The Prison of Gender – Another False Road to Emancipation

Recently, the Liberal Postmodernist news website Buzzfeed conducted an interview with self-described ‘agender model’ Rain Dove on her life and career. The core of the article focused on how supposedly interesting it is that a woman, born with a bone structure considered ‘masculine’ is forging a modelling career along agender lines.

The piece is traced with a facile and naïve narrative of personal liberation through multiple gender identities peppered with trite liberal commentary. Writing such as this usually provides little interest for me; it is after all directed at the profane mass of the digital commentariat. There are however two elements of the piece which warrant thought: firstly, the honesty of the subject in her strategic use of agenderism; but more importantly, what the piece is lacking in terms of radical commentary.

Rain Dove paints her development into agender modelling as a process of overcoming. That is, she uses her unconventional looks to her advantage. Rather than resigning herself to having ‘the wrong look’ she has crafted a career around it. Indeed it has allowed her to reach a rather privileged position, banking on her agenderism.

“A self-titled “gender capitalist,” Dove uses other people’s confusion to her advantage.”

Yes, however a more honest description would be that Dove uses other people’s “confusion” for profit. She appears to be a ‘curiosity’ commodity and seems more than happy with that objectification;

Gender capitalism kicked in and I didn’t really care — I thought it was a bit funny. I did it and I got cast.”

Dove acknowledges that she is in demand because of her androgynous appearance and consciously strategises it in order to maximise her opportunities. Why limit oneself to only female or male modelling work when agenderism can open up niche markets and PR opportunities, such as the interview in question? This is a telling element of the postmodern approach to gender and how it slots with ease into the structures and internal logic of Capitalism. Capitalism drives the exploration of new markets. New identities mean new kinds of consumers, new demands. Is multiple personality disorder the new derivatives market? Why settle with one consumer psyche when it can be split into multiples? Schizo-Capitalism beckons.

Rain Dove

Rain Dove

Dove goes on and candidly describes using a male pseudonym in order to succeed in a particular job environment:

I looked at how the other women were treated in the room and I realized that being a woman was not a good thing in this predominantly male work environment. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong, you have to be able to trust your fellow man to get you out of the situation. You don’t want to be the one stuck with ‘Helga who can’t carry the chainsaw.’ There was just this perception that women couldn’t ‘step to it’ as much as the guys. I went under a pseudonym and nobody even asked if I was trans or gay; they just thought I was a guy. I lived a year like that.”

Notice how there is no direct critique of the situation, only a strategy of concealment that profits from prejudice.

“It was hard to get the cute jobs as a cocktail waitress or something. I realized I could make a lot more money as a male.”

And that’s the bottom line. Dove uses her looks to ‘position’ herself anywhere, allowing her to claim ‘oppression’ as a woman, transgender, agender and whatever or alternatively use “white male privilege” in situations where it is beneficial for her… It’s gaming the system, while at the same time being profoundly within and supporting that system through developing multiple identities that are ready to be exploited as new commercial avenues:

“She would love to see more genderless clothing campaigns and brands.”

Yes, because this means more jobs and thus more money for her. Some may claim that I am being ‘cynical’ in this, but Dove’s main motivation is clear throughout the interview.

Predictably the piece moves to express the subject’s supposed socio-political effects:

“Although she models both mens- and womenswear, she feels more powerful in a dress.”

Of course, it’s all about ‘feeling’ empowered – which is the central motif of liberal postmodern politics. Feelings, not facts – the delusions of autonomy and the stifling of real rebellion.

Further, Rain Dove appears to confuse the symbolic ‘unique’ with der einzige:

“We’re all struggling to be unique and the most unique thing you can be is yourself.”

One doesn’t ‘struggle’ to be unique since unique is what one is regardless. Once someone consciously attempts to ‘be unique’ they will find that they are grasping at geist. This phenomenon is found en masse among movements that endorse identity politics such as, among others the agenderism that Dove represents.

Rather than freeing the unique individual from classifications, stratifications, definitions and taxonomies, the politics of identity merely expands this multiverse of names. Not only will everyone have a classification but also a corresponding symbol. This is the triumph of the symbolic writ large, the death of the unique.

 

The triumph of the symbolic.

The triumph of the symbolic.

The piece ends on a statement that I consider untrue:

“One day she hopes to be completely and utterly “boring.”

If Dove were ‘boring’, which in this context means not creating second glances from people, she wouldn’t make the money she does through being a ‘curiosity’. Rain Dove is in many ways privileged to have a far more masculine bone structure than most women, allowing her to slither through social gaps and secret passageways, through which those without her appearance cannot pass.

