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Archive for the 'Feminist Theory' Category

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Is “Democracy” Nothing More Than a Slogan Now?

Through Vegetal Being

“The time has come to define and demonstrate differently what it means to be a democrat by giving the word to the citizens instead of keeping them hostage to debates between politicians. It is urgent to offer them to vote for points of a program that they really understand and that concern them as human beings, not only as consumers.” — Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder

This week, our featured book is Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder. For the final post of the week, we have excerpted an article, originally published in the NewStatesman, by Irigaray and Marder, in which discuss the uses and misuses of the idea of “democracy in today’s world.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Through Vegetal Being!

Is “Democracy” Nothing More Than a Slogan Now?
By Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder

The current rise of ISIS to prominence in the Middle East occasions, above all, a meditation on democracy, rather than on fundamentalism. Western countries have for some time now compared themselves to the worst political regimes. Despite all the problems with social and economic injustices, they have claimed, the benefits they offer their citizens far outweigh the precarious conditions of living in a fundamentalist dictatorship. Today, ISIS fits in a vast array of such comparisons that allow Western leaders to draw, in the sharpest way possible, demarcation lines between the civilisation they purportedly represent and the barbarism of this new political formation.

What is telling, however, is not that the West can appear as a democratic model compared to the regimes it condemns but that it has to measure itself against such alternatives in the first place. The time of political ideals is long gone, as far as our rulers are concerned, and even the relatively defeatist “doing the best we can” motto sounds quite unbelievable, coming from our Prime Ministers and Presidents. Democracy has become a concept so empty of substance that it needs to be juxtaposed to religious fundamentalism to gain a modicum of meaning. (more…)

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Plant Lessons

Through Vegetal Being

“What is sorely needed is an environmental pedagogy—not one formulated by our fellow humans, but one imparted by parts of the world we inhabit.” — Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder

This week, our featured book is Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder. Today, we are happy to present an article by Michael Marder and Luce Irigaray, in which they discuss the need for an “environmental pedagogy” and explain some of the lessons that plant life can teach us. The post can also be found on Michael Marder’s Los Angeles Review of Books Channel

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Through Vegetal Being!

Plant Lessons
By Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder

One crucial measure of human maturity is the way we treat our environment. A careless and destructive approach toward the world, which is usually conceived as a kind of playground for the enactment of our phantasies, is irresponsible and childish. It shows no respect for other forms of life, a lack of concern with the future, and the inability to think and to grow beyond the demands of sheer physical survival.

Historically, there has been little change in the direction of a more adult behavior toward the environment. Among other living beings, plants have been particularly mistreated as a result of this attitude because they have been thought of as infinitely malleable matter, on which human form could be stamped or imposed, generally to the detriment of their own biological life. Indeed, Aristotle, who was the first to come up with the notion matter in the West, derived it from the common Greek word for “wood.” Like plants, matter was supposed to be a passive receptacle for the form that was, in many cases, alien to vegetal life. Although Aristotle was still attentive to living forms, after him, a tree converted into a table or a bed became the preferred example of formed matter, while the self-formation of the tree itself, amenable to patient cultivation and care, was dismissed.

When it comes to respect for the environment we are still children, or even infants. More than that, we are terrible, unruly children because, for the most part, we are not open to being educated on the subject. Only punishments, in the shape of natural disasters attributable to global warming, have had some effect on human behavior, awakening in us a consciousness of the negative consequences that accompany immature environmental conduct. Still, a genuine change of attitudes is unlikely as a result of threats and punishments alone. What is sorely needed is an environmental pedagogy—not one formulated by our fellow humans, but one imparted by parts of the world we inhabit. (more…)

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Toward an Ecology of Sharing

Through Vegetal Being

“We must return to our natural surroundings and our natural identity, not to fall again into a wild state—as people who do not understand what is at stake here claim ironically—but to discover how we could share in a global and multicultural context without harming our own life or that of other (human or non-human) living beings.” — Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder

This week, our featured book is Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder. Today, we are happy to present “Toward an Ecology of Sharing,” by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder, an article that originally appeared on The Philosophical Salon, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Through Vegetal Being!

