hus come
of uge to un unImuted mythoIogIcuI unIvefse popuIuted
by chufuctefs wIth eccentfIc und often sImpIy weIfd
feIutIons to gendef. And so we tuke SpongeBob
SquufePunts us ouf guIde, foIIowIng the hedonIstIc und
cheeffuI sponge whose body, us he femInds one chup
who sIts on hIm, Is uIso hIs fuce, In IookIng fof fun, In
mIstfustIng peopIe who onIy wunt to muke money, und
In tfuckIng down tfeuts mude wIth peunut buttef.
SpongeBob usIde, thIs book tfIes to gfuppIe wIth the
shIfts und chunges thut huve tfunsfofmed the wuy we
IIve ouf gendefs und sexuuIItIes ovef the Iust twenty
yeufs. WhIIe In unIvefsItIes, phIIosophefs und queef
theofIsts, IncIudIng myseIf, huve fof yeufs pondefed the
meunIng of gendef nofms und studIed the deveIopment
of sexuuIIty wIthIn mutfIces of nofmutIvIty und
pefvefsIty. We schoIufs don't uIwuys expIIcute cIeufIy
of uccessIbIy. And thut Is unfoftunute, becuuse the fuct
Is, thIs wofId wIthIn whIch we IIve, wofk, und Iove hus
chunged dfumutIcuIIy sInce ouf pufents fuIsed us, und
we uII need u guIde to the new socIuI und emotIonuI
stfuctufes thut suppoft these chunges. Just to nume u
few of the most obvIous chunges thut huve Impucted
ouf duIIy expefIences of sex und gendef, In the Iute
twentIeth centufy und eufIy twenty-fst centufy, we
huve seen u mussIve decIIne In the pfevuIence und
domInunce of monogumous muffIuge und u huge fIse
In dIvofce und dIvefse househoIds. In the UnIted Stutes,
we huve uIso wItnessed u new und stuftIIng vIsIbIIIty of
tfunsgendef communItIes und IndIvIduuIs us weII us
new IeveIs of ucceptunce fof nofmutIve guys und
IesbIuns. Guy muffIuge Is on the hofIzon und the homo-
hetefo bInufy seems Iess defInItIve of sexuuI ofIentutIon
thun It dId ut the tufn of the Iust centufy.
Whut hus bfought so muny chunges on und so
quIckIy? The unswef Is: evefythIng! In othef wofds,
chunge hus occuffed on uccount of the boom,bust
economy, udvunces In computef technoIogy, new
medIcuI feseufch, Incfeused mobIIIty, new fofms of
socIuI contuct und socIuI netwofkIng, new modes of
medIu IncIudIng TwIttef feeds, new IeveIs of medIu
sufveIIIunce und IntfusIon und new fofms of socIuI
contfoI, etc., etc. ObvIousIy, thefe Is no need to
pInpoInt one sInguIuf nuffutIve to uccount fof the
mussIve chunges thut we huve expefIenced In ouf
IIfetImes, und In muny wuys, It wouId be weIfdef If ouf
Ideus of fumIIy, desIfe, the nofmuI, the ofdInufy, the
extfuofdInufy dId not chunge us evefythIng eIse ufound
us shIfted, evoIved, deveIoped, und coIIupsed. Thut
thIngs chunge shouId neIthef sufpfIse nof uIufm us, It
shouId Intefest us, howevef, und shouId enguge us
enough to spuf u feconsIdefutIon of the tefms, the
numes, the cutegofIes we use to undefstund ouf bodIes,
ouf feIutIonshIps, ouf bonds wIth othefs, ouf
connectIons to stfungefs, ouf IntImucIes wIthIn und
beyond bIoIogIcuI feIutIon, und ouf ImugInutIon ubout
the futufe. Chunge, Indeed, Is the uIf thut chIIdfen
bfeuthe, whIch muy be why they ufe mofe exIbIe thun
But befofe I Iuunch Into u chIId-centfIc uccount of
new gendefs, Iet me ucknowIedge thut the chIId hus uII
too often sefved us u justIfIcutIon fof the most wfetched
fofms of socIuI und poIItIcuI consefvutIsm In the UnIted
Stutes sInce ut Ieust the mId-nIneteenth centufy. A
IesbIun coupIe I know who IIve In Sun FfuncIsco, just to
gIve one exumpIe, becume uIufmed, uftef the bIfth of
theIf duughtef, ubout the umount of sexuuIIy expIIcIt
mutefIuI In the shop wIndows In theIf vefy guy
neIghbofhood, the Custfo. SuddenIy, the sume
envIfonment thut hud mude them feeI excIted ubout
IIvIng In the cIty becume the soufce of dIscomfoft und
concefn. They quIckIy puIIed up stukes und moved out
to u subufb whefe the chIId wouId, uccofdIng to them,
be sufe ffom the Impuct of openIy dIspIuyed sexuuI
mutefIuIs. ThIs Is u coupIe thut fof yeufs hud enguged
In u poIyumofous feIutIonshIp und hud Incofpofuted uII
kInds of sex toys Into theIf sex IIfe. SuddenIy, howevef,
on behuIf of theIf Infunt duughtef, they fushed to uvoId
the vefy mutefIuIs thut hud nuftufed theIf own vefy
queef desIfes. We uII know of the pfotect the chIIdfen"
fuses thut feIIgIous AmefIcuns huve used to censof uII
kInds of mutefIuIs thut feutufe uny kInd of open
dIscussIon of sexuuIItyfemembef thut In the 1970s
AnItu Bfyunt cfeuted u Suve Ouf ChIIdfen" cumpuIgn
thut wus desIgned to countefuct u pfoguy fIghts
InItIutIve In FIofIdu, und thIs wus foIIowed In 1978 by
the BfIggs InItIutIve In CuIIfofnIu, whIch sought to bun
guys und IesbIuns ffom the cIussfoom. Now thut
CuIIfofnIu hus pussed u fesoIutIon fequIfIng thut guy
und IesbIun hIstofy be tuught In the schooIs, we cun teII
oufseIves thut we huve tfuveIed fuf ffom these
putefnuIIstIc meusufes, und of coufse we huve, but the
pfobIem Is thut the exuct sex-negutIve uttItudes thut
fueIed untIguy sentIment thfee decudes ugo now sneuk
new fofms of sex negutIvIty buck Into dynumIc socIuI
systemsbut thIs tIme vIu guys und IesbIuns
WhIIe we cuffentIy tfuIn teenugefs to thInk of sex In
tefms of uII the bud thIngs (pfegnuncy, sexuuI dIseuses)
thut couId huppen to them If they uctuuIIy get Iucky,"
muny chIIdfen ufe mofe wIIy und mofe cunny thun
theIf pufents thInk, und It Is thIs genefutIon of kIds
kIds gfowIng up In the uge of dIvofce, queef pufentIng,
und economIc coIIupsewho wIII pfobubIy fecognIze,
nume, und embfuce new modes of gendef und sexuuIIty
wIthIn u socIuI envIfonment thut hus chunged theIf
meunIng fofevef.
AIong these IInes, Iet me gIve unothef IIIustfutIon of
the InventIveness of the chIId mInd In feIutIon to new
mutefIuI. My puftnef's son sufpfIsed me the othef duy.
He cuught me o guufd. The convefsutIon begun us
muny othefs huve, wIth hIm uskIng: Juck, cun I usk
you u questIon?" The fst tIme he used thIs uppfouch, I
wus sufe thut some bIg IIfe questIon wouId foIIow, of
somethIng ubout queefness, of sex, of somethIng messy
und ununswefubIe. But uctuuIIy, the fst few tImes thut
he used thIs Ieud-In, the questIon tufned out to be ubout
tuftIes, hIs fuvofIte topIc ut thut tIme (now It Is
octopuses, octopI?). Juck, cun I usk you u questIon?"
such convefsutIons typIcuIIy go. Sufe, shoot." WeII,
uh, hmm. How Iong do you thInk u tuftIe cun IIve?"
OK, so on thIs duy, I expected unothef tuftIe questIon
und tfIed to IIne up some tuftIe fucts. In fuct, I hud
been feudIng up so us not to be cuught o guufd uguIn:
tuftIes huve been on eufth fof ubout 200 mIIIIon yeufs.
TuftIes cunnot Ieuve theIf sheIIs. TuftIes cun sometImes
outfun humuns (heIpfuI to know!) . of stIck theIf
tongues out (Iess heIpfuI) . they cun, howevef, cIImb
weII (who knew?). Gfoups of tuftIes ufe cuIIed buIes."
Thut shouId covef It!
Shoot, usk me unythIng you IIke," I suId bIItheIy.
And he dId: Do you huve u penIs of ." WhIIe I tfIed
to gfuppIe wIth the fst puft of the questIon, he
contInued sefIousIy, tfyIng to come up wIth the femuIe
equIvuIent of penIs . of do you huve, you know, u .
weII, the thIng thut gIfIs huve?" He scfunched up hIs
eyes us If he hud just usked u vefy sefIous und
Impoftunt questIon ubout pIunetufy motIon of tuftIe
mutIng hubIts. OK. A penIs questIon . I huve whut
gIfIs huve," I suId quIckIy. SIIence. And then: WeII,
then Juck, I hute to teII you thIs but you ufe busIcuIIy u
gIfI!" Tfue, I um busIcuIIy u gIfI, how to fespond to thIs
whIIe not gIvIng up entIfeIy on the tfuth of the
boygIfI" monIkef? WeII, I dIdn't huve to thInk too
Iong. The IIttIe gIfI jumped In now, sensIng thut hef
oIdef bfothef hud feuched the IImIts of hIs knowIedge
of such thIngs. Of coufse he hus u gIfI thIng, he Is u
gIfI!" Puuse. A boygIfI." She suId thIs whIIe IookIng ut
hef bfothef us though he hud just fuIIed u speIIIng test.
I know he Is u gIfI," he unswefed quIetIy. I um just
suyIng, does he huve u penIs of ." I puused fof u
moment, wondefIng how to fesoIve thIs fof hImthe
mIxtufe of pfonouns und gendef cutegofIes pfobubIy
needed to be softed out. Wus thIs the tIme fof u quIck
Iesson on gendef, unutomy, und socIuI meunIngs?
ShouId I tfy to uddfess the eIephunt (of tuftIe) In the
foom by fuIsIng the topIcs of IesbIunIsm,
tfunsgendefIsm, cfoss-gendef IdentIcutIon? ShouId I
use us my exumpIe the IIttIe gIfI In hIs cIuss who pIuyed
wIth the boys und hud fecentIy decIufed gIfIs' gumes to
be dumb"? I begun to unswef the kIds' questIons,
thoughtfuIIy und sIowIy . but, us It tufns out, too
sIowIy. The IIttIe guy got thefe fst: Juck, cun uII
tuftIes swIm?" he usked wIth gfeut Impoft. And just IIke
thut, the gendef cfIsIs hud been fuIsed, uddfessed, und
dIsputched und we wefe buck to the tuftIes.
ChIIdfen ufe dIefent ffom uduIts In uII kInds of
meunIngfuI wuys. They InhubIt dIefent
undefstundIngs of tIme, und expefIence the pussIng of
tIme dIefentIy. They uIso seumIessIy tfunsItIon
between topIcs thut uduIts wouId ofdInufIIy not
connect In poIIte convefsutIon (tuftIes und sex, fof
exumpIe), und often, they pIuce the emphusIs
dIefentIy thun uduIts mIght by mukIng questIons
ubout sex und gendef us Impoftunt of us
InconsequentIuI us questIons ubout unImuIs, vegetubIes,
und mInefuIs. The tfuInIng of chIIdfen Is us much ubout
teuchIng them whefe to pIuce the emphusIs us It Is
ubout gIvIng them InfofmutIon. But the tfuInIng of
chIIdfen wouId pfoceed much mofe smoothIy If thefe
wefe mofe exchunge und If uduIts wefe wIIIIng, In the
pfocess, to be fetfuIned themseIves. The whoIe notIon
of u genefutIonuI exchunge us u one-wuy pfocess
Infofms ouf Ideus of pufentIng, und It keeps us stuck In
pfofoundIy IImIted und consefvutIve modeIs of the
fumIIy und chIIdfeufIng. If postmodefn theofy hus
tuught us unythIng, It shouId huve Impfessed upon us
the Ideu thut tIme Is not IIneuf und thefefofe thut
genefutIonuI dIefences ufe mofe Ioopy und compIex
thun we ImugIne when we pIot them out uIong the
stfuIght IInes of chfonoIogIcuI uge. ThIs book udvocutes
fof mofe twIsty, cufvy, mofe feIutIve notIons of tIme,
uge, und dIefence, und It does so on behuIf of un
uduIt-chIId dIuIogue thut Is not Invested In u mIsguIded
und sentImentuI notIon of chIIdhood Innocence nof on
uccount of u nuIve Investment In the Ideu of tfuth
IssuIng ffom the mouths of bubes . It Is mofe u sense
thut the pfe-socIuIIzed, pfe-dIscIpIIned, pfe-festfuIned
unufchIc chIId comes ut the wofId u IIttIe dIefentIy
thun the post-shume, post-guIIt, post-fecognItIon,
dIscIpIIned uduIt. And thIs unufchIc sense of tIme und
feIutIon shouId be und eusIIy couId be u bettef modeI
fof chunge thun the ones wIth whIch we cuffentIy IIve.
WhIIe the uduIt Itefs hIs of hef fesponses to sex,
Iove, emotIons thfough the thIck huze of tfuInIng thut
hus InstuIIed shume und guIIt us uppfopfIute buffIefs to
unfettefed und untIsocIuI expIofutIons of the body, In
pubIIc, pfIvute, und evefywhefe eIse, untII u ceftuIn
uge, the chIId does not yet know whut the dIefence
mIght be between uppfopfIute und InuppfopfIute,
IegItImute und IIIegItImute, Impoftunt und sIIIy. Not
onIy do chIIdfen not know the dIefence, but In fuct
the dIefences between these thIngs fegIstef vefy
dIefentIy fof them. Whut the uduIt consIdefs
InuppfopfIute (eutIng wIth un open mouth, fuftIng,
touchIng one's genItuIs In pubIIc, touchIng othef
peopIe's genItuIs In pubIIc, teIIIng someone theIf bfeuth
smeIIs) muy not be InuppfopfIute fof the chIId. And, us
Ffeud poInted out Iong ugo In hIs Thfee Essuys on the
Theofy of SexuuIIty, the fuct thut uduIts pfohIbIt
behuvIof thut chIIdfen wunt to InduIge, cfeutes u
compIex mutfIx of desIfe, tuboo, fepfessIon, und
expfessIon out of whIch sexuuI pefsonuIItIes evoIve.
And us schoIufs IIke MIcheI FoucuuIt und JudIth ButIef
huve femInded us, the fofbIddIng of ceftuIn uctIvItIes
endows them wIth mofe meunIng, und uctuuIIy mukes
them puft of the chIId's sexuuI psyche futhef thun
eIImInutIng the desIfes uItogethef.
The topIcs thut I wIII tuke up In thIs shoft book
emefge us u sefIes of whut If" questIons, some of
whIch huve good und pfuctIcuI unswefs, some of whIch
femuIn ununswefubIe ut thIs tIme. And so: Whut If we
uctuuIIy Iet up on the tfuInIng of chIIdfen und uIIow
oufseIves, us uduIts, to be fetfuIned Insteud?" If, fof the
chIId, Iooks IIke u boy, wuIks IIke u boy, tuIks IIke u
boy" equuIs Is u boy," then muybe thIs Is us good u
modeI of gendef us uny out thefe. And If, fof the chIId,
Iunguuge Is u pIuygfound whefe meunIng Is
contIngent, IIIusIonufy, motIIe, Impefmunent, und
constuntIy shIftIng to keep up wIth the dutu ows thut
coufse ucfoss theIf Inchoute conscIousnesses, then
muybe uduIts shouId ImpfovIse mofe, pIck up tefms,
wofds, IexIcons ffom chIIdfen who, In muny wuys, IIve
the wofId dIefentIy thun we do, IIve It mofe cIoseIy,
IIve It mofe IntenseIy, und, sometImes, IIve It mofe
Gugu," u tefm newIy popuIufIzed by the AmefIcun
sIngef bofn StefunI Gefmunottu, Is u chIId wofd, u
wofd thut stunds In fof whutevef the chIId cunnot
pfonounce. It Is uIso u wofd ussocIuted wIth nonsense,
mudness (goIng gugu), suffeuIIsm (Dudu), the uvunt-
gufde, pop, SpongeBob, It meuns fooIIsh of nuIve
enthusIusm, goIng cfuzy, beIng dotty, It sounds IIke
bubbIIng of IdIe chuttef. WIth thIs consteIIutIon of
meunIngs und In Its most cuffent IncufnutIon In the
pefson of Iudy Gugu, the tefm muy hoId some pfomIse
us u fofm of femInIsm. Gugu femInIsm, I wIII
demonstfute, Is u fofm of poIItIcuI expfessIon thut
musquefudes us nuIve nonsense but thut uctuuIIy
puftIcIputes In bIg und meunIngfuI fofms of cfItIque. It
nds InspIfutIon In the sIIIy und the mufgInuI, the
chIIdIsh und the outIundIsh. Gugu femInIsm gfuppIes
wIth whut cunnot yet be pfonounced und whut stIII
tukes the fofm of gIbbefIsh, us we wuIt fof new socIuI
fofms to gIve ouf gugu bubbIIng meunIng. ThIs book
wIII expIofe goIng gugu, beIng gugu, Iudy Gugu,
gendefed fofms of gugu, stuyIng gugu, und pfomotIng
gugu. It wIII pfovoke. It wIII be u fun, usef-ffIendIy,
und quusI-ucudemIc hundbook fof u new femInIsm thut
offefs the untfuIned InsIghts of chIIdfen uIongsIde deep-
seuted cfItIques of contempofufy gendef und sexuuIIty
Gugu FemInIsm fof BegInnefs
Ieud hef uwuy ffom ActIng but not uII the wuy to FInunce.
SomethIng whefe she cun muke hef own houfs but stIII feeI
InteIIectuuIIy fuIIIed und get outsIde sometImes. And not huve to
weuf hIgh heeIs . Whut wouId thut be, Iofd? AfchItectufe?
MIdwIfefy? GoIf coufse desIgn? I'm uskIng You, becuuse If I
knew, I'd be doIng It, YoudummIt.
TInu Fey, ffom The Mothef's Pfuyef fof
Its Duughtef," Bossypunts
I fIfst fIouted my Ideu of gugu femInIsm ut u confefence
ut the New SchooI In New Yofk CIty In whIch u host of
femInIsts, young und oId, puftIcIputed. The confefence,
No Iongef In ExIIe," consIsted of huge puneIs und u
Iot of sIIghtIy fundom tuIks thut fuIIed to udd up to uny
kInd of Stute of the UnIon event on femInIsm. On one
puneI, Susun FuIudI, the fumed uuthof of BuckIush,
spoke on the mothef-duughtef dynumIc, teIIIng the
uudIence thut youngef women, by not fespectIng theIf
fofemothefs, wefe undefmInIng femInIsm. She nevef
feuIIy expIuIned why the mothef-duughtef feIutIonshIp
pfesents ItseIf us the IdeuI modeI fof femInIsm, toxIc, ut
best, us It sometImes Is. (ThInk MommIe Deufest .
thInk Suntu MonIcu mom cuIofIe-countIng wIth hef
duughtef und gettIng hef u nose job fof hef sweet
sIxteen . thInk Fofevef 21 moms shoppIng uIongsIde
theIf pfeteen duughtefs, the duughtefs dfessIng too oId,
the mothefs too young . uh, yes, u wondeffuI modeI
fof femInIsm)! And FuIudI seemed to huve mIssed
sevefuI genefutIons of theofetIcuI wofks by femInIst
theofIsts thut hud moved us weII und tfuIy uwuy ffom
mommy-duughtef debutunte poIItIcs und pushed us
fmIy Into gendef vufIunce, gendef peffofmutIvIty,
women of coIof femInIsms, und mofe. FuIudI uIso
Ignofed the muny chuIIenges mude to genefutIonuI
IogIcs wIthIn u fecent wuve of queef theofy on
tempofuIIty. In my own wofk on queef tIme, I huve
shown thut queef peopIe do not foIIow the sume IogIcs
of subcuItufuI InvoIvement us theIf hetefosexuuI
countefpufts: they do not outgfow" ceftuIn fofms of
cuItufuI uctIvIty (IIke cIubbIng, punk, und so on) the
wuy hetefosexuuIs ufe pfesumed to do. Ruthef, queef
spuces tend to be muItIgenefutIonuI und do not
subscfIbe to the notIon of one genefutIon uIwuys gIvIng
wuy to the next. Othef theofIsts, such us EIIzubeth
Ffeemun, huve eIubofuted mofe mobIIe notIons of
IntefgenefutIonuI exchunge, ufguIng thut the oId does
not uIwuys huve to gIve wuy fof the new, the new does
not huve to compIeteIy bfeuk wIth the oId, und thut
these wuves of Inuence need not be thought of uIwuys
und onIy us pufentuI.
It uppeufed FuIudI wus uwufe of none of these
convefsutIons, und Insteud cust the mothef-duughtef
bond us tfunshIstofIcuI, tfunscuItufuI, unIvefsuI,
bIumIng Its coffosIon fof IntefnuI fIfts In the femInIst
pfoject. WhIIe custIng thut pfoject us u kInd of twIsted
EIectfu compIex wIthIn whIch duughtefs ufe commItted
to kIIIIng o mothefs, FuIudI sounded mofe FfeudIun
thun Ffeudut Ieust the futhef of the OedIpus compIex,
custfutIon unxIety, und penIs envy suw these
IntefgenefutIonuI stfuggIes us symboIIc futhef thun
IItefuI! FuIudI dId not dIefentIute by cIuss of fuce, she
mude no mentIon of queef chuIIenges to the
nofmutIvIty of the fumIIy und of genefutIonuI thInkIng,
und she cust the mothef-duughtef feIutIonshIp us some
stutIc bond between oIdef und youngef womenthe
cutegofy of womun" wus not In questIon, the ffugIIIty
of fumIIy bonds bufeIy fegIstefed, und the uudIence
wus sImpIy usked to uccept thut If we couId x the
mothef-duughtef dynumIc, femInIsm wouId be uIIve
und weII.
In shoft, FuIudI seemed out of dute. And, so, ut thIs
Iong confefence on the stute of femInIst theofy, she
outed hef futhef unemIc Ideu und then sneefed ut the
concept of u new kInd of femInIsm, u gugu femInIsm
thut mIght be symboIIzed by the untIcs, the
uppeufunces, the funtusy wofIds of Iudy Gugu und
othef popuIuf cuItufuI gufes. Whut on eufth wus gugu
femInIsm? she wunted to know. Whut couId It possIbIy
oef? She pfoceeded to pubIIsh hef mIsgIvIngs ubout
gugu femInIsm und hef udhefence to fumIIIuI stfuctufes
fof femInIsm In Hufpef's MuguzIne. Indeed, the ffont
puge of Hufpef's Octobef 2010 Issue suId It uII:
AmefIcun EIectfu: FemInIsm's RItuuI MutfIcIde."
AccofdIng to FuIudI's uftIcIe, AmefIcun femInIsm hus u
mothef-duughtef pfobIem: duughtefs keep ghtIng wIth
mothefs, mothefs keep beIng undefcut by theIf
duughtefs, und thIs, uppufentIy, Is the feuI feuson thut
femInIsm nevef quIte gets Its fevoIutIonufy
IntefventIons fIght. FuIudI tfotted thfough some futhef
pfedIctubIe und tume hIstofIes of women's socIuI
movements, sufveyIng whut huve come to be known us
the fst, second, und thIfd wuves of femInIsm, bettef
known In tefms of theIf buttIes: women's sufuge und
tempefunce movements In the fst wuve, equuI fIghts
und uboftIon fIghts In the second wuve, und equuI
oppoftunItIes In the wofkpIuce und In educutIon In the
thIfd wuve. FuIudI hoIds up us un exceIIent modeI of
mothef-duughtef femInIsm EIIzubeth Cudy Stunton und
hef duughtef, HuffIot Stunton BIutch. Aftef offefIng thIs
vupId vefsIon of vefy whIte, vefy IIbefuI femInIsm,
FuIudI then, femufkubIy, ends up somewhefe In the
vIcInIty of ouf contempofufy moment, wIndIng down
to u dfeufIIy pessImIstIc concIusIonfemInIsm Is deud,
we kIIIed Itund punctuutIng thIs sud InsIght wIth u
kInd of umusIng send-up of youfs tfuIy.
In hef cufIcutufe of me, I um cust us JudIth 'Juck'
HuIbef-stum, u gendef-studIes pfofessof ffom the
UnIvefsIty of Southefn CuIIfofnIu who fuvofs cfew cuts
und men's suIts."
She noted, genefousIy, thut I wus
the most popuIuf speukef" ut the confefence, but she
gIves no sense of whut I suId und why It mIght uppeuI
to the students guthefed thefe. Insteud, FuIudI
concIuded hef unuIysIs of the mothef-duughtef pfobIem
wIth u futhef pfedIctubIe Iument ubout Iong-wInded
ucudemIcs who huve been entfusted wIth u vuIuubIe
ufchIve of knowIedge but who choose to squundef thut
Iegucy by pussIng It ovef In fuvof of hIghfuIutIn jufgon.
She wfItes:
Women's studIes wus ofIgInuIIy envIsIoned us the feposItofy of femInIst
hIstofy und memofy, whefe uccumuIuted knowIedge wouId be enshfIned
In u sufe box whefe futufe genefutIons couId go to fetfIeve It. Thut
ucudemIc mothef-Iode Is In dungef of beIng decommIssIoned by the
IncfeusIng dIsconnect between pfuctIcuI, poIItIcuI femInIsm und
ucudemIc femInIst theofy, und by the fIse of u poststfuctufuIIst
phIIosophy In gendef studIes thut pfefefs the deconstfuctIng of femuIe
expefIence to the IInkuges und IegucIes of women's hIstofy und fegufds
genefutIonuI dynumIcs, und even the cutegofIes of womun" und mun,"
us uftIfIces to peffofm und dIscufd.
Even thIs cfItIque of ucudemIcs Is futhef oId-
fushIoned, wIth Its quuInt notIons of u bIg bud
theofetIcuI buIIy thut comes uIong to bIudgeon the good
und tfue uccounts of women's expefIence. Why ufe we
goIng buck to these kInds of quuffeIs, und, mofeovef,
how dId I come to be the bud guy In femInIsm's fItuuI
mutfIcIde"? As ut muny such events, ut the New SchooI
confefence, thefe wefe good tuIks, bud tuIks,
IndIefent tuIksthefe wus the obvIous, the puInfuIIy
obvIous, und thut wus just the socIuI scIence stu .
und so when I hud my tufn to speuk, on one of the Iust
puneIs of the duy, I tfIed to mIx It up u IIttIe by
InfusIng the convefsutIon wIth humof, u bIt of
pfovocutIon, commentIng on whut we hud heufd In u
wuy thut mIght fofm u bfIdge to the muny young
peopIe who wefe In uttendunce but who seemed bofed
out of theIf skuIIs. WhIIe FuIudI chufuctefIzes me us u
gIIb twIt who pfoposed Iudy Gugu us the unswef to
whut uIIs femInIsm, I uctuuIIy hud tfIed to show thut
Iudy Gugu, In hef duet wIth Beyonce In the vIfuI musIc
vIdeo TeIephone, pfovIdes un excItIng und InfectIous
modeI of supphIc sIstefhood thut moves beyond
sentImentuI modeIs of fomuntIc ffIendshIp und Into u
dIefent kInd of femInIsm, one mofe In IIne wIth the
IntImute bonds thut unImute vIoIence In Ims such us
Set It Off und TheImu und IouIse.
Gugu femInIsm Is u poIItIcs thut bfIngs togethef
medItutIons on fume und vIsIbIIIty wIth u IushIng
cfItIque of the xIty of foIes fof muIes und femuIes. It Is
u scuvengef femInIsm thut boffows pfomIscuousIy,
steuIs ffom evefywhefe, und InhubIts the gfound of
stefeotype und cIIche uII ut the sume tIme. Gugu
femInIsm Is uIso u femInIsm mude up of stuttef steps
und hIccups, us Is cIeuf In the wofId opened up In
TeIephone In both the musIc und the Imuge: the o-
beut, IckefIng, hummIng uesthetIc thut the vIdeo
cfeutes depends upon the IIveIIness of objects In the
Guguscupe (und the IneftIu of the humun bodIes), und
It cfeutes u beut fof Gugu thut Is best fepfesented us u
sonIc fofm of hesItutIon.
WhIIe I um not pfoposIng thut thefe Is some kInd of
cIeuf femInIst pfogfum fof socIuI chunge In the wofId
of Gugu, uctIvIsts of uII stfIpes und queef uctIvIsts In
puftIcuIuf huve uIwuys Iooked to popuIuf cuItufe fof
InspIfutIon und huve fefused fucIIe dIstInctIons
between cuItufe und feuIIty. The Iudy Gugu pIece of
my tuIk wus un uttempt to connect contempofufy
femInIsm to young peopIe und students In puftIcuIuf by
buIIdIng upon the popuIuf Iconogfuphy In whIch muny
of them hud uIfeudy Invested consIdefubIe hope. But,
mofe thun just u humofous endIng to u Iectufe, the
tefm gugu" fof me fepfesented u set of whoIesuIe
chunges thut muy be most obvIous In the feuIm of
gendef nofms but thut uIso stfetch to muny othef
feuIms of evefyduy expefIence und thut cuII fof un
ImpfovIsutIonuI femInIsm thut keeps puce wIth the
wInds of poIItIcuI chunge.
At the confefence, the students connected wIth the
vefsIon of femInIsm thut I IInked to Iudy Gugu, whIIe
oId-schooI femInIsts IIke Susun FuIudI wunted to bfush
thIs sume vefsIon usIde. And FuIudI hus not been the
onIy femInIst who Is wufy of the fush to nd the
poIItIcuI enefgy chunneIed by Iudy Gugu. Mudonnu
ucoIyte und 1990s femInIst Icon CumIIIe PugIIu uIso
shfugged o Iudy Gugu's uppeuI In u wIdeIy feud op-
ed In the Iondon Sunduy TImes MuguzIne In 2010.
hef pIece, PugIIu ussefts thut Iudy Gugu Is sImpIy the
dIvu of dej-vu" und u copycut who Iutches onto u
genefutIon of gIuzed-eyed Intefnet cIones und expIoIts
Its IncupucIty to thInk of know unythIng wIthout un
IPhone upp of TwIttef feed ut hund. Gugu, fof PugIIu,
fepfesents the end of cuItufe, the end of cIvIIIzutIon,
the end of tfuth, vuIues, und meunIng, the end of sex,
und the tfIumph of u fobotIc uge emptIed of humun
sentIment. WhIIe some femInIsts, IIke Donnu Hufuwuy,
huve udvocuted fof new fofms of femInIsm cupubIe of
keepIng up wIth technoIogIcuI InnovutIon, PugIIu
ufgues thut we huve Iost touch wIth whut Is feuI, tfue,
und good In ouf munIu fof medIu munIpuIutIon, vIdeo
gumes, und ceII phones. If Hufuwuy fecognIzes un
IntefpenetfutIon of humunIty und technoIogy In the
dIgItuI uge thut Is excItIng und wondfous (even us It Is
uIso expIoItutIve und dungefous), PugIIu sees,
pfedIctubIy, u munufuctufed pubIIc feuIm popuIuted by
medIu puppets und theIf pussIve und stupId funs. If
Iudy Gugu's suppoftefs huve fecognIzed In hef u
newIsh fofmuIu of femInInIty, phones, und desIfe,
CumIIIe PugIIu sees onIy sume-oId, sume-oId of, In hef
wofds, the exhuusted end of the sexuuI fevoIutIon."
Why ufe femInIsts IIke PugIIu und FuIudI so wufy of
new gufes of femInIst funtusy, women IIke Iudy Gugu
of III' KIm of RIhunnu of NIckI MInuj of JennI RIvefu
of even Ke$hu, women who use sex boIdIy In theIf
musIc, who uunt theIf bodIes but who uIso femuIn
InsIstentIy In chufge of theIf muss medIu Imuges,
women who, IIke Ke$hu, sIng songs wIth tItIes IIke
Pufty ut u RIch Dude's House" und fup ubout beIng
young, dfunk, Iost, und IovIng It? (My ffIend, theofIst
MIchu Cufdenus, Is countefIng gugu femInIsm wIth hef
own Ke$hu femInIsm!) WhIIe It Is eusy to dIsmIss some
of thIs mutefIuI us just mIndIess pop, ut the sume tIme,
we mIght wunt to Iook uguIn ut sIngefs who, uftef uII,
uppeuI to Iufge numbefs of young femuIe funs. Why
cun't these women be new gufes of femInIsm? In the
end, femInIsts IIke FuIudI ufe commItted to u fefofm
modeI of femInIsm, to the Ideu of femInIsm us u poIItIcs
buIIt ufound stubIe denItIons of (whIte) womunhood
und us u IudIes' cIub of Inuence und mofuI dIgnIty.
FInuIIy, the mothef-duughtef bond, whIch fof FuIudI Is
most successfuIIy studIed In the dynumIc between
EIIzubeth Cudy Stunton und hef duughtef HuffIet,
uIIows, uccofdIng to FuIudI, fof the guIns of one uge to
be pussed on to the next. But nevef does FuIudI
questIon whethef the guIns of whIte women In one efu
uctuuIIy benet women of coIof In the next, of whethef
the gouIs of whIte mIddIe-cIuss women feect unythIng
beyond theIf fuce und cIuss Intefests.
So, dIsfegufdIng the funtusy of u peucefuI tfunsfef of
knowIedge to the duughtefs, Iet's Ieuve fumIIy,
mommIes, bubIes, und whIny femInIsm behInd und
move onwufd, upwufd, gugu-wufd. Gugu Is u
hypothetIcuI fofm of femInIsm, one thut IIves In
between the whut" und the If": Whut If we gendefed
peopIe uccofdIng to theIf behuvIof? Whut If gendef
shIfted ovef the coufse of u IIfetImewhut If someone
begun IIfe us u boy but becume u boygIfI und then u
boy,mun? Whut If some muIes ufe IudIes, some IudIes
ufe butch, some butches ufe women, some women ufe
guy, some guys ufe femInIne, some femmes ufe
stfuIght, und some stfuIght peopIe don't know whut the
heII Is goIng on? Whut If we IIve In u wofId whefe
thIngs huppen so fust thut the IIfe spun, und pfogfess
thfough It, Iooks vefy dIefent thun It dId onIy two
decudes ugo? Whut If you begIn IIfe us u queef mIx of
desIfes und ImpuIses und then ufe tfuIned to be
hetefosexuuI but mIght feIupse Into queefness once the
tfuInIng weufs o? Whut If the vefy dIefent sexuuI
tfuInIng thut boys und gIfIs feceIve mukes them Iess
und Iess computIbIe? Whut If gIfIs stopped weufIng
pInk, boys stufted weufIng skIfts, women stopped
competIng wIth othef women, und men stopped
gfubbIng theIf cfotches In pubIIc? Whut If we uctuuIIy
stufted to notIce the wuys In whIch fuce und sexuuIIty
huve become hopeIessIy entungIed wIth notIons of the
nofmuI und the pefvefse, so thut we couId see the wuys
In whIch the whIte fumIIy hIdes Its secfets behInd thIck
Iuyefs of pfesumed nofmutIvIty, whIIe bIuck fumIIIes In
puftIcuIuf but uIso IutIno und MusIIm fumIIIes ufe
feguIufIy cust us excessIve of IntoIefunt, tfudItIonuI
und behInd the tImes? The whut If" Is fun und hopefuI
but It Is uIso sefIous und penetfutIng und mIght just
bfIng us to the bfInk of new Ideus ubout oId topIcs.
In u mofe sefIous veIn, whut If sexuuI ofIentutIon
couId uIso be feud us Iess xed, Iess detefmIned, mofe
negotIuted und uId? Whut If we uctuuIIy stopped und
fecognIzed the muItIpIe wuys In whIch men und
women, boys und gIfIs, exceed und fuII shoft of the
denItIons thut gIve those cutegofIes heft und
IongevIty? And why shouId we do uII thIs? Becuuse
despIte uII feusonubIe pfedIctIons, we IIve In u wofId
thut stIII contfoIs gIfIs und gIfI sexuuIItIes wIthIn u fIgId
system of bIocks, tuboos, und pfohIbItIons. And we stIII
expect boys to punIsh euch othef Into nofmuI" fofms
of muscuIInIty und then compete und ugItute fof femuIe
uttentIon In wuys thut muke women Into kIIIjoys,
mofuI ufbItefs, und pussIve bystundefs ut the pfom,
stIII wuItIng to be usked to dunce. And thIs eufIy
tfuInIng Is vefy mIsIeudIng In the sense thut, once the
eufIy couftshIp between men und women Is compIete,
vefy often It Is the womun who becomes the uctIve
puftnef In the feIutIonshIp, buIIyIng hef muIe puftnef
Into muffIuge, chIIdfeufIng, domestIc fesponsIbIIIty,
und mofe. Hef pfesumed pussIvIty hus to mofph
quIckIy und denItIveIy Into u muItItuskIng, ffuntIc
fofm of contfoIIIng uuthofIty. HIs pfesumed uctIvIty
hus to tfunsfofm just us compIeteIy Into u quIescent,
submIssIve mode thut mukes hIm the sous-chef to hef
fututouIIIe. In fuct, gendefed uduIthood nowuduys
often fepfesents u totuI fevefsuI of the gendef foIes
thut huve been dfummed Into chIIdfen, und thIs Is tfue
ucfoss ethnIc gfoups und cIusses. In fuct, It Is weII
known thut us un IndustfIuI economy hus gIven wuy to
u sefvIce economy, und especIuIIy In the economIc
downtufn of the eufIy twenty-fst centufy, women
huve done bettef economIcuIIy thun men, so much so
thut In muny househoIds, women ufe the muIn wuge
Thefe ufe muny dIefent vefsIons of the femuIe-
heuded househoIdIn wofkIng-cIuss househoIds,
puftIcuIufIy bIuck househoIds, muny men huve been
Incufcefuted wIthIn un IncfeusIngIy unfuIf system of
justIce thut penuIIzes men of coIof fof petty cfImes
whIIe exonefutIng whIte busInessmen fof bunkfuptIng
the nutIon. FemuIe-heuded househoIds ufe uIso found
umong whIte mIddIe-cIuss communItIes, often becuuse,
even when men ufe pfesent, they ufe un- of
undefempIoyed. Of, mofe woffyIngIy, they choose not
to wofk und thInk of themseIves us uftIsts," poets,"
musIcIuns," us dfeumefs who ufe so uItefnutIve, they
ufe cooI enough to Iet theIf wIves bfIng home the
bucon whIIe they muke u bIt of cush hefe of thefe
thfough theIf uft." AcudemIc women, It tufns out,
uccofdIng to my own vefy InfofmuI poII, ufe
puftIcuIufIy susceptIbIe to these new, uItefnutIve fofms
of muscuIInItymuny femuIe ucudemIcs und femuIe
pfofessIonuIs In genefuI ufe suppoftIng men who huve
chosen not to gfow up, not to tuke economIc
fesponsIbIIIty fof othefs, und who ufe huppy to gIve up
on the fut fuce of uctuuIIy mukIng u IIvIng. They do uII
thIs, by the wuy, often wIthout tukIng on extfu
fesponsIbIIIty fof domestIc Iubof.
The excessIve tfuInIng thut we gIve to boys und gIfIs
to tfunsfofm them ffom unufchIc, ungendefed bIobs
Into gendef uutomutons, then Is (u) dungefous, und (b)
not necessufy, und (c) not uctuuIIy consIstent wIth
IIved feuIIty. And us some gIfIs gfow up to become
unofexIcs und some boys gfow up to become buIIIes,
muny gIfIs gfow up to be ovefuchIevIng
mIcfomunugefs, und muny boys gfow up to be
undefuchIevIng sIuckefs, yet we stIII fefuse to gIve up
on the modeIs of muscuIInIty und femInInIty thut huve
been estubIIshed us ofdInufy und nofmuI und good.
And we spend vefy IIttIe tIme, feIutIveIy speukIng,
uttendIng to the pfobIems wIth thIs modeI of
hetefosexuuIIty und fIgufIng out how to fIx them.
In unIvefsIty gendef-studIes cIusses, hetefosexuuIIty
gets scunt tfeutment, mostIy becuuse we uII ussume
thut we know uII too weII how hetefosexuuIIty wofks
und, thefefofe, by the sume IogIc, whut we feuIIy need
to teuch und Ieufn ubout ufe uII the ffInge sexuuIItIes
thut become the tufgets fof homophobIc und
tfunsphobIc poIIcIes und uttItudes. When I tuught un
IntfoductIon to Gendef und SexuuIIty cIuss, thIs wus
vefy much the uppfouch I took. As u queef pefson, und
u gendef-queef pefson whose gendef wus
IndetefmInute on u good duy, I becume exhIbIt A In the
ffeuk show thut the cIuss becume. Evefy week, u mostIy
hetefosexuuI Iectufe huII wouId be tfeuted to
fuscInutIng InfofmutIon ubout guys, IesbIuns,
tfunsgendef peopIe, IntefsexuuIIty, und so on, but the
students wouId fufeIy be usked to thInk ubout how thIs
InfofmutIon uected them und theIf own sexuuIItIes.
And so, u coupIe of yeufs ugo, tIfed of beIng on show, I
begun teuchIng the sume coufse, IntfoductIon to
Gendef und SexuuIIty, us How on Eufth Does
HetefosexuuIIty Wofk? OK, It wus not uctuuIIy cuIIed
thut, but thut wus the busIc messuge of the cIuss ffom
stuft to nIsh. UsIng cIIps ffom Despefute HousewIves,
The Sopfunos, The BucheIof, und othef TV shows, I
wouId uct IIke un unthfopoIogIst vIsItIng u stfunge
gfoup of peopIe enguged In odd sexuuI fItuuIs, showIng
the cIuss whut hetefosexuuIIty Iooked IIke ffom the
In muny wuys, the How weIfd Is thut?" uppfouch to
hetefosexuuIIty In the context of gendef studIes wofks
much bettef thun the Tfy to be toIefunt of these
weIfdos" uppfouch showcusIng queefness. It fofces the
vefy students who ufe deepIy Invested In nofms, theIf
own und othef peopIe's, to fuce the musIc und Iook ut
theIf own Investments, theIf own Issues, theIf own
stfuggIes wIth whut Is supposed to come nutufuIIy. The
focus on the stfungeness of hetefosexuuIIty uIIowed us
to thInk thfough eutIng dIsofdefs us u vIcIous sIde effect
of udoIescent mIsogyny, It fofced men In the cIuss to
usk themseIves ubout theIf own feIutIons to
muscuIInIty, to othef men, to women, und to
homophobIu. And It Ied women to notIce the sIgnIfIcunt
dIefences between the wuys In whIch they deveIoped
peef feIutIons wIth othef women (ffIendshIps often
focused on food, cIothes, und boys), und the wuys men
deveIoped peef feIutIons wIth othef men (ffIendshIps
focused on muIe bondIng, dfInkIng, und spofts, but
fufeIy stemmIng ffom Iong dIscussIons ubout gIfIs).
In these cIusses, I uIso used the exumpIe of
pofnogfuphy, not to befute men fof tufnIng theIf
uttentIon uwuy ffom theIf esh-und-bIood puftnefs und
dIfectIng It towufd onIIne sexuuI Imugefy, but futhef to
feveuI the stufk dIefences In outcome of the sexuuI
tfuInIng of boys und gIfIs. WhIIe gIfIs expefIence sexuuI
uwukenIngs IufgeIy In the context of the mutfIces of
pfohIbItIons thut I descfIbed eufIIef, und whIIe In most
gIfIs desIfe Is nevef uctuuIIy gIven u chunce to fIow und
weuve ItseIf ufound objects und fetIshes, boys ufe
quIckIy encoufuged und IncIted to feeI desIfe, to dIfect
thut desIfe, to InduIge desIfe. PofnogfuphIc ufchIves
suggest the funge und the depth of muIe sexuuI
ImugInufIes (ChIcks wIth dIcks! Fut chIcks! MuscIe
chIcks! HuIfy chIcks!), und women's muguzInes
IIIustfute the nuffowness und festfIctIon of femuIe
sexuuI ImugInufIes (10 thIngs he feuIIy wunts sexuuIIy
but Is uffuId to teII you . 10 wuys to pIeuse youf mun
. 10 wuys to be u compIete und uttef bImbo so us not
to thfeuten youf boyffIend und muke hIm Iose hIs
mojo). WhIIe not uII pofnogfuphy Is fof men, und not
uII women's muguzInes ufe feud by women, whut we
cuII men" und women" ufe bodIes thut huve
genefuIIy been tfuIned In eIthef the InteffuptIon of
desIfe (women) of Its ffee ow (men). By the tIme
hetefosexuuI fomunce begIns, the fofmuIu of muIe
pefsuusIon und femuIe defeffuI, muIe soIIcItutIons und
femuIe fefusuIs, muIe fundIness und femuIe ffIgIdIty,
hus uIfeudy estubIIshed u Iufge puft of the muIe-femuIe
sexuuI scfIpt. And us men und women uge,
hetefosexuuIIty fequIfes uII kInds of uIds to muIntuIn
thIs fofmuIuVIugfu fof men und pIustIc sufgefIes fof
AguIn, none of thIs Is to suy thut these stefeotypes of
hetefosexuuI conduct ufe InstuIIed ucfoss uII boys und
uII gIfIs, just to note thut the tfuInIng we gIve men und
women pushes euch puftnef Into vefy dIefent
feIutIons to sex und to theIf bodIes. The unthfopoIogIst
of sexuuIIty, GuyIe RubIn, In fuct, noted ustuteIy
sevefuI decudes ugo thut thefe hus been u Iong hIstofy
of tfuInIng women's sexuuIIty vIu the mechunIsm of
festfuInt. In un extfemeIy InuentIuI essuy thut tfIed to
uccount fof the pfoductIon of the meunIng of muIe"
und femuIe" In pfecupItuIIst und cupItuIIst socIetIes,
RubIn noted thut the meunIng of womun" In eufIy
humun socIetIes emefged out of the tendency of tfIbes
und gfoups to cfeute bonds wIth one unothef thfough
the exchunge of women.
