This special issue of New Formations will explore sexism: a problem with a name.
Sexism is a term that feminists have used to explain how social inequalities between men and women are reinforced or upheld through norms, values and attitudes. To use the term ‘sexism’ is, however, always to be involved in a political struggle or contestation. Marilyn Frye begins her important essay ‘Sexism’ with the following observation: ‘like most women coming to a feminist perception of themselves and the world, I was seeing sexism everywhere and trying to make it perceptible to others’ (1984: 17). Frye suggests that making sexism ‘perceptible to others’ becomes a project because many ‘would not see that what I declared to be sexist was sexist.’ In this special issue we hope to explore why making sexism ‘perceptible to others’ remains an important and difficult feminist project. How does sexism get reproduced? How are sexist attitudes or values institutionalised? To what extent are we witnessing new forms of sexism, for example, ‘retro-sexism’ (Judith Williamson), ‘hipster or ironic sexism’ (Alissa Quart), ‘enlightened sexism’ (Susan J. Douglas), or ‘critical sexism’ (Sara Ahmed)? What role does the media have in reinforcing or challenging sexism? In asking these questions, we hope for contributions that explore how sexism intersects with racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism as well as class inequalities. We anticipate consideration of how feminists can intervene in the reproduction of sexism with bell hooks’ affirmation of feminism as ‘the movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression’ (2000: viii, emphasis added), kept firmly in mind.
Why sexism, why now? On the one hand, we have witnessed an increasing attention to the problem of sexism from feminist activists and journalists as we can witness, for example, in the Everyday Sexism project. On the other hand, although critiques of sexism as structural to disciplines were central to early feminist work in the academy, the concern with sexism, or the use of the vocabulary of sexism seems to have, if anything, receded within feminist theories. In this special issue we invite and enact a redirection of feminist theory towards the question of sexism. We also welcome contributions that question as well as show the utility of sexism as a name or framework; that ask how sexism might relate to other terms that feminists have used to explain gender inequalities (such as patriarchy, masculinism or phallocentrism); and that explore how sexism manifests in relation to heterosexism as well as cissexism.
The special issue is premised on the claim that thinking about sexism is a way of generating new feminist knowledge and understanding.
Contributions could cover the following issues:
Sexism and Language
Sexism and Science
Sexism and Intersectionality
Phenomenologies of Sexism
Sexism and the Media (including Social Media)
Sexism as/and Technology
Deadline for papers (maximum 8000 words) March 16 2015.
Please email your paper as a word document to Sara Ahmed (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is the editor of this special issue and on the editorial board for New Formations. You are welcome to get in touch with Sara before the deadline to discuss your contribution.