Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Reader query: Presenting both sides? September 25, 2013

Filed under: abortion,teaching — jennysaul @ 10:38 am

A reader writes:

I’m going to be a TA for the first time this fall, and the class I’m TA-ing for is Intro to Ethics.  As is probably pretty common in Ethics classes, one of the topics will be abortion.

And I’m not sure it’s morally permissible to use what authority I have as a TA to argue against the permissibility of abortion.  The whole “devil’s-advocate” approach is one of the reasons I really don’t like academic ethics, but I don’t know how else to treat the subject without upsetting pro-life students and possibly getting in trouble for failing to uphold the “neutrality” that seems to be expected of teachers.

Any advice?

 

Feminism and Cookies August 4, 2013

Filed under: abortion,video games — Stacey Goguen @ 4:20 am

Two recent stories about sexism have made me think about cookies. So I’m posting about them together.

1) When North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory was running for the office, he was asked, “If you’re elected governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?”  He responded, “none.” 

He recently signed a bill that put further restrictions on abortion.

His response to protesters who were upset with him signing a bill he promised not to sign?

He gave them cookies.  According to WaPo, “The cookies were returned, and it wasn’t because he forgot the milk. The note on the untouched plate read: “We want women’s health care, not cookies.””

2) Anita Sarkeesian just released the 3rd and final video on the videogame trope of Damsels in Distress. (Future videos will discuss other tropes in video games.) The video game development blog Gamasutra posted about it, to which many peopled commented.

Some of the comments stuck out to me because they were some of the clearest, most charitable articulations of why people see basic feminist arguments as untenable.

For instance,

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with the ‘damsel in distress’ type of game. Sexism comes in from how you depict the damsel. I just don’t think that every example she gave of sexist games are necessarily as malicious as she makes them out to be.”

When another commenter points out that Sarkeesian does not accuse these games of being “malicious,” the original commenter replies,

“Maybe malicious is too strong of a word to use, but her tone is definitely condemning. Spelunky developers made it so the player could rescue a male or dog instead of a female and instead of even saying thanks for trying but its not good enough, smacks them back down and further criticized them for making the female replaceable. If you don’t want to say malicious choose a different word for publicly talking down to them because she did not approve of their attempted fix.”

If I understand this argument correctly and charitably, it is something like this:

Yes sexism exists, but if someone wasn’t explicitly trying to be sexist, they deserve a cookie and not condemnation. [suppressed premise: Because not f***ing up is hard. And public disapproval makes us feel negative. And sexism makes us feel negative. And aren't we trying to get rid of things that make us feel negative?] (Okay maybe that wasn’t so charitable. But accurate, I think.)

Takeaway ‘lesson’ from both of these stories:  Cookies and niceness–as opposed to actually doing the hard work of swallowing one’s pride and working to fix the problem–are the better ways to approach sexism.

Other takeaway lesson:  Some people think that equality for women is about making them feel warm and fuzzy; not about anything like giving them access to full agency and control over their image, their lives, and their destiny?
(Also they think women not being mad at them is more important than improving the lives of those women?)

 

How to be right for the wrong reason July 16, 2013

Filed under: abortion — theano @ 6:24 pm

Hot off the multi-media press: a veiled putative video parody posted to YouTube yesterday by a group of University of Colorado Boulder students, describing a movement they call #BroChoice. “A bro-choice is where I am pro-choice because I am a man and if women don’t have access to abortion on demand then I won’t get laid as often”:

 

Tampon-gate July 12, 2013

Filed under: abortion,discrimination,gender inequality,politics — philodaria @ 8:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

Tampons and other feminine hygiene products are not being allowed in the Texas capitol building today, for the hearing on House Bill 2 restricting abortion rights. Guns are still allowed. And no, this is not from The Onion. 

 

Vaginas of Anarchy July 10, 2013

North Carolina’s GOP tacked on abortion restrictions to State Bill 353, which was the Motorcycle Safety Act. This, just after tacking on abortion restrictions on to House Bill 695 (originally aimed at banning the recognition of Sharia law in family courts). As of this moment, I can’t access the new text of the bill via the official NC legislative site, but you can find more information from those on the front lines on twitter.

And in the meanwhile, here’s a song about what’s been going on (with some explicit language).

UPDATE: More information from HuffPo:

On Wednesday morning, state Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D) wrote on Twitter, “New abortion bill being heard in the committee I am on. The public didn’t know. I didn’t even know.”

