When political whiteness met heteroactivism

The Journal of Gender Studies presents:

(Re)producing sex/gender normativities: LGB alliance, political whiteness and heteroactivism

Do pause to drink it all in before moving on to the abstract. It’s so…how shall I say…predictable. Formulaic. Conformist.

The author is Helen Clarke of Oxford Brookes University. We are told:

Helen’s research explores how decolonial feminism can be used to create alternative practices of solidarity, tackling trans-hostility in cis lesbian communities. She is involved in various feminist projects, working at creating more inclusive and supportive activist environments for all women, non-binary folk and gender diverse people.

Weird, isn’t it, claiming to be a feminist who specializes in feminism while she deletes women from feminism.

So, the abstract:

LGB Alliance, as a prime example of gender-critical feminism, argues that the ‘sex-based’ rights of those who are ‘same-sex attracted’ are threatened by the inclusion of trans individuals, and trans lesbians especially. In seeking to exclude trans women from gay/queer spaces by presenting them as a threat to (cis) lesbians, LGB Alliance can be understood as deploying strategies of heteroactivism and political whiteness. Sex/gender normativity is discursively framed through specific configurations of gender, race and class, including visual codes determined by biological and cultural standards that are, ultimately, a product of colonial/racial science. Trans lesbians, gay men and bisexuals whose bodies are not regarded as sex/gender normative, who are perceived as queering the male/female binary, and who are understood as falsely and dangerously claiming a label of homosexuality, are subjected to suspicion and surveillance, their bodies rendered inferior and denied social and cultural recognition. Although LGB Alliance claims its advocacy is intended to support and advance the interests of the (cis) lesbian, gay and bisexual community, the article argues that the organization can be read as (re)producing and engaging in harmful discourses related to heteronormativity, racism and classism, and which, overall, seek the restriction and limitation of broader LGBTQ+ equalities.

Scare quotes on “sex-based” and “same-sex attracted” – so we are meant to think those are mistake-words in some way. In what way? In the way that if you don’t scare-quote them and hold them at arm’s length you must be a terf and therefore evil. This is the new “feminism.” In other words she lets us know from the outset that by feminism she means trans “activism.” She means feminism is not for or by or about women, but instead for men who pretend to be women.

Then the bit about seeking to exclude men from lesbian spaces “by presenting them as a threat to (cis) lesbians” – as if male lesbians are the only real lesbians, and the female kind are a stupid parenthetical wannabe subgroup. Then accusing them of “deploying strategies of heteroactivism and political whiteness.” How are the strategies “of heteroactivism”? How is it heteroactivist to understand that lesbians are women and men are not women and therefore not lesbians? And how does the “political whiteness” get in there? As anything other than a brainless taunt and an insidery wink to equally brainless colleagues?

Then we learn that knowing which sex is which is a product of colonial/racial science. Cue a wave from Judith Butler. Then she accuses the LGB Alliance of “engaging in harmful discourses related to heteronormativity, racism and classism.”

It’s so formulaic and predictable it’s hard to see what the point is, other than adding “an article” to the resumé.

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