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/

Malcolm Turnbull, Immanuel Kant and the conundrum of small and big l liberals

Malcolm Turnbull MP

Malcolm Turnbull MP

Everyone has something to say about Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the ‘small l’ liberal leading the ‘big l’ Liberal Party.  In this article I respond to an article in New Matilda by Spencer Jackson on the relevance of the eighteenth century philosopher Immanuel Kant for Turnbull’s refugee policy. In it I outline the key differences between small l and big l liberalism and the conundrum for Turnbull between his idealism and pragmatism. You can read the article here.

Keeping up supply: it isn’t only about the milk

Kelly O'Dwyer and baby Olivia 2015

Kelly O’Dwyer and baby Olivia 2015

This article examines the recent breastfeeding/expressing controversy around Australian Member of Parliament Kelly O’Dwyer. It first describes this incident and then makes a critique of the neo-liberal emphasis on ‘expressing’ as an equivalent to breastfeeding. The article was published in OnLineOpinion on Septermber 22nd, 2015. You can read the article here.

This article was re-posted on Andrea Fox’s wonderful bluemilk blog along with a number of other interesting articles on neo-liberal mothering. You can read the post here.

 

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