Hello, my name is HIBINO Makoto. At first, I will simply introduce myself,
and I start writing about activism in which I am involved.
I am a queer activist. Simply to say, I come out as "bisexual" and "MtX transgender". About 10 years ago I start action in order to fight against homophobia and heterosexism. Not only in the majority community, but also in the gay (and lesbian) community, to gay (and lesbian) activist, I have been appealed for "bisexual rights".
Before 11 Sept.(not on 1973 in Chile, but on 2001 in USA) gender and sexuality issues were my main field, but after 11 Sept. I again went to the anti-war demonstration. On 2002 I joined the International Solidarity Movement /ISM in Palestine, and I was arrested by Israeli Defence Force while I was staying in Balata refugee camp in West bank. After coming back to Japan, I hold many small report meeting.
Unfortunately, It is often happen that people do not know what "bisexual"
insist of and people are not interested in what "bisexual" says ,even
if they know well about lesbian and gay movement. Truly in many cases, "bisexual"
issue is treated less important than "lesbian & gay" issue.
For example, two pride parade are held in Japan now. One is "Rainbow march in Sapporo", and one is "TOKYO LESBIAN & GAY PARADE." In Kansai area where I live, some lesbian and gay activists try to organize the parade named "Lesbian and Gay Parade."
"Lesbian and Gay Parade" may sound like very good movement for the sexual minorities' rights and to fight against homophobia in the world. But in these days, to represent "us" by the word "lesbian and gay" means to treat those who are not lesbian and gay as a second class citizen in OUR community. This means that lesbian and gay monopolize OUR community. Certainly it is necessary to fight against homophobia, but no people except lesbian and gay in our community shall be put at a disadvantage.
It is common speaking "lesbian and gay are beside of you." Even if no one has already came out, there may be lesbian and gay people everywhere in a class, office, home, and so on. Therefore we should think "lesbian and gay are beside of you." And therefor we claim it unfair that heterosexual people monopolize the place.
In gay bars, lesbian bars, gay magazine, club, circle, parade, and in all places where lesbian and gay are existing, there were, are and will be "bisexual people." In our community there are minority people concerned who do not have lesbian or gay identity. Therefore in every place where lesbian or gay people are, "bisexual" and others should be treated equally.
I have been insisted these opinions mainly to gay activists. But unfortunately they did not accept my opinions enough. So I started to think the reason. Then I found that "bisexual" brings up unique questions which is different kind of questions of lesbian and gay. Of course, at the point of fighting against homophobia, "bisexual" and lesbian and gay movement raises same questions. But this is not enough for "bisexual" existence and the movement.
In this way I have improved my skill for presenting "bisexual" opinions. I made two quiz games below in order to present "bisexual" opinions. They are based on and developed from lesbian and gay movement. Maybe it is first time for you to see this kind of thing, so I hope you enjoy them.
So now and here, let's try 2 quiz games in order to think about "bisexual".
In a viewpoint of love and sex, what kind of people(what conditions of people) do you choose? Please write your own 3 standards/conditions easily.
If you dare to divide human beings into two parts, those who are your type and not, what is your condition? Please illustrate below.
I will explain the quizes here, so I suggest to you to try the quizes by yourself
before you read below.
Excuse me because these quizes are not perfect. These quizes are on the assumption that everyone is interested in love and sex. This assumption takes no notice of A-sexual people(people those who do not have sexual desire).
OK, I ask you one question. Did you write gender/sex condition in your three answers in quizA? When you fall in love with someone, what is the relation between your standards/conditions of choicing people and that one's gender/sex?
I know that many people do not write gender/sex condition when they are asked like quizA. It is because many people behave on the assumption that naturally everyone love the other sex/gender person. But very these behaviors without being oneself's aware builds heterosexism society.
Then, do everyone write gender/sex conditions after thinking above?
There are some people who do not still write gender/sex conditions. Some of these people come out as "bisexual". Such a kind of people who don't think gender/sex conditions as important do not write gender/sex conditions in quizA.
For such "bisexuals", lesbian and gay and heterosexual people looks like the same kind of people. Because for lesbian and gay and heterosexual people, whether man or woman is the most interesting point. One's gender/sex is a special value for them.
