Feminist Review

Published by Palgrave Macmillan
PIP This article explores the ramifications of the 1992 "X Case" in which an Irish High Court rescinded the constitutional right to travel of a 14-year-old rape victim who intended to obtain an abortion in England. The article opens by noting that this decision made the subordinate role of women in Ireland painfully visible, thus allowing Irish feminists to win a degree of national and international support. The article examines newspaper coverage of the injunction to consider how this abortion issue reconstituted discourses of women's status, sexuality, and national identity in Ireland. The article provides background information on women's role in Ireland, relegated by the Constitution to the domestic sphere, and reviews the origins of the 1983 "pro-life" Constitutional amendment. Next the article considers how the discourse surrounding the child's rape and resulting pregnancy submerged the autonomy of the child in the victimhood of her family. The article continues by looking at the internal and international denouncement of the Irish state for its action and the responding Irish construct of a civilized "us" versus a barbaric "other." This was countered by appeals to "the people's" will and reinterpretations of the 1983 amendment to justify a more pragmatic approach to public policy about rape that would de-emphasize the moral status of the fetus. After showing how feminist protest extended the questions raised to embrace the issue of national identity and women's citizenship rights, the article concludes that the battle for female reproductive and sexual hegemony in Ireland continues.
PIP National politics in the US, Poland, and Ireland have in recent years been afire with debate over abortion. Conflicting abortion laws almost scuttled the reunification of Germany. This paper describes how the abortion debate took hold in post-Communist Poland and how the issue came to be so entrenched in US politics in the wake of the US Supreme Court's 1973 decision on abortion in the case of Roe vs. Wade. It focuses upon abortion mainly as a method of birth control which women have always sought when needed regardless of the procedure's legal status. The controversies and campaigns recorded and the ideas offered focus upon women's access to affordable, safe, and legal abortion. The author argues that Poland is no place to be a woman and presents sections on the country's church, government, and medical profession; Roe vs. Wade; who opposes abortion rights and their broad success; the 1992 US presidential election; Bill Clinton's presidency; why the abortion debate has been different in Britain; and new issues on abortion.
In early 1991 the abortion debate in Poland entered its new stage. The prolife and prochoice options had already clashed in the early 1930s over a new penal code and backstreet abortions. According to the code of 1932, induced abortion was allowed in cases of rape, incest, or for medical indications. Abortion was legalized in 1956, but subsequently it came under attack from Catholic circles, and by 1989 the Unborn Child Protection Bill was drafted which criminalized abortion. Only 11% of Polish women use modern contraceptives. The less efficient methods are the most prevalent: the natural method (Ogino-Knaus calendar), 35% of couples; coitus interruptus, 34%; condoms, 15%; oral contraceptives 7%; chemical spermicides, 2.5%; and the IUD 2%. According to size of Catholic Church estimate there are 600,000 abortions yearly. In contrast, official statistics indicate that the number of abortions is decreasing: 137,950 in 1980; 105,300 in 1988; 80,100 in 1989; 59,400 in 1990. In January 1991 the Constitutional Tribunal dismissed the motion of the Polish Feminist Association against the restrictive regulations of the Ministry of Health concerning abortion. After a parliamentary stalemate on the Unborn Child Protection Bill a commission consisting of 46 persona (1.2 of them women, 20 persons from the prochoice and 24 from the prolife lobby) continued the debate on the bill. Public opinion polls conducted by independent groups in November 1990 showed that about 60% of citizens were against the Senate's draft. Since then interest in the abortion issue has dwindled, and only 200 women and men took part in a prochoice demonstration in front of the parliament on January 25, 1991. In the spring of 1989 and in September 1990 thousands had participated in similar demonstrations. The prevailing attitude is that if the antiabortion bill is passed nothing can be done.
PIP Notably absent from the public debate on abortion in Ireland have been the voices of women who have experienced induced abortion. Interviews with six acquaintances of the author who underwent abortion identified four themes underlying women's post-abortion silence. First, women fear public condemnation and personal rejection. Second, women are concerned that any emotional ambivalence they express about the abortion experience will be misconstrued as anti-abortion sentiment. Third, women worry that speaking out about their experience would be upsetting to friends and family. Fourth, women report frustration about the lack of a suitable public forum for voicing the complexities inherent in the abortion issue. The women's perception that their experience did not fit neatly with the rhetoric of either pro- or anti-abortion groups caused them to feel alienated from a political discourse that tends to depersonalize abortion. Although none of the women regretted the abortion decision, they continued to struggle with unresolved conflicts over taking responsibility for ending some form of life. A cycle has been created in which women do not feel safe to discuss their personal experiences until a more favorable political climate exists, yet the public perception of abortion is unlikely to change until more women's voices are heard. Feminist leaders are urged to address this dilemma.
PIP This analysis of memoirs, diaries, and letters written by English-speaking women living in the Caribbean region since the early 1800s pays particular attention to testimony on their gendered life experiences. The analysis draws examples from five autobiographical writings, three memoirs, three diaries, and the letters of three women in its consideration of various aspects of the women's lives. The essay opens with an acknowledgement of the recent efforts of historians to incorporate women's experiences into the concept of "history" and a discussion of the ways that women's voices can be recaptured that notes the paucity of primary sources. The topics covered in the examined documents reveal information about motherhood and marriage, health and sexuality, domestic life and household management, the conditions and suffering of female slaves, the rearing and education of girls, the influence of Christian missionaries, and the general status of women.
