Alan Sondheim on Sun, 8 Oct 2006 19:04:36 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Gender and You

I feel once again I have to respond to this. First of all, I don't 
masquerade or cruise for sex; everyone knows (except on the Jennifer 
newsgroup - which lasted maybe two days) that these are fictitious 
creations. I don't disguise myself and never have and have no interest in 
doing that and for the most part find disguising unethical. Second, it's 
hardly true that I've just come to issues of violence; if you knew
my work in general that would be the last thing you'd say. Most of my 
activisim is obviously off-line. Third, I resent the essentialism you 
represent here; if you turn it on its head - how do you know what I feel 
or why I'm doing it, since you're not male? It's easy to throw the terms 
sexism around and since Nikuko is Japanese, that also obviously implies 
racism (in spite of the fact that Japaenese write into Americans write 
into Japanese etc.).

What you seem to not understand, is I'm not switching genders - as far as 
writing about this, I have essays (published in a feminist magazine but 
what the hell) on the inconceivability of this going back at least to the 
80s. If you want to find my work sexist, that's fine - well not fine - at 
least base it on what I'm doing, not what you want to believe I'm doing. 
The material on drag, for me, is besides the point; it's hardly drag 
performance. What it _is_ is an opportunity to write through Heideggerian 
issues I'm interested in, without bringing along, on the surface, the male 
baggage that characterizes the analysis of such issues. Furthermore, most 
of the material in the essay is based on net sex, in which identities, as 
I try to point out, are mostly transparent.

I'm might add, even the opening sentence: "As a woman writing as a woman" 
is problematic - as a Jew, am I writing as a Jew? As a Jew, what would it 
mean not write not as a Jew? As an atheist? As a Christian? These roles 
seem strangling to me - and the _are_ roles - there is no "a woman" any 
more than "a male" or "a Jew."

Ok, you say "If white, heterosexual men want to know what it's like to be 
a women, ASK US. We'll tell you. We've been telling you for hundreds of 
years".. This is all well and good but does it give a male the experience 
of being attacked online? When a student (I teach on occasion) logs into 
IRC as a woman and sees and feels what's happening (no, not like "a woman" 
but like someone who may be sensitive to attack that can get close to 
verbal rape), he (or she for that matter) learns a lot more than asking 
you - you in particular - what "it's like" - since what it's like for you 
implies this essentialism - which online experience doesn't.

Re: "Identity tourism" - if you've read my work, and you seem to imply 
that you have, you'd realize this is hardly the case. I'm not cruising. If 
you object to, say, Jennifer, you might was well object to any male 
writing fiction which includes any woman, or vice versa, since we can't 
get into each other's skin.

You say "that a man can inhabit female characters for as long as Alan has" 
- indicates in fact you haven't read much of my work - those characters - 
except for this and one other recent text - haven't appeared in quite a 
few years. At this point I write through myself. So again you're wrong 
here. You say "after years of this adventuring" - and then claim you're 
following my work. If you were, you'd realize the stuff I've done for the 
past several years has been in an entirely different direction; you'd also 
know I killed them off, both male and female (Alan and Travis were two 
others, as well as the male Doctor Leopold Konninger), years ago.

What I really object to is not only a misreading of what I've been doing, 
but also what I see as a PC way of thinking - the essentialism is so deep 
that to experience anything outside oneself, one has to ask the Other 
directly. So I can't write as a Republican (goodbye Steve Colbert) or as a 
Christian or non-Jew, I can't write as animal, etc.

And yes, the sexuality was bad-girl-bad-boy, which I think is at the basis 
of a lot of our cultural sexualism as well as violence. And as for asking 
- I knew Kathy Acker well for example and we talked about this stuff. And 
I shouldn't have to show "credentials" here which is besides the point.

You say things like ""analyses" in peacetime is again a reflection of his 
white, heterosexual, male "location."" - but you, again, don't know who 
the hell I am - you know nothing about me. Should I call you a white 
middle-class woman whose writing reflects that? How the hell should I 

Then again - "for Alan is based only on the fact that NOW he notices the 
violence, when before he didn't." - How on earth do you know when I've 
noticed anything? You haven't even read my work for years, and misread it 
when you did read it? And how dare you tell me when I notice such-and- 
such - you have no idea. This is essentialism at its worst - as if you 
have a privilege in regard to my own positions on things, and you sure as 
hell don't.

Finally, and apologies for the rambling nature of this, terms such as 
"blackface" are so overloaded and disgusting - there's no way to combat 
this. It's Lyotard's differend - I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

I don't expect everyone to like what I do - I do find support for my work 
with both men and women (the latter presumeably not talking "as a woman")
- and I find a lot of people are uncomfortable with it. That is as it 
should be - the work is about war, violence, and the bedrock of those 
aspects of western culture which produce Britney Spears and Iraq, as well 
as occasionally healthy sexuality. My work for the past 4-5 years has been 
performance; the texts are put online. There's no gender playing but a lot 
of analysis. So it goes.

I find Kali's post, in other words, as distasteful - and violent -as she 
finds mine.

- Alan

On Fri, 6 Oct 2006, Kali Tal wrote:

> As a woman writing as a woman (and as a feminist writing as a
> feminist), it's been an ongoing challenge to inhabit virtual space.

blog at - for URLs, DVDs, CDs, books/etc. see - contact, -
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Trace at: - search "Alan Sondheim"

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