ÂŠ Bridget Riley 2014. All rights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert, London
(In)visible Lines The 8th Annual SibĂŠal Conference University of Limerick 20th-21st November, 2015
Sibéal wishes to acknowledge the generous contributions made by GenderARC (NUIG/UL); the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Limerick; Gender, Culture & Society @UL; UCC Women’s Studies.
We would also like to thank the Sibéal Board and conference organisers:
Ann Marie Joyce (UL) Dr Deirdre Flynn (MIC) Maeve O’Brien (UU) Dr Ailish Veale (TCD) Patti O’Malley (UL)
Finally, Sibéal would like to acknowledge the efforts and hard work of our Branch Reps, our members, and all of this year’s conference participants.
Please join us at our Wine Reception on Friday 20th at 6pm in room HSG021. Gender ARC has kindly sponsored this wine reception, and will be there and available to discuss an exciting funding opportunity for collaborating UL & NUIG students. Gender ARC is a loosely structured peer network of academics, researchers and postgraduates at UL and NUI Galway with various interests in gender-focused research. The aim is to support excellence in gender research, raise visibility of gender-focused research across the two institutions and foster research collaboration amongst members. It is co-ordinated by the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway and the Gender, Culture and Society Programme at UL. Gender ARC research projects are undertaken individually or in sub-groups, they may be funded or not, within or across the two universities and/or in association with external partners or not. To celebrate 5 years of successful collaboration, the launch of our second Gender ARC Seed Fund (which is open to postgraduate students at both universities see www.genderarc.org) and the continuing success and flourishing of Sibéal, Gender ARC is sponsoring a wine reception at this year’s annual Sibéal conference. We are pleased to announce a new Gender ARC Seed Fund scheme, created with pro-rata contributions from the NUI Galway-UL Strategic Alliance fund (Registrar’s Office at NUIG) and the Gender, Culture and Society Programme at UL. Copies of guidelines and the application form are available from Gender ARC website for from Gillian Browne, email@example.com. Key points to note:
Grant applications can be made by any member or associate of the Gender ARC network The scheme is open to academic staff and PhD scholars (jointly submitted by at least one registered PhD student in each university, with a designated academic staff mentor) All applicants should complete the attached application form All grant monies awarded should be spent no later than August 31 2016 with complete report submitted by Sept 30 2016. The value of grants awarded will range from €500 to €2,000 Deadline for submission of applications: Monday November 30th 2015 Decisions to be announced by Monday December 21st 2015
Friday 20 November 2015 Shrodinger Building & Health Sciences Building, University of Limerick
Shrodinger Building Room SR3007 11.15am
12.00 – 13.30
Opening Welcome: Ann Marie Joyce, Chair of Sibéal
Awarding of Sibéal Undergraduate Essay Prize: Josephine Rogers, University of Leeds Keynote: Dr Tina O’Toole, School of Culture and Communication, University of Limerick
#HometoVote: (In)visible Lines in Irish Literature
Health Sciences Building 14.00 - 14.30
Tea, Coffee and Pastries
14.30 – 16.00
Panel 1: Literature: visibility, invisibility, silences, possibilities Room: HSG008A Chair: Dr Deirdre Flynn, Mary Immaculate College Limerick • A Different Kind of Girl: Visible Categorisations of Female Identity in Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours (Dr. Donna Mitchell, MIC Limerick)
• Mary Dorcey’s Woodshed and its implications for Irish society (Amy Finlay, Queen’s University Belfast) • ‘It is so small / the place I am getting to, why are there these obstacles’: Sylvia Plath’s language of silence (Maeve O’Brien, Ulster University)
Panel 2: Gendered bodies: discourses, identities and the law Room: HSG021 Chair: Ann Marie Joyce, University of Limerick • Radical Feminism, Masculinity and Male Sexuality: How Competing Discourses Frame the Prostitution Debate (Sean Burke, NUI Galway) • Life in the Borderlands: The Future of Gender Recognition in Human Rights Law (Sandra Duffy, University College Cork) • Negotiating Double Trouble: a critical discursive analysis of identity negotiation amongst gay and bisexual men in Ireland (Drew Murphy, Limerick Institute of Technology) 16.00 – 16.30
Tea and Coffee Break
16.30 – 18.00
Panel 1: Destructive histories: gendered borders, new communities Room: HSG008A Chair: Maeve O’Brien, Ulster University • “In that fatal dress”: Borders of Gender in anti-Jacobite Sentiment after the ’45 (Danni Glover, Ulster University) • Crossing the invisible lines (Michaela Markova, Trinity College
Nationalism in Catherine Harper’s Queenie (Shannon Flaherty, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis) Panel 2: Gendered transformations and feminist realities Room: HSG021 Chair: Patti O’Malley, University of Limerick • “Things are not always what they seem”: The Problem with Praising Feminism in Game of Thrones (Alex Jepson, Weber State University) • The man Trap? Reading women in Alan Warner’s Movern Callar and The Sopranos (Lilith Johnstone, University of Stirling) • How do P.D. James’s Children of Men and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World represent gender and/or sexuality? (Josephine Rogers, University of Leeds) 18.00 – 19.00
Wine Reception, kindly funded by GenderARC Room: HSG021
Conference Dinner at Milanos Restaurant, Harvey’s Quay, Limerick City.
Ticket Holders only.
Saturday 21 November 2015 Health Sciences Building, University of Limerick
Health Sciences Building 09.00am
9.30 – 11.15
Panel 1: Online and popular culture: misogyny and gender performativity Room: HSG025 Chair: Maeve O’Brien, Ulster University • Broadcast Your Self: How YouTubers Negotiate Gender Identities (Silke Jandl, University of Graz) • Young Women, Self-Representation and Gender Identity: A critical analysis of ‘gender performativity’, the ‘male gaze’ and the selfie phenomenon (Mary McGill, NUI Galway) • Old Paradigms New Platforms: Misogyny 2.0 (Kathryn Ryan, University College Cork) • Women and food writing blogging (Mary Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology)
Panel 2: Contexts: representations of gender and identity in film, media, theatre, music, television Room: HSG023 Chair: Dr Ailish Veale, Trinity College Dublin • More Great Women: Re-imagining the role models presented in
‘A Pageant of Great Women’ for the present day (Clare Neylon, University of Salford) • Music, Representation and Female Identity in Renaissance Venice (Bláithín Hurley St John’s College, University of Cambridge) • (In)Visible Dynamics: Female Control in Contemporary Irish Cinema (Dr. Abigail Keating, University College Cork) • Critical, Strange and Not Very Sexy: Methods of Subverting ‘Digital Everyday’ performances of femininity in feminist art practices (Laura O’Connor, Ulster University) Panel 3: Masculinities and femininities: gendered practices, performativity and invisibility Room: HSG008A Chair: Dr James Carr, University of Limerick • ’Men Not Allowed’: The Gendered Space and the Exclusivity of Women in the Indian Public Transport (Sanchali Sarkar, Rishi Bankim Chandra College) • Planning & Design Policies of Public Spaces and Muslim Women in London (Zahra Eftekhari Rad, Kingston University) • Surfing with Death. A Qualitative Study of Male Big Wave Surfers off the West Coast of Ireland (David White, University of Limerick) • Il Cavaliere Inesistente And The Nonexistent Man: Calvino’s Discussion Of Masculinity In The Wake Of Political Dissent (Martina O’Leary, University College Cork) 11.15 – 12.00
Tea and Coffee
12.00 – 13.30
Day Two Welcome: Dr Deirdre Flynn, Sibéal Board Member Room: HSG037
Keynote: Dr Niamh Reilly, Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway:
Waves, identities, celebrities, principles: reflections on the radical promise of feminism in the 21st century 13.30 – 14.30
Lunch Room:HSG023 Sibéal AGM (All Welcome)
14.30 – 15.30
Panel 1: Empirical narratives: definitions of motherhood, intersecting vulnerabilities and the law Room: HSG024 Chair: Patti O’Malley, University of Limerick •
Experiences of Pregnancy Loss (Lynsey Kavanagh, Maynooth University) • The Mother Is (No Longer) Certain. The Legislators’ Response to the Changing Notion of Motherhood on the Example of the Law Related
University of Limerick)
expressions and feminist tensions Room: HSG022 Chair: Aileen Marron, University of Limerick
• ‘Everything that You’ve Ever Dreamed of’: One Direction Fans and the Female Fantasy (Eimear Hurley, University College Cork) • Performing Feminisms: A Case Study of Beyoncé (Annelot Prins, University of Amsterdam) Panel 3: Theorizing bodies and identities, implementing space Room: HSG023 Chair: Ann Marie Joyce, University of Limerick • The panoptic prosthetic corporeity in the twenty-first century heteropatriarchy. Re-thinking the social body (Vanesa Camacho, University of Limerick/University of Huelva) • Judith Butler – Convergent Temporalities, ‘Freedom’ and Identity Politics (Noirin McNamara, Queen’s University Belfast ) 16.00 – 17.30
Panel 1: Sexual violence Room: HSG024 Chair: Dr Breda Gray, University of Limerick • Beyond the Rape-Minerals Narrative: The Consequences of Gender Performativity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Margaret Coleman, NUI Galway) • Gullible Travels; The reclamation of the colonised body of the sexually-assaulted woman (Hazel Katherine Larkin, Queen’s University, Belfast) • The performativity of language for women affected by sexual assault and rape in contemporary Irish culture (Carole Quigley, Trinity College Dublin)
Panel 2: Workshop and Exhibition Room: HSG022 â€˘ Whisper (Sinead Dinneen, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick) The artwork being presented represents the narrative of loss during one personâ€™s diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The power of illness especially when it involves a reproductive organ produces a loss of power, a loss of choice and a loss of perceived woman-hood; all signify the impact of illness. This body of art work visually documents some aspect of my journey of loss throughout my diagnosis. Please see the last page of this programme for the full abstract.
