The discourse about power within every discourse about gender is moved squarely into the dominant discourse’s blind spot by the latter’s own operational logic.
Friday last week on Twitter:
Roughly, “Having their form of protest dictated by the status quo’s beneficiaries is rarely to the benefit of emancipatory movements.” Indeed: the dominant discourse’s call for a “constructive” discourse, a “positive” discourse, a discourse that doesn’t “polarize” and doesn’t “insult” anyone (or everybody), a discourse that is rather likely to be perceived as “rude” and “challenging” than a “relaxed exchange of views,” that call seems so reasonable to those who benefit from the status quo, and so fair and tolerant, that they’re perpetually—and sometimes willfully—blind to the fact that it is this very discursive structure that keeps the dominant discourse dominant and those in power in power.
Calls for discursive moderation and temperance certainly aren’t new. They’re an age-old ruse, and JollySea justly quipped:
Roughly, “One of those arguments of the ’just be more constructive and talk to the nobleman then he’ll certainly grant you rights’ variety.”
Concurrent with the dominant discourse’s “be less polarizing and more constructive” maneuver is often the call for “seriousness.” Its less often heard when those challenging the status quo incorporate the use of humor into their arsenal, from irony, satire, and sarcasm to puns, farce, and slapstick to rhetorical mischief, brilliant insult, and even black humor that portraits the horrific in comical ways. Rather, it’s most often heard when whatever kind of humor employed is also and foremost playfully employed—as “playfulness” is so deeply despised as “non-constructive” that even the emancipatory movements themselves have a hard time not decrying it as deeply irresponsible and unjustifiably flippant. In my thesis on violence in postmodern literature, I wrote:
Playfulness, however, is generally not associated with revolution or, more broadly phrased, with politics as such. This leads to an interesting paradox. While practically all the texts under scrutiny are immensely political in one way or another, from thematic undercurrents that radically question social and political ideologies including acquired ideas about history—“ideology” especially in the Foucauldian sense as an apparently neutral condition—to overt attacks on the powers that be, they lack the “seriousness” deemed mandatory for a political perspective in the first place: an imposition which, not surprisingly, is considered part and parcel of the predominant perspective postmodern texts set out to undermine. While parody and satire belong to the canon of serious critique, playfulness does not, and the radical undermining of conventional notions of seriousness in postmodern texts became a pitch that could be batted as “irresponsible aloofness” deep into the field of public knowledge.
A certain amount of “playfulness” and the fierce resistance to have their forms of protest dictated by the status quo’s beneficiaries ranked highly among the reasons why I became a member of the Pirate Party which, at this point in time, I’d call an emancipatory movement indeed. And while most members keep this up toward a broad range of topics, the discourse about gender seems mostly exempt. Where—with respect to both internal and external politics—the unresisted logic of dominant discourse dictates the perpetual blindness to its own mode of power.