The family and, in particular, maternal behaviour, has long been subject to public scrutiny. However, since the mid-1990s heightened government and media concern with parenting practices has produced a series of escalating moral panics around child welfare issues. While overt parent-bashing and bewailing the demise of the ‘traditional’ family were once associated with the moral majority in the US and old-style Conservatives in the UK, government intrusion into and commentary on family life has become increasingly central to the discourse of all mainstream political parties. The assumption parental incompetency– rather than broader socio-economic conditions–is responsible for a range of social problems has been reflected in public policy and the rise of media commentary (in current affairs journalism and reality TV), on the subject of modern parenting.
What does gender mean in an age defined by post-feminist ideologies, and in cultures that have been ‘sexualised’? Women may have been gaining economic, social and cultural entitlements in recent years, but post-Fordist economies continue to exploit gender inequalities. And whilst a variety of ‘new femininities’ have promised freedoms and opportunities, they have also articulated further responsibilities associated with being a woman in the twenty-first century. Similarly, the increasing visibility of so-called ‘softer’ masculinities and the continuing appeal of the metrosexual man seem to signal transformations in the idea of what it means to be a man. Yet such opportunities for softness and flexibility are unevenly available in economic conditions designed to install an equality of inequality. If men are becoming softer and women more post-feminist, how are we to understand the position of queer identities? Is homosexuality ‘disappearing’ in the drive towards homonormativity? Is there a place for gender dissent in lesbian and gay cultures, or do challenges to binary constructions of gender and domestic nuclearity no longer have any meaning in an era of gay marriage?
UEL Docklands Campus
The second event in the Music, Politics, Agency series, this symposium explores debates around gender, sexuality and sound. Contributions will be situated in contexts that range from the recording studio to hip-hop, classical music and the New York dance floor.
The emergence of discourses constructing the ‘new man’ and his wayward sibling, the ‘new lad’, are now firmly entrenched as subjects to be critiqued in media and cultural studies-informed teaching and research. Continuing to question how these discourses inform the performance of modern masculinities is thus central to a progressive gender politics.
This symposium will explore the extent to which heterosexual men have responded positively to the changing gender relations that inform contemporary social relations. Is it possible, for example, to identify a new form of heterosexual masculinity which is sufficiently self-reflexive not to be fearful of difference? Or are ‘straight’ men still anxious to construct and police boundaries between themselves and the queer or feminized other? And to what extent are men’s attitudes to gender and sexuality still shaped by questions of class, ethnicity and spatial proximity?
University of East London, Docklands Campus, Room: EB.G.10
The idea of job creation and job cuts, working and what to do with those who aren’t working, lies at the heart of the coalition government’s reform programme. The plan is simple: public sector jobs and the welfare state are to be cut radically, while the private sector is supposed to fill the vacuum in terms of job creation and big society caring. Responding to the measures, which will hit women disproportionately, the Centre for Cultural Studies Research is hosting a discussion that will focus on the feminist struggle for equality. The event is the third in CCSR’s “Debt, Pain, Work” series that interrogates the discourses and policies of the coalition government.
Mica Nava, professor of cultural studies and co-director of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research in the School of Humanities and Social Science, has been invited to the US in November to give talks about her book Visceral Cosmopolitanism and her current research on women social investigators and race relations research in Britain in 1950s and 1960s. She will be speaking at the Department of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on 11 November, the Department of History at the University of Michigan on 15 November, and the Department of Political Science at CUNY Graduate Center on 18 November.