Women and the Gendered Politics of Neo-liberalism

Stream: Panel 4 - Gender Politics: Gender Based Violence 1
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Recently, the social epidemic of gender-based violence has risen up the Australian political agenda. This is attested by the recent Royal Commission into the matter in Victoria, and greater prominence of the issue in the public sphere. However, the problem of gendered violence is most often portrayed as primarily a law and order issue, rather than a matter of social justice. Rarely is it placed within its context: the prevailing neo-liberal social order in Australia, with its detrimental consequences for gender equality. This view is underpinned by extensive research in the literature, which indicates that greater gender disparity in a society correlates with markedly higher rates of gendered violence. This paper aims to firstly undertake a political-economy analysis of the disproportionate impact which the neo-liberal model has on women. In doing so, it delves into the nexus that increasingly troubles women's lives: a nexus of growing precarity and the over-stretch of unpaid caring work. Further, the paper examines the ways in which the neo-liberal era has been accompanied by an ongoing backlash that operates to sideline women in the public sphere. By virtue of this conceptual framework, gendered violence can be properly understood as a continuum, in which the silencing of women's voices in the public sphere and “Othering” discourses directed at women, play a decisive enabling role. Finally, the paper foregrounds recent innovations by international social movements in the Spanish-speaking world, in which women are reclaiming public space to visibly challenge norms of gendered violence, and empower women's self-determination.


Annette Maguire (Presenter), University of Newcastle
Annette Maguire is a PhD candidate in the Discipline of Politics at the University of Newcastle. She conducts research into the political economy of women’s work, gendered violence, and innovative social movements in the neo-liberal age. Annette has presented conference panels and seminars on themes of political economy around Australia, in the USA and Germany. In 2016, she published a paper in an international journal examining the Othering discourses embedded within the gendered politics of neo-liberalism.