Wine & Nibbles Room: HSG023
Show of solidarity with #wakingthefeminists activists (Group photograph for media distribution)
Friday 20 November 2015 Shrodinger Building Room SR3007 12.00 – 13.30
Keynote Address 1 Dr Tina O’Toole, School of Culture and Communication, University of Limerick
#HometoVote: (In)visible Lines in Irish Literature
In Irish culture, as in Irish society, the family is situated centre stage as an organising structure and web of affective relationships; nowhere was this more visible than during the recent Marriage Referendum campaign. However, for lesbians and bisexual women (as for gay men and trans people also), the coming out process traditionally involved a challenge to heteronormative codes within the family and, in the past in Ireland, this frequently led to the breaking of ties with the family of origin. In LGBTQ communities, lateral relationships and networks, rhizomatic links to queer kin both locally and transnationally, retool traditional family structures and relationships. Focusing on Irish literary culture, this paper will consider such links, or (in)visible lines, exploring the mutual and individual effects of such connections on the work of women writers over the past century. By addressing collaborative cultural projects, the transmission of ideas, and the negotiation of shared meaning in fiction by Elizabeth Bowen, Kate O’Brien, Mary Dorcey and Emma Donoghue, my paper sets out to consider the effects of same-sex desire on identity formation in Irish women’s writing.
Saturday 21 November 2015 Health Sciences Building, Room HSG037 12.00 â€“ 13.30
Keynote Address 2 Dr Niamh Reilly, Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway
Waves, identities, celebrities, principles: reflections on the radical promise of feminism in the 21st century
Feminist and gender studies projects have roots in the tradition of all-women colleges and women's studies departments - both demands of 'first wave' or 'second wave' women's movements -- first for the right of equal access with (privileged) men to higher education, and then for the equal right with (privileged men) to create knowledge and name 'the truth'. Feminist and critical gender scholarship is, inescapably, a political act; it challenges the gendered order of things, directly or indirectly. It causes unease and meets resistance among those who feel that the challenges it poses are directed at them, whether as individuals or as institutions.
Feminism is also a site of
disagreement, dissonance and conflict between differently-situated women and between feminists (of all genders) who are animated by different feminist philosophies, explicitly acknowledged or not.
More than three decades of post second-wave,
'internal' feminist critique has underlined the message that any feminist project, academic or practical, cannot be based on an assumption of 'women' as a monolithic group with a 'natural' common agenda. To do feminism in non-oppressive ways, therefore, calls for a strongly anti-essentialist standpoint, which recognizes that even as gendered power dynamics generally work to the disadvantage of women and girls, gendered disadvantage is experienced very differently according to other aspects of identity and location in the symbolic-material order, especially with respect to socioeconomic background, 'race', ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and mode of embodiment.
This presentation considers the particular
challenges of sustaining the radical promise of feminism in the 21st century, especially
when viewed through currently available, limited lenses of waves or identity politics, or the politics of celebrity that attends the paradoxical fusion of postmodern-neoliberal fragmented and temporal modes of activism. It calls for reinvigorated debate about feminisms as political projects with underlying principles and premises, and a return to the classic triad of feminist analyses - gender, 'race' and class - viewed anew through the transformative insights of post-structuralist and postcolonial feminisms.
Abstracts Friday 14.30 – 16.00 Panel 1: Literature: visibility, invisibility, silences, possibilities Room HSG008A A Different Kind of Girl: Visible Categorisations of Female Identity in Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours (Dr. Donna Mitchell, MIC Limerick) Only Ever Yours (2014) is the debut young-adult novel from Irish author Louise O’Neill. It is set in a dystopian future where natural women have been obliterated and replaced with scientifically-created female figures known simply as ‘eves’ who meet their ‘Termination Date’ once they turn forty. After sixteen years of training these eves are divided between three restricted categorisations of female identity: Companions, who are wives and mothers; concubines, who are used only for sex; and chastitites, whose sole purpose is to train younger eves. This paper will use the world that O’Neill has created to examine the blurring of natural female identity by discussing the emergence of a manmade and / or perfect version of womanhood that exists within the novel. It will do so using relevant feminist theories to analyse and discuss today’s society where countless visible media images try to control female identity by promoting unrealistic standards of beauty and youth that lead to self-hatred and unhealthy body image. These theories will also be used to explore the performative demands that have become an inherent part of socially constructed femininity. The omnipresent mirrors within the text, which act as a substitute for the absent ‘male gaze’, also function as a constant monitor for the blurring of natural beauty and track the psychological consequences of striving for impossible standards of physical perfection. Therefore, a discussion of mirrors will be an important part of the theoretical analysis in this paper in relation to their contribution to the blurring of female identity and how the young eves obsessively rely on them in their quest to become the male object of desire. The visible lines that make up the new version of female identity in the text will be untangled and examined through various feminist theories such as Germaine Greer’s concept of ‘the Eternal Feminine’ and Naomi Wolf’s analysis of ‘the beauty myth’ in order to highlight the mirror’s connection to female insecurity and self-awareness. Additionally, feminine traits such as obedience, passivity, and rivalry will be considered through Judith Butler’s discussion of gender-specific performative demands and Luce Irigaray’s notion of the female ‘masquerade’. Together, these theories will emphasise the female struggle to maintain identity within a patriarchal society that demands a blurring of the woman’s true self in order for her to epitomise the ideal or socially-constructed version of femininity.
Mary Dorcey’s Woodshed and its implications for Irish society (Amy Finlay, Queen’s University Belfast) In a poem entitled “That the Science of Cartography is limited”, poet Eavan Boland laments the limitations that history has in telling the stories of the subaltern in Irish society. Expanding
on the map theme, Mary Fitzgerald Hoyt in the introduction to Irish Women Writers: An A-Z guide, states that, “Women have long had such a shadowy half-life on the Irish map and in the Irish literary anthology” (Fitzgerald-Hoyt 7). Indeed, in recent years much has been written on the absence of women’s writing in anthologies of Irish literature, and coming to a head with the Field Day debates which raged in the nineteen nineties, a plethora of critical work has since been undertaken to rectify the lack of female authored work in anthologies. If women’s writing has, as Boland and others have argued, failed to be fully featured in discussions of literary history, it is hardly surprising that similar terms to Fitzgerald Hoyt’s “shadowy half life” have been applied to a group whose literary endeavours were first met with extreme hostilitylesbians. Literary historian Terry Castle has written how “ghosting” (Castle 3), is an appropriate word used to describe the lesbian experience; similarly Elizabeth Messe details the lesbian as “a shadow with/in woman, with/in writing” (Messe 21). In lieu of an official accessible literary history, they exist in a world that straddles visibility and invisibility, they are, or rather have, as Castle asserts been, “made to seem invisible by culture itself” (Castle 3-4). In “Intoducing Nessa” in her landmark collection of short stories which detail lesbian experience, A Noise From the Woodshed (1989), Mary Dorcey asserts, “It was not in the light we lived, but in the spaces between-in the darkness” (Dorcey, 1989, 133). Considering this, my paper considers the ways in which Mary Dorcey’s A Noise from the Woodshed as well as her poetry interrogates aspects of isolation which hallmark the lesbian experience in Ireland in the nineteen eighties. Yet rather than submit to an ethos of acceptance as many Irish authors did so before her, Dorcey’s refusal to live a lesbian life in the shadow constitutes a radical redefinition of what it means to be an Irish lesbian in 1989. Amidst stirrings for political change throughout the 1980s which eventually resulted in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993, I argue that A Noise from the Woodshed anticipates the integration of lesbians into Irish culture and reconfigures how Irish same sex relationships should be understood not as deviant and underground but as a positive and naturally evolving aspect of Irish society. By resurrecting the ghost of lesbianism in Irish literature, I argue that in both her poetry and prose, Dorcey reconfigures a tradition which had figuratively sought to deny such people a literary history. Dorcey’s vision of lesbian equality in Ireland is one sobered by the realities of the inherent difficulties of formulating a homosexual identity in a heterocentric society.