PIP This theoretical study of feminism in the Caribbean opens by presenting the contemporary image of the Caribbean and then pointing to the continuing influence of the colonial past in the creation of contemporary community and the establishment of identity. The paper continues with a focus on three aspects of identity, or difference, that have influenced the daily articulation of feminism and academic debates. The first concerns the positions taken by women in the region's political struggles. The second is an exploration of the linguistic meanings of the gender discourse within the region. Finally, the essay examines the idea of linguistic difference in light of contemporary Western feminist views of "sexual difference" versus equality. The discussion of each of these issues is grounded in historical analysis and illustrated with specific examples. The study concludes that, in this region, feminism offers a new way to investigate the past while creating challenges and opportunities in the struggle to establish a Caribbean identity.
PIP The introduction of this article on the impact of the colonialization of Puerto Rico by the US on gender relations and women's status notes that development strategies facilitated women's integration in the formal sector but recreated gender inequity and inequality by positioning women in low-paying jobs. The next section provides an historical overview of "Operation Bootstrap," an early example of the creation of export processing zones and of initial legislation to improve the status of women in the labor force. Next, the current situation is described as a period characterized by contradictions and industrial restructuring as the economy has moved from labor-intensive manufacturing to provision of high-tech financial services, and the impact of these changes on gender relations is sketched. The population control policies of Operation Bootstrap are then described as seeking to regulate women's reproductive behavior rather than to improve reproductive health or redefine gender relations. The article continues with a look at the still pervasive constraints to the redefinition of gender roles in politics, where male dominance places women in competition with each other for the same positions. After tracing the second wave of feminist organizing and the responses of the state to feminist mobilization, the article concludes by reviewing the challenges feminists face in demanding equal employment opportunities, healthy working conditions for women, child care, and adequate public health in a system that rewards privatization and reductions in social services.
PIP This reexamination of the status of women in Haiti opens by noting that the analysis was prompted by an acknowledgement that the past decade has given Haitian women the opportunity to make great developmental and educational progress. The analysis begins by presenting a brief social history of Haitian women, which focuses on such issues as the second-class status afforded Haitian peasants in the 19th century; the fact that household and agricultural duties curtail the education of children; the prestige assigned to marriage versus the more usual common-law unions; the social hierarchy recognized by the peasants; the survival of polygamous unions; the involvement of women in farming, marketing, and trading food; and recent attempts by rural women to gain education and organize themselves to improve the conditions of their lives. The analysis then turns to the status of rural women after they migrate to urban areas, where economic categories create the social hierarchy and Statute Law applies. This section focuses on the income-generation opportunities that were available to these women during the Duvalier regimes, on the conditions of life for the middle class, and on the use of violence by employers and the state to control women of all classes. The second part of the analysis looks at how Haitian women have been represented in literature by female and male Haitian writers and highlights the way female writers used subversive narrative techniques to create a stereotype-breaking female identity. The essay concludes that women writers are continuing to further social activism and feminist struggles.
In debates over abortion, the foetus and the woman have been continually positioned as antagonists. Given the stakes involved in such debates about personal integrity, individual responsibility, life and death, it is no wonder that many radical feminist authors have concentrated on refocusing the attention on women and away from the disembodied foetus. Such writers have worked hard to decode and deconstruct the public foetus in our midst and have mobilized interpretative tools such as cultural criticism to contextualize the production and consumption of foetal images. Barbara Duden's book, 'The Public Foetus,' is an important and interesting contribution to this effort, which is still taken up by authors writing in this field. Duden's strategy is to seek to remind us (and in particular those who are involved in reproductive medicine) that pregnancy is concentrated in the embedded pregnant woman rather than the disembodied 'public foetus' and she attempts to retrieve the embodied woman as the site of pregnancy through what Michaels has termed a 'fetal disappearing act.' While this may create as many problems for women as it resolves, I would argue that, while the 'public foetus' continues to loom large in the politics of abortion and women's positions in relation to the new reproductive technologies remain contested, Duden's work remains important in the continuing debate about how women's reproductive freedom can be continually re-negotiated and re-established.
The Asian Debt Crisis of 1997-2001 led to drastically higher levels of unemployment, resulting in enormous social anxiety and shock. For the first time in its history, South Korea's attention was forcibly drawn to homeless people. Both the new government of the first civilian president, Kim Dae Jung, and an emerging civil society began to pay unprecedented attention to homeless issues. In this new context, homelessness was constructed as a product of the economic crisis. However, although certain homeless men who fit the category of employability and rehabilitation were considered `deserving', long-term street living people and homeless women were disregarded and further marginalized through specific gendered processes. In particular, homeless women were rendered invisible and considered `undeserving' because they fell outside of normative gender expectations, including the idea that a woman's place was in the home, regardless of their ability or desire to work. Building upon `needs-talk' analysis created by Nancy Fraser, this paper exposes the important role of gender norms in the making of a neoliberal welfare citizenship in South Korea, by arguing that the narratives of homeless policy administrators and shelter managers designated homeless women as `undeserving' welfare citizens.Feminist Review (2008) 89, 87-101. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.19
