Western human nature is a product of social technology that reproduces the equation “nature = heterosexuality” on our bodies, architectures, and discourses. The heterosexual system is an epistemic regime and social apparatus that produces femininity and masculinity and operates by dividing and fragmenting the body: it cuts out organs and generates zones of high sense and motor intensity (visual, tactile, olfactory), which it afterward identifies as natural and anatomic centers of sexual difference.

Paul B. Preciado, Countersexual Manifesto (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), 24.

Thinking differently …

In his groundbreaking work on sexuality, philosopher and writer Paul B. Preciado makes a bold claim about the influence of pornography and the pharmaceutical industry on how we, in the West, understand identity, gender, and sexuality. Insisting that gender assignment at birth might one day be considered brutal, Preciado hopes to undo the tyranny of identity politics and fixed notions of gender categories and sexual orientation.

Commenting on his gender transition, which he started in 2010, Preciado underscores how this step allowed him to have a completely different view of the power relationships and struggles:

“White masculinity is even more powerful than we imagine. Its power is an assumption of universality, which is the opposite of being invisible or being exposed. But as soon as you speak up as a trans man, you immediately lose all of those privileges — even worse, you are the object of rejection and punishment for not being a ‘natural man.’ This political rollercoaster is everyday life for me.”

 Mary Katharine Tramontana, “Paul B. Preciado: ‘One day we’ll see assigning gender at birth as brutal,’ i-D, 12 March 2020.

And so we end this course with two questions: where to go from here and what might be ahead of us?

Preciado suggests that words such as male, female, hetero, and homo, are outdated. We need new words which are not connected to identity politics to define human subjectivity and social relationships. It is the task of our time, to de-patriarchalise and decolonise the classification systems that have constructed sexual, gender, and race distinctions within patriarchy, neoliberalism, and colonial capitalism!

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