‘It is so small / the place I am getting to, why are there these obstacles’: Sylvia Plath’s language of silence (Maeve O’Brien, Ulster University) Sylvia Plath’s literary output can be read as the embodiment of a lifetime spent attempting to ‘talk’ in a language incapable of holding female bodily and emotional experience. Based on my PhD research, this paper will probe the problems and inadequacies of the English Language, a mode of communication that has been characterized by feminist critics as a discourse of ‘conquest and domination’ (bell hooks) or more bluntly, as ‘man’s language’ (Dale Spender). This paper will initially problematise how individuals of varying identity intersections have attempted to write and speak in a white, heteronormative patriarchal language that is so fundamentally structured against them. Then, drawing specific attention to art and literature created post-1945 and the ideas and climate that influenced the artists and writers of this era; I will argue that many creative artists attempted to overcome the barriers and inadequacies of
the English language by turning towards silence in an endeavour to transcend the limiting restrictions of Standard English. Taking Sylvia Plath as an example of a writer who makes this turn towards silence in her art, I will detail how Plath’s writing evolved from early work characterized by frustrations of the cumbersome inflexibility of the English Language to the new beginning of poems she composed in early 1963 where she utilised the non-linguistic ‘other’ part of poetry as a key means of conveying expression. Drawing on theoretical observations from French feminist thinkers such as Hélène Cixous and Xavière Gauthier as well as musings from contemporary poets and critical thinkers such as Jorie Graham and Susan Sontag, this paper will ultimately argue that in the postmodern era; silence, blank spaces and nothingness offered a revolutionary site for artistic expression unencumbered by the restrictive traditions of Standard English.
Panel 2: Gendered bodies: discourses, identities and the law Room: HSG021
Radical Feminism, Masculinity and Male Sexuality: How Competing Discourses Frame the Prostitution Debate (Sean Burke, NUI Galway) This paper aims to understand how radical feminism represents masculinity, and how this relationship can be explored empirically. The impetus for this inquiry arises in the context of the proposed law, The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, 2014, which inter alia, will criminalise the purchasing of sex in the Republic of Ireland. Both this bill and the ‘Turn off the Red Light’ (TORL) campaign which preceded it, including its articulation in parliamentary processes, exemplify how assumptions regarding masculinity and prostitution contribute to public policy debate. TORL, a campaign which aims to bring about legislative change in the Republic of Ireland, predicates their argument on the grounds that ‘prostitution is about male sexual power’ and without male sexual demand the industry will cease to exist (ICI, 2009: 39). This position replicates radical feminist accounts masculinity or male sexuality, such as that of: Millet (1970), MacKinnon (1989), Dworkin (1987), Barry (1996), and Farley (2012). Exploring the radical feminist representation of masculinity requires an analysis of some of the influences, manifestations and legacy of radical feminism. In order to do this I will look at three historical points; the early 20 th century repeal movement in England, second wave of feminism in the 1970s and 1980s, and finally the articulation of these ideas in contemporary international and domestic prostitution debates. Prostitution debates historically centre around three competing discourse which have all attempted to frame prostitution in a certain way; these are: moral, functional, and feminist approaches, which overlap and contest one another at various junctures. This paper will analyse how these frames have informed prostitution debate and policy at the historical points outlined above, and in doing so will tease out some of the tensions that arise when these frames overlap or compete within the public and political discourse.
Life in the Borderlands: The Future of Gender Recognition in Human Rights Law (Sandra Duffy, University College Cork) Following the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, Ireland has leaped from being the only Council of Europe member state with no provision for the right to recognition of transgender persons, to one of its most progressive. The GRA 2015, as it stands, was passed following a long campaign which saw it develop from a restrictive, gatekeepered Bill to a piece of law which, for the most part, awards agency to the individual seeking to assert their rights. Giving a voice to the voiceless is one of the primary goals of the human rights movement, and the gender-variant community is one which, historically, has rarely had the attention of the world. While applauding the work done in the name of the GRA 2015, this author wishes to explore the wider possibilities for gender expression and recognition within the human rights framework. Allowing trans* individuals to self-determine, thereby bypassing the need for pathologisation of gender variance, should be the standard procedure in this type of legislation. If gender is viewed as a spectrum or a matter of self-declaration, the effect on the legalism surrounding the concept is clear – the law must expand to contain brand new, non-binary conceptions of how gender is lived and performed. The personal becomes political in a very real way. This paper also begins to consider the question of whether human rights law as it is currently understood can expand to embrace these new horizons, or whether it will be necessary to entirely redefine how we think of identity categorisation – moving beyond one's right to have one's identity recognised as having changed from A to B, toward a radical system in which categorisation itself may be made obsolete. The law intersects with the lived realities of trans* individuals in many ways, from nondiscrimination requirements to family life. The disconnect between the individual in real life and the legal conception of the individual remains an invisible boundary that is hard to define. It is true that the law changes to reflect developments in society, but in a real way laws also construct how we think of persons and characteristics such as gender. As LGBTQ+ people – equally, as women – our status as both subject and object of the law of identity subtly defines our world. The identities lived and performed through our corporeality seem a far cry from the stark formalism of the laws with which we live. This paper intends to explore how the law can help us overstep the invisible lines which constrain us, toward a goal of making society a more equal and a more truly representative place.
Negotiating Double Trouble: a critical discursive analysis of identity negotiation amongst gay and bisexual men in Ireland (Drew Murphy, Limerick Institute of Technology) For more than twenty years, Connell’s (1995) notion of how masculinity is performed, have formed the basis of much scholarship pertaining to feminist and LGBTQI issues. This notion suggests that some forms of masculine identities have greater power and recognition than others. Hegemonic masculinities refer to those forms of masculine performance which are related to extreme hyper masculinity, with other forms of masculinity being derided or ignored and still others being complicit in assuming that hegemonic masculinity is the ideal to which all men must aspire. Therefore a dilemma arises for gay and bisexual men to form a masculine identity that does not oppress them. In recent years, there has been a significant shift in global understanding and awareness of LGTBQI issues and what it means to identify with this culture. There is also a steadily growing body of research
that examines concepts like gender fluidity, heteroflexibility and LGBTQI identities. Recent publications have argued that the rise in social media engagement with LGBTQI issues and the pioneering research being undertaken by groups like the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services has been integral to this shift in attitudes. However, there is still a scarcity of research that examines identity construction within LGBTQI communities. Concerns have been identified, regarding the ways in which gay and bi-sexual men construct identities whilst negotiating both hegemonic discourses of masculinity, as well as dual heteronormative and homonormative expectations of gender performance. Most commentators in the field contend that Ireland remains patriarchal: the dominant discourse posits a very particular expression of masculinity based on an image of financial security and sexual dominance. These embodiments of masculine performance can be seen to oppress Gay and Bi-Sexual men in Ireland, who are often portrayed as polar opposites to popular masculine archetypes. The current research explores how Gay and Bi-Sexual men construct an identity whilst also interpreting dominant archetypes of masculine performance and the tremendously different expectations placed on men by the LGBTQI community. This paper will discuss the theoretical framework behind a two year research programme commencing with the Genders and Sexualities research group in LIT that explores the ways in which Gay and Bi-Sexual men in Ireland interpret very different masculine stereotypes, and how this influences the overall formation of an identity.
Friday 16.30 – 18.00 Panel 1: Destructive histories: gendered borders, new communities Room: HSG008A “In that fatal dress”: Borders of Gender in anti-Jacobite Sentiment after the ’45 (Danni Glover, Ulster University) The Union of 1707 brought with it a definition (of legal) and a blurring (of ideological) borders, as Scotland was both accepted as part of the newly formed British state, and held in suspicion by those who perceived the nation as a threat to Englishness and in contempt by those who supported the cause of Jacobitism or other movements of resistance against union. As the great and the good of Scottish politics and society rose to prominence in Britain (and particularly in England), a common complaint was that Scottish manners and culture were a threat to the traditional values of Englishness. The appointment of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute to the office of Prime Minister in 1762 stoked the flames of resentment among English nationalists such as John Wilkes, who published savage caricatures, songs, and essays lampooning the Prime Minister and other prominent Scots. Wilkes and his contemporaries focussed heavily on the inherent otherness of the Scots, portraying them as opportunistic, anti-patriotic aliens whose difference meant that they would never be a serious threat to English supremacy but whose tendency towards rebellion meant that they may have been a threat to English stability; not only the bourgeois stability of political office, universities, print media, and the aristocracy, but also a significant threat to the stability of day to day life through the spectre of Jacobitism. In reaction to this anxiety, certain nationalist writers and artists chose to attack ambitious Scottish people for a perceived femininity associated with Jacobite soldiers. Poems, songs, and caricatures warn that the Jacobite threat will subvert the
heterosexual family unit integral to English life by dressing the men in feminine accoutrements and making the women loose and hyper-sexual. They suggest that these perversions are inherent in the Scots and threaten to infect the English if the borders of the country and English supremacy are not upheld. This paper examines the representation of anti-Jacobite sentiment through the invisible lines of gender and nationality.
