A conversation concerning the history and legacy of the struggles for sexual liberation. What successes and setbacks have shaped the prospect for LGBTQ and feminist organizing today? Held on Thursday, September 13, 2013, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
Karin Cope, Professor of Historical and Critical Studies, NSCAD
Kevin Kindred, Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project
Evan Coole, Queer Activist, Organizer and Educator
Ashley Weger, Platypus Affiliated Society
Moderated by Cam Hardy (Platypus Affiliated Society)
Questions for panelists:
1. How did the LGBTQ rights movement become such? What has its relation to the Left been, and how has the contemporary political focus on same-sex marriage affect that relation? What are the potentials and limits of present politics and organization around equality and legality? What successes and limitations has it met?
2. How does economic life shape our imaginations about what sexual freedom will look like? For example, arguments for marriage equality have often been made in terms of all the economic disadvantages one faces if one can't marry--extra taxes, loss of healthcare, etc. Does marriage equality solve these issues? Or, counter to marriage, consider the importance of the legal protection of sex work to many on the Left. How are and should economics and sex be bound in sex work? Should sex work be abolished or protected? What role would the State play in a Left that seeks to decrease both human economic precariousness and human dependence on the economy more generally?
3. Marriage has always been about the linking of the intimate and the public. The demand that "love" dominate marriage--its development in the 19th century away from a mere economic arrangement between parents--was a way to demand that the public sphere as represented in the state recognize the power and value of individual life. If once progressive, though, this also comes to represent the naturalization of the state as the voice of authority over private life, as well as the retention of the family form which has represented ages of abuse (of women, children, etc.), and enshrines the principle of property over people. What forms of personal/public relation are possible now? What relationship ought the Left fight for between love, the private and the public?
4. What do we mean by a liberated sexuality? That which has positioned itself counter to what we might deem âheteronormativeâ has in the past been given the qualification as âabnormal.â In fighting for greater civil equality, these formerly marginalized sexualities have often fought on the basis of their ânaturalâ or ânormalâ characters. Does recognition for equality often homogenize the formerly marginal into normative bonds (e.g. marriage, family, monogamy, etc.), or is sexual emancipation necessarily antagonistic to the sexual mainstream? Are neither of these positions adequate?
The Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion on the Politics of the Contemporary Student Left at the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit on June 26, 2010. Moderated by Laurie Rojas, assistant editor for the Platypus Review, the panel consisted of Will Klatt, member of the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Luis Brennan, a student organizer at University of Chicago and former member of the new SDS; Aaron Petcov, formerly of the new SDS and currently a member of the Organization for a Free Society (OFS); and Ashley Weger, an organizer for Platypus and a former organizer for UNITE HERE.
Platypus panel held at Left Forum 2010 in New York City, Pace University, March 20, 2010
Pat Korte, New School Students for a Democratic Society and Radical Student Union, Organization for a Free Society
Hannah Rappleye, CUNY School of Journalism, freelance journalist for Mott Haven Herald in the South Bronx, New School alumnus, former Senior Editor, New School Free Press
Easton Smith, Sarah Lawrence College, UNITE-HERE organizer
Ashley Weger, DePaul University, UNITE-HERE organizer, Platypus Affiliated Society
Moderator: Pamela Nogales, Platypus Affiliated Society
Within both historical and contemporary imaginations, university students are posed as playing an indispensable part in progressive and radical Left political movements. This legacy is imbued with and reproduces a sort of mythological nostalgia of the dissident student exemplified in early groups of the New Left such as SDS, whose name and politics found themselves recycled in the American anti-war movement surrounding the Afghan and Iraq wars. However, the twenty-first century student Left is hardly monolithic in its inclinations, ideologies and impulses. Rather, the current state of student politics is one exemplified both by autonomous actions and alliances, converging and diverging in the anti-war movement, labor solidarity campaigns, school occupations, new attempts toward intellectual discourse and theoretical engagement. Such a multifaceted scene requires adequate address. This panel seeks to host a variety of perspectives amongst actors and organizers of the contemporary student Left, engaging their experiences in dialogue with a multitude of questions that remain incompletely addressed as to the future of the university within the realm of emancipatory politics. Particular attention will be paid to the panelists' perspective on the importance of protest as political act, the prevalence and relevance of identity politics, and the current direction of student intellectualism and activism.