Reviews|||

Excluded by Julia Serano

19th Nov 2013

★★★
Excluded
The author of Whipping Girl is back, with a book challenging the hierarchies of the LGBTQIA+ movement, and calling for a more holistic approach to feminism...

From Julia Serano, the author of Whipping Girl: A Transexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive explores the oft neglected issue of marginalisation within LGBTQIA+ movements.

Biologist, activist and trans woman Julia Serano argues that whilst these groups come together to fight sexism they also can be found to police gender and sexuality much like the hetronormative, male-centric mainstream that they seek to change.

Serano argues that whilst these groups come together to fight sexism they also can be found to police gender and sexuality much like the hetronormative, male-centric mainstream that they seek to change.Serano sheds light on the hierarchies that often characterise LGBTQIA+ movements, where feminists condemn certain forms of gender expression or sexuality with the offenders considered outsiders or complicit with the enemy. Picking this exclusion apart she examines what drives the “ingroup”/ ”outgroup” behaviour in these communities.

By way of solution, Julia Serano posits a “holistic approach to feminism” that challenges the “fixed views” that tend to prevail in queer movements. In this way she hopes to subvert the dogmatism that she and many others encounter in a space in which they would hope to find inclusion.

She hopes to do this through an approach that takes into account the wild variance of life contexts that shape gender identities, focusing more on challenging “gender entitlement” – where one projects their views of gender or sexuality on those around them.

In this vein Serano also rejects the nature versus nurture debate which so central to feminist discourse, arguing instead that it is a nexus of biology, culture environment which creates diversity in expressions of gender and sexuality.

Excluded is written with utmost care, delicacy and specificity, inevitable and integral when discussing issues that are so loaded in terms of language and terminology. However, as a reader, this can also be intensely fatiguing.

Ironically,  the very dense style of Excluded makes it quite an exclusive text to consume. This is unfortunate as the central tenets of the book are incredibly useful for tackling all manner of societal marginalisations.

Whilst Julia Serano largely draws on her own experiences when arguing a case for a purportedly new “holistic approach to feminism,” the lack of reference to her precursors in writing on intersectionality, namely in black feminism, is a curious omission. Such connections could only have strengthened the arguments presented in Excluded.