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Reviewed by:
  • We Still Demand! Redefining Resistance in Sex and Gender Struggles eds. by Patrizia Gentile, Gary Kinsman, and L. Pauline Rankin
  • Josephine L. Savarese (bio)
Patrizia Gentile, Gary Kinsman, and L. Pauline Rankin, eds, We Still Demand! Redefining Resistance in Sex and Gender Struggles ( Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017).

The introduction to We Still Demand! refers to a Zapatista saying: ''[w]alking we ask questions,'' which inspired the editors, Patrizia Gentile, Gary Kinsman, and L. Pauline Rankin.1 The lively and varied collection that resulted from the editors' curiosity about, and commitment to, social transformation captures some of the myriad ways this Zapatista phrase has found expression in research, resistance, and activism relating to queer and sexuality studies. The editors explain that the book resulted from the ''vibrant sex/gender activist movements'' described in the thirteen chapters.2 The contributors address a range of topics that jointly ''reveal the richness of mobilizations beyond a state-focused, rights-based trajectory.''3

The collection was published in 2017 as part of UBC Press's sexuality studies series. We Still Demand! marks several decades of activism and scholarship to resist the oppression of gender minorities through a range of tactics including exclusion, surveillance, and regressive laws. The collection begins with accounts of resistance from the 1970s when several significant events occurred. In 1970, community organizers protested restrictions on abortion access and restrictive criminal laws through a cross-Canada caravan called ''Free Abortion on Demand.''4 A year later, the organization, Toronto Gay Action, gathered over 100 gay men, lesbians, and their supporters on Parliament Hill to protest revisions to the criminal law that failed to deliver adequate reforms. Bill C-150 decriminalized aspects of homosexuality and allowed abortion under certain conditions. While sometimes heralded as progressive, Bill C-150 was denounced by activists and agencies that resisted the continued heteronormativity and sexual conservatism embedded in the law. A conference was organized by Gentile and her colleagues in 2011 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the We Demand protest. The goals of the symposium were to recognize these histories and to investigate the ways in which these resistant actions propelled change. The editors explain that several of the chapters resulted from that conference. Other chapters refer to developments after 2011 including the Supreme Court of Canada's 2013 decision in Canada (Attorney [End Page 439] General) v Bedford, which struck down three Criminal Code provisions relating to sex work.5

We Still Demand! is divided into two parts. Part 1 provides a historical look at sex and gender activism. This section addresses a range of topics from queer alliances with organized labour, the origins of the Toronto Dyke March, and the histories of actions promoting gay liberation and same-sex marriage to the founding of Metamorphosis Magazine by a transman activist, Rupert Raj. According to author, Nicholas Matte, all of the selections in the collection engage in the important work of ''documenting legacies of queer, sex, and gender activism as a form of resistance to social marginalization.''6 Given this aim, the text adds to collective memory by centring accounts of queer, trans, and sexual minority resistance. Part 2 adds to this exercise by examining the ''power'' and the ''politics'' of resistant action. The topics covered in this part range from early 1990s Canadian sadomasochist dyke porn and anti-trafficking campaigns to Bobby Noble's lyrical and literary exploration of a possible human rights challenge to the ''binarized sex categories'' in the Canadian passport.7 Two chapters in this section analyze sex worker rights, a pressing theme in the Canadian context given the experiences of extreme violence frequently experienced by sex workers, sometimes to the point of homicide.8

Taken as a whole, the chapters are generally thought-provoking. They showcase innovative actions that have often led to admirable results. While addressing a wide range of topics, the collection is nevertheless limited in certain ways. Although it begins with a case study on abortion activism, the collection fails to include a chapter on reproductive justice and abortion access. The editors are commended for addressing a sweeping array of themes. At the same time, some chapters are somewhat short in length and offer a rather...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0235
Print ISSN
0832-8781
Pages
pp. 439-442
Launched on MUSE
2017-12-11
Open Access
No
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