The Personal is Ideological: #MeToo and the End of Political Feminism
Free Public Lecture
Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre
T: (03) 9035 5092
The Wednesday Lectures 2018 hosted by Raimond Gaita
The formal work of Western feminism was first made possible by informal talk. Texts of the second wave owe as much to coffee mornings as they do to library cards; actions were drawn not only from an established repertoire of protest, but from intimate conversation.
Women’s private moments were assessed as matters for public concern. Within small groups, personal stories – of housework, abuse, abortion – could be recast as political. In 1968, this conscious approach fuelled an emerging liberation movement. In 2018, this unexamined approach may see that movement’s end.
Me Too may be a movement built on the true rage of sexual abuse survivors. It is maintained, however, by faith. For Me Too, the personal story must be understood as perennially political – not, as second-wave feminism had it, a provisional political tactic.
It is true that the many personal stories of Me Too offer relief to some survivors of workplace sexual abuse. it is not true that these many personal stories will produce a political shift.
These disclosures occur on a scale and in a context where the personal is profitable, very public and stripped of their political potential. Helen Razer will argue that Me Too has not disturbed but regenerated old forms of power; that no volume of stories describing individual wounds will produce a collective solution.
The Wednesday Lectures is an annual series of talks hosted by Professor Raimond Gaita that invites speakers from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds to offer their perspective on a subject of pressing public, and sometimes intensely personal, concern.