Petra Bueskens, PhD
Academic, psychotherapist, writer
Petra Bueskens, PhD is an academic, psychotherapist and writer. She is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at The University of Melbourne, a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of Modern Motherhood and Women's Dual Identities (Routledge, 2018). She has edited three anthologies and written numerous book chapters and articles on motherhood, psychoanalysis, social and political theory. In addition to her academic work Petra is a free-lance writer with op-ed articles published in Areo Magazine, New Matilda, The Huffington Post, The Conversation and others. She is currently developing a podcast called 'The Maternal Feminist' and attempting to write a novel. Petra is vice-present of the Maternal Scholars Association, Australia and is an academic affiliate of Counterweight. She also serves on the Ad Standards community panel.
Petra lives in regional Victoria at the edge of the Wombat Forest. She loves walking in the forest and spending time in her garden with her children, dog, cats and chickens.
From my perspective, Modern Motherhood and Women’s Dual Identities awakens us to the basic fact that until mothers are free and equal, women cannot operate on an equal footing with men. By introducing us to the concept of maternal citizenship, Petra Bueskens has bequeathed us a new heuristic and political tool to both understand and advocate for what is needed for women’s freedom in late modernity. Undoubtedly, this implies fundamental change in political, social and economic spheres – a tall order! Nevertheless, this important book provides us with a way of thinking that transcends the binary of woman as free agent and autonomous individual versus woman as victim of the stalled revolution.
—Ilene Philipson, review in Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41282-019-00147-3
ILENE PHILIPSON, PSYCHOANALYSIS, CULTURE & SOCIETY
Bueskens’ discussion of the new sexual contract is one of the masterly moves in this book. It provides a theoretical framework from which a constellation of insights emerges. It offers a less binary notion of duality and brings to the fore different bodies of knowledge, including feminist social theory, political economy, sociology and also psychoanalysis. It would be difficult to find similar research that matches the richness and breadth of the scholarship Bueskens introduces and employs to support her argument. [...] In identifying the cracks and fissures in the sexual contract, the book signals, among other things, alternative social, political and domestic arrangements whereby motherhood could be transformed from an individualised liability to a renumerated social good, with all the freedom and equality that modernity was supposed to bequeath to women in the first place. Modern Motherhood makes an enormous contribution to feminist social theory. It is poised to become one of the definitive texts in the maternal studies field.
Stephens, J., 2019. Review of Modern Motherhood and Women’s Dual Identities: Rewriting the Sexual Contract. Studies in the Maternal, 11(1), p.10. DOI:
JULIE STEPHENS, REVIEW, STUDIES IN THE MATERNAL
In this lucid, timely and important new book, Petra Bueskens takes up the formidable task of investigating the ‘new sexual contract’ in late modernity that leaves women strung out between the promise of autonomy in the public sphere, and the demands of motherhood that isolate and intensify mothering work in the home, both freeing and constraining women at once. Bueskens brings into view this impossible contradictory duality by producing both a new social theory of dualism, and the empirical evidence to show that it is possible to force changes in the sexual contract at the level of individual family organization. Through tracking a small group of women who both choose to mother and also spend protracted periods of time away from the family, she shows how these women produce radical shifts in the gendered dynamics of the household. Her bold and vital claim is that we can rewrite the sexual contract only if we understand the historical and contemporary double-bind that produces women’s liberty as it undermines it, making motherhood still the unfinished business of feminism.
Dr Lisa Baraitser, Reader in Psychosocial Studies, Birckbeck University, author of Maternal Encounters.