Feminism and the Critique of Violence: negotiating feminist political agency
143 - 163
Journal of Political Ideologies
MetadataShow full item record
The acute sensitivity of feminism to violence, in its many different forms and contexts, makes it a particularly interesting case for the examination of the relationship between politics and violence in theory and practice. Our purpose in this paper is not to adjudicate the normative question of whether feminism implies a commitment to pacifism or to the use of non-violence. Rather, we are interested in examining how the relation between feminist politics and violence is construed as feminists struggle to develop a politics in which opposition to patriarchal violence is central. We begin with the feminist critique of violence, and move to examine how particular articulations of that critique shape and are shaped by practices of feminist political agency in specific contestation over the goals and strategies of feminism. We use the well-known case of feminist debates over the Greenham Common Peace Camp in the UK in the 1980s to demonstrate how negotiating women's political agency in relation to opposition to male violence poses problems, both for feminists who embrace non-violence and prioritize the opposition to war, and for feminists who are suspicious of non-violence and of the association of feminism with peace activism. In both cases, the debates over Greenham demonstrate the fundamentally political character of the ways in which the relation and distinction between violence and politics are conceptually and practically negotiated.