Abstract

In this essay, I argue for a theoretico-practical accountability to difference and belonging in feminist philosophy and theory that requires attentiveness to disability as an important vector of power, normativity, and oppression. My insistence on accountability echoes the many appeals to confront and take account of one's own ableist, white supremacist, cisgendered forms of privilege (while simultaneously working to dismantle more systemic forms of privilege) that disabled feminists, feminists of color, and transgender feminists have made. 1 Following Eli Clare and Aimee Carrillo Rowe, I consider how an ongoing accountability to intersectionality and embodiment in a politics of relation can avoid the exclusionary logics at work in feminist philosophical and theoretical invocations of "gender, race, and class," or "gender, race, and sexuality" that consistently ignore disability, among other identifications, as constitutive productions of structural power. An embodied and intersectional feminist refiguring of subjectivity that attends to race, class, age, disability, cis/gender, and sexuality, among other axes of difference, should be recognized as an important requirement of accountability for feminist philosophers and theorists, especially feminist philosophers and theorists who are privileged along one or more of these axes of power.


Feminist Best Practice: Against Universality

How will our intimacies reflect … the selves we are becoming, and the feminist futures we may anticipate? A series of questions ensue that seek to move us in the direction of each other—a direction in which we are already moving. If such a movement provides some semblance of a map, a cartography of belonging, then we stand to gain a richer understanding of how our placement in community is making us. Who and with whom, then, do we wish to become? (Carrillo Rowe 2008, 23)

My point of departure for this essay is the problematic ideal of universal subjectivity that emerged within the history of Western philosophy and theory, an ideal that continues to condition many areas and sub-fields of contemporary Western philosophy, including Western feminist philosophy's most radical attempts to overthrow certain aspects of the Western philosophical tradition. The universal subject that emerged within, and that has been consolidated by and through, this intellectual history is rendered a unitary, whole, and singular entity only through the ableist fictions of liberalism and freedom, whereby multiple normative intersections of identity—including nondisability—are required for the realization of this putative universality. As Luce Irigaray has contended, "the One," the singular subject who has dominated philosophy and theorizing in the West has been, since Plato, opposed to "the many" in theory and in practice and through the erasure of the One's own plurality of attributes, that is, through the erasure of difference within himself, he has deemed himself universal and neutral. His cisgender maleness and masculinity, his whiteness and Global North position, his ability status, his status as adult but not old, and his heterosexuality are consolidated and elevated into a universal that functions as singular, rather than as plural. The intersections of his normative identities do not register as either normative, nor as intersections of identity, nor as structured in and through the constitutive exclusion of their Others. In fact, although feminist philosophers have intervened throughout the history of philosophy, insisting on the specificity of "Woman," mainstream philosophers and the discipline itself have recognized only the most recent twentieth-century feminist philosophical interventions (which, as I shall show, by and large sustain, in their own ways, this propensity to universalize) as philosophy, that is, as philosophy proper, as Philosophy (with a capital "P") worthy of that name. 2 In any case, despite Irigaray's damning critique of the phallogocentrism of the history of Western philosophy, she herself engages in some of the most problematic universalizing in feminist philosophy, especially when she suggests "the two" (a male universal and a female universal) as the alternative to "the One and the many." To be sure, Irigaray provides important resources with which to think of difference in nonhierarchical ways, and even explicitly rejects dominant appeals to equality because, as she claims, they reproduce hierarchies; however, insofar as she reinstates the gender binary with her insistence on, and one-dimensional focus on, "sexual difference," she also reinstates an ultimately hierarchical cissexist, heterosexist, ableist, and racist formulation.

Indeed, a salient difference between feminist philosophy and feminist theory is that, for the most part, the former does not and perhaps cannot broach intersectionality theoretically, that is, commit to a plurality and a specificity that only intersectional theorizing and the claims that have emerged from it offer. Whereas feminist theory has committed itself to the critique of the commodifications and reifications that intersectionality frameworks risk, 3 much of the feminist philosophy practiced within the discipline remains committed to some explicitly or implicitly universal conception of "woman." This tacit universality is especially evident in Continental psychoanalytic and French feminist philosophy, which concede far too much to universalizing Symbolics, Oedipal complexes, maternal frameworks, and conceptions of "normal" development and maturation, including neo/colonialist models of development. In analytic philosophy, feminist epistemologies and their attention to social positionality have made important interventions into universality; as María Lugones warns, however, there are still many instances in which the reliance on a tacit universality holds. Certain demands for the inclusion of women of color's experiences, for example, have been met with more concern that the avoidance of universalizing puts into question the possibilities of doing theory at all, than with concern about the harm that universalizing theories have done to women of color (Lugones 2003, 72). Inasmuch as the tacit universality of specifying "Woman" or "woman" (and assuming her able-bodiedness, Global North whiteness, heterosexuality, and cisgender) repeats the mistake of universality that we see in canonical philosophy and theory, we need to demand better. Finally, some feminist philosophical approaches—especially in the areas of cognitive science and neuroscience—appeal not merely implicitly and indirectly to a tacitly universal woman, but rather explicitly and directly to the structures and processes of a universal human mind/brain, albeit some feminists accounts in cognitive science and neuroscience do aim to show how interpretations of these structures and processes have been gendered (for instance, Bluhm, Jacobson, and Maibom, 2012). I will address these trends in more detail below.

Much contemporary feminist theory is preferable to most recent feminist philosophy insofar as it uses the theoretical apparatus of the intersectionality framework in a more thoroughgoing way. What both feminist theory and feminist philosophy lack, however, is the thoroughgoing practice of intersectional thinking. Although I do not want to further aggravate a binary between theory and practice, I retain the distinctness of the two terms in order to emphasize the embeddedness of practice within theory, especially in the choices feminists make—often unintentionally and inadvertently—in the construction of their/our theories. Many, if not most, feminist theorists and philosophers have come to advocate concepts such as interdependence, plurality, multiplicity, and relation in order to transform theory and praxis; however, often only one or two particular intersections, convergences, or imbrications actually gets addressed in their/our work. Furthermore, though many, if not most, feminist theorists and philosophers would agree both that all subjectivities are intersectional and that nonnormative identities have a kind of epistemic priority with respect to exposing the violence of the norm and normative intersections, most of us have our areas of focus, the intersections of which occlude the immanent identities and norms that they implicate and that in turn implicate them. That is, the implicit and explicit choices that we feminist philosophers and theorists make about on which intersections to focus usually has everything to do with our own identities and experiences, with who each of us is; yet, our choices about on which intersections to focus likely hold our attention away from the intersections on which we do not focus and, in particular, away from the constitutive exclusions that allow us to avoid them.

Historically, and even at present, the decisions about what disability is, and the exclusions of disabled people that these decisions have facilitated and continue to facilitate, constitute what "able-bodied" means and is, that is, what nondisabled and enabled are. Disability is consistently effaced in feminist theoretical practices, that is, in the choices about what to think that feminist philosophers and theorists make. In our practices of doing theory, we routinely choose not to think disability by (for instance) ignoring it, separating it from the dominant theoretical trios of "gender, race, and class," or "gender, race, and sexuality," and implicitly assuming its non-existence. These are relational choices about to whom we think we belong, and with whom.

