The Doll's House: Critical men, feminism and academia
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This paper reports on and further develops work carried out as part of an undergraduate dissertation on “critical” men in academia and their relation to feminism. A focus group, and subsequent Foucauldian discourse analysis, were utilized to explore the professional and private relationships to feminism of four male social scientists (all self-reportedly critical in their theoretical orientation). The analysis revealed that they employ specific discursive strategies to maintain a gendered status quo and the institutional and intellectual segregation of academic feminism. These discursive strategies included: strategically deployed contradictions; an intellectualised engagement with feminism; a stark separation of the private and public; the relativising of experience and a polite ignorance of feminism warranted through appeals to academic hierarchy; a preference for alternative types of theorising, and; a claimed lack of relevance of white, middle class feminist academic theorizing. Perhaps of most significance was the persistent separation of their public and private subjectivities. This was revealed in their portrayals of women and feminists and in their lack of a public or macropolitical engagement with feminism. And while these men often acknowledged a private, micropolitical affiliation with feminism, this engagement was self-defined, essentially non-scrutinisable and, ultimately, reducible to little more than depoliticised private opinion.
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