When we think about our society from the viewpoint of sexuality, not only heterosexism is the problem. "It is very natural and normal thing that people change one's own attitude because of the other person's gender/sex." We can find this kind of our common consciousness and culture in not only sexism and genderism issue but also in one's sexual orientation.
QuizB makes relations between sexual orientation and gender/sex more clear.
And give us chance to realize the arbitrariness of the "man/woman"
In many cases, in other words in case of lesbian and gay and straight, people write down "man" and "woman" on either side of the partition line, and love people in one side. But if we try to divide humankind into two groups, these all partition lines below should be equal with "man/woman" partition line.
(above picture is forcibly and easily divided into two part)
Everyone can draw one's own partition line when one try to divide humankind
into two groups by basing on one's sexual orientation. So why is "man/woman"
partition line thought as a special important partition line? Is it a right
thing? Is it really necessary to divide people into "man" and "woman"?
"Bisexual" suggest that everyone should ask oneself again about these kind of questions above.
Then thinking in this way, it is possible to say that lesbian and gay's movement and advocacy are accomplice in a crime with the majority's discourse of making hetero sexuality natural. Not only straight people but also lesbian and gay's movement are in the same culture of thinking "man/woman" partition line special important, bothering to divide people into "man" and "woman" and changing one's attitude by the other's gender. They think it natural that people choose only one gender in one's sexual behavior. Different acts from these hide assumptions above, sexual relation and behavior with an unusual gender of person is treated as if it is "exception", "mere one time fancy", "a kind of accident".
Lesbian and gay movement never problemize the attitude itself to divide people into "man" and "woman". They try to get equal rights inside the culture of dividing people into "man" and "woman". In this way they support to make binary gender system stronger.
By thinking like this, is it easy to imagine the reason why "bisexuals"
are treated as second class citizen? Not only in the heterosexism majority society
but also in LG community.
Yes, lesbian and gay are minority in the society by the point of heterosexism. But they are the same as straight people and are majority because they cling to binary gender system.
(Further saying, gay man and bisexual man are majority by the view point of sexism. But now and here I don't talk more about it.)
Unfortunately not a small number of gay activists do not listen to "bisexual" activists, do not receive what "bisexual" pointed out, do not see their privilege as majority. I know many straight people may not give up their privilege, but it was the same as lesbian and gay. I learned that it is difficult for everyone, even if one is minority in a point, to take right action when one is pointed out about one's privilege. This is my experience as "the minority inside the minority."
If people once get power, it can easily happen that they don't listen to others. Thus I learned that this kind of authoritarian way of act isn't the problem of only straight people or man people. Or in some cases, it is more difficult for minorities to understand their own authoritarianism, because of their discriminated experiences.
An authoritarian way of act is already our usual way of act. So new social movement should offer a chance to look back oneself, one's own authoritarianism, one's own way of life. I think that social movement should not be an only simple one like actions based on the common surface benefit.
About 10 years ago, I didn't have gender dysphoria at all. To say in new words,
my gender identity was man without vagueness.
But now, I don't think I am a "man." I come out as this now. I choice "MtX transgender (Male to X-gender)" as my gender identity. This change has happened because I had met many kind of people.
At first I met a fairy in gay community. They are male and man, but behave and speak like woman. It was my first time to talk with such kind of person.
On 1994 there was the 1st Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade. This was the first pride parade in Japan and the new generation of gay movement started around this year. I joined the parade with gay group members. We tried to make up and to dress up. This was very simple and poor dragging, but we chose this in order to say no to the heterosexism world. Seeing from now, we tried to say no to the binary gender system by wearing unusual clothes, different from natural way of clothing. It was part-time and halfway of simple crossdressing, but this experience was very funny for me. Crossdressing was effective for resisting against majority community which forces us to be normal, and gave me release feelings.
To tell the truth, I also found that I felt bad feelings to crossdressed person, including me. I agree that everyone has the right to wear any clothes one likes. But it is also true that I feel wrong when I meet unusual way of dressing people. So why is this? This became my start time to think about my own feelings.
After that I met many people. Especially HAYABUSA-san influenced me very much.