In this essay, I read Aimee Carrillo Rowe's Power Lines: On the Subject of Feminist Alliances (2008) and Eli Clare's Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation (1999) together in order to articulate what ought to be a central goal of feminist philosophy and theory: a theoretico-practical approach of accountability to difference and belonging. This accountability follows the model of allyship that is used in community organizing spaces in which the role of the ally—the person who possesses a form of normative privilege that some others do not—is to clear space for people who have been excluded. The role of the ally is to work toward dismantling hir own privilege through accountability for it and engagement with disprivileged people, that is, people who have been ignored and devalued by mainstream discourse and segregated from institutional spaces (such as universities, workplaces, and so on) because of their difference from a norm. In the best alliances, white allies, nondisabled allies, cisgender allies, and straight allies make a commitment to the continual process of "owning" whatever forms of privilege have actually affected and effected, or may potentially affect and effect, our possibilities for inhabiting the spaces that we do. 4 Accountability to others requires accountability for unearned privilege and the senses of entitlement that unearned privilege confers.

In Power Lines, Carrillo Rowe invokes "cartographies of belonging," calling us to map the ways in which we are turned toward and away from others and how this positioning and ir/relationality are central to the construction of subjectivity itself. Drawing on the intellectual history of standpoint feminism and interviews with women in academia, Carrillo Rowe traces the institutionalization of feminism and argues for a theoretical shift from the politics of location to a politics of relation. She wants to be accountable to what she calls "the relational production of space"—that is, the ir/relations that are institutionalized in the arrangement of spaces and possibilities—and be accountable to, and interactive with, the thinkers who have insisted that we give theoretical attention to the hierarchies that emplace us differentially. These relational productions of space constitute and are constituted by belonging and unbelonging and Carrillo Rowe (2008) offers "be longing"—which incorporates a space between the two components of the word—to draw attention to praxis: "'Be' and 'longing,' phrased as two words, placed beside each other, not run together, phrase a command that disrupts, and thus renders visible, the terms that inform 'belonging.' The command is to 'be' 'longing,' not to 'be still,' or 'be quiet,' but to be longing" (26). Carrillo Rowe also theorizes the ongoing relational movement of the subject of feminist alliances in order that we will shift our attention to this movement, even when we name the structures and institutions that stagnate movement, preempt change, and alienate us from each other. For Carrillo Rowe, this refiguring of movement begins with the insights of standpoint feminism and its attention to social positionality, which, in turn, become points of departure. The movement that the subject of feminist alliances undertakes is relational and transformative: it may be reflected in physical movement as leaning, facing, reorienting toward others, toward or away from different norms; it may (or may not) be physical in myriad different ways, according with the movements of different bodies; it can engage all kinds of changes in a person's awareness of difference and accountability for hir privilege, however attenuated.

My argument is that this shift in our attention requires accountability to disability frameworks and their critiques of movement as it is implicated in liberal ideals of freedom. The ableist, normative association of disability with utter immobility, that is, the perception of physical, nonnormative embodied movement as not movement at all or as movement that does not count as such, immanently demands to be critiqued if movement is to be invoked differentially and accountably. In the constitutive exclusions characteristic of liberalism, freedom has been defined and constituted through, and in contrast with, slavery and confinement and movement has been defined and constituted through the control of movement, disciplining the "free" movements of some people with drills, routines, and regulations, and punishing or "protecting" the bodies, souls, and psyches of other people through their confinement. 5 As William David Hart (2013) writes in "Dead Black Man, Just Walking," his contribution to the collection Pursuing Trayvon Martin, "Self-directed movement is how the most rudimentary freedom appears to us" (95; emphasis added). 6 In fact, liberal subjectivity is, in part, constituted through the differential perceptions of movement that the practices of segregation, medicalization, normalization, and naturalization sediment so that they appear as scientific, bodily, and biological—even rudimentary. Moreover, the self-directed movement of people marked as subjects whose movements must be controlled registers as variously tragic, inspirational, and dangerous, especially dangerous to the very idea of freedom that is always already so reliant upon the confinement and control of the "unfree." In short, freedom and movement have been naturalized as the attributes of the universal, liberal subject, which Audre Lorde termed "the mythical norm:" "Somewhere, on the edge of consciousness, there is what I call a mythical norm, which each one of us within our hearts knows 'that is not me'" (Lorde 1984, 116). "We" are—all of us—expected to follow this "mythical norm," to follow its/his goods, and aspire to its/his identities or the closest approximation thereof, while, at the same time, it is expected that we will not directly apprehend it/his identities as multiple and intersectional, as identities the unity and normativity of which are both mythical and privilege-conferring. Lorde writes, "In america, this norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure. It is with this mythical norm that the trappings of power reside within this society" (ibid.).

Carrillo Rowe's ethnographic study of the institutionalization of feminism in academia addresses differential intersections of race, gender, national origin, and sexuality in order to expose the ways that these normative axes of power implicate each other in the relational production of space. If there is an omission in Carrillo Rowe's study, it is the omission of attention to disability. The omission of disabled interviewees from the study is likely attributable to the overall lack of access that disabled people have to academic institutions and professions, such that they cannot and do not inhabit these spaces to the same extent as can and do white nondisabled women, nondisabled women of color, and white queer women, who comprise the pool of subjects whom Carrillo Rowe interviewed. Transgender and genderqueer persons have also been largely excluded from the academic professions. Access to the academic professions has improved somewhat for nondisabled and cisgender women of color. Such politics of belonging and exclusion are precisely Carrillo Rowe's subject matter. She is acutely aware that spaces are in part defined and constituted by who is not there; furthermore, she is interested in which politics of relation and belonging get reified, which norms are cemented as certain liberal appeals to inclusion are performed. Thus, the naming of exclusions from and lack of access to these spaces due to disability should have been immanent to her project. Yet, Carrillo Rowe's "Solicitation Letter and Interview Questions" (included in the Appendices to Power Lines) does not address or ask about disability at all. In order to introduce her study to potential interviewees, she asks the following question: "How do academic feminists position themselves along axes of race, national origin, class, sexual orientation, religion, and other identity markers? (Appendix A, 201). Under the category of "Identity" of the interview questions, she asks, "How would you describe your identity in terms of race, class, ethnicity, national origin, and sexual orientation?" (Appendix B, 203). To be sure, many of Carrillo Rowe's research and interview questions are more open-ended or are couched more in terms of power relations and alliances than the two examples I have offered and, therefore, leave room in which disabled academic feminists could potentially introduce discussion of disabled identity; however, the fact that the axes of identity that Carrillo Rowe herself explicitly identifies in the study do not include disability would likely alienate a disabled academic feminist interviewee. Indeed, it is difficult to reconcile her omission of disability with her claims about belonging, exclusion, and the relational production of space. Furthermore, her emphasis on movement, however specific to relationality and therefore transformative of subjectivity, cries out for disability critique because the ableism of normative conceptions of movement is an inescapable imbrication.