This essay is an inquiry into the socio-cultural history of the use of forceps in 19th-century Mexico. It argues that the knowledge and practices that the use of such instruments implied were related to complex and controversial issues of the time regarding gender, race and national identity. In my study of operations involving forceps, I found that the adoption of medical instruments depended not only upon their supposedly greater operative efficiency but also upon the political and medical meanings attributed to the pelves of Mexican women. Early 19th-century obstetrics conceived the womb as an example of ‘living nature’ whose qualities assured that births were ‘normally happy events’ making the use of forceps and other instruments unnecessary. However, by mid-century, in the aftermath of independence, Mexico was desperately attempting to forge its identity as a nation. Due to European theories of race, Mexican women came to be characterized as having pathologically deformed pelves that evidenced possible defects of racial formation. The analysis of operative practices involving forceps reveals just how strongly such medical instruments became charged with a complex political definition of the ‘mestizo race’, which was seen to hold political promise for the future. In this context, forceps ceased to symbolize the threat of death, with which they had been associated since colonial times, and became artefacts that helped to assure the safe delivery of newborn mestizos by overcoming the problems of Mexican women's pathological pelves; although by the same token, the status of women as biologically inferior beings in need of medical assistance was reconfirmed.Feminist Review (2005) 79, 100–115. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400204
The objective of this article is to contribute towards a fuller critical understanding of gender relations/politics in mid-19th-century Spanish America. Its aim is to provide an account of the relationship Mexican President General Antonio López de Santa Anna established with his two wives. This study is particularly concerned with the representative value of Santa Anna's case in terms of 19th-century gender relations and the macho stereotype of the caudillo. Do Santa Anna's marital and extra-marital relationships confirm or question traditional views on the position of women in Spanish America following the achievement of Independence? Do they conform with the ‘rock-star’ lifestyle generally attributed to the early 19th-century caudillo? A key aim of this study is to test the extent to which the relatively recent claim that women were more independent and influential than had been previously noted is borne out by case-studies of the women who shared their lives with the promiscuous six-times president Santa Anna.Feminist Review (2005) 79, 52–68. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400199
By comparing two time periods, the early and late 20th century, this article examines the ambiguities and ambivalences in the state promotion of women in the nation-building projects of Mexico. I argue that in both cases, the state was keen to promote itself as modern and progressive and used women's status in society to these ends. Despite the explicit focus on women, there were many ambiguities and ambivalences resulting from the competing state projects in the political, socio-economic and cultural arenas offering women both privileged spaces and constraints in the development of gendered citizenship. The contradictions arise from simultaneously promoting women's rights, extolling traditional gender roles and fearing women's political activism – both conservative and more radical. Although these ambivalences and ambiguities remain a constant feature, there is a key difference in the two time periods: in one the regime is inward looking, economically protectionist and corporatist, while in the other a new vision of Mexico has attempted to dismantle the corporatist structures and state development project with private economic initiatives and political individualism. In both periods, women gained important rights but romanticized imagery of the self-sacrificing mother was mobilized to underpin change: women were expected both to change and remain the same.Feminist Review (2005) 79, 116–133. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400205
Using the turn of the century blackface performer Bert Williams as a case study, this essay explores how we might think about black male performativity in the New World as a historical formation, one that extends both over the time of modernity and across the space of diaspora. I draw from contemporary theories of circum-atlantic performance and black feminist studies of the impact of slavery on black racial and gendered identities, to argue that performance affords a unique window into how blackness is constructed in a space between the black male performer and his equally racialized New World audience. The essay theorizes a notion of key black male performances as `signature acts', then explores discussions of minstrelsy by other black American writers such as Ralph Ellison, Ishmael Reed, and the black British writer Caryl Phillips. Using Fanon's notions of triple-consciousness in tandem with Brechtian and Freudian theories of alienated performances and jokes, the essay concludes with a brief analysis of some of the gendered significations in lyrics from Bert Williams' first musical comedy and then also in a novel about the performer by Caryl Phillips.Feminist Review (2008) 90, 128-146. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.29
This paper speaks across the divide between feminist theorists and praxis-oriented gender experts to argue for a more enabling reading of postcolonial feminist critiques of gender and development. Drawing on the activism of Afro-Colombian women in the Pacific Lowlands of Colombia – most especially Matamba y Guasá, a network of black women's organizations from the state of Cauca – it brings attention to the independent ability of women in these locations to reflect and act on their own realities and claims.Feminist Review (2004) 78, 38–55. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400189
This article seeks to interrogate the category of the `political' through an exploration of the present trajectory of feminist peace activism in Sri Lanka. It provides a critical appraisal of current strategies adopted by the majority of feminist organizations that seem to suggest a shift from `refusal' to `request'. This results in the resort to more `feel safe' campaigns, rather than the placement of oneself in an antagonistic and oppositional relationship with the state, which continuously calls the political into question. It concludes by considering two other kinds of political trajectories and the disparate conceptual challenges each offers.Feminist Review (2009) 91, 81-93. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.52
This article considers how the concept of desire can be theorized in light of recent work on emotion and affect. In so doing, it questions what desire does and how desire can be theorized, particularly within cinema. Instead of arguing that we must move away from a psychoanalytic interpretation of desire, I ask how this approach can be revitalized and reconsidered through work on affect. This article also highlights the way in which Lacanian and Deleuzian models of desire are constantly set in opposition to each other; in so doing, it seeks to move beyond this impasse and gesture towards alternative ways of theorizing desire. One of the central issues foregrounded within psychoanalytic theory is the process of remembering and forgetting: the method through which the subject can `let go' and move forward. This relationship is figured primarily in terms of the discourse between self and other. Marguerite Duras' work questions this process of `letting go' and offers an alternative conceptualization of desire through her use of melancholia. Beyond an intrinsic interest in her work, because Duras has been admired by psychoanalytic, feminist and Deleuzian scholars, her films present an opportunity to rethink a theorization of desire in light of competing interpretations. In discussing melancholia in terms of Duras' work, this paper also considers the extent to which her use of Hiroshima as a backdrop to the affair presented in the film colonizes desire and its transformative potential.Feminist Review (2008) 89, 16-33. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.10
