Historical inaccuracies and theoretical overkill

Identity politics are prone to fragmentation, only the working class project of universal liberation can unite the oppressed, argues Mike Macnair

India’s Hijras: a transgender tradition dating back thousands of years

Rex Dunn’s article, ‘Poststructuralism and decline’, in last week’s issue of this paper makes some valid points - but it simultaneously undermines those points by some serious errors. This article addresses some of these errors.

The most basic valid point is one which we have made repeatedly in this paper. No-platforming and other speech controls in the name of ‘safe spaces’ and similar ideas serve the continuation of capitalist rule, and the continuation of the oppressions which they seek to combat. They are, further, specifically associated with the policy of ‘divide and rule’ using identity politics, which has been pursued by the United States and its allies since the 1980s, and is closely associated with the neoliberal project. In this project our rulers appropriate for their benefit ideas which were developed by the 1960s-70s ‘new left’ in opposition to the cold war regime.

‘Terf wars’ - named after the ‘trans exclusionary radical feminists’ - is merely the latest part of this liberal ‘divide and rule’ agenda (operating from both sides via sub-sub-Maoist ‘speaking bitterness’ techniques and the method of ultimatums).

Second, there is a close connection between this agenda and the claims of the academic/theoretical trend which has called itself, successively, ‘structuralist’, ‘poststructuralist’, ‘postmodernist’ and most recently ‘post-Marxist’. Comrade Dunn has regrettably picked up only on the ‘poststructuralist’, and ‘postmodernist’ labels. That this is actually one intellectual trend - successively rebranded, as under each name the arguments have been discredited - is visible from the continuity of personnel and of common themes.

This trend, in turn, is closely linked to 1970s-90s Eurocommunism; to Blairism; and in the USA to the parts of the centre-left and ex-left among the Democrats which attached and attach themselves to Clintonian ‘triangulation’ projects.

Third, comrade Dunn is right to link identity politics and the academic/theoretical ‘poststructuralist’ trend both to the decline of capitalism and to Stalinism - meaning by the latter word, as Trotskyists commonly do, an umbrella category which includes ‘official’ communism, Maoism and all tendencies which accept ‘socialism in one country’ and ‘national roads’, the monolith concept of the workers’ party, the people’s front/broad democratic front and so on.

Fourth, Marxism - and any emancipatory project - involves transhistorical claims about human nature. For this point comrade Dunn relies, justifiably, on Scott Meikle’s Essentialism in the thought of Karl Marx (1985); there are other theoretical routes by which one could reach the same conclusion. There is no reason to suppose that radical relativism and ‘social constructivism’ could be the basis of an emancipatory project.

Rather, on the ‘constructivist’ assumptions of ‘structuralism’/‘post structuralism’, ‘postmodernism’ or ‘post-Marxism’, the Islamist identity politics of Islamic State, the Zionist expansionism of Netanyahu, the Holy-Russia claims of Putin and his supporters, or the ‘oppressed white majority’ idea which has emerged in the US1 have exactly the same moral validity as the identity politics claims of women, black and ethnic minority people, and so on.

On the other hand, comrade Dunn’s article undermines the strength of these points in two ways. The first is that it is violently inaccurate as to the history of identity politics (particularly of feminism, to which it pays most attention) and of the poststructuralist, etc, trend. This naturally produces the response: if you can’t get the history right, how can we take seriously the criticisms?

The second is that it takes for granted a naturalistic claim for the gender binary (male and female) and then deploys this in a very uncritical way in relation to gender and ‘transgender’ issues. His argument in effect subscribes to a media moral panic around this issue, which the Mail, Express and so on are in process of developing - the latest ‘threat to children’, which used to be the role of gay men. Overstating the extent of the ‘fashion’ of transgenderism among children, it in effect gives a left spin to this moral panic.

I do not mean by this to endorse uncritically all pro-transgender political claims or to reject uncritically all the concerns of the ‘Terfs’. The fundamental point is that if we are to argue on the basis of transhistorical claims about human nature, we have to be seriously careful with the biology and anthropology which forms the necessary basis of such claims. We also have to be careful about the inference from biology to telos, necessary to arguments of the sort comrade Dunn makes on this issue. His argument is not careful - and again, by arguing carelessly on this front, he undermines his valid claims.

