Tuesday, December 23, 2014
"I couldn't find myself in history. No one like me seemed to have ever existed." - Leslie Feinberg
"It had never occurred to me to search history for answers to my questions. I didn't do well in history classes in school. Actually, that's an understatement. I could never make sense out of history. I couldn't remember whether Greece or Rome came first. The Middle Ages were a monolithic boulder I couldn't chip. I always got confused about who were allies during which war.
I couldn't find myself in history. No one like me seemed to have ever existed.
But I had to know why I was so hated for being "different." What was the root cause of bigotry, and what was its driving force? (11)
-Leslie Feinberg, Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul
Description of book: "Feinberg examines use of language, perceptions of the body, the status of clothing, and the structures of societies that welcome or are threatened by gender variance, uncovering persuasive evidence that there have always been people who crossed the cultural boundaries of gender. The portrait gallery that closes the book contains photographs and capsule biographies of contemporary transgendered people."
"...the material basis for women's oppression is precisely what today's ruling-class "fathers" do not want opened up to scrutiny. They seek to shape history in their own image. To hear the bible-thumpers, you'd think that the nuclear family, headed by men, has always existed. But I found that the existence of matrilineal societies on every continent has been abundantly documented. Up until the fifteenth century, a great majority of the world's population lived in communal, matrilineal societies. This was true throughout Africa, large parts of Asia, the Pacific Islands, Australia, and the Americas. If all of human history were shrunk to the scale of one year, over 360 days of historical time belong to cooperative, matrilineal societies.
A deeper understanding of the roots of women's oppression had great meaning to me, particularly because of my experiences growing up as a girl in a woman-hating society. But my oppression was not just based on being "woman." Was there a material basis for transgender oppression? Surely transsexual women and men, or people like me who expressed their gender differently, were not merely products of a high-tech capitalist system in decline. I came to circle to one of my original questions as well: Have we always existed?" (17-18)
"What was responsible for the imposition of the present-day rigid sex/gender system in North America? It is not correct to simply blame patriarchy, Chrystos stressed to me. "The real word is 'colonization' and what it has done to the world. Patriarchy is a tool of colonization and exploitation of people and their lands for wealthy white people." (28)