Title

The politics of the personal: the evolution of anti-rape activism from second-wave feminism to #MeToo

RIS ID

139238

Publication Details

Loney-Howes, R. (2019). The politics of the personal: the evolution of anti-rape activism from second-wave feminism to #MeToo. In B. Fileborn & R. Loney-Howes (Eds.), #MeToo and the politics of social change (pp. 21-35). Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Abstract

When second-wave feminists declared that 'the personal is political', they were doing at least two things: they were exposing the previously concealed reality of a political economy based on the subjugation of women, and they were announcing a radical feminist politics that would change the meaning of what it means to be political. This agenda for social change is nowhere clearer-or more complicated-than within the anti-rape movement, a sub-movement of second-wave feminism.1 On the one hand, anti-rape activists have sought to highlight the deeply political nature of sexual violence as a product of women's social, cultural and legal subordination, and to use this knowledge to facilitate institutional reforms. On the other hand, activist projects have also attempted to provide space for the recognition of personal experiences and an opportunity to articulate the impact of sexual violence. Both of these perspectives have suffered from backlash and criticism, and in this chapter, I seek to demonstrate how this oscillation between the personal and the political within anti-rape activism has been playing out since the 1970s and where it manifests within the #MeToo movement.2

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