A feeling is haunting gender studies departments, Tumblr accounts and safe spaces: the feeling of “feminist frauds”. Nobody ever said that fighting for social justice and being a feminist scholar writing about “The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins” will be easy.
Luckily, Elizabeth A. Sharp of Texas Tech University and Shannon E. Weaver of the University of Connecticut have conducted a study into this very phenomena and concluded that the feeling arises not from debunked unscientific truths feminists hold dear — no, the culprit is clear — it’s the Patriarchy, stupid.
The study titled “Feeling Like Feminist Frauds: Theorizing Feminist Accountability in Feminist Family Studies Research in a Neoliberal, Postfeminist Context” will “name ‘feelings of fraudulence,’ the experience of self-awareness and self-questioning that feminist family scholars often encounter in their work.”
The study draws on well-known feminist Peggy McIntosh’s research which concludes that women generally feel like frauds in their professional life due to patriarchal forces.
The authors wrote: “personal feelings of fraudulence are linked to broader, political context.” They criticized universities for adopting “neoliberal” economic accountability that forces scholars to produce applicable research because such traitorous scholars are “likely to be rewarded within a patriarchal system.”
Thus Sharp and Weaver suggest that feminist scholars, who don’t accept the “neoliberal” way of doing research, will tend to feel like frauds because they won’t be rewarded as much and will feel inadequate.
However, the study offers a glimpse of hope for radical feminist scholars that they can embrace the feeling – by pushing deeper:
The repeated expression of feminist scholars who doubt whether their own work is “feminist enough” or whether they produce “partially feminist” work is indicative of critical insight—these doubts operate as signifiers to push deeper, to take questions further, thus enabling a richer, more complex analysis.
Don’t we have enough overtly radical feminist academic papers?