The Profits and Politics of Neoliberal Gender Fluidity
by m seenarine, 101415
Sex can be pleasurable but it must always be consensual. Sex is much more than intimacy, though, and many do not realize how it is used to further the interests of neoliberal capitalism while providing legitimacy for the State. First and foremost, sex plays an essential role in capitalist production and consumption. For example, hypersexualized females are used to sell everything, from rope to soap.
The pornification of modern cultures is part of a neoliberal equating of sexual choice to political freedom. The degree of democracy in a society is based primarily on how much it allows its citizens to commodify themselves into sexualized objects. This insidious and reductionist framing of democracy dispenses with sex, race and class equality, while allowing white male privilege to remain hidden, as sexual identity is reified into superseding all other material conditions in a society.
Further, sexual biology is considered an obstacle to sexual freedom, translated as gender fluidity, and we are all encouraged to transition to others biological states, with the help of the industrial medical-pharmaceutical complex. Even young children are not exempt from predatory medical practitioners offering gender transition pediatric services.
Gender fluidity has become the opium of the masses, who are sold on a false panacea that covers over far deeper and more complex issues. Millennials, with raging hormones, are the main targets of choice sexuality. Once considered outcastes, queers now represent a new marketing opportunity since the industrial medical-pharmaceutical complex has figured out how to capitalize on sexual biology.
Queer organizations are funded to promote the industrial medical-pharmaceutical complex by providing referrals to transition services, which many working class queers cannot afford. These organizations mainly serve the interests of class privileged queers and largely ignore important issues that queers face besides sexuality, like insecurity, poverty, homelessness, racism, sexual abuse, prostitution, suicides, murders, etc.
Although gender fluidity is viewed by queer activists and advocates as a way to disrupt sexual hierarchy, it completely ignores patriarchal capitalism. Even if the entire working class became gender fluid, the patriarchal elite may still maintain the framework and rationale of male dominance. Gender fluidity does not eliminate gender, on the contrary, it reinforces misogynist stereotypes.
For example, male-to-female transexuals dressing and performing as hypersexualized females do not lessen the subordinate status of women. Men are the enemy, and trans men who identify as women may still be in sexual relationships with hypermasculinized men, and so act as collaborators who are complicit in their own oppression. And female-to-male trans who adopt masculine behaviors of the male ruling class merely reinforces it.
The problem is not sexual biology, it is patriarchal sexual dualism, and gender fluidity mostly serve to maintain the sex binary. Switching from one sex to the opposite may be personally empowering, but it does nothing to end private property and capitalist patriarchy. What is needed is an inter-sectional approach that recognizes important linkages between sex, class, race and other issues, not gender reductionism.
As part of the struggle against sexism, political lesbianism recognizes that sexual orientation is a political and feminist choice, and advocates lesbianism for women as one way to separate from men. Political lesbians are especially critical of penetration, as The Leeds Revolutionary Feminists collective wrote in 1981,
"Every act of penetration for a woman is an invasion which undermines her confidence and saps her strength. For a man it is an act of power and mastery which makes him stronger, not just over one woman but over all women. So everywoman who engages in penetration bolsters the oppressor and reinforces the class power of men."i
Some political lesbians choose to be celibate or identify as asexual. They may recognize that consent is limited under patriarchal capitalism, and that true sexual choice and freedom can only occur once these oppressive structures are removed. Heterosexual men who wish to be female allies must reject penetration, and should strongly consider political celibacy.
By rejecting gender fluidity and remaining critical of patriarchal sexual dualism, women and men can avoid playing into neoliberal exploitation of their sexuality. Political celibacy provides a critical standpoint, and allows activists to focus on other issues like ending private property and abolishing gender.
m seenarine is the founder of Climate Change 911 and author of Cyborgs Versus the Earth Goddess: Men's Domestication of Women and Animals and Female Resistance (2017 Xpyr Press), Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming (2016 Xpyr Press), and Education and Empowerment Among Dalit (Untouchable) Women in India: Voices from the Subaltern (2004 Edwin Mellen Press).