‘There is no hierarchy of oppression’ by Audre Lorde …

Nicki Smith


… Is rocking my world right now.  I gave a paper recently at the University of Westminster and I was asked, ‘Can you be queer if you’re straight?’  Why yes, I said, indeed you can (although in hindsight I should have said ‘yes, indeed I am’).  But queer is a politics, not a person, and it both can and does form part of broader collective struggles for economic and social justice.  For me, queer doesn’t ask: ‘Which oppression?’  It asks: ‘How is it that we’re being asked to choose, and what do those “choices” do?’ The work I’m finding the most exciting is work that brings together feminist, Marxist, postcolonial, poststructuralist, crip and other theories – work that isn’t afraid of the tensions and contradictions but instead uses them and plays with them. I imagine all of these traditions to be like elastic bands, straining in all directions, pulling so tight … But they don’t snap; they vibrate and hum like bees.  It’s beautiful.

The text of Lorde’s brilliant piece can be found here.

8 thoughts on “‘There is no hierarchy of oppression’ by Audre Lorde …

  1. Great post Nicki. I’m a big fan of bell hooks. I love her book on Teaching to Transgress as well as the feminist literature. I’ve just bought Sister/Outsider by Lorde as I’m interested in her writing on anger and its de legitimation.


  2. Thanks Laura! I haven’t read Sister/Outsider yet but will definitely do so – I’d love to know what you think of it once you’ve read it! And so interesting what you’ve said about the deligitimation of anger (especially when ‘anger’ gets constructed as ‘hysteria’ when coming from women – the political becomes the pathological in one easy stroke) … Thanks so much again for commenting, I’m really chuffed!


  3. I love this, Nicki. I always tell students to think of queer as a verb, not an adjective. It is a doing (or, better, an *un*doing), not a being. It is antithetical, in fact, to the stability of “being”.


  4. Oh wow Lisa thank you so much!! It’s your work (of course) that has led me down that very path! And also Nikki Sullivan too … But can I tempt you on to here as a member of our collective? Would love to have you on here!


    1. As much as I’d like to say ‘yes’, Nicki, I don’t manage to keep up with my own blog. I last posted in, I think, February 2014! (Shameful!) So I fear I’d be nought but dead wood…


      1. No pressure at all to contribute in any way – indeed, part of the mission is to be anti-productive – but I totally understand! (Tho the door is always and forever open lovely D!) xx


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