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Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Talk on November 8--Choices Women Make: Agency in Domestic Violence, Assisted Reproduction, and Sex Work

Dr. Carisa Showden, Political Science, will discuss her new book, Choices Women Make: Agency in Domestic Violence, Assisted Reproduction, and Sex Work, at the Multicultural Resource Center in the EUC on Tuesday, November 8, at 4 pm.

Dr. Showden's book, published earlier this year, examines women's agency in several contexts. As the publisher (University of Minnesota Press) describes:

Showden’s analysis, women’s agency emerges as an individual and social construct, rooted in concrete experience, complex and changing over time. She traces the development and deployment of agency, illustrating how it plays out in the messy workings of imperfect lives. In a series of case studies, she considers women within situations of intimate partner violence, reproductive decision making, and sex work such as prostitution and pornography. Each narrative offers insight into how women articulate their self-understanding and political needs in relation to the pressures they confront."

For further reading, see Dr. Showden's post on the University of Minnesota Press' blog. Here she takes on the "mainstream" view of domestic violence, as articulated in a recent Glamour article, exploring the question of women's agency in abusive relationships and challenging the assumption that all women have more options:

"What the article misses in framing the question in this way is that while some women indisputably do have more options—and more to the point, more good options—than they did forty or fifty years ago, not all women do. To have 'good choices' available, material resources have to be more widely distributed, gender norms (what we might in our philosophical language call 'discursive resources') have to change, and laws and public policies have to support an array of ways that women and men deal with ending abuse. So women have 'more choices than ever' only to the degree that they have increased access to healthcare, good jobs, day care, supportive friends and family networks, full citizenship status, mobility, access to legal interventions that enable them to negotiate effectively with their partners when needed, and a strong enough sense of self to buck gender norms about responsibility for the maintenance of relationships and being a good partner. Not all women have most of these resources."