artwork by DANIEL LEZAMA
all artwork courtesy of galería hilario galguera
gore capitalism, necro-masculinity, and transfeminisms in contemporary mexico
What kind of subjects and practices does the machista reinterpretation of bloody neoliberalism create? What are its most evident social consequences in Mexico? And how can transfeminism redirect and propose other models for the creation of subjects that are not related to the dystopia of gore capitalism, gender violence, or necro-masculinity?
Gore capitalism in Mexico is explicit and unjustified bloodshed (as a price to pay for a Third World that clings to following the logic of capitalism as a form of legitimacy and progress); it is also the very high percentage of viscera and dismemberments frequently combined with organized crime, gender binarism, and predatory uses of bodies. These are reified through the most radical type of violence as a tool of necro-empowerment and machista reaffirmation. As Carlos Monsiváis affirmed in the 1990s, “A macho is a subject who only has one resource left to make himself notice indifference before one’s own death or the pain of others.” 1
Thus, exacerbated machismo unfolds in Mexico as a form of necro-political economy on subaltern bodies and is supported by the state. It has become a dystopian assemblage embodied by endriago subjects.
The term “endriago” migrates to our transfeminist taxonomy from medieval literature, specifically from the book Amadís de Gaula. The endriago is a medieval literary character, a cross between man, hydra, and dragon — that is to say, a monster. He is one of the enemies that Amadís de Gaula must face. Its fierceness is such that the island it inhabits is presented as an uninhabited place, a kind of earthly hell that can only be accessed by knights whose heroism haunts the limits of madness. The description of the island resembles contemporary border zones.
In addition to the characteristics attributed to the literary character, contemporary endriago subjects have other specific and contextual characteristics: they arise in post-Fordism, they are a consequence of the reconfiguration of the concept of work, and they evidence/embody the link between precariousness — at multiple levels — and factual, economic, and symbolic violence.
Thus, the daily context of these subjects is “the very real juxtaposition of the proliferation of goods and the exclusion of consumption. [They are] contemporar[ies] of the combination of a growing number of needs with a growing lack of almost basic resources for a significant part of the population.” 2 In this way, endriago subjects — as recipients of current economic, gender (male), class, and consumer demands — decide to use violence as a tool for necro-empowerment and acquisition of capital.
With the conceptualization of endriago subjectivity, I seek
to show that the use of physical violence is becoming more and more popular among male populations. In a sense, it is
a tool for rapid enrichment that can address the “devirilization” that hangs over many men, given growing job insecurity and their consequent inability to legitimately establish themselves in their role as male providers. It is also an effective strategy to exorcise the image and condition of victimhood and avoid being read as illegitimate or a minority due to their class or race/ethnicity.
The strengthening of organized and disorganized crime is the most obvious example of “becoming-endriago” in Mexico. Thus, the transformation of current masculinity must be a primary task to address and reflect on in various fields: in institutions (with a radical critique of state machismo), in culture (with nonsexist education), and in the community (with gender practices that overcome prejudices around the female / male binary, to break disjointed and confrontational visions that have been socially granted).
On the other hand, the importance in the deconstruction model of macho masculinity is also clearly linked to another process: that of deconstructing the patriarchal phallogocentrism that directly relates to gore capitalism as a contemporary continuum of colonialism. This must be achieved in such a way that the creation of new discourses on dissident masculinities can add and complement a critical vision of the role of the rogue subjects of gore capitalism.
These dystopian, violent, and ferocious subjects can be read as the embodiment of a masculinity obedient to the demands of the masculine gender and as an update in extremis of colonial logic, which “has identified colonized men with the body and defined them as violent and stupid, while the men of the elites were considered intelligent and morally virtuous. […] Thus, the images of masculinity were interwoven with the creation of racial hierarchies that still persist” 3 and are recreated in a model of masculinity that is authoritarian, aggressive, heterosexual, “brave” with bodies capable of violating. It is this model of masculinity, which is more accepted than others, that the endriago subject seeks to embrace.
This model of violent masculinity enmeshed with the state is not an isolated case in Mexico. Rather, it is the production and reproduction of certain gender traits that are repeated in all countries and are related to national identity — creating, in Connell’s words, “a world gender order” that can be defined as “the structure of relationships that, on a world scale, connects the gender regimes of the institutions with gender orders of local societies.” 4 This gender order is the result of a global society; through cultural devices and gender technologies, 5 it distributes aspirational ideals of both masculinity and femininity that standardize everyone — ideals that are consumed by local societies with regional and cultural variations.
However, even though endriago subjects are the armed branch of institutional machismo, it is necessary to clarify that necro-masculinity in Mexico is not limited to criminal circles. Currently, this is evidenced by the growing wave of femicides in the country (to date, there are an average of 11 femicides a day); they are committed by men who are not part of organized crime but who enjoy gender legitimacy and patriarchal impunity to carry out their work of death in pursuit of an individual affirmation.
