The Department of Feminist Studies at UCSB and others across the campus value feminist scholarship and understand the historic connection between scholarship and social justice activism. We denounce the message that “Feminism is Cancer” as hate speech deployed to exploit the traditions of inquiry and discussion that make the university such a special place. This is the title of a campus lecture scheduled for May 26 and sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty. The event is being promoted on social media as showing how feminism has “turned into something that is bad for both women and men.” In fact, as the provocative title of the lecture makes clear, this is an attack on the intellectual and activist commitment of scholars across the university whose research and teaching focus on the ways that relations of gender, intersecting with race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, nation, ability, and other differences, affect every aspect of society.
We acknowledge that the university is a site for dialogue, discussion, and the exchange of ideas and that there are multiple feminisms and feminist histories. But calling feminism “cancer” is not dialogue. It is backlash against the gains we have made. Along with the words of hate inscribed on our campus in the first week of April, this event attacks a long tradition of scholarship and activism committed to intellectual rigor, social justice, and critical citizenship.