Perfect Enemies: Anti-Genderism, Racism and the Threat of Abstractness

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2023 Number 109

Perfect Enemies: Anti-Genderism, Racism and the Threat of Abstractness
Jana Cattien pages 91-109
DOI: 10.3898/NEWF:109.07.2023


Abstract: In this paper, I conceptualise the psychic lives of anti-genderism, in both their continuities and their discontinuities with racism and anti-Semitism. At first glance, it is clear that anti-genderism, racism and anti-Semitism fulfil similar psychic needs: providing an ‘Other’ who can pose as obstacle to the fantasy of perfect enjoyment. The presence of this obstacle shields the white nationalist psyche from having to confront the impossibility of what it wants – an unalienated relationship with the German language and nation – and allows it to focus, instead, on the ‘Other’ that allegedly stands in the way of its desire. But the ‘gender’ in anti-genderism is also more than a useful obstacle to perfect enjoyment. It is a ‘perfect enemy’: an enemy who does not have a tangible material presence and can therefore signify entirely at the subject’s command. By constructing a ‘perfect enemy’, I argue, anti-genderism paves the way for the emergence of a new kind of racialised ‘Other’. This ‘Other’ is threatening not in the first instance because of their racialised embodiment, but because they can only appear in abstract, disembodied form. 

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To cite this article
Jana Cattien (2023) Perfect Enemies: Anti-Genderism, Racism and the Threat of Abstractness, New Formations, 2023(109), 91-109.

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