For this reason, it is necessary that the deconstruction of Masculinity and the creation of a plural of it are based on transfeminist perspectives and activism, understanding it not only as a social movement of and for women, but also as an epistemological category for understanding and the creation of new assemblages (beyond the genres, but without making their struggles invisible) that are not dystopian. 6
In this sense, the transfeminist movement presents a critical possibility to create alliances that are not anchored in dichotomous and hierarchical gender assumptions — such as what trans-exclusionist feminism is doing. Rather, transfeminism, in its very inclusivity, has the possibility to construct new intersubjective alliances. And, to avoid essentialisms, transfeminisms must be mindful of what we know about genders — and of the fact that we often tend to fall into the solipsistic temptation to construct the identity of the other from clichés and stereotypes that, despite having a real basis, contain the danger of being incomplete or stem from projections of one’s own
The work of defending an immovable identity diverts us from finding the perverse intersections between capitalism and biopolitics, which have historically managed the bodies of populations through the invention and defense of political fictions based on bodily essentialisms such as race, gender, heterosexual sexuality, and bodily integrity — modeling and legitimizing subjects according to the (re)productive needs of the prevailing economic system.
It is extremely important to note that men, when deconstructing and reinventing themselves, seek spaces for themselves, outside the limits set by heteropatriarchy and violence as a tool for virile self-assertion. In this regard, it would be desirable for contemporary masculinities to be able to disobey and defraud patriarchy by giving up their gender dividends.
Some practical patriarchy scams are, on the one hand, the exercise of an active paternity in the care of children and education. These defrauding strategies deactivate, from the space of individual agency, the gender mandates that have confined the relationships between fathers and children to an emotionally precarious and physically distanced relationship.
On the other hand, there is the implementation of a nonsexist (re)education model that is developed from the children’s early years and that dissociates gender assumptions that are based on asymmetry. These scams give space for children to build their positions of gender in a more liberating, autonomous, fluid, less hierarchical way, and, above all, educate them to claim their right to be different and their right to embrace difference.
It is also necessary to destigmatize the behavior models of LGTTTBIQ 7 groups and review the achievements in the reinvention of the subjectivity that the queer/cuir movements have provided and that can provide an intersectional re-reading of subjectivities. It is important to recognize that the practices of queer/cuir movements have been public, peaceful, and effective in their resistance since their claims are not anchored only in sexual preferences or in a biological essentialism because they deny all essence as reactionary and oppressive.
These resistances illustrate that they are aware that “innumerable minorization processes are going through society” 8 but also that these, in turn, go through society, making biopolitics a reversible process, and that disobedience and ungovernability can manifest themselves from the ways least considered by social legitimacy — especially in the face of physical violence and the recalcitrant oppression used by the hetero-patriarchal, hegemonic, and conservative system, currently represented by gore capitalism.
Thus, the transfeminist model represents a deconstruction of heteropatriarchal-sexist thinking, as it is the result of intersectional struggles and reflections. A break and, at the same time, a continuum with the feminist tradition, which supposes a performative turn in the interpretation of identity.
Of course, it is not a panacea, but it gives us points of reference that there are other interpretations and possibilities for the construction / deconstruction of subjectivity that challenge the rigid structures of genders, sexes, and colonial discourse.
Masculinities in Mexico cannot be understood as new if they detach themselves from transfeminism and queer / cuir movements and if they fail to detach themselves from obedience and the investiture of masculinity as understood by power and hegemonic discourse. That is, the reconfiguration of these new masculinities, as a way of forging non-dystopian subjectivities, must be related to resistance, but from a space that does not link them with the execution of power in a vertical and heteropatriarchal manner; this leads us directly to the problem of rethinking the concept and the exercise of politics under these conditions of becoming queer / cuir that is not limited only to homosexual practices but is “a critical position attentive to the processes of exclusion and marginalization that all identity fiction generates.” 9 It is, therefore, the development of a cuiradanía that rethinks and reactivates assemblages from minority-becoming and decolonial perspective. 10
From transfeminism, we know that the way we understand politics must change and its practice must be rewritten under the variables of minority-becoming that seek possible alliances for the construction of commons 11 and not so much to perpetuate the logic of reconstruction of the social fabric, since this fabric is traversed by terribly reactionary and conservative logics that, if rebuilt, will continue to propagate the same models of interpretation /action regarding gender, sexuality, class, race, and power.
In this space of crisis and generalized violence in Mexico, the proposal from transfeminism is that the assemblage and construction of social relations are no longer understood as the art of governing others through massacre but as the redistribution of strategies of survival to grow what is common.
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