For the research seminar this week we have Dianna Taylor (John Carroll University) speaking on ‘Are Women’s Lives (Fully) Grievable? Gendered Framing and Sexual Violence’.
Time and place of: 4.15-5.45pm, Wednesday 30th November, room 3.58 John Percival Building.
Abstract: This talk analyzes the ambivalence with which sexual violence against women continues to be met in the United States. My argument that within contemporary Western societies such as the U.S., women’s lives do not (fully) count as lives, with the result that harms against them are not (fully) recognized as harms, and are therefore not (fully) grieved is informed by Judith Butler’s work in Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?. In her book, Butler interrogates three questions: “Who counts as human? Whose lives count as lives? What makes for a grievable life?” This talk recasts these questions as follows: Do women count as human? Do women’s lives count as lives? Are women’s lives grievable? The first part of the talk provides an overview of relevant aspects of Frames of War, and then shows how women’s lives have come not to fully matter, such that injury to women, specifically in the form of sexual violence, does not generate moral outrage. The second part again recasts Butler’s questions in order to consider whether some groups of women count as more fully human than others, with the result that injury to the lives of other groups of women is less recognizable, less grievable, and, therefore, less grieved. The talk concludes by thinking about possibilities for resistance. Throughout, I refer to particular instances of rape and sexual assault that have occurred within the U.S. in order to illustrate my points.
Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (New York: Verso, 2004), 20; original emphasis.