Crossing the invisible lines (Michaela Markova, Trinity College Dublin) In his reflection upon current political assassinations, 'The Charlie Hebdo Attack And What It Reveals About Society,' Zygmunt Bauman asserts that given the ongoing diasporisation of the world, people are, more than ever, forced to learn how to deal with the 'all-too-real' interpersonal differences. Indeed, the once 'distant' stranger has become the next-door neighbour whose close proximity threatens one's habitual, and thus seemingly secure, mode of being. The dynamics of the Northern Irish conflict, too, has been affected by the series of the now infamous binaries embodying the 'us' and the 'threatening other' politics. Despite the end of the violent phase of the Troubles and continuous reconciliatory efforts, it has been argued that antagonistic opposition continues to determine a state of affairs in the region. In fact, some have claimed that this antagonism is entrenched within the new political dispensation and that Northern Irish society has thus never been more polarised than it is now. The paper addresses the Troubles and its aftermath as portrayed in two works by contemporary female NI novelists to identify the factors that have negatively affected the peace process and post conflict reconciliation. It explores what the novels convey is necessary to secure sustainability of peace and to overcome the assumed impasse. While the paper draws predominantly on literary analysis, it is also based on research findings concerning cultural, socio-political, urban, and feminist perspectives of the said problematic.
Imagining Communities: Gender, Sexuality, Race, and Nationalism in Catherine Harper’s Queenie (Shannon Flaherty, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis) In 2001, queer broadsides began appearing in the streets of Derry, Northern Ireland. On a vibrant red background, the made-up face of a platinum-blonde woman in a feather boa smiles out to the viewer; the poster hails its viewers, calling upon them to cast their votes for Queenie, the “Free Ironing” candidate, in the upcoming local election. Queenie, the drag alter ego of artist Catherine Harper, appeared in multiple performances between 2001-2005 in London and Derry, and engaged in a number of stereotypical feminine domestic pursuits, such as ironing, knitting, cleaning, and dancing. Queenie’s femininity is decidedly theatrical, bedecked in sequins, feathers, and rhinestones, and enacted not in the private space of the home, but in the streets. Harper asserts herself as leader to a cause at once punningly whimsical and gravely serious, applying her domestic arts to both issues of personal identity and the political entanglements of imperialism and sectarian violence. In Queenie knits one, purls one, a weeklong residence at London’s Window 42, Harper-as-Queenie knit a series of “gender-variant undergarments,” knickers, Y-fronts, bras, and corsets with ambiguous protuberances resembling genitalia, horns, and antlers, rendering these gendered garments hermaphroditic and questionably human. In a later exhibition, these garments were on display, inviting viewers to “choose your pants, face the music, and dance,” offering a personalized engagement with gender play. In performances around the city of Derry, Queenie scrubbed the historic city walls with a tiny cloth and a pink spray bottle, an attempt, however small, to clean the bricks of their accumulated grit, physical and psychic, the residue of centuries of conflict. In standing for local
office, Queenie suggests a new direction for the future, predicated not on sectarian politics but on the caring gestures offered, at once hyper-feminine and queer. Emerging out of global phenomena of constant war and a local present of making peace, this project draws upon discourses of national and civic belonging in order to make evident not just the necessity of such discourses to the process of making war, but to those objects, identities, and individuals situated as outside of the national imaginary. Harper re-imagines histories in order to propose future potentials. In the guise of the ultimate queer homemaker, she takes on a role ascribed and available primarily to white working- and middle-class women, leaving viewers to contend with the presumed universality of such a figure; her project thus prods at the formation of sectarian identity while leaving unexamined deeper assumptions about race and class. In short, I will argue that these projects engage queerly with history and with nation-making, attempting to offer new, if temporally fleeting, imagined communities, yet ones that nonetheless carry with them destructive histories.
Panel 2: Gendered transformations and feminist realities Room: HSG021 “Things are not always what they seem”: The Problem with Praising Feminism in Game of Thrones (Alex Jepson, Weber State University) Although nearly twenty years old, the Game of Thrones series has seen a resurgence in popularity of late because of the success of the HBO television adaption. It seems you cannot traverse the world of popular culture and social media without occasionally seeing the mantra’s of “winter is coming” and “the north remembers.” The books are fueled by a complex and unpredictable narrative, as well as its mixture of medieval and fantasy archetypes, but the popularity of the novels also undoubtedly stems from its many well-developed characters. As the novel shifts perspective chapter by chapter, the reader gains a glimpse into the mind is a vast cross-section of characters, many of whom are women. In fact, the series itself has oft been praised for its use of women as major characters, and that the women in the novels are often strong and independent in nature. The dilemma for the feminist critic quickly becomes, however, whether or not the female characters in the novel are an example of a fresh wave of feminism in popular literature, or the perpetuation of stereotypes that continue to pervade modern works—which in term reignites the oft contentious debate over whether a male author like George R.R. Martin can actually create realistic and deep female characters at all. Although there are many interesting female characters in Game of Thrones that seem to reinforce the strength and variety inherent in womanhood, the series itself cannot be considered a step forward in feminism because they are still operating in a Patriarchal framework. Naturally, in support the above argument, I will be drawing heavily upon a feminist critical approach, especially in the vein of third-wave feminism. Also, since much of my argument will hinge on the fact that feminist ideals are being subverted in the novel, I will also draw upon deconstruction theory to augment my position. More specifically, I will highlight points in the novels where slippage occurs in Martin’s depiction of women, as he attempts to create female characters defy traditional norms, but subliminally reinforces them instead. Both of these approaches will help me not only make the case that women, despite perhaps appearing to break stereotypes, are actually degraded and placed firmly with in the patriarchy, but will also allow me to briefly discuss whether a male author can truly develop authentic female
characters, as well as the dangers inherit in promoting an immensely popular work as a step forward in feminism when it actually degrades a woman’s place in society.
The man Trap? Reading women in Alan Warner’s Movern Callar and The Sopranos (Lilith Johnstone, University of Stirling) “I remember thinking at the time, ‘The feminist message is as subtle as a sledgehammer. [...] I don’t need to do anything as crass and simplistic as calling the teacher with the porn magazine taped to her classroom door Miss Dworkin. I was wrong!” Duncan McLean writes here of his novel, Bunker Man (1995), a contemporary Scottish text with a powerful feminist message that confronts the realities of the damage that fragile masculinity and patriarchy at large can inflict upon women. Yet, McLean’s feminist credentials have almost never been explored in academic literary analysis. Why? Contemporary Scottish fiction is still a somewhat untapped area of research - even in some university Literature departments - regardless of its content or theme. That which does exist often focuses largely on its engagement with ideas of Scottish nationhood. What is Scotland and how do we understand it? Particularly pertinent, given the country’s somewhat divided national consciousness. Although such national readings are important the critical preoccupation with them, this paper argues, hold potential dangers. Most troublingly, they often occlude readings of Scottish texts by or about women through other critical frameworks - particularly that of feminism and gender. This is particularly true of Scottish male writing of women. A trend that harks back to Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott through Lewis Grassic Gibbon, James Kelman and more recently, Irvine Welsh and Alan Warner. This paper argues that, when gender and not nation is foregrounded, there is potential for more dedicated, nuanced feminist analysis of texts like these. By way of a case study, this paper reads two novels by Oban-born writer Alan Warner (1964-) - his debut Morvern Callar (1995) and his later work, The Sopranos (1998). It attempts to offer a definition of and argue for the legitimacy of male feminism and the validity of male writing of women. It explores to what extent Warner’s texts can be read as feminist and what the implications of this might be for other Scottish male writers and the study of gender in Scottish fiction as a whole.
How do P.D. James’s Children of Men and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World represent gender and/or sexuality? (Josephine Rogers, University of Leeds) In the context of a module discussing posthumanism, this paper examines social forms of controlling gender and sexuality in the posthuman worlds presented by P.D. James and Aldous Huxley. Despite significant differences in these imagined futures, James and Huxley both present male desire to dominate female reproduction and sexuality, while maintaining positions of power themselves. While procreation in James’s world has become disrupted and disordered, it is highly structured and institutionalised in Huxley’s, which is something James’s male characters strive toachieve, fearing for their lost masculinity.