HAYABUSA-san is FtM transsexual and become good friend of me. HAYABUSA-san also
like dressing in female clothes, and HAYABUSA-san advised me to wear many types
of clothes including the skirt. "Why don't you wear this skirt? This may
very fit for you!" Oh, I don't have the special reason not to wear the
skirt. And then I understand that long skirt is very fit for me. My height is
185cm, and therefore if I wear long skirt, it suits me very well. Moreover I
find that the skirt is cool in summer time. Many people know that gender is
not natural, everyone can choice one's own gender. Yes, we know we are able
to choice it freely, but only a few people crossdress in their daily life. Everyone
has the right to wear any type of clothes, and it is easily possible. But almost
all people including me tend to choice 'feminine' or 'masculine' type of clothes
without being aware. By my experience of crossdressing, I have understood these
In other words, by wearing many types of clothes, I find that gender is not substantial thing, gender is like game, I am really able to choice my gender "Which/what gender should I wear today?"
The performance and the culture of drag queens influenced me and my mind. My own drag performing show was like experiencing binary gender system. We can change clothes, if we want. I write about restroom issue. When I wear long skirt, and I go into the men's restroom, everyone feel doubtful about me. HAYABUSA-san's gender identity is man, but he don't pass. So if HAYABUSA-san go into the men's restroom, the atmosphere there becomes tense. But going into women's restroom is very painful for HAYABUSA-san.
Through these experiences I understand that our society is based on a belief and an illusion that human beings can be clearly assorted into 'man' or 'woman'. Our society has an illusion and a belief that sex, gender role, gender identity and the description in legal documents are all the same. Therefore there is no place in our society for those who has disagreement in many kinds of one's sex and genders. They can not feel safe even in any restroom.
My story goes on. What is 'man' at all? What is 'woman'?
After I understand that sex, gender role, gender identity and the description in legal documents are independent vectors, I get confused more. I meet many types of people. A boy wears a skirt. A woman has her own penis as a part of her body. For me 'she' looks like a woman, but he think he himself is a man. There are more and more people I cann't guess. When I hear "I went to see the cinema with my boyfriend yesterday", this boyfriend might have big boobs. In these my reality, what kind of value dose the mark of 'man' 'woman' have?
Also I have learned many types of dressing, gesture, tone. I have changed and I remember the truth that we can learn gender. I get the freedom by stopping to try behaving like man. (Here I write about only genderism, not sexism)
Then finally, someone says "Hibino(it's me) don't looks like a man."
Here I find that my identity is very much influenced by the thought and the treatment by others, by what type of label am I put by others. Before that saying my gender identity was not shaken even though my dressing, gesture and tone had already changed.
But after I learned that no one can definite 'man' clearly, there are many kinds of man, I didn't want to choice to live as a man. Why do I have to maintain my identity as a man against my feelings? By the same reason, I don't want to become a woman. Thus I have gotten and choiced my gender identity as MtX transgender(male to Xgender).
I know many transgendered people have just the opposite gender identity of one's sex. They want to pass, they want to live as a typical man or woman. But fortunately my friends are not so. "I am not a woman" don't have to mean that "I am a man". we don't have to pass, don't have to take operation. It is one's own choice. Such of my friend use the word 'X'. 'X' means those who don't want to be a 'typical man' nor 'typical woman'(or very difficult to pass).
In my daily life in 'binary gender system', I want to refuse to be forced to choice 'man' or 'woman'. (transgender as the third gender)
It is very famous that in the old days of the Republic of South Africa restroom
was divided into for white and for black. Many people think that it is natural
to separate people by the color of skin (it is natural for white people to discriminate
black people). This was a common thought and built political hegemony. But now
we clearly know that this separation between white and black did not happened
because there was the really difference between white and black. It was based
Now I think that the restroom divided into for man and for woman is the symbol of sexism.
Now in our society restroom is divided into for man and for woman, but it is not natural nor normal things. Our society treats woman as a second class citizen. We think it is impossible to stop sexual assault against woman. Sexual assaults is thought unavoidable in our society. These situation makes us feel that this man/woman division is necessary. The separation wall in restroom is the symbol of our these culture above.
It's very common to divide into for man and for woman in case of restroom or public bath. Almost all people never have any dissatisfaction through all life long. We ourselves are so much gendered as that. My friend HAYABUSA-san said to me "I want to destroy the separation wall in the public bath. this is the revolution!". This is not just an example nor extreme example. This opinion is very basic and the lowest level political demanding in the view point of anti sexism movement, anti binary gender system movement. If we find the restroom divided into for white and for black now, we may be embarrassed, and we may say to the owner "why is this?" Then do we get angry and say "why?" to the owner in our daily lives, when we see restroom and public bath divided into for man and for woman? I think that if we became so, I could be free from 'binary gender system' or sexism a little.
