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Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes : Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions
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Following the initial email, you will be contacted by the shop to confirm that your item is available for collection. I turn to look at her inquisitively as I cross the room to set my coat and bag down beside my desk. I have nothing to say in response. I think about the students who had been listening to Mr Galel in class when he spoke these words, if they were scared, if they thought his joke was indeed funny. My focus returns to my classroom and Ms Jackie's face looking expectantly at me. I wonder if this teacher is telling me this, here, now, in my classroom, because she knows that I also incorporate the practice of Islam into my life as Mr Galel does, if she wants me to lead her away from her own xenophobic prejudices or affirm them.
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Or per-haps she needs someone to talk to because she is confused, because Mr Galel and she are friends who eat lunch together and bring their families to visit one another's homes for dinner. Philosophical Claims. All three philosophical claims are fundamental to our exploration of the lived experience of intersubjective gender identity development. The memories included as vignettes in this chapter can never be fully explained, analysed or understood.
This is perhaps the most important point I can make in this paper. Along with healing, there is harm done in remembering. There is harm done in not-telling bits of stories, in amputations of memory and synthesis.
When my colleague spoke of beating women to his 7th grade students, that pain showed up in my body. When the man at the gas station attempts to unzip my coat without consent, it is not the two-dimensional word "gender" that it impacts, but my embodiment of it. We move closer to receiving and understanding that feeling though narrative. I find it self-evident that racialization and gendering are co-constructed.
And, rather than proving that connection in this paper, I aim, instead, to use memory of embodied experience to dig into the how of the co-construction of racialization and gendering, of what it feels like, to quiet down and move closer in to listen to the phenomenon of Gender-as-Lived toward embodied understandings without any expectation of an arrival to full knowledge.
Intersubjective Identity Construction. When gender operates, a gendered person is also always racialized; furthermore, that racialization and gendering is dependent on heterosexist notions. For example, in the first vignette, my intersecting identities as a queer person socialized as a white woman impact my experience of threat, relative safety and erasure as "the sausage man" approaches me to forcibly unzip my coat.
I am a queer, white, non-binary, middle-classed person socialized as a woman. His choices coerce my body to participate in a hetero-sexist exchange, as well as the human:less-than-human power dynamic.
In the same vignette, my white body that was gendered as woman and in distress threatened the bodily safety of the young, black and brown students socialized as men with a nearby police force that surveilles them constantly at the gas station next to our school as a means of protecting whiteness and white property "rights". This is due to a historical legacy of young, black men being punished for being in proximity to or witnessing the sexuality of white women Muhammad, ; Pickens, ; Woods, My gender and sexuality as an educator is rendered in relation to the man in the parking lot; my students' surveilled bodies are racialized in relation to whiteness.
There is more going on here than individual intersectionality; instead, it is the identities constructed in relation to Others' identities that begin to unfold Gender-as-Lived as an embodied and contextual experience. During a circle discussion in a university class -room, I bring up the eco-feminist argument about using "she" pronouns for exploitable resources, transport or volatile storms Warren, My cousins who fish off the west coast of Ireland in County Clare refer to both their boats and the sea as she - as in "May she give us more fish next year referring to the ocean and the supply of fish available for catch and sale near the Aran Islands " or "Don't worry, she can take the tar that peels off the bottom of the boats.
A brief verbal survey is taken around the room; the class discovers how many languages both known and spoken in this room do not in fact use gendered pronouns. In Ojibwe, Lao, Finnish, Saami, Old Gaelic, Meskwaki and an indigenous language of Mexico as well as many other languages , there are no gendered pronouns. Upon learning this, I am shaken with awe and have a strange lightness gathering near my diaphragm like a balloon. In Towards a Decolonial Feminism , Lugones details how gender as we "know" it today is a colonial project and fictitious construct, which benefits the cis-heterosexual European man directly.
This framework is important to our study of how Gender-as-Lived operates, since it clarifies that the phenomenon being studied is not gender itself, but rather the constructs at work in contemporary society. Lugones begins by explaining how she "understand[s] the dichotomous hierarchy between the human and the non-human as the central dichotomy of colonial modernity" p. Through the gaze of the colonizer, the colonized are less than human, objectified in "their service of Western man" p. In the acts of coloni-zation, the objectification of third world peoples, of Indigenous peoples, of African peoples, aims to reduce these nations to tools for bourgeois European financial and political gain.
