Brexit: ¿la hora de un gobierno nacional?

Como era de esperarse, el parlamento del Reino Unido rechazó el acuerdo para salir de la Unión Europea (UE) que Theresa May había presentado en nombre de su gobierno. El voto fue abrumador: 432 vs. 202. May perdió por 230 votos, un margen mucho más amplio de lo que predecían los medios. 118 diputados del partido conservador (el partido de May) votaron en contra. Es la derrota más grande de un gobierno desde 1924.

De acuerdo con las leyes anteriores, si un gobierno era derrocado en el parlamento lo que seguía era la disolución de la cámara baja y la convocatoria a nuevas elecciones generales. Sin embargo, las reformas de 2011 introdujeron periodos fijos parlamentarios. La nueva ley (Fixed Term Parliaments Act, 2011) dispone que cada parlamento debe durar cinco años. Sólo es posible disolver la cámara y convocar extraordinariamente a nuevas elecciones si el gobierno pierde un voto de no confianza en la cámara.

Jeremy Corbyn, el líder del partido opositor (Labour) ha convocado este voto para realizarse mañana por la tarde. Es muy poco probable que gane este voto. Explico porqué en una entrada de blog anterior. En el caso probable que sobrevive el gobierno de May este voto, la crisis política que sufre el Reino Unido va a empeorarse rápidamente. El problema principal es Brexit. En 2017 el parlamento votó notificar a la UE de acuerdo con los términos del art. 50 del Tratado de Lisboa. Este Tratado señala que una vez que un gobierno notifica de su intención de salirse de la UE, el país en cuestión saldrá formalmente de la Unión “a partir de la fecha de entrada en vigor del acuerdo de retirada o, en su defecto, a los dos años de la notificación”.

Los dos años señalados en el art. 50 se cumplen el 29 de marzo de este año. Lo que significa que el gobierno de May tiene apenas dos meses y medio para encontrar una solución a Brexit. En caso contrario, el RU saldrá de la UE sin acuerdo ninguno. El RU lleva más de 45 años como estado-miembro de la UE, las leyes europeas forman parte importante de su sistema; su economía está integrada por completa a la UE. Salirse de ella sin un acuerdo sería la peor crisis política y económica desde la segunda guerra mundial. Testimonio vivo de esta realidad es que el gobierno del RU tiene planes de contingencia para lidiar contra la escasez de alimentos, medicinas y otros productos básicos.

El Parlamento está dividido sobre la cuestión de Brexit. Hay los radicales (llamados “Brexiteers”) quienes anhelen un Brexit sin acuerdo. Tanto en el partido conservador como en el laborista hay diputados que piensan que tal solución favorecería sus planes. Por otro lado, hay los moderados quienes quieren un Brexit acordado. Pero no están a favor del acuerdo que ofrece May. Estos diputados quieren renegociar el acuerdo. Hay dos problemas con esta idea: 1) falta de tiempo. Dos meses no dan para renegociar nada; 2) La UE es muy clara que no está dispuesto a renegociar el acuerdo que llegó con el gobierno de May.

Finalmente, hay los diputados que quieren quedar en la UE y favorecen un segundo referéndum. El primer problema aquí, es qué pregunta hacer en el boleto. El segundo, es que no hay ninguna certeza de cuál podría ser el resultado de este referéndum. Las encuestas señalan que 53% de la población favorece la opción de un nuevo referéndum. También señalan que ganaría la opción de quedar en la UE (si esta pregunta pareciera en el boleto.) No obstante, las encuestas en 2015 también predecían que ganaría la opción Remain. Así que las encuestas no son de fiar en esta cuestión. El resultado obvio de una nueva consulta popular sería aumentar la polarización entre la comunidad británica sobre la cuestión. Por lo pronto, tampoco hay tiempo para realizar un nuevo referéndum. Para implementar esta política se requiere que la UE acceda a extender el periodo mandado en el Tratado de Lisboa.

En el corto plazo, la crisis es constitucional. Simplemente la situación política es inusitada. No hay precedentes útiles para una situación en que un gobierno con minoría parlamentaria sigue gobernando. Un desenlace de la crisis podría ser el parlamento tome las riendas del gobierno y la cuestión Brexit; es decir, que hay gobierno por asamblea. Sólo hubo una ocasión en la historia del RU e Inglaterra en que esto ha sucedido: el siglo XVII después de la guerra civil.

La división de opinión en el Parlamente significa que cualquier solución hecha por asamblea sería muy, muy difícil de consensar. Asimismo, los dos partidos políticos principales están divididos por igual. La cultura política británica tradicional es una de confrontación: el partido de gobierno vs. el partido de oposición. No hay muchos ejemplos de trabajo de coalición interparlamentaria. De hecho, el único ejemplo “exitoso” del siglo XX fue el gobierno nacional de Ramsey MacDonald. Este gobierno se formó en 1931 para enfrentar la crisis económica de la Gran Depresión. Participaron miembros de los tres partidos principales: Tories, Liberals y Labour.

