The ‘New’ Feminism and the Fear of Free Speech

  • Nancy McDermott


In November 2014, a student group called Oxford Students For Life invited journalists Brendan O’Neill and Tim Stanley to Christ Church College, Oxford to debate the proposition ‘This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All’. But no sooner was the event advertised on Facebook than a group of around 300 students set up a rival page railing against the prospect of men debating abortion. According to the protesters, the debate was bound to feature ‘really shitty anti-choice rhetoric and probs [sic] cis-sexism’,1 and would threaten the ‘mental safety’ of Oxford students.2 They invited their fellow undergraduates to bring ‘non-destructive but oh-so-disruptive instruments’ to shut down the event. The Oxford University Students ’ Union Women’s Campaign (WomCam) quickly jumped on the bandwagon, condemning Oxford Students For Life for holding an event in which ‘two cis-gender men debate about what people with uteruses should be doing with their bodies’.3


Sexual Harassment Free Speech Helicopter Parenting Feminist Censorship Abortion Debate 
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  1. 17.
    That’s What She Said : Women Students’ Experiences of ‘Lad Culture’ in Higher Education, by Alison Phipps and Isabel Young, National Union of Students, 8 March 2013, Scholar
  2. 25.
    Only Words, by Catharine MacKinnon, Harvard University Press, 1993, p. 107.Google Scholar
  3. 31.
    The End of Men, by Hanna Rosin, Riverhead Books, 2012, pp. 176–177.Google Scholar

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© The Editor(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy McDermott
    • 1
  1. 1.New YorkUSA

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