Atwood

Comrade Dunn’s starting point is Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian classic, The handmaid’s tale, which has become recently ‘relevant’ thanks to being televised. Quoting the one of the rulers of the dystopia - ‘Gilead’ - against the sexualisation of women in the old regime, Dunn goes on: “Presumably Atwood was writing this in response to the fact that the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s had turned sour.”

A quick consultation of Wikipedia’s entry on the book might have reminded comrade Dunn of the immediate context. In 1985 it was already the case that in the US the Christianist ‘Moral Majority’ was advancing such arguments - appropriating the feminist anti-sexualisation arguments which had first hit headlines with the 1968 protests against the ‘Miss America’ beauty contest. Further, radical feminists Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon had drafted an anti-pornography ordinance, which argued for the prohibition of porn as a violation of women’s civil rights; and such ordinances had by 1985 been passed in several cities - with the backing of Moral Majority supporters.2 1985 was around the middle of the battles in the courts over this proposal, and also of the ‘feminist sex wars’ between opposed sections of the women’s movement which arose from this and related political issues.

Comrade Dunn goes on to say:

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and Atwood got it wrong. The handmaid’s tale is a lament for the lost hopes of the sexual revolution. But the reasons why it failed are much more complex. As it turned out, the rise of political correctness was the result of developments within the secular sphere, not the religious one.

Atwood would only have “got it wrong” if her dystopia was intended as an actual prediction of US politics in the early 21st century. It was, of course, intended as something else: as an imagination of what an American fascism might look like, unjustifiably abstracting from the race question (as black commentators pointed out), and as a satire by dystopian caricature of the Moral Majority’s ideas about the position of women in society.

Atwood is surely right, not wrong, that an American fascism, if it comes, would appeal to American nationalism and Christianism, not to the Nazi appropriation of German romantic iconography and so on. Hence serious far-rightist Steve Bannon’s (surely correct) characterisation of the Charlottesville rightwing protestors as “losers” and “a collection of clowns”. The Moral Majority and its successors (Christian Coalition and so on) have played a fundamental role in the rightwards ratchet of US politics, and have become more extreme as time has gone on. The Tea Party appeal to the American revolutionary past in order to mobilise small-town petty-bourgeois enragés after the 2008 crash and bank bailouts has faded away, but anti-liberal gender politics played a significant role in Trump’s victory - his vice-president, Mike Pence, is self-identified as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”.

1968 and Stalinism

Comrade Dunn’s argument for what happened other than the US religious right is about 1968 and Stalinism:

The defeat of the May events [in France] in 1968 had an adverse effect on the intelligentsia. Marxism fell out of favour and was replaced by something called poststructuralism, which ultimately led to the notion that ‘Men are the problem’ (not capitalism). Out of this came today’s political correctness.

And, a little later:

At a theoretical level, this is linked to the ideas of poststructuralism - the ‘logics of disintegration’ which arose in the 1970s and 80s. But without the poisonous legacy of Stalinism - in particular the defeat of 1968 - there would be no poststructuralism; without the latter, there would be no political correctness in its present form!

Stalinism, in the form of American ‘soft Maoism’, was certainly responsible for ‘political correctness’. The term came, as a self-satirising expression, from this milieu, before it was picked up by American and later British rightwing journos and their tame academics to damn left and liberal agitations about racial and gender equality, and so on.3 Stalinism was also responsible for ‘poststructuralism’ and related ideologies. But the route was not demoralisation after the defeat of May 68 in France.

In the first place, comrade Dunn might be arguing that the French working class would have taken power but for the counterrevolutionary intervention of the Parti Communiste Français (by making a deal with the Gaullists to end the strikes). If so, the revolution might well have spread across Europe and beyond - after all, there was the ‘creeping May’ in Italy, and the big workers’ struggles in Britain in the early 1970s, and so on. And, if so, ‘poststructuralism’ and all the rest of it would have been marginalised by the triumphant French working class leadership of Europe.

But this is plain spontaneism - or anarcho-syndicalism - and actually even more unrealistic than Atwood’s Gilead imagined as a real attempt to predict the early 21st century. To take power, the working class needs a mass party and to imagine in 1968 that the PCF was such a party - after its conduct in the 1930s and again between 1945 and 1958 - would be ludicrous. On the other hand, the small groups to the PCF’s left (Trotskyist, Maoist, anarchist, and so on), some of which did aim for workers’ power, were plainly incapable of leading broad masses.