In his collection of autobiographical essays, Exile and Pride, Eli Clare undermines the "auto-," that is, the notion of the autonomous, individual, independent, and self-directed subject whose reflections derive from and revolve around his own experiences, and in doing so, he troubles 7 contemporary and liberal notions of the subject, traces of which condition many feminist philosophical and theoretical approaches. Clare (1999, 147) consistently turns and re-turns to the conviction that "bodies have never been singular," deploying the language of wrapping, straining, folding, snarling, and piling to indicate relational intersectionality and imbrication at stake in all subjectivities. Clare—white, transgendered, disabled, queer, with a rural working-class background—writes:

Gender reaches into disability; disability wraps around class; class strains against abuse; abuse snarls into sexuality; sexuality folds on top of race…everything finally piling into a single human body. To write about any aspect of the body, means writing about this entire maze. (123)

Clare's text itself is a tactile and relational experience. His words and reflections have weight, texture, and even temperature. The interweaving of the tactile and the relational draws our attention again and again to bodies and their variegated movements and belongings. His deployment of tactile verbs—reaching, wrapping, straining, snarling, folding, piling—that move relational prepositions—into, around, against, on top of—produces new and different technologies of intersectionality, technologies of a theoretico-practical, relational and accountable intersectionality. 8 Indeed, Clare demands (what I call) a theoretico-practical approach to the requirements of accountability to difference, an approach that derives from his experience as someone who has been denied the apparent coherency and uniformity of subjectivity, as dominant philosophy and theory understand it. Clare has been denied the apparent coherency and uniformity of "the Subject," but he is, nevertheless, also accountable for the unearned white privilege he derives from that allegedly coherent and uniform subjectivity.

More than ten years ago, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson wrote (following Foucault) that "the archive…determines what we can know" and "There has been no archive, no template for understanding disability as a category of analysis and knowledge, as a cultural trope, and an historical community" (Garland-Thomson 2002, 2). Her sympathetic appeal to the archive should lead us to ask (more than ten years later): "When and how does an archive become an archive?" Feminist philosophy and feminist theory should be attentive to the relational production of space in order to build this archive, to build the kind of feminist theory and philosophy of disability and disability studies that Garland-Thomson (among others) has called for: to build a feminism that is intersectional and accountable. 9

Before Garland-Thomson's appeal, Clare's text offered a theoretico-practical approach for accountability to difference, imbricating the theory and practice in an ongoing project that resists linear and developmental trajectories for change, centering vulnerability in the work of relation. Insofar as it resists any kind of universal subject, Clare's practice in his theorizing and self-reflection are deeply accountable, showing us how to infuse our theory with this practice, how to focus in on specific oppressions without occluding other oppressions by unwittingly assuming a superior identity in relation to them, how to belong differently. Feminist philosophers should take up these lessons for relational praxis. Indeed, I would suggest that a significant achievement of Clare's Exile and Pride is its production of the longing to belong differently, to belong with and to disabled people as a nondisabled person, to belong with and to trans people as a cisgender person, and to be accountable to and for one's privileged identities in the ongoing process of dismantling this privilege and the entitled aspects of our identities that social privilege produces.

Following Clare's theoretico-practical lead and making use of Carrillo Rowe's resources for thinking the relational production of space, I make certain terminological, praxical choices throughout this essay that should be highlighted at this juncture. I use Clare's term enabled to indicate the privilege—structural, institutional, and interpersonal—of living as a nondisabled person. Relatedly, I use the term cisgender to indicate the privilege—structural, institutional, and interpersonal—of living as a nontransgender, nonintersex person. In addition, I advocate the use of the gender-neutral pronouns sie and hir when invoking a general subject. These pronouns correspond grammatically to s/he and his/her. Sie and hir do not correspond, in terms of gender variation, to the binary of s/he and his/her, but rather, they indicate that there are more than two genders, as well as bring awareness to gender neutrality as a viable choice for personal pronouns. In other words, they are useful terms with which to point to gender variance beyond the binary, as well as to note the fact that some folks currently opt for gender-neutral personal pronouns such as sie/hir or they, while others ask that no personal pronouns be used to refer to them. When a person's preferred personal pronouns are known, they should be used in order to proliferate genders by honoring self-determination, regardless of how one might be inclined to "read" someone else. When Clare published Exile and Pride in 1999, he was still using she/her personal pronouns and identified himself in the book as "transgender butch." Familiarity with Exile and Pride and with Clare's later choice of he/his personal pronouns should alert us to how unsatisfactory are the universal or quasi-universal she/her pronouns that were initially a feminist intervention to counter the use of the allegedly universal he/his. Accountability for masculine privilege, whether for a butch who uses she/her pronouns or a trans guy who uses he/his, is not tantamount to rejection of masculine pronouns. Rather, the attenuated privilege of nonnormative masculinity is precisely attenuated in such ways as to require that we recognize (if we did not already in the intersections of racialized masculinities and disabled masculinities) that a quasi-universal "she" will not do.

Cartographies of Belonging (not, Development or Devolution)

For Carrillo Rowe, the insights of feminist standpoint epistemology have provided points of departure, rather than fixed points from which to advance epistemic claims, as they are often understood to be; they have revealed positions that can be understood as shifting, positions that are fixed only inasmuch as the relation and movement that produce them are obfuscated, erased, ignored. Carrillo Rowe identifies an intersectional, relational subject in feminist standpoint theory's "politics of location," invoking the ways in which intersections of oppression—and of oppression and privilege—situate us hierarchically in terms of our social positions. Making a crucial observation about this intellectual history, Carrillo Rowe insists that "the politics of location" is not inattentive to movement and relation in naming this stability, but rather "frames 'location' through articulations of identity in which the relational conditions productive of that location are erased" (Carrillo Rowe 2008, 28). So, a shift is required. In Carrillo Rowe's words:

This shift gestures toward a frame in which we imagine the subject as engaged in a continual process of placing [hirself] at the edge of [hirself] and leaning and tipping toward the others to whom [sie] belongs, or with whom [sie] longs to be—or those others who become [hir]. (26)

In short, when we address the affective and relational orientation toward others, we contend with the language of bodies and their movements.

Clare's accountability to intersectionality and his politics of relation are deeply embodied, Indeed, he models an accountability to bodies: to his own, to the bodies of color that were almost entirely missing from the working-class logging and fishing town where he grew up, to the indigenous peoples on whose stolen land the town was built, to the surrounding rivers, rocks, and trees, and to the men of the town who clear-cut the trees because this work constituted the only blue-collar employment available there. In many ways, these commitments can be understood as Clare's accountability to his own body, to his body's identity-based experiences of oppression and complicity—in white privilege and settler colonialism—in the urban sense of superiority in which members of his queer community engage when they call working-class and rural people (like those he knows from his home town) "rednecks." This kind of accountability requires attention to differential belongings, to the ways in which forms of oppression arrange and segregate spaces and opportunities, and how interpersonal practices reinforce these arrangements of space. This kind of accountability also requires understanding that we are differentially vulnerable, both to the figuration of universal subjectivity and to its dissolution.

Feminist philosophy and theory have much to gain from Exile and Pride for its models of accountability and embodiment that are not to be found in philosophical texts. 10 Most (feminist) philosophers of subjectivity offer explanations in which individuals are interpellated by a social contract or Symbolic that confers culture, politics, discourse. Julia Kristeva's (1982) theory of abjection, for example, relies on the anthropological rendition of the development of civilizations, which at least in some ways parallels the development of the infant that she advances. From "primitive" to "civilized," from infant to child to adult, we are told a story in which the feminist intervention is to recuperate affect and the semiotic state, the abjected and never fully-overcome pre-Symbolic state that all infants and "primitive" people pass through. The feminist intervention into this narrative is designed to theorize affective eruptions into language, the Symbolic system, adulthood, civilization, to describe the abjection of the feminine in this cis masculinist story, and to prescribe attention to the eruptions of affect, with little to no comment on the racism or ableism of this story of development. Indeed, Kristeva's concentration on and responsiveness to the work of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, rather than on and to the work of feminist contemporaries within philosophy, or in disciplines other than philosophy and literature, or in spaces outside of academia, marks the limitations of her theory. Equally, Judith Butler's (1997) theory of melancholy gender, in which homosexuality is foreclosed in the rigid attachment of being a woman and desiring a man, and being a man and desiring a woman, all but ignores the racialization of these projects of sexuality and gender. The failure of these feminist philosophies to think more intersectionally is precisely due to their reliance on the psychoanalytic framework and its reliance on a Global North white-normed nondisability and heterosexuality, with their developmental beginnings in infancy.

