First of all I’d like to note that this quote is quite problematic.
As voz has pointed out to me, it is cissexist and just plain sexist, because it places gay men at the centre of oppression of gender variant people. Sure, the form of oppression cited is just an example, but why focus solely on gay men? It tends to reinforce the erasure and misgendering of trans women who get collapsed into the category of ‘gay/queer men,’ when trans womens needs, their experiences, and their lives are significantly different from those of gay men.
Secondly, it’s incredibly US-centric. All forms of racial domination and imperialism are figured in terms of USAmerican people of colour and USAmerican politics. Imperialism as a whole is treated very broadly without any engagement with how it affects people in the majority world. There’s also no sense of the network of relationships that makes up imperialist domination, such that it ends up looking more like a collection of buzzwords. And repeating buzzwords won’t end imperialism, nor build solidarity of people opposing it.
Nevertheless, I think it is an illustration of how an intersectional analysis can work - rather than relying on generalisations, it links specific kinds of social relations in history to other specific social relations. And I think it’s important to note that “[i]f you don’t have an analysis of the oppression of others, you don’t have much of an analysis of your own oppression…” (even though I failed to put this into practice in reblogging the quote in the first place).
“Oppression of men of color needs patriarchal oppression of white women, and the fear of male violence that comes with it. This fear is manipulated and racialized, creating the “justification” for the prison industrial complex, segregation, and police violence. Likewise, the oppression of white women relies on the racist conception of dangerous men of color, whose enforced “otherness” serves the purpose of obscuring white patriarchal violence and protecting perpetrators. Oppression of those in colonized communities needs class and race-based oppression in America, to force poor people into the military. Likewise, oppression of American people of color and poor people needs imperialism, to prevent transnational solidarity among people of color and among workers. Oppression of gay men needs patriarchy: without it, straight men’s fear of being “feminized” would not exist. Patriarchy needs white supremacist oppression: without it, racially coded white fear of “welfare mothers” wouldn’t stall efforts to provide affordable, state-sponsored childcare and other benefits for women. White supremacist oppression needs imperialism: without it, the white minority would not have the money or power to build tremendous global networks of prisons and sweatshops. Imperialism needs Americans to be divided over gay marriage, so war hawks can continue to control our foreign policy. Round and round it goes. If you don’t have an analysis of the oppression of others, you don’t have much of an analysis of your own oppression… If we imagine kyriarchy as a complex of structural and psychological supports that depend on each other, we can point to the cards at the base of this structure that rely on each other for support–the points of greatest weakness. Then, we can ask what type of activism would be most effective in addressing those weak points. Those are the right questions.”
Although I really dislike the term “kyriarchy,” this quote is spot on.
What’s wrong with the term “kyriarchy”? I find it’s more useful than “patriarchy” which gets people’s hackles up, for whatever reason.
yeah, i’m curious too about why you dislike the term kyriarchy.
I don’t like the term “patriarchy” either, and rarely use it. But unlike the term “kyriarchy” it has grounding in specific social relations, and a history of being used to describe those social relations. That’s possibly one of the few benefits of the term “patriarchy,” and I think “kyriarchy” repeats a lot of the problems with the term “patriarchy,” especially in falsely universalising, and in creating a ‘grand narrative’ that supposedly covers the whole world, but in actual fact erases a lot of people. I know the term “kyriarchy” is supposed to be more sensitive to the specificities of context, and that Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza explicitly describes it as including shifts in power relations dependent on context, but I don’t think that goes far enough. As the above example illustrates, an account of “kyriarchy” can be silencing for marginalised people.
“Kyriarchy” as a term also comes off as quite relativistic about the history, operation, and reproduction of many systems of domination, and makes it seem like they’re analogous to each other, and work in the same way. I suppose this is due to the theoretical background it comes from - feminist theology - that centres a particular account of patriarchy, an account that in turn centres women as subjects. Feminist theory has been incredibly important to the analysis of many other systems of domination, but it’s not the only politics that can inform an analysis of domination. I don’t think the term “kyriarchy” moves very far away from its problematic theoretical roots, and so it has limited scope for explaining the connections between systems of domination.
I also mostly see it used to avoid explaining those connections, rather than drawing them out and understanding them. I see it used as shorthand for “a variety of intersecting systems of domination” with the subtext of “whose connections I can’t be bothered explaining, so here’s this handy term that suggests they have a relationship but lets me off from having to explain what it is”. Not that people who use the term have no analysis of intersections between systems of domination, but that the term “kyriarchy” is kind of a gesture of closure of discussion about those intersections, rather than a gesture of invitation to explore them further and possibly refute the explanation given.
I much prefer the term “intersectionality” even though I’ve seen it used in a similar way. I see it used far less often to foreclose exploration of interconnections between systems of oppression than I do “kyriarchy,” though.
Heehee, um, I guess it comes down to having lots of amazing influences & inspiration!
The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us. The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems. The truth is also that life isn’t possible without death, that no matter what you eat, someone has to die to feed you.
I want a full accounting, an accounting that goes way beyond what’s dead on your plate. I’m asking about everything that died in the process, everything that was killed to get that food onto your plate. That’s the more radical question, and it’s the only question that will produce the truth. How many rivers were dammed and drained, how many prairies plowed and forests pulled down, how much topsoil turned to dust and blown into ghosts? I want to know about all the species—not just the individuals, but the entire species—the chinook, the bison, the grasshopper sparrows, the grey wolves. And I want more than just the number of dead and gone. I want them back.
When the rainforest falls to beef, progressives are outraged, aware, ready to boycott. But our attachment to the vegetarian myth leaves us uneasy, silent, and ultimately immobilized when the culprit is wheat and the victim is the prairie.” —Lierre Keith - The Vegetarian Myth
Although I really dislike the term “kyriarchy,” this quote is spot on.