My books on feminism

One of my two key areas of scholarship is the contemporary feminist movement. I have written two books and a series of papers on this topic, with two more books on the way.

In 2008 I published my first monograph, Women in Science, Engineering and Technology: three decades of UK initiatives (Trentham Books). This book presented an accessible overview of the recent history of UK initiatives designed to encourage girls and women into non-traditional fields such as science, engineering, technology, construction, and the trades. It examined girls and science projects in schools, training programmes for women in manual trades, activist groups for students and women professionals, and government-sponsored initiatives such as the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) and the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET. Using archival and interview data spanning the 1970s to the early 2000s, it explored the aims and frameworks of the initiatives, examined the practices developed, and commented on the mixed results achieved.

My second monograph came out in 2014: entitled The Politics of the Body: gender in a neoliberal and neoconservative age (Polity Press). This analysed debates and initiatives on the topics of sexual violence, sex work, gender and Islam, and reproduction. It uncovered dubious rhetorics and paradoxical allegiances, and contextualised these within the powerful contemporary geopolitical coalition of neoliberalism and neoconservatism. The book argued that feminism could be caricatured and vilified at both ends of the political spectrum, and that Western feminisms were faced with complex problems of positioning in a world where gender often came second to other political priorities. You can read more about the book here, and read extracts from it here.

I am now writing two further books: a trade book called Me, Not You: the trouble with mainstream feminism, which is based on my next monograph, entitled Personal Business: the Fight Against Sexual Violence (under contract to Manchester University Press). These books explore the contemporary mainstream feminist movement against sexual violence, exemplified by #MeToo and other campaigns. They argue that because this movement tends to be dominated by privileged white women, it operates with what I call ‘political whiteness.’ This has a number of characteristics including narcissism, a will to power, and a constant alertness to threat. Furthermore, this type of feminist politics either tends to sacrifice more marginalised people in the process of achieving its aims, or vilify them when they are perceived as threatening themselves. The latter form of political whiteness, seen especially in feminist campaigns against sex workers and trans people, has attained a great deal of power in a right-moving context where the ‘wounds’ of white people have taken centre stage.