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Mainstream feminism is broken, says Sussex expert in new book

Me Not You by Alison Phipps

'Me, Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism' by Alison Phipps is published on 6 April 2020

A new book by Alison Phipps, Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Sussex, pulls back the curtain on #MeToo and other recent feminist campaigns against sexual violence. 'Me, Not You', published by Manchester University Press, argues that there are deep-rooted problems with mainstream feminism. It portrays a movement dominated by privileged white women.  

Alison Phipps is a professor in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology. She has studied and teaches gender issues including those relating to gender-based violence.

Her new book recasts the story of the #MeToo movement to say how, despite its beginnings as a project by Black feminist Tarana Burke, it ignored marginalised voices and especially women of colour. All too often the real message was ‘Me, not you’ rather than #MeToo, the book argues – adding that this is true of mainstream feminism as a whole.

Professor Phipps says: 

“Mainstream feminism is broken. We saw that too clearly when #MeToo reached the media and highlighted the voices and experiences of privileged – and mainly – white women. We saw the spotlight resting on Hollywood actors and other high-profile professionals. While their experiences were often individually harrowing, the question remains: where in the public debate were the voices of the other women? The cleaners, the garment and agricultural workers, the teachers and nurses? Where, more than anything, were the voices of women of colour?”

In 'Me, Not You', Alison Phipps argues that the domination of mainstream feminism by privileged white women shapes the way stories are told, and the assumptions underpinning them. For example, the assumption that the police exist to catch ‘bad men’, and the courts to secure justice for victims. Beneath these lie deeply held beliefs: people are either victims or perpetrators, but not both; the state is protective rather than oppressive; punishment works.

As well as her studies on the feminist movement, Professor Alison Phipps has conducted research on ‘lad culture’ in universities. She has been involved in gender-based violence issues locally, giving expert input to the Brighton and Hove City Council's Violence Against Women and Girls Programme Board and Brighton rape crisis service Survivors' Network.

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By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Thursday, 26 March 2020

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