December 11, 2012
In the discussions on the question of anti-imperialism versus the necessity of intervention in the wake of the ‘War on Terror’, the gender dimension has been a much undertheorized one. While I am by no means a scholar of gender studies and barely qualified to speak at length on the topic, it has struck me that in the political dynamic around the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan this dynamic presents itself at least in part in the form of a politics of masculinity. This is true, it seems to me, of many of the major participants in the political and military conflict regardless of which ‘side’ they were on, and with an underlying drive not as dissimilar as has often been suggested. I can do no more than to vaguely sketch out my impression of this politics of masculinity, in the hope that some greater specialist can perhaps correct or elaborate upon this hunch. Nonetheless, I think it is a point worth making, because the interaction between gender and the ideology of politics is a potent one and has been throughout history, and it may serve to deflate somewhat the arrogance and pretensions of the different parties concerned with regard to their own significance and motives. Read the rest of this entry »
August 22, 2012
After having been accused in Sweden of several counts of sexual assault, the editor of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, contested his extradition from the United Kingdom where he was residing. He lost his case in the trial court, in the High Court, and in the Supreme Court of England and Wales; but upon this decision, he fled into the London embassy of Ecuador, where he is now in hiding. The UK government has warned that embassies are not to be used for this purpose under the Vienna Convention, and threatens to remove him, while the Ecuadorian government (whose President, Correa, has been interviewed by Assange and knows him personally) accuses the British of imperialist threats. Behind all this is the spectre of the United States. It has not yet indicted Assange, but is plausibly suspected by many of seeking his extradition in turn in order to imprison or ‘disappear’ him, as has happened with Manning and other such cases. In other words, a perfect storm for the left.
A situation which would look very unfavorable for the imperialists, the initial blatant persecution of Wikileaks and its associates in order to cover up the ‘diplomacy’ that underwrites wars and tyrants everywhere, has turned into a source of acrimony and division among the left. In outline, a pro- and an anti-Assange camp has developed, and the situation is reaching levels of heated outrage about an individual that almost put to mind the days of Dreyfus. Contrary to that famous case, however, the individual in question does not come off so well. In order to shield the left from further division and from the strategic pitfalls confronting them, I think it is worthwhile to outline clearly my view on the Assange case, mindful of the fact that one can only judge individual cases to a limited extent and that doing so while events are ongoing can often appear foolish and unwise in retrospect. Read the rest of this entry »
September 17, 2009
Recently some controversy has erupted around the person of Caster Semenya, a very succesful athlete from South Africa who has broken world records and was poised to compete in the 800 meter finals in Berlin when doubts were raised about her sex, and thereby her eligibility to compete in the female olympics. There are conflicting and uncertain sources as to the results of the subsequent tests for sex, but it looks like there may be a case of hermaphroditism or pseudo-hermaphroditism involved. In this case, the person has high testosterone levels and a Y chromosome, yet has developed as a woman, possibly due to insensitivity to testosterone in the phase of physical development.(1) This would make her a ‘genetic male’, yet for all social purposes a female (female-gendered), for which the term ‘intersexed’ could be used (but need not necessarily).
Of course, there is some argument about her eligibility, not in the last place because of her excellent performance so far – she won the gold medal in the aforementioned Berlin race. Read the rest of this entry »