Si May quiere sobrevivir, y si está serio en su deseo de concluir exitosamente la salida del RU de la UE, buscar formar un gobierno nacional es su mejor opción. (Pero, claro, es una táctica que hubiera funcionado mejor si la hubiera adoptado en 2017). Para mí, es claro que el gobierno por asamblea es la mejor garantía de que no se solucione el asunto Brexit antes del 29 de marzo. En todo caso, nos esperan unas semanas desesperadas.

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Publicado en Historia constitucional, Historia política, Politics | Etiquetado , , , ,

Brexit: Mrs. May versus el Parlamento

Mrs May perdió su mayoría parlamentaria en las elecciones de 2017. Para continuar en el gobierno, hizo un acuerdo con el partido DUP (extrema derecha protestante) de Irlanda de Norte. Ahora DUP se opone al acuerdo para Brexit y ya no la apoya en este tema. May entonces no tiene mayoría. Asimismo, en el partido conservador, el lado Brexit extremo prefiere que el RU salga de la UE sin acuerdo, así que va a votar en contra del acuerdo. Por otro lado, la ala moderada conservadora a favor de quedarse en la UE se opone al acuerdo también, y va a votar en contra. De esta forma, May no tiene ninguna esperanza de ganar el voto, haga lo que haga ella.

Los fuegos artificiales son lo que vienen después. Al perder el voto sobre Brexit, queda en evidencia el gobierno de May está en minoría. En el sistema pre-reformas de 2011, esta situación llevaba obligatoriamente a la convocatoria a nuevas elecciones. Ahora, para seguir esta opción primero es necesario que haya un voto de no confianza en su gobierno en el parlamento. Aquí el problema para el partido de oposición -Labour- es reunir la mayoría necesaria para obligar el voto. Aquí es muy probable que los moderados conservadores, la ala extremista Brexit y, el DUP votan en contra de una moción de no confianza para evitar una elección y para evitar que Jeremy Corbyn -líder de los laboristas y amiguito de AMLO- llega a ser primer ministro.

Todo esta significa que Mrs. Mary puede mantenerse en gobierno a pesar de no tener mayoría. Pero, el problema Brexit queda sin resolver: si May no hace nada, el RU sale de la EU el 29 de marzo de acuerdo a los términos del artículo 50 del Tratado de Lisboa. ¿Pero cómo resolver la situación sin mayoría? Los opositores a Brexit, y los moderadores a favor de Brexit de todos los partidos tienen que trabajar juntos desde el parlamento para lanzar un plan: pero no están de acuerdo con uno con el otro así que es muy difícil.

Además, es una situación inusitada para el procedimiento parlamentario, asi que las avenidas a actuar no son del todo claros. Pero, el meollo del problema es la minoría que goza May, y la minoría que goza Mr. Corbyn, y el hecho de que no hay salida a este desastre que no significa la posible destrucción del partido conservador o el partido laborista (pues ambos partidos peleados a muerte sobre el tema). Ambos líderes y los miembros de ambos partidos están paralizados ante este escenario.

Una salida sensata ante el problema es convocar otro referendum: pero, a la vez es una solución que lleva a más incertidumbre, pues quién sabe cuál sería el resultado de pedir la opinión pública sobre si quiere o no seguir con el proceso de salir de la UE.

La conclusión inescapable es que ni los líderes de conservadores ni los laboristas están dispuestos a sacrificarse para evitar lo inevitable del No Deal el 29 de marzo.

Publicado en Historia constitucional, Historia política, Politics, Uncategorized | Etiquetado , , | 1 Comentario

Kate Manne’s Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny and Citation Politics

Kate Manne’s recent book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (Oxford University Press, 2018), discusses the concept of misogyny and its relationship to sexism. Her basic premise rejects the dictionary definition of misogyny as the expression of an emotion -ie. the “hatred of women”- in favour of a definition which classes misogyny as an action: the punishment of women for not conforming to patriarchal norms. Similarly, she rejects the correlation of sexism with misogyny, arguing that sexism should be better understood as the justification and rationalisation of a “patriarchal social order”. In this way, sexism is expressed by arguing that women act in a certain way because they are women and justifies sexual discrimination via science. Misogyny is, on the other hand, “the system which polices and enforces” (via verbal and physical violence) women’s obedience to the sexist norms. With these redefinitions, Manne argues that patriarchy is a system that guarantees male supremacy via both misogyny and sexism. This system requires the collusion of both men and women, and as such, can never be conceived as exclusively male.

