cover image Countersexual Manifesto

Countersexual Manifesto

Paul B. Preciado, trans. from the Spanish by K.G. Dunn. Columbia Univ, $25 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-231-17562-3

Published for the first time in English, this manifesto from Spanish philosopher Preciado (Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era) intends to “draw a door in the wall of sexual and gender oppression and escape through it.” Arguing that sexual identities, sexual practices, and even sex organs are not “natural” or inherent but in fact culturally designated, Preciado advocates an alternate system whose participants would renounce the privileges and constraints that arise from “the heterocentric social contract... that legitimizes the subjection of some bodies to others.” He draws insightful connections between, on the one hand, prohibitions on masturbation and diagnoses of female hysteria and, on the other, the physical and psychological abuse perpetrated against intersex people. The text, which frequently aims to shock and transgress, is enhanced by amusing drawings. Despite satirical elements, it is not always apparent when Preciado is joking; is the reader to take at face value, for example, prescriptions like “everyone will have then at least two names, one traditionally female and another traditionally male... such as Robert Catherine”? Preciado’s is a noble pursuit, and his points are well-argued, but readers not well-versed in deconstructionist theory may have difficulty following along. [em](Dec.) [/em]