The most optimistic line about May 68 offered was that of Daniel Bensaïd’s and Henri Weber’s Mai 68: une répétition générale (‘May 68: a dress rehearsal’), which saw les événements as analogous to the Russian Revolution of 1905: ie, as something that would enable the creation of a mass revolutionary party in the ensuing period. It did not work out like that. I suggested back in 2013 some reasons why not, and I do not propose to repeat those arguments here.4

Suppose we forget the idea that May 68 could plausibly have issued in immediate victory. It might nonetheless be true that ‘poststructuralism’, ‘political correctness’ and so on issued from demoralisation in the wake of its defeat. The problem, however, is that the chronology does not work. Zhou Enlai famously said of the impact of the French Revolution, in conversation with Richard Nixon, that “it’s too soon to tell”. At first this was thought to have been a reference to 1789 and the Chinese taking a very long view of history, but many now believe Zhou was actually referring to May 68. And of that, as of 1972, it really was too soon to tell. The Heath government was defeated by the miners’ strike in January-February 1972, by the ‘Pentonville 5’ dockers’ campaign in July that year, and fell to a second miners’ strike in 1974. That was also the year of the outbreak of the Portuguese revolution. Saigon fell on April 30 1975. And so on, and so on. Serious demoralisation of the radical left did not set in until the late 1970s.

Meanwhile, ‘poststructuralism’ had as its starting point ‘structuralism’, based ultimately on Claude Levi-Strauss’s critique of materialism,5 but beginning on the left with Louis Althusser’s 1965 works, For Marx and Reading Capital, and Lenin and Philosophy in 1968 (translated into English in 1969, 1970 and 1971 respectively). In a sense, ‘poststructuralism’ and all the rest build on the work of Michel Foucault, starting with Madness and civilization (1961) and The order of things (1966). Other authors the school relies on - Freudian Jacques Lacan, philosopher Jacques Derrida and so on - were all already actively publishing against ‘orthodox’, ‘humanist’ or ‘historicist’ Marxism in the 1960s.

‘Identity politics’, ‘political correctness’ and ‘second-wave feminism’ all originated in the ‘soft Maoist’ left in the United States, which grew out of the black civil rights and the anti-Vietnam war movements. Radical feminism - the claim that gender oppression underlies class and is more structurally fundamental - began with Kate Millet’s Sexual politics and Shulamith Firestone’s Dialectic of sex, both published in 1970.

We are again talking about a late 1960s and early 1970s development. The point at which the political contradictions of the ‘identity politics’ approach and ‘consciousness-raising’ began to overwhelm the movements and drive into fragmentation was, again, in the later 1970s.

The movement into identity politics, as opposed to class politics, thus began contemporaneously with May 68, well before it could be seen to have been a defeat rather than a dress rehearsal. The development of the ‘structuralist’ critique of ‘humanist’ Marxism was even earlier. The demoralisation amongst the late 60s/70s left, in contrast, was much later, and what drove it was not defeat in 1968, but ‘stagflation’, plus the open turn of China to a pro-US political alignment in geopolitics, the failure of left strategies in Portugal, and so on.

There are, indeed, connections with Stalinism. But they are actually more direct than demoralisation resulting from defeat in 1968. The French ‘structuralist’ and ‘poststructuralist’ writing in the 1960s, which got into English-language circulation from around 1970, came from authors who were either in the PCF, in its periphery or connected with French Maoism. They wanted to offer a critique of the PCF’s right wing, and of people who criticised the PCF from the right in the name of ‘humanism’ - but without falling into the supposed errors of ‘Trotskyism’.

The people who became enthusiasts for this stuff in the Anglophone world in the 1970s were certainly on the left in the immediate wake of 1968. But they were on the road, more or less rapidly, to Eurocommunism and the critique of Marxist ‘dinosaurs’ and ‘old-fashioned’ trade union militancy.

The ‘liberation’ conceptions which started to emerge in the US civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements were an adaptation of Maoist ideas of how to implement the people’s front conception of the 1935 7th Congress of the Comintern. It could only be argued with difficulty that there was a progressive ‘national bourgeoisie’ or ‘democratic bourgeoisie’ in the US or UK, though the attempt was made. There was certainly no significant peasantry living under pre-capitalist relations of production in either country.

