The rebellion of bodies: Beatriz Preciado

We have all been injured, profoundly.  We require regeneration, not rebirth, and the possibilities for our reconstitution include the utopian dream of the hope for a monstrous world without gender.

                                           Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs

 

What is important is not to be “queer”, but to maintain a critical attitude towards the excluding and normalizing effects of all sexual identity.

                               Beatriz Preciado, Periodico Diagonal (20/07/2010)

 

We encourage the rebellion of bodies.  We place our bodies and pleasures above the logic of the market.

Asamblea Transmaricabollo de Sol, Madrid, (04/06/2011), Manifiesto Transmaricabollo

 

The rebellion of bodies, a somatic revolution, is the central concern of Beatriz Preciado’s Manifiesto contrasexual (without an english translation).  Rejecting the distinction between nature and artifice in the understanding of the body, (we are all cyborgs, following Donna Haraway), Preciado extends this into the analysis of sex-gender-sexuality.  Heterosexual normativity governs bodies (mapping appropriate locations of sexual stimulation, matched with the correct organs), sex identification, gender and sexuality; a government essential to the production and reproduction of modern capitalist forms of human control.  The challenge to this government however is not to be found, according to her, in a celebration of some human, sexual nature, finally liberated, nor in a recognition and living out of the implications of the socially constructed nature of sex-gender regimes of power.  The key lies rather in the understanding of the body as crossed by technologies that shape and have always shaped corporeality and sexuality.  Our physicality was never purely physical; our nature was always as much natural, as it was artificial.  Haraway’s celebration of the cyborg metaphor/reality was an effort to render explicit that which was always present, to varying degrees.  With Preciado, focusing on sexuality, the dildo becomes the sexual cyborg, that from which we can read off our bodies and their possibilities of pleasure-knowledge.  The lessons come to us from “marginal” sexual practices and ways of being; but they offer ways of escape from oppressive, exploitive and violent forms of corporeal governance.

 

What follows is a partial translation of the first chapter of Preciado’s Manifiesto … to spread, to contaminate, to seduce …

 

Countersexuality is not the creation of a new nature, but rather the end of Nature as an order which legitimates the subjection of some bodies to others.  Countersexuality is first a critical analysis of the difference of gender and sex, product of the heterocentric social contract, whose normative performances have been inscribed in bodies as biological truths.  Secondly, countersexuality points to a substation of this social contract which we call Natural by a countersexual contract.  Within the framework of the countersexual contract, bodies recognize themselves not as men or women but as speaking bodies, and they recognize others as speaking bodies.  They recognize for themselves the possibility to accede to all meaningful practices, as well as to all the positions of enunciation, as subjects, that history has established as masculine, feminine or perverse.  Consequently, they renounce to not only fixed and naturally determined sexual identity, but also to the benefits that they may gain from the naturalization of the social, economic and juridical effects of their meaningful practices.

The new society takes the name of countersexual for at least two reasons.  One, and negatively: the countersexual society dedicates itself to the systematic deconstruction of the naturalization of sexual practices and the gender system.  Two, and positively: the countersexual society proclaims the equivalence (and not the equality) of all speaking subjects-bodies that commit themselves to the terms of the countersexual contract dedicated to the search for pleasure-knowledge.

Countersexuality is also a theory of the body that situates itself outside the oppositions of man/woman, masculine/feminine, heterosexuality/homosexuality. It defines sexuality as technology and considers that the different elements of the system sex/gender denominated “man”, “woman”, “homosexual”, “heterosexual”, “transsexual”, as well as its practices and sexual identities, are nothing more than machines, products, instruments, apparatuses, tricks, prostheses, networks, applications, programs, connections, energy and information flows, interruptions and switches, keys, laws of circulation, borders, constraints, plans, logics, equipment, formats, accidents, detritus, mechanisms, uses, detours …

Countersexuality affirms that in the beginning was the dildo.  The dildo precedes the penis.  It is the origin of the penis.  Countersexuality employs the notion of “supplement” …(Derrida) and identifies the dildo as the supplement that produces that which it is supposed to complement.

Countersexuality affirms that desire, sexual excitation and the orgasm are nothing more than the retrospective products of a certain sexual technology that identifies the reproductive organs as sexual organs, in detriment of a sexualization of the totality of the body.

It is time to stop studying and describing sex as part of the natural history of human societies;  The “history of humanity” would benefit if it were to re-baptize itself as the “history of technologies, with sex and gender being apparatuses inscribed in a complex technological system.  This “history of technologies” is nothing but the effect of The permanent negotiation of the borders between human and animal, body and machine (Donna Haraway), but also between organ and plasticity.