In order to defend her hypothesis, Manne makes the following argument: in patriarchal ideology, the gender binary dictates that men and women have different emotional, social and cultural roles. The male is the principal actor, around which narrations are formed and whose point of view is always prioritised. The female role is that of an eternal supporting actress, whose job is “to give to him, not to ask, and expected to feel indebted and grateful, rather than indebted.” This role is most obvious “with respect to characteristically moral good: attention, care, sympathy, respect, admiration, and nurturing.” As a result, men feel entitled to women’s emotional labour:

[i]ncluding -it would seem- the lives of those who can no longer give him what he wanted in terms of moral succour. He may love and value her intrinsically -that is for her own sake- but far too conditionally, that is, not on her identity as a person (whatever that amounts to) but her second personal attitude of good will towards him.

According to Manne, this division of (above all) emotional labour, explains why patriarchal culture is always predisposed to what feminists have labelled “victim-blaming”: that is the desire excuse the behaviour of violent men by attributing it to the failings of the victim. Moreover, in such a culture, people are inclined to have more sympathy with the perpetrator of violence against women (something she calls “himpathy”) and will criticise any victim who attempts to “steal” moral goods, in this case sympathy, compassion etc, that should -in accordance with patriarchal norms- only be given by women to men. Himpathy is thus one of misogyny’s enforcement tools.

Manne’s discussion also leads her to reject the idea that violence against women can be attributed to the dehumanisation of women by patriarchal culture. She argues that for misogyny to work as a tool of patriarchal enforcement, it is necessary for people to regard women as people, not objects. Women are humans with a particular role that must be followed in their interactions with others, and her value as a “good” human woman is dependent on how well she manages to fulfill this role. This part of her argument can also be applied more widely to provide a counter-argument to the idea, developed by Hannah Arendt and others after the Second World War, to explain how one community of people can be persuaded to inflict mortal violence, even genocide, on other communities.

There is much food for thought in Down Girl. Her model of a male human actor complemented by a female human giver, understood as an affirming and appreciative audience, allows her to explain the relationship between the diverse strands of the criticism and opposition faced by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential elections. Clinton’s cardinal sin was to occupy the role of the male: the principal actor. She was thus perceived to be taking emotional goods (admiration, support etc) that were not hers to enjoy: she was thus “entitled”, “ungrateful” and “arrogant”. She did not display the requisite nurturing qualities, and was consequently perceived as lacking humanity: she was “cold”, “barren” and “dried up”. Finally, the accusations of her personal and political corruption, the obsessions with her “scheming” and the endless conspiracy theories, point to the patriarchal anxiety inspired by a woman who is seen to be “stealing” a position which should only be held by a man.

Even so, I must admit to finding the book mostly disappointing. This is not a result of my disagreement with her arguments; to the contrary, I find them quite persuasive. Her book contributes to the understanding of the patriarchal cultures we inhabit and how, as women, our happiness and personal development are constrained by them. My disappointment lies with her framing and above all, her failure to historicise (and cite) the considerable body of feminist scholarship that informs her writing.

In short: Manne’s arguments are considerably less original than she makes them out to be. Let me start with her division of male and female roles: the man as the most important human actor, and the woman as the giver, the nurturer and the ever appreciative audience. This understanding of male/female roles within patriarchy was most forcibly expressed by Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, a work of philosophy that merits no mention by Manne in her book. De Beauvoir’s description of man as the ego -the “I”- while the woman as the eternal “Other” clearly provides the backdrop to Manne’s arguments. While it is true De Beauvoir also defines this division in terms of “subject/object”, she does not mean to imply that women are thought of as less than fully human within patriarchy. Her point is to underline every woman’s dilemma: the constant contradiction of being a subject playing at being an object: expected to reflect the emotions and the needs of the subject and never to act as if she had her own. It is inexplicable to me that Manne should feel that De Beauvoir deserves no recognition as an inspiration for the theory that she proposes.

Secondly, the scholarship of feminism’s second-wave theorised how patriarchy imposes women’s role as nurturers and care-givers, yet none get a mention in Manne’s book. Nancy Chodorow, Carol Gilligan and others developed arguments around the psychology of motherhood and how (in Chodorow’s words), the experience of motherhood was “reproduced” via socialisation.[1] Adrienne Rich compared the institution of motherhood: “which aims at ensuring that … all women … shall remain under male control” with the potential of motherhood for redefining women’s relationships with themselves and others.[2] Black feminist theorists like Angela Davis and bell hooks examined implications of slavery for the expectations surrounding black mothers in the US and criticised the continuance of the archetype of the “black mammy” or “Aunt Jemima” within contemporary culture.[3] The scholarship of black and women of colour from the seventies onwards clearly demonstrated that care-giving, nurture and emotional labour was not uniformly expected nor demanded within US culture.[4] A discussion of this scholarship would have greatly enhanced Manne’s conceptualisation of the female “giver” especially in relation to the question of abortion (chapter 3). At the very least, it would have allowed her to avoid arguing -as she appears to do- that the feminine role under patriarchy is universally applicable to all women.

