Refereed journal articles

"Sex Wars, Slut Walks, and Carceral Feminism." Contemporary Political Theory. (April 2019)

In recent years, scholars have identified a political formation that mobilizes the emancipatory energies of feminism in the service of the expansion of the carceral state. ‘Carceral feminism’, as it has come to be known, is often portrayed by these scholars as a product feminist-conservative convergence. Here, I argue that the rise of the SlutWalk movement suggests a more complex genealogy for carceral feminism. By situating SlutWalk in the historico-theoretical context of feminism’s sex wars, I reveal the carceral-feminist impulses roiling beneath its progressive ‘sex-positive’ surface. With its tendency to reduce sexual freedom to expressive freedom, valorize conventional forms of femininity and (hetero)sexuality, and promote a fundamentally carceral paradigm of sexual freedom, the SlutWalk movement, I argue, is descended from anti-censorship/pro-sex feminism, a liberal-feminist hybrid that emerged out of the convergence of sex radical feminism and liberalism during the sex wars. When viewed in this light, SlutWalk no longer appears as a sign that feminism’s ‘pleasure’ and ‘danger’ factions have negotiated a long-awaited ‘sex-détente’. Rather, it stands as a testament to the extent to which feminism’s once radical aspirations in the domain of sexual politics have been supplanted by a tepid, heteronormative, and disquietingly carceral liberal project.

"Beyond Barnard: Liberalism, Antipornography Feminism, and the Sex Wars." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. (Autumn 2016).

Feminism’s sex wars are often portrayed as a two-sided conflict pitting antipornography feminists versus sex-radical feminists, a conflict that began at the 1982 conference The Scholar and the Feminist IX: Towards a Politics of Sexuality, held at Barnard College. In this article, I challenge this widely accepted view by foregrounding another contentious relationship that, I argue, was also central to the sex wars: the relationship between antipornography feminism and liberalism. More specifically, I tell the story of how antipornography feminism emerged in the early 1970s as an emphatic critique of liberalism and was transformed over the course of the 1980s and1990s into a widely accepted tenet of liberalism itself. By way of conclusion, I reflect on the implications of this transformation for a more recent development: the mobilization of feminist critiques of gender-based violence in the service of a politics of criminalization and incarceration that Elizabeth Bernstein has dubbed “carceral feminism.”

Book chapters

"Gender and Social Theory in the Thought of Mary Wollstonecraft" in The Wollstonecraftian Mind, eds. Alan Coffee, Eileen Hunt Botting, and Sandrine Berges. Routledge. (2019).

While the ‘sex/gender’ distinction did not enter feminism’s conceptual lexicon until the mid-1970s, feminists have been engaged in the critical interrogation of purportedly ‘natural’ norms of masculinity and femininity for centuries. This chapter explores how Mary Wollstonecraft, an eighteenth-century feminist, employed the Scottish Enlightenment’s discourse of ‘morals’ and ‘manners’ to denaturalize and deconstruct the oppressive norms of masculinity and femininity promoted by ‘the culture of sensibility.’ The chapter also assesses recent efforts by both conservative and feminist interpreters to discount this aspect of Wollstonecraft’s thought and paint her as a gender essentialist and defender of traditional gender roles. Ultimately, I conclude, such interpretations are not sustainable. When Wollstonecraft’s writings, particularly her thoughts on paternal and maternal duty, are considered carefully and in historical context, it becomes clear that Wollstonecraft is, by all rights, a feminist theorist of gender deserving of a place in the intellectual history of this vital feminist concept. Long before Beauvoir declared, ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, woman’ or Judith Butler described gender as ‘a performative accomplishment compelled by social sanction and taboo,’ Wollstonecraft offered a theorization of femininity as a discursively naturalized social construct that exerted a pernicious normalizing power over the subjects it enveloped. Dismantling this debilitating gender construct by exposing its foundations in convention rather than nature was as integral to Wollstonecraft’s feminist project as it is to feminist politics and theory today.

"Methodists Ordain Women" in Great Events in Religion, eds. Andrew Holt and Florin Curta. ABC-Clio. (Fall 2016).

Book reviews

Book Review. Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? by Heath Fogg Davis. Perspectives on Politics. (September 2018)

Book Review. Justifying Same-Sex Marriage: A Philosophical Investigation by Louise Richardson Shelf. Politics & Gender. (September 2017).

Public scholarship

"It's not 'just a cake': Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission." For The Western Political Science Association's blog New West. (December 2017). 

"The 'pussyhats' (and other things) make protest fun, which keeps people coming back." Co-authored with Nancy Wadsworth for The Washington Post's political science blog "The Monkey Cage." (February 2016). 

"You know it's serious when Nebraskans are marching: The Women's March Omaha." For The New School for Social Research's Public Seminar. (January 2017). 

"How do you teach politics in the year of Donald Trump?" Interview featured on National Public Radio's Morning Edition and The NPR Politics Podcast. (October 2016). 

"One Hillary, Many Feminisms." For The Huffington Post. (June 2016). 

© 2018 by Lorna Bracewell