This article examines Djanet Sears' Afrika Solo (1990), the first published play by an African Canadian woman, as an example of African diasporic writing in Canada. Now one of Canada's most celebrated playwrights, and a leading figure in the recent popularity and success of African Canadian theatre in the last decade, Sears began her dramatic exploration of African Canadian identity in her semi-autobiographical play Afrika Solo, first produced in 1987. As I intend to argue, the play's musical score and its use of stage space problematizes the notion of static cultural origins often associated with the Canadian multicultural discourse of hyphenated identities by pointing to the many cross-cultural and transnational sites that shape constructions of African Canadian identity. In so doing, the play develops an innovative diasporic aesthetic that can be placed within a larger cultural tradition of African diasporic representation theorized by Rinaldo Walcott, Paul Gilroy, and Dionne Brand.Feminist Review (2006) 84, 104-123. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400303
In this article I analyse the structural and cultural conditions of low-caste women's political agency in urban north India. Whereas in Western feminist political theory, the sexual division of labour is considered to be a key constraint for women's political participation, I show how this has a secondary relevance in the context analysed. I argue that issues concerning the division of labour are intertwined with and subject to those of male consent and support for women's activities. I illustrate how it is often the supposedly `oppressive' household boundaries rather than alternative outer spaces that, under a series of enabling circumstances, initiate women's political activities. Against this backdrop, I show how Indian women activists' political agency is shaped by men's role, and how agency's relational nature is embedded in women's lifecycles, everyday practices and cultural expectations; in essence, in overall gendered agency. Comparative analyses between Western and non-Western models of political participation and discourse have only just begun. In this respect, I contribute to this nascent field in the following directions: not only do the arguments I present in this article challenge the individualistic Western subject of political action, but they also complicate the idea of the resulting empowerment as a culturally constructed process whose understanding arises from the dialectics between insider and outsider values.Feminist Review (2009) 91, 113-134. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.42
This paper examines texts written by, or in collaboration with, female ex-members of the Italian left-wing armed organization, the Red Brigades. The corpus differs from male-authored or male-centred texts in that issues relating to identity and selfhood lie at the very heart of the project of narrating the terrorist past; the primary concern of Italian women's post-terrorist narration is not to narrate the experience of belonging to an armed organization, but to construct a new identity distinct from a pre-existing self identified exclusively with the transgressive experience of political violence. I consider the corpus in the light of a number of critical problems posed both by the specificity of female perpetration and by the dearth of theoretical writings on perpetrator trauma more generally. I identify in each text an acute anxiety about the very act of speech or narration and find that, in order to circumvent the perceived prohibition on speech, the women of the Red Brigades subtly insinuate into their life writing a discourse of alterity bordering on subalternity that obscures the boundary between victim and perpetrator. The unacknowledged slippage between discourses of perpetration and victimization is explored in relation to Ruth Leys' critique of Cathy Caruth's formulation of trauma as the wound that cries out through the voice of the victim. The paper concludes by questioning whether perpetrator trauma can ever be articulated as such and by considering the implications of that question for traumatized perpetrator and victimized society alike.Feminist Review (2009) 92, 1-18. doi:10.1057/fr.2009.6
This article aims to contribute to current debates about international migration and the restructuring of the Welfare state in Europe, by highlighting the specificities of the French context. It draws on ethnographic research about the training of unemployed migrant women as domestic workers in Paris to address the ambiguities that underlie the enterprise of professionalizing domestic service. The qualitative data presented in the article show how essentialist ideologies operate within training practices of domestic workers. They reveal that the training practices challenge the association of the job with domesticity, but fail to acknowledge the racist organization of domestic service. Hence, they endorse essentialist constructions of cultural difference. Training practices are also consistent with current neoliberal policies and discourses on unemployment and `employability', as they are framed by the normative reference to an entrepreneurial model of society. Finally, the data suggest that migrant women's experience of domestic service as a prospective job and their scepticism about the enterprise of professionalizing radically differ from the instructors' views.
This article looks at the ways in which Spanish American women exploited the political and social turmoil of the late 18th and early 19th centuries to move beyond their traditional sphere of influence in the home. Women directly participated in the Túpac Amaru Rebellion (1780–1781) and in the Wars of Independence (1810–1825) providing funding, food supplies, infrastructure and reinforcements for the troops, and nursing the wounded. Others contributed by taking part in the physical fighting (both openly and disguised as men) and a few led troops into battle. This article looks at some of the individuals behind the statistics and reveals their determination to participate despite the punishments imposed on women found guilty of disloyalty to the Spanish crown. Spanish colonial law had to be amended to ensure that women dissidents were given as equally harsh sentences as men. In the immediate post-independence period, rather than be seen as misfits or a threat to the patriarchal system, several of these women were given national awards.Feminist Review (2005) 79, 20–35. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400200