Panel 1: Online and popular culture: misogyny and gender performativity Room: HSG025 Broadcast Your Self: How YouTubers Negotiate Gender Identities (Silke Jandl, University of Graz) Over the past decade YouTube has steadily gained in cultural importance. While music and cat videos remain part of the YouTube repertoire, the platform has branched out into an array of sub-categories, prominent among which are regular content creators, so called YouTubers. Whether YouTubers are predominantly gamers, beauty gurus or comedians, most have one thing in common: they also vlog. While any topic can be discussed in vlogs, I will focus on those YouTubers who choose to start serious discussions about feminism, sexuality and gender identity. In my presentation I will discuss three distinct issues that will deal with current trends around YouTube and explore issues closely connected with feminism, such as sexual behaviour, sexuality and gender identity. Therefore, I will first discuss how some YouTubers' inappropriate or even criminal sexual behaviour has been discussed on the platform; second I will have a look at the rather popular wave of coming out videos of successful vloggers, and third I will provide an overview into how YouTubers use their autobiographical books as vehicles to defy or enforce gender expectations. The discussions on YouTube following the accusations against popular YouTubers who have sexually manipulated, harassed and abused younger fans goes to show that not only â€œchallenge videosâ€? can go viral but also serious discussions about consent. Even though the majority of incidents that have come to light, in what can be seen as two waves of accusations, are not punishable by law, many notable YouTubers have taken a clear stance against any behaviour that pressures an individual to engage in activities proposed by a person in a power position. Significantly, in the discussions about these incidents the young girls and boys sharing their experiences have not been denounced as liars or victimized by successful YouTubers but they have been taken seriously and found support and encouragement. YouTube, as a platform, has also provided a space where vloggers feel safe to discuss their sexuality. A significant number of highly successful YouTubers has chosen to come out as gay or bisexual in vlog form. Although the internet in general, due to the guise of anonymity for bullies, is often a daunting place, these coming out videos have enjoyed extraordinary amounts of positive feedback. The recent trend of YouTubers writing and publishing books allows for in depth analysis when it comes to gender identities. Even though YouTube in itself is often highly gendered, with females often falling into the category of beauty gurus while males tend towards making gaming videos; YouTube does provide the freedom for anybody to make any content, to adhere to gender expectations or to defy them. Some YouTubers, who refuse to comply with traditional gender roles, discuss issues that come with challenging the norms quite clearly in their autobiographical books. In my presentation I intend to illuminate how these three trends and the ways they are dealt with on YouTube have assisted and might continue to aid in the shift towards better informed audiences who are able to further our understanding of feminism and gender equality.
Young Women, Self-Representation and Gender Identity: A critical analysis of ‘gender performativity’, the ‘male gaze’ and the selfie phenomenon (Mary McGill, NUI Galway) My research explores young Irish women’s self-representation and gender identity in the selfie phenomenon, asking what the use of such images reveals about contemporary constructions of femininity. To begin, this work contextualises the selfie phenomenon, before considering literature relating to gender online, self-representation online and feminist cultural theory, distilling key insights from the work of Laura Mulvey and Judith Butler as the basis for its analytical framework. This research finds that academic engagement with key feminist theories of critical reading offers a significant insight into gender identity and self-representation in a specific contemporary context. This research finds subversive elements in the composition and contextualisation of the images which complicate reading them as straightforwardly selfobjectifying or passive, establishing the significance of the virtual (as it relates to gender identity) in self-created cultural products such as the selfie. This study also notes the presence of the female gaze and resistance / pleasure within it and observes the visibility, approval and acceptance of gender work in the pursuit of femininity in this specific online context. This paper contends that further research in this area should, in conjunction with theoretical studies, consider the lived experiences of young women who choose to self-represent in such contexts and also calls for more investigation into the functioning and significance of the female gaze in such instances.
Old Paradigms New Platforms: Misogyny 2.0 (Kathryn Ryan, University College Cork) Media coverage has given the name Revenge Porn, to the nonconsensual uploading and sharing of intimate images of both sexes; albeit predominantly women, to websites with the intent to cater to online voyeurism, and motivated by the perpetrator’s desire to shame and humiliate the subjects of these images. It can be deemed as being an extension of existing online misogyny and the gendered power relationships that occur within digital environments as well as in the offline sphere. Misogyny is hardly a new phenomenon, but its spread to the anonymous sphere of the Internet is deeply pervasive, given the ways in which perpetrators can traverse online environments anonymously, making it more difficult for them to be held accountable in their spreading of online tirades of hate and misogyny. Online misogyny distressingly emphasises that gender inequality is still as pertinent in contemporary society and remains more insidious and pervasive than ever before. It asserts that the online female voice needs to be silenced and suppressed, thus perpetuating the further control, manipulation and degradation of women. There has been a rise in online harassment and misogyny, as the Internet has been proven to have the most captive of audiences regarding the spread of hate, and humiliation of women. It is evident to assert that the Internet can be perceived as being yet another space, in which male power and privilege are normalised, accepted and condoned. It is now clear that women are just as unsafe in the digitally enhanced cyber environments as they are in ‘real’ environments. Revenge Porn can be seen as another insidious tool used by the patriarchal hegemony in the public humiliation of women. There has been an exponential growth in people using Revenge Porn sites such as Anonib.com (which is now defunct) and MyEx.com, either for personal titillation and voyeurism or with the intent to shame and ridicule women. What are the reasons as to why there has been an increased rise in people; namely disgruntled men intent on participating in the performance of online shaming? This phenomenon has come to a head
given the fact that countries such as the UK, Wales and Japan and 16 American States now deem this behavior to be in breach of cyber ethics, a form of cyber bullying and is now a punishable offence in these countries. Over the course of the last number of months Internet giants such as Google, Twitter and Reddit have begun delisting Revenge Porn searches from their search engine. This paper will address the emergence of cyber violence against women, through the Internet phenomenon known as Revenge Porn, looking at a woman’s rights concerning the sharing, accessing, distribution and the manipulation of these online images, and how thanks to the emergence of digital activism fuelled by a surge in fourth wave feminism, asserts that the online female voice refuses to be silenced and suppressed.
Women and food writing blogging (Mary Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology) The dominant Anglocentric profeminist view of the relationship between gender and food has tended to focus on the normative positioning of food within the domain of women depicting w omen’s domestic engagement with food as “oppressive,” socially derided and underapprecia ted (Gavron, H.1966; Haber B. 1977, 65-74; Meah, 2013:90). This paper sets out to challenge this discourse by exploring how two women, Hannah Alexa nder and Farmette/farmette.ie, living in Ireland, writing in two different Hannah’s recipe book, dating from 1700s, written in conversational tones reminiscent of informal food writing today, like the society in which she wrote and prepared food, was looking to the greater world for in spiration and the social acclamation she desired. Farmette a 21st century contemporary food blogger uses food to makestrong statements about identity and class subscribing to creating food that is largely “traditional,” “local,” and relatively low-tech. The two women used informal food writing of two women living in two very different times, using two different writing mediums we can identify women performing agency through food writing, transforming the benign everyday drudge of family cooking to ‘an embassy of cultural tradition’ (Meah: 2013, p.90), performing an emancipatory act.
Panel 2: Contexts: representations of gender and identity in film, media, theatre, music, television Room: HSG023 More Great Women: Re-imagining the role models presented in ‘A Pageant of Great Women’ for the present day (Clare Neylon, University of Salford) Due to the historical, and continued, invisibility of women in ‘typically’ male positions and careers, today’s girls and young women are offered few visible female role models to aspire to and this may have a strong impact on their choice of careers and their confidence and strength in these careers when they do embark upon them. This is particularly true in the field of STEM, but is also clear in the areas of film, media and theatre. Professor Dame Carol Black, speaking recently about the low number of women taking careers in STEM roles, posited that women are held back by a lack of confidence. I would argue that a greater availability of visible role models and women who have already built a career in a particular field, would undoubtedly add to the confidence of young women entering that profession.
Building on the work of researchers such as Dr. Susan Croft, Professor Vivien Gardner and more recently Dr. Naomi Paxton, I aim to build a body of work exploring the archive of writing and performance of the suffrage movement and relating it to current issues and discussions within feminism. For the piece I would like to present at the conference, my particular focus has been providing visibility for women in all areas of society who could be seen as role models for future generations. This takes the form of a new multi-media screening, which draws on suffrage theatre and film for inspiration and was particularly developed from the suffrage play ‘A Pageant of Great Women’ by Cicely Hamilton. The play was originally written and performed a century ago in response to the antisuffrage claim that women had never contributed anything useful to society or history and, therefore, did not deserve the vote. The writer presents a long list of women from history who were influential and inspirational in order to refute this argument. My piece, continuing in a similar vein, aims to shine a light on women of the last hundred years (since the play was written) who have contributed and led in their fields, but are rarely acknowledged or celebrated. The women’s faces are projected in categories that roughly correspond to those in ‘A Pageant of Great Women’ as suffrage writers and contemporary women are heard speaking about the position of women and the potential for our future. Since women from the black and ethnic minority communities have been particularly excluded from public view and celebration, a key aim of the project is to re-write these women back into history, drawing on ‘great women’ from around the world and using public suggestions for inclusion in the project to build a wide range of women of different backgrounds to be acknowledged. As well as screening the work, I will present on the research and creative process that accompanied this piece of work, the results so far in terms of impact and my ideas about the potential and direction of future research such as collaborations with colleagues in science and sociology.
