Lindsey Reuben


Lindsey Reuben is an Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at Lehigh University. 


In this paper, I engage with the experience of motherhood and breastfeeding in the greater context of 21st century academia and in doing so, critique the neoliberal turn toward finding “equity” across genders when conceiving parental leave. I argue that while political progress has been made in bringing “equality” to the genders by offering uniform maternity and paternity leaves, this “equality” is understood through a deeply entrenched space of production and performance born within the masculine imperative. Motherhood, I argue, cannot begin to be understood in the realm of production. On the contrary, I offer an account of motherhood and its relationship with the infant that is overcome by an irreducible experience of love, one which exceeds the discourse of equality and care as a mere investment in the neoliberal futuristic framing of time and labor. Furthermore, I argue that motherhood should be understood not as a political affirmation of love, but rather as a retreat from the dominion of politics altogether insomuch as politics always requires a narrative frame inherent to masculine civilization. This retreat from politics, in turn, presents a conception of mothering that flourishes against the clock that gives time, value, and meaning to our contemporary neoliberal existence. In this account of motherhood, I uphold the singularity of the psychoanalytical term of female desire as a potential site to rethink the ways in which breastfeeding can destabilize the neoliberal forces that wish to hide their drive for production and accumulation behind the façade of concepts  that they call “equality” and “love.”

Breastfeeding Against the Clock: Motherhood on the Tenure Track 

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