Title: Passionate Politics. Resistance to Heteronormative Gender Power
Written in Swedish, summary in English, 350 pages.
Author: Cathrin Wasshede
Doctoral Dissertation at the Department of Sociology, University of Gothenburg,
Box 720, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
This thesis analyses resistance to heteronormative gender power in order to explore both the possibilities and limits of this kind of resistance. Through a case study of young left-wing political activists in Gothenburg – a group of people that are supposed to offer an intense and well-articulated feminist resistance to dominating norms around gender and sexuality – the relation between power and resistance is brought into focus. The empirical materials drawn upon consist of interviews and focus group interviews with 36 activists in Gothenburg and documentation from part of the movement culture. Theoretically, resistance is seen as part of and depending on power, and vice versa. Through the activists’ strategies and attempts to resist the heteronormative gender power this very power structure is made visible. The alternative spaces produced are not free from power relations. In fact, they involve both traces of the heteronormative gender order, which they oppose, and new norms - so called counter-norms, and limits. Change and stability co-exist.
One important resistance strategy is to oppose subjectivation, either by counter-identification or by disidentification. Among the activists it is common to be very critical of the gender dichotomy and in different ways they seek to escape from it or eliminate it. Because of the penalties – often in the form of abjection – imposed on people who break norms around gender and sexuality in a way that disturbes the heteronormative gender order, even many of the activists tend to pay attention to the limits for their transgression and make sure that they are on the ”right” side, that they have so-called hetero protection. Those who challenge the boundaries between different identity categories or between the normal/intelligible and the abnormal/unintelligible are performing limit experience and are actively using the abject position to offer resistance.
Contradictions, emanating from opposing discourses trying to win superiority, are transformed into ambivalences, in the sense that the activists not only endure ambivalences, but that they also produce and use ambivalences as part of their resistance. The main ambivalence is the awareness of the possible in doing resistance and the impossible in leaving the structures and discourses behind. Through their passionate politics the activists both change and reinforce the heteronormative gender power.
Keywords: gender, sexuality, heteronormativity, resistance strategies, social movement culture, subjectivation, intergendered, intersectionality, abject/abjectifying, passionate politics, gender equality discourse, Sweden||en