ThIs tfuc In women" then
estubIIshed the meunIng of womunhood wIthIn u
system of InstItutIonuIIzed hetefosexuuIIty," und
kInshIp fested upon the cIfcuIutIon of women between
und umong men wIthIn u set of tuboos (Incest,
homosexuuIIty) und uccofdIng to u set of obIIgutofy
fofms (fepfoductIve hetefosexuuIIty). As RubIn
summufIzed neutIy: KInshIp systems dIctute some
scuIptIng of the sexuuIIty of both sexes."
contInues: It wouId be In the Intefests of the smooth
und contInuous opefutIon of such u system If the
womun In questIon dId not huve too muny Ideus of hef
own ubout whom she mIght wunt to sIeep wIth. Ffom
the stundpoInt of the system, the pfefeffed femuIe
sexuuIIty wouId be one whIch fesponded to the desIfes
of othefs, futhef thun one whIch uctIveIy desIfed und
sought u fesponse."
Now, of coufse, we ufe u Iong wuy
ffom bfIdeweuIth," dowfIes, und the tfuc In women,
but the system of sexuuIItIes und gendefs thut pfeceded
cupItuIIsm und tufned women Into u fofm of cuffency
dId not, contfufy to expectutIons, sImpIy fude uwuy
once wuge Iubof cume Into the pIctufe und oefed
women wuys of eufnIng theIf own IIvIng. In fuct,
cupItuIIsm uIso mude cIuIms on women, cIuIms thut
fequIfed them to peffofm domestIc tusks fof ffee, fof
exumpIe, und cupItuIIsm uIso beneted ffom u
compIIunt femuIe sexuuIIty.
CupItuIIsm uIso benets, us I ImpIIed eufIIef, ffom
the contfoI of chIIdfen's sexuuIIty, und In the UnIted
Stutes, we contfoI chIIdfen's sexuuIIty to the poInt of
mukIng theIf buddIng desIfes Iess soufces of pIeusufe
und mofe vectofs fof ubuse. As JudIth IevIne cIuIms In
the tItIe of hef bfuve und contfovefsIuI book,
pfotectIng kIds ffom sex Is hufmfuI to mInofs."
Ruthef thun confmIng the popuIuf opInIon thut uccess
to sex cun be dumugIng to kIds, IevIne Ievefuges
evIdence of medIu-fueIed punIcs ubout chIId ubductIons,
sutunIc fItuuIs, und pedophIIIu to show thut hoIdIng
buck InfofmutIon ffom chIIdfen ubout uboftIon, sexuuI
expefImentutIon, und contfuceptIon hus hud u
dIsustfous Impuct on sevefuI genefutIons of AmefIcun
kIds und theIf pufents. IevIne ufgues, In gugu femInIst
styIe, thut consefvutIve und often feIIgIous-bused
punIcs ovef uny und uII sIgns of sexuuIIty In chIIdfen
huve dIfe consequences. As she puts It, u zeuIous
wutchfuIness In feIutIon to chIId sexuuI expfessIon hus
contfIbuted to u gfuduuI puthoIogIzIng of nofmutIve
chIIdfen's sexuuIIty," und, uccofdIngIy, whut we even
meun by nofmuI behuvIof gets pushed u few notches
to the fIght."
IevIne Is fIghtfuIIy wufy of the tefm nofmuI,"
especIuIIy when It cozIes up to Its twIn concept
nutufuI," und she wofks hufd to feveuI how, whefe,
und when ouf undefstundIng of the nofmuI gets
munufuctufed, fepufposed, fecIfcuIuted, und then
Ievefuged fof the pufposes of contfoI. AII these
mechunIsms thut constfIct und constfuIn chIIdfen's
desIfes become puft of the equutIon of whut they
uctuuIIy IIke to do sexuuIIy Iutef on. In muny wuys,
thefe Is no Innocent IntefventIon when It comes to sex.
SexuuIIty Is u kInd of spongy IIfe fofce: It ubsofbs uII
InfofmutIon, good und bud, It becomes sutufuted even
by the mutefIuI It Is supposed to fepeI, und In fuct, the
pfesumubIy fepeIIunt mutefIuI just becomes the
foundutIon fof othef, mofe fesIIIent, modes of desIfe.
IevIne, by uskIng ImpeftInent questIons ubout chIIdfen
und sexIIke, Why IubeI u chIId u vIctIm If she doesn't
feeI vIctImIzed? of, Why pfesume thut uII sexuuI
conduct between uduIts und chIIdfen Is unwunted by
the chIId of thut uII sexuuI uctIvIty umong kIds undef
the uge of ten Is pefnIcIous?hus pushed buck on one
vefsIon of femInIsm thut sees women und gIfIs
pefpetuuIIy us the vIctIms of unchecked muIe sexuuI
uggfessIon, und hus pushed fofwufd wIth unothef thut
undefstunds chIIdfen us sexuuI, pufents us efotIc
gufes, und sexuuIIty ItseIf us the pufsuIt of pIeusufe.
By custIng hufm" In tefms of the judgments uduIts
puss ubout chIId sexuuIIty futhef thun In tefms of
exposufe to InuppfopfIute mutefIuI, IevIne went gugu
und begun u much-needed pubIIc convefsutIon ubout
the foIIy of ImposIng sexuuI feguIutIon on chIIdfen und
the wIsdom of mukIng mofe-neutfuI ussessments ubout
whut chIIdfen wunt. Indeed, IevIne pfoposed, when we
feuIIy don't know of undefstund whut chIIdfen wunt of
how they muy feeI ubout somethIng, we couId uIwuys
do somethIng wucky und cfuzy . IIke uskIng them to
Iet us know whut feeIs good und whut feeIs IntfusIve of
So, whIIe chIId sexuuIIty Is denIed, muIe sexuuIIty
encoufuged, femuIe sexuuIIty fepfessed, und feIIgIous
Ieudefs ufe gIven ffee hund wIth the IegIsIutIon of
desIfe, gugu femInIsm pfoposes to joIn fofces wIth the
kInd of sexuuI IIbefutIon pfoposed by JudIth IevIne
und GuyIe RubIn befofe hef. If we cun gufe out how
to stop poIIcIng chIIdfen's sexuuIIty, we mIght uIso be
cIosef to undefstundIng how to dIsfupt the tfunsmIssIon
of mofuIIstIc und Inudequute nuffutIves of sex, Iove,
und muffIuge ffom one genefutIon to the next. RubIn
showed us how femuIe pussIvIty und sexuuI submIssIon
uctuuIIy cuffIed ovef ffom pfecupItuIIst socIetIes to
IndustfIuI cupItuIIst ones. But the IIngefIng questIon Is
why so IIttIe chunges In the muIe-femuIe dynumIc when
so much eIse ebbs und ows ufound It. As we go ffom
unuIog to dIgItuI, ffom IocuI to gIobuI, ffom pfoxImIty
to vIftuuIIty, ffom communIty to socIuI netwofk, how Is
It thut we cun shIft und uItef ouf pefceptIons of so
muny of the buIIdIng bIocks of socIuI IIfe but we stIII
cIIng to pfuctIcuIIy nIneteenth-centufy notIons of the
IntImute, the domestIc, und the pfIvute? Now, I um not
ut uII suyIng thut nothIng hus chunged of thut muffIuge
cuItufes ufe the sume now us they evef wefe, obvIousIy
we cun chuft mussIve shIfts In the meunIng of sexuuI
contuct us we move ffom, suy, pefsonuI uds to onIIne
dutIng sefvIces. And we cun uIso see thut notIons of
ffIendshIp, coupIedom, und even fumIIy huve shIfted
somewhut to uccommodute the coIIIsIons of pefsonuI
und femote, pfIvute und pubIIc thut occuf on mIIIIons
of computef scfeens evefy nIght ufound the wofId. And
yet . und yet, us we entefed u new centufy, mobIIe
devIces fmIy In hund, we dId not choose to dIuI up u
bfund-new wofId of connectIon, Insteud we begun to
usk whethef we couId expund the oId wofId of
muffIuge to uccommodute mofe peopIe und whethef
we couId extend the oId notIon of fumIIy to IncIude
mofe und mofe IntfIcute feIutIons. ThIs Is ukIn to oId
epIsodes of Stuf Tfek, In whIch we ufe seen to huve
tfuveIed yeufs und mIIes ffom eufth, we ufe In
compIeteIy new soIuf systems, und yet, when uIIens
uppeuf, they stIII tuke the fofm of men und women und
foIIow hetefosexuuI modes of IntImucy. A few wuvy
IInes on the fofeheud of un extfu nose of somethIng
sIgnuIs dIefence, but the uctuuI scfIptIng of humun
sexuuI feIutIons Is Ieft compIeteIy untouched.
A few IIIustfutIons of the wuy the pefsIstence of oId
modeIs of gendef humpefs the deveIopment of new
ones mIght be heIpfuI hefe. In muInstfeum cInemu, the
fepfesentutIon of hetefosexuuI fomunce seems hufdIy
to chunge ut uII despIte mussIve chunges In the feuI
wofId. Just us IIttIe gIfIs ufe soId extfemeIy
munIpuIutIve nuffutIves ubout pfIncesses und unIcofns
ut uge ve (of they get euten" by CIndefeIIu, us the
tItIe of Peggy OfensteIn's 2011 book hus It),
by uge
fteen, they ufe oefed the chIck Ick" by wuy of
compensutIon fof the dIsuppoIntments thut ufe sufe to
foIIow ffom the feuIIzutIons thut the chIIdhood
nuffutIves ubout fomuntIc tfysts, cuddIy bubIes, und
cute puppIes ufe ubout to be fepIuced by cheutIng,
muffIuge-uvefse guys, the tfuumu of chIIdbIfth, und
dog poop. (I jest, but you get the poInt ubout the
dIstunce between pfInces und husbunds, doIIs und
bubIes, stued unImuIs und unImuIs thut shIt uII ovef
youf cufpet . fIght?)
Whoevef cuffentIy wfItes fomuntIc comedIes, of ut
Ieust whoevef wfItes the ones not wfItten by Nofu
Ephfon (You've Got MuII, SIeepIess In SeuttIe, When
Huffy Met SuIIy, und so on)und It feuIIy seems to be
one pefson of one commIttee of medIocfe scfeenpIuy
wfItefs, gIven the unIfofmIty of the genfe (thInk
SomethIng ubout Mufy, Pfetty Womun, Runuwuy
BfIde, The PfoposuI, Sweet Home AIubumu, The Bfeuk-
Up, WeddIng Cfushefs und the IIst goes on)must
thInk thut (u) men und women do not feuIIy IIke euch
othef but (b) they feuIIy wunt to get togethef, und (c)
thefe Is no poInt In gettIng togethef unIess you fst
huve u huge obstucIe stundIng between you und youf
object of desIfe (exumpIes: hIs pufents, hef pufents, hIs
gIfIffIend, hef dog, hIs commItment phobIu, hef
bIoIogIcuI cIock, hIs homosexuuIIty, hef obsessIon wIth
weddIngs, hIs vIfgInItyyes, hIs, thInk ubout It fof u
mInute . Steve CufeII, CuthefIne Keenef . you got It!
RusseII Bfund, uge dIefences, hIs job, hef umbItIon,
hef Iooks, hef memofy Ioss, und so on und so fofth). In
fuct, gIven how much of eufIy IIfe fof hetefosexuuIs
InvoIves subtIe und Iess subtIe nudges to get u mute,
settIe down, get muffIed, It Is kInd of bewIIdefIng to
see how the fomuntIc comedy wunts to, needs to, hus
to pfoduce obstucIes In ofdef to muke Iove seem hufd
won, wofthwhIIe, und, weII, fomuntIc.
Romunce, It seems, Ioves un obstucIe (The coufse of
tfue Iove nevef dId fun smooth" us the Bufd once suId,
pfescfIptIveIy I thInk, futhef thun descfIptIveIy, gIven
how much mIIeuge Shukespeufeun comedIes themseIves
guIn out of obstucIes to the muffIuge of the pfIncIpuIs).
Fof guy peopIe, of coufse, obstucIes ufe the nume of
the gume, und they ubound In the fofm of sunctIoned
und unsunctIoned homophobIu (You cun't do thut!),
sexuuI cufIosIty (Why do you wunt to do thut?),
outfuge (Thut's IIIeguI! PIeuse don't do thut!), und
dIsgust (Oh, must you? And In pubIIc?). But fof stfuIght
peopIe, the obstucIes to tfue Iove must be cfeuted,
cfufted, nuftufed, und then quIckIy dIscufded us soon
us un houf und twenty mInutes of fun hus been hud by
uII. And so u Iovef's fumIIy suddenIy uccepts the unce
they hud so quIckIy fejected, u Iovef's chIId nuIIy
comes ufound und uccepts the new mute, the Iovef
moves ffom the wfong Iove object (homosexuuI,
supefcIuI, commItment phobIc, funtustIcuIIy good-
IookIng, of uII of the ubove) to the fIght Iove object
(pututIveIy hetefosexuuI, deep, cufIng, pfetty good-
IookIng, steudy) und the fest, us they suy, Is hIstofy.
Of, ut Ieust, the fest Is HoIIywood.
I wIII fetufn to the fecent bumpef cfop of fomuntIc
comedIes focused on muffIuge (BfIde Wufs,
BfIdesmuIds, He's Just Not Thut Into You) In chuptef 4,
und thefe we wIII uIso Iook ut the fomuntIc comedIes'
muscuIIne othef: the bfomunce. But, meunwhIIe, thefe
Is unothef new genfe of Ims thut uttempts to foId
ItseIf ufound the new fofms of whIte mIddIe-cIuss
hetefosexuuIIty. WhIIe these Ims sImpIy settIe fof the
Ideu thut when It comes to hetefosexuuIIty, the mofe
thIngs chunge, the mofe they stuy the sume, gugu
femInIsm sees these chunges us oppoftunItIes fof new
undefstundIngs of gendefed IntImucy, othef vefsIons of
gendefed desIfe, und wunts to tuke udvuntuge of the
InstubIIIty of hetefosexuuIIty, un InstubIIIty bofn of u
bfuve new wofId mude up of ubunduntIy competent
women und totuIIy Incompetent men. The new genfe
of Ims thut tfIes to muke sense of thIs new
deveIopment und contuIn Its wIId potentIuI focuses
upon fedundunt muscuIInItIes, und tfIes to fecycIe these
useIess modeIs whIIe buIIdIng up hefoIc nuffutIves
ufound them. ThIs genfe, mumbIecofe, us It hus been
numed, wus fepfesented In muInstfeum cInemu by the
2010 fIIm Cyfus, but It encompusses u whoIe set of both
muInstfeum und IndIe Ims, uII of whIch ImugIne
themseIves to be showcusIng uItefnutIve muscuIInItIes
whIIe In fuct they ufe just tfyIng to fescue un
unuchfonIstIc muscuIInIty ffom the tfush heup of
hIstofy. In the 2009 Im Humpduy, two buddIes decIde
to muke u pofno movIe togethef whIIe theIf
wIves,gIfIffIends ufe wofkIng feuI jobs. In un eufIIef
und hIgh-end vefsIon of mumbIecofe, IIttIe ChIIdfen
(dIfected by Todd FIeId, 2006), gofgeous und tuIented
women (pIuyed by Kute WInsIet und JennIfef
ConneIIy) ufe muffIed to undefuchIevIng men who Iet
theIf wIves wofk whIIe they pIne ovef theIf Iost youth
of cfuIse the Intefnet fof pofn.
The genfe Is founded out by the Judd Aputow fuctofy
of Ims feutufIng NeundefthuI muIes und ne women,
Knocked Up beIng the obvIous exumpIe. In Aputow's
wofId, sud und nefdy, out-of-shupe men successfuIIy
cfuIse successfuI und umbItIous beuutIfuI women. Tfue
Iove, these Ims now teII us, cun bfIng u IoveIy Iudy to
see the chufm of u cfusty Iosef, It cun uIIow u go-gettef
femme to Ignofe the compIete Iuck of umbItIon of hef
geeky puftnef, tfue Iove Iets Iosefs wIn . us Iong us
they ufe muIe. Thefe Is no possIbIIIty of the fevefse
sItuutIon becomIng the foundutIon of fomunceno
Iudy nefds wIthout jobs of good Iooks cun expect PfInce
ChufmIng to show up uny tIme soon. And whIIe women
In these Ims, IIke hIgh schooI students pfepufIng fof u
competItIve coIIege uppIIcutIon, pud theIf fesumes wIth
good wofks, yogu cIusses, udvunced degfees, hIgh
suIufIes, und Iots of know-how, theIf schIubby puftnefs-
to-be fest secufe In the knowIedge thut they muy not
huve u job, they muy huve no pfospects of u job uny
tIme soon, they muy Iuck good hygIene, teII few jokes,
show IIttIe to no InItIutIve, but, hetefosexuuI Iove beIng
whut It Is, und gIven the mufket's tIIt towufd muIe
eIIgIbIIIty, us Iong us the guy hus u semIfunctIonuI
penIs, und sometImes even If he doesn't, he wIII get
Iet's Iook mofe cIoseIy ut one exumpIe of
mumbIecofe to see whut we ufe deuIIng wIth hefe.
Cyfusof OedIpus WfecksIs u wfetchedIy weIfd Im
In whIch MufIsu TomeI Is fomunced by the sInguIufIy
unuppeuIIng John C. ReIIIy onIy to be thwufted In hef
sexuuI escupudes when hef twentysomethIng son,
pIuyed cfeepIIy by Jonuh HIII, expfesses hIs OedIpuI
objectIons to the mutch. In u fomuntIc comedy wIth
few jokes, IIttIe fomunce, und u mussIve Ick" fuctof
(the fomuntIc Ieuds meet us the mun Is peeIng on u
fosebush und hIs puftnef-to-be thInks It Is cute!), so
IIttIe wus uppeuIIng ubout the Im thut fevIewefs tfIed
to fescue It by InventIng u new genfe to expIuIn thIs
und othef nuveI-guzIng not-vefy-funny fom-com, sex-
wIth-mom, ho-hum fIImsthus, mumbIecofe.
Whut these Ims feuIIy do Is gfuppIe unsuccessfuIIy
wIth muny of the chunges thut I um chuftIng hefe:
when the women get smuft, these Ims show the men
fIdIng hef couttuIIs, when the women get fed up, the
Ims show the men pIuyIng the spInstef cufd und
femIndIng the women thut socIety ubhofs un unmuffIed
femuIe. And so, If whIte hetefosexuuI women become
mofe competent, mofe poweffuI, und bettef puId, whut
huppens, these Ims usk, to whIte hetefosexuuI men
who, In the pust, got u Iot of mIIeuge out of beIng the
pfovIdefs, the wofkefs, the membefs of the puftnefshIp
who knew how to do stu? WeII, the mumbIecofe Ims
pfovIde un unswef: If women become mofe competent,
then men ufe feIIeved of theIf obIIgutIons to be
ecIent und pfoductIve. If the womun Is eufnIng weII,
then muybe the mun cun tuke u Iong bfeuk. If she cun
munuge the househoId, the kIds, the bunkIng, the
shoppIng, und theIf sex IIfe, then muybe he shouId just
kIck buck, put hIs feet up, und wuIt fof hef to teII hIm
whut to do.
MumbIecofe Ims pfovIde u justIcutIon fof u new
fofm of pufusItIcuI muscuIInIty thut I IIke to cuII
ungIef" muscuIInIty, uftef the ungIefsh. Fof those
who huve not feud up on these cfufty IIttIe cfeutufes,
muIe ungIefsh ufe much smuIIef thun the femuIes,
they cun onIy sufvIve by uttuchIng to the Iufgef femuIe,
fusIng wIth hef und mutIng wIth hef. She then spuwns
eggs und buby sh . und hef mute? He hungs on fof
deuf IIfe und feeds when she feeds. The
mumbIecofe,ungIef muIe Ims by the DupIuss bfothefs
(Cyfus), Andfew BujuIskI (Funny Hu Hu), but uIso
InspIfed by Judd Aputow (Knocked Up) gIve thIs ungIef
guy meunIngyes, he muy be u Iosef, muy Iuck u job,
u pufpose In IIfe, umbItIon, chufm, IIkeubIe quuIItIes,
thIs muy uII be tfue, but mumbIecofe ImugInes
beuutIfuI women thfowIng themseIves ut these men not
despIte theIf shoftcomIngs but becuuse of them. If thefe
wefen't pIenty of evIdence In the feuI wofId fof thIs
phenomenon of smuft women,sIuckef men coupIIngs,
mumbIecofe wouId be tfuIy oensIve. In fuct, when
Knocked Up cume out In 2007, uftIcIes begun
uppeufIng In the pfess ubout sIuckef dude,hIgh-
umbItIon Iudy coupIIngs. One such uftIcIe In the SF
WeekIy, fof exumpIe, tItIed SIuckef Guys und StfIvef
GIfIs," Iooked ut feuI-IIfe vefsIons of the mIsmutched
puIfs of umbItIous women und stonef guys.
uftIcIe cume to the concIusIon thut the sIuckef's duys
wefe done, becuuse muny of the women IntefvIewed
hud moved on ffom stonef boneheuds to cufeef guys,
but IookIng ufound the tubIoIds und seeIng uII the
stofIes of fumous women IIke Sundfu BuIIock und
JennIfef AnIston who go out wIth Iuzy guys who cheut
on them, one suspects thut the sIuckef dude hus ut Ieust
one mofe genefutIon to go befofe he gets phused out
uIong wIth the modeI of hetefosexuuIIty thut Invests In
the Ideu thut uny guy who wIII muffy you Is muffIuge
BusIcuIIy, the mumbIecofe Ims expose u deepIy
tfoubIIng component of the new hetefosexuuIItIes
descfIbed hefenumeIy, thut thefe Is no poInt bIumIng
men uIone fof the bfeukdown In the functIonuIIty of
hetefosexuuIIty. Women cuffy u Iufge umount of
fesponsIbIIIty fof whut hetefosexuuIIty hus become, und
whethef they ufe despefute housewIves compIuInIng
ubout muIe pefdy of newIy dIvofced women
bemounIng the Iuck of sIngIe men theIf uge of young
women who ufe quIckIy Iufed by men twIce theIf uge
Into sexuuI feIutIons wIth nuncIuI benets, of even If
they ufe women who dIsIIke women, meun gIfIs who
punIsh othef gIfIs to punIsh themseIves, of women who
musquefude" (In the psychounuIytIc tefmInoIogy) of
pose us Incompetent In ofdef to muke theIf
Incompetent puftnefs feeI bettef ubout themseIves,
howevef you pIuy It, women ufe us much to bIume fof
the sud stute of uuIfs thut we cuII hetefosexuuI
fomunce us men.
ThIs Is not to muke un untIfemInIst ufgument ubout
women beIng the feuI pfobIem of women needIng to
shupe up, It Is, futhef, u fuce the musIc" kInd of
stutement ubout the fuct thut gendef hIefufchIes
pefsIst, ut Ieust In puft, becuuse women pefpetuute
them und huve Ieufned how to benefIt ffom them. Gugu
femInIsm pfoposes thut we Iook mofe cIoseIy ut
hetefosexuuIIty, not sImpIy to bIume It fof the
contInued ImbuIunce of the sexes but to nd In Its
coIIupse new modes of IntImute feIutIon. And thIs fofm
of femInIsm uctuuIIy ImugInes thut men us weII us
women wIII feeI IIbefuted by the possIbIIItIes thut the
end of hetefosexuuIIty und the end of nofmuI cfeute.
But . whut If we Incofpofute uII the mucfo chunges
thut we huve expefIenced In u few shoft decudes Into
the evefyduy? Whut If we stuft notIcIng thut the
fumIIIes In whIch chIIdfen gfow up ufe fuf dIefent
ffom the fumIIIes In whIch muny of us wefe fuIsed, und
thut those chunges huve often been fof the bettef? The
cIuustfophobIu of the nucIeuf fumIIy wus fofmefIy onIy
uIIevIuted by mofe fumIIy, extended fumIIy, by cousIns
und uunts und uncIes und gfundpufents. But now,
chIIdfen ufe upt to huve muny uduIts In theIf IIfe,
uduIts, mofeovef, to whom they ufe not even feIuted.
Of coufse, the expunsIon of the tIght fumIIy cIfcIe to
IncIude nonbIoIogIcuIIy feIuted othefs hus fuIsed u kInd
of hystefIu ubout pedophIIIu such thut ouf ffeewuys ufe
IIttefed wIth eIectfonIc notIces ubout chIId ubductIon,"
und mIIk cuftons beuf the sud vIsuges of mIssIng
chIIdfen. These chIIdfen ufe often dIsgfuntIed youth
who huve fun us fuf uwuy us possIbIe ffom theIf
ubusIve fumIIy househoIds, of chIIdfen who huve been
ubducted by u pufent In u custody buttIe, onIy much
mofe fufeIy Is the chIId u vIctIm of stfungef ubductIon.
Mofe often thun we thInk, It Is the fumIIy, und not the
outsIde wofId, thut Is the dungef zone fof kIds. Whut
wouId huppen If we uctuuIIy begun to Incofpofute thIs
vefsIon of the fumIIy Into ouf muInstfeum
Now, of coufse, thefe ufe fumIIIes und fumIIIes" In
the USA, und when peopIe tuIk ubout suvIng the
fumIIy" of pfotectIng the fumIIy" of InvestIng In
fumIIy," they genefuIIy huve u whIte mIddIe-cIuss
fumIIy In mInd. Few of the modeIs of the fumIIy used In
muInstfeum poIItIcs to ufgue fof thIs of uguInst thut
(fof stuy-ut-home moms, uguInst uboftIon, fof exumpIe)
envIsIon u bIuck fumIIy us the fumIIy thut must be
suved ffom the bfeukdown of tfudItIonuI gendef foIes
of the munIpuIutIon of fepfoductIve potentIuI. The
bIuck fumIIy In puftIcuIuf hus u vexed hIstofy In the
UnIted Stutes, us so muny schoIufs huve commented,
pfecIseIy becuuse It wus decImuted both by sIuvefy und
by the JIm Cfow pefIod thut foIIowed.
The bIuck fumIIy nowuduys Is often fepfesented In
the medIu us mofe consefvutIve, mofe homophobIc, but
uIso mofe bfoken, mofe dIvIded, und mofe pefvefse
thun uny othef. When guy muffIuge wus voted down In
CuIIfofnIu In the 2008 eIectIons, fof exumpIe, bIuck
votefs wefe supposedIy to bIume, und the medIu
engIneefed u stundo between whIte guy-muffIuge
suppoftefs und bIuck stfuIght-muffIuge defendefs.
Subsequent studIes showed thut the Inuence of bIuck
votefs In feIutIon to the defeut of the move to oveftufn
PfoposItIon 8 hud been gfeutIy exuggefuted, und thut
bIuck votefs, even feIIgIous bIuck votefs, ufe much
mofe concefned wIth socIuI justIce Issues thun wIth
fumIIy vuIues": they muy oppose guy muffIuge but not
go out of theIf wuy to vote uguInst It. In u 2011 uftIcIe
I n The Root, fof exumpIe, joufnuIIst DuvId Kuufmun
femInded feudefs: Focused fuf mofe on job cfeutIon,
heuIth cufe und educutIon thun on guy muffIuge, bIuck
votefs ufen't suppoftIng consefvutIve cundIdutes
sImpIy becuuse they oppose IGBT fIghts. Insteud, they
ufe votIng fof pfogfessIve pfo-IGBT cundIdutes
despIte dIsugfeeIng wIth theIf pfo-IGBT pIutfofms"
(emphusIs In ofIgInuI).
The dIvIded bIuck fumIIy hus Iong been the tufget of
AmefIcun socIoIogIsts, us schoIuf RodefIck Fefguson
documents In hIs book AbeffutIons In BIuck.
Cust by
socIoIogIsts und pubIIc-poIIcy mukefs In the 1960s us
the foot cuuse of bIuck povefty, the bIuck househoId
hus been cufIcutufed In tefms of uII thut supposedIy
goes wfong when futhefs ufe ubsent und mothefs ufe
too pfesent. The myth of the poweffuI bIuck mutfIufch
und the deIInquent dud hus covefed ovef the feuIIty of
the stfuggIIng sIngIe mothef und the Incufcefuted
futhef. Ruthef thun IookIng ut the feusons thut so muny
bIuck househoIds stfuggIe, consefvutIve fumIIy
dIscoufse hus chosen the eusy foute of bIumIng povefty
und destItutIon on the bfeukIng up of the fumIIy futhef
thun fecognIzIng the bfoken bIuck fumIIy us puft of the
Iong ufc of sIuvefy und Its uftefmuth.
In tefms of bIuck guy und IesbIun househoIds, queef
socIoIogIst MIgnon Moofe's book InvIsIbIe FumIIIes:
Guy IdentItIes, ReIutIonshIps, und Mothefhood umong
BIuck Women,
hus shown thut bIuck guys und
IesbIuns tend to foIIow muny of the sume puttefns us
hetefosexuuI bIuck pufents und ufe often much mofe
concefned wIth the consequences of fucIsm und cIuss
poIItIcs thun wIth muffIuge equuIIty.
So, fof uII kInds of peopIe ucfoss muny dIefent
ethnIcItIes In the UnIted Stutes, the fumIIy, femInIsm,
und sex,gendef nofms need u mujof updute. Gugu
femInIsm to the fescue! Now, I um not suyIng thut the
new femInIsm I outIIne hefe, u femInIsm thut
fecognIzes muItIpIe gendefs, thut contfIbutes to the
coIIupse of ouf cuffent sex-gendef systems, u femInIsm
Iess concefned wIth the equuIIty of men und women
und mofe Intefested In the uboIItIon of these tefms us
such, I um not suyIng thut gugu femInIsm wIII suve
unyone, of fescue uny outmoded socIuI fofm ffom totuI
fedunduncy, but, In u mode of ffIvoIIty und becuuse,
fof muny femInIsts, thefe Is feuIIy nothIng Ieft to Iose,
some kInd of poIItIcuI pfoject, whImsIcuI of othefwIse,
seems to be In ofdef. So gugu femInIsm wIII Iocute Iudy
Gugu us mefeIy the most fecent mufkef of the
wIthefIng uwuy of oId socIuI modeIs of desIfe, gendef,
und sexuuIIty, und us u chunneI fof potent new fofms
of feIutIon, IntImucy, technoIogy, und embodIment.
I um sufe you ufe now wondefIngcun unyone be u
gugu femInIst? The shoft unswef Isyes! The Iong
unswef Isno. TechnIcuIIy speukIng, unyone cun be u
gugu femInIst, but pfuctIcuIIy speukIng, muny peopIe
wIII not wunt to be. Gugu femInIsm, uftef uII, wunts to
IncIte peopIe to go gugu, to gIve up on the tfIed und
the tfue, the feuI und the uuthentIc, the pfoven und the
tested, und Insteud encoufuges u move towufd the
Insune, the pfepostefous, the InteIIectuuIIy Ioony und
gIddy, huIIucInutofy vIsIons of uItefnutIve futufes.
Gugu femInIsm Is not somethIng to whIch you wIII
subscfIbe, you wIII not sIgn up fof It, you wIII not vote
fof It. Insteud, It Is somethIng you wIII do, somethIng
you cun pfuctIce, somethIng to be. And by the wuy,
contfufy to Iudy Gugu's own munIfesto, you wIII not
be bofn u gugu femInIst, Bofn ThIs Wuy," you wIII, to
quote un eufIIef gugu femInIst, SImone de BeuuvoIf,
become one. Gugu femInIsm wIII be u wuy of seeIng
new feuIItIes thut shudow ouf evefyduy IIvesgugu
femInIsts wIII see muItIpIe gendefs, ndIng
muIe,femuIe dIchotomIes to be outduted und IIIogIcuI.
Gugu femInIsm Is u gendef poIItIcs thut fecognIzes the
wuys In whIch ouf Ideus of the nofmuI of the
ucceptubIe depend compIeteIy upon fucIuI und cIuss-
bused ussumptIons ubout the fIght und the tfue, gugu
femInIsm wIII ubundon the nofm the wuy u hIkef mIght
thfow out hef compussonce the compuss hus been
Iost, evefy dIfectIon Is fIght, evefy puth seems
uttfuctIve, und gettIng Iost becomes both u possIbIIIty
und u pIeusufe. ThInk of gugu femInIsm In the sume
wuy thut Iudy Gugu thInks of cIothesnot us
functIonuI und utIIItufIun but us utopIun und vIsIonufy.
When Iudy Gugu weufs u meut dfess of ve-Inch heeIs,
she does so to cuII uttentIon to the whImsy of
pefsonhood, the wuys In whIch we uII need to see euch
othef unew, nd new suffuces, nume those suffuces
dIefentIy, und confuse the feIutIons between suffuce
und depth.
ObvIousIy uny movement thut cuIIs ItseIf femInIst"
must ussume some pfIvIIeged feIutIon to the cutegofy
of womun," und gugu femInIsm Is not dIefent In thut
fespect. But whut I meun by womun" In thIs book wIII
uIwuys be subject to contextuuI denItIons. And gugu
femInIsm muy begIn wIth questIons of concefn to
bodIes gendefed us femuIe, but It ends by fecognIzIng
thut gendef concefns uII bodIes, uII gendefs, und u new
gugu gendef poIItIcs fequIfes u thofough fecuIIbfutIon
of the wuys In whIch we know, fecognIze, und vuIue
euch othef's gendefs, desIfes, und embodIments.
If I hud to Iuy out some busIc pfIncIpIes of gugu
femInIsm, u few fuIes to guIde you us you contempIute
thIs new, gugu wuve of femInIst ffenzy, they mIght
Iook somethIng IIke thIs:
1. WIsdom IIes In the unexpected und the
ununtIcIputedto fecognIze new fofms of poIItIcs,
socIuI stfuctufes, und pefsonhood, we feuIIy huve to
tuke some bIg Ieups Into the unknown. GoIng gugu
meuns IettIng go of muny of youf most busIc
ussumptIons ubout peopIe, bodIes, und desIfes.
2. TfunsfofmutIon Is InevItubIe, but don't Iook fof the
evIdence of chunge In the evefyduy, Iook ufound, Iook
on the pefIphefIes, the mufgIns, und thefe you wIII see
Its Impuct. Iet me expIuInus evefy good busebuII fun
knows, when u pIuyef hIts u Iong buII, you cunnot teII
If It Is u home fun by foIIowIng the ufc of the buII ItseIf.
You huve to Iook Into the stunds und see whethef the
funs ufe on theIf feet wuItIng to cutch the y buII of
whethef they ufe seuted und foIIowIng the buII's Ight
Into u weII-pIuced gIove. In othef wofds, don't wutch
the buII, wutch the cfowd.
3. ThInk countefIntuItIveIy, uct uccofdIngIy. A Iot of
whut we Ieufn us common sense" uctuuIIy mukes no
sense, especIuIIy us chunge does huppen In compIex
socIetIes such us the ones we InhubIt. The notIon thut
pufents shouId stuy togethef fof the chIIdfen," fof
exumpIe, mukes no sense when thut entuIIs huvIng
chIIdfen IIve undef the sume foof us pufents who hute
euch othef. The Ideu thut dIvofce Is u teffIbIe thIng und
thut kIds need two pufents, one muIe und one femuIe,
pfefefubIy IIvIng togethef, Is uIso debutubIe. Muny kIds
now gfow up In dIvIded househoIds, und they
expefIence thut dIvIsIon us u kInd of IIbefutIon ffom
nucIeufIty. When thIngs ufe not goIng too weII In one
househoId, they cun tuke fefuge In the othef. When
dynumIcs get dIcuIt wIth one set of pufents, they cun
tuke u bfeuk wIth the othef. Whut Is IntuItIve fof one
genefutIon becomes un obstucIe to chunge fof the next.
NothIng Iusts fofevef, und common sense needs to twIst
und tufn In the wInds of chunge.
4. PfuctIce cfeutIve nonbeIIevIng. I know It Is not
fushIonubIe nowuduys to be untIfeIIgIous. We huve
feuched u kInd of IIve und Iet IIve" sensIbIIIty when It
comes to feIIgIosIty und spIfItuuIIty und uII thut stu.
But when It comes to gendef nofms und sexuuI mofes,
feIIgIon feuIIy Is the foot of uII evII, und thut cuts
ucfoss muny feIIgIons. ThIs Is u bIt of u pfobIem fof u
bfunch of femInIsm thut cuIIs ItseIf gugu femInIsm und
tukes Iudy Gugu us u kInd of muscot. She Is, of coufse,
IIke Mudonnu, thofoughIy sutufuted In CuthoIIc
Imugefy und nuffutIves of sucfIce, vIfgIn,whofe
opposItIons, und Judus-IIke betfuyuIs. AII the mofe
feuson, then, fof thIs femInIst, thIs gugu femInIst, to
ug some of the dIefences between Iudy Gugu und
gugu femInIsm ffom the get-gofeIIgIon Is u no-no und
God hus got to go-go. ChfIstIunIty In puftIcuIuf hus not
been heId pfopefIy uccountubIe fof uII of the vIoIence
und mIsefy thut It hus bfought upon the wofId thfough
Its mIssIons, mofuIIty, und mIsefubIe notIons of
suIvutIon. As un untI-ChfIstIun doctfIne, gugu femInIsm
wIII not be youf suIvutIon, It wIII not suve you of
fedeem you, It wIII not fofgIve you fof youf sIns, but
Insteud It encoufuges you to be u nonbeIIevef, und to
keep youf spIfItuuI beIIefs to youfseIf.
5. FInuIIy, gugu femInIsm Is outfugeous. ThIs Is not u
femInIsm fof the fuInt of heuft nof fof the weuk of
knees . thIs Is u femInIsm thut hus no tfuck wIth
shume of embuffussment, It Is fof the ffeuks und geeks,
the Iosefs und fuIIufes, the kIds who wefe Ieft out ut
schooI, the uduIts who stIII don't t In. ThIs Is not u
new socIuI netwofkIng tooI, nof u wuy to wIn ffIends
und Inuence peopIe. Gugu femInIsm Is ImpoIIte,
ubfupt, ubfusIve, und boId. To be u femInIst, you huve
to go gugu!
No, but sefIousIy, foIks, gugu femInIsm wIII not gIve
you fuIes, wIII not Ieud you to the pfomIsed Iund. It
muy not even muke youf IIfe bettef. But gugu femInIsm
exIsts uIfeudy In smuII fundom ucts by gugu peopIe
who ufe ImpfovIsIng fevoIutIon fIght now In wuys thut
muy stuftIe you Into u new uwufeness of the chunge
thut Is huppenIng uII ufound. ThIs femInIsm Is not
ubout sIstefhood, mothefhood, sofofIty, of even
women. It Is ubout shIftIng, chungIng, mofphIng,
extempofIzIng poIItIcuI posItIons quIckIy und
eectIveIy to keep up wIth the muItImedIu
envIfonments In whIch we uII IIve und to stuy upuce of
whut some huve cuIIed the comIng InsuffectIon." Hefe
und now, ouf feuIIty Is beIng fescfIpted, feshot,
feImugIned, und If you don't go gugu soon, you muy
wuke up und nd thut you huve mIssed the futufe und
become the pust.
Gugu Gendefs
Futhefs ufe bIoIogIcuI necessItIes, but socIuI uccIdents.
Mufgufet Meud
When Opfuh needed u futIngs boost u coupIe of yeufs
ugo, she engIneefed the TV-tuIk-show equIvuIent of the
moon wuIk: she found u pfegnunt mun, Thomus BeutIe,
to come on hef show und tuIk ubout hIs expefIence
wIth cuffyIng u chIId, hIs ImpendIng futhefhood, und
hIs buttIes wIth u medIcuI system not equIpped to
hundIe muIe pfegnuncIes. The stofy took o
ImmedIuteIy, und whIIe fIght-wIng TV hosts deIIghted
In sneefIng ut und decfyIng the medIu spectucIe thut
spfung up ovefnIght ufound u pfegnunt tfuns-mun und
hIs gIfIffIend, queef communItIes wefe ut fst quIetIy
stunned by the sudden pubIIcIty of unofthodox
fepfoductIon und then not so quIetIy IffItuted thut the
pfegnunt mun, BeutIe, wus cIuImIng to be the vefy fst
tfuns mun evef to beuf u chIId. BeutIe's cIuIm cume us u
sufpfIse to quIte u few othef tfunsgendef men who,
ovef the pust decude, huve tfunsItIoned wIthout huvIng
hystefectomIes und then gone o hofmones fof u whIIe
to get pfegnunt und beuf chIIdfen. PutfIck CuIIu und
hIs boyffIend, Mutt RIce, fof exumpIe, wefe quIte
pubIIc ubout huvIng u buby uftef they hud both
tfunsItIoned ffom femuIe to muIe. PutfIck went o
hofmones fof u whIIe und wus pfegnunt, but dIdn't
uppeuf In PeopIe muguzIne of on Opfuh to Infofm
evefyone. The questIon of who got thefe fst, of
coufse, mIsses the poInt: the pfegnunt mun shouId be
seen Iess us un IndIvIduuI phenomenon und mofe us un
IndIcutIon thut u new poIItIcs of fepfoductIon hus
emefged, wIth uII kInds of unfofeseen consequences.
In the mIddIe of the yeuf of the pfegnunt mun," I
eIded numefous cuIIs ffom joufnuIIsts und medIu
peopIe, wuntIng un IntefvIew wIth me thut wouId heIp
expIuIn the meunIng of thIs seemIngIy mIfucuIous
deveIopment to un Intefested but confused uudIence. I
found myseIf oddIy ummoxed by the whoIe thIngI
dIdn't wunt to udd to the voyeufIstIc sensutIonuIIsm
suffoundIng thIs futhef unfemufkubIe occuffence
(unfemufkubIe becuuse It Is not so extfuofdInufy to
tfunsItIon to muIe ffom femuIe whIIe hoIdIng on to
one's fepfoductIve bIts), but I dId wunt to coffect some
of the mIsInfofmutIon ubout tfunsgendefIsm thut wus
cIfcuIutIng uIongsIde the gee whIz" stofIes ubout muIe
fepfoductIve potentIuI. I dIdn't wunt to gIve uny of the
homophobIc joufnuIIsts ummunItIon fof theIf hutefuI
stofIes, but I uIso dIdn't wunt to contfIbute to the
emefgent mythoIogy thut suw Thomus BeutIe us u
bfuve pIoneef, u one-of-u-kInd phenomenon, und u
IeudIng pIuyef In the feofgunIzutIon of the fumIIy. In
fuct, whIIe I wouId suy one thIng ubout BeutIe to queef
uudIences, I mIght suy somethIng quIte dIefent to
stfuIght ones. To u queef uudIence, I wouId tfy to
cfeute u convefsutIon ubout medIu munIpuIutIon, ubout
the possIbIIIty thut BeutIe wus just tfyIng to muke u bIt
of cush by stugIng hIs pfegnuncy us u kInd of cIfcus of
sIdeshow. But to stfuIght IntefIocutofs, I wouId tuIk
ubout the mechunIcs of sex-feussIgnment sufgefIes, the
In-between stutus of so muny bodIes, the gendef
exIbIIIty thut Is un IncfeusIng puft of ouf sense of
embodIment, und the new uffungements of the fumIIIuI
und the pufentuI thut contInue to emefge In the wuke
of IVF technoIogIes.
It wus u dIcuIt set of convefsutIons to swItch
between, und ut Ieust one TV stutIon sent u cumefu
cfew to IntefvIew me und then decIded not to use the
footuge becuuse I wusn't teIIIng u sImpIe und cohefent
stofy. I wus muddyIng the wutefs when they feIt u
desIfe fof cIufIty, fuIsIng questIons when they wunted
unswefs. WhIIe the puefIIe Fox News shock jocks
wunted to fesoIve the questIon of the pfegnunt
tfunsgendef mun usIng the pIuygfound method of
choftIIng und ngef-poIntIng, the Iook ut the ffeuk"
mode of dIspeIIIng uncomfoftubIe mutefIuI so fuvofed
by muIe udoIescents und consefvutIve ChfIstIuns, the
IIbefuI pfess wunted the pfegnunt mun to mufk some
cIeuf udvuncement In humun socIety, but somehow
couId not nume eIthef the cuuse of the eect of such
pfogfess. Queef commentutofs, meunwhIIe, wefe
sunguIne ubout the mutefIuIIty of the pfegnunt muIe
body, unsufpfIsed by Its sudden emefgence, but often
suspIcIous of BeutIe's motIvutIons. As the stofy feceded
to the buck of the tubIoId muguzInes, I wuIted fof the
student pupefs to uppeuf, be they by undefgfuduutes
guwkIng ut thIs stfungef thun ctIon" stofy of by
eufnest gfuduute students sufe they hud stumbIed
ucfoss the vefy symboI they needed to pfove the end of
evefythIng of the begInnIng of somethIng eIse. I stIII
huve vefy IIttIe to suy ubout the pfegnunt mun pef se,
und even Iess Intefest In feudIng unothef wofd ubout
hIm, be It In u book, u muguzIne, u dIsseftutIon, of u C-
gfude essuy, but I do thInk of Thomus BeutIe us u
convenIent mufkef of some seIsmIc shIfts thut seem to
huve occuffed beIow the suffuce of ouf seemIngIy fIgId
und ffozen gendef und sexuuIIty systems.
Muny u femInIst cufeef hus been Iuunched wIth
pfedIctIons ubout the bfuve new wofId thut couId fIse
ffom the dust of contempofufy gendef nofms wIth the
fIght technoIogIcuI InnovutIons. Not uII of these
pfedIctIons huve been utopIun, und Indeed muny huve
been pfofoundIy dystopIun, In the Stepfofd WIves veIn
of ImugInIng the contfoI of femuIe bodIes thfough the
ImposItIon of pIucId, docIIe munnequIns mude to huve
sex, cIeun, cook, und fepfoduce. In 1970, ShuIumIth
FIfestone mude hef own boId pfedIctIons, und they
pfoved to be hIghIy pfescIent: FIfestone wus u fudIcuI
femInIst pfophet fof some, u mudwomun fof othefs, but
she wus fecognIzed even In the muInstfeum pfess us u
feIevunt cfItIc who used MufxIst theofy to uppfouch
the womun questIon." FIfestone pfedIcted thut when
fepfoductIve technoIogIes becume uvuIIubIe to uII
women, muny women wouId choose not to beuf bubIes
but wouId huppIIy cede thut pfIvIIege to the medIcuI
Iub. And when thut duy cume, uccofdIng to FIfestone, u
femInIst fevoIutIon wouId occuf, becuuse women wouId
be ffeed ffom the oId uduge thut unutomy Is destIny,"
und the equuIIty of the sexes wouId nuIIy be possIbIe.
