I had a profoundly moving and informative time listening and speaking at the Genital Autonomy 14th Annual Symposium on Changing Global Perceptions: Child Protection & Bodily Autonomy. The Symposium was at Keele University on 14-16 September 2016. You can find details of the Symposium here. My talk was titled “Cultural v. Cosmetic v. Clinical Surgery: Challenging the Distinction.”
There is a general consensus in liberal theory, practice, and law that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a violation of rights and justice that should be banned. However, there is no such consensus about male circumcision or cosmetic surgery, including labiaplasty. These practices are legal in most liberal states and there is no general critique of them in mainstream liberal theory. This talk will consider the philosophical reasons in favour of distinguishing FGM from male circumcision and labiaplasty, and find them wanting. Both cosmetic and clinical surgeries are fundamentally cultural. I argue that male circumcision and cosmetic surgery should be regulated in the same way as FGM – which means, among other things, much stricter regulations on when such surgeries can be performed on children.
I provided comment and analysis for an article on the sharing economy by Sirin Kale at Broadly, titled “ ‘There was a Stranger in My Own House’: Is the Sharing Economy Safe for Women?”. You can read the article here.
Women and minorities appear more likely to experience violence and discrimination on platforms like Uber and Airbnb. How did the gig economy go so wrong?
I am one of Women for Refugee Women’s 99 Women speaking out against detention for refugee women. You can see the other women here.
We asked 99 inspiring women to write a message in support of refugee women, to reflect the 99 pregnant women who were detained in Yarl’s Wood detention centre in 2014. These women include Charlotte Church, Romola Garai, Malorie Blackman, Yasmin Kadi, Noma Dumezweni, Nimco Ali, Caitlin Moran, Bridget Christie, Baroness Valerie Amos, Yvette Cooper MP, Juliet Stevenson, Mary Beard, Sophie Walker, Anoushka Shankar, Caroline Spelman MP, Oona King, Bryony Hannah, and Caroline Lucas MP.
I am one of a panel of philosophers discussing the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage at the Daily Nous blog. You can read it here.
On Friday, June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the recognition and provision of same-sex marriage. It requires each of the 50 states in the US to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples seeking them, and to recognize legitimate same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. … The decision is a landmark in the development of the rights and liberties of gay and lesbian people in the US, and is not without its controversy, of course. Many questions have arisen about the reasoning of the majority and that of the dissenting justices, as well as the significance of the decision. To get clearer on some of these issues, [Daily Nous] asked several philosophers to contribute some brief remarks on the ruling. They are: Elizabeth Brake (Arizona State), Cheshire Calhoun (Arizona State), Clare Chambers (Cambridge), John Corvino (Wayne State), Brook Sadler (South Florida), Edward Stein(Cardozo), and Kevin Vallier (Bowling Green).
I am a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Cosmetic Procedures. You can find more about the project, including the other members, here.
Invasive cosmetic procedures are becoming increasingly popular and accessible in the UK, prompting questions about potential risks to users and the lack of regulation and professional standards in this area.
This project will explore ethical issues in cosmetic procedures with a particular focus on the role and responsibilities of health and scientific professionals and others in responding to demand for invasive non-reconstructive procedures that aim to enhance or normalise appearance.
Many theorists defend relationship contracts. Some argue that enforceable relationship contracts should be available alongside existing or reformed state-recognised marriage, and available to either married or unmarried couples. Other theorists argue that relationship contracts are the best sort of legal regulation to replace marriage. It is this latter question that is the subject of this chapter. The chapter contrasts contract and directive models of regulation, and notes that contract appears more compatible with liberty than does directive. However this appearance is illusory since contracts can undermine liberty, directives can enhance liberty, and even a contract regime requires default directives. Moreover, there are various problems with the enforcement of relationship contracts. Specific performance is rarely appropriate in the relationship context. The alternative, fault-based compensatory alimony, risks causing injustice to vulnerable parties such as those who take on caring responsibilities (usually women) and children. Relational contract theory attempts to deal with some of these problems but has its own limitations. The chapter concludes that contract is not the best replacement for marriage.
The book is “strenuously avant-garde”. The New York Times (5th April 2016).
Chambers’ chapter is “sobering and refreshing”. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2nd May 2016).
Chambers, “one of the best-known advocates” of the claim that marriage should not be recognised by the state, contributes a “nuanced and lucid” chapter that is “among the most interesting contributions in the volume.” Hypatia (2017)
In Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy, edited by Serene Khader, Ann Gary, and Alison Stone (Routledge, 2017).
For some feminists liberalism is little more than patriarchy in disguise; for others, it is the framework for securing justice. Feminism, like all other positions in political philosophy, is a range of views rather than a single determinate viewpoint. One aspect of this range is that feminism includes both academics and activists, for whom the term ‘liberalism’ can signify rather different things; after all, liberalism is not one single thing either.
In this chapter I start by considering feminist criticisms of liberalism. I discuss two aspects of feminist critique: first, academic feminist critiques of non-feminist liberal philosophy; second, activist feminist critiques of what is variously called “choice feminism”, “third-wave feminism”, or simply “liberal feminism”.
I then move to those feminists who endorse liberalism and argue that a suitably modified liberalism offers the best path to gender equality. This position, “feminist liberalism,” is mostly found in contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy. Feminist liberals understand liberalism as a commitment to substantive, demanding principles of justice based on freedom and equality. Included in this section are those feminist approaches that combine radical feminism’s insights about the limitations of individual choice with feminist liberalism’s commitment to autonomy, equality, and justice.
I took part in a “remunerations panel”, discussing the philosophy behind how much people should be paid. The item was broadcast live on 7th June 2015. You can listen here – the item starts 14 minutes in.
I was delighted to be a representative of contemporary political philosophy, talking about Feminism in Philosophy, in this year’s Balzan-Skinner conference in the History of Political Thought. Find details here. The conference is on 22 May 2015.
I was neither an organiser or paper-giver at this conference for David Miller in May 2015, but I was honoured and delighted to give a toast to David, who supervised my DPhil with Lois McNay. Thanks to Chris Bertram for the photo, and to Dan Butt, Sarah Fine and Zofia Stemplowska for organising the conference.
I spoke at the WOW – Women of the World – Festival in Cambridge in March 2015, on a panel on Women’s Bodies, Private Places.
Women’s bodies, who do they belong to? A wide- ranging, multi-generational and diverse panel will explore issues around life as a woman. From boobs and body hair to body image and periods, how have attitudes changed and who decides what’s ‘right’? In conversation will be Dr Clare Chambers, author of ‘Fat is a Feminist Issue’ Susie Orbach, Roz Hardie, CEO of campaign group Object, Debra Bourne from All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, poet, singer, writer and actor Keisha Thompson, Alice Wroe from the Herstory project, trans woman Dr Rachael Padman and Becky Talbot from Dhiverse.
An interview with me, focusing on my work in Sex, Culture, and Justice. Read the interview here.
Clare Chambers chews over the core philosophical issues of sex, culture and justice for liberal feminists, brooding on practices of physical modification, social construction’s role in negotiating claims of universalism and tolerance, Foucault and the panopticon, Bourdieu and habitus, Mackinnon’s critique of liberal feminism, taking violence against women seriously, Benhabib’s discourse ethics, how not to be a relativist, of what kind of universality is worth defending and of the state of academic philosophy and feminism. This is a voice from a war zone. Listen up!