The argument for subordinating the interests of the working class as a class to those of some independent class ally needed additional help; and the idea that the ‘black liberation movement’, ‘women’s liberation movement’ and so on were analogues of the peasant or national movement served this role. Theorising these issues as theoretically autonomous from class politics served the people’s frontist projects. It has continued to do so in the US Communist Party’s support for Clinton against Sanders in 2016.

Again, I have written on this issue in this paper before, and so has comrade Yassamine Mather, and I will not repeat the points further here.6

Waves of feminism

Comrade Dunn says that “identity politics, as a new political form, becomes the ‘perfect’ vehicle for movements such as second- and third-wave feminism, Black Lives Matter, etc, although this form is now being undermined by the rise of intersectionality”. And: “The negation of the negation leaves the struggle worse off than it was before: first-wave feminism (aka socialist feminism) grew out of the revolutionary movement that sprang up during the Vietnam war in the 60s and 70s.”

He continues:

Second-wave feminism emerged as a negative response to this failure, reinforced by the fact that, due to the continuation of sexist behaviour among men, the sexual revolution had turned sour. Thus second-wave feminists decided that ‘men are the problem’ after all; hence women can do without them sexually. (Camille Paglia personifies this trend.)

Capital-L Libertarian academic provocateur Camille Paglia should certainly not be put in this company. Presumably comrade Dunn is influenced by her 1990 book Sexual personae, which had some aspects that could be drawn on by ‘gender fluidity’ theorists. But Paglia in fact makes criticisms of ‘poststructuralism’ and of ‘transgenderism’ along lines very similar to comrade Dunn’s - if from a Libertarian (and imperialist culture-warrior) angle rather than a Marxist one.7

More generally: the standard usage of ‘waves’ of feminism sees first-wave feminism in the legal equality and suffrage campaigners of the late 19th and early 20th century; second-wave feminism means the ‘women’s liberation movement’ of the late 1960s-1970s; and third wave refers to the 1990s/early 2000s. There has even been a suggestion that there is a ‘fourth wave’, emerging from 2008 or thereabouts.8 Comrade Dunn’s usage is thus very muddled.

Leaving aside this confusion, there are two problems with this terminology of ‘waves’ of feminism. The first is that it constructs a teleology (in the bad sense), in which each ‘wave’ is better than its predecessor. The second is that it - probably intentionally - effaces both political differences among feminists and continuities with non-feminist political ideas. Comrade Dunn’s confused chronology precisely illustrates the point. His argument misses out that that ‘radical feminism’ began around 1970. It confuses ‘second wave’ and third wave’. And it confuses late 60s-70s ‘Marxist feminism’ (arguing that the oppression of women is grounded in the same developments as class society) with 1980s and later Eurocommunist ‘socialist feminism’ (arguing that there are “dual systems” of class, on the one hand, demanding a workers’ trade union and socialist movement; and patriarchy, on the other hand, demanding a women’s feminist movement). This is understandable, given that most of the Trots came to tail the Euros on this front, but severely problematic.

Equally, the ‘first-wave feminists’ were sharply divided between ‘bourgeois feminists’, meaning liberals, and socialist women’s equality/rights campaigners. Calling them the ‘first wave’ ignores the connections between the ‘bourgeois feminists’ of this ‘wave’ and the ‘Whig feminism’ and French revolutionary feminism of the 18th century, downplaying the people involved to a few individuals.9 Conservative feminism - like that of Hannah More around 1800, of feminist purity campaigners in late 19th and early 20th century - also gets erased. With this erasure, conservative appropriation of feminist arguments, like that satirised by Atwood (but equally, young women’s Islamism), becomes hard to understand.

These forms of flattening differences among feminist politics, and dissociating ‘second-wave’ and ‘third-wave’ feminism from its pre-1880s Whig and Liberal antecedents, serve the people’s frontist and intersectionalist agenda by imagining a single feminist movement not divided by politics.

Transgenderism

Comrade Dunn’s discussion of the transgender issue is, to be blunt, seriously underdeveloped. He says:

The problem with political correctness is that it has an unstable foundation. Given the ‘logics of disintegration’, in both theory and practice, the fight against sexism and racism is based on the notion of the fluidity of forms, whereby ultimately you can become a transgender (for the small minority who undertake full sexual reassignment, this is a long and difficult process, which is irreversible), or you can become a ‘sexless third gender’. The latter is contrary to Marx’s notion of the essence of things, whereby an entity or form is the basis of the characteristics which make it what it is; hence we can talk about how it functions. Similarly poststructuralism’s logic of disintegration produces the notion of the fluidity of the gender form, which aggregates temporarily within identity politics as a political form, in order to represent the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups, only to disintegrate yet again, following the rise of intersectionality.

