A new book by feminist writer Renée Gerlich, titled Out of the Fog: On Politics, Feminism and Coming Alive, is now available for pre-order from Spinifex Press.
Gerlich’s work has attracted attention in the past, for instance in 2018 – when she was involved in a Pride Parade intervention, was banned by postering company Phantom Billstickers, and appeared on TVNZ’s Q&A to explain why men should not have access to female-only gyms.
At issue is Gerlich’s position on transgenderism, an ideology that many people believe women have no right to challenge. Yet Out of the Fog argues that since transgenderism is a quintessential expression of the postmodern, neoliberal zeitgeist, we must explore and question it – and when we do, we find that the deeper patriarchal roots of this ideology can be highly illuminating. Discovering what is at the core of the transgender trend can teach us much about the human predicament at present.
Out of the Fog begins with a reflection on the confusion and contradictions that pervade today’s political landscape. As stated in the book’s blurb:
From racialised police brutality to climate change, #MeToo, ‘trans rights’, COVID-19, the prospect of nuclear war and the prevalence of trauma – we are constantly bombarded with high stakes problems that we are expected to speak out about and act on. On closer inspection, the popular solutions to each of these problems aren’t easy to reconcile. Black Lives Matter activists demand prison abolition, while #MeToo feminists want rapists in jail – and while our objections to war and police brutality make us suspicious of state institutions in general, our responses to climate change and COVID-19 reinforce our dependency on them.
Gerlich asserts that in order to resolve these contradictions and respond to all the problems we are facing, we need to fully understand and contend with the problem of rape. As an act of violence carried out for gratification, rape – and its institutionalization in prostitution and pornography – fuels the cycle of human destructiveness. “This form of sexual cruelty, the seed of which lies not only in the act itself but also in our social conditioning, is where our private and collective trauma intersects,” Gerlich says.
In the first chapter of Out of the Fog, ‘My Story’, Gerlich places her arguments in the context of her own life. In Chapter Two, ‘Desire and Distortion’, she examines the evolution of human beings, in order to look at what human sexuality really is, why the act of rape hurts us individually and collectively so badly, and what its true consequences are on human psychology and culture.
Chapter Three, ‘Rebellion and Backlash’, offers a brief overview of political liberalism and the left, showing how neither of these traditions have ever consistently opposed rape, and how they ultimately produced a painfully flaky ‘liberal left’. Chapter Four, ‘Fatal Contradictions’, offers a survey of major events 2014-2019, primarily in the United States and New Zealand, allowing the reader to test Gerlich’s analytical frameworks against real life events. The final chapter, ‘Cassandra’s Power’, offers a way forward.
She was researcher for the 2016 documentary The HeART of the Matter, about the development and subsequent rollback of education reforms implemented by New Zealand’s first Labour government, directed and produced by Luit and Jan Bieringa.
In 2021, Renée founded Dragon Cloud Press to publish her Brief Complete Herstory, an accessible, female-centred, short and illustrated history of the world from the Big Bang to neoliberalism, available at dragoncloudpress.com.
Pre-order Out of the Fog at the Spinifex Press website.
All orders also unlock a 25% discount on Gerlich’s Brief Complete Herstory – simply e-mail your receipt from Spinifex Press to firstname.lastname@example.org for a discount code.