Xenofeminism: the tldr
“If nature is unjust, change nature.”
The Xenofeminist Manifesto is really fucking great. So I wrote a summary in case you want to get the jist of it without reading it all. It calls for a new kind of feminism that represents the needs of all human ‘cutting across race, ability, economic standing, and geographical position’.
Three point summary // if you read this, you have got the main points covered
The XF manifesto is 1. technomaterialist, 2. anti-naturalist, and 3. a gender abolitionist form of feminism.
Technologies should be re-engineered for the actual benefit to society, not to propagate existing oppressions. It calls on feminist technologists to build tools to protect humans from oppression and also to build new freedoms (‘freedom-to rather than simply freedom-from’). For example, in the past we have been defined by our gender and reproductive roles, however we need not be limited by this. An ability to give birth or bear offspring does not determine gender. Any feminism based on ‘natural ideas of a woman’s role’ is a thing of the past. We should aim to distribute these roles across the entire population.
Biology is not destiny. Whilst ‘nature’ is often rolled out as an argument for gender roles (‘born this way’ etc), this distinction is not always supported by reason, logic or scientific evidence. And even if there were a ‘natural’ and deterministic gender binary, we should aim to go beyond that, rather than be limited by it. Humans have modified and gone beyond nature many times and should continue to do so, around sex, reproductive abilities, gender and other forms of human freedom.
Gender does not determine our personality, preferences or abilities. As such the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ are misguided and unhelpful. We will only realise our true potential as individuals when we stop using gender to guide our identities. More than gender equality, feminism should aim for gender irrelevance. “Instead of eliminating differences between genders, we want them to proliferate. Let a hundred sexes bloom!”
The point by point breakdown
// ZERO //
0x00 XF calls for a new kind of feminism that represents the needs of every human ‘cutting across race, ability, economic standing, and geographical position.’ (This is an intersectional universal)
0x01 We should use our isolation to create new worlds: freedom is not a natural given or a human right, it’s something we must manufacture and we do that by being ok with our isolation and coming to terms with the impermanence of everything. XF is vehemently anti-naturalist, it believes that nature or at least our norms around what is natural are deeply unjust and that we should aim to go beyond nature.
0x02 Technology is not neutral or inherently good/progressive, and the effects of using technologies can be hard to predict. Yet XF wishes to use technology for these political goals, recognising the risks.
0x03 We should engineer technologies to fight all inequalities, but specifically unequal access to gendered medical care, catastrophic changes to the climate, poverty and economic injustice and unpaid/underpaid labour (which often disproportionately affects certain genders)
0x04 XF uses reason and logic rather than personal or anecdotal experience as the basis of its ideas and ideals: reason is the driving force of XF, and reason and logic must also be open to all humans, and therefore is feminist by nature.
// INTERRUPT //
0x05 Previous feminist agendas have been too modest for the kinds of challenges that we face of getting beyond capitalism and to a place of true intersectional universalism, and XF calls on us to focus on systemic change, not local tiny rebellions and resistances.
0x06 In the face of globalization we need to think about global governance (promethean responsibilities) and XF aims to gather humanity to focus on ‘substantial and enduring change’ at this level.
0x07 As we transition into digital lives, XF is a feminism ‘at ease with computation’, and calls for feminist technologists not to simply build tech to protect humans from online and real life patriarchy, but also to use technology to build new freedoms (‘freedom-to rather than simply freedom-from’).
0x08 New digital tools and tech shouldn’t be used for profit which only benefits the few, but be made available to all (protected from appropriation). XF must acknowledges and aims to eliminate the situation whereby the world’s poorest at adversely affected by the poor working conditions of the tech industry and yet do not have the means to use or pay for, or benefit from these new tools that they are creating.
// TRAP //
0x09 XF rejects the idea that the poor and oppressed can overcome their circumstances in the absence of large scale coordination (‘illusion’), and the lethargic sad idea that real emancipation is not possible, which is common on the left (melancholy, leading to political inertia).
The poor and oppressed can’t free themselves without large scale coordination, but that coordination and liberation/lasting systemic change is possible; XF rejects the illusion and the ‘melancholy’, which leads to political inertia,
0x0A Local politics and change is not enough, exiting from capitalism won’t overthrow capitalism. Slowing down and scaling back isn’t good enough, and is an option only available to the privileged. We need to go beyond defensive strategies to build active solutions to large scale/planetary social change that will bridge all of humanity.