And:

what we now call the LGBT movement fails to develop a level of consciousness which would allow it to identify with the working class. But it is prevented from doing so by its adherence to poststructuralist theory.

He adds:

In the real world, the working class sticks to the old ways, even though these are distorted by sexual stereotypes. Therefore it does not take kindly to political correctness, associated with the idea of policing what should be a private matter between individuals. Atomised though they may be, the masses stubbornly adhere to the idea of binary opposites within nature or the biological basis of human sexuality. This does not mean that men should not adopt feminine roles within sex and vice versa, although the principle of binary opposites still holds (even within LGBT relationships). On the other hand, as I have shown, the idea of fluidity of gender forms sprang from the intelligentsia - ie, poststructuralism - with the broad support of the middle classes. Hence the biological basis of sex is denied: everything, including sexuality, is a ‘social construct’! Yet without advances in medical technology, this would not be possible. For most trans people, this is also a lifestyle choice, despite the fact that a high proportion of them suffer from physical and psychological side effects.

And so on.

The paradox of these arguments is that in their present form they are simultaneously biological-determinist and idealist. It is biological-determinist when we are told: “Atomised though they may be, the masses stubbornly adhere to the idea of binary opposites within nature or the biological basis of human sexuality.” It is idealist when we are told: “what we now call the LGBT movement fails to develop a level of consciousness which would allow it to identify with the working class. But it is prevented from doing so by its adherence to poststructuralist theory.”

The second of these points is much easier to deal with. Marxist class politics is right because the proletariat, through its separation from the means of production, is driven to cooperate in trade unions, cooperatives, strikes and collectivist political parties. In contrast, women as such, black and ethnic minority people as such, LGBT people as such, and so on, are divided by class and hence by politics in ways which tend to fragment their movements. Hence, when the working class goes on the offensive, it will in practice draw in behind its collectivist project the various oppressed. This is why the late 1960s-70s women’s liberation movement, emerging in the context of a powerful offensive of the working class, had a leftwing character.

It is also why - contrary to comrade Dunn’s claims - the miners’ Great Strike of 1984-85 produced Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners -identification with the working class - and with it a reversal of the traditional manual unions’ opposition to lesbian and gay rights resolutions in the unions and in the Labour Party.

The defeats of the class movement have promoted poststructuralism and so on; these ideas have been extensively influential because they served Eurocommunist projects, and behind them the interests of the capitalist class - and the strategic turn of the US state to anti-discrimination and formal liberalism after its defeat in Vietnam. The actual poststructuralist, etc ideas are secondary.

One consequence of 1984-85 is that, as far as LGB is concerned, it is simply not true that “the working class sticks to the old ways, even though these are distorted by sexual stereotypes. Therefore it does not take kindly to political correctness.” Prejudice there no doubt still is. But the real mass conservatism on these issues is largely gone, among people below their 70s.

The biological-determinist argument is trickier. In the first place, it is necessary to note that the biology is a good deal less clear than comrade Dunn makes it. The physical intersex ‘biological defects’ comrade Dunn mentions in note 1 as being “less than 0.01% the population” have been variably calculated, and comrade Dunn’s figure is for those who are visibly not assignable to either gender at birth - not for those who are affected by one or another variety of intersex genetics, for which the figure is nearer to 1.7%.10

This is not directly relevant to ‘transgenderism’. It is so relevant only because comrade Dunn in effect attempts to build an Aristotelian teleological argument on the basis of the biology. The imperfect consistency of the production of biological gender in nature casts doubt on the force of such an argument.

Further, the gender binary argument has to be - and in comrade Dunn’s argument explicitly is - a claim about homosexual behaviour, as well as about transgenderism. In this context it is obvious rubbish (not all sexual conduct is penetrative in ways which could be argued to amount to a simulation of the biological gender binary). But, leaving that aside, it means that comrade Dunn’s argument also should engage, but ignores, the copious biological evidence for homosexual behaviour among animals, collected in Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological exuberance (New York 1998).