Music, Representation and Female Identity in Renaissance Venice (Bláithín Hurley St John’s College, University of Cambridge) As the sixteenth-century progressed the cause of women’s rights to better equality was promoted by many humanist writers who championed the musical education of well-bred young ladies. This would appear to herald changes in attitudes to women, however slight and gradual those they might. It could be stated that women were now allowed to pursue an education in music. But would musically-educated women become visible in the domestic life of the Venetian casa? Although music could bring honour to a household it could, equally, be accused of bringing disrepute, especially for women. Thus, the music women played was either tolerated or valued largely to the degree to which it kept within the bounds of the ideology of domesticity. However, this did not exclude women from playing instruments in the private areas of the casa, and may mean that many amateur musicians in the domestic arena were women. In this paper in order to try and establish who might have practised amateur music in the casa, we shall examine the material provided by household inventories and analyse the information they contain. Inventories, through their employment of simple language and stock descriptive adjectives, can often portray the lives of those who lived outside of public life more eloquently than many of the contemporary written accounts of Renaissance Venice. For this reason, Venetian inventories can shed some light on the world of the relationships, emotions, musical passions and domestic lives of women in the Renaissance Venetian casa.
(In)Visible Dynamics: Female Control in Contemporary Irish Cinema (Dr. Abigail Keating, University College Cork) As a result of the vast socioeconomic and sociocultural changes during and since Ireland’s Celtic Tiger period, questions of identity—individual, national, collective—have been thrust into focus within academic and public discourses. Consequently, it is through cinematic engagements with these tensions that we are able to see how a momentum emerges, wherein the “new” nation (urban, liberal, cosmopolitan, European) is reviewed within the context of the plurality and complexity of its newfound identities. One curious trend of this recent cinematic period lies in the recurrently predominant focus on male characters, as they negotiate their place (figuratively and literally) in new Ireland. As a result, female representation is secondary in many films of the Celtic Tiger era. Yet by virtue of the seemingly peripheral narrative spaces these female characters inhabit, important questions of the power dynamics of gender arise. More specifically, while these films present Ireland in a new, more liberal light, rejecting the traditional binary roles associated with the more conservative past, the problematics of gender and control are present in a number of underlying ways: thematically, through the representations of power and marginalisation; aesthetically, through the subtle use of mise en scène; and even formally, through narrative construction.
Critical, Strange and Not Very Sexy: Methods of Subverting ‘Digital Everyday’ performances of femininity in feminist art practices (Laura O’Connor, Ulster University) This paper examines feminist video art that challenges representations of femininity on screen. Drawing from second wave feminist video art from the 1970’s where the ‘personal was political’ to new media and Internet-based practices, I examine how using the medium of representation (screen/interface) as a tool for subversion is complicated in present day art practices due to the nature of the Internet. Feminist film studies have used psychoanalytic theory to analyse female representation onscreen through subject/object positions and the male gaze, however present day representation complicates this analysis through its self-produced nature and the interface replacing the screen. Practices such as taking and sharing selfies and video blogs provide young women ways to self-represent and self-produce their individual subjectivity they also provide us with visual imagery with which to examine how young women are performing online. The performance of femininity online and what Judith Butler terms ‘gender performativity’ perpetuates a kind of female subject that is aligned with a post-feminist aesthetic where “self perfection and success around appearance and desirability to men continues to represent one of the most important aspects of femininity in contemporary popular make-over culture (Ringrose and Walkerdine, 2008)”. Social media is a place where users are encouraged to ‘be themselves’ and ‘share their lives’, however with such common repetitive displays of post-feminist aesthetics and gender performativity what strategies are contemporary feminist artists using to subvert or ‘queer’ these performed subjects of femininity? And, do these strategies actually subvert performed femininities or perpetuate them? Artist Ann Hirsch states “whenever you put your body online, in some way you are in conversation with porn”, so can subversive performances of these feminine stereotypes actually subvert norms or does the female body simply get lost to pornographic imagery?
Panel 3: Masculinities and femininities: gendered practices, performativity and invisibility Room: HSG008A ’Men Not Allowed’: The Gendered Space and the Exclusivity of Women in the Indian Public Transport (Sanchali Sarkar, Rishi Bankim Chandra College) In an age concerned with gender justice, that the line between masculinity and femininity is gradually erasing is a positive move. But the question is, how easy is it to eradicate this line? And more crucially, how does one wish to do so? In terms of changing of law, or conceptually, in terms of gender sensitization? Might it be more effective if that line overlap instead of being blurred completely? In my paper I intend to focus on an Indian public transport, “The Matribhumi (motherland) Express”, a train reserved just for women, and how in this space the ‘visible and invisible barriers [still] remain’, just as the concept note highlights. I would try to trace how space functions here, and how it is important to gender sensitize this space, keeping in mind the socio-economic status of women (commuters) who are already in a compromised position in this andro-centric maze. Women-only transport is nothing new, it was first launched in Japan as early as 1912. However, in India the phenomenon started in 1995, and in Bengal in 2009 when the Rail ministry introduced an entire train named “The Matribhumi Express”. It was an instant hit, much to the fury of the male commuters. This gives rise to the question as to whether this is continuous with the already prevailing system of a set number of seats reserved for women in buses and metros, or a completely different engagement. Considering how dangerously violent the public space is for women, the “Matribhumi Express” was mostly appreciated by the feminists, but not all. Some thought this ‘helpful’ gesture was degrading the purpose that women have been fighting for so long: equality. And it only went on to solidify the fact that women are “different” and can’t be at par with men, since that is the parameter the Indian society still endorses and vouch. This train brought into limelight the effective postitioning of gender and transport to a very crucial Feminist agenda- a gendered sense of space, for instance, exploring the safety of women. But what problematized this model is when recently three bogies were declared “general” by the railway ministry, which resulted in a massive fiasco among female commuters who were reluctant of letting go of their exclusive space, even though the “general” bogie is allotted for both men and women. On this note, it is important to point out that many protesting women were attacked by men. How then must we define this “space”? Is this act which refuses to blur the lines and insists on keeping it visible, by demanding for an exclusively gendered and segregated space in public, feasible enough to be labeled as a Feminist stance? Or is it a step back from allowing the space from being neutralized?
Planning & Design Policies of Public Spaces and Muslim Women in London (Zahra Eftekhari Rad, Kingston University) The focus of this paper is on exploring some questions such as ‘How do Muslim women describe their specific public realm everyday experiences?’ and ‘What barriers, do Muslim women experience in their everyday lives, engaging and interacting with place, space and public realm?’ This presentation based on many years of firsthand experience living amongst
the target community, structured research and deep interviews with migrant Muslim women and proposes to examine the effectiveness of an ethnographic design methodology to access its target community’s preferences, fears and challenges and the possibilities of transformative potential to improve community cohesion in urban public spaces using an intersectionality approach to identify the perceived gaps, to be remedied through a participatory planning policy development mechanism.
Surfing with Death. A Qualitative Study of Male Big Wave Surfers off the West Coast of Ireland (David White, University of Limerick) The rise in popularity of surfing in Ireland has been unprecedented with numerous surf schools opening up to the weekly exodus of Dublin registered cars to the west coast. This has led to a small band of men constantly searching for more secluded and challenging waves to surf. The focus of this study was to investigate the reasons why these men willingly put their lives in such perilous situations all for a couple seconds on a wave where any mistake can lead to serious injury or even death. A qualitative study was conducted where seven well renowned male big wave surfers were interviewed. Also ethnographic methods were used to observe the surfers in the field. The way men engage with risk came under the spotlight utilising Goffman’s and Lyng’s theory’s to explain the surfers’ motivations to surf gargantuan waves. However, and more appropriate to this conference, by surfing giant waves it was a way these men performed their masculinity. By using Connell’s hegemonic masculinity it gave a way to explain the surfers’ motivations for surfing giant waves. It was useful in explaining the hierarchies that were formed amongst the waves of masculinity where the dominant surfer ruled largely due to his ability to surf the most challenging and dangerous waves. The sociology of emotions such as fear and shame were examined where in any form of extreme sport that involves the threat of death or serious injury a significant degree of fear is felt by the practitioners. Emotional training because of gendered expectations makes men who ride giant waves appear stoic and fearless. The surfers’ reaction and experience of fear and shame came under the spotlight in this study where fear and shame can play a big part in policing the hierarchies in surfing. It can make the surfer aware of his poor performance of masculinity and of his body’s limitations. For the surfers in this study they had a positive experience of fear and used it to their advantage by keeping them in check. Also the shame experienced from unsuccessfully riding a wave was replaced by the commitment and bravery demonstrated while attempting to ride a giant wave which proved important and propelled the surfer up the hierarchy of surfing masculinity. The reaction to other female big surfers was positive but the surfers in this study used various ways to re-affirm their masculinity when encountering other female surfers. By highlighting the dangers of the wave spots and glorifying the injuries sustained from surfing big waves emphasised the fact that this was no place for women. Also if these female big wave surfers got into trouble it would be up to the surfers interviewed to save them, further emphasising their heroic masculinity. In a world where masculinity is been threatened by the advances of femininity, surfing gargantuan waves allows these men to re-affirm their masculinity. The characteristics such as calmness, confidence, control and bravery displayed by the surfers could arguably be in great demand in today’s world of uncertainty and risk. The camaraderie, sense of community and belonging that surfing big waves provides combined with numerous other reasons including a vehicle to perform their masculinity justified these surfers’ motivations for riding the waves of
Il Cavaliere Inesistente And The Nonexistent Man: Calvino’s Discussion Of Masculinity In The Wake Of Political Dissent (Martina O’Leary, University College Cork) Italo Calvino’s Cavaliere inesistente (The Non-existent Knight, 1959) tells the story of Agilulfo, a knight who embodies the ideal man, but who has no body. In discussing his trilogy, I nostri antenati (Our Ancestors) of which this novel forms the concluding part, Calvino states that the problem of the time is no longer that of a loss of a part of ourselves, but of a total loss, of not being at all. In 1957, not long before writing this work, Calvino had left the Italian Communist Party, of which he had been an active and dedicated member, having become disillusioned with the party due to the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, and Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge, and other crimes. Also at this time, Italy was enjoying the ‘economic miracle,’ and a fervent consumerism had gripped the nation. Television was fast becoming a staple of modern living, and families were becoming more insular, and less community oriented. In the aforementioned note on his trilogy, Calvino also states that prototypes of the character of Agilulfo can be found everywhere, and in fact, Agilulfo is the prototype of the frontier man, argued by R. W. Connell to be the first exemplar of ‘classic’ masculinity. Agilulfo is Butler’s performative male, the repetitive ‘perfect man’ that is systematically regurgitated in literature, and Calvino presents him as an invisible presence, essentially no more than an empty, albeit fetching, suit of armour. Scholars such as Loredana Polezzi and Charlotte Ross argue that the body in literature is a powerful symbolic form, and one that merits close investigation. In this paper I will be analysing Calvino’s discussion of masculinity through Agilulfo, in light of his social disillusionment and his response to political conflict.
