Studying Mothers In Mommy Wars. Where Do Maternal Studies Start?

infant pic on AllThingsMaternal blog

Blogs abound. This one by Helena Vissing addresses the complexities and nuances of the maternal subject with reference to psychoanalytic feminism, including my book.

“Bueskens (2014), in her introduction to Mothering and Psychoanalysis, argues that if we recognize the mother or “the maternal” as a valuable subject from which to generate knowledge, it may not only free women from the constraint of the institution of motherhood, but also shift our “epistemological, political, social and psychic horizons” (p. 4). How is that for a promising statement?” You can read the whole post, which is short but potent here.

Mothering and Psychoanalysis book launch

Anne Manne

Anne Manne

We had a wonderful launch for Mothering and Psychoanalysis last night. You can view photos from the launch by John Mayger here.

Breastfeeding in public – panel discussion

WIW poster D1_CP1

I am hosting a panel discussion on breastfeeding in public at the Words in Winter Festival in Daylesford on Sunday August 3rd, 1pm at The Rex. Joining the panel will be noted academic and writer Dr Fiona Giles author of Freshmilk: The Secret Life of Breasts, Anna Kaplan documentary film maker and producer of The Booby Trap, Susan Reddrop and myself.  You can see the program here. Hope to see you there!

Demeter Press author interview

Demeter Press interviewed me in relation to the publication of Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives. They asked what the topic brings to the literature, about “therapy as a form of paid mothering” and what my favourite feminist book on motherhood is.  This interview can also be accessed here.

Demeter press interview with Petra Bueskens

Demeter press interview with Petra Bueskens




These days breastfeeding is often in the headlines. How did something so common become so contentious? Following a diverse group of new mothers and couples, Breastmilk engages delicately with contemporary debates surrounding infant feeding. With a revealing series of conversations featuring medical practitioners, academics, and parents, filmmaker Dana Ben-Ari questions why very few women succeed in breastfeeding exclusively for the recommended period. Observing and respecting tensions between biology and gendered social pressures, Breastmilk is a refreshingly open contemplation of this most natural and nurturing act.

Come and check out the panel discussion after the screening of Breastmilk at the Human Rights, Arts and Film Festival this Sunday May 11. I’ll be there with the wonderful Dr Fiona Giles author of Fresh Milk: The Secret Life of Breasts, Associate Professor Lisa Amir and Clementine Ford.

Single mothers and the sexual contract


I wrote this piece after reading many of the comments on the Parenting Payment for Parents – NOT Newstart facebook page. It begins with a story about my own experience of single motherhood and contrasts this with how difficult things have become. I critique the new “Fair Incentives to Work” legislation which has forced all recipients of Parenting Payment Single whose children have turned 8 onto the woefully inadequate Newstart payment. I make the argument that this is a human rights violation because it essentially discrimates against women with children who are not married. 

Read ‘Single mothers and the sexual contract’ at On-Line Opinion:



How Psychotherapy Fits into a Dissolving Social Structure

 I wrote the article “How Psychotherapy Fits into a Dissolving Social Structure” in response to a heated exchange between the sociologist Professor Eva Illouz and three members of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society Dr. Itamar Levy,  Dr. Anat Palgi-Hecker and Dr. Eran Rolnick in the weekend magazine of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.  The article was published in the August 10, 2012 weekend edition of Haaretz.  This article is only available to subscribers and can be read here:


A longer version of this article will be appearing in my forthcoming book Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives, Demeter Press, Spring 2014.

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:



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