In feminist analytic philosophy, feminist epistemologies have insisted on social location (or, "position") as relevant to knowing; furthermore, the concept of epistemologies of ignorance 11 that many analytic feminist philosophers draw upon, rather than perpetuate the dislocated, conventional understanding of ignorance as a gap in knowledge, helpfully situates the knowledge-production of entitled, invested, and convenient failures to understand. Here, too, though, disability and transgender are two vectors of power that comprise epistemologies of ignorance among the philosophers who theorize epistemologies of ignorance, that is, philosophers who theorize ignorance with regard to race or gender in ways that eclipse cisgender and ableist privilege and their relationship to epistemologies of ignorance. In addition, (analytic) feminist epistemologies often fall into the trap of what Lugones (2003, 69) calls "the disclaimer," in which the white/Angla feminist theorist believes that exclusion is acceptable because she has noted and disclaimed the exclusion or the need for more work on a particular experience or set of experiences.

The examples offered in the previous paragraph are the results of attempts by feminist philosophers and theorists to think difference wherein these philosophers or theorists themselves have fallen into the traps of universalism and exclusion. Unlike feminist epistemologists who assume the situatedness and particularity of knowers, however, feminist cognitive scientists, with the notable exception of Robyn Bluhm (2012), remain, for the most part, attached to the idea of a universal mind. As Kim Q. Hall (2012, 43) has recently argued, work in the humanities on social construction in the making of gender (and hence, gendered minds) is all but ignored in the recent "biological turn," whose advocates—including feminist cognitive scientists—would, among other things, make evolutionists of us all. As evolutionists, we would not merely find the theory of evolution credible, but would apply it to the "social, political and ethical dimensions" of life, to the exclusion of feminist, critical race, and disability studies perspectives on the social, political, and ethical dimensions of life. The biological turn is, in short, nothing less than eugenics and social Darwinism by another name.

By contrast, Clare's Exile and Pride deeply troubles colonialist, misogynist, cissexist, 12 heteronormative, and ableist frameworks, which demand the foreclosure, repression, or disavowal of traits, relations, and practices that are deemed threatening to "civilization." That is, Clare troubles these epistemological, political, anthropological, and psychoanalytic frames that insist upon affective or semiotic stages of development as pre-Symbolic and in a linear trajectory, and he does so without invoking any of them directly. To the contrary, he does so by addressing the complexities of oppression, resistance, community, and identity, never reducing them in order to (over)simplify their complexity of imbrication by placing them on either side of the divide between self and other. Clare's text is so theoretically rich, so helpful in avoiding so many binaries and bugbears of theory precisely because it is not an academic theoretical text, and because it is relational, accountable, and praxis-oriented in ways that requisite responsiveness to academic canons has not found possible. This accomplishment also further rejects the dichotomies of the internal and the external, individual and society, which point to a deeper Cartesian dualism of body and mind that marks political philosophy, political science, and much feminist philosophy. Because he is not compelled to begin with the reified assumptions that feminist philosophy is compelled to work against, and instead can tackle assumptions and norms directly in the practice of his theorizing and reflecting, he can be creative and transformative. Although feminist theory aspires to this creativity and transformation, it cannot have it or do it until it begins to pay attention to all structural forms of difference. This practice is the most profound contribution that Clare offers to feminist philosophy and theory: he practices intersectional theorizing with deep accountability. Through his consistent attention to bodies, especially his own, he maps belongings and movements that resist linearity, predetermined paths:

But how do I write about my body reclaimed, full of pride and pleasure? It is easy to say that abuse and ableism and homophobia stole my body away, broke my desire, removed from my pleasures. … Harder to express how that break becomes healed, a bone once fractured, now whole, but different from the bone never broken. And harder still to draw the path between the two. (Clare 1999, 13)

Clare recognizes the difficulty of mapping the "path," which is not linear or teleological. The ease of naming what oppression takes away is complicated by the difficulty of understanding healing and its transformation—not a restoration to some whole or unbroken self, but rather, a transformation that entails belonging, not an independent trajectory.

Reading Clare and Carrillo Rowe together shows us that where we are is not someplace on a line in a predetermined process of development or devolution; rather, where we are is someplace in relation to each other. Sometimes what is most prominent about those relations is their hierarchical arrangement, but the most important feature of hierarchies is, perhaps, their production of ir-relation, that is, our alienation from each other. We must face these arrangements, hierarchies, and alienations in order to belong differently; however, in facing them, we must recognize them as deeply relational, even when that relation has been rendered as irrelation.

Ladelle McWhorter's Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo America: A Genealogy (2009) indicates the historical continuity between the thinking that underlies the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century eugenics movement in the U.S. and contemporary American social policy and theory. These lines of thinking are deeply dependent on linear, teleological models of movement across time and space, in the form and function of "development." Rendered by the image of the ascending line from left to right, development's apogee is this pinnacle of civilization, technology, health, ability, morality, wealth, and early adulthood (not late adulthood for, as many disability theorists have warned, everyone who lives long enough will become disabled by the structures of society). 13 On the left, and at the bottom and beginning of that line are "savages, "criminals," children, "idiots," "imbeciles," and other disabled people, and variations on these figures. As discourses of eugenics would have it, sometimes a limited amount of development occurs, such that a group or person is positioned farther along the line, though not as far as normality requires (see McWhorter 2009, especially chapter five). The role of psychological, medical, and other forms of expertise is to shape this development as much as possible and to decide when it is "arrested" or "devolving," stagnant or deteriorating in a way that, or to an extent that, reproduction must be prevented, even against someone's will. 14 Just as the notion of "arrested development" has provided justification for the sterilization of people whose bodies were deemed to be structurally deformed or disabled and people whose intellects were deemed to be developmentally disabled, it has also provided justification for the confinement of these people and has simultaneously facilitated the power-knowledge careers of the experts who have decided what would constitute a normal or abnormal mind and a normal or abnormal body. While the people deemed to be abnormal were locked away from the world, in prisons, asylums, nursing homes, and other institutions, the world was under construction by and for the people (including the experts themselves) deemed to be—that is, the people who deemed themselves to be—normal. This, then, is the ir/relational production of space.