Toward an Ecology of Sharing
By Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder

We live in a world which is perpetually on the verge of tightening, or altogether closing, its political and other human-made borders. Threats of terrorism, illegal migrations, and global epidemics are cited as some of the main concerns behind such a move. Indeed, key member states of the European Union have recently expressed the need of reviewing and reconsidering the Schengen Agreement which, with a few exceptions, had abolished passport controls on its territory. Fear of intrusions, fanned out of proportion by certain political factions, turns the world into clusters of sealed ghettoes and makes genuine sharing of it impossible. But a deeper source for these developments is the hegemony of a possessive attitude that regulates our relation to the places, in which we dwell, including our countries, cultures, and natural environments.

“Sharing the world”
There are several ways of understanding the expression “sharing the world.” The first (which, rather, ought to be written as “sharing out”) amounts to dividing up a whole into parts. In reality, our world is already divided up into many parts that form a whole – the lands, the seas, the sky… – and these are also composed of different parts – for instance, the mountains, the plains, the valleys, to speak only of the earth – which themselves contain or are inhabited by various beings, including the vegetal world, the animal kingdom, and humans. Humans have added to these natural distributions other divisions, be they territorial, political, cultural, or linguistic. Now, these divisions do not make up a whole so easily! The numerous conflicts that happen today in the world bear witness to such a problem: each part aims at becoming a whole, instead of partaking in a whole with others. Furthermore, the various partitions do not work together smoothly: a people can claim to be the owner of a country, but not, for all that, to be the owner of a culture, a religion, or a language. Defining and respecting the boundaries of each property has thus become a difficult undertaking because of the varied divisions that humanity has added to the natural partitions composing the world. (more…)

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Introducing “Through Vegetal Being”

Through Vegetal Being

“How can we speak of the vegetal world? Is not one of its teachings to show without saying, or to say without words? I imagine that we will try to display and signify on this side or beyond any discourse. And this will not be an easy undertaking in a book. This will force us to give up the tradition of a language of philosophy. Will we be capable of such a gesture, such a challenge?” — Luce Irigaray

“I agree that this language is still largely absent and that one of our greatest challenges is to assist it in coming into being, to see to it that it could attain its full expression, without, at the same time, violating the silence of plants. Nothing less than a paradigm shift in our current idea of discursivity would do here.” — Michael Marder

This week, our featured book is Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present the initial correspondence between Irigaray and Marder that gave birth to their book project, with each letter presented as the prologue to the individual author’s section of Through Vegetal Being.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Through Vegetal Being!

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Book Giveaway! Through Vegetal Being, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder

Through Vegetal Being

Through Vegetal Being foregrounds the relations that plants enable between humans and other living things, continuing both Michael Marder’s work on plant existence and Luce Irigaray’s work on sexual difference and the forgetting of the world in the constitution of individual identity. This charming and beautifully written book is a two-person meditation on the philosophy, ontology, and ethics of plant life and our fundamental dependence on it as living beings.” — Elizabeth Grosz

This week, our featured book is Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Rape on Campus: The Title IX Revolution

Hunting Girls

“Anti-rape activism is on the vanguard of transferring the blame and responsibility from individuals to social systems and institutions. If ours is a rape culture, then the solution must also address the culture of sexual violence that perpetuates sexual assault and gender-based violence.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. For the final post of the feature, we are happy to provide an excerpt from “Rape on Campus: The Title IX Revolution,” an article by Kelly Oliver that originally appeared in The Philosophical Salon.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Rape on Campus: The Title IX Revolution
By Kelly Oliver

Title IX legislation, associated primarily with equal opportunities for girls in high school and college athletics, has become a turning point in discussions of sexual assault. Until recently, the greatest impact of the 1972 Title IX legislation had been to ensure girls and women had access to sports. Although introduced to stop discrimination in higher education, Title IX became the hallmark of women’s athletics, to the point that today there is a women’s sporting clothing company named Title Nine, and last year President Obama spoke about the importance of Title IX for girls in terms of his own experience coaching his daughters’ basketball team and the confidence it gave them. Initially, Title IX was used to secure funding for girls and women’s sports, which had been lacking until required by this Federal statute.

