About Dr. Tanya Serisier and this TKS episode:
Dr. Tanya Serisier is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Criminology at Birkbeck, University of London. In this episode of the Know Show Podcast, she expands on her important research that explores the cultural politics of sexuality and sexual violence from a feminist and queer perspective. She talks about her involvement in feminist activism and student activism, and her work in the community sector in women’s health. She discusses her research in Australia, drawing out the way sexual violence has been trivialised and used to mobilise racist and sexist discourses. Her most recent work examines conceptions of sexual pleasure and danger under neoliberalism, with a particular focus on the cultural politics of sexual consent.
A brief synopsis:
Tanya begins by explaining what drew her to this subject area. She discusses her involvement in feminist activism, which began during her undergraduate degree, and explicitly highlighted to her the widespread prevalence of sexual violence on campus. She critiques the fact that although there has been a greater acknowledgment of cases of sexual violence and harassment in courts, little change has been visible.
She talks about her research in Australia, focussing particularly on the trivialisation of sexual violence. She expands on the racist media discourses that linked a spate of gang rapes to gangs of young Muslim and Middle Eastern men targeting white Australian women. She goes on to explain how this stimulated campaigns for further criminalisation and longer sentences for offenders. She explains that sexual violence was being used to mobilise racist discourses but also sexist notions of white women belonging to white men. As a result, these campaigns have contributed to the racist notion that men of colour constitute a threat to white women, and she shows how damaging this is for the feminism and actually tackling sexual violence and harassment.
Tanya talks about her book, touching on the positive and negative effects of comedy in relation to sexual violence. She discusses how comedy has been used to challenge rape myths and rape culture and how it can be used to open conversations. She also offers helpful advice and ways for people to become more involved in feminist activism.
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TKS take home points:
In this TKS episode, Dr. Tanya Serisier gives us an insight into the harmful effects of media discourses that trivialise real problems in society, and what this does to activist movements. She explains how important it is to keep widening the discussion around sexual violence, to keep raising awareness and pushing for solutions that will make a difference.