It’s funny. The more I think about feminist philosophy, in the practical sense of what I want it to do and require it to explain, the more I find myself a bit of an outlier. When I was an undergraduate the worst criticism you could level at any theory of sex-based oppression was essentialism—such that… Continue reading Help Mum! I Think I’m an Essentialist
Is fat liberation expressly political in its aims, or is it ‘merely’ a consumer rights movement? It’s a provocative question, I know My fatness has been at the centre of my feminism since I was a teenager; the idea that size was one among many axes of oppression was sacrosanct and separating my experiences of sexism from the weight-based harassment and discrimination I received was difficult. These are tenets I still (at least to some extent) hold to be true, but my relationship to fat liberation in its current guise has been troubled by commitment to radical feminism and anti-capitalism. In this post I want to question the foci of fat politics by articulating the relationship between fatness and three feminist problems: sexual harassment and rape, pornography and transgenderism.
Tonight I (just barely) attended a panel discussion with Sabrinna Valisce, Prof. Sheila Jeffreys and Dr Pala Molisa about whether prostitution is compatible with women’s liberation. Meagan Tyler convened and officially launched the new Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia report on the Nordic Model (NM)
As a feminist coming to terms with the ramifications of my own ‘consensual’ relationship with an adult man as a teenager, the recent Milo Yiannopoulos controversy has given me pause for thought. In particular I am interested the process whereby victims of child sex abuse internalise the arguments of sexual libertarians and extract some psychological comfort from them; and the links between this ideology and endorsement of other kinds of sex-based harm such as prostitution.
Last year I spent a week in a psychiatric hospital. My electrical cords and anything I might conceivably fashion into a noose were confiscated; my medication was administered to me at precisely scheduled times from a window at the nurses’ station and my movements were restricted. In between substandard meals at the cafeteria, attendance at support groups and visits from my mother I read Mary MacLane’s 1902 memoir I Await the Devil’s Coming in my room and filled my moleskine diary with notes.
But, I would still contend, practitioners need theory. Urgently. I can’t talk about being raped as structural and systemic, for example, without engaging in some level of abstraction- like having a theory of patriarchy or some working hypothesis about the relationship between structure and agency. Theory is a kind of action or at the very least the intentionality behind political action.
Do women constitute a class? This question has been undertheorised in recent decades, partly because it has been severed from the Marxian accounts of class and class formation which lend its theoretical backbone, but also because of an underlying antagonism between radical feminists (the earliest proponents of a sex-class system) and the Left.