0x0B XF challenges heteronormative forces by reclaims fluidity and dynamics over the static current form of identity politics (which reinforce concepts of ‘good’ and ‘natural’). Using arguments of natural and ‘born this way’ suggests a permanence to gender and sexuality that XF rejects.
0x0C Where cyberspace once offered refuge from static identity politics, social media has dismantled this refuge, where now it is where identity is played out in full force, driven by online naming, shaming, moralising and accusations (fetishization of oppression / ‘oppression olympics/ tragedy bingo’. XF denounces this politics of shame and calls for a ‘superior forms of corruption’.
0x0D Thus we must learn that such platforms and tools are not neutral, and will be used to convey parasitic memes if we are not careful, that is, unchecked, uncritical inspected upon, they can do more harm than good.
// PARITY //
0x0E XF claims itself as gender abolitionist. By this they don’t mean that gender doesn’t matter, or that we should abandon gendered traits, but that it shouldn’t matter. They call for a world with a multitude of different genders and sexes, in way that these gendered, class related and racialised characteristics are no longer a way to discriminate against humans.
0x0F XF calls for the abolition of class, gender. For an intersectionality that refuses to pigeonhole humans according to their bodies (a reworking of the ‘universal’) that comes not from top down control but bottom up. * It rejects the kind of universalism where the male is the default gender, white is the default race, etc, but called for a re-engineered university.
0x10 XF wishes to be a platform on which we can re-engineer, update and iterate on the concept of the ‘universal’ or intersectionality. XF wishes to remain ‘available for perpetual modification’ as we develop different sets of ethical reasoning
// ADJUST //
0x11 Science and technology have overthrown many human cages, and XF rejects the idea that Nature is a given, that we cannot escape our nature. There is nothing that cannot be technologically manipulated.
0x12 It is not a simple task to determine what ought to be from what is is an ongoing struggle, but we must persist in distinguishing out wants and desires from fact and ethics.
// CARRY //
0x13 The internet used to be a space for cyberfeminisms, for battling sexual politics and gender, and finding communities of solidarity and experimentation, this is no longer so prevalent. It used to be a primarily written form of communication which is now more visual, which has introduced mutual policing and power relationships. We must be sensitive to these changes and aware of power dynamics in both digital and non digital communities.
0x14 The built environment is a reflection of our ideologies, and as such we must pay attention to and build interventions not just for the digital and cultural environments, but also the built environment/ spatial design/architecture.
0x15 Similarly, domestic space (the home) is a space where gendered behaviour and norms are coded and generated. XF rejects this as a given and calls for a reconfiguration of the home as part of the future of feminism: XF critiques the nuclear family which has isolated ‘women from the public sphere and men from the lives of their children’ and calls for an economy (not capitalism) that liberates reproduction, child rearing and family life .
0x16 As like the home, the body must also be hacked! Online marketplaces for hormones, biohacking and DIY biology have allowed for gender to be explored without bureaucracy. However XF calls for more, safer and completely open source technologies (“open source medicine”) for getting beyond reproduction and gender.
0x17 XF wants new institutions that use technology of great proportions, through target new global and local, digital and analogue techniques. It rejects the polarised idea that change comes about either from hyper local action (e.g. autonomous zones & horizontalism) or from the large scale top down structures. Instead it calls for techniques that operate of all scales, and puts an emphasis on the middle ground, between
// OVERFLOW //
0x18 Getting prepared for global governance is going to take a lot of effort and we cannot sit and wait any longer, and we have to change not only our infrastructure, but ourselves as acting subjects also. We must change our desires so that we are not compromising or being puritanical, but actually freeing ourselves and our community, creating solidarity and collective behaviours.
0x19 SF is providing a single map or a recipe for how we do this, instead is a platform, a goal, a language, a diverse set of procedures aimed at submerging the white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
0x1A aims to create an alien future, untethered by the present state of things (marriage, wage slave labour and agriculture, ‘naturalised’ identity politics / “aisle, the assembly line, and the feed”), and the logic with how to get there.
‘Nature’ shall no longer be a refuge of injustice, or a basis for any political justification whatsoever!
References / read more