Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sexing political identities/ National as Heterosexism - V. Spike Peterson - University of Arizona - International Feminist Journal of Politics, 1:1 June 1999, 34–65

In the past decade, feminists have produced a considerable and important literature that critically analyses the gendering of the state and state-centric nationalism. This article draws from and shifts the focus of these studies to examine nationalism not simply as gendered but as heterosexist. I .rst locate nationalism as a subset of political identities and identi.cation processes, then take (heterosexist) gender identities as an indispensable starting point in the study of political identities. I next turn to early western state making and its writing technologies to materialize the normalization of (hetero)gender binaries in thought (western metaphysics/phallogocentrism) and practice (divisions of power, authority, labor). Finally, I chart .ve genderdifferentiated dimensions of state-centric nationalism that expose the latter’s heterosexist presumptions – and enduring problems.

By drawing upon but shifting the focus of feminist studies of nationalism, this article has considered heterosexism as historical project and contemporary presumption. I have argued that heterosexism entails the gendered binaries epitomized in western metaphysics but present more generally in codifications based on binary sex difference. The either/or thinking that this imposes fuels hierarchical constructions of difference and social relations of domination. Heterosexist identities produce and are the effect of heterosexist symbols embodied in subject formation, ensuring that there is no ‘ungendered’ identity or experience. Hence, gender is an imperative starting point in the study of identities, identi.cation processes and their multiple effects, and heterosexism is an imperative starting for critiques of gender (as well as heterosexist classist and racist) domination.
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