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From production to reproduction

Interview with philosopher Paul Preciado: The Old Days Workers' Camp was about collectivization of the means of production; today it is about the collectivization of reproduction means. 


The Weinstein case and MeToo wave has dumped the old seduction relationships. Will we now see a change in the behavior of men and women in matters concerning love life and sexuality? Or do we lose both desire and freedom when we constantly have to reformat the codes of seduction? For the Spanish philosopher Paul B. Preciado, a regular columnist in the New Age as well as in the French Libération, there is no doubt: What we experience in the wake of MeToo, can be compared to the paradigm shifts the world has been through in the past, such as the transition to the heliocentric worldview and the abolition of slavery.

The Weinstein affair initiated a major political, sexual and institutional crisis, where the question of who has the right to petition was central. As a chronicler, curator of the Documenta and Venice Biennale, and well-known gender and sexuality philosopher, the tireless Preciado is a case in itself: a lesbian woman who has become a trans man and thus a "runner" between the sexes. A rare man who has known both the feminine and the masculine in the head and body, and all the nuances and characteristics of the two positions. A "refugee of sexuality" with the unparalleled intellectual freedom it offers to be on both sides of the gender wall at the same time – and beyond.

- In the fall, the Weinstein affair broke loose. For the first time, allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape came out in public – against one of the world's most powerful film producers. The case triggered a violent reaction, fueled by MeToo campaign. The whole world exploded. What happened?

"#MeToo expresses a criticism of masculinity with its dominance and relationship with power within the heterosexual regime. Some thought the 70s sexual revolution was over, but it continues, fiercer than ever. Quite simply, the feminist movement in the 70s criticized the masculine power, and on television you could see French feminists burning their bras – as the first dramatization of a global indictment, repeated multimedia in countries from the United States to Chile. 

The masculine is for society what the state is for the nation: the one that legitimately manages and uses violence.

But since the 80s, criticism of the social gender roles has mainly come from gays, lesbians and transgender people, and it is the sexual minorities that have contributed to the politicization of sexuality and gender. Monique Wittig (French feminist theorist, ed.), Adrienne Rich (American poet, ed.) And Gayle Rubin (American cultural anthropologist, ed.) Were the first to talk about heterosexuality, not as a sexual practice, but as a political regime and normative order. In the hegemonic discourse, but also here and there in the white liberal feminist discourse, one continued to believe that the "painful" problem (to repeat an expression from the era) was homosexuality and transsexuality, while heterosexuality remained unquestioned and undeniable, as a kind of natural truth, transhistoric and transcultural. 

Thus, it disappeared from the field of criticism and politics. Today, we see, through the Internet and social networks, a new global condemnation, a micropolitical revolution, in heterosexuality, but also the emergence of a new language. The manifestation and condemnation of the violence we are exposed to is part of this sexual revolution – which is far from over. On the contrary, it is as unstoppable as it is slow and fluctuating. "

- What is today's criticism of heterosexuality directed at?

"The real question MeToo traveled, is about rape, this relationship between gender, violence and power. One of the precursors to MeToo in France was probably the controversy surrounding the film Fuck me (2000) by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi. The film showed a rape, filmed in accordance with pornography codes (without even being pornographic). There was outcry: How could two women use the rape phenomenon in this way? That the film was an accusation that heterosexual violence is not punished was overlooked. The film underwent state censorship and received an 18-year limit. 

The dominant class – masculine and heterosexual – does not give up their privileges so easily.

There is something "pre-Weinsteinian" both above Fuck me and Despentes' book King Kong Theory (2006), written in first person. The latter is also a criticism of society's rape handling. But if you talk about rape, you also ask the key question about the relationship between desire and politics. What does it mean to crave when one is no longer in a position to do so?

Author Guy Hocquenghem was one of the first in the 70s in France to talk about his homosexuality. He asked questions about the gay desire: Is it different from the heterosexual? MeToo also addresses the desire, and demands that it be liberated in heterosexuality, including in the inferior party. "

-  Why is this also an attack on the heterosexual male desire?

“This desire has historically been based on possession and violence – and is not natural, but culturally constructed. It is nourished by the skewed power relationship between men and women – therefore it is appropriate to examine and criticize it. But in practice, this means triggering a political, sexual and institutional crisis. 

Who has the right to desire in heterosexuality? The answer is: Just the man. According to the codes of love life, even though these are changing, a woman who shows desire and seduction is the same as a whore. Still, the seduction rests on men. How to create a desire that does not reproduce this bias? Can one learn to covet outside the norms of gender and political asymmetry?

- To what extent is male sexuality linked to violence?

