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Protesting like a Girl: Embodiment, dissent and feminist agency

Parkins, W. (2000) Protesting like a Girl: Embodiment, dissent and feminist agency. Feminist Theory, 1 (1). pp. 59-78.

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This article examines feminist agency in the light of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological account of the body subject. Stressing the importance of embodiment to feminist agency (without reifying an essential female body), I argue that bodies inhabit specific social, historical and discursive contexts which shape our corporeal experience and our opportunities for political contestation. Beginning with the assertion that we cannot think of agency without the body, I examine a historical instance of feminist agency in which women’s bodies were central to the articulation of political dissent, namely the British suffragette movement. In particular, I focus on the suffragette career of Mary Leigh and argue that it represents a feminist agency derived from corporeal performance. Through daring acts of protest which drew attention to the comportment and capacities of their bodies, suffragettes like Leigh contested the constitution of the political domain and the nature of citizenship.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Copyright: © 2000 by SAGE Publications
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