DIGEST January 2022


Amia Srinivasan is a 37-year-old feminist philosopher and the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University’s All Souls College. In this fascinating collection of essays, she grapples with many thorny issues of sexuality that have challenged and often divided feminist movements: whether prostitution and pornography should be abolished (she says no), how to effectively prevent sexual harassment and abuse on campus, whether law enforcement and prisons are suitable tools to combat violence against women, or whether there is a “right to sex” in the wake of claims by violent “incels” (involuntary celibates, usually men).

Srinivasan does not offer answers to all these questions, nor does she fully outline the contours of each debate. Instead, she takes us along her reflections, which are full of “aha” moments as she explores the complexities and ambiguities of each topic. Feminists are not given a free pass: she rightly calls out certain feminist factions for their “anti-sex” stances—as in Catherine MacKinnon’s view that all sex with men is a violation—their lack of engagement with issues of race, caste or class, or their uncritical reliance on the carceral state to address intimate partner violence.

Read the full piece here.

Professor Judith Butler is a prominent philosopher and gender theorist.In this recent, brilliant article in The Guardian, she examines what is truly behind the right-wing social movements that have attacked the very idea of gender (the socially constructed roles of men and women) as an “ideology.” Rooted in Catholic and evangelical Christian worldviews, these well-funded, transnational movements stoke fear through various, often incoherent claims about gender: that the traditional family is under attack, that men are losing their authority, that children are being indoctrinated in schools to become gay or trans, that war is being waged on Christianity (or Islam). Butler notes that “These reactionary flames have been fanned by the Vatican, which has proclaimed ‘gender ideology’ ‘diabolical’, calling it a form of ‘colonizing imperialism’ originating in the north and raising fears about the‘inculcation’ of ‘gender ideology’ in the schools.”

Read the full piece here.