Last week, we watched Rashdash’s award winning show Two Men Show. I cannot recommend this show strongly enough! (Despite a redundant [and inaccurate] opening and various class issues). Its a powerful experience, phenomenal performance and extraordinary text. The show is about gender and [its] language and more, by a duo/trio that calls itself ‘radical feminist,’ but in my view, everything that is feminist today beyond liberalism is quickly titled radical, which is more telling about our misogynous time than about the radicality of the feminists. During most of the show, I was able to enjoy it as a comrade, sharing the criticism that was overall suggested about other types of masculinity. Yet, the feeling that it is not about me did not last to the end of the show (no spoilers), and I have then enjoyed discovering another layer of masculine dominance populating my subjectivity.
Anyway, the reason why I decided to write about the show was not (only) to recommend it and Rashdash generally, but also because of something entirely different. A while ago I wrote a hypothesis about how literacy, prevalence and dominance of numbers and digits have changed and design our ways of thinking. Well, in a discussion after the show, the artists mentioned the book The Alphabet versus The Goddess, as influential to their work. In the the book, anthropologist Leonarad Shlain has made similar – but more gendered – arguments about how alphabetic literacy has changed our thinking from holistic and feminine ways into textual-lexomatic-iconic-linear and masculine thought. So I just wanted to leave an update on this thread.
Notes about transsexuality, Palestinian-hybridity, and subjectivity in liberalism
1) Is transgederism humanist/liberal?
According to one typical narrative of ‘trans people,’ certain individuals ‘have always known that they were a man/woman locked in the wrong body.’ (By the way, the following analysis is equally true for cisgenders, who also, albeit silently, ‘know’ that they are inside the correct body). This narrative is anti-queer in its acceptance of normative definitiveness of categories of sex (men/women) and gender (masculine/feminine), as well as their respective alliance.
More importantly, such narratives assume that a subject can rise above a gender-sex ‘mistake,’ listen to one’s body (neutralisation), ‘know it,’ t and then want to, or demand to, or actually correct it, at ‘will.’ In this way, gender is ‘chosen’ or ‘sensed’ by an individual, and is not a latent social discursive structure (unlike race or class). Put another way, to say that you ‘have always known your true identity’ is a practice that reproduces subjectivity (against the poststructuralist view that subjectivity is created by discourse, and that individuality is a concept that in itself needs to be critically contextualised with socio-political-cultural-historical context(s)). The above narrative is arguably part of the naturalised liberalist zeitgeist that foster it, where individual’s agency is exaggerated.
Many Jewish women fantasise about their wedding day, even though the ceremony is a public celebration of their inferiority. Allegedly, modern Jewish weddings amongst seculars or liberals are characterised by more individualistic and egalitarian traits. We have erroneously come to believe that the oppressive and subordinating nature of the marriage ritual and its accompanying language have been nullified. Yet, despite all the (welcome) changes, the core of weddings remains the same: it symbolises of the purchase of a woman.