Tag Archives: colonialism

for the language nerds and gender nerds

(I know there are at least… two of you)

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The other two theology books I bought arrived in the mail this week.  The one I’m looking at first is A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutiérrez, because from what I’ve gathered it’s a very foundational text among some parts of the Christian left.  It’s a lot more thick and academic than I expected, very dry and formulaic in that familiar way if you’ve read many academic texts in the social sciences or the humanities.  So I’ve been skipping around a bit instead of reading it straight.

I dislike the way Gutiérrez keeps using “human” to mean “good/moral/just,” but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that he addresses the specific economic/political concept of “development.”  Here’s one of the passages on that:

…One of the most important reasons for this turn of events is that development — approached from an economic and modernizing point of view — has been frequently promoted by international organizations closely linked to groups and governments which control the world economy.   The changes encouraged were to be achieved within the formal structure of the existing institutions without challenging them.  Great care was exercised, therefore, not to attack the interests of large international economic powers nor those of their natural allies, the ruling domestic interest groups.  Furthermore, the so-called changes were often nothing more than new and underhanded ways of increasing the power of strong economic groups.

Developmentalism thus came to be synonymous with reformism and modernization, that is to say, synonymous with timid measures, really ineffective in the long run and counterproductive to achieving a real transformation.  The poor countries are becoming ever more clearly aware that their underdevelopment is only the by-product of the development of the other countries, because of the kind of relationship which exists between the rich and the poor countries.  Moreover, they are realizing that their own development will come about only with a struggle to break the domination of the rich countries.

This perception sees the conflict implicit in the process.  Development must attack the root causes of the problems and among them the deepest is economic, social, political, and cultural dependence of some countries upon others — an expression of the domination of some social classes over others.  Attempts to bring about changes within the existing order have proven futile.  This analysis of the situation is at the level of scientific rationality.  Only radical break from the status quo, that is, a profound transformation of the private property system, access to power of the exploited class, and a social revolution that would break this dependence would allow for the change to a new society…

–Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation, p.17

This is a theology book, y’all.

I think I’m in the right place.

The Origins of Sexuality as a Capital-I “Issue”

Recently, I came across an anonymous message sent to an asexuality blog, inquiring after the reason why individuals’ sexualities are such a big deal, culturally, and where that came from as a social phenomenon, and the moderator didn’t know how to answer.  They attributed it to the assumption that everyone is straight (heteronormativity), but then that begs the question, where did heteronormativity come from?

The ignorance of their answer concerns me.  The reason why I’m responding here, understand, is not to embarrass anyone, but because I think it’s crucially important for everyone to know — especially for White aces to know — and so I’m making this post to offer what I’ve gathered and perhaps prompt others to do the same.

Why is human sexuality “such a big deal”?  The short answer is colonialism.  For the long answer, keep reading.

If gender is a cultural construct, and if colonialism forces cultural assimilation, then colonialism forces assimilation into exclusive recognition of its own culture’s genders, leading to what we now know as “the gender binary.”  Binarism is a tool of colonialism.  [edit: here’s even more links]

Binarism allows outsiders to project and assign genders onto others’ bodies, which begets/requires cisnormativity.

When you have binarism and cisnormativity in place, it allows for the creation of “opposite genders” and “heterosexuality” as a coherent set of ideas, which allows for heteronormativity.  Here’s a study linking the criminalization of same-gender sexual activity to the influence of British colonialism, specifically.

Colonialism requires the control of bodies, and sexuality is an intimate part of the process.

White supremacy and compulsory sexuality are inseparable forces:

In the generations since “liberation” from the system of indenture servitude, marriage still has the connotation of survival, or at least has for my parents’ generation. It is a mode of protection from government, poverty, and colonialism, turned into a mark of piety and respect for the family.

This is a coerced and compulsory sexuality, and one sourced from white supremacy.

And if you haven’t read “What’s R(ace) Got To Do With It?” yet, get busy.

The dilemma of this brown queer body is its inability to see itself through its own eyes.  The mirror becomes a site it which we view what white people have always told us about ourselves. Regardless or not of the status of my libido, I’m not sure I will ever feel comfortable identifying as asexual because it seems like I am betraying my people.

So if you want to know why we’re fighting this fight: essentially, it’s because of the long history of White violence.

Look, I’m not the best person to talk about this, and I only have a few pieces of the explanation, but apparently the whole subject is not being talked about enough for educational ace blog moderators to know anything about this — and so to contribute to fixing that, I want to draw attention to the voices who taught me these things and (apparently) are either being ignored or have yet to reach a lot of the community.

White aces, we have a responsibility to know these things and to tell those of us who don’t.