The Resistance of Tomatoes

20 May

There are a lot of different tomatoes
In the grocery store these days
There are loose ones
There are greenhouse ones in plastic boxes
Tiny ones and big ones
With stems or without
Even heirlooms, all black and green and pink.

Probably still those square ones somewhere
That packed so well

But now what we want is the real thing.
We want a tomato that is
Actually ripe.

Tomatoes are from Mexico
They like it hot
But not too hot
They will not get sweet if it’s too cold
And they will not set fruit if it’s too hot.

I have grown heirloom tomatoes here for months on end
Who do not set fruit
Until just soon enough to die of frost
Vines resplendent
Full of green fruit
Though I am not far from Mexico.

A tomato must ripen on the vine
Drawing in sugars
With the right heat
To be sweet.

And then they are too fragile to easily pack
Thus all this elaborate plastic
All these individual tomato habitat nodules

And still

We have wrecked the weather
And we have insulted tomatoes
But still we love them
And still we grow them
Because there is nothing quite like
A perfectly ripe tomato

Such as might have grown on your mother’s balcony
By the ocean
One fine summer.

Tomatoes are like that
They make you remember
When you pleased them.





Susan Cox on Queer Theory

22 Mar

Excerpts from a January 2017 interview with Susan Cox and Derrick Jensen about queer theory. All quotes from Susan Cox except when noted otherwise.

“For example, Judith Butler; in her seminal text Gender Trouble, which came out in 1990, at the beginning of the third wave of feminism and was hugely influential to the third wave; argues that patriarchy is a… she celebrates the fact that the term “patriarchy” has lost currency in recent feminist theory, and that we cannot identify males as a class, as the oppressors of females, because this is too totalizing a gesture and actually this is not how it works, but oppression springs from these discursive structures of binary oppositions, and, if we identify males as the oppressor class, that only works to strengthen the binary opposition.”

“What happened with the rise of queer theory is that feminism became very symbolic, the idea being that the war that feminism needs to fight is merely on the symbolic level of erasing certain categories from language, through the process of queering. And when we drop power out of the equation we can see what happens, for example like you were saying about racist global colonization.”

“But what queer theory does is it takes power out of the equation and says that these norms happen almost by chance, which is also from Foucault. Foucault argued that these norms kind of happen through contingency. And contingency is basically chance. They just sort of form that way, they just get momentum for some reason and keep going. No one knows quite why and they don’t really benefit any specific group of people.

Similarly, Judith Butler said that women are not oppressed for the benefit of males, but that these norms simply come to be and that they are very restrictive and oppress people in that fashion.”

“So take for example gender. The feminist theory of the social construction of gender is that it is coercively instated, so that female persons are organized into the subordinate class of women. And women are positioned as being illogical, frivolous, subservient, naturally caring, and sexually subordinate to males. And men are characterized as brave, active, intelligent, logical, leaders. So we can see how gender is basically the ideology that props up these two classes. But in queer theory, they took the feminist theory of gender and made it into this all-pervasive plot to capture complex individuals into these restrictive binary boxes, and that itself is considered oppressive.”

“And for queer theory, you can’t simply break out of the binary opposition, or refuse one pole of the binary opposition, because this only strengthens it. And the second wave of feminism identified heterosexuality, and more specifically compulsory heterosexuality, as a main regime of women’s oppression.

So queer theory took that and said that for example radical lesbianism, or political lesbianism, was not a productive feminist strategy at all. Because merely refusing heterosexuality strengthened the binary between heterosexual and homosexual, and what instead needed to happen was the queering of the binary entirely, thus blurring the distinction between heterosexual and homosexual.

Eve Sedgwick argues that lesbianism is not a subversive refusal of male power at all, but instead what is really subversive is for lesbians to have sex with men. And Judith Butler said pretty much the same thing. She said that lesbianism was not productive, but rather a man who is performing femininity, wearing feminine clothing, and that sexual relation is a much more complex production of power, and subversive.”

“So what queer theory argues; because you cannot refuse one end of the binary opposition, or strengthen the oppressed end of the binary opposition; is that we need to do away with the binary opposition entirely. So it argues that women are – you cannot merely be a woman, and say “I am a female, but I do not ascribe to femininity, I do not do femininity. I like things which are traditionally relegated to the realm of men.” This is no longer seen as something productive.
Instead, queer theory asserted the theory of performativity. So this is what Judith Butler is very famous for. She said that “woman” is not just a female person, but it is a performance. There is no such thing as real women, as “woman” is nothing but a parody without origin. So we are all just performing this idea of femininity and there is no such thing… there is no femaleness underneath femininity. So queer theory focuses on subverting the distinction between sex and gender. Originally feminist theory said there is sex, there are males and females, and then there is all this made up nonsense which is gender.”