This is my ten years. To lesbian and gay community I brought up many questions,
and my self thought about gender had grown. Not only my gender role (gender
expression) but also my gender identity had changed through the meets with many
kinds of transgenders. I really feel that gender is system (binary gender system).
I find gender is only a game, not a real, fixed, static natural status.
But of course it is not easy for us to escape from 'binary gender system' even we know it is only a game. We have already totally gendered. In our society everything including restroom, public bath, color of school bag, locker and uniform of school and company, clothes, gesture and tone is divided into for man and for woman. When someone is born, the first topic is "Is it a boy or girl?" When we call someone, we use the word 'he' or 'she', we represent someone by gender. In such world we can live naturally and normally. We can live without hard trouble against 'binary gender system'. Imprinting of 'binary gender system' is in very deep level. For example, sexual orientation, such an emotional issue, is also based on the standard of 'binary gender system'. We are not free from 'binary gender system' now at all.
Of course it is the same as feminist and lesbian and gay and bi activist. Especially those who think "I have been discriminated", "my opinion has not been heard enough" are tend to forget about themselves; themselves as an accomplice with the 'binary gender system'.
I know some people of the readers of this magazine are not use to this kind
of story of 'the binary gender system'. But I have a reason. I want also such
people to feel the gap. Please imagine what happens in my daily life. What is
the problem? What kind of discussion exist? And how do I, an activist involved
in gender and sexuality issue, feel about other activism?
After the 11 Sept. (exactly to say after Bush's invading Afghanistan on the pretext of the 11 Sept.) Japan government also drastically tried to militarize Japan society.
It was still difficult for Japan government(organized by conservatives) to say publicly preparing for the war. Because we have the constitution (proclaiming that Japanese people renounce war) and there were(are) a people's common atmosphere of anti war. But recetly, Japan government publicly starts establishing the laws for the war on the pretext of 'the war against terorism' like Bush. These were too drastic, situation went worse so fast, therefore I came back to the anti war movement.
Ten years ago, before my joining gender activism, I joined the university student movement, anti emperor movement, anti war action, movement for support homeless, and so on. At that time, I felt those places of movements are based on manism and heterosexism. I had became taking some distance.
So it is my comeback after long interval. I expected that something had changed there, and I went to the demonstration or meeting. But there I found perfectly different world from my past 10 years.
'The binary gender system' was exist there as if it was a real, fixed, static and natural status. It was not a game there. All the people believe that everyone is man or woman. Even it is possible for sexual minorities to come out, but they are forced to sit on the special seat as a minority. There are women activist exist, but activism against 'the binary gender system' are not entire political issue for all. To fight against sexism 'now and here' is never agreed as a whole policy of the organization.
Let's see one example.
In Japan, 'Equal Employment Opportunity Law' was amended on 1997. To prevent sexual harassment in the office became a legal duty for all employer by this law. An employer has the biggest power at the workplace, so an employer should state officially own will not to accept sexual harassment, an employer should build a guideline for anti sexual harassment in workplace. Sexual harassment is a whole problem of the workplace, so action should be taken by the responsibility of an employer.
Of course this is the result of many anti sexual harassment trials and of the feminists' fighting in the administrative organ. Actually the guideline for anti sexual harassment were established around 1999 by many big companies, universities and administrative organs.
Well, problem here is that these processes of making the guideline are not based on worker's discussion and movement in the workplace. I think that the best is, at first discussion occurs among the workers in the office, then union make agreement, and place on the agenda at collective bargaining, some company establish own guideline. Based on these many movements, the law is established at the National Diet in order to support worker's movement in every workplace.
But unfortunately unions and other social movements in Japan did not carefully listen to the voices which prosecute sexual harassment in workplace. These voices didn't get enough support from worker's movement because of sexism atmosphere. Then many feminists gave up the 'bottom up' struggle in the workplace, and had to choice to change the situation by the power of the law and the government.
Now the situation is that the law and the government appeal for drawing up
the guideline for anti sexual harassment. How about the field of social movement?