 

Rick Perry on what Wendy Davis should have learned June 27, 2013

Filed under: abortion,autonomy,politics,reproductive rights — philodaria @ 8:14 pm

You read that right. Rick Perry think he knows both what Wendy Davis has or has not learned from her own experience, and what Wendy Davis should have learned from her own experience. He must have some amazing (and, seemingly, impossible) epistemic skills.

“Who are we to say that children born in the worst of circumstances can’t lead successful lives?” Perry asked in a speech at a convention held by the National Right to Life organization. “Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She’s the daughter of as single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential, and that every life matters.”

Of course, this quote illustrates that he has fundamentally missed the point, and is trying to change the subject.

 

Filibuster won the battle, but… June 26, 2013

Filed under: abortion — KateNorlock @ 10:39 pm

Although the filibuster staged by Wendy Davis to block the omnibus abortion bill succeeded (see below ), the work isn’t done.  Gov. Perry has called the state senate back to work.

 

Congratulations Wendy Davis, Congratulations Texas

Filed under: abortion — magicalersatz @ 8:41 am

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Sometimes you win one. The state legislature of Texas voted to pass SB5 (the bill that would in effect close 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics), but the Lieutenant Governor of Texas has ruled that the vote took place at 12:03am – 3 minutes past the deadline.

You can see video of Wendy Davis addressing the crowd of supporters here:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/34952503/highlight/375501

 

Let’s also talk about forced motherhood June 15, 2013

Filed under: abortion — magicalersatz @ 12:35 pm

While we’re having the interesting conversation about (largely hypothetical, given our current social context) issues of ‘forced fatherhood’, it’s also worth having a conversation about forced motherhood. Forced motherhood is, sadly, something that happens all the time, often with severe consequences that extend far beyond economic burdens.

The NY Times magazine has a compelling, heartbreaking article looking at recent work on the effects – psychological, social, financial – of denying abortion to women. Prof. Diana Greene Foster has conducted a landmark study seeking to gauge the impact of preventing access to abortion:

Most studies on the effects of abortion compare women who have abortions with those who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. It is like comparing people who are divorced with people who stay married, instead of people who get the divorce they want with the people who don’t. Foster saw this as a fundamental flaw. By choosing the right comparison groups — women who obtain abortions just before the gestational deadline versus women who miss that deadline and are turned away — Foster hoped to paint a more accurate picture. Do the physical, psychological and socioeconomic outcomes for these two groups of women differ? Which is safer for them, abortion or childbirth? Which causes more depression and anxiety? “I tried to measure all the ways in which I thought having a baby might make you worse off,” Foster says, “and the ways in which having a baby might make you better off, and the same with having an abortion.”

As you might expect, the results aren’t pretty.

 

Shrage in NYT on ‘forced fatherhood’

Filed under: abortion,maternity,paternity,reproductive rights — stoat @ 9:13 am

Lauri Shrage With the prospect of father’s day ahead over the weekend, Laurie Shrage (left) has a piece for the New York Times confronting the issue of ‘forced fatherhood’, and whether (in limited contexts, namely, those in which women can in fact access contraception and abortion services) women’s reproductive autonomy is unfairly greater than that of men. In an instance in which a woman becomes pregnant without the consent of the male partner to the pregnancy (e.g. due to contraceptive accident), she suggests that we have an unfair case of ‘forced fatherhood’. In such cases, a man is required to undertake the significant (at least) financial responsibilities that he has not voluntarily undertaken.

Shrage writes:

‘just as court-ordered child support does not make sense when a woman goes to a sperm bank and obtains sperm from a donor who has not agreed to father the resulting child, it does not make sense when a woman is impregnated (accidentally or possibly by her choice) from sex with a partner who has not agreed to father a child with her.’

Policies that require biological fathers to take on such financial responsibilities are punitive, she argues, and can be viewed as a way of controlling sexual behaviour (in the way that inability to access abortion punishes women for being sexually active).

Moreover, rejecting this policy that requires the biological fathers to undertake financial responsibilities could open up ways of conceiving fatherhood that move beyond biological relationship (I like this point: as my two siblings and I write our father’s day cards, only one of us will be celebrating our biological father, but he’s a father no more and no less to each of us!).

This raises many interesting questions about what grounds parental responsibilities, and has -unsurprisingly – generated considerable response from the feminist blogosphere.

Here’s my take on the objections that have come up (after the break):

(more…)

 

 
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