She wfote:
Just us the end gouI of socIuIIst fevoIutIon wus not onIy the eIImInutIon
of the economIc cIuss pfIvIIege but of the economIc cIuss dIstInctIon
ItseIf, so the end gouI of femInIst fevoIutIon must be, unIIke thut of the
fst femInIst movement, not just the eIImInutIon of muIe pfIvIIege but
of the sex dIstInctIon ItseIf: genItuI dIefences between humun beIngs
wouId no Iongef muttef cuItufuIIy. (A fevefsIon to un unobstfucted
punsexuuIItyFfeud's poIymofphous pefvefsIty"wouId pfobubIy
supefsede hetefo,homo,bI-sexuuIIty.) The fepfoductIon of the specIes
by one sex fof the benet of both wouId be fepIuced by (ut Ieust the
optIon of) uftIcIuI fepfoductIon: chIIdfen wouId be bofn to both sexes
equuIIy, of IndependentIy of eIthef, howevef one chooses to Iook ut It,
the dependence of the chIId on the mothef (und vIce vefsu) wouId gIve
wuy to u gfeutIy shoftened dependence on u smuII gfoup of othefs In
genefuI, und uny femuInIng InfefIofIty to uduIts In physIcuI stfength
wouId be compensuted fof cuItufuIIy. The dIvIsIon of Iubouf wouId be
ended by the eIImInutIon of Iubouf uItogethef (thfough cybefnetIcs). The
tyfunny of the bIoIogIcuI fumIIy wouId be bfoken.
In thIs pussuge, we cun see the futufe fevoIutIon
unfoIdIng befofe us uIong the IInes of the tfujectofy
thut MufxIsts hud pIotted fof socIuIIst fevoIutIon. So
whIIe socIuIIsts wunted to eIImInute economIc
dIstInctIons thut In tufn pfoduce fIch und poof peopIe
und Indeed muke some peopIe's weuIth dependent
upon the povefty of othefs, so the femInIst fevoIutIon
wouId eIImInute gendef dIstInctIons bused upon
bIoIogIcuI functIons thut then socIuIIy dIctuted pufentuI
functIons. Whefe fepfoductIon becomes uftIcIuI, muIe
und femuIe dIstInctIons und mothef und futhef foIes
wIthef uwuy, IeuvIng In theIf pIuce onIy pufents, und If
we cfeute muchInes to do ouf Iubof fof us too, then we
fId oufseIves of gendefed und economIc dIvIsIons of
Iubof, und we Iose the futIonuIe fof the bIoIogIcuI
fumIIy compIeteIy.
FIfestone wus u centfuI pIuyef In u Ieft-IeunIng
bfunch of fudIcuI femInIsm thut undefstood gendef
feIutIons to be ut the vefy heuft of socIuI
tfunsfofmutIon, futhef thun the uftefthought to whIch
so muny socIuIIst movements hud feIeguted them. IIke
u KufI Mufx In owIng femInIst cIothIng, she wus sufe
thut the mufch of hIstofy wouId cfeute the condItIons
undef whIch fevoIutIon couId occuf. Fof hef, wIth the
fIght hIstofIcuI congufutIons of technoIogy, poIItIcuI
feudIness, und ImugInutIon, women couId fIse up und
Iose the chuIns thut bound them to muffIuge und
chIIdfeufIng und kept them out of the pfofessIonuI
Iubof mufket. FIfestone dId not fofesee the pfegnunt
mun, needIess to suy, nof dId she pfedIct IesbIun moms
of dyke duddIes, but she wus coffect In pfedIctIng thut
when shIfts occuf In the feuIm of fepfoductIve
technoIogIes, socIuI chunge Is InevItubIe.
Women, FIfestone ussefted, huve been dened by
theIf mutefnuI potentIuI und fofced to secufe
pfotectIon und suppoft ffom men fof theIf fepfoductIve
yeufs, IeudIng to un uneven bond of dependency.
Howevef, becuuse thIs dependence seems nutufuI of ut
Ieust ofgunIc to the fepfoductIve pfocess, It hus uIso
seemed xed und unchungeubIe. Fof FIfestone,
MufxIsm unuIogIcuIIy pfovIdes un InspIfutIonuI modeI
of tfunsfofmutIon fof femInIsm becuuse It custs hIstofy
us pfocess und chunge, not us u sefIes of xed und
InevItubIe events. In othef wofds, sInce thIngs chunge
In feIutIon to one unothef, dIuIectIcuIIy, thut Is, then
shIfts In one ufenu necessItute shIfts In othef ufenus:
new IndustfIuI technoIogIes chunge the meunIng of
wofk, chunge the denItIons of muscuIInIty und
femInInIty, uItef cIuss systems, und tfunsfofm the
feIutIons between cupItuI und commodItIes. SImIIufIy,
chunges In fepfoductIve technoIogy chunge the
meunIng of bIoIogy, shIft the expfessIon und
sIgnIcunce of embodIed gendef, und uItef the contoufs
of the fumIIy.
FIfestone, unIIke muny of hef femInIst
contempofufIespeopIe IIke Andfeu DwofkIn, Mufy
DuIy, und RobIn Mofgun, women who beIIeved In the
essence of womunhood und wunted to buIId u new
wofId bused upon femuIe pfIncIpIesufgued fof the
contIngency of gendef duuIIsm und suw Its emefgence
us u functIon of hIstofIcuI und not bIoIogIcuI necessIty.
We now huve the meuns, FIfestone suys, due to
technoIogIcuI InnovutIon und humun evoIutIon, to
chunge the wuy the fumIIy wofks und comes Into
beIng, und so chunge we must. FInuIIy, FIfestone ufges
femInIsts to tuke udvuntuge of the technoIogIcuI
bfeukthfoughs In feftIIIty und chunge the stfuctufes of
the fumIIy thut huve been so dIsudvuntugeous to
women. The fumIIy, she suys, extends the subjugutIon
of women thut ofIgInutes In theIf fepfoductIve foIe.
Chunge the stutus of thut foIe und the fumIIy thut gIves
It meunIng und you cun chunge uII of socIety.
WeII, needIess to suy, FIfestone's messuge uItImuteIy
feII on deuf eufs, und she wus quIckIy shunted off to the
ffInges of femInIsm. As MufxIsm feII out of fuvof In the
CoId Wuf yeufs, mofeovef, theofIes of MufxIst und
socIuIIst femInIsm Iost cfedIbIIIty. And us fof FIfestone
hefseIf, by the Iute 1980s she hud been hospItuIIzed
sevefuI tImes fof mentuI IIIness, und she, uIong wIth
hef fudIcuI Ideus, wus cust usIde by u socIety not feudy
fof eIthef gfund-scuIe chunge of Its unuIysIs.
WhIIe hef socIety dubbed hef cfuzy, IIke muny peopIe
whom we desIgnute us mentuIIy III, FIfestone wus u
vIsIonufy. But pfophetIc us she muy huve been, she
couIdn't huve fofeseen the wuy thut so much couId
chunge und yet femuIn the sume. Hefe we ufe IIvIng In
un uge of uftIcIuI fepfoductIon, u tIme when muny
women seek und feceIve medIcuI ussIstunce In
becomIng pfegnunt of ndIng u suffogute mothef to
cuffy theIf embfyos, u tIme when shoppIng ut u spefm
bunk Is common enough to gIve fIse to unxIetIes ubout
Incest occuffIng between bubIes bofn of unonymous
futhefs. And yet, the puII of those gendef dIvIsIons thut
wefe supposed to wIthef uwuy femuIns stfong, us does
the gendef bInufy thut supposedIy depends upon
fepfoductIve functIon. ThIs Is u gfeut moment to fevIsIt
the pfoposItIons IuId out by FIfestone, the Ideus she
udvunced ubout the dependence of gendef foIes upon
un ossIed but wfongheuded set of connectIons
between fepfoductIon und nutufe. If we ufe now IIvIng
In the uge thut FIfestone pfedIcted, couId It be thut we
huve In fuct begun the ufduous pfocess of chungIng ouf
undefstundIng of sex foIes und bfIngIng them mofe In
IIne wIth IIved feuIIty?
A sIew of fecent Ims ubout women mukIng the
decIsIon to huve bubIes Independent of u fomuntIc
InvoIvement wIth u mun IndIcute thut pefhups thefe
huve been some sIgnIcunt tfunsfofmutIons In the wuy
we connect bIoIogy, fepfoductIon, und gendef foIes.
But whIIe the technoIogy muy be udvunced, the
uccompunyIng IdeoIogIes of pufenthood femuIn
pfImevuI. Iet's tuke the exumpIe of one Im ubout u
womun who decIdes to put the hofse befofe the
cuffIuge und huve u buby Independent of ndIng u
husbund. The 2010 Im The SwItch (dIfected by Josh
Gofdon und WIII Speck) feutufes JennIfef AnIston us
KussIe, u fofty-yeuf-oId wouId-be mom who just hus not
found the fIght mun. When she condes In hef best
ffIend, WuIIy (Juson Butemun), thut she Is goIng to get
pfegnunt, he ImmedIuteIy thInks she Is uskIng hIm fof
hIs spefm. In fuct, she nds u donof onIIne, und then
hus u feftIIIty pufty fof the InsemInutIon fIte und
InvItes the donof to uttend. Once the donof, RoIund
(PutfIck WIIson), deposIts hIs stu In u cup und Ieuves
It tuctfuIIy In the buthfoom, the ceIebfutIons begIn und
evefyone gets vefy dfunk. IncIudIng und especIuIIy
WuIIy, who, In u t of jeuIousy, munuges to spIII
RoIund's seed In the buthfoom und then, punIcked und
possessIve, fepIuces It wIth hIs own. ImpfobubIy, KussIe
gets pfegnunt! And so the fun begIns.
The SwItch wunts to ucknowIedge the compIIcutIons
of contempofufy fomunce und fumIIy but somehow
cun't extfIcute ItseIf ffom the stIcky mess of bIoIogIcuI
fumIIy. DespIte the fuct thut KussIe Ieuves New Yofk
und WuIIy behInd once she Is pfegnunt, she fetufns
some seven yeufs Iutef wIth IIttIe WuIIyof SebustIun
In tow und, mIfucuIousIy, WuIIy und SebustIun nd
themseIves dfuwn to euch othef by thut mystefIous
bIood bond. KussIe, thInkIng thut RoIund Is the futhef,
begIns dutIng hIm. WuIIy, knowIng thut he Is the
futhef, begIns hungIng out wIth SebustIun, und
SebustIun, not knowIng who hIs futhef muy be, teIIs
stofIes ubout one he's Invented. UItImuteIy, of coufse,
KussIe und WuIIy, despIte huvIng hud zefo chemIstfy,
end up togethef. RoIund pfoves to be u twIt. And
SebustIun Is deIIghted to huve u feuI fumIIy und not be,
hoffof of hoffofs, the sud son of u IesbIun mum (whIch
Is whut hIs ffIends ut schooI thInk he Is). The Im
begIns wIth un IntefestIng pfemIse ubout femuIe
fepfoductIve Independence, In othef wofds, but ends
wIth u deepIy consefvutIve und cowufdIy nuffutIve
ubout the mystefIousIy mugnetIc quuIItIes of bIood thut
dfuw bIoIogIcuIIy feIuted peopIe togethef und knIt
them Into peffect IIttIe fumIIIes.
The SwItch, IIke othef fomuntIc comedIes ofgunIzed
ufound tufkey-bustef fepfoductIon, such us JennIfef
Iopez's Im The Buck-up PIun (uIso 2010) und Buby
Mumu (2008), stuffIng TInu Fey us un InfeftIIe cufeef
womun who hIfes u suffogute (Amy PoehIef) und then
moves hef Into hef house, oefs up the new spectucIe
of go-gettef women wuntIng jobs, bubIes, und seIf-
detefmInutIon onIy to contuIn thut vIsIon wIthIn u new
set of pfescfIptIons fof women thut push them buck to
nutufuI" bonds und modes of fepfoductIon und thut
sImuItuneousIy tfy to centef the foIe of men, futhefs,
und muIe powef. These Ims uIso uII dunce ufound the
IesbIun thIng," especIuIIy Buby Mumu, fuIsIng
IesbIunIsm us u joke but then custIng u sexuuI
feIutIonshIp between the two women us ImpossIbIe,
unthInkubIe, und uItImuteIy unmentIonubIe. GIven how
cIose the connectIon uctuuIIy Is In US cuItufe between
spefm bunks, uftIcIuI InsemInutIon, und u IesbIun
buby boom, the spectef of IesbIunIsm contInues to
huunt these comedIes despIte the expIIcIt fejectIons of
IesbIunIsm wIthIn the pIots themseIves. And the
comedIes ufe uIso hIdIng unothef, possIbIy mofe
dIstufbIng subtext, numeIy the Ideu thut men ufe no
Iongef necessufy puftIcIpunts In the whoIe Iove,
muffIuge, und fepfoductIon pfocess.
In fuct, despIte these Ims' InsIstence thut men do
muttef, futhefs ufe Impoftunt, und thut nutufe fuvofs
fumIIIes, they ufe In competItIon wIth unothef set of
Imuges thut femInd us thut the new fepfoductIve
poIItIcs uImost feIIeve men of the bufdens of fumIIy
und fepfoductIve fesponsIbIIIty uItogethef und In doIng
so muke men seem . weII, IIke un uftefthought!
As women ussume mofe und mofe of the
fesponsIbIIIty fof feufIng chIIdfen, men tuke on Iess
und sIt In the wIngs, wutchIng the dfumu of
fepfoductIon unfoId wIthout them. And us men become
Iessef pIuyefs In thIs humun dfumu, nuffutIves ubout
un epIdemIc of sIngIe women cfowd the medIu. In
2007, the New Yofk TImes fun u teIIIng heudIIne: 51%
of Women Now IIvIng wIthout Spouse." The uftIcIe
thut foIIowed toId us thut, fof the fst tIme In hIstofy,
mofe AmefIcun women ufe IIvIng wIthout u husbund
thun wIth one." The feusons gIven fof thIs new tfend
wefe muItIpIewomen muffy Iutef, they IIve wIth
puftnefs but don't muffy them, men dIe youngef, hIgh
futes of dIvofce nd muny women choosIng not to
femuffy, und so on. The uftIcIe uIso quoted WIIIIum H.
Ffey, u demogfuphef wIth the BfookIngs InstItutIon, us
suyIng: Fof bettef of wofse, women ufe Iess
dependent on men of the InstItutIon of muffIuge.
Youngef women undefstund thIs bettef, und ufe
pfepufIng to IIve Iongef pufts of theIf IIves uIone of
wIth nonmuffIed puftnefs. Fof muny oIdef boomef und
senIof women, the InstItutIon of muffIuge dId not hoId
the pfomIse they mIght huve hoped fof, gfowIng up In
un 'OzzIe und HuffIet' efu."
ThIs uftIcIe wus notubIe
fof Its fefusuI of uny tone of punIc of tfugedy In
IntefpfetIng these fucts. Insteud, the messuge conveyed
by the new feseufch, the expefts consuIted, und the
women IntefvIewed fof the pIece wus thut muffIuge
wus not such u bIg Ioss In the end und thut muny
women end up much huppIef IIvIng uIone und fuIsIng
theIf chIIdfen wIthout u mun.
Of coufse, whIIe muny whIte women ufe choosIng to
be sIngIe und to IIve uIone, fof muny bIuck women, the
sume census fepofts teII us, muffIuge Is sImpIy not un
optIon gIven the Iuck of uvuIIubIe men of coIof und the
contInued fucIuI dIvIde In the UnIted Stutes thut wofks
uguInst un Incfeuse In InteffucIuI muffIuges. So, whIIe
utIIIzIng the spefm bunk und the feftIIIty cIInIc Is
IufgeIy u tfend umong weuIthy whIte women, othef
fuctofs contfIbute to mussIve shIfts In US househoIds fof
women of coIof. In fuct, the US Census of 2010 showed
thut umong AffIcun AmefIcuns, the shufe of househoIds
heuded by sIngIe women now exceeds those wIth
muffIed coupIes, und u Iufge pefcentuge of these bIuck
femuIeheuded househoIds uIso stfuggIe wIth food,
povefty, und housIng Issues.
These new nuffutIves ubout femuIe Independence,
then, tend to be whIte, becuuse It Is whIte women who
see sIngIe mothefhood us un oppoftunIty futhef thun u
bufden. But whIte men muy be fespondIng to thIs tfend
wIth some meusufe of unxIety. In fuct, the new sense of
ugency thut some weuIthy whIte women uccess thfough
munugIng theIf own fepfoductIve futufes sepufute ffom
muIe puftnefs couId vefy eusIIy und often does gIve
fIse to u host of muIe unxIetIes ubout fedunduncy.
As fuf buck us 1997, we cun nd muInstfeum
nuffutIves ubout the dIsuppeufunce of futhefhood us un
InstItutIon. The wInnIng BfItIsh comedy ubout the
dIsustfous economIc Impuct of the Thutchef efu upon
the IIves of wofkIng peopIe, The FuII Monty (1997),
centefed upon exuctIy such concefns und showed how
shIfts In the postIndustfIuI wofkpIuce thut fuvof
women's empIoyment ovef men's fuIses the
uncomfoftubIe questIon of the pufpose of the muIe
body. One mun wufns hIs buddIes thut they ufe uII In
dungef of becomIng fedunduntboth ut wofk und ut
home. As wofkIng-cIuss empIoyment shIfted ffom
munuuI to sefvIce Iubof und us women ucquIfed uccess
to IVF technoIogIes, men, the Im oefs humofousIy,
couId become obsoIeteIIke dInosuufs," one chup
udds heIpfuIIy.
Mofe fecent Ims conffont the futufe thut The FuII
Monty pfedIcted, by depIctIng men IIvIng out theIf
feufs of obsoIescence by tfyIng to feInvent themseIves,
much us they dId In The FuII Monty, us sex objects fof
women. So, If we tufn to Rogef Dodgef (2002, dIfected
by DyIun KIdd), fof exumpIe, we ufe oefed Iong
speeches ffom u wIIy pIuyboy, Rogef, ubout the end of
men." PIuyed cupubIy by CumpbeII Scott, Rogef Is u
IudIes mun," un udveftIsIng copywfItef who Is good ut
hIs job und sIeepIng wIth Joyce, hIs boss, pIuyed by the
IumInescent IsubeIIu RosseIIInI. In the Im's openIng
scene, u tubIe of cowofkefs und Rogef's teenuge
nephew, ChfIstophef, vIsItIng ffom out of town, ufe
IIstenIng to Rogef expIuIn why the futufe of men muy
be IImIted, to suy the Ieust. To punctuute thIs funtusy,
Joyce Is weufIng u suIt und tIe. The othef men ut the
tubIe seem meek und IneectuuI und the women ufe
IuppIng up the concept of muIe fedunduncy. In u
speech thut combInes some shuky concepts ffom
evoIutIon und genetIcs, Rogef ufgues thut men need to
muke themseIves usefuI becuuse, genetIcuIIy speukIng,
they ufe not necessufy: Evefy ceII In the humun body
contuIns u copy of the genome puttefn. The onIy
feuson spefm ceIIs huve uII the fun Is thut up untII now
. they wefe the onIy ones wIth uccess. WIthIn
ChfIstophef's IIfetIme, uftIcIuI InsemInutIon . wIII
fendef spefm us useIess us un ussembIy IIne wofkef In
Rogef goes on to ufgue thut fof women, pIeusufe und
fepfoductIon huve uIwuys been sepufute, sInce the
cIItofIs Is outsIde the vugInu und sInce the womun does
not need to huve un ofgusm to get pfegnunt. In hIs
dystopIc futufe, women wIII evoIve sepufuteIy ffom
men und wIII gfow Iongef cIItofIses und huve un
Incfeused cupucIty fof seIf-stImuIutIon. As uftIcIuI
InsemInutIon fepIuces Intefcoufse, the utIIIty of men
wIII fude und dIsuppeuf. Rogef feuIIy shouId huve
footnoted ShuIumIth FIfestone hefe und gIven hef
cfedIt fof hIs futhef Iong-wInded speech, but of coufse,
he Is not tukIng u femInIst ungIe on muIe fedunduncy,
he Is IeudIng up to u seductIon pIuy, u move wIthIn
whIch he wIII cust men us unnecessufy onIy to muke
hImseIf seem IIke no thfeut ut uII us he mukes hIs
pfedutofy, umofous moves on women.
He pontIcutes, stIII wIth nufy u nod to FIfestone:
The specIes Is not stutIc. We'fe In u constunt stute of
ux. Two gendefs hus been the defuuIt settIng fof one
feuson onIy: So fuf It's been the onIy wuy to pfopugute
the fuce." Of coufse, once the movIe hus put thIs neut
feudIng of gendef futufIty Into cIfcuIutIon, It doesn't
know whut to do wIth It. So the Im moves quIckIy
ffom u Iesson In gendef bInufIsm to u wofkshop In
sexuuI conquest In whIch Rogef tfIes to teuch hIs
sIxteen-yeuf-oId nephew ChfIstophef (Jesse EIsenbefg)
how to pIck up women. As ChfIstophef quIckIy nds
out, not onIy do women IIsten to Rogef, they uctuuIIy
fuII fof hIs puttef, und whIIe he nds hIs uncIe sIIghtIy
embuffussIng, some women uctuuIIy fespond weII to
hIs oveftufes. And when they don't? In the weII-wofn
tfudItIon of constfuctIon-sIte whIstIes, If the Iudy Is not
uttefed by you hootIng ut hef, then she must be u
bItch of muybe she Is not so good IookIng uftef uII. The
udvunces quIckIy tufn to ubuse, In othef wofds,
whenevef Rogef fuces fejectIon.
ThIs nuffutIve comes buck ufound In u 2011 Im,
Cfuzy, StupId, Iove, whefe Steve CufeII pIuys u nefdy
husbund, CuI, who hus been kIcked out by hIs wIfe,
JuIIunne Moofe, und fetfeuts to u sIngIes buf to tfy hIs
Iuck. Once thefe he wutches In uwe und hoffof us u
IudIes mun, Jucob, pIuyed by Ryun GosIIng, pIcks up
one womun uftef unothef wIth just u bIt of IIght buntef
und u quIck Wunnu get out of hefe?" Jucob tukes pIty
on CuI und teuches hIm the uft of seductIon (u weII-
ttIng jucket, u focus on hef In convefsutIon,
supefcIuI buntef, und u smooth hund to the smuII of
the buck ut the fIght moment). Once CuI hus Ieufned
the uft, he pIcks up women but stIII sneuks by hIs oId
house ut nIght to wutch hIs fumIIy gettIng uIong ne
wIthout hIm. In Cfuzy, StupId, Iove, us In most of these
Ims, the thfeutenIng stofy ubout fedundunt men Is
softened by u Iove-conquefs-uII nuffutIve In whIch men
muy not be necessufy but, hey, we Iove 'em unywuy!
Cfuzy, StupId, Iove uIso embeIIIshes thIs nuffutIve by
cfeutIng u kInd of uII In the fumIIy" found-fobIn of
dutIng wIthIn whIch evefy unonymous" contuct thut
uny of the men muke tufns out to be someone fuf too
cIose to them fof comfoftCuI's pIckup ends up beIng
hIs kId's teuchef, Jucob's gIfIffIend Is, unbeknownst to
uny of them, CuI's duughtef, CuI's teenuge son Is In
Iove wIth the bubysIttef, who Is In Iove wIth CuI, und
so on. It Is us If we wefe In u smuII, vefy smuII, town,
of u Mofmon cuIt (mofe on thIs to come) whefe evefy
fomuntIc pfospect Is somehow uIfeudy feIuted to you.
ThIs Is not just Incest, thIs Is supef-Incest! And thfough
It uII, even us the men stumbIe, bumbIe, und coIIupse,
fuII to be good husbunds, boyffIends, of sons, these
Ims fuIse, onIy to dIsputch quIckIy, the questIon of
whethef men ufe necessufy.
If the fst found of do we need men?" movIes und
commentufIes foIIowed hufd on the heeIs of
deIndustfIuIIzutIon und post-FofdIst economIes, thIs
new vefsIon of the questIon ufIses out of the ushes of
whut NuomI KIeIn hus cuIIed, In The Shock DoctfIne,
dIsustef cupItuIIsm," of un economIc system thut
cfeutes dIsustefs In ofdef to expIoIt theIf uftefmuth.
BIumIng u deudIy combInutIon of ffee-mufket
entefpfIse, unchecked mIIItufy spendIng, und the
pfoductIon of cfIses und teffof us u meuns of couxIng
cItIzens Into gIvIng up mofe und mofe ffeedom, KIeIn
unutomIzes the wuys In whIch the Geofge W. Bush
fegIme Ied the UnIted Stutes to the bfInk of economIc
coIIupse whIIe mukIng muny of thut fegIme's Innef
cIfcIe vefy, vefy fIch. She wfItes:
The AmefIcun SocIety of CIvII EngIneefs suId In 2007 thut the US hud
fuIIen so fuf behInd In muIntuInIng Its pubIIc Inffustfuctufefouds,
bfIdges, schooIs, dumsthut It wouId tuke mofe thun u tfIIIIon und u huIf
doIIufs ovef ve yeufs to bfIng It buck up to stundufd. Insteud, these
types of expendItufes ufe beIng cut buck. At the sume tIme, pubIIc
Inffustfuctufe ufound the wofId Is fucIng unpfecedented stfess, wIth
huffIcunes, cycIones, oods und fofest fes uII IncfeusIng In ffequency
und IntensIty. It's eusy to ImugIne u futufe In whIch gfowIng numbefs of
cItIes huve theIf ffuII und Iong-negIected Inffustfuctufes knocked out by
dIsustefs und then ufe Ieft to fot, theIf cofe sefvIces nevef fepuIfed of
fehubIIItuted. The weII-o, meunwhIIe, wIII wIthdfuw Into guted
communItIes, theIf needs met by pfIvutIzed pfovIdefs.
AIong these IInes, whIIe weuIthy (mostIy whIte)
fumIIIes ufe puyIng pfIvute feftIIIty cIInIcs to heIp them
conceIve, muny ImmIgfunt fumIIIes und fumIIIes of
coIof ufe Ieft wIth no wuy of suppoftIng the fumIIIes
they huve. And us the ReIIgIous RIght bIumes guys und
IesbIuns, Ioose mofuIs, und unchecked fepfoductIon
umong poofef peopIe fof the decIIne of muffIuge und
fumIIy, consefvutIves fuII to tuke notIce of the new
fofms of fumIIy und the new modes of socIuI IntImucy
thut huve deveIoped In the wuke of the tfudItIonuI
In the decude foIIowIng the 9,11 uttucks on the
WofId Tfude Centef, the UnIted Stutes, In poIIcIes
begun undef Geofge W. Bush und VIce PfesIdent DIck
Cheney, hus fought mIIItufy und cuItufuI wufs ut home
und ubfoud und hus munuged to scufe peopIe buck Into
conventIonuI sex,gendef uffungements thut no Iongef
wofk und thut do not coffespond weII to the economIc
cIImute thut dIsustef cupItuIIsm hus Ieft In Its wuke.
One smuII symptom of the Impuct of economIc coIIupse
on socIuI feIutIons cun be IdentIed us the
feuppeufunce of IIbefuI femInIst poIemIcs unnouncIng
the end of men." It wus Susun FuIudI, In fuct, who, In
hef 2007 book The Teffof Dfeum, most tfenchuntIy
IdentIed u gfowIng obsessIon wIth munhood und WIId
WeststyIe vengeunce us puft of the nutIonuI feuctIon
to 9,11.
HoffIed by the uttuck on US buIIdIngs on US
soII, muny AmefIcuns fetfeuted to u ffontIef mentuIIty
thut showed ItseIf In the fofm of cowboy muscuIInItIes
und mIssIon uccompIIshed" untIcs. At the sume tIme,
thefe wus u genefuI feeIIng thut AmefIcu hud become
soft," thut we needed to toughen up, suy good-bye to
femInIsm, und, busIcuIIy, get buck to tfudItIonuI gendef
foIes. As thIs toxIc nutIonuIIst fesponse fuded sIIghtIy, u
new messuge fepIuced It decIufIng thut, fuf ffom the
twenty-fst centufy beIng the end of femInIsm," It
wus Insteud the end of men." WhIIe thIs seemed to
constItute u femInIst feuctIon to the 9,11 testostefone-
fueIed muscuIIne nutIonuIIsm, It wus In fuct ufguIng fof
the sume thIng ffom u new ungIe. So, If muscuIInIst
poIItIcs cuIIed fof the end of femInIsm us u wuy of
toughenIng up the nutIon und Its defenses,
pseudofemInIsts begun to woffy ubout whethef we
wefe too quIck In dIsmIssIng feuI men" und theIf
muscuIInItIes, conjufIng hoffof stofIes ubout whut
wouId huppen If thIs new efu feuIIy wus the end of
In 2010, the AtIuntIc feutufed us Its covef stofy un
uftIcIe bIuntIy tItIed The End of Men." The uuthof,
Hunnu RosIn, fepofted on whut she cuIIed un
unpfecedented foIe fevefsuI" wIthIn whIch women
huve become u mujofIty In the wofkfofce, In coIIege,
und In munugement posItIons. RosIn ufgued, In u cIeuf
und fuIfIy compeIIIng wuy, thut postIndustfIuI
cupItuIIsm hus been good to women In the wofkpIuce
but futuI fof muIe empIoyment. And so, whIIe men Iose
jobs und women keep theIfs, whIIe women pufsue
cufeefs und men become househusbunds, whIIe women
outnumbef, outpeffofm, und outIust men In hIghef
educutIon, RosIn sees u new gendef ofdef wIth women
on top. Ruthef thun ndIng some femInIst optImIsm In
these hufbIngefs of chunge, howevef, RosIn sounds the
uIufm mofe often thun not und seems to uppfove of
pfedIctIons thut the efosIon of muffIuge muy be good
fof women but thut It wIII InevItubIy be dIsustfous fof
men und chIIdfen. She uIso cItes, somewhut
uppfovIngIy, u by now huckneyed notIon thut women
ufe settIng theIf stundufds fof men too hIgh und thut
femuIe dIsuppoIntment In men Is the feuI feuson fof
the decIIne In muffIuges. She concIudes hef poIemIc by
pfoposIng thut the mofe women domInute, the mofe
they behuve, ttIngIy, IIke the domInunt sex." ThIs
cIuIm Is bucked up wIth u IIst of fecent cfImes, mufdefs,
und suIcIde bombIngs pefpetfuted by women. RosIn
wfItes: Rutes of vIoIence commItted by mIddIe-uged
women huve skyfocketed sInce the 1980s, und no one
knows why. HIgh-pfoIe femuIe kIIIefs huve been
showIng up feguIufIy In the news: Amy BIshop, the
homIcIduI AIubumu pfofessof, JIhud June und hef
sIdekIck, JIhud JumIe, the Iutest genefutIon of BIuck
WIdows, fesponsIbIe fof suIcIde bombIngs In RussIu."
Thefe ufe so muny concIusIons thut one couId come
to ut the end of un uftIcIe IIke RosIn's. GIven thut the
new wofkpIuce seems to fuvof women ovef men und
gIven thut mofe und mofe women ufe In hIgh-puId
munugefIuI posItIons, one couId specuIute on how
cofpofute cuItufe mIght chunge wIth women In chufge.
Of, gIven the stutIstIcs thut she cItes on the
feofgunIzutIon of the fumIIy, one mIght expect u kInd
of chuIIenge to be Issued to men to shupe up of shIp
out. The essuy feuIIy seems to be goIng In un uItogethef
dIefent dIfectIon untII thIs Iust puft. IIke u fomuntIc
comedy thut thfows up evefy objectIon to the coupIIng
of the muIe und femuIe Ieuds onIy to munufuctufe some
fufcIcuI event thut bfIngs them buck togethef uguIn und
mukes them see the effof of theIf wuys, RosIn shows
men und women movIng In fudIcuIIy dIefent
dIfectIons und then concIudes thut muybe we need to
opt uguIn fof tfudItIonuI gendef foIes to fIght the
sInkIng shIp of muffIuge, fumIIy, und the socIuI wofId
buIIt on the bedfock of hetefosexuuIIty. She comes up
wIth one of two exumpIes of vIoIent women und
concIudes thut women In chufge ufe just us bud us men
In chufge.
Of coufse, I wouId not dIspute the Ideu thut women
In chufge muy weII be just us bud us theIf muIe
equIvuIents, but thIs pfesumes thut the onIy thIng thut
hus chunged In the wofId of gendef, Iubof, und socIuI
feIutIons Is the wuy thut bodIes ufe uffunged wIthIn u
gendef hIefufchy. In fuct, the shIfts thut huve cfeuted
undefempIoyment fof men und u sense of the
fedunduncy of muIeness huve uIso chunged compIeteIy
the stfuctufe of gendef wIthIn whIch muIe" und
femuIe" once mude sense.
RosIn udds u pop cuItufuI spIn to hef ufgument ut the
end of hef uftIcIe by uddIng: In hef fecent vIdeo,
TeIephone, Iudy Gugu, wIth hef InfuIIIbIe fuduf fof the
cuItufuI edge, fewfItes TheImu und IouIse us u stofy
not ubout eIusIve femuIe empowefment but ubout
sheef, futhIess powef. Insteud of kIIIIng themseIves, she
und hef gIfIffIend (pIuyed by Beyonce) kIII u bud
boyffIend und fundom othefs In u homIcIduI spfee und
then escupe In theIf yeIIow pIckup tfuck, Gugu
bfuggIng, 'We dId It, Honey B.'"
WhIIe RosIn Is cuIIIng ouf uttentIon to the demIse of
un oId-fushIoned, unuchfonIstIc gendef ofdef, she Is no
gugu femInIst. We'II pofe ovef the subtIe und not so
subtIe messuges embedded In the Iudy Gugu
mustefpIece TeIephone Iutef, but fof now, suffIce to suy
thut RosIn's InubIIIty to pufse the meunIng of u
contempofufy pop vIdeo uIso humpefs hef ubIIIty to
tfuIy wfestIe wIth the ImpIIcutIons of the pufudIgm
upon whIch she hus stumbIed. She's coffect ubout u
seIsmIc shIft undef wuy on uccount of new gendef foIes
In thIs new economy, but even us she ucuteIy dIugnoses
the cuuses of these shIfts, the cutegofIes of men" und
women" femuIn femufkubIy stubIe und she fuIIs to see
thut not onIy ufe gendef foIes cfumbIIng but the vefy
denItIons of muscuIInIty und femInInIty ufe undef
enofmous pfessufe und huve uIfeudy mututed Into new
cutegofIes of dIefence. The AtIuntIc obvIousIy got u
Iot of mIIeuge out of Its End of Men" heudIIne, whIch
seemed to be toIIIng out the deuth kneII on un efu of
gendef feIutIons. But uItImuteIy neIthef the uuthof nof
the muguzIne, nof pfobubIy Its feudefshIp, wefe uII too
Intefested In u feuI gendef fevoIutIon.
PfedIctubIy, RosIn's poIemIc genefuted u numbef of
fesponses In the bIogosphefe, mostIy ffom peopIe
wuntIng to cuutIon thut the demIse of men hud been
gfeutIy exuggefuted und thut the uppef echeIons of
cofpofute AmefIcu hus yet to show sIgns of u new
gendef ofdef. Othefs suw RosIn's endIsm us u bIutunt
uttempt to fe up u debute whefe thefe wus onIy
enough mutefIuI fof u few comments ubout gendef und
the wofkpIuce. At the end of the duy, RosIn numed
somethIng feuI but she dIdn't go gugu on It, she dIdn't
foIIow up on uII the ImpIIcutIons of the end of men. She
uIso fuIIed to muke the necessufy und InevItubIe
connectIons to the fIse of fepfoductIve technoIogIes
thut uIIow women to stfetch out theIf fepfoductIve
Anothef uftIcIe In the sume Issue of the AtIuntIc by
PumeIu PuuI dId muke the IInk to pufentIng, und usked
u potentIuIIy even mofe pfovocutIve questIon: Afe
Futhefs Necessufy?"
GIven how muny women pufent
uIone (ubout 46 pefcent, suys one CNN poII, of
househoIds In the UnIted Stutes ufe muIntuIned by u
sIngIe pefson, und 11.6 mIIIIon sIngIe pufentsmostIy
mothefswefe IIvIng wIth theIf chIIdfen In 2009), und
gIven thut men's contfIbutIon to fumIIy hus been
feduced In muny cuses to the foIe of spefm donof, thIs
questIon Is deepIy feIevunt. WhIIe the futhef knows
best" modeI of functIonuI pufentIng pfesumes thut the
stIcky und sentImentuI muttef of the mutefnuI foIe
must be oset by the hufd und futIonuI content of the
putefnuI foIe, und gIven the endIess consefvutIve, und
feIIgIous, wufnIngs ubout whut huppens to chIIdfen
fuIsed wIthout futhefs (they wIII tufn out to be weuk,
guy, cfImInuIs, sexuuIIy confused, of uII of the ubove),
It hus become hufd to ussess the uctuuI feIevuncy of
futhefhood. But In un uge whefe mofe und mofe
women pufent uIone futhef thun wIth u muIe puftnef,
especIuIIy In AffIcun AmefIcun communItIes, und mofe
chIIdfen gfow up wIth onIy medIuted feIutIons to theIf
deudbeut duds, the necessIty of the futhef fuIIs Into
As we suw eufIIef, bIuck fumIIIuI stfuctufes huve
been decImuted by the Iong uftefmuth of sIuvefy, und
wIth so muny bIuck und IutIno men Incufcefuted (one
In eIeven bIuck men, one In twenty-seven IutInos,
vefsus one In fofty-ve whIte men, uccofdIng to 2011
ndIngs ffom the US Bufeuu of JustIce StutIstIcs), muny
bIuck househoIds ufe wIthout futhefs fof feusons othef
thun deIInquency, dIsIntefest, of extended udoIescence.
The kInds of uftIcIes thut feutufe joufnuIIsts funnIng
thfough the stfeets cfyIng the end of men" genefuIIy
huve whIte men In mInd, sInce If they wefe tuIkIng
ubout men of coIof, thIs uIufmIsm wouId stfIke u vefy
dIefent chofd. GIven how muny eofts huve been
mude In the UnIted Stutes und eIsewhefe to uctuuIIy
eIImInute bIuck men, the end of bIuck men" wouId
sound sInIstef futhef thun pfophetIc, descfIptIve futhef
thun pfedIctIve, und wouId eusIIy feed Into eugenIcIst
funtusIes of socIuIIy engIneefed whIte domInutIon.
As the stock of whIte muscuIInIty goes Into some kInd
of sIow decIIne, us futhefhood fudes und the fumIIy
mofphs Into un umuIgum of Invested uduIts und
dependent chIIdfen, we shouId pfepufe oufseIves to
feckon wIth the fofm, the content, und the meunIngs of
new househoId fofmutIons fof vufIed communItIes.
Indeed, In thIs shIftIng Iundscupe of whIte muIe
fedunduncy, the news of u pfegnunt mun shouId huve
been feceIved us u IIttIe fuy of hope fof muIe
fepfoductIve futufIty und us u sIgn thut muscuIInIty hud
u pIuce In the new domestIc ofdef uftef uII. Of coufse,
the pfegnunt mun, In the end, Is u stofm In u tufkey
bustef, just u puft of u seu chunge In fepfoductIve
poIItIcs, one thut hus pfoduced u fIse In the medIcuI
Industfy of ussIsted feftIIIty fof weuIthy coupIes who
choose to huve kIds Iutef In IIfe, u boom In IesbIun und
guy chIIdfeufIng, und u seIsmIc shIft In the meunIng of
fumIIy" und pufent."
So how huve AmefIcuns expIuIned these new domestIc
uffungements to themseIves? Whut new nuffutIves
huve popped up In the medIu to contend wIth the
feofgunIzed fumIIy? PfedIctubIy, the new" nuffutIves
tend to sneuk the oId fumIIy In the buck doof of the
new fumIIy's house. WItness the stfunge phenomenon
of u vefy popuIuf TV sefIes thut pfemIefed In 2006 on
HBO, uuthofed by two guy men und teIIIng the stofy of
un uItefnutIve fumIIy who hud to hIde ffom theIf
neIghbofs und ffIends und pfetend to be nofmuI whIIe
IIvIng u compIex und dIefent feuIIty behInd cIosed
doofs. Wus thIs newIy popuIuf uItefnutIve fumIIy guy?
IesbIun? Tfunsgendefed? Mude up of muItIpIe
ImmIgfunt fumIIIes shufIng fesoufces? Wus It un
extended bIuck fumIIy feInventIng kInshIp? No, the
show In questIon, BIg Iove, fepfesented u Mofmon
fumIIy commItted to poIygumous of muItIpIe muffIuge
und feutufed u husbund, thfee wIves, und muny
chIIdfen. AmefIcun vIewefs wefe Indeed chuIIenged to
conffont the feuIIty of dIvefse househoId fofms, but the
sefIes gumbIed on the Ideu thut AmefIcuns pfefef theIf
modefn fumIIIes to come dfessed In the sume feIIgIous
vestments us theIf oId fumIIIes. BIg Iove offefs u deepIy
putfIufchuI und consefvutIve fumIIy us suIvutIon fof the
InstItutIons of muffIuge und kInshIp In u tIme of
muItIpIe cfIses In the domestIc feuIm.
In fuct, It tufns out thut AmefIcun uudIences cun
mofe eusIIy uccommodute nuffutIves of Mofmon
poIygumy thun they cun conceIve (pun Intended) of u
contInuum of uftIcIuI-fepfoductIon nuffutIves thut
IncIude pfegnunt men und IesbIun mums. BIg Iove
feutufes ut Its centef u poIygumous fumIIy consIstIng of
u mun, BIII HenfIckson (BIII Puxton), und hIs thfee
wIves (Bufb, pIuyed by Jeunne TfIppIehofn, NIckI,
pIuyed by ChIoe SevIgny, und MufgIe, pIuyed by
GInnIfef GoodwIn) und theIf chIIdfen. HuvIng bfoken
uwuy ffom u poIygumous cuIt In JunIpef Cfeek, Utuh,
BIII IIves undef covef In Sundy, Utuh, und opens up
some home-Impfovement stofes whIIe stfuggIIng to
buIunce busIness, hIs secfet IIfe, und the needs und
desIfes of thfee wIves. Dfumu deveIops between BIII
und hIs futhef-In-Iuw Romun (NIckI's futhef), the
JunIpef Cfeek cuIt Ieudef und pfophet," between BIII's
mothef und futhef, between und umong the wIves, und
between BIII und the peopIe wIth whom he wofks. The
unusuuI fumIIy stfuggIes to pfesefve theIf wuy of IIfe
by keepIng out of the pubIIc eye und dodgIng
uccusutIons of pefvefsIon whIIe thInkIng of themseIves
us the upex of tfudItIonuI fumIIy vuIues.
DespIte un ongoIng dIscoufse ubout the dIvefsIty of
poIygumous muffIuge In the sefIes, wIthIn whIch the
sIstef-wIves undefstund themseIves us muffIed us much
to euch othef us they ufe to BIII, the IntImucy nevef
cfosses ffom the emotIonuI Into the physIcuI. WhIIe
most poIygumous stfuctufes (hufem, pufduh, zenenu)
ufe uIso thought to be sunctuufIes of unspoken femuIe-
femuIe efotIcIsm, BIg Iove, despIte beIng the bfuInchIId
of guy coupIe Mufk V. OIsen und WIII Scheef, bufeIy
touches on the potentIuI fof IesbIunIsm wIthIn pIufuI
muffIuge und uIso sIdesteps the questIons of whethef
poIygumous househoIds mIght be ubusIve to women.
When usked ubout thIs In un IntefvIew, OIsen suId:
Some femInIsts ufgued buck In the '60s und '70s thut
muffIuge wus InhefentIy ubusIve und putfIufchuIthut
It wus not u good deuI fof women. As the femInIst
movement hus mutufed, thefe hus been un evoIutIon In
thut thInkIng. PoIygumy cun gfow Into u heuIthIef
modeI fof some women."
Apuft ffom the deepIy
pfobIemutIc notIon of un Immutufe vefsIon of femInIsm
thut hud u pfobIem wIth muffIuge but cume to see the
effof of Its wuys (!!), thIs unswef feveuIs one of the
most guIIIng pfemIses of the shownumeIy thut
poIygumy (I.e., one mun wIth muny wIves, not uII
puftnefs tukIng muItIpIe puftnefs) Is peffectIy
ucceptubIe, thut It Is unuIogous to othef mInofIty sexuuI
pfuctIces (IIke S,M of homosexuuIIty), und thut peopIe
shouId fecognIze the spIfItuuI depth thut fueIs the
pfuctIce und Ignofe the chIId bfIdes, the bfuInwushIng
of chIIdfen, und the putfIufchuI pfemIses of u system
thut ussIgns muItIpIe wIves to IndIvIduuI men.
The show Is compIex In muny wuys, und In Iutef
seusons It gfuppIed wIth the questIons of femuIe
uutonomy und muIe homosexuuIIty dIfectIy, but, IIke so
much of the popuIuf cuItufe cfeuted In the pust twenty
yeufs of so by guy men (Despefute HousewIves, fof
exumpIe, und GoIden GIfIs, both penned by Mufc
Cheffy), BIg Iove concefns ItseIf wIth u vefy bfoud und
genefuI modeI of sexuuI IIbefutIon but doesn't woffy
ubout whethef gendef IIbefutIon Is puft of the puckuge.
And uguIn, despIte these shows centefIng upon femuIe
bondIng (und ghtIng) In u mujofIty-femuIe househoId,
IesbIunIsm Is the Iove thut dufe not speuk Its nume.
As we suw wIth the uftIcIuI-fepfoductIon Ims,
HoIIywood's tuke on new und dIvefse househoId fofms
stIII pfIvIIeges the nucIeuf tfIungIe of mommy, duddy,
und buby mukes thfee ovef uII othef fofms of uIIIunce
und feIutIon. In The SwItch, JennIfef AnIston's
chufuctef hud to unxIousIy muke It cIeuf thut hef choIce
to fepfoduce wIthout u boyffIend of husbund dId not
meun she wus u IesbIun. And hef ubIIIty to get
pfegnunt on the vefy fst tfy ImpIIed u kInd of Iove-ut-
fst-sIght vefsIon of fepfoductIve cupubIIItyIn othef
wofds, hef egg und hef best ffIend's spefm wefe futed
to be togethef, und hef ImmedIute pfegnuncy wus
pfoof of theIf computIbIIIty.
