non-identity is crappy, many feminisms, and 'women of color' is a cyborg

This sort of a collective response to ideas brought up by Bumpkins, CA92075, morefuntocompute, and snaggle regarding identity of the female, appropriation of negation, and the role of the avant-garde therein.

Bumpkins first wondered how an identity cannot exist, how Haraway could be arguing that female identity is absent. My reading of Haraway was that she was, in fact, problematizing the logic of this sort of feminism, the feminism that focuses on the normalized narratives of power that function to 'construct' and define 'woman' - with input from women themselves. She argues that the ways MacKinnon and others have organized the logic of their feminism implicitly take agency out of the experience of womanhood by claiming the woman's definition of herself has NEVER had any power into the formation of her historical identity. Haraway's points to this by highlighting the ways Marxist feminism takes the Marxist emphasis on 'product' over 'labor' into a discussion of labor in the household (p. 159). In Haraway's critique, this situates gender in the structure of class. What this means for 'identity' is that, by this logic, womenhood is located in the terms of what is desired of them - their production, their bodies, etc. In this sense, states Haraway, this sort of organization solidifies the non-existence of AGENCY in the feminist narrative.

Bumpkins then asked about consensus amongst feminists and disconnection between his female friends and feminist logic. Here I would first point out that not all women necessarily define themselves as feminists (MANY do not) and thus their self-articulations may very well look different that Haraway's claims. And moreover, as Haraway argues, 'feminism' is hardly a united census-bound ideological framework. It is the very complexity and disagreement within this political identity that Haraway points to as a motivating DEMAND for a more complex system of identification and social categorization (hence, the cyborg).

CA92075 expressed confusion regarding the conversation about the phrase 'women of color'. From my reading, Haraway did a superb job of locating this political rhetorical shift as exemplary of just the sort of affinity group for which she is hailing. You said "It seems that a lot of things Haraway argues about is based on what things are not." The idea behind the "conscious appropriation of negation" is that people are uniting around their DISCONNECTION to normalized social categories (for example). To review Haraway's summary: the category 'women' is historically connoted as 'white,' the category 'black'* is historically connoted as 'male' - so where do black women lie in this historical social conceptualization? 'Women of color' gives space for partial identification, and establishes the center of this identity not around some other historical norm.

Briefly in response to morefuntocompute and snaggle's questions about the potential of the avant-garde: Given Haraway's call for a refocusing of political identities, I imagine she would argue that the avant-garde is something that we should abandon. It has very much been coopted, as Huyssen claims, back into the institution - to which it was originally formulated as a counter-attack. Haraway's cyborg identity has inherently been informed dialectically by the politics of the avant-garde, but there is no need to explicitly connect and expand on this work. Instead, we must imagine new modes of creating resistance around affinity versus existing institutional might.

*I find it problematic that Haraway employs only white/black dichotomies in her discussion of race. This seems to work against her argument for a reconceptualization of social categories since this is the historical norm for discourses around race. It does NOTHING to break apart the marginalization of ohter peoples of color, and decentralize whiteness in race discourse.