- 'Half Victim, half accomplice': Cat Person and Narcissism . Ergo. Forthcoming. Postprint here.
- Featured on the British Society for Phenomenology Podcast - listen HERE
- Abstract: At the end of 2017, Kristen Roupenian’s short story, Cat Person, went viral. Published at the height of the #MeToo movement, it depicted a ‘toxic date’ and a disturbing sexual encounter between Margot, a college student, and Robert, an older man she meets at work. The story was widely viewed as a relatable denunciation of women’s powerlessness and routine victimization. In this paper, I push against this common reading. I propose an alternative feminist interpretation through the lens of Simone de Beauvoir’s notion of narcissism: a form of alienation that consists in making oneself both the subject and the ultimate project of one’s life. Framing Margot as a narcissist casts her as engaging, not in subtly coerced, undesired sex, but rather in sex that is desired in a tragically alienated way. I argue that Beauvoir’s notion of narcissism is an important tool for feminists today – well beyond the interpretation of Cat Person. It presses us to see systematic subordination not just as something done to women, but also as something women do to themselves. This in turn highlights the neglected role of self-transformation as a key aspect of feminist political resistance.
- Perpetuating the patriarchy: misogyny and post-(feminist) backlash. Philosophical Studies. 176(9):2517-2538 (2019) . Available here.
- Abstract: How are patriarchal regimes perpetuated and reproduced? Kate Manne’s recent work on misogyny aims to provide an answer to this central question. According to her, misogyny is a property of social environments where women perceived as violating patriarchal norms are ‘kept down’ through hostile reactions coming from men, other women and social structures. In this paper, I argue that Manne’s approach is problematically incomplete. I do so by examining a recent puzzling social phenomenon which I call (post-)feminist backlash: the rise of women-led movements reinstating patriarchal practices in the name of feminism. I focus on the example of ‘raunch feminist’ CAKE parties and argue that their pro-patriarchal dimension cannot be adequately explained by misogyny. I propose instead a different story that emphasizes the continued centrality of gender distinctions in our social normative life, even as gendered social meanings become increasingly contested. This triggers meaning vertigo, a distinct form of social anxiety and the reactionary impulse at the heart of (post)-feminist backlash. Meaning vertigo both complicates the answer to Manne’s main question—“why is misogyny still a thing?”—and suggests the need and opportunity for a different kind of feminist political intervention.
- Recognizing Social Subjects: Gender, Disability and Social Standing, University of Michigan, 2019. Available here