Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Vi är misfits!

Thursday, July 16th, 2009


I Trikster #2 kan man lese et reisebrev fra aktivistene Christoph Fielder og Elin Sandström Lundh som i 2007-2008 reiste Nordamerika rundt for å snakke med queerfeministiske aktivister. Nå har Christoph og Elin samlet inntrykkene fra reisen i boken Vi är misfits! – Queerfeministisk aktivism och anarkistiska visioner, som er utkommet på NORMAL Förlag. De beskriver boken slik på forlagets hjemmeside:

Efter åtta år med historiens minst omtyckta president reste vi till USA för att intervjua queerfeministiska aktivister. Vi sökte efter människor som står upp, som gör motstånd, som slåss och som visar oss andra vägar att gå. Andra än de som styrs av normen. Den vite heterosexuelle mannens norm. Resultatet av vår resa blev Vi är misfits! En bok som blandar intervjuer med aktivister med våra egna betraktelser och funderingar kring anarkism, anti-assimilering, rasism och intersektionalism.

Vi är misfits! är en inspirationsbok för alla som ser att denna värld radikalt behöver förändras för att vi ska kunna överleva. Den är ett queerfeministiskt manifest och den är en samling berättelser om människor som gör praktik av den ofta så teoritunga queerfeminismen. Den vill bråka, vara jobbig, den vill sporra läsaren till att aktivera sig. Överallt, alltid.

Vi är misfits! er et must for queerfeministiske aktivister og forskere, og boken inneholder blant annet denne oppsangen fra den fantastiske aktivisten og forfatteren Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore:

Ett tecken på att du gör rätt när det gäller queeraktivism är om folk blir upprörda! Och, var beredd på att förstå saker och ting på ett mer komplicerat sätt än du någonsin trodde var möjligt. Om något eller någon verkar vara din fiende, tänk en gång till, vem är det egentligen som är vår fiende? Öppna upp för möjligheten att tänka om allting du någonsin tänkt.
– Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

That’s Revolting! Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (Photo: Jefferey Walls)

One of the great advantages with the Internet, is the possibility of following activists and artists in other side of the world. Unfortunately, it is an overt globalized Eurocentrism in such a statement and, of course, not all have the possibility of hooking up with others online, or silently following people as they write on their activities, their travels, their thoughts and actions.

For quite a while now, I have followed the activist writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s blog NOBODY PASSES, darling. Currently the blog has documented her experiences and meetings with people on her latest tour, presenting her new novel So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights, 2008).


It is inspiring to be a blog-companion, following Mattilda around the US, and picking her thoughts. For those who are not familiar with Sycamore’s work, she has been a seriously active activist based in San Francisco, taking part in groups such as ACT UP, Fed Up Queers, Gay Shame, and several other initiatives. In 2003, Mattilda published her first novel Pulling Taffy, and besides her own literary production, she has edited several books (and journals), such as Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity, Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving and Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write About Their Clients. In other words, Mattilda is an active “critic and troublemaker”.

In 2004 Mattilda edited the important anthology That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, published by Skull Press. In 2008, a new revised and expanded version of the book came out, and this is mandatory for everyone interested in queer activism, politics, and history. Here you can read on Gay Shame, Restroom Revolutionaries, Fed Up Queers, ACT UP, Gay Liberation Front, rural queer youth, sex workers, drugs and resistance, sex workers, critiques of straight (and gay) privilege, racism, assimilation, etc.


I have been thinking about this book lately, as the media in Scandinavia has written about the fight for gay marriage in California, following the Proposition 8, restricting the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples only. In the coverings on the gay Prop.8-activism, there are never any mentionings of the far more radical activism criticising gay assimilation and marriage as an institution in the US. But activist initiatives resisting the normalization of queer existence deserves more attention, also across the Atlantic. And here Mattilda comes into the picture, as her writings and discussions on her blog and in her books are important, as they reach out wide with a strong and precise critical voice. In the introduction to That’s Revolting! Mattilda writes on gay marriage :

“If gay marriage is about protecting citizenship, whose citizenship is being protected? Most people in this country – especially those not born rich, white, straight, and male – are not full citizens. Gay assimilationists want to make sure they’re on the winning side in the citizenship wars, and this they see no need to prevent most people living in this country (and anywhere else) from exercising their supposed ‘rights’.”

Mattilda is not affraid to step on somebody’s toes, and she does an important job criticizing priveleges of all sorts. On her blog yesterday, she quoted herself from an interview she did with The Rumpus, and I think it is worth quoting this in length:

“Complacency isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. I’m interested in accountability and I’m interested in building a culture of defiance. I think it’s perfectly fine if people choose conventional life choices but it’s important to figure out a way to do the least damage rather than the most. We all make horrible compromises in order to survive in this monstrous world but the point is to make the fewest compromises possible, not to push everyone aside in order to grab any privilege we can get our hands on and then police the borders to keep out those who have less access. If the status quo is a rabid, militaristic, imperialist project camouflaged by the illusion of everyday normalcy, then yes, it’s definitely a problem if you’re a willful part of it.”

That’s something to think about folks! So now you are warned: Mattilda’s writing is out there, and it better be read and discussed more in Scandinavia too.

Judith Butler on Obama

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008


In the blogosphere a recent text by Judith Butler entitled “Uncritical Exuberance?” circulates. The text will supposedly be published in The Nation soon, but luckily it is online already for us to read.

Butler’s analysis of the political situation in the US after the election of Obama is an interesting read, and it has already created quite a discussion on different blogs. Butler’s article criticizes the idea of the election of Obama as a “redemption” – saving the US from all its ills. She rightly reminds us about the almost unavodiable disapointments we might get from the new president. She asks:

“To what consequences will this nearly messianic expectation invested in this man lead? In order for this presidency to be successful, it will have to lead to some disappointment, and to survive disappointment: the man will become human, will prove less powerful than we might wish, and politics will cease to be a celebration without ambivalence and caution; indeed, politics will prove to be less of a messianic experience than a venue for robust debate, public criticism, and necessary antagonism. The election of Obama means that the terrain for debate and struggle has shifted, and it is a better terrain, to be sure. But it is not the end of struggle, and we would be very unwise to regard it that way, even provisionally. We will doubtless agree and disagree with various actions he takes and fails to take. But if the initial expectation is that he is and will be “redemption” itself, then we will punish him mercilessly when he fails us (or we will find ways to deny or suppress that disappointment in order to keep alive the experience of unity and unambivalent love).”

On the online journal epicp, Dan S. Wang is sceptical to Butler’s critique of the optimism that has followed the election of Obama. In “A Response to Judith Butler: Working on Optimism” he sees the current optimism as a starting point for a new intensification in grass-root work on the left, while asking “if the primary job of critical theoreticians [like Butler is] to poke holes in our optimism, our satisfaction, our good feelings? Even if the exuberance has run its short course and rendered the question moot, I still answer, no, not as an end in itself, or as a precondition for further political work.”