Thursday, April 18, 2013

recommended reads of the day

Intersectionality and identity politics | Slave of the Passions:
Taken to its ultimate conclusion, in this vision of politics there could be no room for movements like feminism at all. For feminism assumes some degree of commonality among women, which the logic of this identity politics must deny. As soon as you call yourself a feminist, you are identifying yourself as part of a movement that speaks for and represents others. And yet these others are all radically and irreducibly different, from you and from each other.
The objectivity of oppression | Slave of the Passions:
The problem with some versions of intersectional identity politics is that, in elevating subjective experience above objective knowledge, they dissolve the possibility of making coherent, meaningful claims of injustice or oppression at all. On this logic all complaints are reduced to an expression of one’s personal preference or feelings, with no way to distinguish genuine injustice from mere dislike. If we want to hold on to the concepts of injustice and oppression, and if we want them to have real political weight and to signify actions and practices that need to be altered, then we have to understand them as having objective criteria that are defined independently of how any individual experiences them. The intersectionalist demand to attend to people’s narratives and to learn from people’s experiences can, at its best, shed a great deal of light on difficult concepts like oppression and injustice, and help us to understand the forms they take and the remedies they require. But at its worst, it descends into solipsism and narcissism, where we mollify oppressed people with the consolation that they are being listened to, but where we and they ultimately lack any resources with which to end their oppression.