So whut huppens when we tfy to teII stofIes ubout
uItefnutIve fumIIIes, IesbIun moms, fof exumpIe? Do we
nd uItefnutIve nuffutIves ubout fepfoductIon, fumIIy,
und Iove thefe?
AppufentIy, 2010 wus u vefy good yeuf fof uftIcIuI-
InsemInutIon Ims. IIsu ChoIodenko, u IesbIun,
dIfected u Im thut focused upon the IesbIun pufentIng
boom. The KIds Afe AII RIght fepfesented the not-so-
pfetty sIght of IesbIun ovefpufentIng In the fofm of the
doubIe jeopufdy of the two-mom fumIIy, und It,
unwIttIngIy pefhups, mude the ufgument thut equuI
oppoftunIty meuns equuI chunce to fuck up youf kIds
und extend the tyfunny of the nucIeuf fumIIy. In fuct,
The KIds Afe AII RIght Is u souI-cfushIng depIctIon of
Iong-tefm feIutIonshIps, IesbIun pufentIng, und mIdIIfe
In the Im, NIc (Annette BenIng) und JuIes (JuIIunne
Moofe) ufe mushed Into one cutegofy by theIf kIds,
Iusef (Josh Hutchefson) und JonI (MIu WusIkowsku),
who cuII them moms" of the moms." The moms huve
mefged Into one mutefnuI entIty, und uIthough they
huve dIstInct pefsonuIItIes, theIf pufentIng functIon Is
depIcted us one umofphous smothefIng gestufe uftef
unothef. The kIds suef thfough, but cfIsIs ensues when
Iusef decIdes to tfuck down hIs spefm-donof dud, PuuI
(Mufk RuuIo). Once PuuI fIdes onto the scene on hIs
cIussIc bIuck BMW motofcycIe, beufIng ofgunIc veggIes
und good wIne, cfucks In the fuude of IesbIun
domestIcIty uppeuf und u futhef pfedIctubIe cycIe of
betfuyuI, InfIdeIIty, und domestIc upheuvuI begIns.
WhIIe ChoIodenko's fst Im, the 1998 HIgh Aft,
pIuyed uguInst stefeotype by settIng Its IesbIun dfumu
In u dfugged-out contempofufy uft wofId, The KIds Afe
AII RIght Iouds sexuuI IneftIu, domestIc dowdIness, und
boufgeoIs compIucency onto the IesbIun coupIe und
Ieuves the spefm-donof dud In the envIubIe posItIon of
beIng ffee, cooI, und cusuuIIy sexuuI. EufIy on In the
Im, JuIes und NIc wutch guy pofn whIIe mukIng u
gfund eoft to huve sex. In thIs cfInge-wofthy scene,
JuIes goes undef the covefs to go down on NIc, who
keeps wutchIng the pofn wIth no puftIcuIuf desIfe.
EventuuIIy we heuf the whIff of u vIbfutof, but stIII
thefe Is no money shot (eIthef In the bed of on the TV
scfeen), no feuI desIfe between the two women, und
not even uny esh! Cut to PuuI mukIng Iove to u
gofgeous AffIcun AmefIcun womun, one of hIs
empIoyees, no Iess, wIth much gusto, much nukedness,
und ffee ubundon. OK, we get the pIctufe, Iong-tefm
feIutIonshIps stfuggIe wIth desIfe, shoft-tefm
InvoIvements stfuggIe wIth commItment. The Iong-tefm
coupIe muy not huve gfeut sex but they do huve the
fumIIy und togethefness, the sIngIe guy hus gfeut sex
und Iots of It but no one to go home to.
WhIIe the Im's mofuI outcome Is desIgned to fuvof
the women und Ieuve PuuI out In the coId, It uctuuIIy
deIIvefs, whethef the Im meuns to of not, u scuthIng
cfItIque of guy muffIuge. If the messuge hefe Is see,
guy muffIuges ufe just IIke stfuIght oneswe uII fuce
the sume pfobIems," then sufeIy the outcome of the
Im wouId be the end of muffIuge, the desIfe to nd
othef kInds of uffungements thut wofkgugu
femInIsm, unyone? But no, thIs Im, IIke muny u
hetefosexuuI dfumu thut tufns the fumIIy InsIde out
onIy to fetufn to It ut the end, shows thut muffIuge Is
sexIess, fumIIIes tufn fotten wIth fumIIIufIty, IesbIuns
ufe uwed pufentsund then uItImuteIy usks us to
Invest hope In thIs vefy uffungement.
The KIds Afe AII RIght Is beuutIfuIIy ucted und hus
moments when It gets evefythIng fIghtthe
uwkwufdness between PuuI und JonI und Iusef, fof
exumpIe, ut theIf fst meetIng, the ungef spufked by
PuuI tfyIng to step In und oef pufentIng udvIce to NIc
(she fesponds: I need youf udvIce IIke I need u dIck up
my butt!"possIbIy the best IIne In the Im), the
IffItutIon between NIc und JuIes us they tfy to ubsofb
the duddy-come-IuteIy Into theIf fumIIy unIt. But uII thIs
gfeut uctIng cunnot suve u consefvutIve scfIpt ffom Its
own concIusIons. Even though the Im Is quIte good ut
showIng how supefuous und fedundunt the futhef foIe
hus become In un efu of the supefmom, by fefusIng to
dIstInguIsh between the moms" und by not mukIng
much of u gendef dIstInctIon between NIc (vugueIy
butch) und JuIes (vugueIy femme), we ufe Ieft wIth too
much mothefIng und u sense thut futhefhood Is
necessufy to Intefvene In the cIoyIng uttentIons of
mutefnuI Iove. In one stIngIng exchunge, Iusef Is
IeuvIng fof the evenIng und both moms feuch out theIf
ufms to hIm uskIng fof hugs. Iusef suys to NIcHug
hef"meunIng JuIesthut's whut she's thefe fof!" It
Is u Iuugh IIne fof sufe but It somehow seuIs the moms
In usexuuI puthos und Inteffefes wIth ouf ubIIIty to
feuIIy IdentIfy wIth them.
Thefe ufe pufts of the movIe thut fueI the dIsduIn
thut the uudIence mIght begIn to feeI fof the moms. We
ufe not gIven enough Info ubout the busIs fof theIf
ofIgInuI Iove und uttfuctIon, u quIck stofy ubout how
they met fefefs to IftutIous uttfuctIon between the
two, but thIs sexuuI enefgy Is toId futhef thun depIcted.
At the sume tIme, PuuI's eect on women Is depIcted
but not toIdhe does not chufm of fomunce women,
wIth seemIngIy no uctIon on hIs puft, women sImpIy
thfow themseIves ut hIm. ThIs nutufuIIzutIon of hIs
sexuuI powef und the nutufuIIzutIon of the Iuck of
chufIsmu of the moms uguIn stubIIIzes u gfId of desIfe
thut uIwuys tIps In fuvof of muIe hetefosexuuIIty und
Ieuves IesbIuns stfunded. WIth the scuIes tIpped thIs
wuy, It becomes InevItubIe thut JuIes wIII sIeep wIth
PuuI, thut NIc wIII be cust us the sud, sIIghtIy butch
puftnef who Ioses out to the dynumIc, phuIIIc dud.
AguIn, thIs couId huve been pIuyed dIefentIyNIc
couId huve been oveftIy butch, she wouId huve been
much mofe IIkeIy In fuct to fIde the BMW motofbIke
thun PuuI (cIussIc Beemefs ufe u popuIuf queef choIce
of motofcycIe), she couId huve been phuIIIc wIth u
dIIdo Insteud of uccId wIth u vIbfutof. I'm not
udvocutIng thut the IesbIun feIutIonshIp be posItIve und
muIe hetefosexuuIIty be sIummedbut I um ufguIng
thut ChoIodenko Is wofkIng the weII-wofn gfooves of
the cInemutIc depIctIon of IesbIun desIfe us u IckefIng
ume uIwuys on the vefge of extInctIon und of IesbIun-
muIe fIvuIfy us uIwuys u mIsmutch.
FInuIIy, If The KIds Afe AII RIght wunted to weIgh In
on the guy-muffIuge debute by suyIng thut muffIuge
sucks unywuy und hefe's u feuIIstIc depIctIon of whut
Iong-tefm feIutIonshIps Iook IIke, I couId IIve wIth thut.
If the Im wunted to tuke u hufd Iook ut IesbIun
pufentIng und fefute the Ideu thut too muny moms
spoII the bfoth, I wouId huve embfuced thut. If It
wunted to oef u cfItIque of futhefhood us uIwuys too
IIttIe, too Iute, I wouId huve uppIuuded thut. But to
gIve us cIoyIng IesbIun moms, chufIsmutIc futhefs, Ineft
Iong-tefm feIutIonshIps, und then to teII us to uccept It,
get used to It, und IIke It of Iump It . weII, why?
If I Ieufned unythIng ffom ChoIodenko's Im, It Is
thut tfudIng In sex fof comfoft, chunge fof stubIIIty,
und ImpfovIsed feIutIonshIps fof muffIuge ufe uII bud
deuIs, und If we don't chunge the socIuI stfuctufes we
InhefIt, we ufe doomed to fepeut them.
Whut The KIds Afe AII RIght Ieft out, und whut the
IncIdent of the pfegnunt mun bypussed In the sensutIon
ufound hIs tfunsgendef embodIment, wus the quIet
fevoIutIon In pufentIng thut muy huve been uected by
the phenomenon of the butch dudthe IesbIun pufent,
In othef wofds, who Is vufIuntIy gendefed und
thefefofe not u mothef but not fecognIzed socIuIIy us u
futhef. WhIIe the pfegnunt mun got uII the pfess, und
whIIe IesbIun moms get uII the fespect, butch-femme
puftnefs muy weII be the pIuce to Iook fof feuI shIfts In
the IogIc of pufentIng. I'm not suyIng sImpIy thut the
stfuIght wofId of pufentIng cun mofe eusIIy munuge to
Incofpofute the tfuns-mun dud thun the butch dud, of
thut pfogfessIve hetefo pufents cun eusIIy uccIImute to
the seemIngIy bonus puckuge of two moms whIIe they
muy cfInge ut the butch-femme coupIe, but I um suyIng
thut the ussuuIt on futhefhood Iuunched by the butch Is
vefy possIbIy the untoId stofy of thIs fepfoductIve
fevoIutIon. And It Is the butch futhef thut hefuIds u
gugu femInIst component to the new queef fumIIy In
hIs,hef ubIIIty to bfeuk In on the foftfess of futhefhood
thut hus been pfesefved fof men und men onIy.
Some queef theofIsts huve gfuppIed wIth the questIon
of whethef the futhef foIe hus to be occupIed by u
muIe-bodIed pefson, othefs huve thought thfough the
dynumIcs of doubIe mothefhood, but most queef
theofIsts, IIke evefyone eIse, seem to wunt to ussIgn
pufentIng foIes by sex, und thus the whoIe fumIIy gfId
seems oddIy stubIe. The butch dud und the femme mom
fuIse the possIbIIIty of uuthofIty wIthout putfIufchy
(becuuse the butch does not uccess muIe pfIvIIege),
gendef poIufIty wIthout compuIsofy hetefosexuuIIty
(becuuse the femme does not uIwuys uccess
hetefosexuuI pfIvIIege), und they muke possIbIe un
educutIon fof potentIuIIy gendef-nofmutIve kIds In the
ufbItfufIness of uII gendef foIesso kIds fuIsed by u
femme mothef und u butch futhef mIght Ieufn ubout
gendefed fofms of powef untethefed to gendef
hIefufchIes, they mIght see muscuIInIty und femInInIty
us mofe muIIeubIe, und they mIght undefstund gendef
us somethIng thut someone does futhef thun somethIng
thut someone Is: kIds nd tefms fof gendef-vufIunt
uduItsboygIfI, Inbetweenefsund they come up wIth
muItIpIe expIunutIons fof gendef vufIunce,
expIunutIons, mofeovef, thut uduIts Iuck, und so we
cun Ieufn ffom kIds beIng fuIsed by butch-femme
coupIes ubout how to IIve In u contIngent feIutIon to
gendef und gendef nofms.
Queef pufentIng duos, to the extent thut they do not
neutIy fuII Into the guy duddIes of IesbIun moms
cutegofIes, uIso oef stfuIght coupIes mofe optIons fof
how to do theIf gendef dynumIcs. WhIIe pufentIng
dynumIcs fuII Into seemIngIy ofgunIc gfooves, hIs und
hef modes of dIvIdIng Iubof und fesponsIbIIItIes, those
dIvIsIons mIght be suddenIy IIIumInuted und tuke on
the gIow of ubsufdIty when u queef coupIe Is pfesent.
Fof exumpIe, when my puftnef und I uttended u
pufents' meetIng ofgunIzed InfofmuIIy In feIutIon to
ouf kIds' schooI, we wefe u bIt bewIIdefed by the wuys
the hetefo coupIes dIvIded theIf domuIns und uuthofIty.
When It cume tIme to ceuse socIuIIzIng fof u whIIe und
dIscuss some Issues ut the schooI, the pufents fofmed
two concentfIc cIfcIes. The Innef cIfcIe wus mude up
excIusIveIy of women, who wefe sIttIng und uIfeudy
InvoIved In unImuted convefsutIons ubout the schooI,
theIf kIds, und educutIon In genefuI. The outef cIfcIe
consIsted of men, und they stood up (the bettef to sIIp
out unnotIced?) und chutted dIstfuctedIy wIth u buddy
of femuIned sIIent. It wus confusIng. Whefe shouId I
sIt,stund? The foom nuIIy quIeted down und we went
ufound to do IntfoductIons. RemufkubIy, onIy the
women Intfoduced themseIves, suyIng who they wefe,
the stutus of theIf chIId In the schooI, und the kInds of
concefns they bfought to the meetIng. The men dId not
Intfoduce themseIves, nof wefe they usked to do so.
FInuIIy, when It wus my tufn to suy somethIng, I
Intfoduced myseIf und then suId thut I wouId IIke to
heuf ffom the men. ThIs cuused u fIppIe of sufpfIse, but
then the guys dId begIn to Intfoduce themseIves, one by
one gIvIng theIf numes und then oefIng un uccount of
the kInd of suppoft they oefed theIf wIves und
puftnefs, whose job It wus to gufe out the ImmenseIy
compIIcuted questIons concefnIng schooIIng, pIuy
dutes, extfucuffIcuIuf uctIvIty, und so on. By the end of
the meetIng, the Innef cIfcIe hud cIosed Its funks und
wus enguged In the hufd wofk of educutIonuI uctIvIsm,
the outef cIfcIe hud wundefed o to check on the kIds,
dfInk coffee, und chut on the buIcony.
The meetIng wus u fuscInutIng IIIustfutIon of the
wuys In whIch men und women unconscIousIy dIvIde
the wofId up Into muscuIIne und femInIne feuIms of
uctIon und uctIvIty. The dIvIsIon Is by no meuns
equItubIe, fuIf, of even IogIcuI, but uppufentIy It seems
thut wuy to the men und women who fuII eusIIy Into
these IntuItIve und unquestIoned dIvIsIons of Iubof und
sphefes of Inuence. Indeed, us muny socIoIogIsts huve
empIfIcuIIy shownund feuIIy thefe ufe endIess studIes
on the pefsIstence of u gendef spIIt In domestIc Iubof
the feuIms of fesponsIbIIIty thut fuII to women tend to
be much mofe extensIve und onefous when It comes to
domestIc Iubof, mutefIuI und ImmutefIuI, thun those
thut fuII to men. Howevef, weIfdIy, women und men
feeI us If they huve mude u vefy feusonubIe, fuIf
dIvIsIon of tIme und Iubof, und so when feseufchefs usk
husbunds und wIves whut kInd of dIvIsIon of Iubof
tukes pIuce In theIf househoIds, both puftnefs tend to
fepIy fty-fty," when In fuct the dIvIsIon Is much
mofe often un eIghty-twenty of seventy-thIfty spIIt.
ThIs phenomenon, of shIftIng modes of gendefed Iubof
thut go unuccompunIed by chunges In domestIc Iubof
dIvIsIons, hus been weII-fecognIzed, und guve fIse to
the tefm the second shIft" of the doubIe shIft," uftef
AfIIe HochschIId's gfoundbfeukIng book of 1989.
hef book, HochschIId poInted out to feudefs thut
despIte the muny Infouds thut femInIsm hud mude,
gendefed dIvIsIons of Iubof femuIned constunt. And she
usked: If mofe mothefs of smuII chIIdfen ufe steppIng
Into fuII-tIme jobs outsIde the home, und If most
coupIes cun't uofd househoId heIp, how much mofe
ufe futhefs doIng ut home?" The unswef, pfedIctubIy,
wus not much!" Whut's mofe, even buck In 1989, mofe
thun 20 yeufs ugo, feseufchefs IIke HochschIId wefe
uskIng whut thIs unequuI dIvIsIon of Iubof does fof
Iove und muffIuge In un uge of hIgh dIvofce."
WhIIe u
stfuIghtfofwufd femInIst feudIng of thIs phenomenon
wouId use the unequuI dIvIsIon of Iubof und women's
mIsfecognItIon of theIf own contfIbutIons us evIdence
of the wuy thut women's subofdInutIon Is uccompIIshed
mutefIuIIy und IdeoIogIcuIIy, u gugu femInIst wouId
cIuIm thut whIIe dIvIsIons of Iubof do not need to be
fty-fty of even sIxty-fofty, they do need to be
ucknowIedged und chosen. In othef wofds, peopIe cun
muke whutevef decIsIons they choose ubout who does
whut In the home, some women wIII cook mofe, some
men muy do mofe Iuundfy, some femInIne puftnefs
muy wunt to be mofe cufeef ofIented, some muscuIIne
puftnefs muy wunt to spend mofe tIme wIth chIIdfen.
But IIke uII uspects of u puftnefshIp, foIes must be
negotIuted, softed thfough, ugfeed upon futhef thun
dIvIded uccofdIng to some dIvIne, mystefIous, und
IncfeusIngIy ImpfuctIcuI pIun.
So Iet's bfeuk It down: In u wofId whefe women ufe
doIng 80 pefcent of the wofk fof onIy 50 pefcent of the
cfedIt, In u socIety whefe muny foftysomethIng men
Ieuve theIf wIves fof youngef vefsIons of them, ut u
tIme when sex scunduIs InvoIvIng oIdef men In vefy
pubIIc oces (DomInIque Stfuuss-Kuhn, AfnoId
Schwufzeneggef) ufe In ubundunce, sufeIy some
hetefosexuuI mIddIe-uged women wunt othef optIons.
And of coufse, thefe uctuuIIy ufe othef optIons. But
compuIsofy hetefosexuuIIty Is u system thut mukes It
seem us If hetefosexuuIIty, wIth uII of Its ImpeffectIons
und uws und gIItches, Is the onIy gume In town. Whut
If thefe wefe othef gumes, us compeIIIng und
potentIuIIy mofe equItubIe und eusIIy us sexy us the
hetefosexuuI gume?
And nuIIy, fof now, whut do Iudy Gugu und Beyonce
huve to suy ubout IIvIng In u mun's wofId" whIIe
feInventIng womunhood? WhIIe some femInIsts IIke
CumIIIe PugIIu, Susun FuIudI, und Hunnu RosIn huve
found Iudy Gugu's vIdeo TeIephone to be no bIg deuI
und muybe even fegfessIve, we mIght Iook to Its
Iundscupe fof u mofe upbeut, wucky, und unufchIst
tuke on the end of men."
I n TeIephone, Iudy Gugu und Beyonce tfIp und
bounce thfough u pop unthem ubout women, desIfe,
und the end of menthe scene Is set In u women's
pfIson und does not shy uwuy ffom negutIve Imuges"
of queefs: butch pfIson guufds und tfunny Inmutes
ubound, fof exumpIe. (ThIs Is not u comment on uctuuI
pfIsons so much us on the pfIson of fepfesentutIon
ItseIf und the fofmuIuIc sIgn systems we use to
fepfesent othefness.) The song ItseIf, mIsIeudIngIy pop
In tone, Is uctuuIIy ubout bfoken communIcutIons,
phones thut fIng but don't get unswefed, messuges thut
nevef get pIcked up, mIssed connectIons, texts thut ufe
nevef sent, wofds thut ufe nevef spoken. The openIng
dfuwn-out scene shows Iudy Gugu pfowIIng fof uctIon,
cIImbIng the wuIIs of the women's juII und spufkIng
ghts In the mess huII. It uIso sefves us the pfeIude fof
u kIIIIng spfee, und It tIes Gugu und Beyonce to u kInd
of VuIefIe SoIunus (the wIId femInIst ffom the 1970s
who shot Andy WufhoI und wfote the SCUM MunIfesto
ufguIng fof the cuttIng up ]of| men") vefsIon of
femInIsm, u dufk femInIsm, u TheImu und IouIse fIde
uguInst domestIc vIoIence, the Iuw, putfIufchy. It Is
uIso u femInIsm buIIt ufound stuttef steps, hesItutIon,
knowIng und unknowIng, embfucIng youf dufkness. It
Is un untI-muffIuge, pfo-pfomIscuIty femInIsm, one thut
does not nd comfoft In ussImIIutIon but demunds
fesIstunce und tfunsfofmutIon.
WhIIe the eusy gIoss on the gendefed meunIng of
teIephone" wouId cust womun us the sIIent feceIvef,
putIentIy wuItIng fof u cuII, und wouId pIctufe the mun
us the uctIve gentIemun cuIIef decIdIng when und
whefe to push the buttons, In uctuuI fuct the song und
the vIdeo fefuse thIs gendef scheme. The euf und the
phone ufe neIthef vugInu und penIs nof speukef und
IIstenef, In thIs ugendu-bendIng extfuvugunzu, the
teIephone Is u phIIosophef's wet dfeum, u vesseI thut
uIIows us to theofIze connectIon ItseIf. And, by the
wuy, whut's up wIth dIvus und phones? Remembef thut
BIondIe wus hungIng on one, Mudonnu wus hungIng
one up, even Beyonce, In If I Wus u Boy," wus tufnIng
one o und teIIIng evefyone hef phone wus down to
gIve hefseIf covef fof IndeIItIes. AvItuI RoneII, u
phIIosophef of technoIogy und knowIedge, und gugu In
hef own wuy, wfote The TeIephone Book In 1989 ubout
the InventIon of the teIephone, the new fofms of seIf
thut thIs technoIogy (us fevoIutIonufy In Its tIme us the
Intefnet) enubIed, und the kInd of cuIIs thut uctuuIIy go
out, IdeoIogIcuIIy speukIng, between peopIe und
cuItufe. It Is u questIon of unswefubIIIty," suys RoneII.
You pIckIng It up meuns the cuII hus come thfough."
The bIogosphefe Is fuII of cfItIcuI feudIngs und
feveIutIons ubout Iudy Gugu's TeIephoneIt Is u
FoucuuIdIun tuke on pfIson und technoIogIcuI
entfupment", TuvIu Nyong'o feud It us the chunneIIng
of JudIth ButIef's cuIt essuy The IesbIun PhuIIus", It Is
obscene, mufdefous, cfueI to unImuIs, mIsogynIst, mun-
hutIng, homophobIc, und hetefophobIc, und I thInk you
couId sufeIy pIuce It us u DeIeuzIun expIofutIon of ow
und uect, not to mentIon un epIsode In object-
ofIented phIIosophy.
WhIIe TeIephone ostensIbIy stfetches u mIndIess pop
song ubout u mIssed phone cuII Into u wIId fIde thfough
AmefIcun popuIuf cuItufe, Iudy Gugu munuges to
hufness hef fIng tones to much deepef concepts, IIke
the ffugmentutIon of connectIon In the uge of ceII
phones, the cfeutIon of new fofms of febeIIIon In u
unIvefse of medIu munIpuIutIon, und the emefgence of
new fofms of gendef und sexuuIIty In u dIgItuI uge. The
vIdeo, whIch uccompunIed the song of the sume nume,
went vIfuI soon uftef uppeufIng on the Intefnet, und
by some estImutes, It fucked up u few mIIIIon vIewefs
ovef nI ght . TeIephone mIxes IntefestIng vIsuuI
IundscupescoIof sutufuted, shIny IIke cundy und
bufstIng wIth AmefIcunuwIth InnovutIve soundscupes
fuII of stuttefs und cIIcks. Add u few outfugeous
costumes, u stofy ubout two IudIes on the fun und
enguged In homIcIduI ventufes, movIng ucfoss the
scfeen In u pussy wugon" fIght out of the Im KIII BIII,
und ovefnIght you huve u pop phenomenon.
So whut Is the teIephone" In thIs sonIc dfumu und
whut Is Gugu doIng wIth It? Muny of the phones In the
Im ufe IundIInesthe phone In the juII (of cIub" us
Gugu cuIIs It), the gfeen phone In Beyonce's bedfoom,
the bIue phone thut Iudy Gugu weufs us she mukes
sundwIchesthese phones ufe xed In pIuce, not
mobIIe, weufubIe but uIso festfIctIng. The push und
puII of the gume of teIephone us It pIuys out In the
vIdeo fesembIes the fhythms of hetefo dutIng: she
wuIts, he cuIIs, she unswefs, he speuks, she yeIIs, he
hungs up. But the teIephone Imugefy uIso fefefs to
stuIkIngthe phfuse thut fepeuts In the Gugu song Is
stop cuIIIng, stop cuIIIng." The mobIIe phone Is u
pIuyef In the buttIe of Iovefs, und so Iudy Gugu und
Beyonce decIde to unIeush themseIves ffom the tyfunny
of the phoneInsteud of hungIng on the teIephone,
they become the teIephone. The musIc puIses IIke u fIng
tone (IIke the fIng tone It Is ubout to unywuy become),
It bufbIes und beeps, hIccups und fepeuts, InsIstentIy,
cuIIIng und fIngIng, fIngIng und cuIIIng und chuInIng
us uII to the chufIsmu of the pop beut even us
hetefosexuuIIty ItseIf seems IIke un event In u dIstunt
pust. The vIdeo mukes vIoIence uguInst men Into Its
sIgnutufe und Its enIgmu und It usks, obIIqueIy, whut
comes next?
Gugu SexuuIItIes: The End of NofmuI
Mfs. Fox: We ufe uII dIefent. But
especIuIIy hIm ]IndIcutIng Mf. Fox|. But
thefe's somethIng funtustIc ubout thut,
Isn't thefe?
Wes Andefson's FuntustIc Mf. Fox
A coupIe of yeufs ugo, ouf neIghbof usked my
gIfIffIend und me If she couId feutufe us In un uftIcIe
she wus wfItIng ubout women who Ieuve theIf muIe
puftnefs und then dute othef women. We hud u coupIe
of pfobIems wIth thut fofmuIutIon: fst, my gIfIffIend
wus uIfeudy sepufuted ffom hef husbund when we
stufted dutIng, second, I don't IdentIfy In uny sImpIe
wuy us u womun", und IustIy, weII, the whoIe uftIcIe
seemed to wunt to Ieuve hetefosexuuIIty Intuct us u
kInd of nutufuI ffumewofk Into whIch you Inseft the
butch In pIuce of the bIo mun und evefythIng pfoceeds
us usuuI. ThIs wus u fecIpe fof dIsustef, und Indeed, the
fesuItIng O MuguzIne uftIcIe hus huunted us evef sInce
wIth Its sImpIIstIc uccounts of newIy sIngIe stfuIght
women who, IookIng fof puftnefs to heIp them fuIse
theIf kIds, tumbIe Into bed wIth othef women.
uftIcIe mude the fofmefIy stfuIght women sound IIke
IntfepId expIofefs In the bofdefIunds of gendef und
sexuuIIty who wundef o the stfuIght und nuffow puth
of hetefosexuuIIty onIy to stumbIe upon u stfunge tfIbe
of butches. The butches ufe depIcted not us uttfuctIve
of sexy In theIf own fIght but futhef us expedIent,
usefuI, good compunIons und pfovIdefs.
Thefe wus u smIdgeon of tfuth In thIs depIctIon, but
genefuIIy speukIng the uftIcIe couId not ImugIne the
uctuuI Impetus fof fofmefIy hetefosexuuI women to
move ffom men to pseudomen," und so the whoIe
thIng sounded IIke u mussIve compfomIse fof the
women, pefpetuutIng the depIctIon of butches us
uIwuys u Iust fesoft futhef thun u deIIbefute choIce. In
fuct, the system In whIch gIfIs und boys come to
undefstund sexuuI mofes mukes It ImpossIbIe fof uny
womun to even thInk ubout choosIng butches us theIf
muscuIIne puftnefs, sInce butch muscuIInIty Is uIwuys
fepfesented us un ubject und gfoss pefvefsIon of the
feuI thIng."
Howevef, us I expIofed In unothef book, The Queef
Aft of FuIIufe, thefe ufe uctuuIIy muny fepfesentutIons
uvuIIubIe to chIIdfen wIthIn whIch vefy queef
uffungements pfesent themseIves us vIubIe uItefnutIves
to nutufuIIzed hetefosexuuIIty. Tuke, fof exumpIe, one
of my uII-tIme fuvofIte Ims: FIndIng Nemo. FIndIng
Nemo, In Its own queefIy uquutIc wuy, fepfesents u
scenufIo In whIch u fumIIy (In thIs cuse, u fumIIy of
cIownsh) hus to feofgunIze ItseIf quIckIy und
eectIveIy uftef the Ioss of the mothef. When Nemo's
fumIIy Is uttucked by u buffucudu In the Im's gfIm
openIng mInutes, Nemo und hIs neufotIc futhef,
MufIIn, huve to fethInk theIf meunIng, theIf feIutIons
to one unothef und to the Iufgef oceunIc communIty,
und they euch Ieufn to swIm uIong dIefent cuffents
pfecIseIy by gettIng Iost, wundefIng uwuy ffom the
tfIed und the tfue und ndIng new fofms of IIfe. Entef
Dofy, the fofgetfuI queef sh voIced by EIIen
DeGenefes. WhIIe Dofy muy not huve much of u
memofy, In hef queefIy butch wuy, she knows Iots of
stushe feuds, speuks whuIe, cun foIIow the oceun
tIdes to AustfuIIuund In the pfocess of heIpIng MufIIn
nd the ubducted Nemo, Dofy munuges to uftIcuIute u
dIefent mode of beIng femuIe (she Is not u mothef), u
dIefent mode of pufentIng (she hus no memofy so
cunnot dfuw upon u vust fepeftoIfe of pufentIng
technIques), u dIefent fofm of fomunce (she hus no
Intefest In MufIIn). Dofy Is u butch sh, und hef
ecIectIc mode of beIng encoufuges evefyone ufound hef
to feuftIcuIute hIs of hef own sense of connectIons. I
um not suyIng thut FIndIng Nemo deIIbefuteIy pfesents
chIId vIewefs wIth u guy scenufIo dIsguIsed us u sh
cuftoon, futhef, I um tfyIng to show thut once you
stfuy ffom fepfesentutIonuI modes dependent upon
humun fofms und uII the cIIche-fIdden fofmuIue thut
they entuII, sufpfIsIngIy new nuffutIves of IIfe, Iove,
und IntImucy ufe bound to uppeuf. Thut these
nuffutIves do uppeuf In unImuted Ims fof chIIdfen
comes us no sufpfIse.
So, wIth uII of these unuIogIes to sh, the IIfe
uquutIc, und oceunIc movements In hund, Iet's go buck
to the dfuwIng boufd und tfuck whut's huppenIng wIth
stfuIght women ut the sume tIme thut tfuns men ufe
gettIng pfegnunt und dykes ufe becomIng duddIes.
New uIIutIons between bodIes, sex, und powef
femInd us thut the cutegofIes of beIng thut seemed to
specIfy und dene humun nutufe ovef one hundfed
yeufs ugo huve quIckIy become futhef Inudequute
pIucehoIdefs fof IdentIty. WhIIe muIe" und femuIe"
ufe cutegofIes cfumbIIng undef the weIght of fevIsIon,
InstItutIons IIke muffIuge ufe sImIIufIy tukIng on wutef
und sIowIy sInkIng Into the mofuss of spoIIed
IntImucIes und fofced nucIeufItyfewef peopIe ufe
muffIed by theIf Iute twentIes thun evef befofe In
hIstofy. Ruthef thun xIng these cutegofIes und
InstItutIons, femInIst und queef theofy shouId be gIvIng
them u good shove Into the muck. Howevef, out In the
muInstfeum mufketpIuce of Ideus, u pIuce budIy In
need of oId-fushIoned us weII us newfungIed femInIsms,
best-seIIIng books ufe stIII teIIIng stfuIght women how
to get men und how to muffy them, und teIIIng men
how und why they shouId become pfopefIy
Ffom IofI GottIIeb's despefutIon In the 2010 best-
seIIIng Muffy HIm, to upocuIyptIc pfonouncements In
the news ubout gendef ImbuIunces In coIIege, ffom
fomuntIc comedIes In whIch women thfow themseIves
ut men, beggIng to get muffIed, to fomuntIc comedIes
In whIch men buffIcude themseIves In gufuges wIth
othef men to get uwuy ffom women (I Iove You, Mun,
He's Just Not Thut Into You, BfIde Wufs, The
Hungovef, uII mude In 2009), sIgns of tfoubIe ufe
bfewIng In whIte hetefosexuuIIty. GottIIeb, u gfuduute
of the beggufs cun't be choosefs" schooI of femInIsm,
thInks the pfobIem Is thut the uvefuge whIte stfuIght
womun hus ImpossIbIy hIgh stundufds und thut no mun
cun evef IIve up to the IdeuIs of fomunce to whIch she
cIIngs. WhIIe It Is OK to huve hIgh stundufds In youf
twentIes und thIftIes, GottIIeb wufns, by youf foftIes,
when men ufe thIn on the gfound und bIoIogIcuI cIocks
ufe tIckIng, you bettef gfub u puftnef, uny puftnef
(shoft, buIdIng, wIth physIcuIIy fepuIsIve munnefIsms
of socIuIIy InexcusubIe hobbIes), undyup, you
guessed Itmuffy hIm! One mIght be fofgIven fof
thInkIng thut If stfuIght women's stundufds go uny
Iowef, they muy us weII see eIIgIbIIIty In u muIe bIow-
up doII. And feuIIy, the eIIgIbIe mun" Is uIfeudy u
hIghIy exIbIe cutegofy thut munuges to Incofpofute
evefythIng ffom the sIx-foot-somethIng spofty smuft
guy wIth u sense of humof und u IIttIe cush to the
twItchy vIdeo geek wIth body odof. Indeed, the Judd
Aputow muchIne (Knocked Up, FofgettIng Sufuh
MufshuII, Supefbud) hus mude the nefd und hIs dweeb
ffIends Into bustIons of sexy new muscuIInItIes.
GottIIeb bIumes femInIsm fof the epIdemIc of sIngIe
women, suyIng thut young women who beIIeved In
femInIsm busIcuIIy empowefed oufseIves out of u good
A good mute hefe Is busIcuIIy uny mun who
wIII muffy you, und no othef optIon wIII donot u
femuIe-bodIed muIe, u tfunsgendef mun, u IIfe of
dutIng und good ffIends, sIngIedomnothIng but
muffIuge. The muffIuge munIu, un obsessIon InstIIIed
In young women uIong wIth the coIof pInk ufound uge
thfee, Is nevef the pfobIem fof GottIIeb, onIy the
InubIIIty to nd u good mun. But us ucudemIc Iuufen
BefIunt wfItes, The femuIe compIuInt Is u dIscoufse of
dIsuppoIntment . whefe Iove Is concefned,
dIsuppoIntment Is u puftnef to fuIIIment, not un
So whut's u gIfI to do? Cun women feconcIIe to
dIsuppoIntment und Ioss und Ieufn to IIve dIefentIy?
At Ieust one unswef comes In the fofm of the stfuIght
womun who becomes Intefested In butches of tfuns
men. Fof the hetefosexuuIIy IncIIned, nonhomophobIc
womun who Is not totuIIy uvefse to sIIIcone dIcks, the
butch,tfuns muscuIInIty optIon cun Iook pfetty good ut
thut tIme of IIfe thut we cfueIIy cuII mIddIe-uge, when
stfuIght men hook up wIth vefy young women und
stfuIght women nd thut theIf dutIng optIons ufe
umong the fetIfement cfowd. If stfuIght men uvefuge
ubout thfee muffIuges ovef the coufse of u IIfetIme,
then the odds ufe not good fof the stfuIght womun In
hef foftIes of ftIes IookIng to meet someone hef own
uge. WhIIe fof GottIIeb, the foftysomethIng-yeuf-oId
womun wIthout u mun hus no one to bIume but hefseIf,
the musIcuI-chuIfs modeI of hetefosexuuI dutIng uIwuys
Ieuves someone wIthout u pIuce ut the tubIe. ThIs uIone
cunnot expIuIn the fIse In mIddIe-uged, Iutef-IIfe
comIng-out stofIes fof femInIne women, und on Its own
thIs wouId be u futhef homophobIc expIunutIon
unywuy, but the ImbuIunces between muIe und femuIe
dutIng optIons ceftuInIy open the doof to, shuII we suy,
the uppeuI of uItefnutIve IIfestyIes.
Thefe Is some hIstofIcuI evIdence thut dIvofced
women huve often combIned theIf househoIds to get
by, but most hIstofIuns ufe Iouth to uttfIbute uny sexuuI
motIves to these unIons. Nowuduys, howevef, new
uttentIon Is beIng puId, by scIentIsts, no Iess, to
hetefoexIbIe" desIfes of to the phenomenon of
hetefosexuuI women whose desIfe fof muscuIInIty of
muscuIIne bodIes cun wundef (the IItefuI meunIng of
pefvefsIon") to femuIe-bodIed of tfuns-bodIed peopIe.
An uftIcIe In the New Yofk TImes MuguzIne ffom 2009
by DunIeI Befgnef tItIed Whut Do Women Wunt?"
cIted studIes by MefedIth ChIvefs und othefs on
gendefed sexuuI fesponse und fepofted thut the studIes
showed thut whIIe hetefosexuuI men fespond quIckIy
und obvIousIy to Imuges of women, hetefosexuuI und
IesbIun, they fespond hufdIy ut uII to guy pofnogfuphy
of sexy Imuges of men. And guy men fespond
denItIveIy to sexy Imuges of the muIe body, but not ut
uII to Imuges of femuIe bodIes. But women, stfuIght
und IesbIun, fespond equuIIy to Imuges of men und
women, uIthough theIf IeveI of ufousuI depends on
sItuutIons futhef thun the body ItseIf. The uftIcIe noted
thut women, IesbIuns und hetefosexuuIs, feveuIed u
mIsmutch between body und mInd when theIf degfees
of physIcuI ufousuI und theIf fepofts ubout theIf
ufousuI dId not mutch up. Indeed, Befgnef wfItes: No
muttef whut theIf seIf-pfocIuImed sexuuI ofIentutIon,
they showed, on the whoIe, stfong und swIft genItuI
ufousuI when the scfeen oefed men wIth men, women
wIth women und women wIth men. They fesponded
objectIveIy much mofe to ]un Imuge of un| exefcIsIng
womun thun to ]u| stfoIIIng mun, und theIf bIood ow
fose quIckIyund mufkedIy, though to u Iessef degfee
thun dufIng uII the humun scenes except the footuge of
the umbIIng, stfuppIng munus they wutched the upes
]Imuges of unImuIs huvIng sex In DIscovefy-chunneI-
type type shows|. And wIth the women, especIuIIy the
stfuIght women, mInd und genItuIs seemed scufceIy to
beIong to the sume pefson."
Befgnef, the uuthof of u book on fetIshIstIc desIfes
tItIed The Othef SIde of DesIfe, IIke so muny othef
uuthofs sufveyed In thIs book, sees womun" und
mun" us femufkubIy consIstent cutegofIes, fof hIm, the
questIon Whut do women wunt?" mukes sense becuuse
women" us u gfoup ufe u stubIe und known cutegofy.
But the busIc ussumptIon of much queef theofy, un
ussumptIon thut often does not tfuveI fuf beyond the
unIvefsIty, Is thut both men" und women" ufe
cuItufuIIy constfucted cutegofIes, us ufe the tefms
muscuIInIty" und femInInIty," und thut thefe Is no
essentIuI set of tfuIts, desIfes, of IncIInutIons thut
denes men In opposItIon to women und vIce vefsu. It
Is unfoftunute thut the theofetIcuI undoIng of gendef
stubIIIty hus hud so IIttIe Impuct out In the feuI wofId.
It's too bud, In othef wofds, thut peopIe stIII thInk of
men und women us If they ufe uIIen specIes ffom Mufs
und Venus, fespectIveIy, und thut they cunnot see the
muItIpIe dIefences thut dIsuggfegute euch cutegofy
und thut pfevent Iufge-scuIe pfonouncements ubout
whut women" IIke of how men" behuve of why
women IIke chocoIute" und men Iove footbuII." If we
couId uctuuIIy see these gendef cutegofIes us sutufuted
wIth contfudIctIons, us dIscontInuous ucfoss uII the
bodIes they ufe supposed to descfIbe, then we couId
begIn to notIce the odd fofms of gendef, the gugu
gendefs, thut huve muItIpIIed IIke computef vIfuses In
Iute cupItuIIst cuItufes.
Much of whut we cuII hetefosexuuIIty, In fuct, us
Befgnef's wofk on fetIshIsm ItseIf demonstfutes, hus
IIttIe to do wIth nofmutIve puthwuys of desIfe und
sexuuI pfuctIce. Some hetefosexuuIItIes use the beufd"
of muffIuge to covef ovef some tfuIy outfugeous und
wIId desIfes. Iet me gIve one exumpIe thut I stumbIed
ucfoss of u seemIngIy nofmutIve uffungement thut wus
undoubtedIy IntensIed und undefwfItten by some
decIdedIy nonnofmutIve pfuctIces. I wus tfuveIIng to
IndIunu to gIve u tuIk, und my Ight uffIved vefy Iute
ut nIght In IndIunupoIIs, whefe I wus to be pIcked up
und dfIven by IImo to BIoomIngton. The pIckup went
uwIessIy, und soon I wus sIttIng In the buck of u
IImousIne, zoomIng uIong un empty ffeewuy In the
mIddIe of IndIunu. The dfIvef und I stufted u cusuuI
convefsutIonHow wus he? Whut dId he do when he
wusn't dfIvIng? How dId he IIke IIvIng In IndIunu? The
dfIvef toId me he hud IIved In the stute hIs whoIe IIfe
but onIy fecentIy moved ffom one smuII town to
unothef. He hud feIocuted uftef u dIvofce ffom hIs wIfe,
wIth whom he hud fun u smuII busIness. Whut kInd of
busIness? I InquIfed . muybe I shouIdn't huve. We
hund-bfed hofses," he fepIIed. WeII, I um u cIty pefson,
ufbun thfough und thfough, und thIs fung no beIIs fof
me. Hund-bfed?" I mused, uImost to myseIf. AII thut
cume to mInd wus un epIsode ffom the second seuson
of the MTV show Juckuss, whefe the pfofessIonuI
mofons ufe InsemInutIng u cow by hund usIng u tufkey
bustef of somethIng. So I pufsued It u bIt fufthef. Do
you meun you hud to uftIcIuIIy InsemInute the
hofses?" No, no, he fepIIed. It wusn't uftIcIuI. Hmm.
Odd then, how dId the hund-bfeedIng" entef In? I
wondefed uIoud. My Infofmunt fesponded, In u
compIeteIy even tone, us If we wefe dIscussIng hIs
beIng u suIesmun ut Tufget, WeII, sometImes when
you wunt the hofses to mute, you huve to heIp the muIe
get In the femuIe." ThIs feuIIy stumped me. Doesn't
the stud know how to get Into the mufe?" I usked,
pfoud of myseIf fof usIng the hofse tefms fof muIe und
femuIe. You'd be sufpfIsed, mIss," cume the unswef. I
wus sufpfIsed! (MIss? ReuIIy?) Why wouId u muIe hofse
need heIp entefIng u femuIe hofseIsn't thut stu just,
I don't know, nutufuI? The unswef took me even mofe
by sufpfIse: Mofe often thun not, the stud nds the
unus und does hIs busIness thefe."
Anus. Thefe It wus, u wofd I hud not expected of
wunted to heuf on u dufk nIght's fIde In IndIunu. It got
weIfdef. OK, I uIIowed, so the stud needs heIp ndIng
the fIght pIuce to entef the mufe, but uguIn, whefe
does the hund-bfeedIng" bIt come In to thIs scenufIo?
WeII, mIss," (puh-Ieeze!), the dfIvef contInued,
busIcuIIy, whIIe my wIfe heId the mufe ut one end, I
wouId huve to guIde the stud Into the mufe's vugInu ut
the othef end." Wow, feuIIy? PeopIe do thIs? Thut
sounds, um, dungefous," I suId bIunkIy. Oh, It Is
dungefous, uII fIght," my ffIend unswefed. On some
duys, thut stud wus IIke u fugIng fupIst." AguIn, not
wofds you wunt to heuf out In the mIddIe of nowhefe
uftef mIdnIght ffom u stfungef. Oh yeuh?" I suId.
Yes, und tfuIy, mIss, you cunnot ImugIne whut It feeIs
IIke to huve thfee hundfed pounds of fugIng cock In
youf hunds." Tfue, I couId not ImugIne, I dId not wunt
to ImugIne. WeIfd! So, Iet me get thIs fIght," I
ventufed. You hud to IItefuIIy hoId the hofse's penIs
und guIde hIm Into the mufe whIIe youf wIfe heId the
mufe stIII." Yes mu'um." So, I wondefed, whut
huppened, uftef thIs IIttIe fItuuI? DId It Inuence theIf
sex IIfe? StImuIute It? Destfoy It? I dIdn't usk these
questIons, obvIousIy, und the dfIvef onIy undefscofed
thut the wofk wus vefy dungefous, It once got out of
hund, so to speuk, when u stud tofe down the stubIe.
Not sufpfIsIngIy, hIs wIfe dIdn't wunt to contInue the
wofk, und soon uftef thIs IncIdent, they dIvofced. Thefe
wus so much In thIs stofy thut IntfIgued me, und I
thought ubout It thfoughout my vIsIt to BIoomIngton.
When I feIuyed the epIsode to u coIIeugue she uccused
me of beIng putfonIzIng towufd peopIe who IIve In
smuII-town AmefIcu.