Derrick Jensen: There is what Whitehead called the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, which is where you forget – in non-philosophical language, that’s confusing the map for the territory. And it seems to me – we’re all aware of that? If you have a map and if the map does not fit the real world, then you know there is a problem with the map. But it seems to me that – aren’t these queer theorists are saying that there is actually no real world and that there is only the map?

Susan Cox: Yes. The queer theorists are saying this, which is very much influenced from postmodernist philosophy, which basically says there is no “real world” onto which the illusions of society are cast, but instead it is nothing but a world of smoke and mirrors. So there is no such thing as a “real woman” or “real man,” aka males and females.

“This is also ideology that is very useful for power because when females do not actually exist, but when they’re just a performance, like we for example see this ideology in the sex trade industry, when women have to tell themselves, “Oh, I’m OK. I’m not selling myself. This is just a performance. I’m selling a service. I’m just pretending to be this thing and that’s what I’m selling.” The flesh and blood existence of women conveniently disappears into the commodity when they are nothing more than a performance. They’re nothing more than a text.
Judith Butler’s later theory, she argued that “women” is nothing more, gender is nothing more than an utterance, as a citation of certain norms.”

“Queer theorists do make the argument that all social norms need to be transgressed and that is a progressive force of queering. For example, BDSM is seen as a “queer” identity. And queer theory argues that there is not material harm done by, for example, someone beating someone with a whip and getting sexual pleasure from it, but that the social harm comes from the marginalization of certain groups who are seen as deviant, such as BDSM practitioners or pedophiles.

For example, Michel Foucault, in a 1978 radio interview, was advocating for France to abolish the age of sexual consent –

DJ: As in down to infants, as in down to any age?

SC: As in down to infants, yes. Make it so there was no restriction on sexual consent.

Foucault himself made the argument in a radio interview. He said that there is not actually harm done by adult males raping children, but rather that children are merely constructed, socially constructed as a vulnerable population through various psychological, medical and legislative discourses, and that the pedophile is merely socially constructed as a figure, as a phantom. They’re nothing more than a phantom, and that the creation of this phantom through the law on sexual consent would actually cause the social harm and be carried out on the bodies of men, and women and children throughout society.

So this is what queer theory does. There are no material relations of power or exploitation or harm. There are merely these phantoms of social norms that are causing the harm, these categorizations of people, the categorization of pedophile, or the BDSM or the sadist, even.”

“This is actually a real problem, because as Mary Daly said, “We cannot fight against oppression when there are no namable oppressors.” So this is a real problem for feminism, and also for any sort of activism or revolution, political revolution, when we cannot establish class consciousness and identify the division of classes. Who are the exploiters, who are the exploited?”

“And postmodernist theory argues that we need to deconstruct the creation of the category of “other” and make it so that there is no distinction between groups, and everybody is recognized as infinitely unique individuals who are irreducible to any social category of description. But in reality you actually need to identify yourself as member of an exploited class and unite together in class interest to be able to fight any power that is oppressing you.”

“We see this throughout history, throughout any act of slavery, colonization, or oppression. The dominant group can’t subordinate another group merely through brute force. They also need to engage in this sophisticated process of dismantling the group as a group, and this is done through banning their language, their religion and destroying their way of life.”

“This is also what happens in any strategy of oppression. The oppressed group is turned into nothing more than a parody of what they once were, and a commodity, like sacred cultural symbols are turned into this exotic pattern that the dominant group will tile their bathroom with. Or religious garb will just turn into this fun costume that the dominant group will use when they’re at a costume party and play. So it reduces the people, the oppressed group to nothing more than a performance, and a parody.

And this is what it’s being advocated for in queer theory, that a woman is nothing more than a performance, she is just a citation of a norm, and anyone can put on this costume. It’s basically the obliteration of the oppressed group.”

Complete transcript here:


QotD: “Having a female body doesn’t limit your intellect, creativity, desires, preferences, potential to be unique. The exploitation of that body – which can only be challenged when named – imposes those limits”

2 Mar

Wonderfully succinct.

Anti-Porn Feminists

Glosswitch on twitter

If you think having a term to describe people with female reproductive systems reduces anyone thereby described to a walking womb, it shows just how little you think of people with female reproductive systems.

Having a female body doesn’t limit your intellect, creativity, desires, preferences, potential to be unique. The exploitation of that body – which can only be challenged when named – imposes those limits.

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Book Review: ‘The Lost Words’ by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane

28 Feb

#womensart ♀

The book entitled The Lost Words is a collaborative work highlighting the illustrations of artist and author Jackie Morris and the words of writer Robert Macfarlane, both based in the UK. The idea was conceived after a campaign involving artists, poets and writers, including Margaret Atwood, Andrew Motion and Morris and Macfarlane themselves, who were dismayed at the loss of certain words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Attempting to appear more relevant to today’s younger people, words often relating to the natural world, such as ‘buttercup’ or ‘lark’ were removed in favour of more contemporary terms such as ‘broadband’ and ‘blog’. The OJD, in doing so, highlighted a growing and concerning separation of children from nature and the outside world, indicative of a trend for a somewhat more isolated childhood spent mostly indoors and behind computer screens.