Getting closer to transgenderism as such, if the existence of forms of transgendered behaviours (etc) is to be considered as contrary to the human nature which we seek to emancipate, it is surprising that such forms should be found extensively in the anthropological evidence - ‘berdaches’ or ‘two-spirit people’ among native Americans, and analogous phenomena elsewhere; as well as, associated with religious practice, in classical antiquity (Galli priests of Cybele) and modern South Asia (Hijras). And there are various other examples.

My point here is not to support ‘gender-fluidity’ claims, or the claim that ‘gender has no biological basis’. The problem is that comrade Dunn’s argument is, explicitly, an argument from human nature; and the human nature which is to be the starting point has to be the human nature found in the biological evidence (Bagemihl) and the anthropological, historical and sociological evidence - thus to include ‘berdaches’ etc, Galli, Hijras, etc.

Thirdly and most fundamentally, the teleological argument from human nature (or from biological evolution), while in itself not necessarily invalid, has to be used with considerable caution. Our biological natures are heavily modified by tech. For example, I have myself worn spectacles to correct my eyesight since the age of seven, and would not have lived to my present age without the use of antibiotics. These are trivial compared to the tech used by people who need artificial limbs, or whatever.

Closer to sex, women routinely use mechanical or hormonal technology to prevent conception; it is necessary to society that they should do so, because the massive fall in infant mortality would otherwise require routine infanticide (as practised in classical antiquity) or result in severe overpopulation and widespread starvation. But it carries the implication that any argument for the naturalness of the gender binary in terms of its reproductive function - a variety of argument which Marx and Engels did in places make - could not be defended at any point from the later 20th century, due to the development of the forces of production.

Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers. There are aspects of our nature that are products of this evolution, which we need to emancipate: our social character, and our relative egalitarianism (compared to common chimps, etc). But at the same time, our hands may as legitimately be used for making music or art or writing articles as for hunting or gathering (for most of us, long since replaced by other jobs).

Similarly, we have sexual capacities (capacities for arousal, and so on), which can be and are used for reproductive purposes; but they can be and also are used for purposes of social solidarity and of mere enjoyment.

The problem with comrade Dunn’s argument about transgender is thus that it is theoretical overkill on a radically underdeveloped empirical foundation. And it is then introduced into a political moment at which the Conservative press is making this the latest ‘PC scandal’. That is a very bad idea.

mike.macnair@weeklyworker.co.uk

Notes

1.‘Majority of white Americans say they believe whites face discrimination’: www.npr.org/2017/10/24/559604836/majority-of-white-americans-think-theyre-discriminated-against.

2. Wikipedia’s ‘Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance’ provides a convenient if very limited summary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipornography_Civil_Rights_Ordinance.

3. References can be found in Wikipedia’s ‘Political correctness’ under the subheads, ‘Early-to-mid 20th century’ and ‘1970s’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness.

4. ‘Lessons of May 68’ Weekly Worker June 6 2013. See also my review of B’s memoir, ‘Daniel Bensaïd: Repeated disappointments’ Weekly Worker July 31 2014.

5. Simon Clarke’s Foundations of structuralism (1983) is available at https://files.warwick.ac.uk/simonclarke/files/pubs/FoundationsofStructuralism.pdf - or for 99p for the Amazon Kindle. Very much worth reading on this front.

6. M Macnair, ‘A useless product of 1970s radicalism’ Weekly Worker April 11 2013; Y Mather, ‘Out of the mainstream, into the revolution’, April 18 2013. Compare also ‘Attempt to outlaw justified anger’ (Weekly Worker October 20 2016) on the popular-frontist character of intersectionality.

7. ‘Paglia poststructuralism’ produces about 11K hits on Google - the first few pages mostly of soundbites and interviews. There is slightly more substance in her review essay, ‘Scholars in bondage’ (Chronicle of Higher Education May 20 2013). On ‘transgenderism’ see, for example, the interview, ‘Camille Paglia: On Trump, Democrats, transgenderism and Islamist terror’ Weekly Standard June 15 2017: www.weeklystandard.com/camille-paglia-on-trump-democrats-transgenderism-and-islamist-terror/article/2008464.

8. M Rampton, ‘Four waves of feminism’: www.pacificu.edu/about/media/four-waves-feminism.

9. See, for example, K O’Brien Women and enlightenment in eighteenth-century Britain Cambridge 2009, chapter 1: ‘Anglican Whig feminism in England, 1690-1760’; also C Desan The family on trial in revolutionary France Berkeley 2004.