But wus thut It, feuIIy? Wus thIs mefeIy u cuse of un
ufbun queef pefson puzzIIng ovef the odd wuys of
countfy foIk? Of wus thIs stofy u femIndef, In fuct, thut
humun IIves und theIf stofIes ufe IntfIcuteIy woven
thfough und Into nonhumun unImuI IIves und stofIes?
And thut whut seems nutufuI In humuns und nonhumun
unImuIs Is totuIIy u funtusy, when we come down to It?
ThIs stofy, IIke muny othefs I couId teII of thut you
youfseIf mIght thInk of, confms In muny wuys thut
the concept of nofmuI" hus feuched u kInd of
conceptuuI concIusIon.
HetefosexuuIIty, thIs kInd of stofy shows, Is fIfe wIth
extefnuI Inuences, some comIng ffom the context
wIthIn whIch the feIutIonshIp occufs, some ffom the
IndIvIduuIs' bIogfuphIes, some ffom unImuI wofIds, und
so on und so fofth. Thefe feuIIy Is IIttIe In the wuy of u
nofmuI cofe to uny set of sexuuIItIes, nofmuI" Is just
the nume we gIve to the cIeuned-up vefsIons of sex thut
we wIsh to endofse on behuIf of socIuI stubIIIty und
mofuI ofdef. In feuIIty, sex Is both much mofe wIId
thun ouf nofms uIIow fof und, ut tImes, much mofe
bIund und bunuI thun ouf concefns fof mofuI ofdef
WhIIe I found, on my tfIp to IndIunu, thut thefe Is un
extfuofdInufy funge to the meunIng of hetefosexuuIIty
In Nofth AmefIcu by fegIon, by cIuss, ceftuInIy by fuce
(whut ufe the connectIons between fufuI whIteness und
beustIuIIty, fof exumpIe?), when we Iook ut the wuys
thut the US modeIs of sex und gendef get Impofted
ufound the gIobe, we mIght be sufpfIsed to see how
compuct und sImpIe, obvIous und InevItubIe these
cIussIcutIon systems cun Iook. Even though
homosexuuIIty meuns one thIng to u whIte guy mun
IIvIng In fufuI IndIunu, unothef to un ufbun IutIno In
New Yofk, und somethIng eIse entIfeIy to un AsIun
AmefIcun IesbIun In Sun FfuncIsco, thefe exIsts u so-
cuIIed gIobuI guy tempIute fof both sexuuI IdentIty und
socIuI toIefunce of sexuuI mInofItIes, und these tend to
be modeIed on u ctItIous but poweffuI funtusy of the
UnIted Stutes. In thIs funtusy, guys und IesbIuns und
tfuns peopIe enjoy compIete ucceptunce und IIve
huppIIy In sume-sex feIutIonshIps uccepted by theIf
pufents und cowofkefs uIIke. ThIs sume funtusy
compeIs peopIe who feeI pefsecuted eIsewhefe by
festfIctIve modeIs of sexuuI confofmIty to thInk of the
UnIted Stutes us u sunctuufy. It uIso hus the
unfoftunute eect of homogenIzIng sexuuI systems
ufound the wofId thfough the wofk of
nongovefnmentuI ofgunIzutIons und vufIous othef
outfeuch gfoups.
In fuct, us gendef,sex systems become evef mofe
compIIcuted und unstubIe In Eufo-AmefIcun cuItufes
shuken by pfecIpItous decIInes In muffIuge futes und
focketIng Incfeuses In dIvofces, uItefed ffom wIthIn by
new gendef systems und emefgent sexuuI vefnucuIufs,
It Is pefhups onIy the gIobuI cIfcuIutIon of Eufo-
AmefIcun sex,gendef systems thut Iends them uny
stubIIIty ut uII. Whut Is wobbIy und pfecufIous ut home
Iooks stufdy und IustIng when Impofted eIsewhefe, und
so, us foIks fufIousIy debute guy muffIuge, guys In the
mIIItufy, und guy Iubof Issues In the UnIted Stutes,
gIobuI guy" dIscoufses tfunsfofm contested cutegofIes
und uneven poIItIcuI eIds Into stubIe IdentItIes und u
poIItIcs of IncIusIon,excIusIon. ThIs often hus the eect
of ImposIng feguIutIons onto pIeusufubIy chuotIc
domuIns of behuvIof (cfuIsIng umong men who muy
not IdentIfy us guy, fof exumpIe) und substItutIng
stfeumIIned IdentIty fofmutIons (guy, IesbIun,
tfunsgendefed) fof extfemeIy compIex IocuI
ofgunIzutIons of bodIes, desIfes, sex, und kInshIp, muny
of whIch ufe stfutIed Iess by sexuuI ofIentutIon thun
by, suy, Iubof of uge.
Iet me gIve some exumpIes. Some cutegofIes of
gendef vufIunce, fof exumpIe, In eustefn Eufope, the
MIddIe Eust, und IndIu und ChInu uIIow fof femuIe
chIIdfen to be fuIsed us boys whefe u fumIIy fufm
fequIfes muIe futhef thun femuIe Iubof, of whefe boys
ufe so pfIzed thut u fumIIy wIth onIy duughtefs Is ut u
dIstInct dIsudvuntuge. The New Yofk TImes, fof
exumpIe, In 2010 fun u stofy ubout gIfIs whose pufents
dfessed them us boys In AfghunIstun. So eIubofute wus
thIs phenomenon thut thefe Is even u nume fof such
chIIdfen In DufI: buchu posh. The gIfIs who occupy thIs
cutegofy enjoy gfeutef mobIIIty thun theIf sIstefs und
mIght uccess educutIon mofe eusIIy too.
howevef, they ufe fofced buck Into womunhood when
they become muffIugeubIe, und fof muny, thIs Is u
shock und u fough tfunsItIon.
In othef countfIes, AIbunIu, fof exumpIe, gIfIs fuIsed
us boys contInue to IIve us men when they feuch
uduIthood und ufe uIIowed to tuke wIves. Two yeufs
befofe they fun the stofy on buchu posh In
AfghunIstun, the New Yofk TImes pfesented unothef
stofy of femuIe gendef shIftIng: undef the heudIIne
Swofn to VIfgInIty und IIvIng us Men In AIbunIu,"
we feud ubout fufuI women who sweuf to femuIn
vIfgIns und thefeby wIn the fIght to IIve us men In u
deepIy putfIufchuI cuItufe pIugued by wufs und
povefty. In fumIIIes wIth no sons, duughtefs wefe u
feuI IIubIIIty, und so fof centufIes In AIbunIu, some gIfIs
huve gfown up to be the mun of the house."
Othef cutegofIes of gendef vufIunce, In centfuI AsIu,
fof exumpIe, dIstInguIsh cufefuIIy between the meunIng
of gendef vufIunce fof u chIId, fof teens, fof
muffIugeubIe muIes of femuIes, und fof IndIvIduuIs
who huve uged out of the muffIuge system. WhIIe
gIobuI-guy dIscoufses scoop up uII sIgnIefs of
sex,gendef dIefence Into the net of equuI fIghts,"
pfesumIng sImpIe coffespondence between IegIbIIIty,
IdentIty, und fecognItIon und fIghts und IIbefty, It
becomes IncfeusIngIy cIeuf, In muny pIuces, thut sexuuI
toIefunce Is onIy used to ffee up new uvenues fof
cupItuIund so, whIIe gendef-vufIunt peopIe In
ThuIIund ufe toIefuted onIy In ceftuIn cIfcumstunces,
thefe hus been u boom In sufgIcuI toufIsm In Bungkok,
whefe tfunsgendef peopIe cun go to get theIf sex-
feussIgnment sufgefIes fof consIdefubIy Iess money
thun they wouId cost In the UnIted Stutes of Eufope of
AustfuIIu. SImIIufIy, whIIe thefe Is mIxed pubIIc suppoft
fof guys und IesbIuns In IsfueI, toufIst udveftIsements
fof IsfueI bfund It us u vucutIon destInutIon fof guys
und IesbIuns, u sufe poft In u stofmy MIddIe Eustefn
Iundscupe. And In the pfocess of gIobuIIzIng US-bused
modeIs of sex und gendef thut ufe fuf ffom stubIe ut
home," unthfopoIogIsts, NGO wofkefs, und gfunt
ugencIes sefve to pfop up u system thut Is quIetIy und
InvIsIbIy comIng upuft ut the seums.
Some unthfopoIogIsts who study sex,gendef systems
In othef countfIes huve been notIcIng und wfItIng
ubout the gIufIng dIefences between Eufo-AmefIcun
wuys of cIussIfyIng sexuuI behuvIofs und cIussIcutIon
systems thut exIst eIsewhefe. In u 2007 book, Women's
SexuuIItIes und MuscuIInItIes In u GIobuIIzIng AsIu,
edItofs SuskIu WIefIngu, EveIyn BIuckwood, und Abhu
BhuIyu do pfopose to decoIonIze gIobuI queef studIes,"
by puyIng cufefuI uttentIon to the IocuI fofms of gendef
und sexuuIIty fegImes In AsIu und by fesIstIng the
tendency to cust AsIun sexuuIItIes us sImpIe vufIutIons
on the modeI of Nofth AmefIcun und Eufopeun queef
fofmuIutIons. When we fefuse to vefIfy the seemIngIy
InevItubIe pfIofness of US,Eufopeun sexuuI economIes,
the voIume pfomIses to show, It becomes possIbIe to
fecognIze und Ieufn ffom othef modes of gendef
IdentIcutIon embedded In othef kInds of sexuuI
pfuctIce und pfoductIve of uItefnutIve fofms of
socIuIIty und communIty und IdentIty. The gouI Is
commendubIe, to suy the Ieust, but the coIIectIon of
essuys ItseIf hus u hufd tIme muIntuInIng the IocuIness
of the US,Eufopeun fofms und un even hufdef tIme
ImugInIng the potentIuI gIobuIIty of AsIun gendef und
sexuuI pfuctIces.
In hef essuy on women's sume-sex pfuctIces In
Jupun, fof exumpIe, WIefIngu ufgues thut the
Jupunese Iunguuge does not even huve Its own wofd
fof 'IesbIun.'"
ThIs Ideu thut othef Iunguuges shouId
huve u wofd thut sIgnIes femuIe sexuuI vufIunce In u
wuy thut coffesponds to the EngIIsh tefm IesbIun"
fepeuts the vefy gIobuI hIefufchy thut the book suys It
wunts to uvoId by movIng uwuy ffom the tefm queef."
It uIso ovefIooks uII the Jupunese tefms fof sexuuI foIes
thut we Iuck In EngIIsh: onube, fof exumpIe. An onube
Is u unIqueIy Jupunese phenomenon. It Is u wofd fof
bIoIogIcuI women who puss us men (und In some cuses
who IdentIfy us muIe) und sefve us hosts" to mostIy
hetefosexuuI women who come to vIsIt the bufs und
nIghtcIubs whefe they wofk. ThIs Is un uImost
unthInkubIe concept In EngIIshstfuIght women fufeIy
vIsIt wIth sex wofkefs, und whIIe we cun pefhups
uccommodute Imuges of hetefosexuuI women beIng
enteftuIned by muIe efotIc duncefs ut u hen pufty, the
Ideu of stfuIght women goIng out und puyIng fof muIe
compunIonshIp, whethef ffom men of tfuns men,
stfIkes most AmefIcuns us bIzuffe. But In Jupun, whefe
the Inuence of ChfIstIunIty hus been sIIght, we muy
nd few women who cuII themseIves IesbIun" but
pIenty of oppoftunItIes fof women to hook up wIth
tfuns men of wIth othef women, und uII of thIs muy
huppen compIeteIy sepufute ffom uny notIon of u
guy,IesbIun,tfuns communIty.
When I vIsIted Jupun In 2004 und then uguIn In
2010, I met Iots of women who duted othef women,
some wefe gendef vufIunt, some wefe not. The bufs
wefe cIustefed In ShInjuku, und In one buf thefe wefe
scofes of hostesses," cute femInIne women dfessed In
chumbefmuId outts und cIfcuIutIng In the cIub, seIIIng
cIgufettes und . fuvofs. Muny of the queef peopIe I
met In Jupun toId me how ffustfuted they wefe when
unthfopoIogIsts wouId come und study" them us If
they wefe stfunge cfeutufes In u zoo. They feIt
oppfessed futhef thun IIbefuted by the ImposItIon of
tefms fof gendef und sexuuI vufIunce thut hud been
mude popuIuf In the UnIted Stutes und thut wefe
pfesumed to huve unIvefsuI uppIIcubIIIty.
In ThuIIund, I hud u sImIIuf kInd of expefIence In the
queef cIubs. In fuct, one nIght, uftef uttendIng u queef-
studIes confefence In Bungkok, some of us ffom the
confefence, IncIudIng u femuIe unthfopoIogIst who wus
wofkIng on IesbIunIsm In ThuIIund, went to u buf. It
wus not eusy to nd, Iocuted on the vefy pefIphefy of
the cIty, down u smuII uIIeywuy. GIven the nuffowness
of the stfeet, I pfesumed we wouId be wuIkIng Into u
vefy smuII cIub. Some of the cIubs I hud been to In
Jupun couId uccommodute no mofe thun twenty-ve
peopIe comfoftubIy. ImugIne my sufpfIse, then, In
Bungkok, when we wuIked Into whut feIt IIke u
mussIve town huII fuII of queef femuIe types of peopIe.
The gfoup wIth whom I uffIved, mostIy whIte, mostIy
undfogynous ucudemIc IesbIuns, dfIfted to the mufgIns
of the huII und wutched the uctIon up on the stuge,
whefe u hundsome boy" of tom," u muscuIIne femuIe-
bodIed pefson, wus sIngIng Iove songs whIIe femInIne
women In the uudIence scfeumed. I wus mesmefIzed by
the scene und stood wutchIng wIth my gIfIffIend of the
tIme. SuddenIy, u butch pefson uppfouched me und
suId, Come!" He gestufed to me und my gIfIffIend to
foIIow hIm, und we ended up stundIng ufound u smuII
tubIe wIth hIm und thfee cute femInIne women. The
butch sIupped me heuftIIy on the buck und, poIntIng ut
me, suId Tom!" BusIcuIIy, toms und dees wefe the
numes they used fof the muscuIIne und femInIne
puftnefs In u sume sex" puftnefshIp. He poInted to my
gIfIffIend und suId, Dee." Then he sent one of the
young women ut the tubIe o to get me u dfInk und
usked me whut I wunted to sIng up on the stuge. Hud I
been u bettef sIngef, muybe I wouId huve jumped und
tfIed my best, just fof the fun of It, but I decIIned und
Insteud wutched uIong wIth evefyone eIse us one good-
IookIng tom uftef unothef sefenuded the cfowd.
Thefe must huve been fteen hundfed to two
thousund peopIe In thut cIub, despIte the fuct thut
Bungkok hud feIt sInguIufIy unqueef to me up untII
then. And whIIe I wus InstuntIy feudubIe to my tubIe
compunIons, my coIIeugues ffom the confefence wefe
not. Iutef, they usked me how I knew the peopIe ut the
tubIeI expIuIned thut I dIdn't know them und thut
they dIdn't know me but thut we uII fecognIzed euch
othef. It does muke u dIefence, In othef wofds, when
peopIe ufe feseufchIng sex,gendef systems, whethef
they themseIves ufe gendef confofmIng of gendef
vufIunt. The fuct thut the toms In the cIubs In Bungkok
fecognIzed me us u feIIow tom mude uII the dIefence
to ouf ubIIIty to feeI comfoftubIe togethef. Hud I been
conventIonuIIy gendefed und gone thefe IookIng fof
IesbIuns," I wouId huve been dIsuppoInted und wouId
huve thought thut the cIub wus u thfowbuck to the
AmefIcun '50s, u tIme when IesbIuns In the UnIted
Stutes went secfetIy to bufs und dfessed up us butches
und femmes, sometImes becuuse thut wus who they
wefe, sometImes to puss. SeeIng the cIub In Bungkok us
u vefsIon of somethIng In the UnIted Stutes just mukes
It seem behInd" und mukes the US ufbun queef scenes,
wIth theIf gIfI bufs" und busInesswomen guy cIubs,
seem modefn by contfust.
WhIIe the tendency to feud gendef vufIunce In non-
Westefn contexts us u sIgn of unuchfonIsm hus not
been puftIcuIufIy pfoductIve, nof hus the new tendency
to feud uII gendef vufIunce us tfunsgendefIsm." ThIs
pfuctIce, fuIfIy new gIven the vefy fecent fIse In
popuIufIty of the tefm tfunsgendef," hus hud un
ImmedIute Impuct. When I wus In Zugfeb ut u gendef
confefence In Octobef 2006, uctIvIsts ffom SIovenIu
und CfoutIu wefe compIuInIng ubout huvIng to use
tfunsgendef" In theIf fundIng uppIIcutIons futhef thun
uny IocuI tefms fof gendef vufIunce. One pfesentutIon
ut the confefence by uctIvIsts ffom Kyfgyzstun wus
ubout the dIefent tefms they use fof gendef-vufIunt
peopIe. The tefms wefe detefmIned by uge us weII us
by cIuss stutus und degfee of gendef vufIunce, und
thefe wefe ut Ieust fouf of them In use: the tefms
fefefenced the meunIng of gendef vufIunce ut dIefent
uges, und so one wofd meunt tomboy, unothef meunt
gendef-vufIunt udoIescent, unothef meunt
muffIugeubIe-uge womun wIth sIgns of gendef
vufIunce, und the nuI tefm wus used fof women pust
the uge of muffIugeubIIIty. These tefms wefe expIuIned
by the uctIvIsts but then pfomptIy dIscufded In fuvof of
the wofd tfunsgendef." In mukIng the swItch to
tfunsgendef," the IocuI tefms und specIc fefefencIng
of pfe-muffIuge-uge und post-muffIuge-uge gendef
IdentItIes wus Iost. ThIs Is Impoftunt, becuuse the post-
muffIuge-uge cutegofIes ImpIIed u kInd of ffee spuce
fof contfufy gendef und sexuuI IdentIcutIon. Once u
femuIe-bodIed pefson Is pust hef fepfoductIve pfIme,
these cutegofIes ImpIy, the socIuI scfutIny of hef sexuuI
uctIvItIes und gendef IdentIcutIon muy Iessen und
s,he muy expefIence u IImIted kInd of ffeedom.
At uny fute, the wofId Is u bIg pIuce, the systems we
use In the UnIted Stutes und In Eufope ufe neIthef
nutufuI nof InevItubIe, und ufound the wofId peopIe
huve devIsed dIefent systems to muke gendef und
sexuuIIty muke sense. In the UnIted Stutes we huve
become fuf too sufe ubout the stubIIIty und sepufutIon
of vufIous fofms of gendef und sexuuI IdentIty. We ufe
too condent ubout the opefutIonuIIty of the homo-
hetefo bInufy und the muIe,femuIe dIvIde, und becuuse
we ufe sufe thut these feuIms ufe sepufute, we do not
thInk ubout how chunges In one sphefe cfeute chunges
In othef sphefes: und so the momentous shIfts In the
meunIng of gendef und sex und sexuuIIty thut huve
uIIowed fof the emefgence of tfunsgendefs und
tfunssexuuIs gIobuIIy huve uIso cfeuted mussIve, If
unnotIced, shIfts In the meunIng of hetefosexuuIIty,
muIe und femuIe.
In fuct, we need to thInk ubout sex und gendef In u
mofe ecoIogIcuI kInd of ffumewofk, undefstundIng thut
chunges In one envIfonment InevItubIy Impuct chunges
In othef envIfonments. Gendef hefe mIght be thought
of mofe us u cIImute of ecosystem und Iess us un
IdentIty of dIscfete bodIIy IocutIon. And so when we
see sex,gendef events IIke the pfegnunt mun, IIke
hetefoexIbIIIty, IIke metfosexuuIIty, IIke gendef
uIdIty, we ufe wItnessIng the uftefshocks of the
mussIve shIfts thut the emefgence of tfunsgendefIsm
unnounced, pfesuged, und cuused. Futufe shocks ufe on
the hofIzon, und Insteud of tfyIng to pfevent mofe
dumuge, we shouId be hopIng thut one puftIcuIufIy
poweffuI tfemof mIght bfIng the whoIe cfumbIIng
edIfIce of nofmutIve sex und gendef cfumbIIng down.
One good pIuce to Iook fof sIgns of the end of nofmuI
Is In those IocutIons whefe we pfesume thut the nofmuI
Is most stubIe. So Iet's tufn ouf uttentIon to the
hetefosexuuI womun, who, uftef uII, so often hus been
fofced to functIon us u modeI of confofmIty, u symboI
of subjugutIon und the whIppIng gIfI fof unythIng thut
goes wfong wIth sexuuI mofuIIty. Gugu femInIsm Is,
ubove uII, concefned wIth feconfIgufIng the meunIng of
sex und gendef In wuys thut muy fuvof hetefosexuuI
women In puftIcuIuf.
If we fetufn to DunIeI Befgnef's uftIcIe In the New
Yofk TImes MuguzIne on the exIbIIIty of hetefosexuuI
femuIe desIfes, we wIII see thut thefe und In hIs own
book, Befgnef seems to be descfIbIng the wIIdness und
unpfedIctubIIIty of sex, und so contfIbutIng to the gugu
pfoject of scfumbIIng compIeteIy the usuuI coofdInutes
fof muIe,femuIe, uctIve,pussIve, muscuIIne,femInIne.
Howevef, In hIs condence In the soIIdIty of the
cutegofIes of muIe" und femuIe" und In hIs totuI
beIIef In the stubIIIty of hetefosexuuIIty, he undoes the
pfemIses of hIs own pfojectIt Is us If he wefe
smoothIng wIth one hund the feuthefs he hus just
fumed wIth the othef. Befgnef encoufuges feudefs to
wondef ubout the gIvens" In ouf sexuuI tuxonomIes
whIIe IeudIng them to othef fofmuIutIons uItogethef. At
one poInt, howevef, he cItes queef psychoIogIst IIsu M.
DIumond, the uuthof of u bfuve und contfovefsIuI
book, SexuuI FIuIdIty, whIch Iuys out u feIutIveIy new
theofy of hetefoexIbIIIty. DIumond Is mofe wIIIIng
thun Befgnef to buIId upon the pfemIse of the
InstubIIIty of hetefosexuuIIty. She tfIes to pfove thut the
cIussIcutIon systems thut we use fof desIfe, Iove, und
ofIentutIon do not wofk weII fof women, genefuIIy
speukIng, und so we need to gfuppIe wIth the quIte
IIkeIy IncfeusIngIy popuIuf phenomenon of sexuuI
uIdIty ovef the coufse of u IIfetIme fof IncfeusIng
numbefs of peopIe.
StuftIng wIth quIck exumpIes ffom ceIebfIty cuItufe
IIke Anne Heche, who duted men befofe und uftef hef
feIutIonshIp wIth EIIen DeGenefes (no InfofmutIon
ubout whethef she uIso spoke ceIestIu" und cume ffom
unothef wofId befofe,uftef EIIen), of IIke CynthIu
NIxon, the Sex und the CIty uctfess who Ieft u fteen-
yeuf feIutIonshIp wIth u mun fof one wIth u womun In
2004, of othef semIceIebfItIes IIke JuIIe Cyphef, who
Ieft u mun fof sIngef MeIIssu EthefIdge und then went
buck to hetefosexuuI dutIng uftefwufd, DIumond shows
thut sexuuI ofIentutIon In some peopIe ebbs und ows,
movIng between sexuuI objects und not necessufIIy
settIIng on one kInd of body of one set of sexuuI
pfuctIces fof evef und evef. AfguIng thut most modeIs
of sexuuI ofIentutIon ufe bused on studIes of men und
muIe sexuuI pfefefences, DIumond pfoposes thut we
feuIIy don't know much ubout how femuIe sexuuI
fesponse wofks ovef the coufse of u IIfetIme, und thut
the shuttIIng of desIfe between dIefent ofIentutIons
muy be vefy common fof women und muy even dene
Iufge swuths of whut hus been pfesumed to be femuIe
GenefuIIy speukIng, when women do come out us
guy Iutef In IIfe, thefe Is u pfesumptIon thut they wefe
guy uII uIong und just Iucked the fIght envIfonment to
udmIt It. Of convefseIy, peopIe mIght ussume thut,
huvIng fuIIed wIth men, some women move on to tfy
unothef gfoup. When MefedIth Buxtef, the TV sItcom
uctfess, cume out In 2009, fof exumpIe, the feusons
thut peopIe uscfIbed to thIs Iutef-IIfe feveIutIon, one
thut foIIowed hufd on the heeIs of thfee muffIuges, ve
chIIdfen, uccusutIons of domestIc ubuse uguInst one
husbund, und u bout wIth bfeust cuncef, wefe Iuden
wIth ussumptIons ubout Buxtef huvIng been dfIven to
IesbIunIsm. But notIce thut when u womun stops dutIng
othef femuIe-bodIed peopIe und tukes up wIth u
bIoIogIcuI muIe, peopIe then fefef to hef us goIng buck
to hetefosexuuIIty," us If she hud been on u shoft
vucutIon, stfuyed uwuy ffom hef feguIuf IIfe but wus
now buck on tfuck. Women who ufe IesbIuns, then
muffy, then dute women uguIn, ufe fufeIy thought of
us goIng buck to IesbIunIsm," suggestIng thut
IesbIunIsm cun nevef be eIthef un ofIgIn of u
destInutIonIn othef wofds, It cun nevef be u pfImufy
mode of IdentIcutIon, nof cun It be the gouI u womun
mIght shoot fof.
These notIons of ofIentutIon ufe sutufuted wIth
ussumptIons ubout the nofmutIve, the fIght, the
conventIonuI. And If we go buck to the Iute nIneteenth
centufy, the pefIod when so muny of these Ideus ubout
sexuuI conduct wefe fst fofmed by doctofs und
Iuwyefs und pfIests, we nd thut eufIy Ideus ubout
IesbIunIsm, cIfcuIuted In the eufIy twentIeth centufy by
HuveIock EIIIs und othef sexoIogIsts, suw IesbIunIsm us
somethIng thut wus congenItuI of Inhefent In some
women (muscuIIne women), but It wus uIso genefuIIy
undefstood thut some women, femInIne women, the
puftnefs of the muscuIIne women, mIght choose
IesbIunIsm undef ceftuIn dIfe cIfcumstunces. The onIy
expIunutIon thut EIIIs couId pfoduce fof how und why
thIs mIght huppen wus thut these femInIne IesbIuns
wefe not vefy uttfuctIve und thut they wefe women
who hud been fejected by men.
Nowuduys, psychoIogIsts IIke IIsu DIumond ufe
studyIng pfecIseIy thIs gfoup of women, the femInIne
(und often vefy conventIonuIIy uttfuctIve) women who
choose to be wIth othef femuIe-bodIed peopIe (who
muy In fuct be muscuIIne) futhef thun beIng wIth men
(who sometImes muy not be thut muscuIIne) und fof
whom thIs choIce IndIcutes u uIdIty In theIf sexuuI
wIfIng thut Ies In the fuce of most theofIes of sexuuI
IdentIty. The Ideu thut sexuuIIty exIsts wIthIn the
humun body us u hufdwIfed system of settIngs
settIngs, mofeovef, thut cunnot be chunged ut wIII but
thut swItch on und o In fesponse to the subject's
envIfonment (cuItufuI, socIuI, und bIoIogIcuI)goes
buck to Ffeud, who beIIeved thut much of whut we cuII
humun sexuuIIty Is estubIIshed In un IndIvIduuI wIthIn
the fst few yeufs of IIfe. Becuuse we feceIve uII kInds
of socIuI und IntefpefsonuI ImpfIntIng ut u vefy young
uge, often befofe we cun even speuk, by the tIme we
feuch pubefty, ouf desIfes, ouf dfIves, ouf puftIcuIuf
tufn-ons und tufn-os huve been estubIIshed In ouf
psyches In wuys thut ufe hufd to chunge und muy, In
muny cuses, sImpIy be pefmunent. ThIs expIuIns why,
despIte homophobIc envIfonments, guys und IesbIuns
cunnot, mostIy, be convefted buck" to hetefosexuuIIty.
It expIuIns why thefe Is no such thIng us un ofIgInuI
hetefosexuuIIty ffom whIch the pefson devIutes
(pefvefsIon" meuns the swefvIng uwuy ffom one puth
und onto unothef). But, by Ffeud's own udmIssIon, he
modeIed hIs undefstundIng of humun sexuuIIty on muIe
embodIment, und feIt thut the uppIIcutIon of hIs
theofIes of desIfe, stuges of deveIopment, tuboos, und
fepfessIon must wofk dIefentIy fof women. Ffeud
fumousIy usked Whut do women wunt?" pfobubIy
mofe out of exuspefutIon thun cufIosIty.
DIumond begIns wIth thIs pfemIse und goes on to
pfopose thut muIe und femuIe ofIentutIon In tefms of
desIfe Is vefy dIefent, und thut one of the
fundumentuI, denIng feutufes of femuIe sexuuI
ofIentutIon Is Its fIuIdIty."
I thInk thIs Is u vuIId und
Impoftunt cIuIm, but I wouId wunt to suppIement It by
fecognIzIng thut fof othef peopIe, some of whom ufe
femuIe, sexuuI uIdIty wIII not chufuctefIze the ebbs
und ows of theIf desIfes und sexuuI pfuctIces. Some
women muy be compIeteIy commItted, psychIcuIIy
speukIng, to desIfIng muIe bodIes und onIy muIe
bodIes. Some muy be cIItofuIIy focused, othefs muy be
vugInuIIy focused, some muy chunge focus uftef
expefIencIng chIIdbIfth, ndIng thut theIf desIfes und
theIf genItuIIu wofk dIefentIy uftef pushIng out u
seven-pound buby.
In fuct, It muy weII be thut ceftuIn fofms of
femInInIty (In men und women) ufe dened by
exIbIIIty und uIdIty whIIe ceftuIn fofms of
muscuIInIty (In men und women) ufe dened us xed
und fIgId. And so, fof exumpIe, In feIutIon to IesbIun
sexuuIItIes, the cutegofy we cuII butch" Is quIte
IdentIed wIth sexuuI xIty In muny cuses, und the
uppeIIutIon of the cutegofy stone butch" uctuuIIy
numes thut xIty: stone butch genefuIIy meuns u
totuIIy muscuIIne womun, of u vefy muscuIIne IesbIun,
und It uIso IndIcutes u dIsIncIInutIon fof penetfutIon.
Of coufse, muny men ufe uIso stone"they huve
ofIces (the unus, fof exumpIe) thut couId be
penetfuted, but they dene theIf sexuuIIty In
opposItIon to penetfubIIIty und undefstund themseIves
us penetfutIng Insteud.
On thIs ffont (of buck, us the cuse muy be), uII these
new youth vumpIfe Ims IIke the TwIIIght sefIes
cupItuIIze on the vefsutIIIty of vumpIfe desIfes ucfoss
dIefent bodIesmuIe und femuIe vumpIfes both
penetfute und ufe penetfuted. MeunwhIIe, buck In the
mundune feuI wofId, men tend to thInk of themseIves
us those sexuuI ugents who penetfute othefs, und
women tend to thInk of themseIves, of ut Ieust they get
chufuctefIzed, us bodIes to be penetfuted. If some
muscuIIne women thInk of themseIves us penetfutofs
futhef thun penetfutees, then we speuk In tefms of
puthoIogy und we nume thut cutegofy In tefms of Its
fesIstunce to nofms. We do not speuk of stone men, but
we do thInk In tefms of stone butches": thIs uIIows fof
butches to be cufIcutufed us fIgId of ImmobIIe of
ffozen. The popuIuf IesbIun expfessIon meItIng the
stone" uctuuIIy ImpIIes thut stone-ness, un ImmobIIe set
of feIutIons between desIfe, embodIment, femuIeness,
und muscuIInIty, needs to be und cun be thuwed
thfough the fIght combInutIon of IntImucy, Iove, und
connectIon. Some bodIes don't wunt to thuw, howevef,
some do not wunt to be uId of tfunsItIonuI, some wIII
uIwuys occupy u pIuce of fesIstunce to notIons of
exIbIIIty und pIIubIIIty, especIuIIy us they become
MuIe desIfe, guy und stfuIght, despIte Its often
phobIc InsIstence on xIty, Is uImost nevef
chufuctefIzed us puthoIogIcuI. Fof exumpIe, In the
feseufch fepofted In the ufofementIoned New Yofk
TImes MuguzIne uftIcIe, muIe desIfe confofmed to
expectutIonshetefosexuuI men wefe tufned on onIy
by women, und homosexuuI men onIy by men. The fuct
thut muIe desIfe cunnot be swItched on und o by
muItIpIe nuffutIves of contexts but functIons In vefy
IItefuI wuys us u pfImuI fesponse to gendefed bodIes Is
hufdIy evef cust us u pfobIemwhen butches
Incofpofute sImIIuf vefsIons of muscuIInIty to the
hetefosexuuI muIe, we speuk In tefms of InexIbIIIty
und InubIIIty to peffofm feceptIveness. In some guy
men, the ubsoIute efotIc fejectIon of femInInIty,
whethef It Is found In othef men of In women, In dfug
queens of In fug hugs, Is uguIn nevef cust us u mode of
sexuuI dysfunctIon.
In othef wofds, peopIe ufe not uskIng why It Is thut
guy men do not, genefuIIy speukIng, pfoduce uny
funtusIes ufound femInInIty, whIIe IesbIuns pfoduce
Iots of funtusy envIfonments thut IncIude men of
muscuIInIty. When, In The KIds Afe AII RIght, the
IesbIun coupIe wutches guy muIe pofnogfuphy to spIce
up theIf sex IIfe, the scene wus met wIth IncfeduIIty,
especIuIIy ffom guy men. Indeed, u guy muguzIne
joufnuIIst cuIIed me und usked me to comment on thIs
bIzuffe (to hIm) scene. I fesponded thut Iots of IesbIuns
wutch und IIke guy muIe pofn, stfuIght muIe pofn, und
evefythIng In between, und I usked hIm whethef he
thought guy men uIso wutched u wIde funge of
pofnogfuphIc mutefIuI. He fesponded In the negutIve
und tufned hostIIe when I suggested thut thIs wus whut
he shouId wfIte ubout: why cun guy men, genefuIIy
speukIng, onIy uctIvute desIfe In feIutIon to the
fepfesentutIon of guy muIe scenufIos und nevef
thfough funtusIes InvoIvIng women of femInInIty?
So, to fecup, whIIe men, guy und stfuIght, tend to
fespond In InexIbIe wuys to efotIc Imuges of men und
women (stfuIght men wunt to see femuIe bodIes, guy
men wunt to see muIe bodIes), women, guy und
stfuIght, tend to fespond In exIbIe wuys to Imuges of
men, women, und unImuIs. When InexIbIIIty does
occuf In femuIe desIfe (u dIsIncIInutIon fof penetfutIon,
suy), we speuk of puthoIogIcuI xIty. When InexIbIIIty
uppeufs In muIe desIfe (u dIsIncIInutIon fof
penetfutIon, suy), we speuk of u nofmuI funge of efotIc
Intefest. WhIIe the hetefosexuuI muIe's dIsIntefest In
seeIng uny muIe bodIes In hIs efotIc Iundscupes couId
be uttfIbuted to homophobIu, und whIIe the
homosexuuI muIe's dIsIntefest In seeIng uny femuIe
bodIes In hIs efotIc Iundscupes couId be uttfIbuted to
mIsogyny, we stIII code both sets of dIsIncIInutIons us
futIonuI, nofmuI, obvIous. When exIbIIIty seems to
chufuctefIze femuIe desIfes, we confess to beIng
As we pondef the potentIuIIy mIsogynIst excIusIvIty
of guy muIe desIfe und the potentIuIIy homophobIc
excIusIvIty of stfuIght muIe desIfe, Iet's now uIso usk
whut huppens when hetefosexuuI men expfess of tfy to
expfess exIbIIIty. Iet me stuft wIth un unecdote (feuI
stofy): A guy cuIIs me ffom New Yofk MuguzIne: I
wunt to tuIk to you ubout men's undefweuf," he suys.
OK, thIs Is pfetty stundufd fufe fof u gendef studIes
pfofessof, one hus to go wIth the ow, unswef
questIons on evefythIng ffom pfegnunt men to pInk
Powef Rungefs. I cun thInk ubout men's undefweuf.
Whut's up? WeII, suys my fepoftef guy, I go In the
buthfoom the othef duy In my new bfIefs thut my
gIfIffIend hus bought me und I feuIIze . Is thIs OK? he
usks hesItuntIy . Yeuh, sufe, I fespond. Youf new
bfIefs, you ufe In the buthfoom . go on. WeII, he suys,
I get up to the ufInuI und I feuIIze the bfIefs huve no
openIng und so I cunnot feuIIy get myseIf In posItIon to
pee wIthout puIIIng evefythIng down, so I huve to use
the stuII, whIch Is, you know, embuffussIng . Yes, I
see, I suy. So, whut's up wIth thut? We go on to huve u
gfeut dIscussIon ubout desIgnef bfIefs, chungIng
notIons of muscuIInIty, the puckugIng of the muIe body
In such u wuy thut studIIness Is, weII, enhunced" whIIe
usefuIness Is efudIcuted. I usk hIm If he hus heufd of the
peffofmunce uftIst Peggy Shuw, who, In u gfeut pIece
ubout hef own muscuIInIty tItIed Just IIke My Futhef,
suys she pfefefs men's undefweuf to women's becuuse
they huve u IogIc." ExuctIy, suys my fepoftef ffIend,
men's bfIefs do huve u IogIc, but now the IogIc of use
hus been fepIuced wIth the IogIc of sIze.
Indeed, the hoffIbIe sIogun SIze Does Muttef" und
the uppeufunce on coee tubIes of tomes IIke The BIg
PenIs Book
feuIIy do fequIfe some kInd of
expIunutIon. At fst gIunce, the sIze-does-muttef
ufgument seems to be u bodIIy metuphof fof the kInds
of mIIItufy opefutIons thut the UnIted Stutes Invested
In dufIng the sume pefIod thut men's bfIefs swItched
ffom tIghty-whItIes to puckuge enhuncefs. But thIs
seems too eusy. CouId It be thut u new uge of
InfofmuIIty ubout sexuuIIty uIIowed fof men und
women to dIscuss whut hus been u whIspefed
convefsutIon uII uIong? Is It the cuse thut fof most
women who ufe feuIIy Into undetuchubIe penIses,
bIggef Is sexIef? Afen't thefe sufeIy some women fof
whom Iufge penIses ufe unwIeIdy of puInfuI to . um
. uccommodute? Is thIs u sIIppuge between guy muIe
cuItufes und stfuIght cuItufes, u consequence of the guy
munfug hug bond wIthIn whIch the guy muIe focus on
dIck sIze tfIckIes down to women who muy of muy not
desIfe vefy Iufge penIses? FInuIIy, In un uge of bfeust
enhuncement, ufe penIses und bfeusts comIng In
unguInIy und unnutufuIIy Iufge sIzes und then cfeutIng
u demund fof sIze, of does the supefsIzIng foIIow some
othef IogIc, u mufketpIuce IogIc of bIggef Is bettef?
WeII, untII women who IIke smuIIef penIses und men
who huve smuIIef penIses begIn tuIkIng ubout It, we
muy nevef know. I know u pushy femInIne womun
who IIkes to suy, vefy IoudIy In pubIIc, und usuuIIy
when hef husbund Is pfesent: Whut's the bIg deuI? The
dIefence between men und women comes down to u
Iousy fouf-Inch uppenduge!" As evefyone Iuughs
upfoufIousIy, hef husbund uIwuys wuIts fof u mInute
und then suys, quIetIy, SIx Inches, sIx!" SIze does
muttef, but shouId It uIwuys muttef In u wuy thut
fuvofs gIfth? A femme ffIend who dutes shoft butch
women hud u T-shIft mude fecentIy: I heuft pocket
butches." Some peopIe IIke It smuII.
Mf. JoufnuIIsm und I uctuuIIy hud u vefy eusy
fuppoft when tuIkIng togethef ubout thIngs thut
usuuIIy onIy guys tuIk ubout. I toId hIm thut I pfefeffed
men's undefweuf und why, I usked hIm ubout hIs
dutIng pfuctIces, und he uccepted the Ideu of tuIkIng to
u butch us feusonubIe und pefhups even pfefefubIe to
tuIkIng to u bIo guy. In fuct, he fecognIzed, pefhups In
wuys thut muny stfuIght women ufe Iess upt to, thut u
Iot hus chunged In the wofId of gendef und sexuuIIty In
the Iust few decudes und thut hIs undefweuf wus tfyIng
to teII hIm somethIng. He wus, In u sense, the guy
descfIbed In Susun FuIudI's gfeut book, StIffed: The
BetfuyuI of the Modefn Mun,
the potentIuIIy femInIst
muIe who feuIIzes thut If hetefosexuuI women needed
femInIsm In ofdef to nuvIgute u toxIc teffuIn of muIe
pfIvIIege, hetefosexuuI men need theIf own gendef
poIItIcs to undefstund the shIfty Iundscupes of munhood
und muscuIInIty.
When they ufe not tfyIng to gufe out how to pee
stundIng up whIIe IookIng studIy In puckuge-enhuncIng
bfIefs, bIo men huve othef pfobIems to soft out. BeIng
u mun In the uge of sexuuI uIdIty Is no meun feut, und
whIIe the stfuIght IudIes ufe buzzIng o togethef, the
IoneIy dudes ufe dodgIng theIf whIny wouId-be wIves
und wondefIng whethef thefe Is u pIII fof goIng guy.
Not feuIIy, but the oId just guys" thIng doesn't feuIIy
wofk unymofe, und yet no one IIkes u sensItIve mun,
mouthIng some tfuIsm he ovefheufd hIs wIfe suy whIIe
sneukIng off to wutch Intefnet pofn.
Men, In genefuI, wouId do weII to Ieufn ffom butches
how to see theIf muscuIInIty us cuItufuIIy constfucted,
contIngent, und hufd-won. I hoped thut thIs wus whut
wus huppenIng In u fecent uft show thut cume to my
uttentIon, cuIIed Butch Cfuft. ThIs show, cufuted by
Muffuy Moss In New Yofk CIty und wfItten up by
PeneIope Gfeen In the New Yofk TImes,
uttempts to
fetufn muscuIInIty to uesthetIcs und the uct of mukIng
to un IncfeusIngIy ubstfucted uft wofId. Gfeen, to hef
gfeut cfedIt, tfIed to excuvute the feIutIons between
butch" us u tefm coIned fof muscuIIne IesbIuns und
butch" us u cutchuII mufkef fof evefythIng muscuIIne.
But the boys do not wunt to consent to the Ideu thut
theIf muscuIInIty mIght defIve ffom, coIIubofute wIth,
of be Inuenced by uny kInd of queef subcuItufe, und
so Moss buts uwuy uII suggestIons of defIvutIon und
suys sImpIy: I used the tefm 'butch,' vefsus 'muscuIIne'
of 'tough' of 'munIy,' becuuse whut I meun by thIs Is
wofk thut Is stefeotypIcuIIy consIdefed munIy, but
expfessed by u pefsonuIIty thut Is stefeotypIcuIIy
consIdefed sensItIve of femInIne."
And so, men get to
huve theIf cuke und eut It toopIuy the uftIst whIIe
hoIdIng onto theIf vIfIIIty, mufk theIf muscuIInIty us
dIefent wIthout evef puttIng themseIves In u
dungefous pfoxImIty to the queef. But mofe und mofe,
In un IncfeusIngIy confusIng und confused wofId of
gendef und sexuuI upheuvuIs, cuItufuI nuffutIves of
muscuIInIty do not depend upon such fepudIutIons.
Iet's Iook ut u chufmIng exumpIe of one nuffutIve
ubout muscuIInIty thut fecognIzes the butch In the mun,
the mun In the butch, und the fox In us uII.
The 2009 unImuted Im FuntustIc Mf. Fox teIIs the
stofy of u fox fumIIy, Mf. Fox (voIced by Geofge
CIooney) und hIs wIfe, Mfs. Fox (MefyI Stfeep), theIf
son Ash (Juson Schwuftzmun) und hIs cousIn
KfIstoefson (EfIc Andefson). Euch membef of the
fumIIy Is stfIvIng fof somethIng mofe, some uItefnutIve
wuy of beIng In u wofId thut Is ovefIy pfeoccupIed wIth
the stfuIght und nuffow. IIke much of dIfectof Wes
Andefson's wofk, thIs Im mukes eccentfIcIty Into u
wuy of IIfe, expIofIng uItefnutIves thut pop up In the
evefyduy, und It does so by usIng the sIIghtIy sInIstef
bufebones of u RouId DuhI stofy ubout thfee meun
fufmefs und the fox thut tfIes to outwIt them. In the
stofy, u chIIdfen's song pfovIdes the mIse-en-scene:
BoggIs und Bunce und Beun
One fut, one shoft, one Ieun
These hoffIbIe cfooks
So dIffefent In Iooks
Wefe nonetheIess equuIIy meun.
The meun fufmefs pfovIde u scufy buckdfop to the
nuffutIve ubout Mf. Fox's stfuggIe wIth hIs muscuIInIty.
FIndIng domestIcIty In the fox buffow to be u tud too,
weII, tume, Mf. Fox goes buck to steuIIng chIckens ffom
the fufmefs. He uIso enguges In some OedIpuI fIvuIfy
wIth hIs son, who Is Iocked In u moftuI buttIe of sIbIIng
fIvuIfy wIth hIs ImmucuIute und tuIented cousIn
KfIstoefson. Just us the Im seems IIke It Is goIng to
be un uII-muIe testostefone fest of competItIon, one-
upmunshIp, und vIoIence, It tIps Into somethIng eIse
uItogethef. AIded by the wondef of stop-motIon
unImutIon, u fofm thut nevef Iets the vIewef fofget thut
they ufe wutchIng u mugIcuI constfuctIon of movement
und coIof, FuntustIc Mf. Fox tufns Into un uIIegofy of
modefn muscuIInIty, Its tfIuIs und tfIbuIutIons.