This brings me to the question of framing. In her introduction, Manne is careful to argue that, since her analysis is contingent to (and informed by) her own experiences as a white Australian academic working in the USA, she does not feel qualified to extend her argument to include any discussion of misogyny experienced by trans women and only limited analysis of that faced by black woman. Feeling there was no “no morally perfect way to proceed” she preferred to leave these issues to one side. This is all very exemplary, but as the reader may have already grasped from the previous paragraph, this silence serves her ill.

Firstly, it is revealing that Manne feels compelled to begin the section she dedicates to explaining her “regrets” by observing that “perhaps the biggest omission in this book” is an examination of transmisogyny. She also makes the effort to cite authors who could provide an introduction to this subject. As a result, the omission of misogyny endured by women of colour is relegated to secondary status; not as important as the omission of transmisogyny. She also does not cite any authors that could educate the reader in this question. In other parts of the text she cites a Tumblr post by feminist media scholar Moya Bailey on “misogynoir” but fails to quote any of her academic work.[5] The conclusion I drew from this framing was that Manne had not read widely around the question of misogynoir and did not feel the scholarship of black women on this question had much to offer her nor her readers.[6]

Secondly, her admission of the lamentable “omissions” to her text is not accompanied by any analysis of what these “silences” mean for her arguments. Manne does not reflect on how her decision limits the scope of her book nor how her reliance on her own white perspective may distort the hypothesis presented. As I pointed out above, the biggest issue for me is the question of how she establishes the patriarchal model of the female giver without reflecting that patriarchal norms are always racialised. To cite, black legal and feminist scholar Dorothy E. Roberts:

Racism and patriarchy are not two separate institutions that intersect only in the lives of Black women. They are two interrelated, mutually supporting systems of domination and their relationship is essential to understanding the subordination of all women. Racism makes the experience of sexism different for Black women and white women. But it is not enough to note that Black women suffer from both racism and sexism, although it is true. Racism is patriarchal. Patriarchy is racist. We will not destroy one institution without destroying the other.[7]

This is not to say Manne doesn’t engage with race, but that she examines misogyny separately from race. Her norm of a female-giver is universal. There is no discussion of what is expected of white women of different classes or professions; or of black women, or brown women etc. Consequently, her analysis concentrates on white experiences of misogyny as the norm, with those of women of colour considered only to show how much worse things are for women if they are also oppressed by racism.

This is illustrated by her treatment of misogynoir in chapter six. Here she examines the relative “reliability” and “worthiness” of victims in subordinate social categories compared to those of higher social class. In so doing, Manne compares the “himpathy” offered to Brock Turner (who raped a white woman) and to that enjoyed by the serial rapist Daniel Holtzclaw (who targeted black women). She describes the lesser public outrage at Holtclaw’s multiple rapes as “misogynoir in action”, while presumably that received by Turner could be called just the average “misogyny in action.” This framing ignores the considerable black feminist scholarship on the subject black women’s experiences of rape and how the patriarchal ideology of white supremacism assumed that the “animal-like” “uncontrolled” sexuality of a black women meant that she could not be raped.[8]

In short, my disappointment with Down Girl, is based on how Manne presents her research. I am disheartened by her unwillingness to engage with the history of feminist thought, especially feminist scholarship by black women and women of colour. One of the continuing characteristics of white feminist scholarship is the marginalisation of black feminist ideas and scholarship of women of colour. It is not enough to “stay in our lane” if this means also ignoring or appropriating the work of those feminists of other lanes. As Sara Ahmed observes: “Citation is feminist memory. Citation is how we acknowledge our debt to those who came before[.]”[9] If this memory remains predominantly white, it only reinforces the very patriarchal and racial norms of white supremacy that Manne wishes to expose and reject.

[1] Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and The Sociology of Gender: With a New Preface Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999; Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice. Harvard: Harvard  University Press, 1982.

[2] Adrienne C. Rich. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. Reissued ed. Women’s Studies. New York: Norton, 1995: 13.

[3] bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. London: Pluto Press, 2001; Davis, Angela Y. Women, Race & Class. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.

[4] For a historian’s perspective, see for example, Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, And Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, And Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture by the University of North Carolina Press, 1996. For a wide-ranging discussion of the literature and theories surrounding Black motherhood see, Dorothy E. Roberts ‘Racism and Patriarchy in the Meaning of Motherhood’. Journal of Gender and the Law 1, no. 1 (1993): 3. http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/faculty_scholarshiphttp://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/faculty_scholarship/595.