On April 4, 2011, The United States Department of Education sent a “Dear Colleagues Letter” to institutions of higher learning, shifting the focus from college athletics to educational environment, specifically naming sexual violence as prohibited by Title IX. The letter defines sexual violence as “physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol,” including “sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion,“ and makes colleges and universities responsible “to take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence.” (more…)

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Social Media and the Lack of Consent

Hunting Girls

“Given the continued use of social media to target, harass, and humiliate young women, it is telling that these technologies were born out of sexist attitudes. In their inception, some of the most popular social media sites were designed to denigrate women.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. Today, we are happy to provide an excerpt from “Social Media and the Lack of Consent,” an article by Kelly Oliver that originally appeared in The Philosophical Salon. In this article, Oliver traces the “continued use of social media to target, harass, and humiliate young women” back to the sexist origins of many forms of social media.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Social Media and the Lack of Consent
By Kelly Oliver

Social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Tinder were invented as part of a culture that objectifies and denigrates girls and women. It is well known that the Facebook founder and Harvard graduate, now one of the richest men in the country, invented the social media site Facebook to post pictures of girls for his college buddies to rate and berate. Reportedly, Evan Spiegel, Stanford graduate and inventor of Snapchat, sent messages during his days in a fraternity referring to women as “bitches,” “sororisluts” to be “peed on,” and discussed getting girls drunk to have sex with them. And the founders of the wildly popular hook-up site Tinder, were both involved in a sexual harassment suit involving their former Vice President of marketing, who claims she received harassing sexist messages calling her a “slut,” a “gold-digger,” and a “whore.”

Given the continued use of social media to target, harass, and humiliate young women, it is telling that these technologies were born out of sexist attitudes. In their inception, some of the most popular social media sites were designed to denigrate women. Of course lots of social media sites, like other forms of traditional media, bank on pictures of attractive girls and women looking sexy or cute, along with pornographic images. Creepshot sites in particular are a telling example of a new phenomenon, namely, the valorization and popularization of lack of consent. (more…)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Dismantling Fantasies of Consent and Violence: Three Excerpts from Hunting Girls

Hunting Girls

“From fairytales to pornography, popular culture is filled with girls and women, unconscious or sleeping, “enjoying” nonconsensual sex. And until we change our fantasies, it is going to be difficult to change our realities.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. Today, we have a few excerpts for you, all of which testify to Kelly Oliver’s gift for drawing connections between literature, film, popular culture, and rape culture. In the first excerpt, Oliver traces a distressing (and frighteningly current) male fantasy back to a fourteenth-century Catalan tale. In the second excerpt, Oliver considers the fraught relationship between the law and consent, exposing the dangers of focusing on one moment of affirmative consent in what is, in fact, an ongoing negotiation between sexual subjects. Finally, in the third excerpt, Oliver examines certain representations in recent literature and film of girls who “give as good as they get,” and shows how these representations send mixed messages–are our Katniss Everdeens and Tris Priors feminist revenge fantasies, or do their actions on screen normalize and valorize violence toward women?

