Love and Punishment: A Feminist Theo-Ethical Analysis of Gender Entrapment, Carceral Resistance, and the Incarceration of Women ‘Behind a Man’
Chambers, Alexandra Elizabeth
While mainstream attention has increasingly turned to mass incarceration as a leading social problem of our time, women, gender, sexuality, and religion remain on the margins of theorizing punishment and prisons. This dissertation sets out incarceration as an issue of urgent concern for Christian social and feminist liberationist ethics by examining the ways in which women are incarcerated “behind a man”—in particular, the ways in which women are held criminally responsible for the actions of men they love, often their batterers—and the cultural, moral, and theological imagination that leaves women in love and trouble and simultaneously buttresses their incarceration while naming prisons necessary for their protection. When tracing the patriarchal circuits of punishment between the private and public realms, it becomes clear that the quintessential prisoner is, in fact, not male but female. The state then, not only legitimates “domestic prison regimes” through its own prison regime and exercise of coercive control but also colludes with and further entrenches them. In making plain that the liberation of women necessitates the abolition not proliferation of prisons, this dissertation insists that envisioning a world without prisons is a moral imperative for Christian social and feminist liberationist ethics.