[5] Manne cites the following post: Moya Bailey. ‘More on the Origin of Misogynoir’. Moyazb-Tumblr, 2014. http://moyazb.tumblr.com/post/84048113369/more-on-the-origin-of-misogynoir. I think she (and her readers) might also have been interested in: Moya Bailey. ‘Misogynoir in Medical Media: On Caster Semenya and R. Kelly’. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 2, no. 2 (21 September 2016). https://doi.org/10.28968/CFTT.V2I2.98. On the subject of misogynoir, the following post from the blog Gradient Lair might also have been a good reference to offer since the author (known only as Trudy) has also been influential in the popularisation of term on digital media: Trudy. ‘Explanation Of Misogynoir’. Gradient Lair, 2014. http://www.gradientlair.com/post/84107309247/define-misogynoir-anti-black-misogyny-moya-bailey-coined.

[6] It is pertinent at this point to cite the following from Moya Bailey and Trudy. ‘On Misogynoir: Citation, Erasure, and Plagiarism’. Feminist Media Studies 18, no. 4 (4 July 2018): 762–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2018.1447395. This is written in the form of an interview. The 2014 essay cited by Trudy here is the one referenced in the previous footnote.

Trudy: I experience an almost immeasurable amount of plagiarism for many years now, including of my years of work theorizing on misogynoir. Since I am an unaffiliated writer—or in other words, I write independently and without mainstream media, academic or corporate support and without the accompanying social status, yet I have an extremely visible presence in social media spaces—I face the phenomenon of people plagiarizing my work in very public and grotesque ways. People who do this know that since I am without institutional support and resources, they will face no repercussions. While social status cannot prevent plagiarism, it often determines if the person plagiarized will have any emotional support and resources for recourse. I have very little of the former and none of the latter, when it comes to dealing with plagiarism.

I experience two types of plagiarism, which in my writing I refer to as opportunistic plagiarism and punitive plagiarism. Opportunistic plagiarists use my writing and tweets without citation to meet journalistic and academic deadlines, whether for pay, social status (as misogynoir guarantees anyone socially/economically “above” an unaffiliated Black woman will be praised for the things Black women theorize and write), or both. Punitive plagiarists can be opportunistic as well, but they are also interested in punishing me for my work. Punitive plagiarists do not only want the opportunities they can gain through exploiting me, but they are also interested in erasing my labor altogether. Often times, this looks like someone mentioning that Moya coined “misogynoir,” but then they plagiarize my actual theorization work. While the opportunistic plagiarist does not consider me important enough to cite, the punitive plagiarist is concerned with both opportunism and erasure, in a personal way. At times, these are people who know me online and will even go as far to say that I “inspire” them, but ultimately are harmful because there is social capital in knowing what Black women do, without being a Black woman.

Many spaces and publications, both indie and mainstream, either reduce my years of work to a single essay of mine or erase my work altogether (2014). When I wrote that particular essay in 2014, I did not do so as a journalist who learned a new word but as someone who had been theorizing and developing a framework for how misogynoir is even defined and understood, especially so outside of the academe. In other words, primarily Moya and I are why journalists, activists and others can even write on misogynoir at all. Because of the social status ascribed to mainstream media, their words are held over mine. This hierarchy that facilitates the conditions for plagiarism and erasure that I experience around my theorizing on misogynoir ironically reflects how misogynoir functions in social and institutional settings.

[7] Roberts ‘Racism and Patriarchy in the Meaning of Motherhood’: 3.

[8] See, for example, Hazel V. Carby, “‘On the Threshold of Woman’s Era’: Lynching, Empire and Sexuality in Black Feminist Theory”. In Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader, edited by Reina Lewis y Sara Mills, 222–37. Taylor & Francis, 2003.

[9] Sara Ahmed. Living a Feminist Life. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017 [Kindle edition]: position 365.

Publicado en Feminismo | Etiquetado , ,

La batalla de los universalismos o cómo definir a la mujer

Ayer leí un debate en Twitter acerca de los desacuerdos entre las feministas radicales y las feministas de identidades en cuanto a la definición de la mujer. El debate hablaba de TERFs y preguntaba si era posible o deseable hablar con este grupo de feministas. El ensayo que sigue es mi respuesta a este debate. Iba a tuitearlo, pero es muy largo y mejor se les ofrezco como una entrada de blog.

¿Cuál es la definición de TERF que están ocupando? Hay varias. El acrónimo quiere decir “trans exclusionary radical feminists”. Fue acuñado por los oponentes del feminismo radical para cuestionar su planteamiento que el género no es una identidad sino un sistema de opresión.

Las radfems afirman que las mujeres son una clase (en sentido marxista) que son oprimidas por los hombres como clase (el patriacardo). Entienden el género (y las identidades de género) como el sistema por el que funciona la opresión. Por tanto, son hóstiles a la idea de que “todos tenemos una identidad de género” y aún más a la idea de que ellas son “mujeres cis”. Interpretan estas ideas como la exigencia que las mujeres que no son trans deben sentirse identificadas con ser subordinadas en la sociedad.

