‘Pussy Panic’ and Glass Elevators: How gender is shaping the field of Animal Studies’

15th Jan 2020, 2:00pm - 3:30pm

The ‘pussy panic’ of our title is a phrase that belongs to Susan Fraiman. It is a diagnosis, a lament, and a warning about how Animal Studies (AS) is currently torn between rising academic respectability bestowed through the “installation of Derrida as founding father” (Fraiman, 93), and the neglect that this entails for AS’s deep roots in feminist scholarship going back decades, and across a number of disciplines (Gruen 2018).

Finding that a ‘proximity to this feminized realm’ of ‘siding with animals’ can bring about a ‘pussy panic’ in male scholars, Fraiman draws a parallel between academic mainstreaming and the suppression of the ‘emotionally and politically engaged’ (93) work of earlier feminist writers.

Inspired by Fraiman’s reading and her sense of a lingering pussy panic in the field of AS, we were interested to inquire whether or not the academic legitimacy the field deserves has also brought with it a privileging of men’s voices as it has developed over the years.

In 2015 we conducted a large, broad-ranging international survey of AS scholars. From that larger survey, the issue of gender stood out and enabled us to investigate Fraiman’s observations further. Our data lends support to the idea that ‘pussy panic’ has indeed shaped the direction of the field so far.

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey is Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She is author of Made to Matter: White Fathers, Stolen Generations (2013), and co-editor of 3 books, Animal Death (2013), Animals in the Anthropocene: Critical Perspectives on Non-human futures (2015) and Animaladies; Gender, Species, Madness (Bloomsbury 2018) with Professor Lori Gruen (Wesleyan University US). Fiona is also Series Editor (with Melissa Boyde) of the Animal Publics book series through Sydney University Press.

The Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS) is an interdisciplinary forum for research and activities that engage with the complex material, ethical and symbolic relationships between humans and other animals. CfHAS brings together scholars from the arts and humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to examine how rethinking our relations with animals can create meaningful social, policy, environmental, ethical and cultural change. CfHAS promotes interdisciplinary research that challenges anthropocentric (human-centred) thinking and approaches and recognises the interests of animals.

Programme

  • 1.30pm – Registration and refreshments
  • 2.00pm – Event start
  • 3.30pm – Networking

“This event is FREE. Registration is not required.”

To learn more about ISR please visit our website: edgehill.ac.uk/isr