Even the bourgeois European woman is an object in Lugones's framework of coloniality, reduced to a tool "who reproduce[s] race and capital through her sexual purity, passivity and being home-bound … " p. Is there specificity to women's culture that is independent of their subordination by hegemonic, masculine cultures? Butler presents this tension between gender essence versus gender socialization to emphasize the category of "woman" without any stable definition.
From a place where "woman" has no universally shared denotation, Butler develops her theory of gender as performance. There is no "deeper" gender which generates gender expression; rather, our gender is defined by our expressions and performances.
Lugones further critiques the language of "woman" when she details the absence denoted in the inter-sectional category of "Black Woman" through categorical purity. Due to the hierarchical dichotomies of modernity, Lugones reveals the sign "woman" stands for white women. Inter-sectional identities are thus rendered impossible within the homogenous, atomic and separable colonial system of gender. In conversations I have with colleagues, friends and family regarding the socially constructed nature of gender, one tenet that many radical people in my life hold on to over and over again to justify colonial gender difference is the idea of empirical gender roles.
For instance, my colleague may point out that in many cultures around the world, and at many different times, gender role differences between the categories of men and women have existed. This argument is premised on a straw man fallacy that Lugones's work helps to clarify. Lugones does not posit that gender is not expressed in commu-nities of non-modern thought, but, rather, that the kind of gendering pervasive today is unique to the colonial context. I extend Lugones's argument about the impossibility of identity as woman.
I identify, at the same time, as both not-a-woman and "woman" as a political category. My experience and expression of my own gender is non-binary. I feel no essential womanness to my being and never have. I respect that some individuals do connect with a conceptualized core of femininity - but that simply has never been the case for me. That nevertheless does not mean that I do not share experiences with other persons socialized as women, subordinated in womanness and also, importantly, resisting in womanness.
However, she reminds us that the political category of "Asian" is still useful for movement building. This idea is freeing to me both personally and politically, as I add the identity of "'woman' as a political category" as occurring simul-taneously with my non-binary gender expression. On Thursday afternoon, I pull into my gravel driveway after work to see my friend, fellow teacher and housemate Kendra in her car next to mine. She is sitting in the driver's seat, back erect, lost in thought. We open our car doors in tandem and mull our way into our home to grade papers.
It takes ten minutes, maybe more, of rather silent tea-making and folder arranging before the tension in Kendra's jaw slackens in decision. Her eyes move slowly from her work to find mine. Kendra identifies as a woman and dates a man. She did not want to respond with a "No" to Isse 's quandary, even though she could have.
She explains she doesn't want to answer "No" because I cannot, because seven other teachers out of 35 cannot, because the last teacher who answered "Yes" was fired within a week at the school where we both teach. The school where we both teach is a public charter high school. There are many queer bodies in the school building, both teachers and students. There is also a strong homonegative school culture. In many ways, our school repre-sents an average one of the near 7, public charter high schools in this country National Alliance for Charter Schools, When Isse whispered into Ms Kendra's ear today, quietly enough for only her to hear, his question did not exist separate from the homonegative shame and violence that preceded it in this space we share.
Kendra continues to puzzle. I remember Sarah, who had witnessed this, proclaiming that, if her brother were gay, killing him would be more humane than letting him live in sin. What does it mean that I cannot answer my students' questions about my own sexuality in the place where I work, where I spend the majority of my life?
What does it mean that a student like Isse, who asks these questions, cannot safely give an honest answer either? The common response to questions about sexuality in many schools is: "We don't talk about that here". How does this silencing impact student and teacher bodies?
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Is a climate of silence meant to quiet us until we no longer even exist? Daily Acts of Gender. While Gender-as-Lived may be the site of gendered violence, violence does not define gender. I hope these vignettes also speak to the way that solidarities are enacted and how Gender-as-Lived is a site of resistance to the binary colonial difference. When Mustafa nods at me in agreement in the gas station parking lot and says "I feel you", we practise the visibilization of one another's contextual identities and resist the cis-hetero white supremacist patriarchy that threatens us both in very different, but interdependent ways.
As a teacher, I work and hope to show up for my students as Mustafa did for me that day. I experience sensations of joy, hope, relief and release when Lugones returns to the constancy of resistance within this colonial gender system. We are "other than what the hegemon makes us to be" , p. No human being is only what the colonizer imagines him or her to be. The colonizer views colonized peoples as non-human.