Wednesday 19th February
Drinks and snacks from 12.30, Seminar from 1-2pm (Social Sciences Building, 12.21 / 25)
What violence can we do, in the name of fighting sexual violence? This is the central question animating Alison Phipps’ forthcoming book Me, Not You: the trouble with mainstream feminism (Manchester University Press). The book presents a challenging critique of #MeToo and similar Anglo-American campaigns. These campaigns are dominated by self-described ‘nasty women’, who refuse to be silent and compliant and who name and shame perpetrators in the media. These women also tend to be privileged and white. Alison Phipps argues that mainstream feminism filters righteous anger about gender inequality through race and class supremacy. This turns ‘me, too’ into ‘me, not you’: an exclusive focus on white women’s pain and protection, and a desire for power and control sated through criminal punishment or institutional discipline. But punitive systems tend to disproportionately target marginalised people, who become collateral damage of the white feminist ‘war machine’. It is also a short step from sacrificing marginalised people to seeing them as enemies, which happens in campaigns against the sex industry and transgender inclusion. In this reactionary feminism, ‘me, not you’ refers to hoarding resources, policing borders and shutting doors. This critique of the real nastiness of white feminism uses examples including the suffragettes, the Slutwalks, #MeToo and contemporary partnerships between anti-trans feminists and the resurgent right. Alison Phipps will introduce the book and then read excerpts from several chapters.
Alison Phipps is Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Sussex.