Weekend Reading

Read some links!

Conservatives have spent the last thirty years constitutionalizing their political-economic vision. Rather than respond in kind, liberals have insisted that the Constitution is largely silent on what William Forbath has called “the rights and wrongs of economic life.” This attempt to declare our nation’s highest law a neutral zone when it comes to political economy has failed, as conservatives have successfully associated our fundamental legal documents with an absolutist defense of private property and the restraint of government power over the so-called private sphere. Their legal analysis does political work, branding government regulation not just unwise but illegitimate: the Constitution means economic freedom and economic freedom means freedom from government coercion.

There is a counterhistory that liberals might have used, and still might use, to disrupt this chain of libertarian associations: the tradition of Forbath’s “distributive Constitution.” Proponents of this constitutional vision, from Madison to FDR, have denied that “economic freedom” simply means private freedom from public power, a definition that affirms the status quo, no matter how unjust. They have argued instead that the freedom promised by our Constitution guarantees material well-being and the real autonomy that comes with it, an autonomy threatened as much by the market as by the police on whom the market depends.

To act like detransition is something that can ONLY indicate a lack of not “really wanting it” or not “really being trans” is to demonstrate an enormously privileged mindset. One of the most basic kinds of privileged-bias: assuming things are as easy or difficult for everyone as they were for you.

Anyway… that idea of transition, and transness, as inherently linear is just as protected for its superficially “validating” qualities as the essentialism of “gender identity”, “male/female brains” and “men’s and women’s clothes”. It, again, allows us to feel our identified gender is every bit as valid and secure as our cis peers, while remaining on more or less the same kind of conceptual ground as the cis-centric view of gender. We can feel ourselves valid and secure without having to dive into the scary, uncharted waters of granting ourselves that validity, unconditionally, and on our own terms. We can continue feeling there’s some kind of external, quasi-objective standard by which we know ourselves to be “really” women… “deep down”.

Teenage pregnancy has been on a steady decline since the late 1950s, but nothing brings America into more of a panic than the thought of “unwed teen mothers.” These women, often poor with little access to education, are tracked like plague victims. One can’t find statistics without falling into a discussion of disease. “Teen pregnancy—a preventable epidemic,” “U.S. teen pregnancy and syphilis rates rose sharply during George Bush’s presidency” read the reports.

There’s no biological reason to think of teenage pregnancy, in particular, as a form of sickness. Everyone knows that pregnancy is an organic result of sexual intercourse, whether it happens at 15 or at 35. The language indicates fear of a social disease: the threat of reproduction occurring outside the condoned sphere of the family.

In the nineties, talk of gay marriage sounded kooky and futuristic, like  something out of a left-wing version of “The Jetsons.” In the elections of 2004,  when measures against gay marriage passed in eleven states, the campaign  appeared to have backfired. Over time, though, the concerted emphasis on  marriage and the military generated increasingly potent political imagery:  elderly gay men pleading for recognition of their decades-long relationships,  lesbian ex-officers testifying with military terseness. The ennobling effect  that Sullivan had predicted came to pass. I felt it in 2005, when my partner,  Jonathan Lisecki, and I spontaneously got married during a trip to Toronto. When  you get married, your relationship is taken more seriously by those around you;  when you are also gay, the sense of public affirmation goes strikingly deep.  Friends reacted as if we had done something vaguely heroic. I realized, as with  coming out, that personal gestures ripple outward into politics.

However long it takes for a real victory to be certified—no matter what  happens on Election Day, it will be too early to unfurl a “Mission Accomplished” banner—the once ragtag march of lovers has acquired an air of inevitability.  Edith Eyde’s prophecy is almost fulfilled: gays are more or less regular folk.  All the same, many who came out during the Stonewall era are wondering what will  be lost as the community sheds its pariah status. They are baffled by the  latter-day cult of marriage and the military—emblems of Eisenhower’s America  that the Stonewall generation joyfully rejected. The gay world is confronting a  question with which Jews, African-Americans, and other marginalized groups have  long been familiar: the price of assimilation.

Some Debate on Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee:


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