"The man's position in our technopatriarchal and heterocentric societies lies in his sovereignty resting on the use of various techniques of violence – against women, children, non-whites, animals, against the planet as a whole. In line with Butler's reading of Weber, one can say that the masculine is for the society what the state is for the nation: the one that legitimately manages and uses violence. Socially, violence is expressed as domination; financially as privileges; sexually as aggression and rape. In contrast, feminine independence is linked to a woman's ability to give birth. Only the mothers are independent, otherwise the women are sexually and socially subservient. 

The #MeToo movement brings the man's monopoly of violence – also the link between violence and sexual pleasure – into crisis. How can one define male sovereignty without violence? "

- But since the 70s, women have been free to accept or reject a sexual relationship. The masculine sexuality has also changed?

“Heterosexuality as a governance regime and desire policy is incarnated in a romantic seduction and addiction process between seemingly free subjects. The man and woman are not aware of the positions and do not choose them individually. The regime is not imposed on those who are governed (the women) by the governing body (the men), but determines the positions of the respective sexes through internal regulation. Not in the form of any law, but as an unwritten norm – a transaction of gestures and codes that separate what can and cannot be done in sexual practice. Submission rests on aesthetics of seduction that eroticize and perpetuate the power gap between the sexes. 

Two things distinguish trans-queer aesthetics from the heteronormality of the former regime: the consent and the unnatural sexual positions.

This is how the old "sex genre regime" is kept alive – despite all measures taken women empowerment by the women. After MeToo I believe, however, that we will experience a revolution in the traditional organization of gender and sexuality, a paradigm shift in line with the secularisation of knowledge, the transition to the heliocentric worldview and the abolition of slavery. But this is a lengthy process that involves changing the institutions, the use of language, the representations, the laws – a complete revolution. ”

- In the journal Le Débat, Marcel Gauchet talks about the end of the masculine dominance. And MeToo has caused some kind of male amazement?

"This is the chiefs 'resistance to the female workers' revolution! 

In France, the counter-reform began in 2000, when Eric Zemmour (French right-wing journalist and provocateur, editor) wrote The Premier Sexe, just then Fuck me came. Since the sexual and anti-colonial revolution shook the world in the last century, heteropatriarchs have run a counter-reform project. In the heterosexuality this counter-reform defends, male desire is most important – it is naturalized and fossilized. But the desire is always under construction – it is created and transformed all the time – with the images, texts, literature, poetry, pornography. 

In the old manuscript of heterosexuality, the monopoly of desire and violence is the man's. Today we ask how this power can be redistributed – a debate that began in the 19th century. More radically, it is to ask how the construct of desire refers to the construction of gender and sexualities. A transformation of desire implies a transformation of identities such as 'man' and 'woman', which are equally political fictions. ”

- Hence the panic among men and some women?

"The idea that heterosexuality may collapse creates panic."

“The idea that heterosexuality can collapse creates panic. Its political scenario is rewritten, and the dominant class – masculine and heterosexual – does not give up its privileges so easily. If the great labor struggle was about the acquisition and collectivization of the means of production, the struggle is now about the colonized, sexual and sexual minorities – about the acquisition and collectivization of rethe means of production. Yesterday, the arena was the factory, today it's body and subjectivity. "

What will a new sexual desire look like?

“How can we learn the desire for sexual freedom? We need to create a new grammar, get into the politics of experimentation. What worries me is the retreat into a naturalistic and descriptive sexual policy, where we already "know" what men and women want and are capable of. 

Two things distinguish trans-queer aesthetics from the heteronormality of the former regime: the consent and the unnatural sexual positions. Body equality and redistribution of power. We have to imagine a sexuality without heteros and gays, without men and without women. ” 

Preciado is now a regular commentator in Ny Tid.
See the next newspaper about fetishism. 

Paul B. Precaido:

Preciado (b. 1970) is a Spanish writer, philosopher, feminist and curator focusing on identity, gender, pornography, architecture and sexuality. He earned his master's degree in philosophy at The New School in New York, with mentors such as Jaques Derrida and Agnes Heller. In 2010, he completed his doctorate in philosophy and theoretical architecture at Princeton University. He was a lesbian woman until he announced in 2014 that he was undergoing "transformation" into physically becoming a man. In January 2015, he took the name Paul.

In 2008 he published the book Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era, where he investigates the politicization of the body and uses the term "pharmacopornograpich capitalism". The book has been translated into French and English. Preciado has been the curator of a number of art institutions, such as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid and the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona as well as Documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens. He is a resident of France.

Daumas is a writer in French Liberation.

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