Social Injustice Social Issues

Feminism beyond individualism and separation

In the West, feminism has been absorbed by neoliberal ideology, dissolving into individualism. Precisely for this reason it becomes interesting to listen to the proposals that come from the so-called Fourth Wave feminist movement, which developed in the global South. A process to be carried out without losing sight of the objective of a Feminism that is truly inclusive and that knows how to go beyond subalternity and gender chauvinism.

Whose women were they of yesteryear?

Anyone who has taken a look at my scattered papers will know of the disappointment I feel when faced with the current era of thought on female identity, still trapped in the world artfully created by men, sunk in the quicksand of bureaucratic corporatism of the execrable female quotas; with the gender football wave that triggers the rise of a woman in the male organization chart, co-opted to play an irremediably masculine role. The upheaval that becomes embarrassment in the face of the terrible growing phenomenon of feminicide , explained victimistically by the sisters with “because she was a woman”; not because of the counter-hegemonic challenge (most of the time unconscious) that that woman’s particular way of being represented in the eyes of the usual male human case , capable of exorcising her own cowardice/insecurity only through violence. The bitterness and disturbance of realizing that an important voice such as that of women in struggle (for themselves and for all of us) has faded away. Therefore – in the words of a long-time feminist such as Nancy Fraser – “feminism has been incorporated into the liberalist project . A feminism that considers women simply as an underrepresented group and only attempts to ensure that a privileged few can achieve positions and wages equal to men of their own class.” [3]
The belief is that the feminine deserves much more than this surrender (tactic?) to the benevolence of the other party to regain what has been stolen from it – so to speak – over a millennium. An effect that some non-prejudicially hostile observers – such as the Anglo-American historian Tony Judt – have attributed to that phenomenon of loss of ideal drive which in sporting jargon would be defined as “bourgeoisification”: “The fact that many feminists belonged to the wealthy classes – where the The only disadvantage they suffered was precisely that of being female, and it was often a marginal inconvenience – it explains their inability to acknowledge the existence of a wider category of people for whom being female was by no means the greatest difficulty to face. overcome”. [4] Thesis which was confirmed in field research carried out by Alain Touraine between 2004 and 2005: “The clash between women who attach priority importance to the struggle for the conquest of rights and those who defend a multiculturalism which pushes them to criticize, if not reject, a conception of women’s rights that implicitly identifies women with white, Western, middle-class women.” [5]And – having said that – Touraine returns to Fraser: «The weakness of current European feminist thought is explained by its efforts to fit into the general perspective of the conflicts that have characterized industrial society. This did not prevent feminism from achieving great victories, but it meant that its action petered out in the absence of a profound renewal on the level of ideas.” [6] An invitation from the authoritative French master to look elsewhere, given the decades-long freeze of the ebb, following the plutocratic-mercalist counter-revolution which has bent the combativeness of Western feminism. Whose mentality has turned towards acquiescence towards the return to hierarchical-patriarchal orthodoxy .
As the economist of the University of Turin Maria Grazia Turri already pointed out ten years ago in her Manifesto : “After more than thirty years of a culture that exalts individualism with all the means available, we cannot help but think that our behaviors , our experiences and our reflections have remained immune to it, so feminism has not been exempted and has fueled, given life and green light to articulated, widespread and permanent forms of individualism and its psychoanalytic aspect, narcissism. And the latter has thus become a social disease and not just an individual one” (MGT page 31). A situation from which the current difficulty in finding aggregating watchwords and mobilizing objectives derives, since hegemonic ideological paradigms place the assumption of a solipsistic individual in search of happiness in the singular at the center of economic modeling. The triumph of Neoliberalism which erases state and society, regulation and solidarity. Under the aegis of the iconic Reagan and Thatcher duo .

The Fourth Wave feminist movement

So, look elsewhere. In search of a new radicality in which the specific feminine – to ascend to the level of abstraction suited to Marcel Gauchet – “represents an instrument of dissociation from global society”. [7] So – in this logic – the encounter with the texts edited by Evira Vannini becomes a precious opportunity. As the Combahee River Collective
(founded in Boston by a group of black and lesbian feminists, including Barbara Smith) wrote in 1977 , “feminism is the theory and practice of liberating all women: women of color, women working class, poor women, disabled women, lesbians, older women, as well as economically privileged white heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not feminism, but only female self-exaltation” (in EV page 23). Although there is no doubt that the concept of feminism was born from the opposition of women to patriarchy in a specific place (Europe) and in a specific historical moment (the modernity with which the West asserted its dominion over the rest of the world ), the feminist movement that – paraphrasing the futurologist Alvin Toffler – Elvira Vannini defines as “of the Fourth Wave” has transformed into a global phenomenon but was born in the global South; it has the most solid roots in Latin America and the Caribbean, it lights fires in the vast sphere that in the recent past we still represented as passivised as the Third World and which is now becoming subjectivized. This is what is happening, after the season of post-1989 US unipolarity, through the return to multipolarity, in the growing attractiveness of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). A geopolitical aggregate which already today represents 47% of the world population and continues to expand thanks to ever new entries (Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and – before the arrival of an American phallocrat such as the new president Javier Thousands – even Argentina).

