These and many other developments are all part of a larger "war on women" that has so far consisted of the de-funding or destruction of most federal commissions on women's rights, the attempted elevation of the status of the fetus to the status of a full human being (whose rights would even take priority over those of women), and an erosion of all civil rights for lesbians. All of this adds up to the criminalization of women's freedom and sexual pleasure outside of heterosexual marriage (whether that pleasure takes the form of lesbian sex or straight sex that results in pregnancy), a criminalization in which the deterrent isn't jail but unwanted pregnancy and disease, unsafe abortion or poor medical care, poverty, and in extreme cases death.
The sexualities of marginalized people have been, as always, the hardest hit in this domestic war. Susan Wright, spokesperson of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, reports, "From February to May 2002, five SM conventions were targeted by Concerned Women for America, American Family Association, and the American Decency Association…In April, Missouri State Senator John Loudon introduced a resolution to prohibit SM conferences from being held in that state." These infringements upon kinky adults' right to peaceable assembly demonstrate that in the current conservative climate, even basic constitutional rights may be denied to those whose sexuality is deemed unacceptable. Notably, as hate crimes against gays and lesbians have been decreasing markedly since 2000, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects reports that 2000-2001 saw a 41% increase in hate crimes against female-to-male transgender people, and an 18% increase in hate crimes against queer senior citizens. While some may applaud the inclusion of gay and lesbian people into the mainstream, this inclusion has come at the cost of increased intolerance for groups perceived as more 'marginal.' Particularly because many (though not all) queers see marginalization of any sexuality to be the primary enemy, sex radicalism is more political now than ever.
3. Militarism and normative sexual violence
Very well, you might say, there is a war on women and queers by the misogynistic and homophobic right. But what about the other war - the one in Iraq? Isn't marching in the streets more important than asserting one's sexual freedom in the bedroom/dungeon/bathhouse? I claim that this, too, is all the same war.
The developments in the war on women and queers reflect quite strikingly the culture of the US military, which has become famous in recent years as a model of sexism; underpaid, coerced, and racialized sex work; and condoned physical and sexual violence against queers and women. Former Air Force cadet Sharon Fullilove recalled last month in The New York Times, "[Older female cadets who have been raped] tell you to expect getting raped, and if it doesn't happen to you, you're one of the rare ones. They say if you want a chance to stay here, if you want to graduate, you don't tell. You just deal with it." The same article reported that "Marie," a former cadet who complained of her rape by a male cadet, was deemed to have caused her own rape by drinking, and was "sentenced to 265 hours of marching in circles." A week later, former Air Force officer Debra Dickerson, an African-American woman, wrote in a Times Op-Ed,
Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here
Shtupping in the Shadow
of the Bomb
The Mall Balloon-Man Moment of the Spirit
Beats, Rhymes & Nigguns
Matthue Roth & Juez
Susan H. Case
Josh Gets his Checkup
The Ritual of Family Photography