Sexism as a means of reproduction: some reflections on feminism in the academy

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Autumn 2015
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Personal experience remains an important resource in the collective effort to document the many faces of sexism - a problem with a name, but an elusive diagnosis. This article, based on a lecture of the same title prepared for the Sexism Workshop at Goldsmiths College in 2014, builds on personal experience to address the persistence of sexism in the academy. The individual experiences on which it is based are both personal and generic, and the aim of revisiting them here is diagnostic: to examine sexism as a means of reproduction. We can learn, I suggest, not only more about the mechanisms of sexism in the academy, but the politics of reproduction more generally, from this analysis. In turn, we can evaluate our own relationship to academic reproduction from two interlinked points of view. On the one hand, in tried and true feminist tradition, personal experience remains a vital resource for collective, transformative politics. Equally important, on the other hand, is the use of personal experience as a guide, or gauge, to determine our own professional practice. The question of how we understand the means by which the academy is reproduced helps us to ask sharper questions about our own reproductive practices, as well as to intervene in means of reproduction we want to challenge.

NF 86: Sexism