An evolution committed to unmasking the socio-structural complicity not only between patriarchy and capitalism, but also colonialism and racism: “The anti-colonial, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles that have generated an internationalism that feeds on cross-border alliances, community ‘unifications’, solidarity transnational forces and forces of insubordination from below” (EV page 16). At the same time they produce “radical criticism of the totalizing tendencies of liberal feminist organizations, accused of racism and complicity with patriarchal and white supremacist hegemony” (EV page 21). With the consequent commitment to building alliances between the various experiences of exploitation and submission, whose obligatory premise – precisely – is the criticism of the privileges “of false feminist universalism, with its monolithic and essentialist vision of the ‘woman’ (white, class average, heterosexual)”. Liberation as part of a broader process of decolonization, of what were the anti-apartheid movements in South Africa and of independence in the former colonies, of the fight against poverty.
With one constant characteristic: the radical tectonic movements of Southern feminisms are “a transnational phenomenon inscribed in the local”. The description of which would seem to bring back into vogue an old name that has fallen into disuse such as glocal . Therefore, a boiling magma analyzed from the point of view of feminism in art. Feminist art meaning “a political position, a set of ideas about the future of the world, about the struggles and recognition of women as a class” (EV page 37).

Other voices

From the collation of texts proposed by Vannini no unifying thread emerges; if anything, a rhizome of approaches that pursue the orientation of “oppositional thought”, present in feminist reflection (which is directed against sexism), towards a “critical thought” that works for the female condition. An attitude in the artistic field aimed – according to the South African art historian Griselda Pollock – at making “the voices of the female muffled by the phallocentric, racist and heteronormative order emerge, belong and speak” (EV page 53).
Thus the Australian philosophers Elizabth Grosz and Pheng Cheah contest the “queer turn” in feminist studies by recovering the work of the Belgian feminist Luce Irigaray on thinking about duality ( being two ) by going beyond the ideological construction of the sexes as asymmetrically different and oppositional. “Being two does not presuppose an essential difference – understood in the conventional phallocratic sense”. The ontological concept of the two, instead of just one sex with its subordinate other, challenges the current phallic law of the one and its non-equal; among other things by resisting the dangerous tendencies of political projects of universalization” (EV page 58).
This leads to the difficulties, reported by the French-Chilean essayist Nelly Richard, encountered by Latin American feminists, coming from an area touched only marginally by the Industrial Revolution, in positioning themselves in the postmodern vs. debate . modern on the crisis of post-industrial rationality. The correlations between crisis culture and «deconstruction of the classic and conscious male model, the questioning of the male/female binary» (EV page 90). The anti-authoritarian result of the postmodern idea of ​​de-hierarchising the center (as a hierarchical system). Therefore, Latin American feminist criticism, dehistoricizing the mixtures of power within the dominant culture, “confirms the primitivist stereotype of an otherness that comes to life only through affections and feelings […] romanticized by metropolitan intellectuality” (EV pag. 113).
As much as the filmmakerVietnamese Trinh T. Minh-Ha denounces it as “separate development, in the language of apartheid” (EV page 123). While the Serbian post-communist voice of Bojana Pejic, starting from the construction of gender in “real socialism” and the criticism of post-communist patriarchy, arrives with Judith Butler to question the presumption of a universal basis for feminism: “The The notion of universal patriarchy has been widely criticized in recent years for its inability to respond to the mechanisms of gender oppression in the concrete cultural contexts in which it exists” (EV, page 176). Keeping an eye on the Far East, the Indian art critic Geeta Kapur analyzes the work of video makers from her country according to which, given that “the battle against the primordial dualisms between male and female (man and woman), [… ] feminism is a discourse against power; feminist artists, rejecting the formal closure of (late) modernist art, translate feminist deconstructive genius along an itinerary of subversions” (EV page 203). Also in this regard, the Pakistani writer Salima Hashmi recalls how, during the National Exhibition of Lahore in 1983, the Manifesto was signed by fifteen female artists: “We, women artists of Pakistan, have noted with concern the decline in status and conditions social issues of Pakistani women. […] We unreservedly support Pakistani women’s struggle for equal rights, status and dignity with men. […] We call on all female artists to take their place in the vanguard of the struggle.”
Hence Haschimi’s explanation of the reasons behind the Manifesto : “The 1980s saw the rooting of an official artistic policy in Pakistan. This policy was created by imposition, and consisted of a non-figurative and pseudo-Islamic expression.” Painters were invited to abandon their genres to adopt the signs of – precisely – Islamic calligraphy. As a result, “the social and legal climate of the 1980s began to permeate female consciousness in an increasingly direct way. The infamous and brutal police attack in Lahore on 12 February 1983 on a peaceful demonstration of women against the proposed Law of Evidence (a law which, in court rulings, gave women half the legal value of their testimony with respect to to men) became a symbol of what was at stake. The insistence that women should wear the Chador in public forums, educational institutions, and the media became a focal point of rebellion for several female artists” (EV: p. 239).
Finally, the last voice to reach us is that of an Algerian intellectual historian, Wassyla Tamzali. With the story of the disappointment – she is French-speaking and then a UNESCO official – of the harsh impact in the rejection of modernity by compatriots, including women and in the re-emergence of the dogmatic and intolerant “eternal Algeria”, of the new order after national independence , sanctioned by the Évian agreements of 1962, in which socialist collectivism and Arab-Berber and Muslim communitarianism were mixed. Phallocratic. So much so that she wrote that “in the army of the consenting oppressed, the women’s battalion was not the least important. These had that strange and universal attitude of the oppressed who defends his oppressor” (EV page 248). And while her nationalist compatriots supported President Houari Boumedienne’s ante litteram attempt at an Islamic State, after having supplanted her “Nasserite” predecessor Ben Bella, the usual dominant and corrupt “New Class” was growing in the shadow of power; born from the union between the politicized military caste and the officials of state companies with an account in Switzerland and kept French, possibly blonde.