In 1991, Ukrainian independence opened an important theoretical channel for debating the status of its women. The people's collective memory of an ancient matriarchy generated a neo-matriarchal mythology which has been transformed into a delusional ideology that legitimizes female subordination, in the name of her alleged empowerment. Fieldwork in Ukraine - annual visits, including travel from one end of the country to another in official capacities, and many extended stays in Ukraine, as a scholar, researcher, educator and participant in key events, provided opportunities for exchanging views with countless people from many walks of life throughout the country. Participation in a host of programs - television `specials' on gender, seminars, retreats, workshops and conferences, designed to raise the consciousness of women and men alike - provided an array of opportunities to observe at first hand the way that today's women construct individual identity. Extensive research in the press (many runs of daily newspapers, including Den', in Kyiv, and Vysoky Zamok in Lviv, and women's journals such as the widely read Zhinka, among others) added further insights. Television viewing, popular publications collected habitually during my numerous visits to Ukraine, copies of documents contributed by my Ukrainian friends and colleagues, outdoor advertising, posters and intimate gatherings at the homes of likeminded women, all played a part in the formation of my impressions of Ukrainian women's inferior status. In this paper I use my findings to explore the conflicting discourses on women's alleged empowerment, and the essentialist constraints on their self-realization, together with measures adopted to date on changing gender stereotypes and promoting equal rights and opportunities.Feminist Review (2009) 92, 129-150. doi:10.1057/fr.2009.5
Cultural concerns about race, class and beauty often intersect with mass-mediated depictions of the female body. Drawing on Foucault's theories about disciplining the public body, this article examines the changing public perception of Anna Nicole Smith from an ideal beauty to a white trash stereotype. This analysis argues that Smith's very public weight gains, her outrageous behaviour and her legal battle for her late husband's fortune is presented in the media as an example of inappropriate conduct for a white beauty ideal and thus is repositioned as white trash culture. Central to this repositioning is the constant tabloid depiction of Smith as an ‘out of control’ grotesque. This article argues that contrary to the optimistic understanding of female grotesques as effective agents of cultural criticism and social change, Smith represents the female grotesque as an agent of cultural control that instructs middle-class women on how to avoid committing classed, racial and gendered transgressions. The article concludes that the case of Anna Nicole Smith functions as a cautionary tale that reinforces cultural standards of normalization.Feminist Review (2005) 81, 74–94. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400240
This article is concerned with the ways in which ‘race’ and gender interact between interviewers and participants within the research process and the implications of differences/similarities between researcher and participants for feminist research and analysis. The paper discusses issues of power and representation within a research project conducted by the white female author and two Asian female interviewers with 64 British Muslim young men and women. Based on analysis of discussion group data, it is argued that ‘race’ and gender interact between researchers and participants in highly complex and unpredictable ways to produce particular accounts, but comparative analysis of accounts produced with different interviewers can help reveal ‘hidden’ structures of power within the texts.Feminist Review (2002) 72, 108–132. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400043
The au pair program in general is still known as a form of cultural exchange program and a good possibility for young women to spend a year abroad, although it has undergone great changes during the last 10 years. This article argues that due to different socio-economic and cultural processes in Western postindustrial societies as well as in the eastern and southern parts of the world the au pair program is becoming a form of domestic work with quite similar working and living conditions to that of live-in migrant domestic workers. This article which is based on two empirical studies on the globalizing au pair business in Eastern and Western Europe as well in the United States looks into the motivations and expectations, the living conditions and interactions between the au pairs and the employer families and contrasts these findings with the discourse of the au pair agencies still advertising au pair as a form of cultural exchange. In doing so the paper can show that it is the still dominant image of au-pair as a cultural exchange program (disarticulating the work aspect) that leaves the young au pair women even more vulnerable to exploitation: ‘big sisters’ are the best domestic servants. This article draws attention to the racialized economization of the private sphere and care work, the inherent traps and exploitative features of this very specific work place.Feminist Review (2004) 77, 65–78. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400177
This article argues that the specifically sexual nature of the political violence of the 1947 Partition of British India installs women's bodies as unambiguously sexed and ethnic. Through an analysis of Kirti Jain's 2001 theatre production of Aur Kitne Tukde (How Many Fragments?), I consider how Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs appropriate colonialist and nationalist ideologies surrounding the notion of `woman' as repository of cultural value. The women in Jain's play are not a priori subjects who experience violence but rather the experience of violence makes (and unmakes) them as gendered, ethnic and national subjects. I argue that they come into subjecthood after a violent objectification and are re-constituted by their experience of national and sexual violence. The performance of nationalism - through embodied acts of sexual violence, conversion, martyrdom and state violence - is enacted upon female bodies that are transformed into political artefacts. I ask how bodies are staged and commodified by acts of political violence and argue that marking female bodies through acts of political violence constitutes a mode of transcription to communicate with other men that will encounter this body.Feminist Review (2006) 84, 29-47. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400299
This essay analyses how Australian postcolonial discourses, influenced by both Republicanism and Reconciliation, deploy the trope of woman to signify political change in both feminist and cultural debates about belonging, national legitimacy and sovereignty. I point out that white feminist rejection of the Queen in favour of embracing indigeneity is itself complicit with a history of `incorporating' and assimilating indigeneity - a complicity that is sublimated in favour of a triumphant rejection of Imperial white womanhood. The essay looks at a contemporary Australian novel, media depictions of Paul Keating's `embrace' of Queen Elizabeth II (as a kind of captivity narrative), critical whiteness studies' `rejection' of the Queen and the misrecognition of Australia's distinct characteristics as a `settler culture' (that incorporates indigeneity) within Australian feminist debates and claims of `transgression' that are made for interracial relationships in Australia.Feminist Review (2008) 89, 73-86. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.3
