Reproductive Justice and the Invisible Sisterhood

I delivered this speech at the opening plenary of the 2013 State University of New York-- New Paltz Women's Studies Conference. I present it here in its original written form without additional comment. (Well, one additional comment: If you wish to follow along with audio and hear the voice of Nuclear Unicorn, click here. My profound thanks to Eli Mann for the recording.) *** Patriarchy does not begin in our bodies. Contrary to those theories, feminist and otherwise, that seek an “origin myth” for patriarchy that germinates somewhere in the uterus, patriarchy has no starting point in reproductive organs of any kind—there is nothing in our marrow as women, our DNA, that sets us up as ontological victims of men whose bodies, whose bits, predispose them to oppression. In the words of legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon: “It is one thing to identify woman’s biology as part of the terrain on which a struggle for dominance is acted out; it is another to identify woman’s biology … [Read more...]

A Troublesome Occurrence: Postmodern Investments in Trans Women

[11:59] john: so u r a natural woman? [12:00] sarahlizzy: Like the song? [12:00] sarahlizzy: Or do you mean, do I occur in the universe? [12:00] sarahlizzy: Because I like to think so. ~Activist Sarah Brown having a bit of fun with a "tranny chaser"   As a trans woman, one sees herself reflected in academic texts as if peering into a cursed mirror; the woman, if she is allowed to be called such at all, stares back with a postmodern face. It is a thought that has struck me as I have made my rounds through journal articles and discussions about trans women—written by or conducted by cisgender people, and occasionally by trans-masculine folks—when I am left wondering where precisely I am meant to stand in this increasingly fragmented movement of ours. What seems to arrest the academic luminaries most concerned with transgender people are questions of identity and transgression, of political meaning neatly cleaved from political reality. In characteristically … [Read more...]