Women and Children First
Feminism, Rhetoric, and Public Policy
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A critique of public policy rhetoric from multiple feminist perspectives.
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.
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.