The main argument in this article is that the Australian government in power from 1996 to November 2007 failed women's domestic security by denying the central policy role of women's organizations in the struggle against domestic violence and by successfully expunging public debate on gender issues in Australian governance, while participating in the `war on terror' to guard national security. In bringing together a discussion about the war on terror and the importance of feminism for women's security, key issues about feminism, race and gender are considered. This article also explores the prevalence of violence against women and the social implications of the lack of leadership in public debate about the gendered nature of violence against women. Under the Australian government led by Prime Minister John Howard that gained power in 1996 and was defeated in 2007, women's organizations lost financial support and women's policy infrastructure was decimated. Violence against women, however, continued to increase, reaffirming women's place in Australian society as insecure and dangerous. After more than 30 years of struggle to maintain domestic violence and sexual assault as serious social policy problems, provide services, support and advocacy for women who are victims of violence and assault, women's organizations are coming to terms with a society where there is a blindness to the role of gender in violence against women.Feminist Review (2008) 89, 55-72. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.9
This article revisits the figure of the `third world sweatshop worker', long iconic of the excesses of the global expansion of flexible accumulation in late twentieth-century capitalism. I am interested in how feminist activists concerned with the uneven impact of neo-liberal policies can engage in progressive political interventions without participating in the `culture of global moralism' that continues to surround conventional representations of third world workers. I situate my analysis in the national space of Bangladesh, where the economy is heavily dependent on the labour of women factory workers in the garment industry and where local feminist understandings of the `sweatshop economy' have not always converged with global feminist/left concerns about the exploitation inherent in the (now not so new) New International Division of Labor. The tensions or disjunctures between `global' and `local' feminist viewpoints animate the concerns of this article. I argue that de-contextualized critiques derived from abstract notions of individual rights, and corresponding calls for change from above - calls on the conscience of the feminist and the consumer, for instance - can entail troubling analytical simplifications. They highlight some relations of power while erasing others, thereby enacting a different kind of violence and at times undermining mobilizations on the ground. I draw attention to the multiple fields of power through which much of the activism across borders continues to be produced and reproduced discursively. This kind of framing fits all too easily into existing cultural scripts about gender and race elsewhere, and produces ethical obligations to `save' women workers.Feminist Review (2009) 91, 154-174. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.55
Recent discussions about violence against women have shifted their attention to specific forms of violence in relation to migration and Islam. In this article, I consider different modes of representing women's experiences in French immigrant communities. These representations relate to the French feminist movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises (neither whore nor submissive), a movement that in the early 2000s deplored both the sustained degradation of certain banlieue neighborhoods and also the charges and restrictions that this entails, particularly for young women. Drawing on different narratives and images of women's painful experience, I consider, in a first step, how the question of representing violence against (post)migrant women is framed in terms of the tension between universality and particularity within French republicanism. In the next part of my argument, I bring into focus the question of how to access women's suffering. For a perspective on pain not as an interiorized, private experience but as an accessible complex of practices, articulations, memories, visions and social reconfigurations, I consider Smaïn Laacher's sociological study (2008) about written testimonies of violent experience that had been addressed by (post)migrant women to French women organizations such as Ni Putes Ni Soumises. I finally suggest reading women's accounts on violence not in relation to a universal discourse of rights, but as a political contestation of the naturalized order of representing violence, suffering and agency inside French banlieue communities. Drawing on Jacques Rancière's notion of dissensus, such a contestation can be staged through words by those who have no visibility in the representational order, words not to criticize the unaccomplished ideals of universal equality, but to create a universal community and a common language of experience in the mode of `as-if'.
This paper addresses feminist materialism as political practice through a case study of IWW-Earth First! Local 1, the late Judi Bari's organization of a radical ecology/timber workers' union in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California. Rejecting the Earth First! mythology of timber workers as ‘enemies’ of nature, Bari sought to unite workers and environmentalists in pursuit of sustainable forestry practices against the devastating approaches favoured by multinational logging corporations. In so doing, she brought a working-class feminist perspective to the radical ecology of Earth First! Bari's work provided a significant instance of community organizing in opposition to the masculinist, exclusionary practices and misanthropic posturing of Earth First!'s self-proclaimed ‘eco-warriors’ and ‘rednecks for nature’. What is perhaps most interesting about the development of Local 1 is the articulation of feminist, environmentalist and labour discourses through a series of political actions.
This article addresses the complex reflections regarding gender relations expressed by women active in the contemporary Islamic revival movements in Europe (especially France and Germany). Much recent research conducted among these groups aims to counter the rather negative accounts prevailing in public discourses on gender and Islam. This literature notably argues that women's conscious turn to Islam is not necessarily a reaffirmation of male domination, but that it constitutes a possibility for agency and empowerment. However, when faced with certain `traditionalist' positions defended by these women, even this well-meaning literature seems precarious, left in a state of uncertainty. Taking this puzzlement as a point of departure, this contribution aims to think about the dilemmas involved in articulating a language for women's dignity and self-realization, which competes with dominant languages of equality, individual rights and autonomy. This project is rendered even more intricate by the fact that these pious Muslim women socialized in Europe have also been partly fashioned by the liberal discourses against which they want to position themselves.
