Porn hurts women, so say the partners of users


 I wrote ‘Porn Hurts’ after I saw Bettina Arndt’s Age article, ‘Porn is not a Dirty word‘. Here she provides data from her research on couples in long-term relationships. While her article, and the book on which it is based, provide a particularly insightful window into how many men feel about porn, she misses the mark entirely in terms of how this impacts women in relationship with users. This article offers an opinion suggesting, following the current research, that women are often distressed by their partner’s porn use, most especially where this use is secret and the couple are in a long-term relationship. I also question Arndt’s implicit reinforcement of male sex-right. 

Bueskens, P. (2012). ‘Porn hurts’, Arena Magazine, no. 117, May 2012, pp. 15-16.


A longer more radical version of this article was re-printed in On-Line Opinion on May 1st, 2012:


This article has been re-printed in a number of additional places including: on June 12, 2012:


The Anti Porn Men Project on July 22, 2012:



Connecting the dots: porn and women’s declining libido

Sex Drive_cover_

I wrote this after reading Dr Bella Ellwood-Clayton’s new book Sex-Drive. It examines the relationship between heavy porn consumption and women’s reportedly lower libidos.

Read ‘Connecting the dots: porn and women’s declining libido‘ at On-Line Opinion.

The article was reprinted in The AntiPornMenProject on May 10, 2012:

Why the need for consensus?


I wrote this article in relation to the furor that was generated around high profile Australian feminist Melinda Tankard Reist’s putative conservatism.

Read ‘Why the need for consensus?‘ at On-Line Opinion.

Women and Depression

Depression” is an entry I wrote in The Multimedia Encylopedia of Women in Today’s World (Sage, 2011). It examines the phenomenon of depression in relation to women in a global context.

Encyclopedia of Motherhood – Sharon Hays

This is an entry in The Encylopedia of Motherhood (Sage, 2010) I wrote on the sociologist  Sharon Hays. She is the author of a critically important book in motherhood studies, The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. This short piece gives an overview of Hays’ key ideas and work.  You can also read the introduction for the Encyclopedia of Motherhood by the editor Professor Andrea O’Reilly.

When Eve Left the Garden: A Modern Tale about Mothers who Leave their Families

Motherhood - Power and Oppression

“When Eve Left the Garden: A Modern Tale about Mothers who Leave their Families” is a chapter I wrote in Andrea O’Reilly, Marie Porter and Patricia Short (eds.), Motherhood: Power and Oppression, The Women’s Press/Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto, 2005, pp. 265-283.

This chapter is based on my early (and subsequently revised) PhD research on “mothers who leave”. I develop an argument that the mothers I interviewed were leaving the “institution of motherhood” which assigns the majority of childcare and domestic work to women – rather than children or mothering per se. I examine British and Australian data on leaving mothers, current data on the division of domestic labour, and prevailing feminist theories of autonomy before elucidating the case of Liz. After six years of marriage and motherhood Liz left her partner and child to live in her own home; however, she continued to co-parent her son and have him stay over two to three nights a week. I postulate that in retaining their active mothering but moving out of the default position in the home, leaving mothers offer a “third way” beyond the extant antinomy between autonomy and care.

From Perfect Housewife to Fishnet Stockings and Not Quite Back Again: One Mother’s Story of Leaving Home

I wrote “From Perfect Housewife to Fishnet Stockings and Not Quite Back Again: One Mother’s Story of Leaving Home” for The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering’s seventh issue, Mothering, Sex and Sexuality, Spring/Summer 2002, Vol 4.1, 238 pages.  This article tells the story of one of the women in my early PhD research on “mothers who leave” . “Lillith” tells the story of the return of her sexuality after leaving her partner and children. This paper was initially presented at the Association for Research on Mothering Conference MOTHERING, SEX AND SEXUALITY held on March 3-4, 2001, 152 Founders College, York University, Toronto, Canada. 

The Impossibility of “Natural Parenting” for Modern Mothers. On Social Structure And The Formation Of Habit.


I wrote “The Impossibility of “Natural Parenting” for Modern Mothers. On Social Structure And The. Formation Of Habit” for the Journal for the Association for Research on Mothering, vol. 3, no. 1, 2001. It was my first published piece and examines the difficulties inherent in mothering, especially attachment parenting, in the context of modern social structure with its sequestration of women to the private sphere and emphasis on individual fulfillment.  I wrote this from a complex place having been very involved in attachment parenting my first daughter, yet critical of the difficulties – nay impossibilities – this imposed. I remain both critical and respectful of attachment parenting (which may not be apparent from the article or its subsequent uses).

This article was selected for re-printing in Andrea O’Reilly (ed.) Mother Matters: Motherhood as Discourse and Practice (2004). In addition, it has been cited, written about and reviewed in many places.  See:

Joan B. Wolf, Is Breast Best? Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood, New York University Press, New York, 2011.

Ivana Brown, A Sociological Analysis of Maternal Ambivalence: Class and Race Differences Among New Mothers, PhD Thesis, Rutgers University, 2011.

Martha McCaughey, “Got Milk?: Breastfeeding as an ‘Incurably Informed’ Feminist STS Scholar“, Science as Culture,vol. 19, no. 1, 2010, pp. 79-100.

Ruth Cain, ” A View You Won’t Get Anywhere Else’’? Depressed Mothers, Public Regulation and ‘Private’ Narrative” Feminist Legal Studies, vol. 17, 2009, pp. 123-143.

“The Impossibility of ‘Natural Parenting’ for Modern Mothers, thread posted by ‘vaptek’ on 30/08/2008.
Shelley Kulperger, “Loss of Mother/Hood: Maternalising Postcolonial Cultural Memory” Hecate, vol.33, no.1, 2007, p.223.
Joan B Wolf, “Is Breast Really Best? Risk and Total Motherhood in the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign“, Journal of Health, Policy and Law, vol. 32, no.4, 2007, pp.  595-636
Andrea O’Reilly (ed.), From Motherhood to Mothering: The Legacy of Adrienne Rich’s “Of Woman Born“, SUNY Press, New York, 2004. See in particular the introduction, p. 6.
Chris Bobel, “When Good Enough Isn’t: Mother Blame in the Continuum Concept“, Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involevment, vol. 6, no. 2, 2004, pp. 68-78.
Alison Bartlett, “Breastfeeding Bodies and Choice in Late Capitalism“, Hecate, vol, 29, no. 2, 2003,  pp. 153-165.

Review of “A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies” by Judy DeLoache and Alma Gottlieb

I wrote a review of Judy DeLoache and Alma Gottlieb (eds.) A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000 for The Journal of the Association of Research on Mothering, vol. 3, no. 1, 2001, pp. 227-228.


From the text:

“Imagined Childcare Guides? What on earth are they? Amidst an array of fascinating anthropological research, we discover that they are “truthful fictions” or realistic accounts of childrearing conveyed through an imaginary protagonist. This is a clever book.  It takes the format of the childcare guide of the later twentieth century and uses it, albeit fictively, to develop a series of guides for ‘other’ societies: the Puritans of seventeenth century Massachusetts; the Beng of Ivory Coast (West Africa);  the  Balinese  of Indonesia;  Muslim  villagers  in  Turkey;  the Walpiri  (an Aboriginal group) of Northern  Australia; the Fulani of West and Central  Africa; and the Ifaluk people of Micronesia.”


Petra Bueskens | Mother, scholar, psychotherapist | Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Melbourne Daylesford