In short, the article in question is but one small example of how postmodern culture and the politics of identity insidiously colonize and bankrupt opportunities for potentially radical critiques.

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Muslims, Modernity and the Mundane

On the road

On the road

The continuing saga of beheadings perpetrated by jihadists of ‘Western’ origin is much discussed and little understood. One relatively unseen perspective is that this saga highlights a crisis within ‘Western’ civilisation, within ‘modernity’. Religious fundamentalism of any stripe is a conscious rebellion against the materialist and secular nature of modernity; disgusted by the prospect of a mundane existence, some young Muslims have chosen a radical path away from it. Moving to a foreign land in secrecy to fight for a cause provides an exciting excursion and an escape. But this is not the only form of rebellion taking place against what Fredy Perlman calls the Leviathan – merely the most radical.  Continue reading

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Reasons for communication, reasons for community

Originally posted on Consentient:

In my last article, I heavily criticised Paul Wheaton for trying to take permaculture in a anti-ethical, capitalist direction. I did so because I feel that capitalist subsumption of permaculture would be an intolerable tragedy, and because no one else had really made a serious critique. My aim was to make Wheaton’s supporters think again. From what I can see, they must either be missing the point or guilty of the same capitalist addictions. It remains to be seen exactly what the balance is in that regard.

I wanted now to clarify my position with some unpacking of a few key concepts, as well as look at how those concepts relate to the disagreement between Wheaton and myself.

I’ve had feedback from a few readers now, and one thing that’s emerged is that people are a little bit surprised at the intensity of my critique. I’ve written back in response to…

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Permaculture isn’t dead, it just smells funny

Entito Sovrano:

Paul Wheaton – Murdering Permaculture

Originally posted on Consentient:

Or, in the case of the internet output of the self-professed ‘Duke of Permaculture’, Paul Wheaton, it smells like bullshit. A big pile of it.

I’ve been researching this guy pretty intensely for several months now, and I can no longer hold my tongue. Somebody has to say something about how full of it this guy actually is, and about how what he is doing isn’t actually permaculture at all.

Permaculture is a philosophy of ethics and design tools that are supposed to enable people to live sustainably, which means not relying on destructive things like oil, mass production, toxic fertilisers, and the like. Oh, and industrial plant.

EnvironMENTAL

Permaculture is also, as I’ve pointed out before, a reaction to the exponential heightening of these destructive factors which has been brought about by capitalism, and represents a radical escape and divergence from that paradigm to an entirely different, autonomous…

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Holding your attention

Originally posted on Consentient:

First of all, for those of you that don’t know, the original meaning of entertainment was ‘something that holds your attention’, in other words: captures your mind.

Today I want to talk about a mindset that has captured the minds of most of the world: capitalism.

Capitalism is a nightmare in which the everyday humdrum reality of drudgery, wage-slavery and servitude is fused with the titilliating world of escapism and entertainment, but this fusion is done is such a way as to make the two seem like distinct, opposite states of being.

Most people, if asked, would probably say that what they do for ‘entertainment’ makes their life livable. It’s the carrot that leads them to volunteer for the theft of life that is work, and all the other exploitations to which they are also subject – inflation, political corruption, taxation, tacit complicity and legitimisation of all of the above.

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Frack your government

Entito Sovrano:

Let the fracking commence!

Originally posted on Consentient:

I recently watched Gasland, and its sequel, Gasland: Part Two, and was deeply moved by the film’s exposure of the horrendous damage to people and their environments by the monstrous natural gas industry and its devastating technique of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

The first of the two films shows the national picture of ruination caused by fracking in the United States, where the industry is the most developed, and therefore has exacted the harshest toll.

The second film, however, as well as documenting the continuing fight of the affected people to obtain justice for the crimes committed against them, takes a step back and explores the wider picture of agency and manipulation that has allowed these crimes to be perpetrated, and which protects their criminal perpetrators from receiving any kind of justice at all. While some disparate and localised public offices joined the side of the victims…

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Max Stirner is winning the staring competition

On a crisp autumn afternoon I make my way through a graveyard that is of special importance to me. Various memorials line its uneven paths, punctuated by the occasional ancient mausoleum to a long dead aristocrat or member of the bourgeoisie. Chipped angels and cracked crowns smack of desperate attempts at permanence, but are already sullied by the ravages of entropy.

The memorials tell a tale as rich and as varied as the tumultuous history of the city itself. This is the Sophiengemeinde in Berlin, a cemetery named in memory of the mad third wife of King Frederik I of Prussia, and one that bears the permanent scar of ideological struggle. Upon construction of the Berlin Wall, this peaceful world was split in half: the local church remained in West Berlin, but its accompanying cemetery was taken into the East.  Continue reading

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