This article presents the case against immigration controls. Nation states, which are giving up controls on the movement of goods and capital, nevertheless still try to control the movement of people. Like controls under apartheid, immigration controls will eventually become untenable. They are also a relatively recent phenomenon. The actions of the governments of the rich countries, their international agencies and corporations increase both the opportunities and the need for migration. Together with arms sales and support for right-wing repressive regimes, they bear much responsibility for the wars and persecution from which people are forced to flee. The strongest reason for abolishing immigration controls is the increasingly harsh suffering they impose on refugees and migrants, largely to deter others. In the process, they undermine many human rights, including potentially those of existing residents.Feminist Review (2003) 73, 6–18. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400071
The construction of foreign domestics as ‘Others’ has been a critical process to the globalization of domestic service. While the globalization of domestic service has been associated with a transnational female labour force, the transnational labour system has always been reconstituted as a new labour regime consistent with local particularity. In this article, I examine how Taiwanese employers discursively construct the otherness of their Filipina domestics. I argue that Taiwanese employers construct and naturalize the otherness of foreign domestics utilizing national identities, racial characteristics, and nationally based class difference. These differences, integral to the racialization of foreign domestics, are central not only to the persistence of their servitude at home but also to their social and political marginalization in the host society as a whole. The localization of a transnational labour force necessitates the examination of the contextual politics of difference. Rather than speaking of the universalized experience of foreign domestics, the contextual politics of difference provides a comparative framework for understanding not only the relational but also the contextual nature of identity construction. It demonstrates how difference is localized in the transnational system of care and how the localization of difference serves to reproduce social and global inequality.Feminist Review (2004) 77, 46–64. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400156
Citizenship is both a contentious and contested struggle about the creation of rights, duties, and opportunities. Feminist practices and debates can clarify the meaning of citizenship. This is because the form of feminist practices, characterized by an ongoing struggle, and the content of feminist debates, focusing on gender and other inequalities, recognition of different voices, and critiques of the public and private dichotomy, are particularly suited for dealing with the challenges of contentious and contested processes of citizenship. We argue more specifically that feminist debates and practices provide fruitful contributions for the citizenship challenges that the European Union must face.Feminist Review (2009) 92, 108-128. doi:10.1057/fr.2009.2
The central issues raised in much of feminist literary theory's early scholarship remain prescient: how does narrative engage with the social-historical? In what ways does it codify existing structures? How does it resist them? Whose stories are not being told, or read? In this article I use Doris Lessing's novel The Fifth Child (1988) as a text with which to begin to address the above questions by reading with attention to the mother story but also the `other' stories operating both within and outside of the novel; in particular I am concerned with the convergence of maternity, disability and narrative. The novel's co-implication of sexual difference and corporeal difference reveals the ways in which the mother's story is both made possible and authorized by the disabled body of her child, and by his inability to tell his own story. Yet, if The Fifth Child is a horror story that uses the disabled child's body as its ground, it is also about the horror of maternity, in its conception and attendant choices. In this fictional story as well as in the social-historical narrative circulating at the time of its publication in the late 1980s, both child and mother are indicted in their otherness and it is ultimately impossible to separate one from the other.
Menstruation leave for women workers brings into the public domain of mining ongoing debates around protective legislation for women. It brings into focus the presumed tensions between gender equity and gender difference with regard to women's economic citizenship. Large-scale mining in East Kalimantan in Indonesia has offered some opportunities to poor and unskilled rural women to find formal jobs in the mines as truck and heavy equipment operators. This paper presents a case study of women in mining occupations, considers the implications of current menstruation leave provisions on the employment of women in the mines and raises serious issues related to gender equity in the workplace. The involvement of women in a non-conventional workplace such as the mine pits, providing a novel site for contestation over the rights of women workers, illuminates a less-debated area in feminist studies, especially in view of the significant ongoing changes in the Indonesian framework for industrial relations.Feminist Review (2008) 89, 102-121. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.5
In April 2008 over 2,600 single women marched for three days to Shimla, the state capital of the northwestern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, to demand rights to land, health care and ration cards for single women. The march was organized by a new social movement called Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan, comprising divorced, abandoned, never-married women, widows and wives fleeing domestic violence who are demanding rights from the state in their own names (rather than as wives, daughters or mothers); in so doing they are directly challenging the construct of the `dependent woman' naturalized in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial discourses. The most radical of the demands of this new social movement is the struggle for land rights and the creation of new women-centred family formations. Through an analysis of their collective demands, I argue that the normative, dependent woman is mutually constituted not only at the intersections of gender, kinship and heterosexuality, but also spatially, through denial of rights to land. As single women disown their dependence upon husbands/fathers/brothers and demand land rights, they simultaneously re-imagine gendered selves by envisioning new marital families and re-working the division of labour.
The discursive production of the ‘self’ in the context of mental health care has potential implications for how the subjects of intervention come to understand and experience themselves. Eating disorders provide an illustrative example of the ways in which conceptualizations of the self that structure mental health practices can be gendered, because they are mainly diagnosed in women and dominant explanations of their origins are feminized. This discourse analytic study examines the gendered nature of mental health workers' constructions of the eating-disordered self through the psychological construct of ‘identity’, examining the dominant discourses implicated in the feminization of deficient identity, and addressing the implications of this construction for mental health practice.Feminist Review (2003) 75, 57–74. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400112
This paper argues that the `double-standard' applied to male and female tourists' sexual behaviour reflects and reproduces weaknesses in existing theoretical and commonsense understandings of gendered power, sexual exploitation, prostitution and sex tourism. It looks at how essentialist constructions of gender and heterosexuality blur understandings of sexual exploitation and victimhood and argues that racialized power should also be considered to explore the boundaries between commercial and non-commercial sex. This paper is based on ethnographic research on sexual-economic exchanges between tourist women and local men and boys in the informal tourist economy in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.Feminist Review (2006) 83, 42-59. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400280
This paper investigates the dilemma that has been projected upon Indian female dancers' bodies by contemporary Indian audiences when female desire occupies the centrality of a performance and projects the female body as sexual, articulate and independent of the discipline and propriety of classicism. Locating this dilemma in the nationalist construction of Indian womanhood and femininity as `chaste', this paper adopts Victor Turner's notions of liminal and liminoid phenomenon and Brechtian defamiliarization technique as a feminist strategy to construct a framework within which the contemporary Indian dancer can reclaim her sexuality in performance. To investigate the complex nationalist trope of chaste Indian womanhood, and to analyse the subversion of this trope by placing agency on the female body as sexual, I locate my argument in the discussion of The Silk Route: Memory of a Journey by Kinaetma Theatre, UK, which was performed in Kolkata in August 2004.Feminist Review (2006) 84, 67-83. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400301
This article attends to the transformation of national identity that occurs in the context of `the multicultural debate' in the Netherlands, and unfolds on the terrain of Dutch (secular and sexual) exceptionalism. First, it explores the connections between two topics that are prominent in the `multicultural debates' all over Europe and undergird the civilizational discourse of a post-Cold War geopolitical era: discussions about secularism on the one hand, and gender and sexual politics on the other. Through a mode of `secular nostalgia', which mobilizes the understanding of the Netherlands as a place par excellence of emancipation for both women and sexual minorities, the Dutch secular arrangement is restructured in new exclusionary ways. Second, it explores how dominant discourses on the symbolic and material borders of the nation interpellate young Muslim women who often figure as the central `subjects of debate'. I rely on the notion of interpellation (Althusser) to explore the question of subject formation, with a particular attention to the epistemological conditions of `talking back' as a subject whose constituency and agency is always already informed by the terms in which she is addressed.