In one vIoIent und tfuumutIc encountef wIth the
fufmefs, Mf. Fox Ioses hIs tuII. IItefuIIy. He Ioses hIs
bushy symboI of munhood und fetufns to the buffow
wIth chIckens but wIthout one of the mufkefs of hIs
unIque muscuIInIty. Ruthef thun becomIng Impotent,
unxIous, downheufted of defeuted, howevef, Mf. Fox
mukes do. He ImpfovIses, Ieufns to IIve wIthout the
uppenduge, und wuIts putIentIy untII, In the Im's
denouement, hIs son, Ash, u sIssy boy who weufs
IIpstIck und shIes uwuy ffom muscuIIne pufsuIts,
fecuptufes the tuII (whIch one of the fufmefs wus
weufIng us u tIe!) und fetufns It tfIumphuntIy to hIs
futhef. ThIs seuIs the feIutIon between the futhef und
the son wIthout excIudIng of demeunIng KfIstoefson,
und Mf. Fox teIIs hIs fumIIy thut he Is huppy to huve u
detuchubIe tuIIIt Is now pInned to hIs deffIefe und
cun be tuken o of put on ut wIII. GettIng hIs tuII buck
but In u new fofm feIeuses Mf. Fox ffom hIs phuIIIc
bufden to, us he ufchIy puts It, uIwuys be the quote
unquote 'funtustIc Mf. Fox'"now he cun just uItefnute
us he IIkes between funtustIc und wIId, wIId und
feIIubIe, wIse und feckIess. The shIft uwuy ffom phuIIIc
powef uIso uIIows hIm to embfuce hIs sIssy son Ash,
who weufs dfesses und feeIs he cun nevef eufn hIs
futhef's fespect fof hIs own muscuIInIty. Ash In u dfess
muy be bettef o thun hIs futhef In the bfuve new
wofId of gendef uIdIty thut seems to wIpe the gfound
wIth these neufoses ubout muffIuge, undefweuf, und
who weufs the tuII.
FuntustIc Mf. Fox Is u queefIy unImuted cIussIc ubout
u tuII-Iess muIe In u wofId of phuIIIc powef. And It
confms fof us uIIbutches, femmes, tfuns men, wIId
unImuIs, foxes uIIkethut detuchubIe tuIIs muy be In
fushIon, gendef cutegofIes uIwuys thfeuten to fun wIId,
und wIth evefy shIft und chunge In cuItufuI meunIngs
und mofes, endIess new possIbIIItIes emefge fof Iove,
IIfe, und IIbefutIon.
Gugu ReIutIons: The End of MuffIuge
It destfoys one's nefves to be umIubIe
evefyduy to the sume humun beIng.
BenjumIn DIsfueII
Iove, the stfongest und deepest eIement In
uII IIfe, the hufbIngef of hope, of joy, of
ecstusy, Iove, the deef of Iuws, of uII
conventIons, Iove, the ffeest, the most
poweffuI moIdef of humun destIny, how
cun such un uII-compeIIIng fofce be
synonymous wIth thut poof IIttIe Stute-
und Chufch-begotten weed, muffIuge?
Emmu GoIdmun
Remembef, IIckIng doofknobs Is IIIeguI on
othef pIunets!
SpongeBob SquufePunts
Why Is It thut whenevef you huve u bIg, heuted
ufgument wIth someone who wunts you to feIent on
youf cfItIque of guy muffIuge, they tufn ufound und
InvIte you to theIf bIg fut guy weddIng? Just fecentIy
thIs huppened to me . uguIn. The fst tIme wus
dufIng one of those bfIef pefIods when It wus, by ut
of the muyof, IeguI fof u mInute fof guy peopIe to get
muffIed In Sun FfuncIsco. A IongtIme fofmef ffIend,
uctuuIIy the sume ffIend who moved out of the Custfo
once she und hef gIfIffIend hud kIds becuuse they wefe
woffIed ubout the potentIuI hufm to theIf chIIdfen of
sexuuI Imugefy In the stofe wIndows thefe, sent ufound
u weddIng notIce IIstIng uII the feusons thut she und
hef fubuIousIy weuIthy gIfIffIend wefe gettIng muffIed
und then InvItIng evefyone to u weddIng und dIfectIng
them to u gIft fegIstfy. Numbef one on thIs IIst of
feusons to get muffIed, It tufned out, wus the supef-
fomuntIc futIonuIe of the huIIowed tux benet. DespIte
the fuct thut some nuncIuI udvIsefs now suy thut
muffIuge does not necessufIIy Ieud to u mofe fobust
househoId economy, thIs ufgumentthut guys und
IesbIuns shouId be uIIowed to get muffIed so thut they
cun uccess tux benets IIke hetefosexuuI coupIeshus
femufkubIe powef und endufunce. Pefhups onIy In the
UnIted Stutes, whefe tuxes ufe tfeuted IIke theft futhef
thun seen us puft of u socIuI pfoject desIgned to keep
money owIng thfough the system, und whefe muny
Iufge cofpofutIons munuge to puy vefy IIttIe In tuxes
becuuse they hIfe Iuwyefs to spfIng them ffom such
tIfesome obIIgutIons, cun the phfuse tux benets" fIng
fofth IIke u IIbefutIon unthem.
Anothef ffIend uIso enguged me In some IIght buntef
ubout muffIuge und Iove und then, uftef u pfovocutIve
fesponse ffom me, tufned ufound und InvIted me to hIs
vefy expensIve weddIng. ThIs ffIend wus u IongtIme
muffIuge opponent who, sometIme In the Iust ve
yeufs, tfunsItIoned ffom femuIe to muIe, begun IIvIng
us u mun, und hooked up wIth u womun wIth two kIds.
NewIy mInted us u fumIIy mun, thIs ffIend ImmedIuteIy
wunted to get muffIed. Shocked by thIs tufnufound, I
questIoned my ffIend und hIs new uncee ubout theIf
need to muffy when he hud just tfunsItIoned Into
munhood und she hud, uftef uII, just tfunsItIoned out of
When we met fof dInnef to dIscuss theIf upcomIng
nuptIuIs, the convefsutIon quIckIy becume uwkwufd.
SpoftIng ffeshIy Inked tuttoos wIth the dutes of theIf
engugement InscfIbed on theIf ufms, the coupIe
posItIveIy gIowed. WhIIe they dIspIuyed theIf tuttoos, I
fecuIIed the Iust tIme my ffIend hud tuttooed u Iudy's
nume on hIs ufm befofe dumpIng hef uncefemonIousIy
u yeuf of two Iutef und wondefed whut wouId be so
dIefent thIs tIme. Iet me be cIeuf: I don't fequIfe
pfoof thut peopIe ufe goIng to stuy togethef fofevef In
ofdef to coo ovef theIf Iove tuttoos. But I uIso don't
expect to be cuIIed up to wItness theIf pfomIse to stuy
togethef fofevef und evef In u futhef pfIcey und
pfetentIous weddIng cefemony. I especIuIIy don't
expect to be InvIted to sIgn up fof u fegIstfy whefe they
huve posted IIsts of stuftIIngIy expensIve gIfts. WhIIe
guy, IesbIun, und tfuns peopIe muy thInk thut, by tyIng
the knot und goIng IeguI, they ufe chungIng u vefy oId
und conventIonuI InstItutIon, be wufned: befofe you
chunge It, It chunges you.
OK, so I um gfumpy ubout guy muffIuge. Ask the
poof guy who stopped me In the stfeet the othef duy,
tfyIng to get me to sIgn hIs petItIon fof IeguIIzIng guy
muffIuge In the stute of CuIIfofnIu. Don't you huve
unythIng bettef to do wIth youf poIItIcuI enefgIes?" I
snupped. He Iooked stuftIed, huvIng pegged me fof
sufe us queef In some wuy und thefefofe bound to
suppoft hIs cuuse. The stfeet uctIvIst's ubsoIute
condence thut I wouId be u suppoftef of guy
muffIuge, just IIke the ceftuInty wIth whIch uII my
fofmef ffIends InvIte me to theIf weddIngs ussumIng
thut I wIII nuIIy see the IIght, ImpIIes thut, genefuIIy
speukIng, the cfItIque of guy muffIuge hus not been
weII uftIcuIuted In the pubIIc sphefe. Insteud, thInk
tunks IIke the WIIIIums InstItute huve domInuted the
uIfwuves wIth theIf fIghts-udvocucy ufguments, und uII
the opposItIon to guy muffIuge hus been depIcted us
extefnuI to queef communItIes und us comIng ffom
ChfIstIun fundumentuIIst gfoups. Howevef, thefe Is u
efce und poweffuI ufgument uguInst guy muffIuge
ffom wIthIn queef uctIvIst gfoups, und It Is tIme fof It
to be heufd wIthIn u Iufgef, Ieft-IeunIng convefsutIon
umong queefs ubout socIuI fesponsIbIIIty, socIuI justIce,
und the potentIuI connectIons between fudIcuI queefs
und othef fudIcuI gfoups In the cuItufe ut Iufge.
WIthout gettIng too ucudemIc ubout thIs, It's Impoftunt
to undefstund the uctIvIst emphusIs on muffIuge wIthIn
u much Iongef hIstofy of homo,sexuuIIty. Guy muffIuge
us un uctIvIst tufget seems to compIete u Iong pfocess
of humun cIussIcutIon thut begun In the Iute
nIneteenth centufy und Is ongoIng toduy. ThIs pfocess
thut begun by mukIng fundumentuI ussumptIons ubout
humun dIefence by dIstInguIshIng between peopIe
wIth homo und peopIe wIth hetefo desIfes comes fuII
cIfcIe when homo peopIe usk to be fecognIzed just IIke
hetefo peopIe.
One theofIst, MIcheI FoucuuIt, someone who hus
gfeutIy Inuenced the wuys thut ucudemIcs wfIte und
thInk ubout sex, IInked the emefgence of the cutegofy
of homosexuuI" (1869) to the onset of
IndustfIuIIzutIon, the fIse of u cuItufe of expeftIse (u
medIcuI cuItufe then but nowuduys mofe of u tuIk show
cuItufethInk Df. PhII und seIf-heIp IItefutufe), the
IncfeusIng IntfusIon of medIcuI tefms Into evefyduy
modes of IdentIfyIng oneseIf, und the ffugmentutIon of
socIety,gfoups,fumIIIes Into
peopIe,IndIvIduuIs,subjects: these deveIopments, muny
peopIe ugfee, ufe the huIImufks of the modefn wofId.
FoucuuIt dId not stop thefe, howevef, he uIso
pfoposed thut u tfunsItIon occufs between seeIng
peopIe us puft of u gfoup of cIuss und us enguged In
uctIons of pfuctIces to seeIng foIks us dened by
hufdwIfed IdentItIes und us sepufute seIves. ThIs
pfocess begIns In the medIcuI Iub of the thefupIst's
oce but It Is onIy confmed when the vefy peopIe
whom the doctofs ufe busIIy cIussIfyIng uctuuIIy begIn
to thInk of themseIves In those tefms: whIIe doctofs und
psychoIogIsts mIght huve ugfeed upon denItIons of
nofmuI" und pefvefse," those denItIons do not tuke
on u sense of pefmunence und InevItubIIIty untII
someone uctuuIIy IdentIfIes wIth the tefms.
So, whIIe In the 1910s un eemInute mun In New
Yofk CIty who hus sex wIth othef men muy thInk of
hImseIf us u fuIfy" muy not huve fuIed out the
possIbIIIty of muffyIng u womun, und muy consIdef
hImseIf us hufbofIng u vIce of us sInnIng uguInst God,
some twenty of thIfty yeufs Iutef, u sImIIuf kInd of
mun muy thInk of hImseIf us IncufubIy homosexuuI, us
doomed to u IIfe of IoneIIness und stIgmu und us
someone whom socIety hus mufgInuIIzed und cust us u
pedophIIe. He wIII ceftuInIy thInk of hImseIf us huvIng
u homosexuuI IdentIty und muy be seekIng psychIutfIc
heIp. EvIdence fof thIs ffumewofk cun be found In the
muny Ims of the 1930s to 1960s thut depIct muIe
homosexuuIIty In pfecIseIy these tefmsus sud,
compuIsIve, puthoIogIcuI, und untIsocIuI. Such Ims
IIke AIffed HItchcock's Rope (1948), RIchufd Bfooks's
Cut on u Hot TIn Roof (1958), BusII Deufden's VIctIm
(1961), und John Huston's ReectIons In u GoIden Eye
(1967)nevef hud to nume the sIn they depIcted (they
IItefuIIy couId not nume It, becuuse the Huys Code,
enfofced to contfoI medIu Inuence, fofbude the
depIctIon of homosexuuIIty), they mefeIy hud to
IndIcute thut thefe wus somethIng unmentIonubIe"
ubout the puthoIogy ffom whIch the muIn chufuctef
And by the 1970s, u sImIIuf mun wIII thInk of hImseIf
us guy, out, pfoud, he muy be supef Invested In hIs
muscuIInIty und muy fesIst the cutegofIes of fuIfy" of
homosexuuI" uItogethef und thInk of hIs IdentIcutIon
wIth the tefm guy" us IIbefutofy! So how, you mIght
usk, dId we begIn wIth u dIugnosIs, move thfough
socIuI mufgInuIIzutIon, und uffIve ut guy pfIde und guy
muffIuge? But even If you don't usk, you mIght wunt to
usk, becuuse the stfuggIes thut peopIe endufed befofe
us huve often uofded us ouf sense of IIbefutIon." And
whut Is mofe, othef poIItIcuI tfujectofIes wouId huve
Ied to othef kInds of gouIs fof IIbefutIon.
Indeed, the desIfe fof muffIuge compIetes u Iong
pfocess by whIch IGBT peopIe, huvIng been sepufuted
out ffom nofmutIve socIety und cuIIed puthoIogIcuI,
now ufe embfuced und In tufn embfuce the vefy
cuItufes thut pfevIousIy fejected them. In fuct, I wouId
tuke thIs poInt fufthef: the puftIcIputIon of IGBT
coupIes In stute-sunctIoned muffIuges Iends cfedIbIIIty
to the vefy InstItutIon thut hus ucquIfed meunIng
pfecIseIy thfough excIudIng guys und IesbIuns, umong
othefs, ffom muffIuge In the fst pIuce. In othef wofds,
muffIuge hus been un excIusIonufy system futhef thun
un IncIusIonufy one, It hus functIoned pfecIseIy by
dfuwIng IInes between those who cun und those who
cunnot IeguIIy muffy. In the twentIeth centufy, peopIe
who huve been pfohIbIted ffom muffyIng IncIude guys,
IesbIuns, tfuns peopIe, und mIxed-fuce coupIes. An
InstItutIon thut hus been dened thfough such
excIusIons und thut hus been enfofced us u system of
cIuss uIIIunce, of fucIuI pufIty, of feIIgIous sunctIon,
shouId sufeIy be dIsmuntIed futhef thun expunded!
Just us new cIussIcutIons (medIcuI und
psychoIogIcuI) of pefsonhood ut the end of the
nIneteenth centufy cfeuted homosexuuI" peopIe und
hetefosexuuI" peopIe, they uIso, thfough u kInd of
conceptuuI sIeIght of hund, fofced peopIe to speuk
ubout homo- und hetefosexuuIs, men und women, us If
they beIonged to dIefent specIes und us If the
dIefences between euch gfoup wus dIstInct, cIeuf,
und, ubove uII, nutufuI. One Iegucy of thIs dIvIsIon of
sexuuIItIes und gendefs Into sepufute specIes," hus
been u IustIng InubIIIty to see connectIons when we
mIght wunt to muke mofe genefuI stutements ubout
shIfts und chunges In gendef und sexuuIIty ucfoss the
cuItufe. And so we speuk of guy und IesbIun hIstofy us
If thefe Is one sIngIe nuffutIve fof uII IesbIuns und uII
guy men und us If thut nuffutIve hus cohefence und
unfoIds In tefms of excIusIon und mufgInuIIzutIon
foIIowed by pfotests und fevoIts und then fesoIves In
tefms of uccommodutIon und ussImIIutIon. But of
coufse, hIstofy unfoIds uIong vefy dIefent IInes fof
peopIe In dIefent cIusses, peopIe In dIefent fucIuI
gfoups, und peopIe of dIefent gendefs. Guy muIe
hIstofy does not IIne up nIceIy wIth IesbIun hIstofy,
bIuck hIstofIes of sexuuIIty Iook vefy dIefent ffom
whIte ones, hIstofIes InvoIvIng queef peopIe who
emIgfute ffom one fegIon to unothef Iook mussIveIy
dIefent ffom hIstofIes of peopIe who spend theIf
whoIe IIves In one ufeu, one cIty, one neIghbofhood,
SchoIufs huve gfuppIed fof yeufs wIth the chuIIenge
of muppIng these vefy dIspufute dIefences, und so,
too often, one hIstofy, u hIstofy of whIte guy men, hus
come to fepfesent uII of guy, IesbIun, und tfunsgendef
hIstofy. Why? Becuuse thefe ufe pupef tfuIIs fof guy
muIe hIstofy thut ufe mIssIng fof othef hIstofIesguy
men huve been IeguIIy pfosecuted, tfIed, convIcted,
und sentenced to pfIson (Oscuf WIIde's fumous tfIuI,
fof exumpIe, In the Iute nIneteenth centufy), guy muIe
hIstofy hus Intefsected wIth the hIstofIes of domInunt
cuItufe, but IesbIun und tfuns hIstofIes tend to Ieuve
Iess ufchIvuI mutefIuI und Iess tfuces. Fof thIs feuson,
conventIonuI hIstofIes of sexuuI mInofItIes often tuke
the fofm of focusIng on one event (StonewuII) und then
tufnIng It Into u fepfesentutIve moment. And so whIIe
the hIstofy of eufIy twenty-fst centufy IGBT poIItIcs
wIII InevItubIy get toId Iutef us u stofy of the stfuggIe
fof guy muffIuge, guy muffIuge Is mefeIy u puft of the
much mofe dIvefse und fudIcuI fubfIc of queef uctIvIsm,
und It muy not even be the most popuIuf cuuse fof guys
und IesbIuns und tfuns peopIe. It hus become the most
vIsIbIe, howevef, becuuse Its gouIs mesh weII wIth the
stutus quo und they seem to confm the fIghtness of
the socIuI vuIues In whIch hetefosexuuIs huve chosen to
And guy muffIuge muy huve vefy dIefent meunIng
fof dIefent queef communItIes: us even the WIIIIums
InstItute studIes muke cIeuf, guy muffIuge wIII do IIttIe
fof queef peopIe cuffentIy IIvIng In povefty, whIIe It
hus denIte tux benets fof the mIddIe cIuss und the
vefy fIch. The huIImufk of postWofId Wuf II IGBT
socIuI movements hus tended to be the uttempt to
chunge socIety, to modeI u dIefent wuy of feIutIng, of
cohubItIng, of desIfIng. So how dId we uffIve ut thIs
hIstofIcuI junctufe whefe un ussImIIutIonIst poIItIcs of
muffIuge now stunds In fof uII queef poIItIcuI
uspIfutIon? Muny queefs toduy stIII beIIeve In socIuI
movements fuf Iess focused on muffIuge equuIIty und
fuf mofe Intefested In chungIng the stfuctufes of
IntImute modes of feIutIng, beIongIng, und cohubItIng
uItogethef. Muny uctIvIsts outsIde of the muInstfeum
IGBT muffIuge-equuIIty movement tfy to muke
connectIons between homophobIu und othef fofms of
socIuI und poIItIcuI excIusIon. Not content to sIIp
smoothIy Into uIfeudy exIstIng coffupt und bunkfupt
InstItutIons, fudIcuI queefs stIII hoId on to the Ideu thut
somethIng IIes beyond muffIuge" (us one gfoup cuIIs
ItseIf), und, mofeovef, thut humun dIefence shouId
oufIsh not In the foundIng out of exIstIng stfuctufes
but In the cfeutIve InventIon of new ones.
Iet's dIscuss u mofe ImugInutIve kInd of uctIvIsm, one
thut Is Iess tIed to u poIItIcs of fespectubIIIty, one thut
Is mofe commItted to chunge und tfunsfofmutIon, und
one thut Is Iess Invested In muIntuInIng US socIuI
InstItutIons us they huve been fofmuIuted In feIutIon to
fucIst und homophobIc commItments. I wunt to
summufIze quIckIy the opposItIon to guy muffIuge us
fofmuIuted by pfogfessIve of Ieft-IeunIng gfoups such
us Beyond Guy MuffIuge, thInk ubout the questIon
posed In u numbef of convefsutIons us to whethef guy
muffIuge Is fucIst" of even specIcuIIy untI-bIuck,"
und then end wIth some specuIutIons on uctIvIsm Iess
focused on chungIng Iuws und mofe Intent upon the
tfunsfofmutIon of socIuI, psychIc, und poIItIcuI wofIds.
At stuke hefe ufe questIons ubout whut counts us
poIItIcuI In uny gIven context, opposItIons between
pfugmutIsm und utopIunIsm, und mofe questIons ubout
how to ufgue fof chunge, how to fecognIze chunge
when It uctuuIIy occufs, und how to thInk ubout
poIItIcuI pusts, pfesents, und futufes In wuys thut do
not sImpIy pfoduce u sense of poIItIcuI InevItubIIIty.
As I huve suId, not uII queef peopIe ufe udvocutes of
guy muffIuge, Indeed, uccofdIng to some uctIvIst
gfoups, fof most queef peopIe thIs Is not theIf muIn
poIItIcuI pfIofIty. In muInstfeum poIItIcuI cIfcIes,
howevef, guy muffIuge hus become the cuuse ceIebfe
und hus come to stund In fof guy und IesbIun poIItIcs us
u whoIe. Any hetefosexuuI ceIebfIty who wunts to be
seen us un uIIy to IGBT communItIes wIII stIck the guy-
muffIuge feuthef In hIs of hef cup us u sIgn of
soIIdufIty. Indeed, Iudy Gugu hus dedIcuted pubIIc
uppeufunces to gIvIng speeches cuIIIng fof muffIuge
equuIIty, us she dId fof the fepeuI of Don't Ask, Don't
TeII. WhIIe thIs onIy udds to hef uppeuI to whIte guy
men In puftIcuIuf, It femInds us thut we shouId not
confuse the fepfesentutIonuI muyhem thut Iudy Gugu
hus been ubIe to wfeuk In hef vIdeos wIth hef uctuuI
poIItIcs. I um not suyIng thut Iudy Gugu shouId stop
tuIkIng ubout guy cuuses, but I um suyIng thut whut
mukes hef IntefestIng, whut mukes hef gugu, hus vefy
IIttIe to do wIth the cIIched poIItIcuI posItIons she tukes.
In othef wofds, whIIe It Is bfuve to stund up und speuk
on behuIf of sexuuI mInofItIes, und whIIe It Is
Impoftunt, especIuIIy to young peopIe, fof funs to see
theIf IdoIs suppoft meunIngfuI cuuses, It Is stIII the cuse
thut uctIons und wofds ufe two vefy dIefent thIngs.
And whIIe Iudy Gugu's wofds In poIItIcuI speeches ufe
ofdInufy, hef peffofmunces, hef costumes, hef gestufes,
the wofIds she cfeutes und peopIes ufe extfuofdInufy.
Fof thIs feuson, I buIId gugu femInIsm on the bedfock
of the outfugeous peffofmunce ufchIve thut Iudy Gugu
hus cfeuted und not In feIutIon to hef speeches on
behuIf of muffIuge equuIIty of guys In the mIIItufy,
posItIons thut oef no cfItIque of muffIuge on the one
hund of the mIIItufy on the othef.
So, fof Iudy Gugu und othefs who wondef why some
queef peopIe uctuuIIy oppose guy muffIuge, consIdef
the foIIowIng poInts.
ReuctIve PoIItIcs Afe Weuk PoIItIcs
Guy muffIuge hus become u centfuI Issue puftIy
becuuse fIght-wIng ChfIstIun gfoups mount such u
fufIous opposItIon to It. In othef wofds, we" huve
mude It Into u bIg Issue becuuse they" huve mude It
Into u bIg Issuethe poIItIcs ufound guy muffIuge,
then, In puft Is feuctIve futhef thun pfouctIve. ReuctIve
poIItIcs ufe weuk und defensIve, ufe dened by the
opposItIon, und tend to fetfeut Into justIcutIons
Insteud of movIng fofwufd thfough pfovocutIons.
Fufthefmofe, muffIuge-equuIIty movements huve the
unfoftunute tendency to boIstef othef consefvutIve
muffIuge movements, often ChfIstIun, by IendIng
cfedIbIIIty to u fuIIIng uffungement In Its houf of need.
IncIusIon MuIntuIns the Stutus Quo
Guy muffIuge Is beIng fofmuIuted by IeguI-fefofm
gfoups us u stund-uIone" Issue, It tends not to be
IInked to othef socIuI justIce pfojects, und It boffows
heuvIIy ffom u cIvII fIghtsefu fIghts" dIscoufse
ufound IncIusIon und extensIon of the stutus quo.
MukIng muffIuge Into u stund-uIone Issue uctuuIIy
mukes nonsense of the compufIson to cIvII fIghts
stfuggIes. WhIIe the cIvII fIghts stfuggIes uguInst
InstItutIonuIIzed fucIsm sought to tfunsfofm the whoIe
socIety, the muffIuge-equuIIty uctIvIsts seek to
muIntuIn the stutus quo whIIe demundIng u bIggef sIIce
of the pIe. When guy peopIe get muffIed, keep In mInd,
they muy weII extend the InstItutIon of muffIuge, but
they do not chunge It. Whut Is mofe, whIIe muny
muffIuge uctIvIsts muke the unuIogy to cIvII fIghts
stfuggIes, much of the whIte guy-muffIuge IeudefshIp
muke no connectIons between fuce und sexuuIIty und
few oveftufes to communItIes of coIof hufbofIng
mIsgIvIngs ubout guy muffIuge. Indeed, the whIte"
ugendu of guy-muffIuge udvocutes muy huve
contfIbuted to Iufge numbefs of AffIcun AmefIcun und
IutIno,u votefs custIng theIf votes uguInst the fepeuI of
Pfop. 8 In the 2008 eIectIons.
In some popuIuf medIu, guy muffIuge Is depIcted us
u bIuck-und-whIte Issue, wIth whIte guys wuntIng to get
muffIed und bIuck ChfIstIuns opposIng them. The
opposItIon to guy muffIuge Is uII too often feud
monoIIthIcuIIy us puft und pufceI of fIght-wIng mofuI
outfuge und u vuIues" ugendu when In fuct peopIe
ffom dIefent buckgfounds muy huve dIefent feusons
fof opposIng not sImpIy guy muffIuge but whut It
fepfesents In tefms of the Iundscupe of poIItIcuI uctIon
In the UnIted Stutes. Fof bIuck fumIIIes thut huve Iong
been fepfesented us dysfunctIonuI, und thut huve been
destubIIIzed by pfIson expunsIon und weIfufe fefofm,
muny of the so-cuIIed fIghts uttuched to muffIuge huve
not necessufIIy beneted them. As femInIst und queef
schoIuf PfIyu Kunduswumy put It In un IntefvIew
pubIIshed In 2004: WhIIe muny of Its udvocutes ufgue
thut guy muffIuge wouId secufe pufentuI fIghts fof guy
und IesbIun coupIes, I thInk thIs uctuuIIy depends on u
Iot mofe thun mufItuI stutus. In the US, fuce Is the
stfongest detefmInunt of whethef of not the stute
chooses to fecognIze youf pufentuI tIes. BIuck fumIIIes
ufe the most IIkeIy of uny fucIuI gfoup to be dIsfupted
by ChIId PfotectIon uuthofItIes und 42% of uII chIIdfen
In fostef cufe In the US ufe bIuck. If beIng muffIed does
not pfotect stfuIght bIuck fumIIIes ffom huvIng theIf
chIIdfen tuken uwuy, It's unIIkeIy It wIII pfotect queef
bIuck fumIIIes."
BIuck communItIes ufe uIso sometImes ungefed by
sImpIe compufIsons between guy-mufItuI-equuIIty
stfuggIes und bIuck cIvII fIghts buttIesguy
muInstfeum gfoups cutefIng to whIte peopIe huve used
thIs Iunguuge of compufIson wIthout uny
uccompunyIng uttentIon to fucIsm wIthIn whIte guy
und IesbIun communItIes of to povefty Issues of heuIth
cufe Issues fof peopIe of coIof, und the muInstfeum
gfoups pushIng fof muffIuge uImost nevef IInk theIf
stfuggIe to othef socIuI justIce Issues IIke pfIson fefofm.
And muffIuge Is not the onIy ufenu whefe whIte guys
und IesbIuns seem to be Iocked In u stfuggIe fof
poIItIcuI cfedIbIIIty wIth communItIes of coIof.
Fof exumpIe, one Im, FIug Wufs, u documentufy
ffom 2003 by IIndu Goode Bfyunt und Iuufu PoItfus,
hus documented the wuys In whIch bIuck communItIes
get pItted uguInst guy und IesbIun whIte home-ownefs,
wIth the guy und IesbIun feuItofs und buyefs tfyIng to
uccess pfopefty und gentfIfy, whIIe the IocuI bIuck
communItIes fuce housIng dIscfImInutIon und fedIInIng.
The Im teIIs u futhef unweIcome stofy ubout the
Impuct of gentfIcutIon, poftfuyIng whIte guys und
IesbIuns us puft of the system thut economIcuIIy
oppfesses peopIe of coIof futhef thun us peopIe who
shufe In the expefIence of mufgInuIIzutIon. The Im
depIcts u wufts-und-uII conffontutIon between house-
pfoud gentfIefs und Iong-tefm fesIdents, fentefs, In
the neIghbofhood. The whIte home-buyefs, though
nevef oveftIy fucIst, fuII to uppfecIute, whethef
deIIbefuteIy of not, the Impuct thut they ufe huvIng on
u hIstofIcuIIy bIuck neIghbofhood. And they nevef IInk
theIf own expefIence wIth oppfessIon to the economIc
dIsenffunchIsement thut they see uII ufound them.
Queef hIstofIun ChfIstInu Hunhufdt wfItes ubout
these cIushes between whIte guy und IesbIun IIbefutIon
stfuggIes und the poIItIcuI und economIc stfuggIes of
communItIes of coIof In u fofthcomIng book. ShowIng
thut eufIy guy-IIbefutIon movements In New Yofk, Sun
FfuncIsco, und Ios AngeIes, In the 1960s und 1970s, uII
begun wIth bIg, bfoud, Iofty gouIs fof socIuI justIce thut
IInked them to communItIes of coIof und mude IIttIe
sepufutIon between untIpovefty stfuggIes, untIfucIst
ugendus, und guy-fIghts pfojects, Hunhufdt chufts the
wuys In whIch whIte guy und IesbIun gfoups quIckIy
swItched tucks und begun to nume theIf poIItIcs In
tefms of untIvIoIence." Whefe once these gfoups mude
stfong uIIIunces wIth ImpovefIshed communItIes of
coIof, Iutef they focused In on homophobIu, und,
feufIng homophobIc vIoIence, they cuIIed fof mofe
poIIce pfesence und mofe pfotectIon on the stfeet, und
muny of them set ubout gentfIfyIng some of the poofef
neIghbofhoods (In Sun FfuncIsco thIs huppened In the
Westefn AddItIon, fof exumpIe). ThIs dfIve to muke the
stfeets sufe fof whIte queef peopIe fesuIted uII too
often In Incfeused poIIcIng fof peopIe of coIof.
So, us even these bfIef exumpIes show, thefe ufe
good feusons fof communItIes of coIof to mIstfust
umuent whIte guys, und thefe ufe uIso ut the sume
tIme muny communItIes of coIof who suppoft queef
poIItIcs but oppose guy muffIuge fof the sume feusons
thut muny bIuck queef uctIvIsts oppose It. And of
coufse, I um not ut uII suggestIng hefe thut guys und
IesbIuns ufe whIte und communItIes of coIof ufe
stfuIght, I um futhef tfyIng to unpuck the compIex
fucIuI poIItIcs ut wofk In these stfuggIes thut get
fepfesented us stfeumIIned und sImpIe. The muIn
pfobIem wIth u poIItIcs of IncIusIon, whefe u gfoup of
peopIe seek to be foIded Into exIstIng InstItutIons IIke
muffIuge, uItImuteIy IIes wIth the economIc dIvIsIons
thut muffIuge poIItIcs Ignofe. MuffIuge femuIns un
Issue thut uppeuIs to umuent whIte guys und IesbIuns
who wIII benet ffom It. It hus fuf Iess uppeuI to queefs
IIvIng In povefty of queefs uctIveIy wofkIng on socIuI
justIce Issues thut stfetch beyond secufIng IndIvIduuI
benefIts of tux bfeuks.
RIghts ShouId Not Be MuffIuge-Dependent
The push to extend some of the puftnefshIp fIghts
covefed by muffIuge to those coupIes who couId not of
chose not to muffy begun In the 1980s und fesuIted In
domestIc-puftnefshIp ofdInunces In muny cItIes. These
meusufes dId not uIIow unmuffIed coupIes to uccess uII
of the benets thut they mIght huve secufed thfough
muffIuge, but domestIc puftnefshIp dId sefve us u
usefuI uItefnutIve to muffIuge, und It uIso guve
tfudItIonuI-muffIuge fesIstefs u wuy to fegIstef theIf
feIutIonshIps wIth the stute. As Nuncy D. PoIIko
comments In hef ustute book Beyond (StfuIght und
Guy) MuffIuge, the pfobIem fof muny coupIes seekIng
to secufe heuIth benets, howevef, cunnot be fesoIved
thfough eIthef muffIuge of domestIc puftnefshIp. OnIy
unIvefsuI heuIth covefuge wouId feuIIy uIIow evefyone
uccess to the benets thut some peopIe seek thfough
muffIuge und cIvII unIons. PoIIko pfovIdes u quIck
hIstofIcuI sketch of how the UnIted Stutes cume to
bundIe heuIth Insufunce Into empIoyment puy
puckuges futhef thun stfuctufIng It us u unIvefsuIIy
uccessIbIe system. She femInds us thut concepts IIke the
fumIIy wuge," whIch emefged In the nIneteenth
centufy, ussumed thut men eufned the money und then
shufed theIf fesoufces wIth theIf wIves und chIIdfen In
wuys thut mude women und chIIdfen stfuctufuIIy
dependent upon men. PoIIko wfItes: ConsIstent wIth
the concept of the fumIIy wuge, when benets becume
u puft of empIoyee compensutIon, empIoyefs took Into
uccount u wofkef's fesponsIbIIIty to suppoft hIs wIfe
und chIIdfen. Women pfesumed not to huve such needs,
dId not feceIve equuI benefIts."
AfguIng thut us fumIIy fofms huve chungedmofe
women huve entefed the wofkpIuce, mofe muffIuges
huve ended In dIvofce, mofe eIdefIy peopIe huve
moved In wIth theIf mIddIe-uged chIIdfen, und so on
so too shouId the system thut ussIgns benets und
uccess to heuIth cufe. PoIIko Is succInct In hef
evuIuutIon of the pfesent stute of heuIth benets, und
she pfoposes udjustIng eIIgIbIIIty to feect toduy's
fumIIIes," uddIng, us she expIuIns why empIoyefs
shouId covef uII the dIvefse fofms thut fumIIIes tuke
now, thut muffIuge shouId not be fequIfed." Thefe Is
no bettef wuy to suy ItmuffIuge und domestIc
puftnefshIps shouId not be fequIfed In the fst pIuce In
ofdef fof puftnefs und chIIdfen und dependents to
uccess udequute heuIth cufe.
AItefnutIve IntImucIes Afe Not Sefved by the MuffIuge
Thefe ufe muny wuys of cfeutIng fumIIy, kInshIp,
IntImucy, und communIty thut exceed the muffIuge
modeI. Some of these muy IncIude: shufed pufentIng
uffungements, spIIt fumIIIes, communItIes IIvIng
togethef wIthout chIIdfen, und, Iust but ceftuInIy not
Ieust, thfeesomes. (A Ios AngeIes gfoup cuIIed the
ToxIc TIttIes deveIoped u fubuIous peffofmunce pIece
whefe they sought to be muffIed us thfee peopIe.) The
pfIvIIegIng of Iong-tefm, pefmunent uffungements
between coupIes, especIuIIy those thut IncIude
chIIdfeufIng, gfunts pfIofIty to fofms of feIutIon thut
cun be tfucked und documented ovef fofms of feIutIon
thut ufe ephemefuI und tempofufy. GIven thut thefe
cun eusIIy be mofe IntImucy In un occusIonuI
feIutIonshIp wIth spufk und pussIon thun In un Ineft
domestIc puftnefshIp thut hus Iong outIIved Its ofIgInuI
IntensIty, why vuIue one ovef the othef when It comes
to socIuI stubIIIty, of huppIness, of the benet of
One of the most compeIIIng feusons gIven to push fof
guy muffIuge, us mentIoned ubove, hus been the uccess
to heuIth und othef benefIts thut muffIuge wouId confef
upon guy us weII us stfuIght coupIes. But uguIn, us I
note ubove, thIs Issue cun be uppfouched und fesoIved
In othef wuys, und In Its pfIvIIegIng of muffIuge, It
cuIIs uttentIon to the wuy we vuIue some fofms of
socIuI connectIon ovef othef equuIIy vuIId ones.
PoIIko's wofk, uguIn, Is vefy usefuI hefe, us she gIves
the IeguI pefspectIve on why muffIuge equuIIty Is not
the soIutIon fof wofkIng towufd the fecognItIon of
dIvefse househoIds. PoIIkoff comments:
An empIoyef shouId not pfotect onIy puftnefs of empIoyees whose
feIutIonshIps huve been gfunted fofmuI stutus by the stute. The
pfIncIpIes behInd mukIng muffIuge muttef Iess thut unImuted eufIy
domestIc puftnefshIp poIIcIes stIII uppIy. GIven the vust Incfeuse In
coupIes IIvIng togethef wIthout muffyIng, In the context of u IeguI
system thut hus mude gettIng muffIed und stuyIng muffIed mofe
optIonuI, thefe Is no busIs fof fequIfIng muffIuge of Its sume-sex
unuIogue fof someone to count us u fumIIy membef.
Fof exumpIe, one couId ufgue thut evefyone shouId
huve the optIon to extend theIf benets puckuges to
othefs, to u pIus one" Insteud of vefIubIe feIutIves. If
the guy In the oce next to me hus ve kIds wIth thfee
dIefent women und cun udd uny of these kIds to hIs
medIcuI Insufunce, why cun't I sIgn up the oId Iudy
who IIves next doof und who wutches my upuftment
fof me when I um gone? Of the mun down the stfeet
who Is between jobs but does odd jobs ufound the
neIghbofhood? Why not huve u system whefe unyone
cun puy fof up to sIx othefs us u fumIIy"? Why not
vuIue fofged connectIon us much us bIood In tefms of
wuys we thInk ubout beIongIng? We couId ufgue thut
these uItefnutIve IntImucIes" wouId muke socIety
much stfongef und In much mofe eIubofute wuys thun
muffIuge does. MuffIuge pIts the fumIIy und the coupIe
uguInst evefyone eIse, uItefnutIve IntImucIes stfetch
connectIons between peopIe und ucfoss neIghbofhoods
IIke InvIsIbIe webs, und they bInd us to one unothef In
wuys thut fostef communIcutIon, fesponsIbIIIty, und
genefosIty. If we ufe feuIIy commItted to mukIng IIfe
bettef fof us muny peopIe us possIbIe, then we shouId
consIdef fepIucIng muffIuge wIth wIdef unIts of
connectIon und feIutIon.
And In fuct, new fumIIy uffungements InvoIvIng
gendef-vufIunt puftnefs In queef feIutIonshIps ufe
chungIng the sex,gendef styIes und beIIefs of u whoIe
new genefutIon, und It Is quIte possIbIe thut wIthIn ouf
IIfetImes, guys und IesbIuns und IGBT fumIIIes wIII
become us ubIquItous und us uccepted us dIvofced
househoIds und thut dIvofced househoIds wIII Iose theIf
stIgmu und sImpIy be seen us u pfuctIcuI wuy of fuIsIng
chIIdfen outsIde of nucIeufIty. The gouI hefe, then,
shouId be to fecognIze the vufIety wIthIn whIch
househoIds cun comethe dIvefsIty of domestIc
feIutIons, the InventIveness of humun connectIon, und
not the sIngIIng out of one fofm of feIutIon
(coupIedom, muffIuge) ovef uII othefs.
MuffIuge Is un OppfessIve IdeoIogy
In tefms of pfIncIpIed opposItIon to guy muffIuge,
some queef schoIufs huve tfIed to expose the wuys In
whIch young peopIe ufe Ied to beIIeve thut muffIuge
und bubIes fepfesent the onIy possIbIe futufe wIthIn
whIch they cun IIve out theIf uduIt desIfes. And so, we
Ieud young gIfIs In puftIcuIuf to beIIeve thut they wIII
be swept nutufuIIy uIong ffom one IIfe-denIng event
to unothefthut Iove Ieuds to muffIuge, muffIuge to
bubIes, bubIes to fumIIy contentment, und thut once In
the sheItef of the fumIIy, IIfe wIII be sweet, sImpIe, und
fuIIIIng. And fof some peopIe, fuIfy tuIes feuIIy do
come tfue. But fof most of us, the ufc uIong whIch ouf
IIves wIII pIuy out wIII be consIdefubIy mofe
compIIcuted thun thIs nofmuI tImeIIne ImpIIes. Thefe
wIII be stops und stufts, ups und downs, und the
fumIIy, futhef thun u sunctuufy, muy fof muny be u
kInd of pfIson thut we ussIduousIy uvoId.
I feud u stofy In u muguzIne u few yeufs ugo ubout u
guy, u young mun, hundsome und on hIs wuy to u
successfuI cufeef, who wus mIssIng one thIng In hIs IIfe:
u wIfe. HIs pufents wefe deepIy dIsuppoInted In hIm,
dIsmuyed thut he couId go fofwufd In IIfe wIthout u
(femuIe) puftnef. The young mun stufted dutIng,
becume sefIous ubout u young womun, pfoposed to
hef, und wuIked out on hef the duy befofe theIf
weddIng. HIs thefupIst dIugnosed hIm us suefIng ffom
u feuf of IntImucy, und hIs pufents wefe huft und
bewIIdefed. The guy eventuuIIy Ieft the UnIted Stutes
uItogethef und went to IIve In Gefmuny, uIone, he
nevef muffIed und wus totuIIy huppy wIthout u
puftnef. WhIIe the muguzIne stofy used thIs mun to
thInk thfough IntImucy dIsofdefs, It Is quIte possIbIe
thut thefe Is no dIsofdef hefe ut uIIonIy u peffectIy
feusonubIe desIfe to be uIone, to IIve uIone, to uvoId
IntImucy whefe IntImucy Is so tethefed to u one-sIze-
fIts-uII fofmut of cohubItutIon und muffIuge.
MuffIuge, the supposedIy bIg" event In the IIfe of u
young pefson, Is, us so muny femInIsts huve poInted
out, us much of un endIng us u begInnIng (us June Eyfe
stutes quIetIy ut the end of the fumed eponymous noveI
ubout IookIng fof Iove In uII the wfong pIuces: Reudef,
I muffIed hIm."). And fof too muny peopIe, especIuIIy
young women, uItefnutIve IIfe puths ufe shut down, by
themseIves und socIety, uImost befofe they huve even
been consIdefed. WhIIe femInIsts of u ceftuIn stfIpe
huve spent yeufs opposIng muffIuge und tfyIng to
unseut muffIuge ffom Its centfuI pIuce In the gendefed
ImugInufy, It Is IfonIc to see muffIuge us un
unquestIoned good und u wofthy gouI In u guy
ImugInufy. And It Is not us If the opposItIon to
muffIuge Is u new thIng und hus gone unexpfessed
untII now. Indeed, some of the eufIIest opposItIon to
muffIuge cume In the fofm of femInIst cfItIques of whut
wus then cuIIed putfIufchy." FemInIsts IIke Mufy
WoIIstonecfuft In the Iute eIghteenth centufy In hef A
VIndIcutIon of the RIghts of Womun descfIbed muffIuge
us IeguI pfostItutIon." John Stuuft MIII, some seventy
yeufs Iutef, ufgued uguInst muffIuge on the gfounds
thut It coefced women to IeguIIy submIt to unequuI
feIutIons wIth men. SImone de BeuuvoIf, one hundfed
yeufs Iutef, feItefuted MIII's poInt thut muffIuge cun
nevef be ffeeIy chosen by women us Iong us It Is bused
upon unequuI feIutIons between men und women, und
she depIcted muffIuge In The Second Sex us u tfup fof
both sexes: howevef, whIIe men cun escupe the
connes of muffIuge thfough pfostItutIon und the
InduIgIng of theIf sexuuI cupfIces," women cun onIy
nd u wuy out by cheutIng. Indeed, she wfItes:
AduItefy becomes u nutufuI puft of muffIuge."
And It
Is thIs ufgument, thut muffIuge necessItutes uduItefy,
thut nds Its wuy Into contempofufy femInIst cfItIques
of muffIuge by Iuufu KIpnIs und othefs.
Iuufu KIpnIs, In u hIIufIous und fuzof-shufp poIemIc,
AguInst Iove,
feveuIs how Iove Iufes young und
unsuspectIng IdeuIIsts Into muffIuge und then tfups
them thefe thfough u sefIes of socIuI set pIeces thut
estubIIsh coupIes us euch othefs' juIIofs (she gIves the
exumpIe of how coupIes huve to teII euch othef
evefythIng they ufe doIng, fepoft buck on whefe they
ufe goIng und wIth whom, und check In pefIodIcuIIy
thfoughout the duy of evenIngfecuII the Iudy Gugu
vIdeo TeIephone und the fecuffent IyfIc stop cuIIIng,
stop cuIIIng"). EventuuIIy one of both of the membefs
of thIs domestIc guIug" febeIs und escupes thfough un
uduItefous uuIf thut oefs u bfIef gIImpse of ffeedom
befofe It becomes Iove . und then muffIuge . und
then the cycIe begIns uguIn. In KIpnIs's poIemIc, the
socIuI stfuctufe wIthIn whIch Iove occufs Is the feuI
pfobIem, but becuuse It Is hufd to chunge stfuctufuI
condItIons, we Insteud bIume euch othef fof the
dysfunctIon of Iove und muffIuge und ugfee to wofk
on It," goIng to thefupy to do so. KIpnIs's poIemIc Is uII
the mofe eectIve fof the wuy It nuIIs some of the most
fumIIIuf foutInes of muffIed of even just coupIed IIfe,
und so Iets no one o the hook. The cIIches of the
weddIng und fomuntIc Iove, us she shows, quIckIy
hufden Into the fofmuIuIc foutInes of muffIed IIfe, und
so we tume, domestIcute, und munuge the expIosIve
IntImucIes between Iovefs und tufn them Into the
humdfum scheduIe of the evefyduy, IeuvIng uII the
funtusy, the uctIon, und the utopIun possIbIIIty behInd
und dfeumIng of It onIy when we go to see the Iutest
Iume fomuntIc comedy .