Linear and teleological models of development are so pervasive that even when the topics at hand are personal and social transformation, tropes of linearity and development frame our thinking. These images of development and devolution are, however, troubled by Clare's attention to relation. In his passage about the path moving "from stolen body to reclaimed body," he traces the messy path through affect, relation, belonging: "This path started with my coming out as a dyke" (Clare 1999, 123). He is careful about negotiating the significance of this moment, since at the time of the publication of Exile and Pride, he identified as a "transgender butch." As a young adult, Clare immersed himself in dyke community. He writes, "My coming out wasn't as much about discovering sexual desire and knowledge as it was about dealing with gender identity" (133). In his process of self-creation, embedded in relation and belonging, dyke community does not become obsolete, dykes do not become obsolete, nor does identifying as a woman or a butch. Clare resists the linear trajectory in tracing these movements of belonging in his life. In doing so, he implicitly critiques a very common transphobic reading of coming out as transgender masculine. According to this reading (or rather, projection), the becomings that trans men and trans masculine spectrum people have pursued in becoming trans men or trans masculine spectrum people are proof of a concession to masculinity as superior to femininity. Clare suggests, to the contrary, that this reading (projection) imposes a linear, teleological trajectory onto this becoming through its transphobic interpretation. 15

Likewise, in his genealogy of freak shows, Clare reads complicated networks of exploitation and resistance and, in doing so, once again centers relationships and community as the place where words are reclaimed, where shame is transformed into pride, where we come to understand which histories can be a source of pride and which atrocities we can only witness and never reclaim: "To transform self-hatred into pride is a fundamental act of resistance. In many communities, language becomes one of the arenas for this transformation" (Clare 1999, 92). The obvious point here is that one cannot reclaim words like "freak," or "dyke" or "cripple" on hir own, without a community that at least understands what sie means when sie uses the word, even if that reclamation is itself contested within the community. A more nuanced point in this genealogy is Clare's understanding of the shift from shame to pride. On the face of it, this shift seems fairly simple and easy, from "Point A" to "Point B," a line, a path. However, the simplicity or difficulty of this "path" itself is not the only consideration in the shift from shame to pride; rather, for Clare, the challenges are part of an intricate network, the questions that one holds must be revisited again and again, asking what can be reclaimed and what cannot, which words are too painful, which run too deep: "I want to follow a messier course, to examine the ways in which the ugly words we sometimes use to name our pride tap into a complex knot of personal and collective histories" (93). A messier course, not a path; a complex knot, rather than an interpellation of the person into and by the collective or social.

Clare finishes this thought by returning to one of the few words, hurled at him since his childhood, that he has not been able to reclaim, a word that he explores for himself, in his own becoming, throughout this genealogy of the freak show: "why does the word freak unsettle me?" For Clare (1999, 93), the answer is always tactile, embodied, an answer that is accountable to embodiment: "I can feel slivers of shame, silence, and isolation still imbedded deep in my body." What is most compelling about his questions and answers is that he does not necessarily find a reason for the specific hurts of freak, does not necessarily explain why he and some other members of the disabled community and queer community cannot reclaim that word as they have reclaimed other words that were probably just as hurtful to them. The prompt for his genealogy of freak shows is precisely the fact that he and other disabled people are enmeshed in the history of the freak show, where certain differences from the norm were highlighted, often augmented, and presented over and over again as abnormal and pathological. That particular history is crucial to his understanding of the specificity of the word freak, but it does not give him the answer he wants. He is unwilling to accept answers that do not resonate, simply because they fit somewhere, for someone else, or for some requirement of dominant culture. At the end of his genealogy, he asks the same question again, noting, "This time I won't expect an answer" (101). Instead, what he takes from this questioning is a recommitment to relationality and accountability, to feeling his commonalities with and differences from other disabled people, including the disabled people who reclaim freak, the disabled people who do not, the disabled people who flaunt their disability identity, and the disabled people who cannot, the disabled people who stare back at gawkers, and the disabled people who cannot, or do not want to do so. 16

Movements, Belongings and Alliances

Clare's movements—his own personal history and his textual movements—revolve around relation and belonging. He is accountable to these different approaches to reclaiming, witnessing, and to his own embodiment and experience of reclaiming and not reclaiming. In alliance with the people to whom he is accountable, Clare's reflections indicate the relational, intersectional subject whose multiplicities and dependences are ignored through the normative production of the Subject. As Carrillo Rowe (2008, 9) argues pointedly:

Alliances serve as the point of entry to theorize coalitional subject formation (Sandoval 2000), as opposed to the other way around. While identity is often conceptualized around the "'I" as we make claim to being ("I am…"), alliances are conceptualized around the "we" as we make claims to belonging. This is not to suggest that the "I" disappears, but rather, that the "I" is multiple, shifting, and contingent upon the relational sites into which she inserts herself. 17

Exile and Pride shows that the "I" does not disappear; instead, we are called upon to become attentive to its multiplicities, contingencies, and shifts, all of which are centered around relationships. Thus, accountability to difference recognizes its complexity, relationality, affect, tactility, movement: "My body has never been singular" (Clare 1999, 137).

Clare consistently enters the "maze" which the categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, age, religion, and culture that we name as intersectional create, a maze within which feminist philosophers and theorists too should consistently move. As I have noted, he understands the intra-relation of these categories as distinct from an inter-relation: "Gender reaches into disability; disability wraps around class; class strains against abuse; abuse snarls into sexuality; sexuality folds on top of race" (Clare 1999, 123). Whereas inter-relation and even intersectionality may suggest discrete categories, these categories are messy, messier than these concepts may imply and, if we are attentive to complexity, homing in on any one of them implies their imbrication with others. Clare continues:

To write about any aspect of identity, any aspect of the body, means writing about this entire maze. This I know, and yet the question remains: where to start? Maybe with my white skin, stubbly red hair, left ear pierced, shoulders set slightly off center, left riding higher than right, hands tremoring, traced with veins, legs well-muscled. (ibid.)

Clare begins to navigate the maze with a bodily self-description. In turn, he undermines this production of an origin: "But if I start here…" (Clare 1999, 123). Each starting point could seem like the thing, like the most important part, or the beginning, or center of it. Inasmuch as Clare resists a linear, chronological narrative of autobiography, he rejects the normative trajectory that the linear narrative is supposed to reflect: the form of his writing rejects the content that normatively gives movement meaning. More than simply resisting the chronological approach, furthermore, he embeds his selves in community and interaction, as well as movement and flux, so that each beginning is a tentative orientation or position, rather than the fixed location of the autos. "The 'i' is multiple, shifting, and contingent upon the relational sites into which [he] inserts [him]self," as we have learned from Carrillo Rowe.

There are twelve page breaks in "Stones in my Pockets, Stones in My Heart," the chapter from which I have drawn these examples of Clare's starts and re-starts. Each time the text resumes, another possible beginning is indicated, each contributing to a sense of dispersed movement, movement that does not follow a linear trajectory of development, movement that also resists readings that would deem it devolution or arrested development. This movement is not the movement of the liberal subject, the independent and free-from-limitation mover. It is movement that is accountable to embodiment and difference, with no one origin, no map other than a cartography of belonging that emerges as he goes, only affects and bodies, and structural oppressions that imbricate and "snarl" into each other. Clare's halting starts and restarts and hesitations infuse the writing with a tactile sensation of movement and change and complicated belonging, in the pain and struggle of complexity and flux. To what extent this pain comes from the fiction of the unified self, we cannot know, because (as I discuss in more detail below) critiquing its ideological ins and outs does not necessarily make us feel differently. He continues these "re-starts" throughout the chapter, and this is central to how he creates his own intersectional body, both naming oppressive thievery, the parsing of his selves, and centering the becoming body, rather than the body or identity as a foregone conclusion.

