Actions and Detail Panel
Feminist Research Network, University of Strathclyde 24th May 2-4pm
Wed 24 May 2017, 14:00 – 16:00 BST
Aesthetics of Domination: Weaponising White Femininity
In response to the 2016 New Year’s Cologne train station attacks, some white German feminists appeared to racialise sexual violence by equating sexual assault with the presence of refugee men in the city. In Summer 2016, some white French feminists, in the name of ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’ supported the now overturned ban on burkinis on French beaches. In November 2016, it emerged that 53% of white women (of whom, only a small minority identified as feminists) voted for Donald Trump for President of the United States. In each of these cases, a hegemonic white femininity is simultaneously deployed as ‘innocent victim’ and instrumentalised to ‘save the nation’ from non-white alien Others. In this talk, I will examine how contemporary white femininity in both the United States and Europe is constructed to subvert intersectional justice claims and weaponised to debase women and men of colour. I will argue that white feminine innocence is achieved through a particular aesthetic media representation that is protected through the selective labelling of political critique as ‘misogyny’. I conclude with a discussion of how white mainstream feminism might take seriously a process of decolonisation.
Akwugo Emejulu is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. Her work has appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Politics & Gender and Race & Class. Her co-authored book, Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain, will be published in July 2017 by Policy Press.