Sexist violence, racist violence, and any other form of violence including war, are not just social phenomena for scientific research: they are also forms of human action, people's behaviour towards other people. In this book Susanne Kappeler looks at the sphere of personal relationships, as the prime context where interpersonal relations are structured and the politics of behaviour take shape. Although feminism put the 'private' at the centre of critique, Western women and feminists (in theory and in practice) increasingly claim the private as a 'right'. In a series of case studies Kappeler analyses examples from psychology, psychotherapy and philosophy, including feminist versions thereof, revealing how all of these (re)constitute the subject's power and dominance, legitimating its violence towards others as 'natural' and inevitable. Her mounting critique of our dearest notions of identity, desire and self-fulfilment, of individualism and privacy, places the lived experience of our daily lives in the context of 'large-scale' politics of violence.
Moreover, in revealing the moments of decision where we opt for violence or for resistance, she also opens up new ways of thinking about political action.
Susanne Kappeler now works as a freelance writer and teaches in England and Germany. She is also the author of The Pornography of Representation (Polity,1986).