Asimismo, definen a la mujer y al hombre de acuerdo al lugar que la persona ocupa en la reproducción sexual y rechazan la idea de que el género se define a partir de cómo uno se siente. De ahí viene la afirmación de que las mujeres trans no son mujeres.

Sus oponentes usan el acrónimo TERF para subrayar el significado de estos planteamientos para las personas trans. Desde su punto de vista, el análisis de las radfem equivale a decir que las personas transgénero no existen. Desde este punto de vista, asimismo, a las radfems les acusan de violencia -entendida como violencia epistemológica- al no reconocer la identidad de las personas trans.

No obstante, el discurso de la identidad de género en el feminismo obliga a todos a tener identidad. No respeta a las mujeres que rechaza a ser llamadas “cis”, e incita a la exclusión de las radfem del feminismo. No reconoce que puede haber otra interpretación feminista además de la que abraza el discurso de género.

Por otra parte, se usa el acronimo TERF para referir a las lesbianas que no quieren incluir a las mujeres trans en su lesbianismo. Hay lesbianas radfems pero la mayor no lo son. Hay lesbianas que objetan a la redefinición del lesbianismo por el discurso trans como una relación entre dos personas que identifican como mujeres. Rechazan esta interpretación asimismo porque lleva a una definición de la sexualidad lesbiana que sólo incluye mujeres biológicas como problemática y transfóbica. Insisten que los planteamientos trans acerca de la sexualidad niegan la autonomía sexual de las lesbianas. Interpretan las acusaciones de transfobia como un intento de obligarlas a aceptar la posibilidad de tener una relación sexual con una persona con pene. La comparan con la cultura de violación y la violación correctiva.

Como en el caso de las radfems, se nota que el discurso trans no es tolerante con las lesbianas cuyas preferencias sexuales no conforman con las ideas sobre la sexualidad derivadas de la idea de la identidad de género. La palabra TERF sirve para deslegitimar el análisis y la sexualidad de las mujeres que rechazan la transcendencia de la identidad de género. Sirve para plantear el argumento desde la identidad de género y para silenciar a sus voces mediante la acusión de “transfobia”.

En fin, el desacuerdo de las radfems y el feminismo de identidades es acerca de la definición de la palabra “mujer”. Es, además, un desacuerdo entre dos puntos de vista universalistas: es decir, ambas partes insisten que su definición es la única válida. De esta forma, ambos puntos de vista hacen vista gorda (o bien manipulan) los planteamientos del feminismo poscolonial y negro.

Uno de los grandes argumentos del feminismo poscolonial es que no se puede hablar de un “nosotras” cuando hablamos de mujeres. Es decir, las mujeres (y no importa la definición que adoptamos de la palabra) no somos una entidad homogénea; todas las experiencias que tenemos son mediadas por nuestras diferencias sociales, culturales y económicas entre muchas otras cosas.

El reto del feminismo -desde esta perspectiva poscolonial – no es establecer una definición de “mujer” como *la única* de la que no se permite disenso. Es buscar encontrar los puentes entre nosotras para poder colaborar juntas en pos de un fin que convenga a todas. Alcanzar este reto significa aceptar que hay diferencias importantes entre todas las mujeres y qué las relaciones de poder entre nosotras no siempre se definen por un solo eje. Factores como el color, la sexualidad, la religión, la clase, la identidad etc., siempre impactan de manera variada dependiendo en qué contexto las mujeres se encuentran. Sí, es la famosa (y bastante malentendida) idea de la interseccionalidad (y regalo del feminismo negro).

Abrazar los feminismos que partan de la idea de la diferencia, en lugar de los que parten de universalismos, no resuelve la disyuntiva en la que la confrontación entre el feminismo radical y el feminismo de identidades nos han metido. Sin embargo, enseña que la manera de buscar la resolución es a través del diálogo y el respeto por las diferencias. Para lograr un diálogo creo que estamos obligadas a rechazar el universalismo y la lucha por definir *de una vez por todas* qué es una mujer.

Insistir en el universalismo, insistir en silenciar las voces que no comparten tu universalismo, es promover una confrontación sin fin donde no habrá ganadores sino sólo víctimas. Es una confrontación que ganará el lado más vocal y el más violente. En otras palabras, es seguir la lógica del hombre blanco occidental del patriacado. Para que el feminismo logre su meta final -el fin del patriacado-, debe abandonar “las herramientas del amo” (Audre Lorde); pues con ellas no se construye sino sólo se destruye.

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A Brief Guide to the Mexican Elections for the Perplexed and Curious

 

A “twitter essay” explaining the Mexican elections by me, Mexican historian and citizen, to counterbalance some of the “fake news” currently circulating in the English-speaking press. You can consult the Twitter version here. This version has been amended for clarity, mainly to correct errors in spelling and grammar.

For the recent history of Mexico (last 30 years or so), the election results of 2018 are astounding. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won 53% of the popular vote. He led his nearest rival by over 30%.