Panel 1: Empirical narratives: definitions of motherhood, intersecting vulnerabilities and the law Room: HSG024 Reproductive Disruptions: An exploration of Traveller Experiences of Pregnancy Loss (Lynsey Kavanagh, Maynooth University) Despite scholarly interest in reproductive and maternal health issues of minority women, an area that remains largely underexamined, particularly within feminist scholarship, is reproductive disruptions –when the customary linear narratives of conception and birth are in some way interrupted (Jenkins and Inhorn, 2003: 1831). It is these moments of “unhappy endings” (Lanye, 2000) upon which this paper focuses. Pregnancy loss, broadly defined as early or late miscarriage, stillbirth, perinatal death, and infant death (Cecil, 1996; Halderman, 2005), continues to be a common global experience despite major advances in perinatal health care. In Ireland, Travellers, a small indigenous minority ethnic group who are particularly vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion, and who have a distinct disadvantage in health status, experience higher rates of pregnancy loss and perinatal deaths when compared to non-Traveller women (Pavee Point, 2014; National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, 2012: AITHS Team, 2010; Institute of Public Health in Ireland, 2006). These
experiences of loss are embedded within gendered racism and more intimate gendered hierarchies of family and social networks (Helleiner, 2000). Drawing on semi-structured interviews with Traveller women and placing their narratives at the centre of analysis (McDonagh, 2000), this paper uses an interpretivist framework to explore the embedded experiences of pregnancy loss and describes how these experiences are defined and managed within their socio-cultural and political context. Specific focus is centered upon experiences relating to intersecting (Crenshaw, 2000) or multiplicative (King, 1988) forms of marginalization, linking ethnicity, gender, and class in the context of pregnancy loss.
The Mother Is (No Longer) Certain. The Legislators’ Response to the Changing Notion of Motherhood on the Example of the Law Related to Surrogacy Arrangement (Magdalena Duggan, University of Limerick) According to Roman law, a woman who carried the pregnancy and subsequently gave birth to a child was considered to be its mother. Similarly, for many centuries the irrebuttable mater semper certa est (i.e. the mother is always certain) presumption constituted one of the most solid foundations of filiation law in numerous jurisdictions worldwide. Nowadays, however, due to progressive developments in the field of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART), such as introduction and popularisation of IVF, the term filiation and the corresponding notion of ‘motherhood’ have gained a new dimension, previously unknown to the law. In order to accommodate the scientific progress paired with the new social trends, the majority of legislators have since amended the traditional principles defining legal filiation. Undoubtedly, the hardest task consisted in providing a legal framework for surrogacy agreements, which involve the use of ART. From a legal perspective, surrogacy, defined by the Warnock Committee as an arrangement whereby ‘one woman carries a child for another with the intention of handing it over after birth’1, has generated particular controversies. Firstly, the arrangement discussed undermines the mater semper certa est principle due to the presence of an intervening party, i.e. a surrogate, who is also referred to as a ‘gestational mother’. Secondly, the existence of a contractual bond between the surrogate and the prospective parent (parents) results in surrogacy being frequently labelled as ‘baby-selling’ or ‘womb-leasing’. This paper discusses legal regulation of surrogacy arrangements in a comparative context. In the first part, the author presents some of the contrasting approaches to the arrangements discussed, while relying on the examples of jurisdictions where surrogacy is: banned (Germany), allowed unconditionally (India), allowed under certain circumstances (the United Kingdom) or, finally, where it remains an unregulated, hence, a potentially dangerous practice (Ireland). As can be expected, the most recent Irish developments in the area, such as the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of M.R. and Another v An t-Ard Chláraitheoir and Others2 have been awarded particular attention. The second part of the paper attempts to look at the issue of regulating surrogacy arrangements from a broader, more general perspective. Namely, the author uses the example discussed to reflect on the progressive change of attitudes to gender identities that is taking place in the modern society. If these identities are questioned, the related concepts 1
See: UK Department of Health and Social Security, Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1984), p. 42. 2  IESC 60.
such as, for instance, femininity, reproductive liberty and, finally, motherhood are likely to be challenged as well. The question arises: what, in the light of the above presented developments, constitutes (or should constitute) legal motherhood? Is it mere genetic consanguinity, the use of particular woman’s body, or, perhaps, the intention to care for and to support one’s offspring? Finally, the most optimal methods of acknowledging these changes by contemporary filiation laws are also suggested. Whatever the addressees’ views might be, the author hopes that the paper initiates an interesting and vibrant discussion on the topic.
Panel 2: Popular culture: female fantasies, feminist expressions and feminist tensions Room: HSG022 ‘Everything that You’ve Ever Dreamed of’: One Direction Fans and the Female Fantasy (Eimear Hurley, University College Cork) While popular music studies and girl studies are growing fields of research, there is a dearth of academic examination of girls’ consumption of contemporary chart music. Through the earnest consideration of fan practices within the One Direction fandom, this paper will establish the real and significant issues to be considered with regard to girls’ relationships to and consumption of contemporary popular music and how this shapes their everyday lives and the roles they learn to play as young women. This paper will examine fan works – texts which are inspired by and centred on one or more members of One Direction, and created by fans. Through the application of feminist theory, I will examine how the creation and dissemination of these fan works facilitates the exploration and discussion of young girls’ sexuality in a way that patriarchal society does not allow. Within the sphere of the fandom, alternative narratives to those available to girls in patriarchal society may be written and enjoyed. Through the media of fan fiction, fan art, and fan video among others, young female fans may indulge in their fantasies without fear of being censored or judged. Furthermore the safe, semi-private online space of the fandom becomes a place in which heteronormative ideals of pop culture may be subverted in order to explore other kinds of sexual desire and experience. Still, the examination of fanworks raises some thorny issues. This paper will consider the implications of fans’ manipulation of popular texts in their fan practices. Are these fans authors or editors? Which role is more empowering? And which came first: the fan or the fantasy?
Performing Feminisms: A Case Study of Beyoncé (Annelot Prins, University of Amsterdam) Beyoncé Knowles-Carter's career as iconic musician has been expanding for over two decades, and the demise of her popularity is nowhere in sight yet. Her career is built on a carefully crafted star text, in which gender and feminism play important roles. However, star texts can never be unilaterally interpreted and are always filled with oppositional discourses. While Beyoncé portrays herself as a strong, independent woman, she is also deeply invested in sexual objectification, (heterosexual) marital life and motherhood. Grounded in the field of celebrity studies and analysed through an intersectional lens, this paper untangles some of the discourses in Beyoncé's feminist identity. The different discourses that circulate through her star text tell us something about the state
of America today. I claim that Beyoncé not merely displays the tension within her own star text, but also the tension within the (post-)feminist debate in American society. Through researching Beyoncé, we encounter examples of appropriation of feminism, cases of commodification, and omnipresent utopian imagery about the state of women today.