Another beginning, of sorts: "I could start with the ways my body has been stolen from me. Start slowly, reluctantly." This possible beginning—one among many that he offers—is his brutal honesty about the abuse and neglect that he experienced in the earliest part of his life and throughout his childhood. He repeatedly expresses anxiety throughout the chapter, the fear that his readers will either attribute his nonnormative gender and sexuality to the abuse and neglect or reject as too dangerous the way that he addresses in proximity childhood sexual abuse and transgressive gender and sexuality: "But tell me, if I start here by placing the issues of violence and neglect on the table alongside my queerness, what will happen next?" (Clare 1999, 125). Clare, by sharing the affects and effects of fear and anxiety that his words will be used against him or be foreclosed because of the danger of this co-optation, directly engages his readers in the process of accountability, engages his readers in order to have his experiences and identities mapped out or silenced for fear that they will be mapped and over-determined : "There are a million ways to start, but how do I reach beneath the skin?" (123).

The questions that Clare poses are affective questions, questions attuned to the politics of bodies, and as soon as he enunciates oppression, he also dissolves the naming and parsing into a much messier disarray. He points out that disabled people are viewed from a normative, enabled perspective either as "overcoming" their own bodies and/or minds to achieve the extraordinary (and thereby inspire enabled people) or as tragedies reduced to objects of pity. Although both of these perceptions are reductive, the former story—the supercrip story—is particularly insidious because most enabled people do not recognize that, and how, they are assuming inability. This presumption about inability, which individualizes the "problem" of disability, is why the ordinary doings of a certain disabled person can become inspiring and extraordinary to the enabled person.

The international disability movement has widely embraced the distinction between disability and impairment of the British social model, popularized by Michael Oliver, in order to advance a structural-political critique that indeed counters this individualized conception of disability, a critique that points out how (for instance) normative policy decisions and social expectations privilege certain bodies and disable others. Disability, enmeshed with other structures of oppression and privilege, is a set of arrangements created by ableism, indicating where one can and cannot go, or go with or without obstacles. In the binary of supercripdom versus pity, the objectification that enables enabled persons to feel superior either through inspiration or pity overdetermines the ways that the movements of a particular disabled person will be interpreted. Furthermore, to name disability and en-ability for what they are, as oppression of disabled people via disabling them and enabling nondisabled people, solidifies and maintains the binary's realness, affirms its neat intersections and perfect angles.

Clare's navigation of the supercrip story and spectacle of tragedy occurs through a narrative about his failed attempt to climb a mountain that was too slippery and steep for his body to surmount. He is honest and vulnerable with his audience: he feels he has internalized supercripdom, in part because enabled people assume that he is incapable; the supercrip frame makes it less likely that, eventually, enabled people will attempt to put him in a nursing home. Nevertheless, Clare once again complicates the textual terrain before the reader can think that the "external" supercrip story has been interpellated neatly into his internal space, where it can more deeply police his identities: "To neatly divide disability from impairment does not feel right. My experience of living with CP has been so shaped by ableism—or … my experience of impairment has been so shaped by disability—that I have trouble separating the two." Clare's complication of disability and impairment is centered around affect and tactility: "both center on my body," he writes (Clare 1999, 7). Part of what complicates the distinctions between disability and impairment is the experience of frustration about what one's body cannot do. Even when one takes account of the subversive, epistemic critique that rightly points to the structures of access as the overarching obstacle to accomplishing most tasks, disability remains a bodily experience; it is still felt palpably: "I decided that Oliver's model of disability makes theoretical and political sense but misses important emotional realities" (130). The model misses important emotional, bodily, tactile, and sensory realities. This axis, this one intersecting axis of subjecting power—disability—inasmuch as it can even be distinguished from other intersections of Clare's identity, is itself composed of an incredibly complicated matrix of imbrications and belongings.

Philosophers of disability and disability theorists are quite familiar with critiques of the distinction between disability and impairment and its reification of disability. Like many thinkers who endeavor to name oppression, philosophers and theorists of disability have made certain distinctions in order to call out the structures that produce movements and immobilities, with the acknowledgement that these distinctions are always in a process of renegotiation. As with intersectionality and standpoint, naming structural or systemic forms of oppression by focusing too much on location and not enough on relation can cause complicity with those limiting structures. In this case, the binaries are individual/social and internal/external, where impairment lines up with the individual body and what is internal or immanent to the person and disability is aligned with external forces of society.

Shelley Tremain's work on the distinction between impairment and disability situates the distinction in foundationalist discourses, critiquing how disability theory has positioned bodies as somehow behind or before discourse, as if impairment is simply the body or mind, only what is immanent to the person, as distinct from the discourses and networks of power/knowledge that construct it. In her editor's introduction to the anthology Foucault and the Government of Disability, Tremain (2005, 11) writes:

[I]t would seem that the identity of the subject … ("people with impairments") is actually formed in large measure by the political arrangements that the model was designed to contest. Consider, then, that if the identity of the subject … is actually produced in accordance with these political arrangements, then a social movement that grounds its claims to entitlement in that identity will inadvertently extend those arrangements. 18

Tremain's point is that the disabled people's movement discursively named the distinction between disability and impairment in order to point out that disability is not reducible to bodies, but rather should be attributed to the political arrangements that produce subjects differentially, enabling the movement of some bodies and restricting the movement of other bodies. Yet, the disabled people's movement, insofar as it appeals to this understanding of the distinction and to the recognition of disabled people as a disenfranchised social group by virtue of an allegedly prediscursive characteristic, may actually reify disability by "extending those arrangements," that is, by extending those political and social emplacements of belonging and not belonging. By drawing on Judith Butler's famous contention that "sex is always already gendered," Tremain claims that impairment is always already disabled: "the category of impairment emerged and, in many respects, persists in order to legitimize the governmental practices that generated it in the first place" (Tremain 2005, 11). 19 Tremain's work represents one of only a few exceptions to feminist philosophy's epistemologies of ignorance about disability, and, in this context, in particular, stands out for the way that it attends to institutionalized oppression and privilege and simultaneously embraces the risk of critiquing (as Clare does) the distinction between disability and impairment. These risks are necessary in the procedures of relation and accountability to bodies, bodies and relations that move and change, encountering different obstacles in discourses, social movements, and spaces.

Recall, once again, Clare's refusal of the separation of bodies (the internal) from discourse, medicalization, pathologization, and "the social" (the external). Indeed, even our notions of internalized oppression—incredibly useful tools with which members of oppressed groups can name the lies that they have been made to believe in order to change them—are based in this internal/external distinction, if not separation. Rejecting the reductionism of this binary, Clare nevertheless notes the complexity of a distinction that makes political sense but that, at times, does not make emotional and bodily sense, namely, the distinction between disability and impairment. At other times, however, the distinction does make emotional sense, since, for Clare, the emotional cannot be disentangled from the political. Clare's text never loses its feel for affect, tactility, and embodiment without rendering them somehow natural and entirely distinguishable from the social and discursive. Recall that although he grants that Oliver's distinction between impairment and disability makes political sense, he also admits that it "misses" certain "important realities." He shows that the concept of "internalized oppression" does not have to model itself with reference to this larger social contract framework, where external judgments get interpellated to the inside, and then the work of healing or pride must be thought of as the work of expelling the lies. Lies embed deep in our bodies, but beautiful truths can be found there as well, imbricated by means of our relationships, our cartographies of belonging. Lies can be transformed, rather than expelled. We can heal and find each other in meaningful ways. And we can belong.

