Which political role can feminism play in the contemporary world?
Which strategies of solidarity between women of different social, national, and ethnic backgrounds are possible today? Or is it better to shift our focus from the differences between men and women in order to address different universal features, such as political power-relations or social class?

Even if they prefer to remain in their “grant ghetto”, failing to become civil-rights-activists, Russia’s feminist organizations face a mass of political questions such as prostitution, family violence, the status of women in Islamic regions etc. Today, it is paramount to differentiate all of this from the discourse of feminist liberalism, which has displayed what I would call “positive gender racism” throughout recent years: the woman is equated to the Other, thus confirming as a privileged victim. This gives rise to fundamentalist statements (a woman is soft, caring, intuitive etc. “by nature), which, in turn, form the basis of political decision-making: in contemporary Russia, it is politically necessary to stimulate the woman’s role as a housewife by decree, for an example. They also form the basis for intellectual decisions: in American cultural studies, it has become necessary to prohibit anything that is not marked by “Otherness”, anything rational or masculine, condemning it because of its one-sided point of view.

The discourse of the “Other” has been very harmful in all of its variants, be they synthetic-deconstructivist or rehabilitational. The Other does not exist. What we need today is a reassertion of the subject’s universal heroism, not as androgyny, but as something abstracted from gender (and ethnos). This abstraction DOES NOT mean any coincidence with “masculinity”. People who identify themselves as to whether they are women or men fail to understand that this status is no more important that than a congenital illness like asthma or stuttering: it simply conditions the bounds of our possibilities; it is something to be taken into account, but little more. Solidarity between women of different social or ethnic backgrounds is possible and necessary in the same measure as solidarity is necessary between the ill. Incidentally, there is no place better suited toward solidarity than a hospital.

Do you feel that qualities like “vulnerability” will die out as unnecessary capacities?
Or is it possible to engage in a certain revolutionary politics of vulnerability?
How can feminism convince human beings of both genders of the need for emancipation and of the benefits of real freedom?

Tolerance, softness, sentimentality etc. are not typically feminine qualities. Instead, the proven biological difference between women and men lies concerns the dominance of this or that hemisphere of the brain; left-hemisphere dominance and the resulting propensity for language and logic is actually more common than among women, while men’s brains are often dominated by the right hemisphere (spatial orientation, emotion, intuition and creativity). So in terms of biology, everything is actually the other way around. However, culture superimposes its own stereotypes (projected and confirmed through the historical division of labor), forcing women “not to be too smart” and men to hide their emotions. Discovering “the hidden Other in you” may be beneficial in the psychological sense, but as a cultural demand (resonating constantly), it imposes the unreal ideal of “androgynous all-roundness”, becoming source of frustration and even force (such as the force that prohibits men from urinating while standing up etc.) Also, I do not think that contemporary society disqualifies weakness and “the attempt at understanding the Other” in any way. Quite on the contrary, tolerance has become the norm, whereas radicalism and certainty are condemned as outbreaks of “totalitarianism”. As soon as you say “I think this or that”, people will already be accusing you of being a Bolshevik. Social life is dominated by those qualities that society itself sees as “feminine”, but this change has taken place under the slogan of “Women are also people”. As on the political stage, the victim is given certain privileges, so that the role of victim is easier to impose.

During the last decade, art that privileges vulnerability has done a great deal of damage. Today’s essayism, for an example, confronts us with lots of lame writing that masks its authors’ inability for thought – men write like this more often than women, by the way. Contemporary exhibitions are flooded with pieces that have not been ‘made’: they are formally and intellectually helpless, shown under the auspices that “the weak also have a right to life”. All of this reminds me of radical ecologism, which sees yogurt as a form of life with rights. It seems to me that we have come to long for the artwork as a display of heroism, an explosive event, rupturing time, giving rise to the truth. These qualities are not “masculine”. Art is cognition, intellectual activity, flying above life. This is what freedom is all about. In everyday life, it is more laudable to display subtlety.

Does love have any political potential in your opinion?
Do you think that there is anything specific in the feminine experience of love?

As Houellebecq has justly noted, it is impossible to buy a single bed without the risk of catching the shop-assistant’s scornful gaze. With love, society places a great burden on people – and most of all women, since their feeling of self-sufficiency is far smaller on the strength of their social defenselessness. So-called “love” is an endless form of communication which eats up horrendous amounts of time and presents a serious obstacle to any further personal development. Again, women are most likely to fall victim to this “love”. It is this kind of “love” – an idealized sphere of “gifts and liberation”, elevated to an absolute – which is so often praised highly through mass culture as something “authentic” in contrast to calculation. In this end, everybody simply sits around, waiting for “gifts and liberation”. Bataille and Mauss have long since shown that the gift-economy flows into a form of moral terror, since receiving a gift implies obligation. In practical terms, it is far more honest to admit to the contractual and reciprocal character of any interpersonal relationship. It would be self-deceit to ignore this, and what’s more, it could even end in the conscious exploitation of one’s partner.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as an amorous encounter, but it is marked by the qualities of an explosive Event (although this event-explosion can be prolonged, if you are lucky), and for this reason, it is exclusive, as an encounter that takes place between two people. To blur the event of an Encounter across society’s entire collectivity would mean freeing oneself of any human and political responsibility and passing up the chance for any kind of truth. (An old Soviet anecdote, a kolkhoz farmer honestly prefers group sex because it is easier to shirk there.) In the end, it is time to stop pretending to criticize consumerism while lapping up the rhetoric of liberal democratism, which actually covers up a great deal of violence.