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.

Gaye Demanuele and the politics of homebirth



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.

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:


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