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Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Theory

Rooting for Queers: A Politics of Primitivity

By Scott Morgensen, 2005

In the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1990’s, cohorts that Iwere exiled from forms of feminism during the sex wars gathered in the name of a new kinship, which they called “queer.” Women who practiced transgressive sexualities—power play, role play, or sex for money—had been critiqued by radical and cultural feminist claims that the male domination invested in these or all forms of sexuality made their practices oppressive to women. Bisexuals, gay men and others who joined or were inspired by institutions for transgressive sex among men (including bathhouses, sex in public, and sex for money) had been read as reveling in male privileges while performing misogynist sex. Transsexuals and transgenderists who questioned the borders of binary sex found themselves cast as patriarchal agents—invading women’s spaces in the case of their actions read as violences against women. Exile from forms of feminism during the 1980’s enabled those targeted to form common cause across otherwise great differences. Their varied yet mutual destabilizations of binary sex and sexuality then informed emergent queer politics, and over time, they sufficiently altered the terms of belonging in women’s communities to enable queer/feminist reconciliations.

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