UCD Women’s Studies and TCD Social Policy cordially invite you to a workshop with Prof. Dianna Taylor (Associate Professor and Department Chair, Philosophy, John Carroll University) on ‘Are Women’s Lives (Fully) Grievable? Gendered Framing and the Normalization of Sexual Violence.’
When: Thursday, 19th May, 4pm
Where: IIIS Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin
The event will relate to Prof. Taylor’s current work-in-progress, which will be disseminated to interested individuals beforehand. To RSVP and for a copy of the advance reading, please register by Monday, 25th April, on Eventbrite here.
For further details on the workshop, please see the below abstract.
Please note that this is strictly an internal event for members of the respective Schools.
Are Women’s Lives (Fully) Grievable?
Gendered Framing and the Normalization of Sexual Violence
Do women count as human? Do women’s lives count as lives? Are women’s lives grievable? These questions inform my analysis of why sexual violence against women fails to fully register as a harm, and as a result generates ambivalent ethical responses within contemporary Western societies. In the United States, recent attention at both the state and national levels to the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses and corresponding calls for reform might seem to suggest acknowledgment of the harm of sexual violence and, hence, of women’s lives as fully grievable. “This is on all of us, every one of us, to fight campus sexual assault,” says President Obama. “The entire country is going to make sure that we understand what this is about and . . . we’re going to put a stop to it.” Calls such as Obama’s, however, emerge alongside attitudes ranging from the hostile, to the indifferent, to the uninformed among college and university administrators, faculty, and fellow students toward women who report sexual violence. These same attitudes, not to mention expressions of sympathy toward perpetrators, exist within society more broadly. “I’ve never experienced anything like it,” Poppy Harlow of CNN related to commentator Candy Crowley after witnessing the conviction of two Steubenville, Ohio high school football players, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, for the rape of an unconscious sixteen-year-old girl. “It was incredibly emotional — incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believe their life fell apart.”
This essay takes up the question of why the lives of the Trent Mays’s and Ma’lik Richmonds of the world are deemed grievable, whereas the grievability of the lives of the women they rape is less readily apparent. My concern, in other words, is with how, as Judith Butler puts it, the “selective and differential framing” of women’s lives and sexual violence against women in turn “regulat[es] affective and ethical dispositions” toward both. I argue that because women’s lives are not recognized as fully livable, they are not fully grievable, in the sense that harms against them do not fully register as the sort of violations that are worthy of unqualified moral outrage.