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

Excerpt 3

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Girls as Trophies: Introducing “Hunting Girls”

Hunting Girls

“Life imitates art, and vice versa. Thus, art often revolves around the objectification and assault of girls and women. Unfortunately, increasingly, life imitates pornography, particularly creepshot photographs of unsuspecting girls and women. With uncanny regularity, college and university officials are discovering Facebook pages, and other social media, used by fraternities, or creepshooters off the street, to post photographs of women, sometimes unconscious, naked, or in compromising positions.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. To start the week’s feature, we have excerpted part of Oliver’s introduction, in which she uses an episode of America’s Next Top Model from 2012 as a way into her discussion of how popular culture affects how women are both perceived and treated in reality.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Book Giveaway! Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape

Hunting Girls

“Kelly Oliver’s brilliant analysis of how young girls’ path to womanhood is filled with beating, battery, abuse, and sexual assault is shocking and timely. Oliver’s meticulously researched volume moves back and forth between myths and fairy tales linked to rape, contemporary films, television shows and ads featuring violence to girls, along with studying rape culture, and ambiguities of ‘consent,’ on college campuses. It is essential reading, showing that women may not have liberated themselves after all.” — E. Ann Kaplan

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Hunting Girls. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, August 26th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Monday, March 28th, 2016

What Kate Did — On the Legacy of Kate Millett’s “Sexual Politics”

Sexual Politics, Kate Millett

“What Millett’s work showed were the ways that political action and cultural expression interpenetrate. Both sites of struggle were necessary to bringing about the “altered consciousness” that, for Millett, would mark a sexual revolution and bring ‘a world we can bear out of the desert we inhabit.’ We’re not out of this desert yet; in some ways we are more lost than ever. But culture, Millett taught us, may help us find our way to a better land.”—Maggie Doherty, from her article “What Kate Did,” published in The New Republic

In reviewing the new edition of Sexual Politics, by Kate Millett, Maggie Doherty comments in The New Republic on the intense and immediate reaction to the book by both the mainstream press and her fellow radical feminists when it was first published in 1970:

The reactions of both camps went beyond anything Millett could have anticipated. Suddenly, she was wanted on every college campus. She was invited onto daytime talk shows. (Her Minnesotan mother warned her against appearing onscreen with unwashed hair.) Her book appeared in editorial cartoons. Her phone rang constantly. Her portrait, by the painter Alice Neel, graced the cover of Time; the magazine crowned her “the Mao Tse-tung of Women’s Liberation.”

As Maggie Doherty explains, Sexual Politics, which was Millett’s revised dissertation for a literature PhD., reflected her belief that “reading could produce a better way to live.” Millett’s analysis of the ways in which four writers—D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, and Jean Genet— shaped, or in Genet’s case, challenged, patriarchy offered a powerful critique of the existing political, cultural, and social views and treatment of women. Millett’s revolutionary work, presented with scholarly rigor, articulated ideas within the radical feminist movement regarding the sexual revolution, homosexuality, and monogamy and brought them to a mainstream readership.

Millett was somewhat unprepared for the intense reaction her book received and never saw herself as a public figure in the way that Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan did. Her book came under criticism from those who faulted it for not sufficiently addressing issues of class or race but as Doherty argues, the book’s ideas continue to resonate. Doherty concludes by speculating on the singularity of Millett’s achievement and its continuing legacy:

It’s hard to imagine any work of literary scholarship—let alone a Ph.D. dissertation—landing its author on the cover of Time today. While the contemporary academy has its share of public intellectuals, most of its scholars write for audiences of specialists (after all, they are employed to do just that). Millett, by contrast, was writing in the waning years of what Louis Menand has called the age of “heroic criticism,” a time when the stakes of literary debate seemed high. The books you preferred said something about your politics, even your morals. If you wanted to change the way people lived and loved, you might very well set out to change the way they read.

