Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit
Contesting Brexit Masculinities: Pro-European Activists and Feminist EU Citizenship*
Although Brexit campaigns mobilized discourses of hegemonic masculinity that marginalize women, women seemed to be at the forefront of pro-EU campaigns post-referendum. I explore to what extent pro-EU activists make claims to EU citizenship that contest the masculinities of Brexit. Combining Isin's approach to citizenship as 'performed subject positions' with intersectional feminist theory, I argue that masculinity became a site of EU citizenship contestation, which nevertheless reproduced racialized and class-based exclusions. Drawing on interviews with grassroots pro-EU activists, I argue that activists reject militaristic discourses of British identity by asserting multiple embodied identities, demand rights relating to the intimate sphere, and participate in informal, local and non-hierarchical ways. Yet, they reveal a white cultural European identity, a European exceptionalism in demands for rights, and a failure to break with the whiteness of traditional social movements. These findings demonstrate the need for feminist and intersectional analysis within EU public opinion research.
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