This essay seeks to unsettle feminist philosophy through an encounter with Aboriginal artist Tracey Moffatt, whose perspectives on intergenerational relationships between white women and Indigenous women are shaped by her experiences as the Aboriginal child of a white foster mother growing up in Brisbane, Australia during the 1960s. Moffatt's short experimental film Night Cries provides an important glimpse into the violent intersections of gender, race, and power in intimate life and, in so doing, invites us to see how colonial and (...) neocolonial policies are carried out through women's domestic labor. Seeing cross-generational and cross-racial intimacy through Moffatt's lens, I suggest, helps us to unsettle both feminist theories of motherhood and feminist practices of mentoring. (shrink)
In this essay, I attempt to outline a feminist philosophical approach to the current debate concerning (allegedly) false memories of childhood sexual abuse. Bringing the voices of feminist philosophers to bear on this issue highlights the implicit and sometimes questionable epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical-political commitments of some therapists and scientists involved in these debates. It also illuminates some current debates in and about feminist philosophy.
This paper argues that the behaviorist label yields a caricature of Ryle's position in The Concept of Mind that cannot be adequately fleshed out by reference to the larger corpus of Rylean texts. On the interpretation of Ryle that I offer here, he is best characterized as an "ontological agnostic." Ryle's aim, I believe, is to develop a nondenotational theory of meaning for mental-conduct terms--a theory of meaning which does not presuppose any metaphysical or ontological theory and, hence, does not (...) presuppose behaviorism. (shrink)
Bridging the gap between feminist studies of motherhood and queer theory, Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood articulates a provocative philosophy of queer kinship that need not be rooted in lesbian or gay sexual identities. Working from an interdisciplinary framework that incorporates feminist philosophy and queer, psychoanalytic, poststructuralist, and postcolonial theories, Shelley M. Park offers a powerful critique of an ideology she terms monomaternalism. Despite widespread cultural insistence that every child should have one—and only one—“real” mother, many contemporary family constellations do not (...) fit this mandate. Park highlights the negative consequences of this ideology and demonstrates how families created through open adoption, same-sex parenting, divorce, and plural marriage can be sites of resistance. Drawing from personal experiences as both an adoptive and a biological mother and juxtaposing these autobiographical reflections with critical readings of cultural texts representing multi-mother families, Park advocates a new understanding of postmodern families as potentially queer coalitional assemblages held together by a mixture of affection and critical reflection premised on difference. (shrink)
This article examines one way institutionalized sexism operates in the university setting by examining the gender roles and gender hierarchies implicit in (allegedly gender-neutral) university tenure and promotion policies. Current working assumptions regarding (1) what constitutes good research, teaching, and service and (2) the relative importance of each of these endeavors reflect and perpetuate masculine values and practices, thus preventing the professional advancement of female faculty both individually and collectively. A gendered division of labor exists within (as outside) the contemporary (...) academy wherein research is implicitly deemed "men's work" and is explicitly valued, whereas teaching and service are characterized as "women's work" and explicitly devalued. (shrink)
This paper examines a variety of social scientific studies purporting to demonstrate that transracial adoption is in the best interests of children. Finding flaws in these studies and the ethical and political arguments based upon such scientific findings, we argue for adoption practices and policies that respect the racial and ethnic identities of children of color and their communities of origin.
A pronatalist perspective on maternal bodies renders the adoptive maternal body queer. In this essay, I argue that the queerness of the adoptive maternal body makes it a useful epistemic standpoint from which to critique dominant views of mothering. In particular, exploring motherhood through the lens of adoption reveals the discursive mediation and social regulation of all maternal bodies, as well as the normalizing assumptions of heteronormativity, “reprosexuality,” and family homogeneity that frame a traditional view of the biological family. As (...) participants in motherhood who resist “repro-narrativity,”“reprosexuality,” and essentialism, adoptive maternal bodies have the potential to both queer our notions of normal mothering and normalize our notions of queer mothering. (shrink)
In this address, I defend happiness as a disposition conducive to, or at least compatible with, a view of the world that is both cognitively and politically valuable, that is, both conducive to truth and ethically appropriate.