This faith in literature—in particular, this faith in the academic study of literature—is perhaps the thing that most marks Millett’s work as the product of another time. It’s striking that in the years after her first book’s release, when she was spending much of her time advocating for “gay liberation,” it occurred to her that the best thing she could do was not speak, or organize, or teach, but write a book of literary criticism, a “SexPol of gay and straight, a scholarly objective approach more convincing to the authorities.” She mapped it out one night at her farm-cum-feminist artist colony in Poughkeepsie: “First lay down a theory about the two cultures, our segregated society. Then find in homosexual literature the emotional truth of the experience as it was lived.” The book never came to be, but the dream of it tells us something about what it meant to be a literary scholar, and a radical feminist, in the early 1970s.

“Will future historians say that I blew it?” Millett asked in Flying. The answer has to be no. Sexual Politics may have its intellectual and political flaws, like any text that documents a way of thinking proper to the past. But what Millett’s work showed were the ways that political action and cultural expression interpenetrate. Both sites of struggle were necessary to bringing about the “altered consciousness” that, for Millett, would mark a sexual revolution and bring “a world we can bear out of the desert we inhabit.” We’re not out of this desert yet; in some ways we are more lost than ever. But culture, Millett taught us, may help us find our way to a better land.

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Tahneer Oksman on Writing a Jewish Book

“Why did I write a Jewish book? Because I was trying to reclaim my Jewish self, however unfamiliar its now ragged shape.”—Tahneer Oksman, author of “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”

When Tahneer Oksman, author of “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”: Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs, first began as PhD. student in literature, focusing on Jewish women’s comics was not on the horizon As she explains in a recent essay in Lilith, while women’s literature was of great interest to her, she had decided to put her Jewish upbringing behind her:

Somewhere between my upbringing in a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in the Bronx, and the years of slowly replacing that orthodoxy with new modes of belief and practice — feminism, writing, literature and, yes, yoga — I decided that my Jewish history would never figure, could never figure, in my life as it — as I — had been remade. It would certainly never become a centerpiece.

However, as she pursued her studies, she found herself drawn to the lives of such Jewish writers as Anzia Yezierska, Sara Smolinsky, and Grace Paley. This shift to concentrating Jewish women writers was not necessarily the best career move. Oksman explains:

Writing about a Jewish topic also meant transforming myself into the very worst thing you could become as a graduate student: unmarketable. I was now too Jewish for English Literature programs, and I would never be Jewish enough for jobs in Jewish programs. This left me, as usual, between worlds; if you write your first book on a Jewish topic, after all, you’ve pigeonholed yourself: you’re a Jewish writer. Haven’t you seen how so many of those popular “canonical” Jewish writers (and actors, and painters, and critics) reject that title? Write about something else; take the word Jewish out of your title, for heaven’s sake!

(more…)

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Book Giveaway! “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”

This week we are featuring “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”: Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs, by Tahneer Oksman.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?” to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, February 26th at 1:00 pm.

Jeremy Dauber, Director, Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, Columbia University, writes:

“A careful and nuanced exploration of the complexities of identity and identification, “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?” is an excellent and ground-breaking work.”

Below is the introduction, “To Unaffiliate Jewishly”:

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Sex and World Peace: What’s Next

“Empower women and you enhance security in all its dimensions. Disempower women, and you undermine that security.”—Valerie Hudson

Sex and World Peace, Valerie Hudson

The following post if from Valerie Hudson, co-author of Sex and World Peace.

My co-authors and I are very grateful that Gloria Steinem found Sex and World Peace to be an important read. How the insecurity of women creates insecurity for the broader collective, whether at the local, national, regional, or international levels, is a vital topic of concern not only to scholars, but to policymakers and policy advocates as well. In a very real way, whether we speak of food security, economic security, demographic security, security and governance, security and health, or any one of a numbers of interlocked aspects of collective security, women are the great pivot. Empower women and you enhance security in all its dimensions. Disempower women, and you undermine that security.

We are often asked what will follow Sex and World Peace and its initial efforts to demonstrate those linkages that are often invisible in our security discourse. To date, we are engaged in two research projects, one nearing completion and one just getting underway.

