Compulsory Coupledom, Postfeminist Education and Imagined Futures
Dr. Kinneret Lahad, Tel-Aviv University
Respondent: Prof. Yvette Taylor, University of Strathclyde
Thursday 4th February 4pm & 6pm H229 Lord Hope Building, University of Strathclyde
Abstract: A prevalent proverb addressed to children in many societies is the consolation, “By your wedding day you will feel better.” This reassuring and comforting promise predicts a pre-determined and ostensibly desired plan of adult life which is organized around compulsory coupledom. This proverb also dictates a linear heteronormative orientation to time, signifying respectability and social correctness. Drawing upon a textual analysis of a variety of contemporary cultural sources, I will demonstrate how heteronormative models of time also play a crucial role in limiting the range of future subjectivities available to girls and young women today. In this vein, I also challenge some of the post-feminist messages in which “Girl Power” (Gonick 2006) or the “Having it All” (Negra 2009) rhetoric comes to represent unlimited possibilities (Ringrose and Walkerdine 2008). I will present an alternative discourse of gendered futures through the case of long-term singlehood. Despite the growing rates of single persons worldwide long-term singlehood is rarely envisioned within the “happy ending” scripts (Ahmed 2010) and is consistently represented as a social failure and a tragedy. In the last part of the presentation I will explore the ways in which certain feminist blogs and feminist web portals have become an important site through which the dominant scripts of the life directions women are expected to follow are continually challenged. The discussion of these issues aims to set a broader perspective and provide alternative ways of thinking about singlehood, gendered socialization and imagined futures.
Bio: Dr. Kinneret Lahad is an Assistant Professor, Tel Aviv University. She has written extensively on female singlehood and her book offers sociological and feminist readings of Singlehood and Social Time and has co-edited a book on mechanisms of denial and repression in Israeli society. Her current projects include independent and collaborative studies on women’s friendship practices, loneliness as an affect and social emotion, a discursive media analysis of old motherhood in Denmark and a comparative study on anti-ageing.