Mothers And Basic Income: The Case For An Urgent Intervention

Mother-and-baby

The gender pay gap requires urgent attention, writes Dr Petra Bueskens. But there is a strong case to be made for the reality that mothers and single mothers should be at the front of the queue.*

Universal basic income – or #UBI – has been gaining traction in recent years as a utopian alternative to the punitive, stigmatising and declining welfare state in neo-liberal societies. The confluence of increased automation, declining wages and under-employment has been seized by the Left as a powerful reason for the establishment of a basic income (although interestingly, the UBI has always had supporters on the Right who want to do away with big government).

For women as mothers, however, the UBI opens up the possibility of a hitherto unseen equality that includes freedom from dependence on a male wage.

Mothers and Basic Income was published in New Matilda on February 23, 2017. You can read it here.

 

Australia Needs A Universal Basic Income, And We Should Start With Mothers

Mothers and basic income Huffpost image

Australia Needs A Universal Basic Income, And We Should Start With Mothers

Women should not need access to a husband to avoid poverty.

My New Matilda piece Mothers and Basic Income: The Case for Urgent Intervention was reposted (and slightly edited) in this Huffington Post on February 24th, 2017. You can read it here.

Why We Grieved For Hillary Clinton And Who Defends ‘Western Values’ Anyway?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

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.

https://newmatilda.com/2016/11/26/why-we-grieved-for-hillary-clinton-and-who-defends-western-values-anyway/

 

Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia vol 4: Psychoanalytic Theories and Therapies

PACJA Logo

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.

 

Feminist Writers’ Festival: Decommodifying Feminism

Feminist Writers' Festival

Feminist Writers’ Festival

 

Photograph by Clareo O'Shannessy, 2016

Petra Bueskens at FWF16. Photograph by Clareo O’Shannessy, 2016

I spoke at the Feminist Writers’ Festival with Andie Fox and Viv Smyth on the panel Decommodifying Feminism at the networking day. You can listen to the podcast here.

 

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.

Reflecting on the Cologne attacks one month on

Demonstrators in Hamburg, Germany, protesting violence against women there and across the country.

Demonstrators in Hamburg, Germany, protesting violence against women there and across the country.

Feminists have been criticised for not responding to the Cologne attacks, in particular for failing to prioritise women’s rights against refugee or migrant men’s rights. In this article published in Online Opinion on Feb 2nd, 2016 I examine this ‘failed response’ in terms of an inability by feminists, and the Left more broadly, to listen to non-western feminists who have identified mob sexual assault of women in public places in the Arab world for some time. I also address: the importance of the distinction between race and culture in understanding the problem and; the difficulties for those on the Left (including myself) with articulating and defending ‘western values’.

 

Book review for Mothering and Psychoanalysis

 

Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives

Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives

The December 2015 (no. 68) edition of the UK based psychoanalytic journal Free Associations has an excellent, richly descriptive review of my edited book Mothering and Psychoanalysis by Joanna Kellond. Here’s a few choice excerpts from her review:

“This section powerfully elucidates the complex ways in which ideas of subjectivity, attitudes to motherhood and social norms – all imbricated with economic imperatives – potentially collude in maintaining the neoliberal status quo.”

“Collectively, these essays explore both entrenched negative representations of the maternal and other discursive productions which offer new modes and possibilities for maternal signification and symbolisation. They thus play a role in the necessary re-imagining and transformation of the maternal beyond the terms of patriarchy.”

“[This section] continues this work of reimagining and redefinition, not least by foregrounding a move from the ‘infantocentric perspective’ common in much psychoanalytic theorising to a more intersubjective, even ‘maternocentric’, one (344).”

“This acknowledgement of the complex, multifaceted nature of maternal subjectivity provides a necessary redress to a rhetoric of idealisation that can leave mothers feeling inadequate.”

And finally,

“Bueskens is correct that the collection is eclectic, though it’s an eclecticism that works. Across the diverse papers certain themes recur, pulling them together into what feels like an important and timely conversation. The relationship between motherhood and neoliberalism, and the need to create new modes of signifying and symbolising the maternal beyond the terms of patriarchy are central themes that receive sophisticated and compelling exploration. These themes also speak to and feed into the collection’s abiding concern with not only an ethics, but a politics, of care. In this context, the maternal takes centre stage in both the theory and practice of imagining the world otherwise. As such, this collection will be an essential read for anyone concerned with this process of re-imagination, and with bringing the mother from ‘the shadows of our culture’ (Irigaray 1991: 35), into the light.”

You can read the full review here:

Flexibility won’t stop women retiring in poverty

NM pic for flexibility article

This article interrogates recent proposals by the Australian Liberal Party to ‘stop the gender gap’ in retirement savings. Essentially the proposals offer women the ‘flexibility’ to pay more of their own superannuation without addressing the systemic problems associated with combining care work with paid work. You can read the article here:

https://newmatilda.com/2015/10/30/flexibility-wont-stop-women-retiring-in-poverty/

Breastfeeding and work: babies need more than just (pumped) milk, they also need their mother’s bodies

Routledge Press

Routledge Press

One of the key issues concerning breastfeeding and work is women having the flexibility to feed while they are working. This calls for a radical transformation in the culture of work. While most women manage this combination through pumping, as maternal scholar Julie Stephens notes, this relationship superimposes neo-liberal work norms onto mothers, by separating maternal and infant (or toddler) bodies (2010). With pumping, it is the mother who adjusts to an individualist work culture rather than the other way around. Mothers remove their milk and remain separated at the bodily level from their babies – keeping up the “supply” of both milk and work – while maintaining a façade of the disembodied worker. This piece was written for the Routledge Press blog for World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, 2015.

Mothering and Psychoanalysis

 Nancy Chodorow and Petra Bueskens_Maynooth University_June2015

Dr Petra Bueskens, editor of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia and lecturer at the Australian College of Applied Psychology recently attended the Motherhood and Cultures conference at Maynooth University in Dublin, Ireland. The keynote speakers were Professor Nancy Chodorow and Professor Andrea O’Reilly – both leaders in the field of motherhood studies. Sessions focused on motherhood in contemporary art, literature, media and culture, including in psychology and psychotherapy research and practice. A short article in July 2015 PACFA eNews covered my recent attendance at this conference. You can read the piece on page 20 or read the excerpt here:

eNews-July-2015_excerpt

 

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