Xin Hui Yong is a PhD student in Philosophy at MIT. They work broadly on concepts of power, agency and positionality as they relate to decision-making as social beings. They are also interested in how modes of inquiry (both formal and otherwise) can bear on our social and political agency and activity. Much of their work also centers around the question of what makes liberatory social movements succeed, and what tools we can develop to empower collective action towards remediating structural injustice.

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Abstract: Privacy is an immensely effective weapon, given its ability to conserve power. It is, however, common knowledge that many of those who wield it have brandished it against marginalized communities to dominate and exploit them. As a result, feminist legal theorists like Catharine MacKinnon have been (rightfully) suspicious of privacy as a concept, and the liberal attempts to defend privacy (such as Anita Allen's) have fallen short.

I take a different approach. I argue that while MacKinnon is right to be suspicious of privacy as a tool of domination, her target is domination itself. I contend that not only could privacy be useful for the marginalized communities themselves, but that it is also a necessary tool if the communities are to succeed at their liberatory social movements. In order to reconcile the feminist critiques and the importance of privacy, however, requires some conceptual reengineering – we have to enrich the vocabulary of privacy talk to also include notions of communal privacy. This way, we do not just harness privacy's ability to conserve power as domination, but also the other kinds of power Amy Allen draws our attention to like solidarity and agency.

This means that privacy's liberatory prowess can only be effectively realized if we depart from mainstream liberal notions of privacy – and the multitude of feminist critiques that plague them – and move toward a privacy that applies to groups qua groups and fulfills both feminist and liberatory aims.