For comparison:  in 1996 Zedillo won with 48.7% (and had a 23% lead); in 2000, Fox won with 42.5% (with a 6.4% lead); in 2006, Calderón won with 35.9 (and a 0. 62% lead over AMLO); Peña won with 38.2% (and a 7.43% lead over AMLO).

AMLO is the first left-wing party-candidate to be elected as President since the end of the Revolution. After 10 years or so of competitive (and violent) elections in the 1920s, the revolutionaries established the Party of the Mexican Revolution (later the PRI, the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution). It governed until 2000.

So yes, it is a historic victory. But: context.  In the last 30 years, the autonomous electoral commission (Instituto Federal Electoral or IFE founded in 1990) has overseen every presidential election. Since 2014 it goes by the name of Instituto Nacional Electoral or INE.

Before 1990, elections were supervised by the federal government, namely the Federal Governing Secretary/Interior Ministry (Secretario de Gobernación). During the hegemony of the PRI (circa 1940-1990) elections were notorious corrupt affairs.

The INE/IFE has a patchy record of curbing electoral tampering. The results in 2006 were widely thought to be fraudulent. But the election results since 2000 – ie. their competitiveness- suggest that it has managed to guarantee a certain level of democracy.

Despite what preconceived ideas you might have about Mexico, their elections are a model of citizen participation and the INE/IFE strives towards transparency.  Both the US and the UK could learn much from how Mexico regulates its elections.

Mexico City and the South have a vibrant left-wing political community. Other parts of Mexico lean more happily to the right and the politics of Catholic and /or pro-business conservatism. AMLO’s failure to win in 2006 and 2012 reflects this.

There have been dirty campaigns against AMLO since he was Chief of Mexico City’s government (2000-2005). The negative propaganda in the conservative media and institutional attacks undertaken by the PAN President, Vicente Fox, also accounts for his defeat in 2006.

AMLO’s current victory is not a whole-hearted embrace of left-wing policies by 53% of the Mexican population. His popularity is also not a by-product of a populist agenda, despite what his critics insist both inside and outside Mexico.

The innumerable deaths in the 2006-present “drug war”; the incompetence and corruption of current president Peña Nieto and various PRI governors; and simply, a much savvier political campaign in 2018, are better explanations for his victory.

AMLO is as far from Trump as you can get. He’s not a businessman, he is famously averse to spending money on himself and he speaks in coherent (if slow) sentences. His political model is one of establishing alliances with grass-roots workers, peasant movements etc.

In this concern with establishing alliances, he is reminiscent of the ex-revolutionary PRI politicians who built up the party in the 1930s and 40s. It also separates him from the politicians of the PRI heyday (50s-70s).

It is also not helpful to compare AMLO to Hugo Chávez. AMLO does not propose to rewrite the constitution or impose socialism. He is not a military man. A better comparison of his political position is with the social democratic parties in post-war Europe.

Can AMLO change Mexico for the better? Those who voted for him, hope so. The margin of his victory and his party’s dominance in the Federal Congress put him in a unique position to implement a great deal of legislation.

However, politics in Mexico -like everywhere else- is not just done in the capital. The PRI, PAN and PRD may be severely wounded, but the first two still control a number of important state governments.

How AMLO deals with Panista and Prista governors will likely decide how successful his policies can be. He is proposing to cut their easy (and mostly unregulated) access to federal money. This will not go down well.

How he deals with the numerous “tactical” alliances he forged during his presidential bid -for example with the Evangelical right-wing Social Encounter Party or PES- will also be crucial to his on-going success.

AMLO inspires great hope in many sectors of the Mexican population. However, he also inspires intransigent hatred from great swathes of the middle-classes and the political elite. This is not going to go away, and will likely provide a backdrop of constant accusations of “dictatorship” and “populism” from assorted newspaper/radio/TV punditry.

His biggest challenge is to seek an economic and political solution to the drug war. His proposed Interior Minister suggested legalising cannabis yesterday. Amnesties for small growers of (amapola) poppies are also on the cards.

In sum: yes, this is a historic victory for AMLO. Does he have a huge mandate for change? Undoubtedly. Will bringing about the changes he wants be a straightforward matter? Very unlikely. Does he want to be the next Trump/Chávez? No.

PS. A late addition to the essay from a Twitter conversation with @curiouser_alice

I think it is a generally hopeful scenario. The other variable is, of course, foreign relations. As Porfirio Díaz said, “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so near the United States.”

 

 

 

Publicado en Historia política, Politics | Etiquetado , , , , ,

What is feminism to you?

