When someone tells me she has feminist concerns with sex work, knowing that sex work is my only solution to the problem of poverty, I have a lot of trouble taking her feminism seriously because she is not taking the reality of my life seriously. Acknowledging that “there has to be a better way” isn’t good enough. I need to not live in poverty. Not after the revolution. Right now. Knowing how I feel about some feminists’ disregard for my experiences of intersecting oppression, if someone offers me a version of feminism that doesn’t confront its own colonizing or transphobic practices, I’m not going to take that very seriously either.
It is time to demand that feminists explain why they are so threatened by sex worker voices. Murphy says we should “start with research,” but that research has been going on for decades. If abolitionists choose to ignore everything that doesn’t tell them what they want to hear, there’s not much sex worker advocates can do about it.
Despite my theory and textbooks, it wasn’t until I experienced the real life, redemptive, feminist side of masculinity that I could grasp its potential as a site of resistance. It wasn’t until I came to care for and love masculine-of-center performing folks within my own queer community, many of whom experience daily oppression and structural violence themselves, that I understood: a revolutionary reconstitution of masculinity was not only possible, it was here already.
I’ve seen masculinity deployed as revolutionary love. I’ve witnessed a masculinity that is vulnerable and also unafraid. I know that the masculine can be a site of resistance to the heteropatriarchial capitalist society that gave birth to it. I know because when I look to my trans* brothers, or to the butches, studs, bois and other masculine presenting folks in community, I see evidence of it. This resistance often lies in the redefining or dissolution of arbitrary binaries like ‘masculine and feminine.’ For example, is it considered masculine to give birth to and raise a child? In my community: yes. That in itself is resistance. It is revolutionary to see masculine-of-center folks resisting and reconstituting dominant masculine mores to treat women and feminine-of-center folks with kindness, love, openness and respect — and those are the values I see represented in my community. As a woman, I am made safe and loved by a community of masculine-of-center people, many of whom enjoy less privilege than myself.
This is not to say that masculinity functions purely as a positive force within the queer community, far from it. But in my experience, critical conversations around masculinity outside of the queer community have not always made the necessary space for positive criticism. I had a singular conception of masculinity as a destructive social force for some time. If you asked me now, I would still agree that masculinities, which appeal to ‘hegemonic patriarchy,’ are destructive. Yet, I am also a witness to the good that can be found in feminist masculinities.
Muna Mire, “Rethinking Masculinities: A Queer Woman of Color’s Perspective,” The Feminist Wire 3/15/13 (via racialicious)
Great piece, Muna.