On the beginning of the world: dominance feminism, afropessimism and the meanings of gender

Feminist Theory 23 (4):556-574 (2022)
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Dominance feminism and afropessimist theory, despite their critical appearances three decades apart, are undergirded by similar rhetorical strategies, political commitments and argumentative moves. This is the case even as afropessimism’s citational trajectory rarely invokes dominance feminism, and often positions itself as a critique of feminism’s imagined conception of gender as white, one that is thought to be most emphatically announced in the work of scholars like MacKinnon who invest in a gender binary, and in women’s oppressed location in this binary. In this article, I insist on reading dominance feminism and afropessimism together. In so doing, I aspire to challenge afropessimism’s prevailing conception of gender, revealing that while it is often critical of feminist conceptions of gender – particularly conceptualisations of gender that are thought to insist on the shared experiences and positions of women – it actually relies on similar argumentative moves, and even rhetorical seductions, as dominance feminism.



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