Scheduled for publication in June 2015 by Columbia University Press is the forthcoming volume, The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy. In that book, journalist Patricia Leidl and I examine how attention to the situation of women has become, in the words of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “a cornerstone of our foreign policy.” Certainly women have not been seen as such until very recently. How as a nation did we come to the point where a Secretary of State could openly claim “the subjugation of women is a direct threat to the security of the United States”? We call this new understanding “The Hillary Doctrine” after its most eloquent exponent.

Furthermore, what then did the United States do, as a nation, to implement that vision through foreign policy? How did the White House, State Department, Defense, USAID, and other elements of the federal government craft policies and programming to attend to the Hillary Doctrine? And what was the result? What can we learn from the track record of successes and failures that would be of use to an incoming presidential administration?

(more…)

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Judith Butler and Rosi Braidotti Meet Pussy Riot

In the following video of an event sponsored by The First Supper Symposium, Rosi Braidotti and Judith Butler talk with members of Pussy Riot.

Among other issues, the participant discussed when does public protest’s transgress the limited range of permissible behaviurs in a society? What is the future of feminist performance art under times of censorship?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Lynne Huffer’s Open Letter to Sheryl Sandberg on her Advice to Working Women

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In an essay for Al Jazeera , Lynne Huffer, author of Are the Lips a Grave writes an open letter to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook corporation.

Huffer considers the suggestions to rise up the corporate ladder from Sandberg’s new book, Lean In and charts the trajectory of feminism that has dramatically improved the lives of working women over the past few decades.

Four decades ago, radical feminists launched a gender revolution because they recognised the value of what the Chinese call “speaking bitterness”. They honoured women’s feelings of discontent about fathers who raped them, boyfriends who abused them, doctors who sterilised them, and employers who paid them less than they were worth.

In her letter, Huffer highlights the key problem with Sandberg’s advice to women to succeed in positions of corporate power in capitalistic America— the inherent profit maximization goal of capitalism.

As any student in Econ 101 will tell you, our profit-driven economic system is shaped like a pyramid, with workers at the bottom and Chief Operating Officers like you at the top. I don’t doubt you’re sincere in wanting success for every woman: more female CEOs and Presidents, more Hillary Clintons. As 1970s’ liberal feminists used to put it: you want a bigger piece of the pie for all of us. Which means, as the second-wave feminists you so admire used to put it: feminism is not about getting a bigger piece of the pie. It’s about seeing that the whole pie is rotten.

(more…)

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Huffer: The New Normal Not Good Enough

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This week our featured book is Are the Lips a Grave? by Lynne Huffer. This whole week, we will share interesting articles related to the book and its author, Lynne Huffer.

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Huffer writes about the issues in promoting the grand image of marriage for everyone as a one-size-fits all solution, especially, for members of the LGBTQ community. She emphasizes on how the “abnormal” individuals who deviate from the classic image of being in love and in harmonious wedlock are ignored when the government provisions are only for those who are in blissful marital union with each other.

She begins with Obama’s 2012 Democratic National Convention speech where he endorses the idea that love transcends all barriers of race, gender and sexual orientation, in support of gay marriage.

To be a Democrat is to love. Barack’s love for Michelle is the personal expression of a larger political love that includes in its embrace not only all races and all religions but also gays and lesbians.

Huffer points out how our right to love eventually boils down to the topic of marriage and the biggest agenda from supporters of the LGBTQ community has been to vouch for equality in marriage. However, Huffer sheds light on how marriage equality alone cannot address issues as there needs to be a more comprehensive, political outlook on love and relationships across any criteria or background.

Ever since Obama’s declaration in May that “same-sex couples should be able to get married,” we’ve been basking in the warmth of that presidential affirmation. But same-sex marriage to the exclusion of other issues is a narrow vision of politics and an impoverished vision of love.

To that extent, Huffer cites a few examples of couples who may be left out in the debate to enforce marriage equality and the associated framework of laws that come with it. She states that they will be ignored because they do not fit the “normal” image projected of couples who are happily married.