Till now many sexual assault matters have prosecuted at the meeting, in the demonstration and in the movement organization. I also know some cases in the group I joined. But unfortunately those prosecution didn't heard enough, those prosecution didn't influenced the group's policy till now. How many movement organizations have their own guideline for anti sexual assault? How many groups state their own policy officially to prevent sexual assault in their own group? How many groups take action to prevent sexual assault inside of their own group?It could be happen that the activist group became an advanced place about fighting against sexual assault. Because feminist had been prosecuted sexual assault in the activist group at first.
I think that the organizers of a meeting or a demonstration have a responsibility for having a policy and for taking action to prevent sexual assault inside the place they organized. In every groups, sexual assault matters should be collectively discussed as an important subject. Employers have already forced to do so by the law.
Even Japan government appeals to take action for preventing sexual harassment. Of course it is from the top, and not enough way. But only such kind of actions are not exist in the activist group.
Women's movement has the longest history among many kinds of gender or sexuality related movements. And anti sexual assault movement (which has been mainly organized as women's rights movement) is still in this situation. (sexual assault is not only by man against woman, not only based on sexism, but I don't write more)
Even in an activist community, anti sexism struggle or other 'the binary gender system' related issues are not one of the central subjects. They are thought as an only women's issues or minority matters, not as a main issue which should be discussed by all.
Only two things are different from 10 years ago. 1: I am older than before, so I have more power than before 2: now I have more self-confidence and more words than before, so I can appeal my opinion easier than before.
Please remember that I choiced to become 'MtX transgender'. This kind of our discussions are too much far from these situation. How can I do?
I think that in order to experience directly new and alternative human and
social relations, the way of communication, many people join in a mass movement
like demonstration, parade or meetings. Yes the held up title like 'anti war'
is important, but that is not all. Activism community is very interesting because
there are culture and the system of the society which should be, we hope to
be, we dream to be in next times. In the other words, if a mass movement community
is based on the same rule and system as our daily life, who want to go there.
"We" have already gendered as I stated above. Non of us are innocent. We ourselves take part in maintaining and strengthen 'the binary gender system' by daily 'natural' 'usual' and 'normal' behavior. And then become an accomplice with 'the binary gender system'.
Therefore if we want to be free from 'the binary gender system', we have to aim to and try to build a different situation from now. Otherwise there are many sexual assault 'as usual', and 'as usual' it's very difficult to prosecute sexual assault there.
But in the opposite words, attempts dealing with 'the binary gender system' may become an interesting direct attempt to find and build a new and alternative human and social relations, the way of communication. We can dream and directly experience another world in our daily life by many attempts dealing with 'the binary gender system'. I know how interesting it is and how many vivid changes occurs! This process is very exciting, like my these 10 years.
I had an image that different from Japan, in EU or in US, many activists recognize
gender and sexuality issues as one of main subject of their own movement. For
example EU try to protect same sex couple legally. Some party and some country
try to correct the gender percentage of the number of national assembly members.
Or many attempts to establish pay equity. I know many discussions about above
is exist and not easy to make consensus among activists, but anyway there are
many kind of attempts in the movement. I have been very empowered when I heard
such attempts in other countries in the world, and maybe the same as other queer
activist in Japan.
At first of this text, I wrote I joined the International Solidarity Movement(ISM) in Palestine last year. Before I went to join ISM, I did not know about Palestine well, I was not interested in Palestine struggle well.
Of course some angry against Israeli invasion is my basic motivation to join ISM. But my direct motivation to join ISM is my friends words. On May last year Aisa (ISMer) had a public report meeting in Kyoto (where I live), and said "HIBINO-san, let's go to Palestine, to meet great activists!"
For me, great activists means, of course, those who recognize gender and sexuality issues as one of main important subject. I was very interested in the culture of activists those who had already experienced gender and sexuality related struggles. Aisa (ISMer) is a reliable feminist activist for me, and Aisa said about great activist.
I had been felt tired because of too much gap and bad feeling in Japan's anti war movement. So I had been looking for my another place for my activism. I might interested in ISM in this way.
When I back from the Aisa's meeting, I tried to search 'the International
Solidarity Movement' in the internet. I found ISM English homepage, and read,
and decided to go.
At first political line is agreeable for me. At the time ISM wrote below on HP.
We recognize the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via armed struggle, yet we believe that nonviolence can be a powerful weapon in fighting oppression and we are committed to the principles of nonviolent resistance.
