My research on feminism

Book: Me, Not You (2020)

Me, not you is an essential book for this historical moment. For anyone interested in anti-violence, anti-racism, and anti-criminalisation organising, this book is required reading. I’ll be coming back to it often.

Mariame Kaba

The Me Too movement, started by Black feminist Tarana Burke in 2006, went viral as a hashtag eleven years later after a tweet by white actor Alyssa Milano. Mainstream movements like #MeToo have often built on and co-opted the work of women of colour, while refusing to learn from them or centre their concerns. Far too often, the message is not ‘Me, Too’ but ‘Me, Not You’. Alison Phipps argues that this is not just a lack of solidarity. Privileged white women also sacrifice more marginalised people to achieve their aims, or even define them as enemies when they get in the way.

Me, not you argues that the mainstream movement against sexual violence expresses a political whiteness that both reflects its demographics and limits its revolutionary potential. Privileged white women use their traumatic experiences to create media outrage, while relying on state power and bureaucracy to purge ‘bad men’ from elite institutions with little concern for where they might appear next. In their attacks on sex workers and trans people, the more reactionary branches of this feminist movement play into the hands of the resurgent far-right.

This is a necessary and vital addition to feminist texts. This is a book I will be carrying everywhere, eager to share, excited to have Phipps’ words fighting alongside me.

Mona Eltahawy

Readers of this blog can get the book half price by entering the code OTH583 at the Manchester University Press checkout. If you cannot afford to buy the book half price, please contact me and I will send you a free e-copy.

Recent peer-reviewed papers

Book: The Politics of the Body (2014)

Phipps’s book is thought-provoking, caustic, and self-reflexive, as its wide range of themes reflect both breadth and depth in analytic scope.

Anastasia Chamberlen in Gender & Society 29

After reading [it], it is no longer possible to think of practices, allegiances and agency as we might have done before.

Sylvie Allendyke in Women’s Studies International Forum 53

The body is a site of impassioned, fraught and complex debate in the West today. In one political moment, left-wingers, academics and feminists have defended powerful men accused of sex crimes, positioned topless pictures in the tabloids as empowering, and opposed them for sexualizing breasts and undermining their ‘natural’ function. At the same time they have been criticized by extreme-right groups for ignoring honour killings and other ‘culture-based’ forms of violence against women. How can we make sense of this varied terrain?

In this important and challenging new book, Alison Phipps constructs a political sociology of women’s bodies around key debates: sexual violence, gender and Islam, sex work and motherhood. Her analysis uncovers dubious rhetorics and paradoxical allegiances, and contextualizes these within the powerful coalition of neoliberal and neoconservative frameworks. She explores how ‘feminism’ can be caricatured and vilified at both ends of the political spectrum, arguing that Western feminisms are now faced with complex problems of positioning in a world where gender often comes second to other political priorities.

Alison Phipps’ The Politics of the Body is a lucid, beautifully written and clear-sighted exploration of some crucial regimes of the public and political articulation of women’s bodies. Phipps pulls off the still too rare feat of exploring complex arguments in a democratic and compelling register.

Judge’s comment

Book: Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (2008)

To a woman working in science…the book is much more than a reference manual. It puts our experience in context — within the global economy and the women’s movement.

Ashleigh Griffin in Nature 454

This book presents an accessible overview of the recent history of UK initiatives designed to encourage girls and women into non-traditional fields such as science, engineering, technology, construction, and the trades. It examines girls and science projects in schools, training programmes for women in manual trades, activist groups for students and women professionals, and government-sponsored initiatives such as the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) and the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET. Using archival and interview data spanning the 1970s to the early 2000s, it explores the aims and frameworks of the initiatives, examines the practices developed, and comments on the mixed results achieved. Although there is policy and academic research on the causes of women’s under-representation in non-traditional fields, the important initiatives designed to address the problem are under-researched. Consequently there has been little opportunity for educational practitioners, activists, policy-makers and scholars to analyse and learn from the practices and policies that were developed. This book will be an invaluable aid to their reflection and for future development.

The book deserves to be widely read if we are to understand better why over three decades of effort has had so little impact and what kind of inclusion mechanisms are needed.

Wendy Faulkner in Gender & Society 23