Defining feminism is always tricky. For a start, feminists don’t actually agree on a definition. Secondly, feminism is not a monolithic political or social movement, but a collection of different movements, activisms and political philosophies. Feminism is a catch-all term we use to define people (although some feminists would argue it is a label that can only be applied to women) who believe that women are historically and culturally disadvantaged in present society and want to reform society to change this. A more precise definition must take into account the following:

  1. Different feminist groups define the word “woman” in different and conflicting ways. (ie. “women as a biological sex class” or “woman as a gender identity”?)
  2. Different feminists group understand the causes of women’s historical and cultural differences in radically opposing ways. (ie. the liberal idea that women’s disadvantages are due to a lack of equal rights versus the materialist idea that all women are oppressed by a patriarchal, racial and class system).
  3. As a result, all these groups champion policies and ideas that some other group(s) oppose. (Witness the transgender, prostitution and abortion debates)
  4. Nearly all groups claim the label “feminist” for themselves exclusively and deny the other group’s claim to the name based on these opposing views.

This is why it has become more usual to hear about “feminisms” in the plural, rather than feminism in the singular.

I, of course, have my own feminist views. If you read my blog or Twitter with any regularity, you will have a pretty good idea of where I stand. But, as a teacher, my aim is always to present all the versions of feminism I have come across and present judgment of none. Nevertheless, I will always be clear in my classes which version is of my own particular leaning. In this post, I hope I am adopting this strategy. In the end, it doesn’t matter what “flavour” of feminist I am, or which “wave” I most identify with. It’s about giving a definition of feminism that contributes to a Twitter dialogue I recently read.

Feminism as word only came into existence at the end of the nineteenth century. However, the general idea of women leading disadvantageous lives in society had been around for many centuries indeed and was expressed globally in different contexts. Historians of women and gender have shown this repeatedly.  As a result, some historians, like Karen Offen for example, argue that we should expand any history of feminism to take these examples into account.

This suggests to me that my opening attempt at an explanation of feminism as “a collection of different movements, activisms and political philosophies […] who believe that women are historically and culturally disadvantaged in present society” points to the inescapable centrality of “women” to any definition of the term. Feminists want women not to be disadvantaged in society  (however they define this disadvantage) and their actions are defined by what they perceive women need to escape this position.

It also suggests that any activism who does not centre women cannot be feminism, even if the course of this activism might help women in some way. In the same way, many feminists who consider that a woman’s disadvantages cannot be understood without reference to multiple oppressive systems, may help non women in some way with their activism. This does not mean that the concerns of men are usually at the forefront of their policymaking. The Combahee River Collective said this best:

If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.

Finally, if we attempt to make feminism an “all inclusive” social justice movement, the end effect is to marginalise women and to gloss over the multiple ways women are disadvantaged in different places, cultures and times. The evidence of how women are derided and labeled “treacherous” for their insistence on the need for women-centred politics within political movements, whether Marxist, nationalist or any other, shows us very clearly that any notion of feminism that does not start from an uncompromising focus on women is on the first step to irrelevance.

Selected Bibliography:

Eisenstein, Zillah, and Barbara Smith, eds. ‘The Combahee River Collective Statement’. In Home Girls, A Black Feminist Anthology. Nueva York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, Inc., 1978. http://circuitous.org/scraps/combahee.html.
Hewitt, Nancy A., ed. No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2010.
Lerner, Gerda. The Creation Of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-Seventy. New York: Oxford University Press, U.S.A., 1994.
Offen, Karen. ‘Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach’. Signs 14, no. 1 (1988): 119–57.
Miller, Francesca. Latin American Women and the Search for Social Justice. UPNE, 1991.
Riley, Denise. ‘Am I That Name?’: Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ in History. Language, Discourse, Society. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 1988.
Smith, Bonnie G., ed. Global Feminisms since 1945: A Survey of Issues and Controversies. Rewriting Histories. London ; New York: Routledge, 2000.

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Historiografía constitucional: de influencias, modelos y copias

Tradicionalmente la historiografía sobre el constitucionalismo mexicano, se ha empeñado en encontrar una influencia foránea directa de cada texto constitucional. En cambio, es raro encontrar autores interesados en identificar las aportaciones de la tradición constitucional autóctona a los varios documentos constitucionales. De modo que, al estudiar la Constitución Federal de 1824, por ejemplo, la pregunta recurrente es si los constituyentes adoptaron el modelo de la carta estadounidense de 1787 o el código apatzingangaditano de 1812; o bien, al abordar la cuestión de los orígenes del Cuarto Poder, presente en las Siete Leyes de 1836, se debate si dicha institución se deriva de las propuestas de Jeremy Bentham o Benjamin Constant. En años recientes, historiadores como Moisés Guzmán y Alfredo Ávila han demostrado la miopía de este enfoque al señalar las continuidades (y rupturas) en el debate constitucional mexicano después de 1808. No obstante, el hábito de analizar las constituciones mexicanas a partir de su deuda con los modelos extranjeros perdura y sigue obstaculizando el estudio del desarrollo de un pensamiento constitucional nacional.

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