Not to deny armed struggle, but ISM is based on the principles of nonviolent
direct action, I agreed to this line.
Second, I felt sympathy for open management policy of ISM. ISMer's mailing list is open to public. There was(is) personal registration form in ISM homepage. Everyone can write one's name, staying period, vegetarian or not, and so on, and can submit and can join ISM. By this very easy way like submitting ski tour, everyone can join ISM and every individuals are welcomed. Though ISM is an activism in a battlefield, ISM homepage said "when you arrive at Jerusalem, please call this number", "this hostel is cheep." This kind of very open way, never hide information, interest me. It was far different from many Japanese social movements which often tend to hide and try to control information.
Furthermore, ISM homepage said "This is the time where we need everybody here", "be witness", "Provide Protection for civilians by staying with Families in Refugees camps, villages and towns", "Help documenting the facts, either through cameras or video or writing diaries to be published through e-mail and internet", "Looking forward for having you in Palestine." I am only a Japanese queer activist, and I can't speak Arabic, I don't have medical skill, so "what can I do?"
I was afraid I might be an encumbrance to ISM. But anyway ISM said "come! come!", so I decided to go. Anyway at any time I can back home if I might be an encumbrance to ISM.
Now only to become a witness at Palestine is still very positive and valuable
action. I understood this fact after I joined ISM and went Balata Palestinian
In Balata refugee camp under occupation, Israeli soldiers are destroying refugee's house and wall. They also destroy furnitures. Neta Goran, one of the first organizer of ISM, made a protest to soldiers against their demolition. " Why do you make a hole in this wall? If you want to come in this house, you can enter from the entrance door. How do you feel if your house is demolished like this!" At first I was amazed. Many of soldiers were high teens or twenties youth. Neta directly asked to every such young soldiers the reason why they demolish houses. And closely questioned soldiers had to answer like this. "No, I did not destroied furnitures unnecessarily. Some soldiers might do such thing, but anyway I did not. " Then I understood what is a witness, what ISM doing.
At the battlefield under curfew, where many tanks ran around, machine-guns sounds, soldiers occupied, internationals (ISMers) walk around in demilitarized outfit, as if they are only tourists. And ask every soldiers indivisibly with respect. "Why do you demolish other's houses?"
The wrong action in Tokyo or London or Tel aviv is also wrong here in Balata refugee camp, even if in the battlefield. This rule is natural. Why do we have to change the standard in the battlefield? Why do we have to accept wrong action while in the battlefield? Nothing should be specially allowed even in the battlefield. Of course these are a message for soldiers, and for us.
When we internationals walked around on the street, many Palestinian talked to us. And say "just look! this hole is made by soldiers yesterday", "please look at this despoiled room!", "take photos and show them to the world." And then said "why don't you come to my home and eat dinner with us?" "if you don't mind please stay in my house."
On ISM homepage I read this "Provide Protection for civilians by staying with Families in Refugees camps." But I could not understand at all. Why only staying means "Provide Protection" ? But in Balata I found that it became more difficult for Israeli soldiers to do wrong if there were internationals' eyes. I remember that the massacres at Sabra and Shatila (1982) carried out after foreigner's withdrawal. The UN inquiry commission for Jenis's massacre were refused entering by Israeli government. I understood the people's fear, if there were no witness, anything could be happen.
Witness does not mean only looking, it means to see the truth positively from a fair third party.
Then I understand what is happening at that time.
For example, when someone come out as a gay in the classroom. Actually he might be surrounded by quite neutral response or disregarded attitude in Japan. But in some unfortunate case, he might be attacked by convinced homophobia. In such case if surrounding people ignore the attack, it can escalate. But if there is only one person as a third party saying clearly "what are you doing? why you do such attack?", how the situation can become better!
Or I think about the case when someone report own sexually assaulted experience. People might say "such a kind of thing is not so important problem", "it is not so rare case. I also have been endured", and thus the prosecution might ignored. But at that time, if someone say from the fair third party point, "let's listen to the report carefully.", "even whoever do it, wrong thing is wrong", how the situation can become better!
I remember my own painful experiences of facing people's attitude as if they didn't see or hear the incident at all even occurred in front of them. And I also remember the time when I indeed need witness. In this way I really understand, from the bottom of my heart, the sincere needs of witness in Palestine. The needs is the same in my daily life in Japan.