: A pronatalist perspective on maternal bodies renders the adoptive maternal body queer. In this essay, I argue that the queerness of the adoptive maternal body makes it a useful epistemic standpoint from which to critique dominant views of mothering. In particular, exploring motherhood through the lens of adoption reveals the discursive mediation and social regulation of all maternal bodies, as well as the normalizing assumptions of heteronormativity, "reprosexuality," and family homogeneity that frame a traditional view of the biological family. (...) As participants in motherhood who resist "repro-narrativity," " reprosexuality," and essentialism, adoptive maternal bodies have the potential to both queer our notions of normal mothering and normalize our notions of queer mothering. (shrink)
This paper comments on the strategies and goals of a politics of recognition as celebrated by Nancy Nicol’s important documentary coverage of the gay and lesbian movement for family rights in Quebec. While agreeing that ending legal discrimination against lgbt families is important, I suggest that political recognition of same-sex families and their children is a too limited goal for queer families and their allies. Moreover, it is a goal, I argue, that often trades on trades on troublesome assumptions about (...) gender, class, race, age and normative commitments to monogamy as these relate to distinctions between, for example, “fit” and “unfit” parents. (shrink)
This paper examines the possibility of parenting as a queer practice. Examining definitions of “queer” as resistant to presumptions and practices of reprosexuality and repro-narrativity (Michael Warner), bourgeouis norms of domestic space and family time (Judith Halberstam), and policies of reproductive futurism (Lee Edelman), I argue that queer parenting is possible. Indeed, parenting that resists practices of normalization are, in part, realized by certain types of postmodern families. However, fully actualizing the possibility of parenting queerly—and thus teaching our children the (...) values of non-normativity--requires engaging political struggles for distributive justice. These are, thus, the struggles that should be at the center of queer politics, rather than the current struggles for gay marriage and homoparental rights. (shrink)
This paper sketches a brief account of multiculturalism in order to distinguish it from other positions that have been under attack recently. Following this, we address two prevalent and diametrically opposed criticisms of multiculturalism, namely, that multiculturalism is relativistic, on the one hand, and that it is absolutist, on the other. Both of these criticisms, we argue, simply mask liberal democratic theory's myth- begotten attempt to resolve the tension between the one and the many. Multiculturalism challenges the myths of meritocracy (...) and abstract individualism which underlie liberalism; properly understood, it evades the criticisms often hurled at it. (shrink)
This paper critically examines the ways in which dominant poly discourses position polyamorists among other queer and feminist-friendly practices while setting polygamists outside of those practices as the heteronormative and hyper-patriarchal antithesis to queer kinship. I begin by examining the interlocking liberal discourses of freedom, secularism and egalitarianism that frame the putative distinction between polyamory and polygamy. I then argue that the discursive antinomies of polyamory/polygamy demarcate a distinction that has greater affective resonance than logical validity—an affective resonance, moreover, that (...) is built on neocolonial framings of polygamy as barbaric and idealizations of polyamory that whitewash its practices. (shrink)
This paper examines the complexity and fluidity of maternal identity through an examination of narratives about "real motherhood" found in children's literature. Focusing on the multiplicity of mothers in adoption, I question standard views of maternity in which gestational, genetic and social mothering all coincide in a single person. The shortcomings of traditional notions of motherhood are overcome by developing a fluid and inclusive conception of maternal reality as authored by a child's own perceptions.
An examination of the debates over the so-called 'false' memory syndrome. In this paper, I concur that memory is malleable, but interrogate notions of truth and falsity underlying standards used to evaluate the accuracy of memories of abuse. Such standards divert us, I suggest, from recognizing the truth behind widespread recollections of abuse at the hands of patriarchy.
This paper advances the somewhat unphilosophical thesis that “Trump is gross” to draw attention to the need to take matters of taste seriously in politics. I begin by exploring the slipperiness of distinctions between aesthetics, epistemology, and ethics, subsequently suggesting that we may need to pivot toward the aesthetic to understand and respond to the historical moment we inhabit. More specically, I suggest that, in order to understand how Donald Trump was elected President of the United States and in order (...) to stem the damage that preceded this and will ensue from it, we need to understand the power of political taste (and distaste, including disgust) as both a force of resistance and as a force of normalization. (shrink)
In 2008, over 400 children living on the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a rural Texas polygamist community of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, were forcibly removed from their mothers’ care by State troopers responding to allegations of child abuse. This essay examines the role of neoliberal ideologies and, more specifically, what some queer theorists have identified as ‘metronormativity’ in solidifying a widespread caricature of FLDS mothers as ‘bad’ mothers. The intersections of these ideologies with (...) neocolonialist discourses, I argue, positions the FLDS mother as a subaltern subject unable to effectively speak in her own defense. (shrink)