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Me Not You: The trouble with mainstream feminism

Wednesday 28 October 2020, 3.00PM to 4.00pm

Speaker(s): Professor Alison Phipps, University of Sussex

Professor Phipps will be talking about her new book, Me Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism, paying particular attention to the ways in which mainstream feminism plays out and is weaponised in educational contexts. Alison will be paying particular attention to the limits of mainstream feminism in relation to addressing sexual violence.

What violence can we do, in the name of fighting sexual violence? This 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. It has also been written from the inside, by a white feminist who has been doing research and activism around sexual violence for fifteen years. 

Alison Phipps has been a scholar-activist in the movement against sexual violence for the past fifteen years. She co-authored the groundbreaking National Union of Students report, That's What She Said, and has written for many publications including the Guardian, Open Democracy and Times Higher Education. She is currently Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Sussex.

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