After arrested in
Balata refugee camp, Israeli government decided me to deport, so I took the
matter to court, in order to cancel the deportation. While I was on bail in
Israel, there was a pride march for sexual minority in Tel Aviv. For me, the
Arab-Islamic world and Jewish world were both uncomfortable in the point of
sexuality. Therefore joining the parade was very interested for me. But I was
too much surprised when I found many Israeli national flags were hung out officially
next to the rainbow flags. Many people in the parade also have both small Israeli
national flag and small rainbow flag in their hands.
What is this? The rainbow flag is a common 6 colored flag in the world to celebrate sexual minority's rights and diversity. It is a flag for minority's straggle. Is it the same as Israeli national flag? At least for those who had two flags in their hands and for the organizer of the parade, the Israeli national flag might be thought as a symbol of minority's human rights movement, just the same as the rainbow flag is.
If we see the reality carefully, the state of Israel itself is an invading state established by invading Palestinian land. The invasion is still now going on as a settlement or building separation wall. I was amazed because these invasion was thought and symbolized as "minority's struggle'.
Discrimination against Jewish people is not ended, especially in the Christian world. So the story of "as a Jewish struggle against the persecution in Europe, to build a Jewish state is necessary for our survival" is still accepted.
Indeed, this kind of thing is very usual thing for me. "we have been
discriminated", "I am a victim"--many people think like this
and lost imagination about others. Many of minority movements only think about
themselves and act unfairly with saying words as 'justice!' or 'human rights'.
For me, the state of Israel looks like some of gay men's movement in Japan. (Or it looks like also a man activist who can not listen to and can not accept the feminist's appeal inside the activism.)
Gay men are oppressed and ignored in majority society. When they build their own place, if they want their 'safe' feelings, a mistake can be easily happen. When your own circumstance has priority to others, you are majority there. But many people don't aware it, or never try to see their own privilege. In this way gay men try to get priority and privilege in LGBT community. The power structure in LGBT community, such as to symbolize our community by 'gay', is established by useing words like 'minority's human rights movement'.
Of course these are different in a scale and context. But when I saw, in front of me, persons with the Israeli flag, I felt the same thing as a problem of person's way of life.
This also means that we should not think Israel and it's invasion as a wrong action which only except us tend to commit. I think that Israel and it's invasion are not a problem of perfectly outside of us.
Certainly Israeli Zionism is extreme. But It is not exception that minority movement think only themselves. So Israel should be thought as a typical bad mistake of many social movements which appeal minority's rights. Criticism of Israel should be the same as a criticism of our own mistake, as our self-criticism inside our struggle.
And to think further more... Palestinians are the biggest majority in Palestine.
Are there any racially minority except for 'Palestinians'? Only 'Palestinians'
are occupied and oppressed by Israel? Aren't there oppression by those who has
Palestinian identity against those who don't have Palestinian identity?
Now I only know that Samaritans live in Palestine. I do not know more.
At my public report meeting, I speak what I have seen in Palestine and my experience there. I talk mainly about Palestine and Palestinians. But as a result of my speech, I don't know well what kind of things happen to Samaritans or other people except for 'Palestinians'. What kind of power structure might be built in Palestine by my approach line.
My report speech could be this kind of thing that represents the minority community by only to talk about the majority in the minority community.
Of course I don't have any malice. But against my will my speech have a possibility to support building another power structure. How terrible social movements are! Of course I try to talk my hesitation and my speech's insufficient point, but simple story like 'Israel invade Palestine' is more welcomed by many people.
I also found small
group in the parade named "Black Laundry" (Kvisa Sh'hora / in Hebrew
this also sounds "black sheep") and they publicly criticize the organizer
of the parade who hung out the Israeli flags. About 15000 people as a whole
joined in the parade colorfully and about 250 people of Black Laundry wore black
clothes and handed out gray rainbow flag (copyed to 6 gray scales ) to participant.
They think that it is not the time to celebrate colorfully because occupation
is still goes on. They hung out banner "NO PRIDE IN THE OCCUPATION".
They always say two things at a time. They appeal queer's rights and oppose
the occupation. They also carried many pink or black triangular placards base
on the oppressed history of both Jews and queers in the Nazism days. (The Holocaust
is notorious. The Nazi put marks to people and send them to a concentration
camp. Star mark for Jewish people, pink triangle mark for gay, black triangle
mark for lesbian) At one time they protest against the Holocaust, homophobia
and occupation, I think. Black Laundry's slogan always has double (or more)
meanings, and therefore very fit for me.