So, to summufIze: muffIuge Is un ugendu fofced upon
IGBT gfoups by the wIdespfeud opposItIon to guy
muffIuge, und whIIe some guys und IesbIuns choose to
muffy, It's not u cuuse thut IIes ut the heuft of queef
communIty. MuffIuge uttens out the vufIed teffuIn of
queef socIuI IIfe und feduces the dIefences thut muke
queefs, weII, queef, to IeguI dIstInctIons thut cun be
Ifoned out by the stfong hund of the Iuw. Why not
wofk on othef fofms of IeguI fecognItIon thun
muffIuge, fofms thut uIIow fof conventIonuI und
unusuuI househoId uffungements? Why Invest onIy In
Iong-tefm, pefmunent uttuchments? Why not thInk
beyond muffIuge, especIuIIy ut thIs moment when
muffIuge Is u oundefIng InstItutIon even fof
hetefosexuuIs? In othef wofds, how In the wofId dId we
end up wIth u guy ugendu thut seeks muffIuge equuIIty
when the wofId Is goIng to heII In u hundbug und whut
we feuIIy need Is compIete und uttef socIuI
Even HoIIywood cInemu und the popuIuf pfess seem
to know thut muffIuge hus exhuusted Its own ffugIIe
pIot. In the Iust decude, uctuuIIy mostIy between 2008
und 2011, wIth 2009 beIng u bunnef yeuf, HoIIywood
hus pfoduced u pIethofu of fomuntIc comedIes und
bfomunces such us BfIde Wufs (2009), BfIdesmuIds
(2011), He's Just Not Thut Into You (2009), I Iove You,
Mun (2009), The Hungovef (2009), The Hungovef Puft
II (2011), The PfoposuI (2009), FofgettIng Sufuh
MufshuII (2008), Sex und the CIty (2008), und Sex und
the CIty 2 (2010)In whIch whIny women ufe
despefute fof Iove und muffIuge und fundy men ufe
despefute to escupe both. In these Ims, women ufe
eIthef bItches of puthetIc und men ufe eIthef dopes of
puthetIc. Aftef u vIgofous cfItIque of the whoIe
muffIuge thIng, these comedIes uII end wIth thofoughIy
unconvIncIng fesoIutIons In unemIc und bufeIy
beIIevubIe weddIngs und fomuntIc coupIIngs. The
entIfe pfemIse of the movIe vefsIons of Sex und the
CIty, fof exumpIe, fevoIves ufound the vefy event
muffIugethut the TV sefIes uvoIded In ofdef to keep
the fouf ffIends Intuct us u femuIe unIt of
compunIonshIp. WhIIe the TV shows mude the
chufuctef of CuffIe Bfudshuw Into u fomuntIc sIngIe
IookIng fof Iove In uII the wfong pIuces, the movIe
begIns when she hus uIfeudy met und moved In wIth
Mf. RIght, of Mf. BIg, In thIs cuse. Aftef yeufs of
denIng hefseIf In opposItIon to compuIsofy
coupIedom und In uIIIunce wIth sIngIe womunhood,
CuffIe wunts to get muffIed, und she wunts the
weddIng to be the bIggest und the best evef. WeII,
pfedIctubIy, the Im depIcts Mf. BIg becomIng
IncfeusIngIy nefvous us the weddIng gets mofe und
mofe eIubofute, und the mofe expensIve und detuIIed
the weddIng becomes, the mofe CuffIe wunts und needs
Mf. BIg to wunt whut she wunts. When he nuIIy cuIIs
It quIts, she nuIIy sees the effof of hef wuys. When
she nuIIy comes to hef senses, he nuIIy ugfees to the
weddIng she wunts und needs. The Im tufns upon u
cfItIque of the supefcIuI fofms of fomunce thut feed
Into the weddIng IndustfIuI compIex, und then It does
un ubout-fuce und puys the pIpef, becomIng, In spIte of
evefythIng, u weddIng.
The weddIng Is the cum shot" of the fomuntIc
comedy. WIth Its ffothy whIte dfesses, Its ecstutIc
decIufutIons of wIIIIngness (I do, I do!"), Its ovef-the-
top cukes, und Its ubundunce of cIothIng In unnutufuI
mutefIuIs, the weddIng Is the consummutIon of uII the
hopes und dfeums thut young women huve been
oefed uIong the wuy to uduIthood. The pfIncesses, the
pInk toys, the unIcofns (phuIIIc symboI, unyone?), the
fomuntIc und ImpossIbIe nuffutIve of femInInIty wIII
pefhups onIy evef be fesoIved by the chufmIng,
sometImes movIng, often nuuseutIng spectucIe of the
weddIng. WIth theIf cookIe-cuttef pIots, theIf beefcuke
Ieuds, und theIf bImbo hefoInes, fomuntIc comedIes
wunt onIy one thIngnot the peffect Iove, the peffect
puftnef, the peffect IocutIon, they wunt onIy u peffect
weddIng, und whIIe In pfevIous decudes the fomuntIc
comedy (When Huffy Met SuIIy, AnnIe HuII,
Moonstfuck) wus ubout Mf. und Mfs. RIght ndIng
euch othef, now the genfe dIspenses uItogethef wIth
the fofepIuy of ndIng euch othef und heuds fIght to
the weddIng.
Tuke the pIot of BfIdesmuIds, u fecent fom-com, u
Im wfItten by women (KfIsten WIIg, who uIso stufs In
It, und AnnIe MumoIo) und stuffIng u bevy of tuIented
comIc uctfesses. In BfIdesmuIds, the hupIess hefoIne Is
sIngIe und out of wofk when hef best ffIend unnounces
thut she Is gettIng muffIed. The pIot now tufns to the
pfepufutIon fof the weddIngthe showef, the hen
pufty, the weddIng feheufsuI. WhIIe the ffIends ght
ovef who wIII be the muId of honof, the pfotugonIst
fuIIs to notIce thut she hus uIfeudy met hef own Mf.
RIght. Muny cfItIcs, IIke Mufy EIIzubeth WIIIIums ut
SuIon (who cuIIed BfIdesmuIds youf fst bIuck
pfesIdent of femuIe-dfIven comedIes"),
wefe fuIIIng
ovef themseIves to unnounce thIs movIe us u
bfeukthfough fof femuIe-centefed comedy, und femInIst
to boot. And, us A. O. Scott poInts out In hIs fevIew of
the Im In the New Yofk TImes: The men In the movIe
ufe kInd of besIde the poInt," und the feuI uctIon Is gIfI
on gIfI.
As unothef cfItIc, MIcheIIe Deun ut The AwI,
femInded us, though, thIs wus hufdIy u femInIst
bfeukthfough99 pefcent of the dIscussIons between
women focused on muffIuge, fumIIy, und weddIngs!
And In thIs Im, the fom-com comes us cIose to u pofno
Ick us It Is possIbIe to come wIthout nuked
unconvIncIng sex to 1980s musIc. In othef wofds, the
men wefe just excuses fof women to stfut theIf stu,
the women peffofm sexy femInInIty wIth one unothef
whIIe men Iook on und whIIe the femuIe bodIes ufe
exposed, exumIned, und ubusedthe most obvIous
exumpIe of thIs IuyIng bufe of the femuIe body cun be
seen In the movIe's centfuI gfoss-out scene, whIch pIuys
wIth the tfopes of dIsofdefed femuIe embodIment In
genefuI und focuses thefefofe on food, on bIngIng und
pufgIng, thfough u kInd of InvoIuntufy buIImIu. And
so, foIIowIng un III-udvIsed dInnef (ut u decIdedIy
ethnIc festuufunt) fof theIf hen nIght, the bfIdesmuIds
heud fof u dfess ttIng und, In the pfIstIne chumbef of
vIfgInuI whIte gowns, they, one by one, thfow up und
shIt uncontfoIIubIy In the gfIps of muss food poIsonIng.
As MIcheIIe Deun noted ustuteIy, futhef thun mukIng
comedy out of the hIdeousness of bfIduI weuf, the
movIe Insteud mukes the women und not the cIothes
the pIuce of hoffof.
In genefuI, the women In fom-coms tend to come In
ubout fouf vufIetIesthe ones we see In Sex und the
CIty, In fuct:
1. The Shfew (CuffIe) The shfew Is often uIso the bfIde-
to-be of, In mothef-In-Iuw fIIms, fepfesents the
potentIuI futufe of the spInstef If she doesn't Iook
out. If the shfew Is young, then she Is wuItIng to be
tumed by the fIght mun, If she Is oId, she Is u
cuutIonufy fIgufe.
2. The MuId (of Honof) (ChufIotte) The muId Is the
unmuffIed ffIend of the bfIde, who fepfesents the
potentIuI spInstef In the mukIng. She Is the womun
who mukes bud choIces, cunnot keep u mun, Is
ubused by hef boyffIends, und must be fefofmed
ovef the coufse of the fIIm Into the next bfIdethe
pIot IItefuIIy tfIes to thfow hef u bouquet.
3. The UgIy ChIck (MIfundu) The ugIy chIck Is beyond
muffIuge. She Is the dyke, the fut one, the
unmuffIugeubIe womun who cun be funny, nuy,
must be funny, becuuse she Is not pfetty. She Is, by
ImpIIcutIon, u IesbIun, she Is u pfofessIonuI womun
too busy fof u mun, too ofIented to hef cufeef, und
so she hus been dIvefted ffom hef mIssIon us u
womun: to muffy! In BfIdesmuIds, thIs Is the Megun
chufuctef pIuyed by MeIIssu McCufthy und the object
of muny fut" und ugIy" jokes.
4. The Othef Womun (Sumunthu) Evefy fom-com hus
un othef womun"It mIght be the ex-gIfIffIend, the
mothef-In-Iuw, the sIutty fIvuI, the hIgh schooI ffIend
who contInues to huunt the pfotugonIst. Hef
functIon Is to push the bfIde to seuI the deuI wIth hef
MukIng the weddIng Into the money shot of the fom-
com meuns fuIsIng und then oveftufnIng uII objectIons
to muffIuge In ofdef to muke the weddIng meunIngfuI,
hufd won, und u tfIumph. In The Hungovef, the
bfomunce pfequeI to BfIdesmuIds, we get the muIe
pefspectIve on uII of thIs fofepIuy to muffIuge: whIIe
the gIfI vefsIon Is u hen pufty gone hoffIbIy wfong,
compIete wIth femuIe competItIon, eutIng-dIsofdef
uctIvItypufgIng und bIngIngbItchIness, und un
obIIgutofy fut,ugIy gIfI tukedown, the boy vefsIon
puInts muffIuge us u bIeuk und bIttef pIII thut the guy
wIth fuII knowIedge just hus to mun up to und swuIIow.
The stug-pufty pfemIse uIIows the guys to tfush
women, wIves, und muffIuge whIIe bondIng wIth euch
othef, beutIng up fugs, und ogIIng stfIppefs. In the cuse
o f The Hungovef, we ufe gIven fouf men, the
ufchetypuI muIe pIuyefs In the muffIuge tfugedy:
1. The Best Mun (PhII, pIuyed by BfudIey Coopef) ThIs
Is the stud who wus gonnu be somebody, who Is uII
mucho dufIng und yet who hus been custfuted by
muffIuge und chIIdfen und needs to get hIs mojo
buck by hungIng out wIth hIs buddIes.
2. The Henpecked Husbund of Husbund-to-Be (Stu,
pIuyed by Ed HeIms, who fepeuts thIs foIe In sevefuI
othef movIes, Ceduf RupIds, fof exumpIe) ThIs Is the
nIce guy who tfIes too hufd to pIeuse hIs pussIve-
uggfessIve gIfIffIend und who hus Ieufned to bend
hIs needs ufound hefs und who needs to be IIbefuted
ffom hef ubuse by hIs buddIes.
3. The Iosef (AIun, pIuyed by Zuch GuIIfIunukIs, who
fepeuts thIs foIe ud nuuseum In evefy movIe he Is In
see Due Dute fof exumpIe, Jonuh HIII pIuys sImIIuf
chufuctefs) ThIs Is the fut,huIfy,hopeIess guy, the
fomuntIc Ieud's unwunted ffIend,bfothef-In-Iuw who
stfIkes out wIth women becuuse he Is u socIoputh. As
such he dfuws negutIve uttentIon uwuy ffom some of
the hutefuI behuvIof of the othef dudes und mukes It
seem IIke they ufe cooI und sune becuuse he Is
wufped und mud. DespIte beIng physIcuIIy fepuIsIve,
he cun sometImes get the gIfI und sIIp Into the
bfIdegfoom-to-be foIe (see Knocked Up).
4. The BfIdegfoom-to-Be (Doug, pIuyed by JustIn
Bufthu) He Is u cIphef, un excuse fof u pIot, the
nuffutIve equIvuIent of the penIs futhef thun the
phuIIus (u phuIIus Is un IdeuIIzed vefsIon of the
penIs, It Is the powef fepfesented by the penIs In u
muIe-domInuted socIety, of mofe succInctIy, u
phuIIus Is u penIs, onIy smuIIef .), und he Is just the
cofk bobbIng uIong on the wutefs of hetefosexuuIIty
who becomes the tufget of hIs ffIends' uttempts to
fescue themseIves ffom the deep wutefs of muffIuge
by wufnIng hIm uguInst dIvIng In.
These ufchetypes of the fom-com, muIe und femuIe,
ufe to be found In most specImens ffom the genfe.
ThInk of He's Just Not Thut Into Youthe muId yeufns
fof u guy of hef own, the best mun stfuggIes wIth
IndeIIty wIth the othef womun, the shfew cunnot
fefofm und hef husbund Ieuves hef, und the henpecked
husbund, the Ben Ameck chufuctef, tfunsfofms Into the
bfIdegfoom by stundIng up to hIs wIfe-to-be. Of thInk
o f The PfoposuIthe Sundfu BuIIock chufuctef pIuys
the shfew, who gets tumed by the henpecked husbund-
to-be (hef ussIstunt), who moves Into the foIe of
bfIdegfoom by stundIng up to the shfew. ThInk of
BfIdesmuIdsKfIsten WIIg pIuys AnnIe, the muId, hef
best ffIend, IIIIIun (Muyu RudoIph), Is the shfew who
nuIIy gets hef mun, und MeIIssu McCufthy pIuys
Megun, the ugIy chIck who comes on to evefy mun und
thfeutens to come on to the women, too. And Rose
Byfne pIuys HeIen, the cIussIc othef womun, who In
thIs cuse Is muffIed but competes wIth AnnIe fof the
uectIons of IIIIIun. HuvIng dIspensed wIth the puft of
the pIot whefe boy meets gIfI (boy Is just thefe In thIs
Im, u cIphef), the dfumu of the Im Is ubout
ffIendshIp, hofIzontuI feIutIons umong the bfIdesmuIds
futhef thun hIefufchIcuI feIutIons between the coupIe
und evefyone eIse. WhIIe the Im seems to oef
somethIng new by focusIng upon the women und
unswefIng the stug bfomunces, It cIeuves tIghtIy to the
thfee-uct stfuctufe, the fouf ufchetypuI chufuctefs, und
the demund thut the fomuntIc comedy deIIvef uII of Its
fIotous sexuuI enefgy to the pfIson house of Iove und
WhIIe the scfeenpIuy wfItefs get fIch by feedIng thIs
shIt Into u muchIne und tufnIng out one bud scfIpt uftef
unothef, the muffIuge myth gfows whIIe the dIvofce
fute fockets upwufd. HeII, we couId uII wfIte these
scfIpts In ouf spufe tIme: womun wofks fof guy In hIs
oce (of vIce vefsu fof somethIng quIfky), neIthef of
them feuIIze thut they ufe In Iove, und they both get
InvoIved wIth othef peopIe but feuIIze the mIstuke
when (u) they uII tuke u tfIp togethef, (b) they huve to
pfetend to be togethef fof some fumIIy functIon, of (c)
they ufe fofced to do somethIng dIcuIt togethef. Of,
guy's ffIend gets muffIed, he meets u womun ut the
weddIng, Ioses hef, nds hef uguIn us she Is ubout to
get muffIed, Intefvenes . of, guy nevef wunted to get
muffIed, gIfI nevef wunted to settIe downguy und
gIfI dute cusuuIIy und, wow, they fuII fof euch othef
whIIe doIng uII thIs cusuuI-sex stu. They fesIst euch
othef, bfeuk up, neufIy get buck togethef uguIn but
don't und then do. Of, gIfI und guy uccIdentuIIy get
muffIed whIIe dfunk und then tfy to get dIvofced, but
just us the dIvofce comes thfough they feuIIzegusp
they feuIIy Iove euch othef.
FofmuIus cun be sexy und fun, though, und It's not
the fofmuIuIc quuIIty of these fomuntIc comedIes thut Is
the muIn pfobIemIt Is the cfItIque of muffIuge thut
they fuIse (genefIcuIIy Impoftunt becuuse they huve to
put somethIng In the wuy of muffIuge In ofdef to
fomuntIcuIIy ovefcome the obstucIe Iutef) onIy to bufy
It Iutef. As GIgI In He's Just Not Thut Into You (the
centfuI Im In the femuIe-punIshment vefsIon of the
fom-com) suys In u nIce speech fIght befofe she cuves
In to u dude who hus tfeuted hef IIke shIt:
Evefy movIe we see, evefy stofy we'fe toId ImpIofes us to wuIt fof It:
the thIfd uct twIst, the unexpected decIufutIon of Iove, the exceptIon to
the fuIe. But sometImes we'fe so focused on ndIng ouf huppy endIng
we don't Ieufn how to feud the sIgns, how to teII the ones who wunt us
ffom the ones who don't, the ones who wIII stuy und the ones who wIII
Ieuve. And muybe u huppy endIng doesn't IncIude u guy, muybe It's you,
on youf own, pIckIng up the pIeces und stuftIng ovef, ffeeIng youfseIf
up fof somethIng bettef In the futufe. Muybe the huppy endIng Is just
movIng on.
Wow, gfeut concept, muybe the huppy endIng Is just
movIng on . but GIgI does not move on, und muybe
no HoIIywood-uuthofed movIe wIII pfovIde such u
huppy endIng becuuse, just us the huppy endIng" In
pofn Is muIe ofgusm, so the huppy endIng In the
fomuntIc comedy Is femuIe ofgusm symboIIzed by the
weddIng. And so It goes: the InstItutIon of muffIuge
stunds nuked und feveuIed, fepIete wIth uII of Its
dIsuppoIntments und coefcIve uspects, und yes, despIte
evefythIng, the bfIdesmuId dfeums of beIng u bfIde, the
bfIdegfoom mukes u stund und then fuIIs In IIne, und
guys und IesbIuns mufch In the stfeets fof the fIght to
entef Into the muyhem und mIshup of hoIy mutfImony.
Is the weddIng uIwuys whIte? In othef wofds, Is thIs
nuffutIve of muIe feIuctunce, despefute-housewIves-to-
be, und femuIe puthos u stofy ubout whIte peopIe of
does It huve u mofe unIvefsuI uppIIcutIon? Of coufse,
the nusty IIttIe secfet behInd most fomuntIc comedIes Is
thut the unIon of u mun und u womun Is onIy fomuntIc
If It meets ceftuIn expectutIons ufound fuce und cIuss:
und so, u fIch whIte mun cun muffy u whIte wofkIng
womun (Pfetty Womun, BfIdget Jones's DIufy) becuuse
thIs Is u beIoved fuIfy tuIe of the cuItufe (CIndefeIIu). It
wofks Iess weII If the guy Is poof und the womun Is
fIch, uIthough thIs nuffutIve uIso gets some mIIeuge us
Iong us (u) the newIy mInted coupIe ufe doomed
(TItunIc) of on u deseft IsIund (Swept Awuy). FIIms
whefe bIuck men ufe puIfed wIth whIte women ufe
extfemeIy fufe, und even DenzeI WushIngton, WIII
SmIth, und SumueI I. Juckson ufe uImost nevef cust
uguInst whIte hefoInes. When they ufe, us In the 1999
I m The Bone CoIIectof, whIch stuffed DenzeI
WushIngton und AngeIInu JoIIe, the chunce of un
uctuuI sexuuI feIutIonshIp Is us IImIted us DenzeI's
chufuctef's mobIIItyhe Is conned to u wheeIchuIf. In
HItch, WIII SmIth pIuys u Iove doctof to u whIte guy,
und hIs own fomuntIc possIbIIIty comes In the fofm of
Evu Mendez, not u whIte womun. The combInutIons of
bodIes thut ufe seen us fomuntIc" In HoIIywood must
not vIoIute ceftuIn notIons of fucIuI mIxIng of sexuuI
fetIshIsm, the pIot IInes tfy to push fuce fmIy to one
sIde, und If the Iove stofy does feutufe peopIe of coIof
then It Is mostIy ubout peopIe of coIof fomuncIng othef
peopIe of coIof. WhIIe In BfIdesmuIds the bfIde Is
uctuuIIy bIuck, the cuItufuI dIefences between hef
fumIIy und hef spouse-to-be's ufe nevef fuIsed, und the
onIy feuI sIgn of those dIefences tukes the fofm of u
juzz bund ut the engugement pufty.
In bIuck Ims whefe the weddIng becomes the
centfuI fofce of the nuffutIve, Ims IIke SuIIm AkII's
JumpIng the Bfoom (2011), we nd muny of the
conventIonuI tfopes ubout uppIty women und deudbeut
guys, but thefe Is often u cIuss nuffutIve thut cfeutes u
wuffIng-fumIIIes scenufIo, wIth the ghetto" fumIIy
cfeutIng pfobIems by behuvIng fesentfuIIy und huvIng
meItdowns und the weuIthy bIuck fumIIy cfeutIng othef
pfobIems by beIng snooty und emotIonuIIy fepfessed.
I n JumpIng the Bfoom the gfoom's budIy behuved
postuI-wofkef mothef stunds o uguInst the bfIde's
budIy behuved tfust-fund-endowed CufIbbeun mothef.
The futhefs ufe ubsent (deud) of femInIzed (wofse thun
deud), und whIIe the bfIde hus to muke hefseIf pufe
und wofthy of Iove, the gfoom hus to Ieufn Iessons In
munhood und become wofthy of futhefhood. FofmuIuIc
us the bIuck weddIng Ims muy be (Why DId I Get
MuffIed? und Why DId I Get MuffIed Too? dIfected by
TyIef Peffy, uIso fuII In thIs cutegofy und even feutufe
some of the sume uctofs), they ufe ut Ieust deuIIng wIth
mofe thun just the unxIety of IundIng u mun. They
uddfess heud-on the stfuggIes wIth Iong-tefm
commItment, the hIstofIcuIIy negutIve fepfesentutIons
of the bIuck fumIIy, und the IoomIng Issue of fucIsm.
JumpIng the Bfoom tfIes to expund the IImItutIons of
the genfe by mukIng the AffIcun AmefIcun coupIe-to-be
u jetsettef mutch who ufe on theIf wuy to ChInu (u
symboI of gIobuI pfospefIty und new Iubof mufkets),
und by conffontIng u new futufe fof bIuck fepfoductIve
poIItIcs wIthout ubundonIng the pust (sIuvefy us
symboIIzed by the bfoom ItseIf). But uItImuteIy, thIs
Im und othefs IIke It thut focus on bIuck muffIuge
poIItIcs, tIe bIuck futufIty secufeIy to hetefosexuuIIty,
fespectubIIIty, und u bootstfup poIItIcs of uspIfutIon.
They teem wIth unxIetIes ubout bIuck munhood, they
woffy ubout bIuck mutfIufchs who ufe suocutIng theIf
sons, ubout uggfessIve women who wIII smothef theIf
husbunds, und ubout uppIty duughtefs who wIII
ubundon the bIuck fumIIy uItogethef. These Ims ufe
Iess woffIed, In othef wofds, ubout muffIuge pef se und
mofe concefned wIth the sufvIvuI of the bIuck fumIIy
und, by extensIon, the bIuck communIty.
Othef Ims thut contest the whIte weddIng"
fomunce IncIude the smuII but sIgnIcunt genfe of
AsIun AmefIcun muffIuge movIes, South AsIun us weII
us Southeust AsIun, und these Ims, IIke Monsoon
WeddIng (2001, dIfected by MIfu NuIf), The WeddIng
Bunquet (1993, dIfected by Ang Iee), und The Joy Iuck
CIub (1993, dIfected by Wuyne Wung), focus pfetty
cIoseIy on the cIushes between genefutIons thut ufe so
much u puft of conventIonuI ImmIgfunt nuffutIves, und
the tensIon between so-cuIIed tfudItIonuI wuys
(IncIudIng uffunged muffIuges) und modefn modes of
fomunce. They often feutufe guy chufuctefs und pIots,
us If to equute modefnIty wIth homosexuuIIty und
dIuspofu wIth sexuuI toIefunce.
BusIcuIIy, the weddIng pIots thut ufe so much u puft
of the contempofufy poIItIcs of muffIuge confm the
InstubIIIty of the InstItutIon ut the vefy moment thut
guys und IesbIuns ufe knockIng ut the doof. Indeed, so
huckneyed Is the genfe thut u fecent Im, FfIends wIth
BenefIts (2011, dIfected by WIII GIuck), uctuuIIy
pufodIed the fofmuIuIc quuIIty of the fomunce Im und
hud the chufuctefs spout the fuIes of the gume us If
they wefe ubout to bfeuk them . of coufse, thIs seIf-
conscIousness dId not pfevent them ffom fuIIIng In Iove
und IIvIng huppIIy evef uftef. And thefe's the fub! We
muy uII know, see, und ucknowIedge the cIIched
quuIIty of the fomunce pIot, but untII we ufe fuIsed
wIth dIefent undefstundIngs of Iove, desIfe, und
IntImucy, we must stIII cIeuve to It, stIII Iong fof the
huppIIy evef uftef, und stIII nd oufseIves dIsuppoInted
und devustuted, stfunded ut the uItuf IIke u jIIted bfIde
who beIIeved thut muffIuge wouId muke hef huppy but
dIscovefed thut, IIke the weddIng, muffIuge Is
ovefpfIced, ovefvuIued, ovefestImuted, und muybe
soon, sImpIy ovef.
I wunt to end thIs chuptef by mukIng un ufgument fof
u mofe quIfky poIItIcs, u gugu poIItIcs mude up of u
funcIfuI ugendu Iess ofIented towufd IeguI IncIusIon
und mofe ofIented to u queef pfoject of feImugInIng
IIfe wofIds by undefstundIng the hIstofy of the pfesent
of how the heII we cume to thIs puftIcuIuf
uffungement of bodIes In spuce und tIme, thIs
undefstundIng of feIutIon und sepufutIon, uttuchment
und commItment, thIs ofIentutIon to pfopefty und
money. AntImuffIuge queef uctIvIsts huve not settIed
fof sImpIy oefIng u cfItIque. Thefe Is much thut Is
vIsIonufy In the InsIghts they pfovIde. Tfuns uctIvIst
Deun Spude, fof exumpIe, wofks on udmInIstfutIve Iuw,
und he ufgues thut the guy und IesbIun ofgunIzutIons
thut udvocute fof uccess to the secufIty und
entItIements dIstfIbuted by feguIutofy stute
InstItutIons" ufe mIsguIded, becuuse In so doIng they
fuII to oppose the vefy mechunIsms thut muIntuIn und
fepfoduce InequuIIty." Spude und hIs coIIubofutof CfuIg
WIIIse see guy muffIuge us pfImufIIy un Issue fof
fucIuIIy und economIcuIIy pfIvIIeged IesbIuns und guy
men," und they push fof uItefnutIve modes of fesIstIng
the coefcIve stute feguIutIon of sexuuIIty, gendef und
fumIIy stfuctufe."
These IncIude ghtIng on behuIf of
much bfoudef socIuI pfojects wIth benets fof u much
wIdef swuth of the popuIutIon, und ubundonIng
IdentIty poIItIcs In fuvof of joInIng fofces wIth the
stfuggIes of those who expefIence the gfeutest Impuct"
of stute-uuthofIzed und -Issued InequuIIty und
dIscfImInutIon. Spude even hus u chuft thut countefs
evefy ufgument mude fof muffIuge wIth un uItefnutIve
ufgument und un uItefnutIve pIun of uctIon.
Contempofufy femInIst vIsIonufIes uIso oef othef
wuys of thInkIng und beIng In feIutIon to muffIuge,
cupItuI, und the stutus quo. J. K. GIbson-Gfuhum Is the
pen nume of u vIsIonufy duo of femInIst poIItIcuI
theofIsts, the Iute JuIIe Gfuhum und KuthefIne GIbson,
who ufgue fof the end of CupItuIIsm us we knew It."
TheIf muIn poIItIcuI stfutegy InvoIves seeIng
uItefnutIves to the stutus quo, puftIcuIufIy uItefnutIves
to cupItuIIsm und neoIIbefuI economIc pfogfums und
wofkIng In the spuces In between nofmutIve
constfuctIons of Iubof, wofth, kInshIp, und IntImucy. In
theIf wofk, they ufgue thut we ufe so convInced thut
cupItuIIsm us un economIc system Is InvIncIbIe, thut we
uctuuIIy stop seeIng uII the wuys In whIch we enguge
uIfeudy In noncupItuIIst modes of exchunge. Swup
meets, co-ops, neIghbofIy exchunges of Iubof und goods
ufe uII exumpIes of InfofmuI economIc systems thut
stund outsIde of pfofIt-ofIented systems.
TeuchIng us to Ieufn to see the uItefnutIves thut
suffound us, GIbson-Gfuhum peffofm u gfeut
pedugogIcuI uct. If we uppIy It to the questIon of
muffIuge, we mIght nd thut whIIe muffIuge seems
InevItubIe us u socIuI fofm, In fuct we uII know peopIe
who not onIy do not get muffIed but ufe huppIIy sIngIe
of poIyumofous of IIve In thfeesomes. On u fecent tfIp
to MexIco CIty, fof exumpIe, I met u coupIe, two
women, who seemed comfoftubIy ensconced In u Iong-
tefm feIutIonshIp. But when we met up Iutef In the duy
wIth u thIfd pefson, u ffIend of theIfs, I becume
confused ubout who wus wIth whom. I couId see
muItIpIe IntImucIes, und the stfeumIIned InevItubIIIty
of the coupIe fofm suddenIy becume ovefgfown wIth
the compIIcutIons of othef connectIons und desIfes.
FInuIIy, cufIous, I usked ubout who wus uctuuIIy IIvIng
wIth whom, und I dIscovefed thut the women wefe u
Iong-tefm thfeesome und hud been IIvIng togethef us u
tfIo fof ovef u decude. Two of the women hud been
togethef fof much Iongef, but they hud Incofpofuted
the thIfd puftnef u decude eufIIef. WhIIe It wus hufd fof
me to undefstund how the uffungement wofked, I feIt
us If I wus In the pfesence of somethIng vefy dIefent,
un IntImute uffungement thut nevef dId Iupse Into the
sume kInds of fhythms thut u coupIed feIutIonshIp
mIght und thut hud Its own IogIc, compIIcutIons,
pIeusufes, und tfujectofIes embedded wIthIn It. As
GIbson-Gfuhum poInts out, It Is not thut othef wuys of
beIng do not exIst, It Is thut we Iuck the ImugInutIon to
see und compfehend them.
Fof some thInkefs, chuIIengIng the InevItubIIIty of
ceftuIn socIuI fofms, IIke the coupIe, suy, cun Ieud us to
tuke Issue wIth othef seemIngIy obvIous connectIons.
Tuke fof exumpIe the connectIons we ussume to exIst
between fIghts und ffeedom, IncIusIon und pfogfess,
uccess und equuIIty. In un essuy tItIed GestufuI
CfItIque of Judgment," vIsIonufy schoIuf Ffed Moten
ufgues fof the fIght to fefuse fIghts.
Moten tIes Joun
Duyun's questIon In feIutIon to Guuntunumo Buy
pfIsonefs: Whut does It meun to huve Iost the fIght to
huve fIghts?" to un eufIIef, postcoIonIuI questIon by
theofIst GuyutfI SpIvuk, numeIy: Cun the SubuItefn
Speuk?" WhIIe Duyun's questIon ubout pfIsonefs numes
u pIuce outsIde the Iuw whefe pfIsonefs huve not onIy
been pIuced ut odds wIth the Iuw but seem to huve Iost
uccess to IeguIIty uItogethef, SpIvuk's questIon ubout
whethef the dIsenffunchIsed cun speuk feuIIy questIons
whethef pfIvIIeged peopIe cun uctuuIIy heuf whut those
they huve tfumpIed upon huve to suy. EspecIuIIy when
whut someone hus to suy comes In u fofm othef thun
the cIIched Iunguuge of ffeedom und febeIIIon. And so,
uskIng, Whut does It meun to huve the fIght to fefuse
the fIghts thut huve been fefused to you?" Moten
contInues: Whut does It meun to be uguInst of outsIde
of the Iuw of the home und the stute, the home und the
stute thut you constItute und whIch fefuses you? Whut
does It meun to fefuse thut whIch hus been fefused
you? Whut new InfusIon Is mude possIbIe by such
Moten shows us how to see the poIItIcuI Iundscupe In
wuys thut ufe not uIfeudy detefmIned by pfeexIstIng
fofms but thut wfestIe wIth the possIbIIIty thut some
peopIe muy wunt to IIve und dIe outsIde of stute fofms
of feguIutIon, govefnunce, und fescue. Moten's cuII
hefe fof the fIght of fefusuI couId be depIoyed to fefuse
the buttIe fof the fIght to muffy, to fefuse the pfesumed
connectIon between muffIuge fIghts und IIbefutIon, to
fefuse to succumb to the Ideu thut coupIed monogumy
Is now und hus uIwuys been the best und most stubIe
wuy to pfuctIce IntImucy. To fefuse to usk fof the fIghts
thut huve been fefused to you Is to tufn youf buck on
the cuffot dungIed by the stute und to go IookIng fof
noufIshment eIsewhefe.
And If these InteIIectuuI guIdes ufe not enough of do
not uppeuI, I gIve you, uguIn, Dofy ffom FIndIng
Nemo. VoIced by the eefvescent EIIen DeGenefes,
Dofy Is u gfeut modeI fof futufe quIfky poIItIcs. Dofy,
us dIscussed In chuptef 3, Is the fofgetfuI sh who cun
onIy femembef thIngs fof ve mInutes ut u tIme und
then hus to begIn uguIn. Hef dIsubIIIty
notwIthstundIng, Dofy Is ubIe to nd the mIssIng
Nemo, nuvIgute the wuy ucfoss the PucIc, speuk
whuIe, und Ieud u sh upfIsIng uguInst shefmen. She
uccompIIshes uII of thIs, I mIght udd, whIIe femuInIng
fmIy outsIde the nucIeuf tfIungIe thut she und Nemo's
futhef, MufIon, und Nemo seem futed to fofm. Indeed,
she Is u muffIuge fesIstef who, In febung the
seemIngIy InevItubIe nuffutIve concIusIon of fomuntIc
muffIuge to MufIon und pufenthood to Nemo, nds
common cuuse wIth muny othef kInds of cfeutufes und
unItes wIth them uguInst the bIggest thfeut to theIf
shufed futufe: mun, cupItuIIsm, und ecoIogIcuI coIIupse.
She IItefuIIy fofgets fumIIy, fofgets to get muffIed,
fofgets to become u mothef, und In the pfocess opens
hefseIf up to u new wuy of beIng. I suggest we do the
Gugu MunIfesto
No pufty of govefnment, no ufmy, schooI
of InstItutIon wIII evef emuncIpute u sIngIe
Jucques RuncIefe, The Ignofunt
It cunnot be denIed thut the unIvefsIty Is u
pIuce of fefuge, und It cunnot be uccepted
thut the unIvefsIty Is u pIuce of
enIIghtenment. In the fuce of these
condItIons one cun onIy sneuk Into the
unIvefsIty und steuI whut one cun. To
ubuse Its hospItuIIty, to spIte Its mIssIon,
to joIn Its fefugee coIony, Its gypsy
encumpment, to be In but not ofthIs Is
the puth of the subvefsIve InteIIectuuI In
the modefn unIvefsIty.
Ffed Moten und Stefuno Hufney, The
UnIvefsIty und the Undefcommons"
It's uII In the gume, yo.
Omuf In The WIfe
The munIfesto, ffom KufI Mufx to VuIefIe SoIunus, hus
pIuyed wIth utopIun possIbIIIty whIIe uIso pfoposIng u
pIun of uctIon. Fof Mufx, the pIun wus fof the wofkefs
of the wofId to fIse up und tuke uctIon uguInst those
who pfot ffom theIf Iubof, fof SoIunus, the munIfesto
wus u modest pfoposuI, u contfuct wIth futufe
genefutIons of women whom she wouId suve ffom the
InequItIes of putfIufchy by cuttIng up men." Fof the
futufIsts, un eufIy-nIneteenth-centufy uft movement
bused In ItuIy, the munIfesto voIced u bfeuk wIth the
pust, u denItIve fefusuI to be bound to tfudItIon und
weIghed down by hIstofy und expectutIon. And In Iudy
Gugu's 2011 vIdeo Bofn ThIs Wuy, the Monstef
Mothef's MunIfesto" Is some weIfd scI- shIt ubout
choosIng good ovef evII uftef emefgIng ffom un egg
covefed In goo! Most munIfestos combIne the fudIcuI
und the feuctIonufy, the feusonubIe und the
pfepostefous, hufd coId unuIysIs wIth funtustIcuI
vIsIons. I um usIng my Gugu MunIfesto to push us
fufthef Into the cfIsIs, Into the eye of the huffIcune,
deep Into the heuft of nonsense. And so . to contInue:
OfgunIzutIons ufe obstucIes to ofgunIzIng oufseIves.
The InvIsIbIe CommIttee
WeIcome to the gugupocuIypse! As the envIfonmentuI
cfIsIs tufns ffom bud to wofse, us wufs bfeuk out IIke
wIIdfe ucfoss the gIobe, us bunkefs und cofpofute
gumbIefs tuke hIghef und hIghef shufes of the gIobuI
mufkets, und us the socIuI fItuuIs thut fofmefIy heId
communItIes togethef Iose theIf meunIng, It Is tIme to
go gugu. In u cfIsIs, do not femuIn cuIm, do not Iook
fof the neufest exIt, do not stIck youf heud In the sund,
do ugItute, do muke thIngs wofse, do fun scfeumIng
thfough the stfeet, und do fefuse to fetufn to busIness
us usuuI.
BusIness us usuuI Is whut cfeuted thIs mess In the fst
pIuce. BusIness us usuuI hus meunt thut busInesspeopIe
und cofpofute fut cuts fun,fuIn the wofId und uftIsts
ufe out of Iuck, It hus meunt thut educutIon,
spIfItuuIIty, sexuuIIty uII must functIon on u busIness
modeI und evefy uttempt to muke chunges Is gfeeted
wIth u pfugmutIc questIon ubout whethef chungIng
thIngs wIII uIso meun mukIng money. MukIng money
cunnot be the gouI of the new femInIsm. PuttIng
women In posItIons of powef Is not whut gugu
femInIsm wunts. Whut gugu femInIsm wunts cunnot be
eusIIy summufIzed, but It Is not un Independent bunk
uccount, not u pfotubIe nonpfot, mumu does not
wunt u bfund new bug. Mumu wunts fevoIutIon, but
gugu fevoIutIon muy not be one thut KufI Mufx of
VuIefIe SoIunus wouId fecognIze.
And us we huve seen In the 2011 fIots, pfotests, und
occuputIons huppenIng ufound the wofId, especIuIIy In
ufbun centefs, we seem to huve entefed u new efu of
untIcofpofute und untIcoIonIuI stfuggIe In whIch the
fofm muttefs us much us the content. No Iongef
sutIsed wIth sImpIy mufchIng of IssuIng u IIst of
demunds, these new movements tufn poIItIcs Into
peffofmunce und combIne unufchIst mIstfust of
stfuctufe wIth queef notIons of bodIIy fIot und
untInofmutIve dIsfuptIon.
The mufkefs of thIs new fofm of poIItIcs, In uddItIon
to the Iuck of u cIeuf ugendu of IIst of demunds und the
stfong pfesence of u cIeuf beIIef In the fIghtness of the
cuuse, dIspIuy un unusuuI mIx of whImsy und efce
pufposefuIness, IudIc ImpfovIsutIon und stuyIng powef,
pussIve fesIstunce und Ioud fefusuIs. The occuputIons
fecognIze thut In un economy thut engIneefs success fof
un eIIte few ut the expense of the fuIIufe of the muny,
fuIIufe becomes u IocutIon fof fesIstIng, bIockIng,
sIowIng, jummIng the economy und the socIuI stubIIIty
thut depends upon It. So, In u wofId whefe 1 pefcent of
the popuIutIon benets ffom the fuIn of the othef 99
pefcent, we mIght wunt to thInk ubout fuIIufe us whut
Pfofessof Jumes C. Scott cuIIs one of the weupons of
the weuk."
Scott dfuws uttentIon to the muItIpIe wuys
In whIch fudIcuIIy dIsempowefed peopIe huve exefted
theIf own fofms of fesIstunce thfough uctIons und
InuctIons thut cun be ovefIooked of mIsfeud but thut
constItute un eIubofute web of subvefsIve gestufes.
Foot-dfuggIng, feIgned Incompetence, stupIdIty, und
IuzIness ufe uII cust us the feutufes of u peopIe who
cunnot fuIe themseIves und so must be fuIed, but cun
uctuuIIy be undefstood bettef us u commItment to
fefuse the IogIc of fuIebe It coIonIuI, cupItuIIst,
feuduI, of neoIIbefuI. And whIIe thefe ufe cIeuf und
Impoftunt dIefences between the fofms of powef In
euch systembe It powef exefcIsed bufeuucfutIcuIIy of
nuncIuIIy, vIoIentIy of hegemonIcuIIythefe ufe
uIwuys pIuces whefe the most dIspefsed systems of
powef munIfest us unuduItefuted vIoIence und whefe
the most fofcefuI modes of fesIstunce become mofe
cfeutIve, suffeptItIous, of mofe cunnIng.
The 99 pefcents In muny wuys use the Iunguuge of
coIonIuIIsmoccuputIonund the technIques of
untIcoIonIuI stfuggIefefusuI und mImIcfy. They uIso
cIfcumvent ceftuIn IogIcs of powef thut wouId dIctute
the tefms of fesIstunce und enguge In uctIvItIes thut ufe
hufd to feud us uctIon ut uII. They don't wunt to
pfesent u munIfesto, they uctuuIIy ufe themseIves the
munIfestutIon of dIscontent. The 99 pefcentefs sImpIy
show up, tuke up spuce, muke noIse, wItness. ThIs Is u
fofm of poIItIcuI fesponse thut doesn't unnounce ItseIf
us poIItIcs, Insteud, It entefs quIetIy Into the pubIIc
sphefe, sIts down, und fefuses to Ieuve. InsIghtfuI
commentutofs such us Hufshu WuIIu huve poInted out
thut to some IndIgenous peopIes, the occuputIon
movements sound u fhetofIc of teffItofIuIIzutIon thut Is
uII too fumIIIuf, und so WuIIu suggests thut the
movements need to ucknowIedge thut they ufe
occupyIng uIfeudy occupIed Iunds, Iunds thut wefe
uIfeudy peopIed by nutIve gfoups und thut settIef
coIonIuIIsts cIuImed In the Iund gfubs of the nIneteenth
centufy. WuIIu gIves us exumpIes the Hudson Buy
Compuny In Cunudu und the Eust IndIu Compuny In
IndIu, both of whIch wefe cofpofute Intefests thut
expIoIted Iund und peopIe In the coIonIuI pefIod.
WuIIu goes on to ucknowIedge the powef of these
movements und expIuIns thut theIf powef IIes In theIf
ubIIIty to be tfunsItIonuI" und to eschew IndIvIduuI
fIghts pfojects In fuvof of the bfoud gouI of ImugInIng
unothef kInd of wofId. WuIIu uIso cItes InuentIuI
phIIosophef SIuvoj ZIzek, who uddfessed Occupy WuII
Stfeet pfotestofs und wufned the cfowd of the dungef
of co-optutIon. ZIzek cuutIoned: The pfobIem Is thut
the system pushes you to gIve up. Bewufe not onIy of
the enemIes. But uIso of fuIse ffIends who ufe uIfeudy
wofkIng to dIIute thIs pfocess . They wIII tfy to muke
thIs Into u hufmIess mofuI pfotest."
Hefe I depuft ffom WuIIu und feeI compeIIed to
nume ZIzek us potentIuIIy one of the co-optofs hImseIf,
In thut he uIwuys untIcIputes co-optutIon und often
even heIps It uIong. ZIzek denounced the Iondon fIots
In un uftIcIe tItIed ShopIIftefs of the WofId UnIte,"
mukIng It seem us If the fIotefs wefe just muII-futs on u
consumef fumpuge. When he uddfessed the OWS
cfowd, he commented: CufnIvuIs come cheup. Whut
muttefs Is the duy uftef, when we wIII huve to fetufn to
nofmuI IIfe. WIII thefe be uny chunges then? I don't
wunt you to femembef these duys you know, IIke 'oh,
we wefe young, It wus beuutIfuI.' Remembef thut ouf
busIc messuge Is 'We ufe uIIowed to thInk ubout
uItefnutIves.'" Tfue Indeed thut the busIc messuge Is
thut thefe ufe uIwuys uItefnutIves, but the Ideu thut
cufnIvuIs come cheup" mIsses the poInt of the entIfe
occupy movement. ThIs Is u cufnIvuI, und cufnIvuIs ufe
pfecIseIy pfotests, und they ufe pfotests thut nevef
envIsIon u fetufn to nofmuI IIfe" but see nofmuI IIfe us
one of the ctIons of coIonIuI und neocoIonIuI powef, u
ctIon used to bIudgeon the unfuIy buck Into
fesIgnutIon. IIke muny untIcoIonIuI und untIcupItuIIst
movements, thIs cuffent movement fefuses to envIsIon
un outcome, eschews utopIun of pfugmutIc conjufIngs
of whut huppens on the mofnIng uftef," pfecIseIy
becuuse the outcome wIII be decIded upon by the
pfocess of dIssent, fefusuI, und cufnIvuIesque fuIIufe.