It was Morris’ idea, at first, to address the issue by creating a…

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Lily Madigan, Women’s Officer

27 Feb

Reported as deleted within ten minutes after conversation.




Callouts At Dawn

12 Feb

I’d been warned about these people. We’d been fighting them for months now, and now that we’d become partially disabled due to a not entirely unexpected betrayal, they’d come after us.

I got to the closed Facebook page first. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

“We know who you are!” proclaimed the first vanguard. “You are her!”

I said “Huh?” I typed “What?”

“You are Wisteria,” they answered. “We figured it out awhile ago. You’re her sock puppet. ‘Fess up.”

I will admit that my first reaction to this turn of events was dismay at my apparent complete lack of originality. I adored Wisteria, but to be mistaken for her creation was a bit more than I could correctly handle.

“You’re never both around during the same hours.”

Well, yeah. Wisteria lives a ways north and is trying to run some kind of elderly hippie ranch so she can’t pull these all-nighters I do.

So then Wisteria pulls in and she posts some video of “76 Trombones” as in 76 names, because she has perused all this previous web-based content and thinks it is funny as fuck.

“O.K.?” I say. “See? We’re different people.”

“Hmmm. It takes a certain bit of time for her to sign out of the one account and into another.”

“Why? Why don’t you believe me?”

“Well, you just showed up all of a sudden.” True. My previous account had turned into a Gordian knot, as they do. So I’d started a new one and here was Wisteria with all these people on her ass, so I took on her battles. As one does.

Wisteria and I kicked their asses amongst much amusement. But I never quite shook that sense of Internet humbledness, that there are likely no end of people out there who might think me a sock puppet, or worse. And that I could stumble across them like so many hidden time bombs in my path, and that this, too, is part of the bargain of living in these times, these Internet times of confusion.

Old girlfriends

5 Feb

My relationship with rage started early probably what with all the
Back and forth.

And then there was more of that displacement and later
A lot of wtf

Later, I found dreams and hopes that
Got dashed into the metropolitan Los Angeles apartment cube carpet
With my girlfriends.

We had ideas, we did. That, somehow, somewhere we might matter
As in for keeps.

I never really wound up for keeps
I don’t know that my girlfriends did either
One is long dead
And one is too scary now, at this late date
After all the children
Her eldest who showed me
An imaginary Valium for her mother
My friend
And that was thirty years ago

I hear she’s still around, here on Facebook
The “blonde biker bitch”
Whom members of my family
Allowed to be raped, at an early age
Like 13
I should know
I was there
I was the assigned observer

Rachel survived being the Blonde Biker Bitch
She survived slavery
She survived heroin
She survived prison

And now that I am an old woman, I find myself wondering
What become of her, and her Valium children
What became of all those women
Who might have turned out family
If this culture had been more kind to us
If it had ever really occurred to everyone
All at once, even for a minute
That we mattered.

QotD: ‘The India Effect’

1 Feb

Anti-Porn Feminists

This season has seen the phenomenon turned up to eleven however, and me riveted to all and any interaction between India Willoughby, a news presenter, journalist, and trans woman, and the various other housemates. Now I do realise, yes, that trans women are not a monolith, and I don’t doubt there are many in the trans community have been watching Willoughby alienate as many viewers and potential allies as possible from between their fingers, just wishing she wouldn’t. But still, she has, and the uncomfortable truth is that in her behaviour, I can recognise instantly a near perfect microcosm of some of the larger trans activism I have been observing over recent times.

For seven days I have remained glued as a group of adult women, all trying their camera ready best to be as respectful and supportive as possible, attempt to deal with a sulking, bullying, manipulative, and aggressive…

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29 Jan

This culture is increasingly obsessed with worrying about what pronouns male humans want used about themselves, to the point where it’s enacting legislation making it a crime not to obey these dictates, however bizarre.

This same culture is still, however, just fine with referring to all individuals of life that is not human, as “it.”

Really says a lot about priorities.



29 Jan

International Women's Alliance

Keynote address of Coni Ledesma

Solidarity and Fight Back Conference

Toronto, Canada

5-7 August 2017

Good morning dear kasama, comrades and friends,

After that rousing welcome with the singing of the IWA Hymn, let me share with you  stories of women who have resisted imperialism.

Let me start by telling you the story of a Makibaka activist.

She was an activist in the 1970’s.  In the early 1980’s, she was arrested by the military.  There  was still  Martial Law in the Philippines at this time. She was  gang raped by the military.  When she told me her story, she said that some of the military were even watching the rape from the upper floor,  laughing and jeering at her. When they had finished raping her, she crouched in a corner and cried.

“What”, jeered the military men.  “A Makibaka crying?”

After some days, the Comander of the military brought her…

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