Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 9, pp 2517–2538 | Cite as

Perpetuating the patriarchy: misogyny and (post-)feminist backlash

  • Filipa Melo LopesEmail author


How are patriarchal regimes perpetuated and reproduced? Kate Manne’s recent work on misogyny aims to provide an answer to this central question. According to her, misogyny is a property of social environments where women perceived as violating patriarchal norms are ‘kept down’ through hostile reactions coming from men, other women and social structures. In this paper, I argue that Manne’s approach is problematically incomplete. I do so by examining a recent puzzling social phenomenon which I call (post-)feminist backlash: the rise of women-led movements reinstating patriarchal practices in the name of feminism. I focus on the example of ‘raunch feminist’ CAKE parties and argue that their pro-patriarchal dimension cannot be adequately explained by misogyny. I propose instead a different story that emphasizes the continued centrality of gender distinctions in our social normative life, even as gendered social meanings become increasingly contested. This triggers meaning vertigo, a distinct form of social anxiety and the reactionary impulse at the heart of (post)-feminist backlash. Meaning vertigo both complicates the answer to Manne’s main question—“why is misogyny still a thing?”—and suggests the need and opportunity for a different kind of feminist political intervention.


Feminism Misogyny Gender Kate Manne Raunch Backlash Patriarchy 



A special thanks to Ishani Maitra, Sydney Keough and Johann Hariman for extensive comments and discussion on the early drafts of this paper. Thank you to Mercy Corredor, Eduardo Martinez and Eli Lichtenstein for helpful feedback and suggestions. Finally, thanks to an anonymous referee and to the audiences at Michigan, Claremont McKenna, Syracuse, Temple, at the 2017 Critical Social Ontology Workshop and the Feminist Utopias Conference at the University of Iceland.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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