Following the day that Clare gave up on climbing Mount Adams, well-meaning friends try to reassure him that slippery conditions had prevailed, that he could make the mountain's summit on another day, and that he is a better climber than most enabled people. What is at stake for Clare, however, is the recognition that it would be perfectly fine to be unable to do certain things; that is, differential abilities and limitations would not mean that any person's life means less or more than any other person's life. Nevertheless, he critiques the naturalizing and euphemistic language of "differently-abled" as an enabled attempt to suggest that disability is not structural and institutional, that we live in a world where it is already "okay" to have differential abilities and limitations. He recognizes that the deeper problem is the normalizing force of the ableist imagination, of the belief that any given inability makes you less valuable, valued, worthy, and so on than someone who can do that thing. Thus, he writes: "Post-revolution I expect there will still be literal mountains I want to climb and can't, but I'll be able to say without doubt, without hesitation, 'Let's turn around here. This one is too steep, too slippery for my feet'" (Clare 1999, 13). Questions about for whom or for what reason he is climbing, as well as questions about when and if he should stop for his own safety and self-care, will be completely transformed with the arrival of a time when disabled people no longer have to prove their worth according to externally generated and imposed standards and criteria.

Clare continues his interrogation of the social model of disability by addressing the intersection of disability with gender and sexuality, as well as with class. He rejects ableism's casting of disabled people as always already ungendered or barely gendered and asexual (mechanisms of infantilization) and simultaneously addresses the ways that racialization and gender function to complicate the projection of asexuality. He also ruminates at length on his long-term comfort and even excitement at the prospect of being addressed as "sir" and about his preferred androgyny in childhood, including the flannels and work boots that he, like most of the pre-adolescent girls in his logging hometown, had worn. He knows that the accoutrements of femininity would have required far more work on the part of his trembling hands than they would have for the hands of a femme that tremble less often. None of this means, however, that it would make sense to claim that it was "easier" for Clare to be transgender butch than to be more femme or that it is now easier for him to use male pronouns. I want to emphasize this point, because the work of dismantling cisgender privilege is in part the work to resist the urge to "know" the various, variegated, and complicated identifications and identities of trans and gender-variant people, as well as to resist the impulse to think that the identification as trans is "easier" than other identifications. Many cisfeminists and cispeople in general fall into this trap, one in which transgender identification is perceived as a concession to binaries and an unwillingness to be cis-and-gender-variant ("you can be a woman and be as masculine as you want" or "you can be a man and be as feminine as you want"). In these moments, many academic feminists—that is, academics who think about the social construction of gender routinely—reveal themselves to be as ignorant about transgender as are their non-feminist family members and old friends who likely may not think about gender much at all. Reading Clare and Carrillo Rowe together calls feminist philosophers and theorists alike to be longing for accountability for cisgender and other forms of privilege, to long to be in alliance.

Conclusions: Be Longing Differently

Resistance against the power-knowledge network of "normal" sexual and gendered development requires rejection of the linear models, the trajectories of change that project the myth of a uniform identity, such that change can only occur in the course of the "discovery" of that identity. Furthermore, resistance against this power-knowledge network requires rejection of the ways that the bodies of disabled cisgender people and nondisabled transgender people are medicalized, as well as the even more compounded medicalization and pathologization of disabled trans people's bodies. The stakes of the uniform and unified identity and its discovery are crucial here because most feminist philosophers and theorists fail to think transgender and disability responsibly and accountably. In the first place, when most feminist philosophers and theorists evoke "women," or "gender," they may mean ciswomen and/or femininity and/or the problematics of masculinism: cisgender privilege is rarely addressed in the articulation of theory about this universal (nontrans) woman, the focus on whom occludes attention to trans masculinities. Furthermore, the pervasiveness of universalizing psychoanalytic frameworks in continental feminist philosophy leads many feminist philosophers to think "sexual difference" in binary terms that reify "sex" as something real that can be apprehended and, in doing so, to also ignore race and the imperialist racisms at work in the story of entry into the social contract of the Symbolic, that is, of becoming civilized. In terms of the attempts to address transgender, the loyalty to certain readings of Foucault's critique of "act to identity" and of disciplinary regimes leads some continental feminist philosophers to either ignore transgender or to blame trans people for the reinstatement of gender binaries. In my view, this theoretical practice amounts to blaming trans people for the discursive baggage of "identity discovery" and mind-body dualism.

Feminist philosophers genuinely concerned to be accountable to trans people should, rather, look to thinkers like Clare and other authors who push against established discourses and produce new ones. Who we read and whose work we engage can transform our sense of who we belong to, and with, in our politics of relation. Carrillo Rowe helpfully marks "be longing" as a kind of imperative, and Exile and Pride calls us to be longing for and with others differently. Feminist philosophy must engage this be longing by turning toward other texts, which might mean turning away from canons—even some feminist philosophy canons—at least some of the time.

As I have argued, Clare's interventions into these binaries and discourses provide far better frameworks with which to understand and rethink gender as relational and intersectional than most feminist philosophy and much of feminist theory have provided. Clare renders the complicated character of these imbrications in all of their complexity, rather than conceded to an internalized oppression or a purified sense of resistance untainted by complicities: "But to cast my gendered self simply as a reaction to ableism is to ignore my body and what it had to tell me," he writes (Clare 1999, 130). By the same token, Clare also refuses to remain silent about his experiences of abuse, tentatively concluding that abuse is not a cause of transgressive sexuality and gender, but is rather often perpetrated as a form of social control, used to police these transgressions. He writes (128): "I get afraid that the homophobes are right, that maybe in truth I live as a transgendered butch because he raped me, because my mother neglected me. I lose the bigger picture, forget that woven through and around the private and intimate is always the public and political." Reduced to pathology, one experiences these power/knowledge networks and their lies bodily, and sometimes the body, not as the encasement of the mind, but as a far more complicated enmeshment, believes these lies. In this context, Clare again performs his way out of this overdetermination, an overdetermination of both of oppression and subversion. Rejecting the causal relationship between abuse and queerness, he flips the script, but does so with more nuance than a mere inversion would involve. He insists that if we are going to deploy the language of "because," then we should claim that abuse happens because of the ways that various children's emerging identities and belongings challenge norms. Thus, he shifts the burden of proof to the structures—institutional, governmental, normative—that police and normalize, using violence and coercion:

What better way to maintain a power structure—white supremacy, male supremacy, capitalism, a binary and rigid gender system—than to drill the lessons of who is dominant and who is subordinate into the bodies of children. … Social control happens exactly at the junctures where the existing power structure is—consciously or not—maintained and strengthened. (129)

My aim in this paper has been to show feminist philosophers and theorists that the nuances of relational intersectionality to which they should attend are best addressed in writing like Clare's, where consideration of tactility, affect, and movement prevent us from arriving at a conclusion with an easy answer or set of answers. Consider again these remarks that Clare makes (1999, 129): "And here is the answer to my fear. Child abuse is not the cause of, but rather a response to—among other things—transgressive gender identity and/or sexuality." Rejecting child abuse as a cause, he is careful to call it "a response." Although social control must be exposed in the operations of abuse, abuse does not merely become the effect in a reversal of the developmental, causal relationship. This insight means that neither is transgressive sexuality and/or gender in children a cause. Transgression does not elicit abuse; rather, abuse is a response, not the response, and it is a response "among other things." Clare is well aware of the stakes of these distinctions and, furthermore, he refuses to have his experiences reduced to pathologization. Nevertheless, he also refuses to reduce in turn, to simply reverse the cause and effect. This, then, is a different kind of movement, the kind of movement that is accountable to the body, relational in its refusal to separate the body from the outside world. Clare contends that "[O]ur bodies are not merely blank slates upon which the powers-that-be write their lessons." Neither are body or mind some sort of essence that we can locate underneath discourse: "We cannot ignore the body itself: the sensory, mostly non-verbal experience of our hearts and lungs, muscles and tendons, telling us and the world who we are" (ibid.). By drawing his own and our attention to the sensory and tactile, Clare takes us to places where the semiotic does not merely erupt into the symbolic, only to be sublimated or bound again. Instead, in Clare, we find glimpses of how to cultivate a life of movement that entails creation and belonging, a life of movement wherein we can be accountable to embodiment:

