Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 13:00
Law Boardroom, Level 2, Law Building, UNSW Kensington
Speaking Out: Rape, Feminism and Narrative Politics

Speaker: Dr Tanya Serisier


The explosion of women's speech about sexual violence and harassment has been described as a 'turning point', a 'reckoning' and even, by some, a 'revolution'. Critics of the #MeToo moment, or movement, warn instead about the loss of due process or the birth of a sex panic. In this talk I place this moment of speaking out within the history of a half-century of feminist organising around rape, and the prioritisation of women's narratives of experience in this politics. Thinking in terms of this history allows us to make a fuller accounting of the promises and potential pitfalls of a politics based on women's speech about sexual violence. I argue that this kind of historical assessment of speaking out is a necessary step in moving towards a feminist politics that imagines a world in which telling stories of sexual violence might no longer be so urgently necessary. 


Dr Tanya Serisier is a Lecturer in Criminology at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research focuses on the cultural politics of sexuality and of sexual violence, and she has published widely on these areas. Her forthcoming book, Speaking Out: Rape, Feminism and the Politics of Narrative is a critical investigation of speaking out about sexual violence as a core strategy of feminist politics, and it attempts to analyse both its strengths and limitations. She is beginning a new research project on the politics of sexual respectability and deviance under neoliberalism.