Whiteness, masculinities and radical democracy: Mapping four spaces of (dis)appearance

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Radical democratic theory conceptualizes public visibility as empowering. In particular, feminist democratic theorists propose a politics of presence through identity politics, according to which it is the visibility of the marginalized body that in itself articulates a political claim for inclusion. Today, a new subject enters the space of appearance: the white, cisgender, heterosexual man claims recognition through embodied identity performances. Engaging in the men’s rights and Trump movements, the performance of white masculinities, however, does not appear as empowering, but as anxious, defensive and weak. Drawing on whiteness and masculinity studies, this article explains why public visibility may both empower and weaken. By combining the concept of visibility with voice, it maps four spaces of (dis)appearance and explores the mobility of identity groups between them. Whether entering the space of appearance is empowering depends on the point of departure. Instead of claiming equal recognition, as marginalized groups do, white men cling to their unearned privileges. The article observes a general migration towards the space of appearance, rendering it more contentious.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)832-843
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023


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