Feminist Theory: Questions for Tiqqun/Weigel & Ahern

Tonight we’re reading Tiqqun’s Young-Girl essay and Weigel & Ahern’s response in TNI. Here are some questions for discussion:

Further Questions

  1. Is Tiqqun just devaluing as feminine everything that’s bad about neoliberalism?
  2. So Tiquun says the YG “is absolutely not a gendered concept” (ii). For real?!? But seriously: Why call it a “girl” if gender doesn’t matter? What work does gender do if it doesn’t describe the gender identity of the individual people who occupy the position of the YG (eg bros can be YG too, as they say)?
    1. Relatedly: “The YG’s all-out gender affirmation is a clear demonstration of the fact that the classical gender roles are dying, meaning that their material basis is dying” (17)–so what are the new gender roles? How does biopolitical patriarchy dole out gender roles and privilege? (does gendering even need roles anymore?)
  3. Tiqqun argues that the culture industry is one way that capitalism makes “feminized” behaviors (passivity) and “women’s work” (consumption) more profitable for capitalism (iii). How might we think about this claim in relation to Luce Irigaray’s claim that women were the primary (both in the chronological and the prioritization sense) commodities? If traditionally women are what men exchange, how does the culture industry both (a) turn women into traders so it can profit from their work while (b) still devaluing that work as feminine?
  4. T argues that neoliberal capitalism “demands of each person that she self-valorize endlessly…each person is called upon to relate to herself as a value…The YG, thus, would be that being that has no more intimacy with itself except as a value, and all of whose activity, in all of its details, will finally come down to self-valuation” (v). If the YG relates to herself strictly as value, it seems like the YG exhibits more the M-M1 economy, not the M-C-M economy of commodity capitalism, right? Is the YG the quintessential example of human capital, not commodity capital?
    1. And, if WOMEN used to be the COMMODITIES, now that we don’t need commodities, where are the “women”? Or, from another angle: If the exchange of women used to be what made men men (exchangers) and women women (exchanged), how do neoliberal capital relations (competition, investment, etc.) dole out gender status?
  5. In the quote below, T question the counter-hegemonic purchase of concerns for sustainability. How might these concerns (e.g., sustainable engineering, eating, carbon emissions, etc.) actually be hegemonic?
    1. “the YG’s struggle to survive is then connected to the need to transcend the industrial YG and the need to pass over to the eco YG…a security-crazed obsession with conservation. The Empire’s been fundamentally undermined and its got to defend itself from entropy. Having arrived at full hegemony, it can’t do anything but crumble anymore” (v)
  6. Do T use YG methods to analyze YG politcal economy/theorize YG? (vi)
  7. Arguing that “in the end we’re watching an ironic epilogue where the ‘masculine sex’ is the victim and object of its own alienated desires” (1), T seem to suggest that biopolitical/neoliberal capitalism uses old-school constructions of “femininity” as the means to perpetuate patriarchal, capitalist, etc., hegemony. How can old-school “femininity” (or OG patriarchial constructs of femininity), when ‘liberated,’ actually work as a new kind of patriarchy?
    1. “the Spectacle has thus freed the slaves of the past, but it has freed them AS SLAVES” (2)
  8. What’s the YG’s relationship to the public/private distinction (which, as we know, is a gendered distinction)?
    1. “Because of its having been put on a level of equivalence with all intimacy in general, the YG’s intimacy has become something anonymous, exterior, and objectlike” (2).
  9. If the YG is neither virtuous nor vicious (not virgin or whore), and she “sees everything as free of consequences” (10), what’s her ethos/ethic? T says she sees everything in binary Good/Bad terms, but how are those terms evaluated?
    1. Or, what’s the ethic of human capital (if, say, deontology and utilitarianism were the ethos of humanism)?
    2. “Everywhere that the ethos is failed or decomposing, the YG appears as the carrier of the fleeting, colorless morals of the Spectacle” (10)
    3. “In the YG even the flattest moralism puts on a whorish air” (11)
  10. What’s with the recurrent figure of the YG’s “ass” (e.g., 17: the YG’s ass is enough to give her a basis to feel an incommunicable singularity”)? Is there something racialized going on here? (The underlying question here is: to what extent can you reduce a woman to her “ass” and NOT call on racialized histories of reducing black women to their posteriors?) Is T thinking of the YG through their (perhaps poor) understanding of, say, Destiny’s Child?
    1. If every time Adorno mentions commodity music, he also mentions women’s body parts, I wonder what the relationship is to the constant “ass” refrain in Tiquun….
  11. T argues that “transgression itself has become a calm, isolatable and quantified norm” (17). What does this mean? How is it related to neoliberalism/biopolitics?
  12. T repeatedly claim that the YG cannot love–e.g., “Love has fallen away into the foulest of spectacular role playing games” (23). What if we interpret “love” as “philosophy”? Is there some way in which biopolitical subjects can’t do philosophy as traditionally conceived? Why?
  13. T argue that in biopolitics, “life” or human capital replaces money or capital capital as the circulatory medium of value/the unit in which everything’s value is measured: “Money is no longer the ultimate term of the economy. Its triumph has depreciated it. A naked king that has abandoned all metaphysical content, it has also lost all value. Nothing shows it respect anymore, in the biopolitical flock. Living currency has taken the place of money as a general equivalent; that relative to which it is worth anything. It is value and it is concretion” (40). So what’s the connection between “life” and femininity here? Why is the YG the conduit of living currency? Or, more broadly, what role does “femininity” serve in neolib capital/biopolitics?
  14. W&A seem to be arguing that the ‘good white guy’ (the progressive hipster, academic, theory boy, etc.) is one of the main agents of perpetuating neoliberal/biopolitical sexism and racism. Howso, specifically?
  15. “The Grown Woman holds down her job and pays for her own dinner. “ (4) → but to what extent is the Grown Woman racialized differently? Or to what extent are black women’s resistance strategies getting co-opted while also leaving BW behind?
  16. W&A argue: “Even when adopted by radical theory, this knowing posture is conservative. Knowingness is the attitude that allows sexism to persist in progressive institutions that would would expect to know better, precisely because you would” (6). What do they mean by “knowingness”? How does this knowingness fit in with myths of post-feminism and post-racialism? (i.e., “I GET feminism, so if I did something misogynist it must be ironic…?).
  17. W&A describe how the progressive left “project[s] misogyny outward, onto Middle America…and racialized others” (6). How is the accusation of racism or sexism being used to mark class/race based hierarchies? (And how does this double-layered misogynist racism impact the most vulnerable, eg black women?)