Letter from the editor

Gender politics in theory & practice

Planning and producing the gender issue each year has to be one of the most challenging and most enjoyable parts of my job. Of course, Briarpatch always seeks to connect theory and practice in its coverage, but in my experience, there is no issue that is at once so theoretical and so practical, so simultaneously personal and political, as gender. Grappling with that complexity is what I find so challenging and so enjoyable.

In spite of significant advances in recent decades, gender and sexual orientation continue to constrain our choices, our daily interactions and our deepest desires. But precisely how they do so, and what we can do to keep gender from being a tool of differentiation and control, can sometimes be difficult to articulate. By seeking to make the power dynamics of gender more visible, this issue explores a few of the ways in which fundamentalist notions of gender and sexuality in a patriarchal society hurt us all. It also offers a few ideas for how readers can work for gender liberation (which, of course, cannot be entirely separated from other liberation struggles) in their relationships, their parenting choices, and their political activism.

By grounding our analysis in a revolutionary feminist approach that seeks to involve people from all across the gender spectrum in this discussion, we are challenging all of our readers to take responsibility for educating themselves on these issues. Gender equity, we must remember, is not a zero-sum game of men versus women, and working to promote women’s rights should not be seen as a threat to men’s basic rights (something men who resent having their privilege challenged are quick to assert). Rather, as Carl Sandborn (p. 22) and Becky Ellis (p. 4) both suggest, rejecting patriarchy in favour of a system in which gender and sexual orientation do not dictate our choices or our experiences can liberate all of us from the harmful effects of that brutal and outmoded division of human potential known as patriarchy.

True to form, we don’t shy away from controversy or from pushing our readers’ boundaries in this issue. If you disagree with something you read, or if you’ve got something to contribute to the discussion, write to us. We love to hear from you.

Finally, if you’re looking for an excuse to procrastinate from filing your taxes for a few more weeks, then stay tuned for our “money and debt” issue, which, among other things, examines the options for conscientious objection to military taxation in Canada.

In the meantime, happy gender bending!

Dave Oswald Mitchell is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher. He co-edited the book Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution (OR Books, 2012) and edited Briarpatch Magazine from 2005 to 2010.

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