Women and Children First: Feminism, Rhetoric, and Public Policy

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Sharon M. Meagher, Patrice DiQuinzio
SUNY Press, Aug 18, 2005 - Philosophy - 263 pages
This diverse collection explores the rhetoric of a wide range of public policies that propose “to put women and children first,” including homeland security, school violence, gun control, medical intervention of intersex infants, and policies that aim to distinguish “good” from “bad” mothers. Using various feminist philosophical analyses, the contributors uncover a logic of paternalistic treatment of women and children that purports to protect them but almost always also disempowers them and sometimes harms them. This logic is widespread in contemporary popular policy discourse and affects the way that people understand and respond to social and political issues. Contributors rethink basic philosophical assumptions concerning subjectivity, difference, and dualistic logic in order to read the rhetoric of contemporary public policy discourse and develop new ways of talking and acting in the policy domain.

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Introduction Women and Children First
Misrepresentations of the Domestic Sphere State Interventions
Homeland Security and the Cooptation of Feminist Discourse
Unsanctioned Bedroom Commitments The 2000 US Census Discourse around Cohabitation and SingleMotherhood
Enemies of the State Poor White Mothers and the Discourse of Universal Human Rights
Medical Discourses and Social Ills
Fixing Sex Medical Discourse and the Management of Intersex
Social Melancholy Shame and Sublimation
Predators and Protectors The Rhetoric of School Violence
Battered Woman Syndrome Locating the Subject Amidst the Advocacy
Mothers Good and Bad Marginalizing Mothers and Idealizing Children
Bad Mothers as Brown Mothers in Western Canadian Policy Discourse SubstanceAbusing Mothers and Sexually Exploited Girls
Behind Bars or Up on a Pedestal Motherhood and Fetal Harm
Protesting Mothers Politics under the Sign of Motherhood
Mothers Biopolitics and the Gulf War
Love and Reason in the Public Sphere Maternalist Civic Engagement and the Dilemma of Difference

Subjects of Violence

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About the author (2005)

Sharon M. Meagher is Professor of Philosophy and Director of Women's Studies at the University of Scranton.

Patrice DiQuinzio is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Women's Studies at Muhlenberg College. She is the author of The Impossibility of Motherhood: Feminism, Individualism, and the Problem of Mothering and coeditor (with Iris Marion Young) of Feminist Ethics and Social Policy.

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