Countersexuality renounces a reference to an absolute past where could be found a lesbian heterotopia … that would be a kind of separatist radical feminist utopia.  We do not need a pure origin of masculine and heterosexual domination to justifiy a radical transformation of the sexes and the genders.

Countersexuality plays on two temporalities.  A slow temporality in which the sexual institutions seem to never have suffered any changes.  In this temporality, the sexual technologies present themselves as fixed. …This plane of fixed temporality is the metaphysical foundation of all sexual technology.  All the work of countersexuality is directed against, operates and intervenes in this temporal sphere.  There is also however a temporality of the event in which each fact escapes linear causality.  A fractal temporality constituted of multiple “times” that cannot be the simple effects of the natural truth of sexual identity or of a symbolic order.  …

Countersexuality has as its goal the study of technological transformations of sexed and gendered bodies.  It does not reject the hypothesis of the social and psychological constructions of gender, but it re-conceives them as mechanisms, strategies and means in a broader technological system. …

With the desire to denaturalize and demystify the traditional notions of sex and gender, countersexuality has as its principal task the study of the sexual instruments and apparatuses and accordingly the relations of sex and gender that are established between the body and the machine.

Sex, as organ and practice, is neither a precise biological place, nor a natural impulse.  Sex is a technology of heterosocial domination that reduces the body to erogenous zones in function of an asymmetrical distribution of power between the genders (feminine/masculine), making coincide certain effects with certain organs, certain sensations with specific anatomical reactions.

Human nature is an effect of social technology that reproduces in bodies the spaces and the discourses of the equation nature=heterosexuality.  The heterosexual system is a social apparatus for the production of femininity and masculinity that operates through the division and fragmentation of the body …

The sexual roles and practices, that are naturally attributed to the masculine and feminine genders, are an arbitrary conjunction of regulations inscribed in bodies that assure the material exploitation of one sex by another.  …

The sex-gender system is a system of writing. …

Countersexuality has as an aim to identify the false spaces, the fissures in the structure of the text (intersex bodies, hermaphrodites, the mad, woman truck drivers, fags, dykes, hysterics, outers or the frigid, hermaphrodykes …), and reinforce the power of deviations and shifts in relation to the heterocentered system.

The heteronormative social technology … can be characterized as a machine of ontological production that functions by mans of the performative invocation of the subject as a sexed body. …

Sexual identity is not the instinctive expression of the prediscursive truth of the flesh, but the effect of the reinscription of gender practices on the body.  …

Gender is not simply performative …It is before all else prosthetic, that is, it is not given except in the materiality of bodies.  It is purely constructed and at the same time entirely organic.  It escapes the false metaphysical dichotomies between body and soul, form and matter.  Gender is like the dildo, because they are both more than imitation.  Its carnal plasticity destabilizes the distinction between the imitated and the imitator, between truth and representation of the truth, between reference and the referent, between nature and the artificial, between the sexual organs and the practices of sex.  Gender could result from a sophisticated technology that manufactures sexual bodies.

Sexual organs as such do not exist.  The organs that we recognize as naturally sexual are already the product of a sophisticated technology that prescribes the context in which the organs acquire their meaning (sexual relations) and their appropriate use, in accordance with their “nature” (heterosexual relations).  The sexual contexts are established by means of a biased spatial and temporal delimitation.  The architecture is political.  It is it which organizes and qualifies the practices: public or private, institutional or domestic, social or intimate.

The architecture of the body is political.

The workers of the anus [e.g. those who practice fist-fucking] are the new proletarians of a possible countersexual revolution.

The anus presents three fundamental characteristics that transform it into the transitory centre of a labour of countersexual deconstruction.  One: the anus is a universal erogenous centre situated beyond the anatomical limits imposed by sexual difference, where the roles and registers appears as universally reversible (who has no anus?).  Two: the anus is the primordial zone of passivity, a centre for the excitement of excitement and pleasure that does not appear on the list of prescribes orgasmic points.  Three: the anus constitutes a space of technological labour; it is a factory for the re-elaboration of the posthuman, countersexual body.  The work of the anus does not point to reproduction, nor does it ground a romantic nexus.  It generates benefits that cannot be measured in a heterocentered economy.  For the anus, it doesn’t give a shit for the traditional system of representation of sex/gender.

The recuperation of the anus as a centre of countersexual pleasure has moments in common with the logic of the dildo: each location on the body is not only a potential plane across which the dildo may move, but also an orfice-entry, a point of escape, a centre of discharge, an axis of action-passion.

 

For an excellent interview with Beatriz Preciado, see Periodico Diagonal

Interview on spanish television …

Interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky …

 

 

This entry was posted in Commentary, Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.