Hello and welcome to my website. I am a writer, researcher, editor, psychotherapist and mother. This website includes links and posts relating to my academic research and opinion writing. Most of the posts are about the politics of motherhood, gender and feminism, Australian politics (usually as they pertain to the aforementioned subjects), social theory and psychotherapy. These are my passions! I hope you find something useful, enjoyable and challenging to read here. You can email me using the contact tab on the right.
It’s not often that elections, let alone foreign ones, elicit such a strong emotional response as the wave of grief that broke across liberal, intellectual and left social circles in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election victory.
Writer and actress Lena Dunham said that “Wednesday was a day of mourning. Thursday too. Hell, I’m giving us till Sunday.” On social media the grief was raw and deep. Many talked of being unable to process Trump’s victory and of feeling shocked, despairing, fearful, angry and anxious. The shock and distress were palpable, and certainly I felt it too.
Why do we – the collective feminist left in particular – feel this way? I think there are multiple levels beginning with the most personal. Clinton’s defeat is emblematic of the many defeats we have suffered in our attempts to forge careers and compete in the ostensible meritocracy. What we see, regardless of our feelings about her “dishonesty”, “war mongering”, and “corrupt” associations with banks – the epithets that weigh her down on the left and make it difficult to express political support let alone admiration – is that still in 2016 a talented, highly qualified, accomplished and eminently experienced woman coming through the established party political channels lost to an incompetent, blundering, inexperienced buffoon. You can read the rest of the article here. It was published in New Matilda on November 26, 2016.
Andrea O’Reilly has a new book out called Matricentric Feminism. What’s that you ask? Its a feminism that centres mothers and recognises that being a mother is its own social, political, economic and psychological position. Mothers are a social category and need a feminism that recognises this. Likewise, as feminists we need to re-centre motherhood given the ongoing structural inequality produced by motherhood.
O’Reilly explores the theory, practice, activism and academic position of matricentric feminism. She takes us on a journey through diverse maternal feminist theory, the emergence and growth of the motherhood movement in the 21st century, the practice of feminist mothering (and mothering as a feminist) and the complex, unacknowledged place of motherhood within academic feminism. I had the honour of writing the forward for this book having known Andrea personally and professionally for almost two decades now. You can read my forward here.
From the blurb:
The book argues that the category of mother is distinct from the category of woman, and that many of the problems mothers face—social, economic, political, cultural, psychological, and so forth—are specific to women’s role and identity as mothers. Indeed, mothers are oppressed under patriarchy as women and as mothers. Consequently, mothers need a feminism of their own, one that positions mothers’ concerns as the starting point for a theory and politic of empowerment. O’Reilly terms this new mode of feminism matricentic feminism and the book explores how it is represented and experienced in theory, activism, and practice. The chapter on maternal theory examines the central theoretical concepts of maternal scholarship while the chapter on activism considers the twenty-first century motherhood movement. Feminist mothering is likewise examined as the specific practice of matricentric feminism and this chapter discusses various theories and strategies on and for maternal empowerment. Matricentric feminism is also examined in relation to the larger field of academic feminism; here O’Reilly persuasively shows how matricentric feminism has been marginalized in academic feminism and considers the reasons for such exclusion and how such may be challenged and changed.
PACJA vol. 4 is now published. As editor I put together this exciting themed edition on psychoanalytic theories and therapies. There are contributions by leaders in their fields including Professor Jon Mills, Professor Diana Kenny, Associate Professor Peg Levine, Professor Denis O’Hara. Professor Anthony McCarthy, Anne Manne on narcissism and more. You can read my editorial here which gives a good overview of each article as well as the two literature reviews and books reviews.
“This edition of PACJA promises an eclectic and exciting collection of articles under the broad theme of psychoanalytic theories and therapies. What characterizes these different articles – the first three in particular – is an analysis of analysis or, in Jon Mills’ terms, an internal critique of psychoanalytic theories and therapies. This critique from within is important; it is part of the process of scholarly and clinical reflection and revision and yet, as Mills describes, it is so often fraught. While critique from outside psychoanalysis is predictably dismissive, faulting psychoanalytic concepts such as the unconscious on their lack of empirical evidence or theories such as infantile sexuality on their apparently preposterous and fantastical qualities, critique from within tends to be fractious and lead to splits within and across schools.” Read on.
A little about the Feminist Writers’ Festival from the website:
The Feminist Writers Festival will bring together feminist writers and readers to connect and strengthen the diverse writing communities that exist around Australia. The festival will expand the themes and voices around feminism and women’s writing by offering a space for critical engagement and practical support for all feminist writers and readers.
Hosted in partnership with the Melbourne Writers Festival, the 2016 Feminist Writers Festival comprises a workshop and networking day on Friday 26 August at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, plus five public events, co-hosted by the Melbourne Writers Festival, on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 August at Federation Square and Footscray Community Arts Centre.
This article begins with an account of former midwife Gaye Demanuele’s recent referral to the director of public prosecutions by the Victorian Coroner Peter White following the death of Caroline Lovell during a homebirth with Gaye and another midwife. It outlines the destruction of independent midwifery and homebirth in Australia while also highlighting the critical paradigm and power differences between independent midwives and the medical and media establishments. I argue that this is part of the story regarding the treatment of midwives like Gaye (and many others) in the legal system. I also defend the critical political importance of women’s right to choose how and with whom they give birth – a right enshrined in the law but regularly violated. This article was published in New Matilda on June 10, 2016. You can read it here.