Panel 3: Theorizing bodies and identities, implementing space Room: HSG023 The panoptic prosthetic corporeity in the twenty-first century heteropatriarchy. Rethinking the social body (Vanesa Camacho, University of Limerick/University of Huelva) After the World War II, it is observed the emergence of a new heteronormative capitalism spreading globally that brings with it more effective, intense and discreet techniques to fabricate and mould the gendered social body. Whereas the materiality of architecture intertwined with the panoptic surveillance served to restrain and discipline docile morphologies in the previous centuries, the contemporary era resulted into the mutation of those outmoded techniques and the advent of innovative technologies to maintain the normative social order stable. The new regime has triggered the conception of the body, gender identities and sexualities as techno-living cyborgs that seem eager to consume gender and hypersexuality, this is the sine qua non of the 21st century technocapitalism in Western societies. The array of the new technologies of the body superimposed on sovereign and disciplinary mechanisms is intimately interconnected with the mutation of the Benthamite Panopticon based on the principle of constant inspection. The human corporeity has progressively internalised the panoptic mechanisms of control that have been voluntarily assumed as part of the social contract. A new covert form of genderisation has emerged aligned with the imperative of obligatory heterosexuality to adapt itself to the prerogatives of capitalism with its relentless shifts, transformations and mutations. The main focus of this theoretical research is to trace the inception of the technologies of the body to establish power-differentiated relationships, unravel them marking the turning point of the major transformations and identify the current apparatuses that intervene in the subjectivation of the 21st century prosthetic body. When Jeremy Bentham invented the Panopticon borrowed from his brother´s inspection principle, this supposed the transition to a renewed aesthetic of the social pact. This paper is aimed to revisit the different stages and processes through which our Western society has developed from the 17 th century –sovereign regime- to Addyi´s approval for the treatment of acquired generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women. From a biopolitical standpoint, the transition from rigid architectural constraints to the fluidity of voluntary surveillance and supervision possessing the body. In this paper, the queer theorist Beatriz Preciado and the rumination on her theories remain at the heart of this research. This philosopher lucidly envisages the current corporeity of the heterosexual body to the detriment of the eradication of gender dominating the social media spectrum. Preciado encourages us to rethink those powerful overlapping techniques and the political discourses derived from the use of hormones for understanding the techno-power we must challenge and face in the era of cyber-technologies. She has successfully raised questions about the new materiality of the social body and posed the problems of the lack of control over the mutated gender. The invention of Addyi clearly supports her understanding of
the functioning of bio-power. Taken together these issues have moved on the discussion about how 21 st century feminism must re-define their standpoints of the materiality of the social body and be challenged to develop strategies to confront the chilling effects of the toxic material technologies readily consumed by the human cyborgs.
Judith Butler – Convergent Temporalities, ‘Freedom’ and Identity Politics (Noirin McNamara, Queen’s University Belfast) This paper explores Judith Butler’s analysis of how notions of ‘freedom’ are often linked to a notion of ‘temporal progress’ and considers what relevance this analysis of temporality has for identity politics. Butler examines how certain freedoms, such as women’s sexual freedom, have been used instrumentally to legitimize anti-Islamic practices and racist and religious discrimination. She argues that any consideration of sexual politics must be accompanied by a critical consideration of the ‘time of the now’. She posits that thinking through temporality and politics in this way opens up an approach to cultural difference which possibly eludes the claims of pluralism and intersectionality alike. Butler seeks to understand how the framing of the debate around sexual freedom and feminism is linked to the concept of progress and how this linking of ‘personal freedom’ and ‘progress’ is central to the developmental version of modernity. She examines how this particular version of modernity is used to both construct Europe and the US as model sites of freedom and modernity; and to legitimise anti-Islamic practices and discourses. Butler posits that we need to construct an alternative political framework which involves another sense of modernity and the ‘time of the now’. She stresses that the time of the now is a ‘constellation’ and by constellation she means the scene of ‘interruptive’ temporalities which condition the historical present. She argues that this is what we must take political responsibility for through engagement and being de-centred. In this paper I examine how Butler’s analysis of convergent temporalities and contemporary political life, and her analysis of precarity, could represent a shift in approaches to identity politics.
Panel 1: Sexual violence Room: HSG024 Beyond the Rape-Minerals Narrative: The Consequences of Gender Performativity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Margaret Coleman, NUI Galway) The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is recognised by many as being particularly complex. Of the literature published on the conflict in the past ten years, one story has gained widespread attention – the prevalence of sexual violence. I have conducted a literature review which critically examines the representation and discussion of the issue of sexual violence in DRC in academic and policy literatures on the topic. Based on close reading and content analysis of a cross-section of formative literature in the field, the review was guided by specific objectives namely: to identify and analyse the different ways that the issue of sexual violence has been represented; to formulate a coherent typology of narratives that are used to explain what has been recognized as an exceptional phenomenon in DRC; and to draw some conclusions about what these different narratives suggest about possible actions to counter the violence and its effects.After reviewing the literature, four dominant narratives emerged. One of these narratives is “Men and Masculinities”. Gender plays a crucial role in every aspect of life in DRC. Masculinity is something that can be lost, and if one loses this, it is thought that the man then becomes automatically reduced to the status of a woman. Masculinity is thus regarded as something precious that must be maintained through continuous performance in order to preserve male dominance. According to several academics, sexual violence has been used as part of this ‘performance’ to preserve masculinity in Congolese households. The rate of sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers is particularly high in DRC. Studies confirm that any show of emotion or sympathy by child soldiers is seen as a dent of their masculinity. Masculinity in the military and masculinity in the household are intrinsically linked, by one of the country’s oldest problems – the inability to profit from their own natural resources. The men of Congo operate in a space that they have never been able to control. The literature has shown that high levels of poverty in DRC generate feelings of worthlessness among men, which leads to an exertion of masculinity through sexual and domestic violence on a massive scale. The DRC is an example of how dominant narratives can effect situations on the ground. As a result of the ‘conflict-minerals narrative’ that became prominent in the nineteen eighties, projects were created to reform the mining sector and prevent the use of Congolese conflict minerals. In this presentation, I will specifically look at gender performativity and the role of masculinity in Congolese society. I will suggest that this is the narrative to be focused on, in order to create change for the people of Congo. I will also pose questions relating to the theme of this conference – what are the barriers to feminism for people in DRC, and how visible are they? Have new mediums presented new opportunities for women in Congo? Masculinities are no longer defined as the rigid categories they once were – will this help change the situation in DRC?
Gullible Travels; The reclamation of the colonised body of the sexually-assaulted woman (Hazel Katherine Larkin, Queen’s University, Belfast) The war of nations are waged on the bodies of women. Colonialism refers, generally, to the acquisition, exploitation and establishment of an extension of the coloniser on the colonised;
it usually refers to this act of aggression being carried out on one geo-political area by another. This paper, however, looks at the colonisation of a female body by a male one in the practise of child sexual abuse. Afterwards, when the coloniser moves on, the colonised body is difficult to reclaim by the colonised woman. ‘Gullible Travels’ looks at the lived experience of one woman who was sexually abused as a child and her identity and sense of self in her ‘post-colonial years’. It also looks at whether or not – given the phenomenon of re-victimisation – a colonised entity can ever truly be ‘uncolonised’.
The performativity of language for women affected by sexual assault and rape in contemporary Irish culture (Carole Quigley, Trinity College Dublin) This paper comes from a wider dissertation that focuses on the ways in which women are both empowered and disempowered in contemporary Irish theatre and culture. This paper specifically deals with the power of language to transform the performance of lived experience in the context of women who go through sexual assault and rape. Both of the words ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’ may be used to describe anyone who has experienced violence of this nature but this paper will discuss how and why these two words can have both empowering and disempowering effects on the person involved. It uses Judith Butler’s speech act theory and ideas on the performativity of language to examine this issue. It will consider these terms in relation to the representation of those assaulted in contemporary Irish media and society, remarking on the destructive influence of ‘rape culture’ and ‘victim blaming’. It will touch on the increased number of sexual assaults and rapes in Irish universities and how these are key issues intrinsically linked with the performance of feminisms in contemporary Irish society and culture today.
Panel 2: Workshop and Exhibition Room: HSG022 Whisper (Sinead Dinneen, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick) The issue of loss is a common theme in modern art and literature, what is less common is the theme of illness which most times precede what can be a cause of our loss. We read stories relating to illness in popular media but many of these narratives exercise the obvious “happy ending” solution which seldom exists. The terms illness and chronic are becoming more commonplace as medicinal treatments are being improved and targeted towards giving a patient a better quality of life. What is less talked about is the process of living with and coming to terms with a chronic illness and one’s own mortality and inevitable loss. The artwork being presented represents the narrative of loss during one person’s diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The power of illness especially when it involves a reproductive organ produces
a loss of power, a loss of choice and a loss of perceived woman-hood; all signify the impact of illness. The feelings of loss can be overwhelming with ovarian cancer patients often leading to a very lonely existence while coming to terms with the myriad of issues caused by the illness, the medicine and the mental impact. This body of art work visually documents some aspect of my journey of loss throughout my diagnosis.
‘Untitled’ 5x7’’ Polymer clay and print 2015
‘Vitate’ 5x7’’ Polymer clay, embroidery
thread and print 2015
Programme for the Sibéal Feminist and Gender Studies Network annual conference to be held at University of Limerick this 20-21st November, 2...
Published on Nov 13, 2015
Programme for the Sibéal Feminist and Gender Studies Network annual conference to be held at University of Limerick this 20-21st November, 2...