Throughout the last decades, state and civil society actors in Germany have undertaken a number of initiatives in order to enter into a structured conversation with Muslim communities, and to find spokespersons who serve as partners for political authorities. This process has commonly been analysed in terms of its empowering effects for Muslims via the emerging `institutionalisation' of Islam. The modes and techniques of power at stake in this process have yet often been undermined. Through the lens of Foucault's concept of governmentality, the starting point of my article is one particular dialogue forum, initiated by the German state in 2006 - the `Deutsche Islam Konferenz' (DIK) - whose primary goal is to institutionalise and regulate the communication between Muslims and state actors and thereby to regulate the conduct of Muslims. Focusing mainly on the way in which gender and Islam have been coupled and played out in this initiative, I argue that the DIK is less a dialogical encounter than a tool of a broader civilising liberal project. Through the inquiry into the modes of power operating in this state led dialogue initiative the article shows that while aiming to secure Muslim's `integration' into German society and to liberate Muslim women from restrictive gender norms, the DIK operates as an enactment of a particular notion of freedom with normative and normalising implications.
Mean hours a week spent by men and women in total paid and unpaid work by age and number of children, education, income, ethnicity and location Mean hours per week total paid and unpaid work as a y
This paper draws on data from the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Time Use Survey (TUS) (over 4,000 randomly selected households) to tease out the dimensions of the `second shift'. Predictions that as women entered the paid workforce men would contribute more to household labour have largely failed to eventuate. This underpins the view that women are working a second shift because they are shouldering a dual burden of paid and unpaid work. However, time use research seems to show that when both paid and unpaid work is counted, male and female workloads are in total very similar. This has led to suggestions that a literal second shift is a myth; that it exists in the sense that women do more domestic work than men, but not in the sense that they work longer hours in total. Using a more accurate and telling measure of workload than previous research (paid and unpaid labour including multitasked activities), this paper explores the second shift and how it relates to family configuration, ethnicity and indicators of class and socioeconomic standing. It finds a clear disparity between the total workloads of mothers and fathers, much of which consists of simultaneous (secondary) activity, and some demographic differences in female (but not male) total workloads. It concludes that the view that the second shift is a myth is only sustainable by averaging social groups very broadly and by excluding multitasking from the measurement of total work activity.Feminist Review (2007) 86, 149-170. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400339
`Why Queer Diaspora?' intervenes at the intersection of queer theory and diaspora studies to ask how the conditions of geographical mobility produce new experiences and understandings of sexuality and gender identity. More particularly, this essay argues against a prevalent critical slippage between queer and diaspora, through which the queer is read as a mobile category that, like diaspora, disrupts the stability of fixed identity categories and thus represents a liberatory position within the material and geographical displacements of globalization. Instead, I posit that the work of `queering' diaspora must be to examine the new articulations of normative and queer as they emerge in the transformations of the late twentieth century. To this end, the essay looks to two contemporary documentaries, Remote Sensing (Ursula Biemann, 2001) and Mariposas en el Andamio/Butterflies on the Scaffold (Margaret Gilpin and Luis Felipe Bernaza, 1996), as models of alternative articulations of the queer and the diasporic. Ultimately, I argue, it is a focus on the labour through which the seemingly natural categories of gender and sexuality are produced, that a queer diasporic criticism might offer.Feminist Review (2008) 90, 30-47. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.35
Feminist Review (2002) 72, 82–94. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400048
This paper seeks to bring a time perspective to the discourses of globalization and development. It first connects prominent recent gender-neutral discourses of globalization with highly gendered analyses of development, bringing together institutional–structural analyses with contextual and experiential data. It places alongside each other ‘First World’ perspectives and analyses of the changing conditions of people in the ‘developing’ world who are at the receiving end of globalized markets, and the international politics of aid. To date, neither of these fields of expertise has made explicit the underpinning time politics of globalization. Naturalized as status quo and global norm these temporal relations form the deep structure of globalization and its neo-colonialist agenda. The paper uses feminist epistemology to explicate the taken-for-granted time politics of globalization and time-based ontology to render visible the gender politics of globalization. The combined conceptual force makes connections where few exist at present, maps complex processes and traces naturalized relations. It offers not a new or better theory of… but an approach to globalization that makes transparent hitherto opaque relations of power and it identifies openings for change, resistance and alternative political practice.
feminist review (2002) 71, 113–115. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400031
Based on selected writings on women's experiences of and reflections on dress and travel published in the Hong Kong feminist journal Nuliu, this paper discusses the politics of female subjectivity in relation to the everyday. The context of the discussion is the changing actualization of the well-known feminist slogan `the personal is political' within the local feminist movement in Hong Kong between the 1980s and the 1990s. The paper aims to create a new paradigm for analysing agency - the key concept in subject formation - by critiquing the ideology of choice, which is a liberal value system that connects people's imagination with the notion of personal `liberation'. As demonstrated by the examples of dress and travel, the everyday is a site of both possibilities and conflict for women, who generate new strategies or tactics to negotiate not only with institutions, structures and policies, but also with `interpellations', `temporality', `spatiality', `performativity', `symbolism' and `psyche'.Feminist Review (2009) 92, 36-53. doi:10.1057/fr.2009.7
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