Vera Tollmann

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Interview with Judith Williamson
Published in Starship #7, 2004

You have spoken at a number of conferences recently such as “The New Sexism” at the University of Brighton. Following your article “Retrosexism”, first published in the London based “Eye Magazine” in the summer of 2003, it seems that sexism is being debated again today. What impact do you think this discussion can have?

I hope it does become discussed a bit more! I’ve been encouraged by having a big response to my work on this issue. The article in Eye magazine focuses mainly on images - although that doesn’t mean I think sexism is only about images. But I have had a lot of women telling me that they had found particular images disturbing and wanted to criticise them but felt not able to. The article tried to address this phenomenon. The term and the very concept of sexism have fallen away in recent years, certainly in Britain. Then there is a strong fear - partly based on the caricature of the women’s movement in the popular press - of seeming to be humourless or being outdated. In presenting my material at conferences and so on I have talked to a lot of women, and they have said that on these issues they often operate self-censorship. Women are not feeling confident enough just to say: “We don’t like this!”

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