My childhood sense of being neither girl nor boy arose in part from the external lessons of abuse and neglect, from the confusing messages about masculinity and femininity that I could not comprehend; I would be a fool to claim otherwise. But just as certainly, there was a knowing that resided in my bones, in the stretch of my legs and arch of my back, in the stones lying against my skin, a knowing that whispered, 'not girl, not boy.' (ibid.)

Clare's heart and lungs, his muscles and tendons, the stones in his pockets and in his heart, and the people with whom he wanted to belong, have had much to tell him. His accountability to his body and to others has much to say for feminist philosophy and theory about the ir/relational production of space, about enabled and transphobic feminism, and about the new cartographies of belonging that we can and will have if we will move and relate differently. Exile and Pride has the potential to radically change what feminist philosophers and theorists can and will think, and to shift our expectations about the relational potential of our theorizing. What we have seen in Clare's theoretico-practical approach is a model in which structural differences and their ir/relational productions of space are neither afterthoughts nor disclaimers. Carrillo Rowe's politics of relation can assist feminist philosophers and theorists to further this work if they/we think disability in the relational production of space. Every thought and affect about who is here, in a given space, must be accompanied by acknowledgment and understanding of who is not, and why—of how gender, sexuality, disability, race, class, national origin, and age matter bodily and relationally.

I would like to thank Shelley Tremain, the guest editor of this special issue, for all of her helpful feedback, as well as the anonymous reviewers, whose comments were also invaluable.

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Heather Rakes is an interdisciplinary philosopher working in the areas of feminism, queer of color critique, relationality, affect theory and queer disability studies. Her manuscript, Becoming Identities: The Philosophical Subject, Intersectionality and Assemblage, argues for becoming, relationality and assemblage against the more "flexible" and unaccountable positions of the normative subject. Her forthcoming publications include "Pluralizing the Local: The Case for an Intersectional, Relational Subject" in the American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy: Globalizing Feminist Philosophy and "The Relational Production of Philosophical Space: Feminist Killjoys and New Cartographies of Belonging," in Women in Philosophy: Why Race and Gender Still Matter, from Cambridge University Press.

Notes

  1. Aurora Levins Morales (1998), frames this accountability as "the willingness to examine and dismantle our own privilege and take full responsibility for remaking the world so that neither we nor anyone else can hold it again" (94).
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  2. See Irigaray 1994.
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  3. See Puar 2007, 2005. See also Gumbs 2012.
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  4. See Alcoff 1994.
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  5. See Foucault 1991 and Tremain 2005. See also Ben-Moshe 2013.
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  6. Thanks to Janine Jones for a very helpful exchange about confinement, movement, race, disability, gender and sexuality, and for pointing me toward Hart's (2013) piece.
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  7. See Butler 1990 and McRuer 2006. McRuer tropes Butler's notion of gender trouble to indicate disability trouble, articulating a critical approach that troubles ableism, and paralleling Butler's concept of "critically queer" with his own critical usage of "severely disabled."
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  8. Susanna B. Mintz (2007) suggests that Clare shows how "various parts of [one's selves] cannot be collapsed into one another to form one unbroken identity" (97). The title of the book and Mintz's use of female pronouns when referring to Clare are addressed directly by the author: Mintz makes these choices based on the fact that Clare was female-assigned as a child, and that finding dyke community was a pivotal experience of reclaiming his identities.
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  9. See also Lugones 2003 and Christian 1989 for critiques of the way that theoretical frameworks continue to promote universals even as they are trying to claim the specificities of differences.
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  10. My readers may be concerned that I am ignoring "corporeal feminism." See the work of Braidotti 2002, Bray and Colebrook 1998, Gatens and Lloyd 1999, Grosz 1994. Without the space to fully engage these here, I refer to Gayle Salamon (2010), whose most sustained critiques of corporeal feminism are found in her readings of Irigaray and Grosz. Salamon's critiques of the cisgender essentialism in these texts can be applied to much of this body of work, which too often considers only one or two vectors of embodiment and cannot account for disabled or transgendered embodiment. Lorraine's recent work (2011) does approach transgender and disability in more interesting ways.
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  11. See Tuana and Sullivan 2007.
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  12. Cissexism is a specific aspect of heteronormativity that upholds the male/female binary and cisgender to the exclusion of gender queerness, intersex, and transgender. See Julia Serano 2007. See also: http://genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com/tag/sie-and-hir/.
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  13. Clare himself uses the phrase "temporarily able-bodied." See also: McWhorter 2005 and McRuer 2006.
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  14. While there is not sufficient space to address it here, the first chapter of Exile and Pride, "The Mountain," can be read as a metaphor for "development" that troubles these eugenics and social Darwinist frames. See also Garland-Thomson 2002.
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  15. Moreover, though those trans men with the most privileged and thus most publically heard voices may express misogyny in their interpretations of their own becomings, I suggest that it is more often the case that when trans masculine people express the ways that masculinity works for them personally, they are read not just as representative of all trans masculinity, but of gender at large in such a way that their interpretations of their own personal becoming—again, what works for them personally—are read as indictments of femininity and women, and as an appeal to overcome femininity and women by becoming male or masculine.
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  16. S. Naomi Finkelstein (2003) performs a similar navigation to the one Clare accomplishes. Finkelstein's narrative is focused on developing an illness at age thirty (whereas Clare was born with Cerebral Palsy) that challenged hir butch sense of capability and self-reliance, and hir becoming is deeply rooted in dyke community and belonging, much like Clare's.
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  17. As I've argued in this article, this "universal" "she" is inadequate to the feminist, anti-ableist, anti-racist, gender-affirming work that Clare mobilizes, because not all feminists use she/her pronouns, and not all people who use masculine pronouns experience gender privilege.
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  18. For a compelling rejection of the use of Foucault in disability studies, see Hughes 2005.
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  19. Interestingly, the disability and impairment dyad mimics the gender and sex dyad inasmuch as the politicizing terms—disability and gender—have all but replaced sex and impairment in normative discourse, but when "disability" is used by enabled people it means "impairment" and when "gender" is used by cisgender, usually straight people, it means "sex". In other words, in both cases a term that has been used to bring awareness to social construction and institutionalized oppression has replaced a more biologizing scientistic, essentializing term, but it has done so by taking on the biologizing and scientistic essentializing sense. I do not mean to suggest that "impairment" came before "disability" or that "sex" came before "gender" in some definitive discursive teleology, but that to some degree we can say that the more politicizing terms have replaced the more essentializing, but taken on the more essentializing meanings.
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Copyright (c) 2013 Heather Rakes



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