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Wednesday, December 4 • 9:00am - 11:00am
BREAKOUT SESSION TWO: Gender & Sexuality

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Session Chair: Carisa Showden 

Moeata Keil: ‘It really does take a whole village to raise him’: Pacific mothers and fathers post- separation parenting practices

Gender neutral terms like ‘parent’ and ‘parenting’ hide and in many ways disguise the gendered experience of mothering and fathering as well as the collectivised way that caring responsibilities for children are organised and negotiated in different cultural (ethnic) contexts. There is a growing body of sociological scholarship that explores gendered experience of post-separation mothering and fathering. However, much of this literature draws on normative white Western and nuclearised understandings of family structure and the nature and scope of parental obligations and responsibilities within that structure. Little is known about the way that Pacific mothers and fathers, many of whom adhere to a more extended family structure and hold more communally-based understandings about moral obligations to children, navigate and negotiate post-separation parenthood. Drawing on interviews with ten separated Pacific mothers and five separated Pacific fathers living in Aotearoa, this paper explores the way that ethnicity and gender interact and overlap in ways that shape how everyday parenting practices are organised, negotiated and enacted when parents live apart. This paper concludes by arguing that post-separation parenting is multiply informed by Pacific cultural norms and values as well as normative gendered ideals and practices associated with ‘good’ mothering and ‘good’ fathering.

Vivienne Elizabeth: A new form of mother blame: parental alienation syndrome, emotion work and the governance of post-separation mothers

Constructions of bad mothers are both changeable and numerous. They also have a long cultural history in the West. In this paper I examine a recent variant: the alienating (post-separation) mother who is judged to be hostile to contact between her children and their father. This version of the bad mother owes its existence to emergence of a ‘psy’ discourse on parental alienation (PA) in the context of a virulent father’s rights movement across the globe. Over time PA has become an important adjunct to custody law in the governance of post-separation mothers that provides legal actors with a pathologising interpretive frame, results in mothers’ self-disciplinary practices and is linked to their experiences of a range of affective burdens. In this paper I draw on the talk of a small number of separated mothers to explore the affective burdens occasioned by how parental alienation or the spectre of parental alienation shapes mothers’ emotion work. Mothers worked on their own emotions to minimise the risk of being seen to display emotional states linked to parental alienation, helped their children manage their peripatetic lives, and performed emotion work on behalf of fathers at the behest of the court.

Hannah Rossiter: Sport is a Human Right: Transgender athletes the Transgender Question of Our Time

The participation of trans women in sport has become one of the contentious social issues among cisgender and trans communities. It is commonly believed that trans women have an unfair advantage over cisgender women. As I will show in this presentation that trans athletes do not have an unfair advantage, but rather, they struggle to compete against cisgender athletes. Indeed, with Rachel McKinnon winning the UCI 35-44 Master’s World Championship and Lauren Hubbard representing New Zealand in women’s weightlifting, has put a spotlight onto the participation of trans women in sport. Many of the discussion of trans women participation in competitive sport fails to incorporate the 4th Fundamental Principles of Olympism, that the practice of sport is a human right. Additionally, these discussions of trans women in competitive sport view the effects of hormones as having minimal impact on trans athletes.

Laura Schilperoot: Practising gender equality: church-going couples' experiences of egalitarianism and their tools for egalitarian partnerships

Drawing from in-depth interviews with couples attending Protestant churches in New Zealand, this research explores how couples practice gender egalitarianism and examines the social and religious rationales underpinning their behaviour. In the context of this sociological study, ‘egalitarian’ refers to the position that women and men are of equal, intrinsic value and there are no gender-based limitations of what functions or responsibilities each can fulfil in the home, church or society. Drawing from the words and experiences of participants in my study, I will discuss one theme emerging in my data - egalitarian masculinity. Central to this discussion is the trend within literature that shows that men’s attitudes are more likely to influence gender equality within a heterosexual relationship. Following on from this, the women and men I interviewed share practical and conceptual tools they use to enact their beliefs about equality, and I will highlight some of these. Lastly, I will explore how this research is situated within wider, societal ‘traditional’ norms and discuss ways in which the experiences of the men and women in this study might be relevant to, or useful for anyone desiring egalitarian relationships, religious or non-religious. The following questions lie at the heart of this presentation: How do men and women understand and experience gender egalitarianism in partnerships, and to what extent can their practices have a transforming influence on hegemonic gender ideals?

Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.


Carisa Showden

Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland

Hannah Rossiter

Hannah is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies exploring the Transgender communities in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Wednesday December 4, 2019 9:00am - 11:00am NZDT
206-201 - Lecture Theatre 1