Pulling the strings

If the voices evoked by Vannini’s anthology express vigor in denouncing the opportunism and complicity of Euro-North American feminism, they also demonstrate clear difficulties in defining an overall critique of patriarchal hegemony. Hence the impression of a discourse which, as it emblematises the partiality of personal/individual experiences, does not become a general theory. As Lucy Lippard put it, “we have been unable to transform our circumstances into our primary subject… and use them to reveal the full nature of the human condition” (EV p. 36). Therefore the risk of transforming autobiographical subjectivism into a sort of chauvinistic-sectarian trap. It is no coincidence that the naturalized Chilean Nelly Richard, mindful of her birth in Caen in Normandy, to overcome the theoretical impasse between feminism and modern-postmodernism turns to a boy from the Left Bank of the intellectual caliber of Jacques Derrida. That is, in the crisis of meta-narratives, “the relationship between feminism and the changing scenarios of modernity/postmodernity is often described as the shift between a feminism of equality – conceived as emancipatory from the historical matrix of a modernity founded on the vector of progress social as a guarantor of human justice – and a feminism of difference that responds in a postmodern way to the disbelief in the universal (modern) paradigm of Identity as a historical and philosophical meta-reference” (EV page 96).
A question to which the deconstructionist philosopher responds that “if we choose egalitarian feminism of Enlightenment origin […] we will reproduce a culture that tends to erase difference, which measures the progress of the female condition simply compared to the male condition. […] But if we limit ourselves to a feminism of difference, we risk reproducing a hierarchy, neglecting the forms of political, trade union and professional struggle with the pretext that women, in their difference and to affirm their sexual difference, do not need to compete with men at all these levels.” [8] So the effort to avoid the separatism of difference, which isolates female culture as separate, relativizes the categories man and woman conceptualized not as fixed substances but rather as mobile constructs. And here we find our Turri and her Manifesto, which we left at the beginning of this speech: “The innumerable results coming from the biological sciences and neurosciences are shattering the duality man-woman and male-female, and with these that of nature-culture and sex-gender, the which show that the constitution of what we are is a non-deterministic but rather articulated and complex constitution and what we are is not something objectively given once and for all” (MGT page 53). And this game of critical assemblages should suggest new political strategies and related alliances. In particular in the relationship between feminism and homosexuality, overcoming every form of gender chauvinism that women attribute to men. In fact, “sexual orientation should be a field of choice for feminists committed to the inclusive transformation of society. But in the meantime this is possible if we manage to go beyond the horizon marked by the marginality of bodies and understand the (ontological) status of the claims that women and homosexuals have in common.” This is because “fundamental rights, having a universalistic vocation, cannot help but go beyond the binarism that this dialectic imposes” (MGT page 73). Perhaps by deconstructing the power relations that support it. Therefore feminist criticism can greatly benefit from the twentieth-century demystification of command regardless of sex. On the other hand, behind the “dissemination of power” – to which Richard’s sisters refer – there is a very strong scent of Michel Foucault’s “Microphysics of Power”. Let’s face it frankly: not all critical theory of male origin is a fraudulent and deceptive operation in the service of patriarchy, please ! Which – for example, to remain in the Douce France – the (anti-patriarchal) analysis of Pierre Bourdieu, according to which “the family is a fiction, a social artifice, an illusion in the most current sense of the term, but an illusion founded, because, being produced and reproduced with the guarantee of the State, it continuously receives from it the means to exist and subsist”. [9] Another confirmation that the criticism of patriarchy is not the exclusive prerogative of the genre. As the German political scientist Ekkehart Krippendorff noted, “the feminist perspective does not constitute a male privilege (two classic supporters of feminist positions were male intellectuals: Bachofen and Engels)”. [10] Always to stay on the topic of alliances.

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