How does marriage benefit two gay men in their 60s, both single all their lives, who decide to live together not as an expression of romantic love but to make ends meet? What about the single lesbian mother who finds herself homeless with her two children after escaping her lesbian partner’s domestic abuse? Or the F-to-M transgender teenager who tries to commit suicide by swallowing a bottle of pills after his parents kick him out because they cannot accept his inability to conform to gender norms? Is marriage going to save his life?

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Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Lynne Huffer on a Queer Feminist Ethics of Eros from “Are the Lips a Grave?”

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This week our featured book is Are the Lips a Grave? by Lynne Huffer. In the following excerpt from the book, Huffer delves into the associations between sexuality and morality and the perspectives of queers and feminists on the ethics of eros.

(And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Lynne Huffer: Bigotry Didn’t Die with DOMA, Neither Should Radical Queer Politics

Are the Lips a Grave

This week our featured book is Are the Lips a Grave? by Lynne Huffer. This week, we will share articles related to the book and its author, Lynne Huffer.

In a July 2013 Huffington Post article, Huffer discusses her reservations with the marginalized approach in gay marriage equality that blinds individuals from other, equally important, topics, such as racial discrimination:

I’ve been publicly critical of the marriage equality movement for its narrow politics: for focusing on marriage rights to the exclusion of other issues, for making romantic love the primary condition for access to health insurance and other benefits, and for creating new forms of discrimination that pit married gays and lesbians against those who resist traditional coupledom–what I call the “new deviants.”

As a queer feminist and partner to an individual who is prone to racial discrimination due to her color, Huffer explains that the celebrations in regards to the removal of the generation-old federal law that prohibits gay marriage in the state of California are “sweet but politically toothless.” The rationale for this anger and frustration is because the day before the ruling, the Supreme Court had taken out Section Four of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. As a result, it would allow states with a history of racial profiling and discrimination to make it more difficult for individuals to vote due to their color in states such as Georgia, where Huffer and her partner live. Huffer underscores the racial analogy component in the LGBTQ fight to equality:

The contrast between the back-to-back decisions—the Voting Rights Act and same-sex marriage—highlights what’s wrong with our postracial belief in the inevitability of progress that has dominated LGBT activism for the past two decades. Marriage equality advocates regularly compare the struggle for same-sex marriage to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. In fact, the racial analogy has been the most common frame for understanding the LGBT rights struggle.

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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Laura Sjoberg — What’s Wrong with FETs? Thoughts from Gendering Global Conflict

The following is a post by Laura Sjoberg, author of Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War.

“The deployment of Female Engagement Teams seems ridiculous to me as a feminist scholar—women are not to be essentialized or instrumentalized; the idea that men are masculine and women are feminine is oversimple; this is a move to reify the gendered nature of war rather than to relieve it.”—Laura Sjoberg

Laura Sjoberg, Gendering Global ConflictOver the last couple of years, the US military has begun to employ FETs (Female Engagement Teams) in Afghanistan, characterizing their purpose as “to engage the female populace” of the country. The mission of these groups of female soldiers seems to be divided between victim services, trust building, influence seeking, and intelligence gathering. Many feminist scholars (e.g., Keally McBride and Annick T. R. Wibben) have expressed their deep concerns about both the effectiveness of FETs and the ideas about sex, gender, and warfare that their deployments suggest the US military holds.

My recent book, Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War, is not about FETs specifically, but it does provide insight into this (and hopefully a number of other) problems of sex, gender, and war. It argues that, in order to understand fully how something like an FET became possible, we have to be able to see gender subordination and war-fighting as mutually constituted. Understanding that, it argues, provides insight into a number of other policy choices and theoretical assumptions in the security sector that might initially appear paradoxical when approached from a feminist perspective. The rest of this post discusses that with regard to FETs.

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