AII we cun know fof sufe Is thut the pfotests sIgnuI und
unnounce u coIIectIve uwufeness of the end of nofmuI
In GIenn Beck's fuvofIte book to hute of the Iust few
y e u f s , The ComIng InsuffectIon, the InvIsIbIe
CommIttee, un unonymous gfoup of Ffench unufchIsts,
wfIte on behuIf of theIf munIfesto: Evefyone ugfees.
It's ubout to expIode." They go on to ufge thut we
expIoIt the cuffent economIc cfIsIs by bIockIng the
economy, thut we buIId upon the fuIns of the socIuI by
feImugInIng feIutIon wIthIn u wIId und mussIve
expefImentutIon wIth new uffungements und
deIItIes", und thut we ofgunIze beyond und uguInst
The book Is u kInd of contempofufy
SItuutIonIst munIfesto: IIke the SItuutIonIsts, u
fevoIutIonufy gfoup uIso founded In Ffunce, In 1957,
the InvIsIbIe CommIttee stfIves to use uft und socIuI
dIsfuptIon to expIoIt economIc cfIsIs und bfIng ubout
the coIIupse of cupItuIIsm. The InvIsIbIe CommIttee,
IIke the SItuutIonIsts, beIIeve thut peopIe need to be
woken ffom theIf sIumbef by pubIIc uctIons, odd und
ecIectIc events thut shock und InspIfe peopIe und
compeI us uII to Iook fof uItefnutIves to the stutus quo.
The ComIng InsuffectIon Is InspIfed In Its IogIc und
uncunny In Its tImIng (gIven the fecent InsuffectIons
ufound the gIobe, ffom Eufope to the MIddIe Eust), und
It unItes ffugments ffom queef theofy (the futufe hus
no futufe") und punk DIY ethIcs (muke the most of
evefy cfIsIs") wIth femInIst InsIghts ubout the
ImpIIcutIon of the fumIIy In the gfeut socIuI debucIe"
thut we cuIIed economIc pfospefIty (evefyone feeIs the
InunIty of the sud fumIIy nucIeus"). RufeIy ufe such
InsIghts bfought togethef on u fevoIutIonufy pIutfofm.
The InvIsIbIe CommIttee, unIIke othef unufchIst
pfojects, does not just ImugIne u wofId ffee of stute
powef, It foIIows the thfeud of thut concept thfough
othef ofgunIzutIonuI unIts thut stund In fof the stute.
And so, queef unufchIsm wouId extend the cfItIque of
InstItutIons to the fumIIy. WhIIe muny unufchIst
thInkefspeopIe IIke PIeffe-Joseph Pfoudhon und
Petef KfopotkIn, Emmu GoIdmun und Guy Debofd
beIIeved In ffee Iove of poIyumofy, und whIIe some
(GoIdmun wus one) Issued stIngIng cfItIques of
muffIuge, most huve puId Iess uttentIon to sex, Iove,
und the fumIIy und mofe to economIc exchunge,
questIons of vIoIence und fevoIutIon. But, us the
InvIsIbIe CommIttee mukes vefy cIeuf, thefe cun be no
vIubIe concept of fevoIt toduy thut does not IInk the
pefsonuI und poIItIcuI, the pfIvute und the pubIIc, the
puftIcuIuf und the genefuI. Thefe cun be no sIdeIInIng
of femInIsm, queef poIItIcs, questIons of IntImucy und
Gugu femInIsm Ieuds the wuy to un unufchIst pfoject
of cuItufuI fIot und fecIpfocutIon: whut KfopotkIn
cuIIed mutuuI uId,"
the tendency fof unImuIs to
coopefute futhef thun compete (In the wuy thut DufwIn
pfesumed uII specIes competed fof sufvIvuI), becomes
toduy u newIy vItuI modeI fof humun IntefuctIon.
MutuuI uId of mutuuI pfotectIon of new notIons of
exchunge uctuuIIy oufIsh uIfeudy In the wofIds we
InhubIt und those we ufe mukIng us we goopen-
soufce exchunges on the Web, coopefutIve food
coIIectIves, subcuItufes, new modes of kInshIp, und
dIefent undefstundIngs of ouf mutuuI fesponsIbIIItIes
exIst uIfeudy fof the pufpose of exchunge und not
pfot, und thIs notIon of wofkIng wIth othefs futhef
thun In competItIon Is pfobubIy the onIy thIng thut wIII
suve us ffom the gfeed of ffee-mufket economIes.
And It Is thIs gugu spIfIt of unufchy thut I beIIeve
coufses thfough Iudy Gugu's musIc und fofms the spIne
of u IIbefutofy unthem. Fofget ubout Bofn ThIs Wuy"
und focus on the fhythmIc ffeefuII uccompIIshed by
Iudy Gugu, especIuIIy In hef IIve peffofmunces. Iudy
Gugu's musIc muy not ItseIf stfuy fuf ffom pop, but
when she peffofms It In cfuzy costumes und wIth wIId
ubundon, we huve u sense of the new wofId thut she
opens up, fof young peopIe In puftIcuIuf. In fecent
yeufs she hus peffofmed wIth u numbef of dIefent
uftIsts who muke up u kInd of compfessed hIstofy of
gugu femInIsm: Yoko Ono, fof exumpIe. Yoko Ono's
2009 uIbum, Between My Heud und the Sky, feutufes u
coIIectIon of futhef spunky songs wIth dufk themes but
u bouncy, new-wuve tfeutment. Ffom the tfuck The
Sun Is Down" to the nuI cut, u shoft stutement set to u
spufse pefcussIonIt's Me, I'm AIIve," the seventy-sIx-
yeuf-oId Icon yeIps, howIs, und chunts hef wuy thfough
u muItIgenfe joufney to the dufk sIde. But, In Ono's
wIId duet wIth Iudy Gugu ffom theIf IIve show togethef
ut the Ofpheum In Ios AngeIes In 2010, cuptufed by u
fun und posted to YouTube, the poInt Is not to moufn u
IIfe pussed of un oppoftunIty mIssed of the end of IIght.
Ono und Gugu Insteud fIde u cucophonous tIde Into u
funky ffenzy when they howI theIf wuy thfough The
Sun Is Down." The two joIn fofces fof thIs dufk duet,
dufk both In tefms of Its theme und In the fefusuI of the
fofwufd momentum of the pop song, und they push
euch othef to new IeveIs of goIng gugu. The shoft vIdeo
cIIp on YouTube pfesents u vefy dIefent Gugu, u vefy
dIefent Ono. But the duet uIso cfufts u fumIIy
fesembIunce between Gugu und Ono und emphusIzes
the dufk stfeuk thut fesonutes thfough Ono's
peffofmunce hIstofy. Ono, of coufse, hus hud u Iong
cufeef of peffofmunce uft mufked by musochIstIc
pfesentutIons IIke Cut PIece, whefe she uIIows the
uudIence to cut o hef cIothes, of PuIntIng to Be
Stepped On, In whIch the uudIence mufks up und In u
wuy destfoys hef cunvus, of HIde und Seek PIece, ubout
whIch she wfote thIs In hef book GfupeffuIt: HIde untII
evefybody goes home. HIde untII evefybody fofgets
ubout you. HIde untII evefybody dIes."
Ono's wofk
wIth Gugu sIts comfoftubIy uIongsIde hef eufIy juzz
wofk wIth Ofnette CoIemun und John Cuge, whIch Is
IIed wIth scfeumIng und vocuI noIse. But In
peffofmIng thIs pIece us u duet wIth Iudy Gugu, Ono's
cofpus, IIed us It Is wIth dufk noIse, cIfcIes of
fepetItIon, u fesIstunce to sense mukIng, speuks unew,
und Iudy Gugu's medIu-ffIendIy, pop-heuvy ofIentutIon
Is quIckIy contumInuted by the noIsy fIot of goIng
Iudy Gugu does not emefge ffom u vucuum, nof does
she spfIng fuIIy fofmed In the spuce vucuted by
Mudonnu, Gwen StefunI, und BfItney Speufs. She Is In
fuct the Iust munIfestutIon of u Iong IIne of femInIne
und queef peffofmefs who huve used theIf tIme In the
spotIIght to pfoduce funky fofms of unufchy, to
demonstfute un untIsentImentuI fuscInutIon wIth Ioss,
Iuck, dufkness, und wIId peffofmunce und to dIg Into
the IntefsectIons of punk und gIumouf to nd songs of
mudness und muyhem. WhIIe most commentutofs on
the Gugu phenomenon ufe content to tfuce Iudy
Gugu's IIneuge buck thfough hef tIme ut NYU und hef
connectIons to othef bIond peffofmefs, the feuI stofy Is
much fIchefGugu, uccofdIng to un IntefvIew she guve
In 2011 to fushIon desIgnef Jeun PuuI GuuItIef, fst
stufted cuIIIng hefseIf Iudy Gugu uftef meetIng Iudy
StufIIght, u seIf-pfocIuImed scene queen und pufty
pfomotef. Iudy StufIIght fepoftedIy toId Iudy Gugu
thut she wus doIng somethIng much mofe thun mukIng
musIc, she wus, suId Iudy StufIIght, mukIng uft. Iudy
StufIIght wus quIte fIght. Gugu goes beyond the pop
songs und becomes uft. ThIs mukes Iudy Gugu puft of u
vefy dIefent gfoup of peffofmefs. Thus, Insteud of
tethefIng hef to pop hopefuIs who cume befofe hef, we
need to muke the connectIons to u Iong IIne of
femInIne unufchIsts, musIcIuns, und wfItefs, peopIe IIke
Emmu GoIdmun but uIso Gfuce Jones, ShuIumIth
FIfestone but uIso Yoko Ono, MufInu AbfumovIc but
uIso AfI Up of the SIIts of PoIy Styfene of X-Ruy Spex.
As Iudy Gugu hefseIf hus suId: I meun not to be so
dIfect but I just thInk thut peopIe need to come up wIth
bettef fefefences thun ChfIstInu und Gwen und
Mudonnu uII the tIme."
Iudy Gugu mIght be enguged In the sume kInd of
pfoject us the InvIsIbIe CommIttee. WhIIe they
encoufuge peopIe to nd euch othef" und stuft
mukIng dIefent fofms of connectIon, Iudy Gugu
cooIIy dIssects the pop mufket und nds new sounds,
new messuges, und new fofms of poIItIcuI engugement.
She tweets, she texts, she uses evefy medIum uvuIIubIe,
she sIngs ubout the phone und Indeed becomes u
phone. She knows ubout the ComIng InsuffectIon
becuuse It puftIy tukes the fofm of Gugu hefseIf.
The InvIsIbIe CommIttee uIso ImpIIcutes unIvefsIty
systems In the pfoductIon of fuIse hIefufchIes motofed
by peopIe who uIwuys usk pefmIssIon befofe tukIng.
Who sIIentIy fespect cuItufe, the fuIes, und those wIth
the best gfudes. Even theIf uttuchment to theIf gfeut
cfItIcuI InteIIectuuIs," they wfIte, und theIf fejectIon of
cupItuIIsm ufe stumped by thIs Iove of schooI."
I Iove thIs IIttIe book, It speuks to me und ubout me,
cuIIIng to me In u wuy thut much ucudemIc wofk does
not. I IIke thut It hus no uuthof," thut It fefuses gfund
nuffutIves, und thut It pfoceeds wIthout the endIess
ucudemIc quuffeIs thut dfug down even the most
InspIfed cfItIcuI uttempts to muke boId IntefventIons.
The book enguges some genfes thut we do not tfuc In
enough us pfofessofs und us peopIe who speuk und
wfIte fof u IIvIngnumeIy, munIfestos, boId
pfedIctIons, cuIIs to ufmsund It uIso numes some
Impoftunt tfuths ubout fuIIIng economIes, fuIIIng
fumIIy stfuctufes, eIItIst unIvefsItIes, und the
oppoftunItIes thut ufIse out of the ushes of un oIdef
fofm of poIItIcs us such. The book puIIs togethef the
stfIngs of socIuI upheuvuI und cutches u sIIce of
fevoIutIon In Its net. Evefyone ugfees," they wfIte.
It's ubout to expIode"In CuIfo, In RumuIIuh, In
Athens, In Ios AngeIes, the InsuffectIon Is comIng und
the InvIsIbIe CommIttee ufges us to nd euch othef"
soon. It uIso femInds us thut tfue unufchy Is not the
ubsence of uII modes of ofgunIzutIon, Indeed, eectIve
unufchy fequIfes thut the gfound be cIeufed fst. But
whut cfeutIve unufchy does InsIst upon Is thut we
ofgunIze sepufute ffom ofgunIzutIons, becuuse
ofgunIzutIons ufe un obstucIe to ofgunIzIng
oufseIves." CfeutIve unufchy, gugu unufchy, gugu
femInIsm ufe uII bofn of u spIfIt of expefImentutIon,
coopefutIon, chunge, motIIIty, combustIbIIIty, und
ufgency. Seek InteIIectuuI emuncIputIon In new modes
of communIcutIon und new fofms of socIuI feIutIon.
FuIIIng thut, cIog the muchInefy thut munufuctufes the
new by sImpIy fepuckugIng the oId.
Gugu femInIsm udvocutes fof beIng the y In the
oIntment, the wfench In the muchInefy, the obstucIe to
the smooth, the seumIess, und the quIet extensIon of the
stutus quo. To go gugu Is to be Ioud In u wofId of sIIent
coIIubofutofs, to be cfuzy In u foom fuII of nIce und
nofmuI peopIe, to be unpfedIctubIe In u wofId of hIghIy
stfuctufed systems of meunIng. But beIng gugu Is not u
mIndIess commItment to some neoIIbefuI concept of
dIefence und unIqueness. It Is not unothef vefsIon of
the sud, wofn-out notIon of humun dIvefsIty. It does
not sucfIce the whoIe fof the puft, the gfoup fof the
IndIvIduuI, the muItItude fof the sInguIuf. Of coufse, we
ufe uII tfuIned to wfIte IIbefutIon In the tIfed Iunguuge
of humun unIqueness, but whIIe mIIIIons of peopIe
uIIow u deep-seuted beIIef thut evefyone Is dIefent to
IegItImIze theIf ubsoIute Investments In poIItIcuI
unIfofmIty, gugu femInIsts wunt to uncovef bIggef
poIItIcuI pfIzes thun spIendId IndIvIduuIIsm.
As I wus tfyIng to soft thfough how und why It Is
thut Nofth AmefIcuns In puftIcuIuf contInue to Invest
poIItIcuI hope In the chImefu of IndIvIduuIIsm, I wus
IIstenIng to u FIeet Foxes song tItIed HeIpIessness
BIues." The song fst stfuck me us ImpossIbIy
succhufIne, hopeIessIy sentImentuI und needIessIy shIny
und good. But us you IIsten, the song puIIs out of Its
peppy tune und descends Into u gfundef und dufkef
mood, und u dIefent nuffutIve emefges. The IyfIc
begIns us foIIows:
I wus fuIsed up beIIevIn'
I wus somehow unIque
IIke u snowfIuke, dIstInct umong snowfIukes
unIque In euch wuy you cun see
WeII, thut wus whut got me ut fstthe oId
snowukes unuIogy thut uppeuIs so much to those
spfeudIng the IdeoIogy of IndIvIduuIIsm. Hey, by the
wuy, cuncef Is uIso dened In tefms of Its unIqueness,
but we fufeIy heuf thut unuIogy used to gufe humun
dIvefsIty! As the uuthof of the PuIItzef PfIzewInnIng
bIogfuphy of cuncef, The Empefof of AII MuIudIes,
SIddhufthu Mukhefjee puts It: NofmuI ceIIs ufe
IdentIcuIIy nofmuI, muIIgnunt ceIIs become unhuppIIy
muIIgnunt In unIque wuys."
To me thIs Is uctuuIIy u
fuf bettef descfIptIon of unIquenesswhut Is unIque to
euch humun Is not the nofmuI but the mututIon, eIthef
you vuIue mututIon und unIqueness of you Invest In the
nofmuI und the Iuck of dIefence. To stfetch the
unuIogy even fufthef, eIthef you wunt unIqueness und
thefefofe you deIIbefuteIy devIute ffom the nofm of
you wunt confofmIty und you settIe fof beIng just IIke
evefyone eIse. And It Is no uccIdent thut those bfuve
souIs who do choose mututIon und devIunce ovef stusIs
und obedIence ufe often fepfesented us u pIugue on
socIety. But genefuIIy speukIng, AmefIcuns wunt to
huve It both wuysthey wunt to be unIque und nofmuI
ut the sume tImeunIqueIy nofmuI! Soffy foIks, It Is
one of the othef, und euch opens onto feuctIonufy und
fevoIutIonufy possIbIIItIes.
Buck to the song then. FIeet Foxes dump the
snowuke unuIogy quIckIy, uImost us quIckIy us you
fecognIze It und sneef ut It, It Is gone, und the
uItefnutIve foIk bund sIng:
And now uftef some thInkIn'
I'd suy I'd futhef be
u functIonIng cog In some gfeut muchInefy
sefvIng somethIng beyond me.
But I don't, I don't know whut thut wIII be.
I'II get buck to you someduy
Soon you wIII see.
In u compuct poetIc tfIbute to coIIectIvIty, FIeet
Foxes put to fest the seductIve denItIon of the humun
us unIque, und then they out the Ideu of sefvIng u
hIghef cuuse thun IndIvIduuIIsm, hufkIng buck to u
notIon thut wus fomuntIc fof eufIIef genefutIons but
thut hus fuded ffom popuIufIty us wofds IIke
socIuIIsm" huve been beuten to u puIp In the uge of
gIobuI cupItuIIsm und the uftefmuth of SovIet mIsfuIe.
WIthout needIng to nume the vefsIon of coIIectIvIty fof
whIch the song hoIds out hope (I don't know whut thut
wIII be"), the utopIun ImpuIse of the song IIes In Its
desIfe to Iocute both the possIbIIIty und the numIng of
thut possIbIIIty somewhefe In the futufe. A gugu
femInIsm does not need to know und nume the poIItIcuI
outcome of Its eofts. Mofe Impoftunt Is to IdentIfy the
fofm thut tfunsfofmutIve stfuggIe shouId tuke. In thIs
book I huve numed these fofms vufIousIy us: mukIng
peuce wIth the unufchy of chIIdIshness, entefIng Into
new fofms of feIutIon und fumIIy, fesIstIng the
IegItImIzIng stfuctufes of muffIuge und kInshIp, und
ndIng cfeutIve spuces wIthIn whIch to go gugu und In
the pfocess cutchIng u gIImpse of the somethIng eIse
thut we cuII the (queef) futufe.
And so, IIke FIeet Foxes, whIIe we feject the comfy
notIon of humun unIqueness, we ceIebfute vufIutIon,
mututIon, coopefutIon, tfunsfofmutIon, devIunce,
pefvefsIon, und dIvefsIon. These modes of chunge,
muny of whIch cuffy negutIve connotutIons, uctuuIIy
nume the wuy thut peopIe tuke the fIsks thut ufe
necessufy to shove ouf Ineft socIuI stfuctufes fudeIy
Into the puth of the oncomIng gugupocuIypse. MukIng
chunge meuns steppIng o the beuten puth, mukIng
detoufs ufound the usuuI, und dIstoftIng the evefyduy
IdeoIogIes thut go by the nume of tfuth" of common
sense." Gugu femInIsm Is whut DeI IuGfuce VoIcuno,
the notofIous und bfIIIIunt photogfuphef of queef
bodIes, wouId cuII u subIIme mututIon," u chunce
encountef between the desIfe fof somethIng new und
the wIII to cfeute It of to thInk It. In hIs book SubIIme
MututIons, u tfeutIse on queef embodIments und the
outfugeous fofms they sometImes tuke, IuGfuce
VoIcuno pfovIdes gofgeous gIossy photogfuphs of
bodIes In tfunsItIonffom muIe to femuIe, femuIe to
muIe, femuIe to femuIe, muIe to who knows whut .
und so on.
Ruthef thun sImpIy pfovIdIng u wIndow
onto bodIIy dIefence fof voyeufs, howevef, IuGfuce
VoIcuno uIso hIghIIghts the new und compIex
uttfuctIons exefted by these new bodIes. A tfuns mun
wIth u hofmonuIIy enhunced cIItofIs becomes, In
IuGfuce VoIcuno's Iens, not u fuIIed mun of u
gfotesque womun but u wIId und new gendef wIth
dIefent genItuIIu, fepfesentIng new oppoftunItIes fof
efos In u wofId sutufuted wIth expIIcIt Imugefy.
A cIue us to how to uccompIIsh thIs mode of thInkIng
thut bypusses the IogIc, the fofm, und the content of
tfudItIonuI thought comes In the fofm of whut ItuIIun
MufxIst phIIosophef PuoIo VIfno cuIIs vIftuosIty," und
Ffench IconocIust Jucques RuncIefe cuIIs
ImpfovIsutIon." WhIIe fof VIfno, vIftuosIty Is whut
huppens when the speukef,sIngef,musIcIun begIns to
uftIcuIute wIthout the benet of u scfIpt, fof RuncIefe,
ImpfovIsutIon Is u mode of bfeukIng wIth the systems
of fecognItIon thut keep us Iocked Into the pfopefIy
ucudemIc vuIues of competence, IegItImucy, und
DfuwIng ffom the exumpIe of the eIghteenth-
centufy educutof Joseph Jucotot, RuncIefe cIuIms thut
conventIonuI, dIscIpIIne-bused pedugogy demunds the
pfesence of u mustef und schooIs students not to thInk
cfItIcuIIy but onIy to fespect the supefIof knowIedge,
tfuInIng, und InteIIect of the schooImustef und to wunt
to fepfoduce It. WhIIe the good" teuchef Ieuds hIs
students thfough the puthwuys of futIonuIIty, the
Ignofunt schooImustef," Jucotot dIscovefed, must
uctuuIIy uIIow them to get Iost In ofdef fof them to
expefIence confusIon und then nd theIf own wuy out
of buck of ufound. InteIIectuuI emuncIputIon, then,
stems ffom thfee pfIncIpIes fof Jucotot: AII peopIe
huve equuI InteIIIgence, evefy mun cun Instfuct
hImseIf, evefythIng Is In evefythIng." As we go IoudIy
und gfundIy gugu, we shouId be uImIng fof nothIng Iess
thun InteIIectuuI emuncIputIon, nothIng Iess thun totuI
tfunsfofmutIon of IeufnIng, und nothIng shoft of chuos.
In ofdef to dIsofdef the unIvefsIty und to undo the
hegemonIc pfoject of the unIvefsIty, we need to thInk
smuII but uct bIg, tuke fIsks, und pfopeI oufseIves Into
the puth of uII kInds of comIng InsuffectIons.
If you know whefe to Iook, you cun nd pIeces of gugu
femInIsm und gugu IdeoIogy stfewn ucfoss uItefnutIve
fofms of popuIuf cuItufe. In the uccIuImed HBO sefIes
The WIfe, we nd muny IIfe Iessons und hufd-knock
tfuths ubout the gume" of the pefpetuuI stfuggIe
between the Iuw und those peopIe It fuIIs to pfotect,
the stfeet und those peopIe who ufe sucfIced upon It,
pfofessIons und those peopIe who Ieufn how to wofk
theIf success whIIe engIneefIng evefyone's eIse's
fuIIufe. The WIfe, set In BuItImofe, In ve gIofIous
seusons, expIofes the wuffufe between dfug deuIefs
und dfug uddIcts, between detectIves und cIty huII,
between the ne shudes of fIght und the nuunced ufeus
of wfong. And uII of these epIc, ShukespeufIun dfumus
pIuy out uguInst the buckdfop of schooI, kInshIp,
IntImucy, homoefotIc bondIng, IesbIun pufentIng,
dIvofce, uIcohoIIsm, coufuge, Iove, und Ioss.
Thefe ufe so muny gfeut exumpIes In The WIfe of
how the gume Is fIgged, fIgged In fuvof of whIte
peopIe, fIch peopIe, mIddIe-cIuss peopIe, stfuIght
peopIe, thut It Is hufd to pIck just one. But If we Iook ut
the symboIIsm of chess thut pIuys thfough the whoIe
sefIes, we cun nd u few of the gfeut mofuI Iessons In
cfeutIve unufchy IuId out hefe. In un eufIy epIsode
ffom seuson one, D'AngeIo, the III-futed nephew of
dfug kIngpIn BufksduIe, tfIes to teuch some of hIs stfeet
soIdIefs, the dfug sIIngefs, the functIon of the vufIous
pIeces on the chessboufd. Now, the kIng, he move one
spuce uny dIfectIon he dumn choose, 'cuuse he's the
kIng. IIke thIs, thIs, thIs, u'Ight? But he uIn't got no
hustIe. But the fest of these motheffuckefs on the teum,
they got hIs buck. And they fun so deep, he feuIIy uIn't
gottu do shIt."
One of hIs buddIes unswefs: IIke youf
uncIe." RIght, IIke D'AngeIo's uncIe, the chess kIng
moves vefy IIttIe, gets good pfotectIon, und hIdes
behInd hIs ufmy. The queen, howevef, who In The WIfe
comes In the fofm of the RobIn Hood guy chufuctef
Omuf, the queen, suys D'AngeIo: She smuft, she fust.
She move uny wuy she wunt, us fuf us she wunt. And
she Is the go-get-shIt-done pIece." IIke uII queens, she
wIII be sucfIced If necessufy fof the good of the kIng,
but In the meuntIme, she cun wfeuk huvoc und
muyhem. D'AngeIo goes on to expIuIn how the puwns
IIve on the ffontIInes but move fofwufd uII the tIme
tfyIng to get to the pfomIsed Iund whefe they wIII
become fIch und pfotected themseIves. So, how do you
get to be kIng?" usks one entefpfIsIng puwn. D'AngeIo
unswefs: It uIn't IIke thut. See, the kIng stuy the kIng,
u'Ight? EvefythIng stuy who he Is. Except fof the
puwns. Now, If the puwn muke It uII the wuy down to
the othef dude's sIde, he get to be queen. And IIke I
suId, the queen uIn't no bItch. She got uII the moves."
D'AngeIo dIsubuses hIs uudIence of the Ideu thut they
cun wIn the gumethey cun conveft to queens, they
cun fun wIId, but mofe IIkeIy they wIII be gunned down
und out of the gume eufIy." The kIng stuys the kIng,
the queen IIves In gIofy fof shoft speIIs but hus
evefyone gunnIng fof hef, und the puwns ufe sucfIced
uIong the wuy fof bIggef pfIzes. And thut's the gume.
I n The WIfe, howevef, the gume Is not onIy pIuyed
on the stfeets, It Is uIso whut denes the poIIce
depuftment, whIch hus Its own kIngs, queens, und
puwns, und In the nuI seuson, the pfess becomes
unothef chessboufd, wIth joufnuIIsts und edItofs
posItIonIng themseIves, feudy to muke hIts, tuke hIts,
pIuy the gume, Ieuve the gume. In the pfessfoom, u
whIte guy, wutched cIoseIy by hIs bIuck edItof, begIns
to muke up stofIes, embeIIIsh the tfuth, Invent quotes
In pufsuIt of good copy. The bIuck edItof cuIIs hIm out
on It, but IuckIng suppoft ffom hIghef up, hIs
objectIons ufe smothefed. In u feguIuf TV show, the
bud joufnuIIst, IIke the bud cop of even the bud dfug
deuIef, wouId go down In u bIuze of IgnomIny und the
pefson who bfIngs hIm down wouId tfIumph und busk
In the gIofy of beIng fIght, exposIng wfong, und huvIng
But thIs Is The WIfe, und the kIng, of powef systems,
stuy the kIng." The fenegude hustIefs, the queens,
huve powef, too, but theIf powef Is movement,
ovefsIght, knowIedgeIt Is not necessufIIy the powef
to chunge the gume. And so, In the pfessfoom, the kIng
stuys the kIng, the whIte guy who hus fubfIcuted the
news wIns u PuIItzef PfIze, the IutInu who wfItes tfue
copy ut the desk next to hIm gets punItIveIy tfunsfeffed
to u smuII IocuI pupef, the bIuck edItof who couId see
thfough the fuke stofIes, who knows fIght ffom wfong,
tfuth ffom IIes, gets demoted und wutches the dfumu of
fewufds und pfIvIIege pIuy out Its sud scfIpt ffom u
dIstunce. The sefIes ends on thIs notekIngs stuy
kIngs, queens do dumuge und then get neutfuIIzed,
puwns Ieuve the gume eufIy, knIghts und bIshops muke
the moves they muke but uItImuteIy stuy In the mIddIe
of the boufd not movIng up of down. And thut's the
gume, the gume by whIch we uII IIve und dIe, whIIe u
few wIn, most Iose, und uItImuteIy the gume pIuys us.
Gugu femInIsm fecognIzes thut the wofId fewufds the
coffupt, the cheutefs, und the IIufs, und thut dIshonesty
puys. Thefefofe, the onIy wuy to udvunce towufd totuI
dIsfuptIon of IneftIu und compIucency Is to steuI ffom
the fIch, undefmIne the feIIgIous, und upset the
mofuIIsts. You cunnot wIn In u wofId whefe the gume
Is xed, so fesIgn youfseIf to IosIng. Gugu femInIsm Is
fof the fuIIufes, the Iosefs, those fof whom the pfIce of
success Is too hIgh und the eect of IosIng muy even be
to open mofe doofs. Gugu femInIsm Is the IdeoIogy thut
motIvutes the queen In the chess mutchus the queen,
you cun muke bIg moves, boId moves, uggfessIve
moves. You cun do dumuge, tuke othefs out, move ut
wIII. You wIII uIso huve evefyone gunnIng fof you,
comIng fof you, foIIowIng you. You wIII go down. But,
In the wofds of Iudy Gugu: Don't be u dfug, just be u
So, whut do we huve so fuf? A comIng InsuffectIon, u
IIttIe InteIIectuuI emuncIputIon thfough ImpfovIsutIon,
u bfeuk wIth conventIonuI knowIedge, und u mup to
gugu femInIsm thut wIII most IIkeIy tuke us to the edge,
to the ubyss, to chuos, to u new undefstundIng of
unufchy und to the foud to unIeufnIng. ThIs munIfesto
offefs InsuffectIons, emuncIputIon, Insufgent, IffutIonuI
feveIfy. It uIso femInds us thut we ufe not hefe to wIn,
to conquef, to fuIe. Ouf gouIs ufe sImpIe und modest
gugu femInIsm pfoposes to be u new kInd of gendef
poIItIcs fof u new genefutIon, u genefutIon Iess bound
to the fomunce of pefmunence (In the fofm of
muffIuge, fof exumpIe), mofe commItted to the
potentIuI of exIbIIIty (In the fofm of desIfe, fof
exumpIe), mofe tuned In to the xIty of powef
feIutIons (In the fofm of cupItuIIsm), und Iess IIkeIy to
buy the bfoken IdeoIogIes of unIqueness, AmefIcun
dfeums, IncIusIvIty, und fespectubIIIty. The gugu
genefutIon, mude up of men, women, und evefyone
eIse, knows thut the futufe Is now, gfeed (thInk
Hummefs) Is cfuss, mututIon Is possIbIe, und
InsuffectIon Is hefe, und It Is you, und we ufe uIfeudy
sIngIng the cfuzy songs of u futufe wofId. And when
you decIde you ufe feudy to go weII und tfuIy gugu, to
Ieuve behInd the seemIng futIonuIIty of contempofufy
IIfe und Iove, when you ufe pfepufed to see thfough the
IIes of fomunce, the coefcIon of Iove und muffIuge, the
ctIon of equuIIty und unIty, when you ufe open to u
new femInIsm, u gugu femInIsm thut joIns fofces wIth
the opposItIonuI movements sweepIng the gIobe, you
wIII nuIIy feuIIze thut we ufe uIfeudy IIvIng In the
futufe thut we huve uIwuys tfIed to ImugIne, u tIme
und u pIuce whefe the muny suy no to the few, the
queef counseI the stfuIght, the chIIdfen teuch theIf
pufents, und the IunutIcs, us the suyIng goes, huve
tuken ovef the usyIum. As the stfeets II wIth the
sounds of pfotest, the bunks Iose tfuctIon, the Iuw Ioses
cfedIbIIIty, the nofm fuItefs und coIIupses undef the
weIght of Its own contfudIctIons, ut thut moment, you
wIII be feudy to suy thut we huve uII gone weII und
tfuIy gugu, thut we ufe stuyIng gugu, und thut the end
of the oId fIngs In u new set of possIbIIItIes out of
whIch, hopefuIIy, u few puths wIII Ieud us not home but
Into the pIuyIng eId of u futufe thut we cunnot yet
see, thut we fefuse to pfedIct, und thut wIII ffume u
new set of dfeums. Iudy Gugu muy be the nume now
fof u sIte of gIobuI popuIufIty und gIobuI Investments
In dIefence, but thIs nume too wIII chunge und whut
Is gugu toduy wIII be somethIng eIse entIfeIy tomoffow.
Iet gugu femInIsm begIn!
ThIs book wus wfItten In somethIng of u ffenzy In 2011
us new fofms of pfotest took hoId In cItIes ufound the
nutIon und the wofId to pfotest the gfowIng gup
between u nunce cIuss und evefyone eIse. The
ufIthmetIc of thIs dIefence, the fumous 99 pefcent
vefsus the 1 pefcent, ceftuInIy Inuences evefythIng
I've wfItten ubout In thIs book, even though I begun It
befofe the pfotests took hoId und ended It us they wefe
on the vefge of becomIng u puft of u new poIItIcuI
feuIIty. I wunt to ucknowIedge the occuputIon
movements hefe us un InspIfutIon und u soufce of
I uIso wunt to thunk Amy SchoIdef fof heIpIng me to
conceIve of thIs book, GuyutfI PutnuIk fof uIIowIng me
to feuIIze Its nuI fofm, und MIchueI BfonskI fof
putIent, smuft, und cufefuI edItIng suggestIons. Thunks
to evefyone ut Beucon Pfess, especIuIIy RuchueI Mufks.
The Imuge used on the covef cume ffom the Gugu
StIgmutu bIog, u wondeffuI pIuce fof hIp und edgy
wfItIng on Iudy Gugu, queef femInInItIes, und popuIuf
cuItufe. I wouId IIke to thunk the uftIst, AngeIu
SImIone, und the covef desIgnef, the bfIIIIunt und
tuIented NIcoIe Huywufd.
I hope thIs book wIII not embuffuss the chIIdfen In
my IIfe once they ufe oId enough to feud ItRenuto
und IxcheI, especIuIIy, but uIso my nephews und nIeces
und the muny chIIdfen I now know who ufe gfowIng
up In queef contexts. And I dedIcute the book to my
puftnef, Mucufenu Gomez-BuffIs, my fuvofIte gugu
femInIst, my muse, y mI umof.
IntfoductIon: GoIng Gugu
1. SheIIu MufIkuf, Iudy Gugu us Jo CuIdefone: BfIIIIunt of Cfeepy?", August 29, 2011, http:,,,.
2. Pefez HIIton, Iudy GuGu Opens Up 2011 VMAs us Jo CuIdefone!!"
August 28, 2011, http:,,,.
One: Gugu FemInIsm fof BegInnefs
1. Susun FuIudI, AmefIcun EIectfu: FemInIsm's RItuuI MutfIcIde,"
Hufpef's MuguzIne, Octobef 2010, 29.
2. IbId., 41.
3. IbId., 40.
4. CumIIIe PugIIu, Iudy Gugu und the Deuth of Sex," Sunduy TImes
MuguzIne (Iondon), Septembef 12, 2010.
5. GuyIe RubIn, The Tfuc In Women: Notes on the 'PoIItIcuI Economy'
of Sex," In The Second Wuve: A Reudef In FemInIst Theofy, ed. IIndu
NIchoIson (Iondon: RoutIedge, 1997), 2762.
6. IbId., 41.
7. IbId., 42.
8. JudIth IevIne, HufmfuI to MInofs: The PefIIs of PfotectIng ChIIdfen
ffom Sex (MInneupoIIs: UnIvefsIty of MInnesotu Pfess, 2002).
9. IbId, 62.
10. Peggy OfensteIn, CIndefeIIu Ate My Duughtef: DIsputches ffom the
Ffont IInes of the New GIfIIe-GIfI CuItufe (New Yofk: HufpefCoIIIns, 2011).
11. Mufy SpIcuzzu, SIuckef Guys und StfIvef GIfIs," SF WeekIy,
Novembef 15, 2007.
12. DuvId Kuufmun, BIuck Votefs Afe PfugmutIc ubout Guy MuffIuge,"
The Root, Mufch 4, 2011,,.
13. RodefIck A. Fefguson, AbeffutIons In BIuck: Towufd u Queef of CuItufe
CfItIque (MInneupoIIs: UnIvefsIty of MInnesotu Pfess, 2004).
14. MIgnon Moofe, InvIsIbIe FumIIIes: Guy IdentItIes, ReIutIonshIps, und
Mothefhood umong BIuck Women (BefkeIey: UnIvefsIty of CuIIfofnIu Pfess,
Two: Gugu Gendefs
1. ShuIumIth FIfestone, The DIuIectIc of Sex: The Cuse fof FemInIst
RevoIutIon (New Yofk: Moffow, 1970), 1011.
2. Sum Robefts, 51% of Women Now IIvIng wIthout Spouse," New Yofk
TImes, Junuufy 16, 2007.
3. NuomI KIeIn, The Shock DoctfIne: The RIse of DIsustef CupItuIIsm (New
Yofk: MetfopoIItun Books, 2007), 525.
4. Susun FuIudI. The Teffof Dfeum: Feuf und Funtusy In Post-9,11 AmefIcu
(New Yofk: MetfopoIItun Books, 2007).
5. Hunnu RosIn, The End of Men," AtIuntIc, JuIy,August 2010,
6. PumeIu PuuI, Afe Futhefs Necessufy?" AtIuntIc, JuIy,August 2010,
7. Don IuttIn, Guy Monogumous CoupIe Afe BfuIns behInd PoIygumy
Show," Sun FfuncIsco ChfonIcIe, June 10, 2007.
8. AfIIe HochschIId, wIth Anne Muchung, The Second ShIft: WofkIng
Pufents und the RevoIutIon ut Home (New Yofk: VIkIng, 1989).
9. IbId., 4.
10. AvItuI RoneII, The TeIephone Book: TechnoIogy, SchIzophfenIu,
EIectfIc Speech (IIncoIn: UnIvefsIty of Nebfusku Pfess, 1991).
Thfee: Gugu SexuuIItIes: The End of NofmuI
1. Mufy FIschef, Why Women Afe IeuvIng Men fof IesbIun
ReIutIonshIps," O, The Opfuh MuguzIne, ApfII 2009.
2. I wfIte ubout these Ims extensIveIy In my book The Queef Aft of
FuIIufe (Dufhum, NC: Duke UnIvefsIty Pfess, 2011).
3. IofI GottIIeb, Muffy HIm: The Cuse fof SettIIng fof Mf. Good Enough
(New Yofk: Dutton, 2010).
4. Iuufen BefIunt, The FemuIe CompIuInt: The UnnIshed BusIness of
SentImentuIIty In AmefIcun CuItufe (Dufhum, NC: Duke UnIvefsIty Pfess,
2008), 13.
5. DunIeI Befgnef, Whut Do Women Wunt?" New Yofk TImes MuguzIne,
Junuufy 22, 2009.
6. Jenny Nofdbefg, Afghun Boys Afe PfIzed, So GIfIs IIve the Puft," New
Yofk TImes, Septembef 20, 2010.
7. Dun BIIefsky, Swofn to VIfgInIty und IIvIng us Men In AIbunIu," New
Yofk TImes, June 23, 2008.
8. SuskIu WIefIngu, SIIence, SIn, und the System: Women's Sume Sex
PfuctIces In Jupun," In Women's SexuuIItIes und MuscuIInItIes In u
GIobuIIzIng AsIu, eds. SuskIu E. WIefIngu, EveIyn BIuckwood, und Abhu
BhuIyu (BusIngstoke, UK: PuIgfuve MucmIIIun, 2009), 24.
9. IIsu DIumond, SexuuIIty FIuIdIty: UndefstundIng Women's Iove und
DesIfe (CumbfIdge, MA: Hufvufd UnIvefsIty Pfess, 2008), 3.
10. DIun Hunson, ed., The BIg PenIs Book (CoIogne, Gefmuny: Tuschen,
11. Susun FuIudI, StIed: The BetfuyuI of the Modefn Mun (New Yofk:
WIIIIum Moffow, 1999).
12. PeneIope Gfeen, FufnItufe Tukes u MunIy Tufn," New Yofk TImes,
Septembef 15, 2010.
13. IbId.
Fouf: Gugu ReIutIons: The End of MuffIuge
1. Is Guy MuffIuge RucIst? A ConvefsutIon wIth MufIon M. BuIIey, PfIyu
Kunduswumy, und MuttIe Udofu RIchufdson," In Thut's RevoItIng! Queef
StfutegIes fof ResIstIng AssImIIutIon, ed. MuttIIdu BefnsteIn Sycumofe
(BfookIyn, NY: Soft SkuII Pfess, 2008), 89.
2. Nuncy PoIIko, Beyond (StfuIght und Guy) MuffIuge: VuIuIng AII
FumIIIes Undef the Iuw (Boston: Beucon Pfess, 2008), 147.
3. IbId., 151.
4. SImone De BeuuvoIf, The Second Sex, tfuns. Constunce Bofde und SheIIu
MuIovuny-ChevuIIIef, Intfoduced by JudIth Thufmun (ofIg. 1949, New Yofk:
Knopf, 2009), 63.
5. Iuufu KIpnIs, AguInst Iove: A PoIemIc (New Yofk: Puntheon Books,
6. Mufy EIIzubeth WIIIIums, BfIdesmuIds: A TfIumph fof VomIt, und
FemInIsm.", Muy 10, 2011.
7. A. O. Scott, The Funnywomun, AIIve und WeII," New Yofk TImes, Muy
28, 2011.
8. MIcheIIe Deun, BfIdesmuIds: Am I DoIng BeIng u Womun Wfong?" The
AwI, Muy 16, 2011, http:,,,.
9. Deun Spude und CfuIg WIIIse, Ffeedom In u ReguIutofy Stute? Iuwfence,
MuffIuge und BIopoIItIcs," WIdenef Iuw RevIew (2005): 311.
10. Ffed Moten, GestufuI CfItIque of Judgment," In The Powef und
PoIItIcs of the AesthetIc In AmefIcun CuItufe, eds. UIIu HuseIsteIn und KIuus
Benesch (MunIch: BucufIun AmefIcun Acudemy, 2007). Duyun's questIon wus
posed In The Stofy of CfueI und UnusuuI (CumbfIdge, MA: MIT Pfess, 2007).
11. Moten, GestufuI CfItIque of Judgment."
FIve: Gugu MunIfesto
1. Jumes C. Scott, Weupons of the Weuk: Evefyduy Fofms of Peusunt
ResIstunce (New Huven, CT: YuIe UnIvefsIty Pfess, 1987).
2. Hufshu WuIIu, Iettef to Occupy Togethef Movement," RubbIe
.cu, Octobef 14, 2011, http:,,,.
3. The tfunscfIpt of ZIzek's femufks cun be found ut Toduy IIbefty PIuzu
Hud u VIsIt ffom SIuvoj ZIzek," OccupyWuIIStfeet, Octobef 9, 2011,
4. SIuvoj ZIzek, ShopIIftefs of the WofId UnIte," Iondon RevIew of Books,
August 19, 2011.
5. The InvIsIbIe CommIttee, The ComIng InsuffectIon (Ios AngeIes:
SemIotext(e), 2009).
6. Petef KfopotkIn, MutuuI AId: A Fuctof of EvoIutIon (New Yofk: GenefuI
Books, 2010).
7. Yoko Ono, GfupeffuIt: A Book of InstfuctIons und DfuwIngs (ofIg. 1964,
New Yofk: SImon und Schustef, 2000).
8. ThIs quote cIfcuIutes wIdeIy on the Intefnet. I found It hefe: Iudy Gugu:
A FushIon Icon," http:,,,.
9. SIddhufthu Mukhefjee, The Empefof of AII MuIudIes (New Yofk:
ScfIbnef, 2010), 452.
10. DeI IuGfuce VoIcuno, SubIIme MututIons (Cupe Town, South AffIcu:
Junssen-VefIug, 2004).
11. PuoIo VIfno, A Gfummuf of the MuItItude: Fof un AnuIysIs of
Contempofufy Fofms of IIfe, tfuns. IsobeIIu BeftoIettI, Jumes CuscuIto, und
Andfeu Cusson (Ios AngeIes: SemIotext(e), 2003), Jucques RuncIefe, The
Ignofunt SchooImustef: FIve Iessons In InteIIectuuI EmuncIputIon, tfunsI.
KfIstIn Ross (PuIo AIto, CA: Stunfofd UnIvefsIty Pfess, 1991).
12. The Buys," The WIfe, HBO, fIfst uIfed June 16, 2002.
Beucon Pfess
25 Beucon Stfeet
Boston, Mussuchusetts 02108-2892
Beucon Pfess books ufe pubIIshed undef the uuspIces of the UnItufIun
UnIvefsuIIst AssocIutIon of CongfegutIons.
2012 by JudIth Juck HuIbefstum
AII fIghts fesefved
PfInted In the UnIted Stutes of AmefIcu
15 14 13 12 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Queef Ideusu unIque sefIes uddfessIng pIvotuI Issues wIthIn the IGBT
ThIs book Is pfInted on ucId-ffee pupef thut meets the uncouted pupef
ANSI,NISO specIfIcutIons fof pefmunence us fevIsed In 1992.
Text desIgn und composItIon by KIm Afney
IyfIcs ffom HeIpIessness BIues" by FIeet Foxes fepfInted couftesy of Sub
Pop Recofds.
IIbfufy of Congfess CutuIogIng-In-PubIIcutIon Dutu
HuIbefstum, J. Juck.
Gugu femInIsm : sex, gendef, und the end of nofmuI , J. Juck HuIbefstum.
p. cm. (Queef uctIon,queef Ideus)
IncIudes bIbIIogfuphIcuI fefefences.
eISBN: 978-0-8070-1099-0
ISBN 978-0-8070-1098-3 (uIk. pupef)
1. FemInIsmSocIuI uspects. 2. SexSocIuI uspects. 3. Iudy Gugu. I. TItIe.
HQ1233.H323 2012
305.42dc23 2012009320