Darlene is an American Jew. I and Darlene and other ISMers were arrested by
Israeli Defence Force, and we fight together at the court. And many Jews and
Israeli citizens also joined ISM. I was very surprised when I heard this in
the hostel. "Why Jews join...?" But I remembered the reason why I
myself interested in ISM. ISM respected the will of individuals, not the social
We tend to have very bad image of Jews and Israeli citizens, after seeing what Israeli government do in Palestine. Actually Israeli citizens select Ariel Sharon, the real terorist, as the Prime Minister.
But if bad image of Jews spread more, it might cause more oppression to Jews in the world. Then It might become more difficult for Jews to criticize the present government of "Israel as the last shelter for Jews". Not to face and also to forget the wrong attitude of home country (or own organization) in order to protect one's life as a minority--- this kind of attitude is commonly seen among every movement. But this is a vicious circle. I strongly felt sympathy for Darlene's joining in ISM as an indivisual person, and for ISM's policy line of welcoming indivisuals.
Expressing and appealing as 'a minority in minority' is difficult inside the
minority community or inside the movement organization. Criticizing the present
status of the community or movement organization from within the inside might
seen as a demolition of organization or an act of treachery.
It was based on the same kind of reason that to prosecute the case of sexual assault occurred inside the movement organization was too much difficult in Japan. If survivors brought the cases up clearly, movement or organization could breakdown, so they choiced to be silent for movement organization. And for movement organization also many activist kept silent even if they knew the cases.
I think that these silence and silenced histories makes people's atmosphere of 'aversion to activism', 'aversion to movement organization' in Japan. Because in this situation of Japan, joining in some organizations or activism means to be forced to accept something unreasonable.
We have many important problems to be solved inside of us, inside of our activism. To officially recognize and accept these facts are necessary for new generation activism, I think. And then, we have to grow up culture in which we can solve the problems faithfully occurred in our community. I think this is the only way for ourselves not to become like Israel.
Don't hesitate to say a different opinion, don't hesitate to object to majority of our community or activism. We have to grow up this kind of attitude and culture. Disagreement and diversity inside of us should be thought not as negative thing, but as our positive richness. Disagreement and diversity inside of us must be openly and positively made public, they should never to be hide.
Till now activism means making things explain more simple, and trying to collect people's interest only to special one issue. But to attract people's attention only to one issue results neglecting other matters intentionally. And this became a pressure to prevent from reporting the problems within activism.
I wrote above that Black Laundry's action has double meanings. For further activism this kind of method, such as having plural viewpoints or expressing more than two opinions at one time, might be important. To express oneself and appeal as a minority, and to have a viewpoint of looking back ourselves, the both should be intentionally tried at once.
First of all, we ourselves are gendered. So none of us are free from discriminative
attitude. We also know that some social discriminative system must be ended
and our discriminative attitude and consciousness should be changed. We should
be the first to change ourselves. I have learned these above things through
the struggle against the binary gender system. I am not innocent. But this never
means I have to accept and be silent when I face someone's unfair act. We can
be witness. We can clearly point out an assailant's responsibility.
Very these attitudes, such as to be silent or not to criticize unfair act in order to keep surface human relationships, build and support the binary gender system.
To be witness sometimes means to object publicly to the majority inside the community or activism, and sometimes means to put the problems occurred within the activism on view to the public. It sometimes happens to be seen as if you are/I am disturbing the movement.
But wherever I am, I have to keep expressing myself at my own risk without hesitation, if I really dream to change the world, and if I have real courage to change our culture I have been involved.
We have to create new way of activism. Instead of the way like innocent activist judges guilty people. Instead of ignoring the responsibility of comrade's unfair behavior. Instead of keeping silent to something.
Wherever we are, we have to go just in front of an opponent, and say different opinion publicly without hesitation if necessary. Even if we are facing soldiers in a battlefield, we are in the only one pride parade in middle east area, in an anti-war public meeting, in a gay group, in my house, in a class, in an office and among my friends or lovers.
no.3 my drag queen show
no.4 internationals protest against soldier
no.5 Israeli national flags in pride parade
no.6 Black Laundry with placards
home in english
home in japanese