Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

‘They cannot change me’ January 21, 2014

This video is a nice commentary on beauty expectations for women in the entertainment industry. From Jezebel:

Here’s a striking video from Hungarian singer Boggie, in which her moving image is being retouched and “corrected” throughout the entire video. Directed by Nándor Lőrincz and Bálint Nagy, the three-minute video shows Boggie’s transformating from a lovely woman in dim lighting to a lovely, flawlessly made-up woman who has, judging by her glowing surroundings, been abducted by aliens and forced to sing for them.

 

 

Where’s the line on street harassment? September 29, 2013

Soraya Chemaly argues that violence is a natural end-result of the same principles which operate in what we ordinarily refer to as street harassment:

Earlier this week a man in a car pulled up next to a 14-year old girl on a street in Florida and offered to pay her $200 to have sex with him.  [. . .] The girl said no. So what does this guy do? He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times.  Bystanders watched the entire episode in shock. He almost killed her, but she lived and ID’d him in a line up and he’s been arrested and charged with Attempted Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and False Imprisonment.  What was the Deadly Weapon referred to in the charge I wonder? Given our normatively male understanding interpretation of what is threatening, does a man pulling up to a girl like this and talking to her in this way constitute imminent harm?

This was an incident of street harassment taken to extremes.

You’re thinking,  “He’s crazy! You can’t possibly put what he did in the same category as street harassment!”  Yes, I can.

He stopped and talked to a girl he did not know and he told her what he thought and what he wanted her to do.  Clearly, he felt this was okay, or he wouldn’t have done it. This isn’t insanity, it’s entitlement. This is, in principle, the same as men who say, “Smile,” “Want a ride?” “Suck on this” and on and on and on.  And, that’s all before the public groping that might ensue.

OK. No big deal I’ve been told.  But, he went further, as is often the case.  When she said no, he just took her.  He crossed a red line that seriously needs to be moved.  “Taking someone” should not be the “red line” for public incivility and safe access to public space.

You can read the whole piece here on the HuffPo Blog.  About a year ago or so, I went to the store — I pulled into the parking lot, and I noticed that in the space next to me, a man was sitting in his car. When I came out of the store, he was still there — except now, he was masturbating. In his car. In broad daylight. He smiled and waived at me. I called the police about it, but effectively, they do didn’t do anything (when the police came, he wasn’t doing it anymore, and by the time I requested specifically that the police allow me to file a witness report or press charges, they had already let him go without taking his name or any information, so there was no one to press charges against). Certainly this experience is no where near the sorts of extreme cases mentioned in Chemaly’s piece, but I have wondered since, if this is the sort of thing that’s effectively permissible in public space, where is the line? When I voice discomfort over my inability to go to certain gas stations without being cat-called, hit-on, etc., my less fervently feminist acquaintances think I’m being over-sensitive, or give me the usual “You ought to take that as a compliment” (which I think is a ridiculous response for a million reasons that are probably obvious to all of our readers) and yet, my run in with the public-masturbator seemed like it ought to be a predictable escalation of that same sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

Is physical violence likewise on that same spectrum?

 

The Genderbread Person Redux – When Activism Gets Problematic September 21, 2013

Filed under: body,gender,glbt,internet,sex,sexual orientation,trans issues — Stacey Goguen @ 2:18 pm

[This post has been completely re-written, so if some of the earlier comments seem to be referring to things that aren't here, that's because they are. Thanks to Sam B for pointing out the plagiarism issue and to Rachel for helping me find the end of the article...because it's been just that kind of day for me.]

This weekend I stumbled onto the site It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, and found a graphic explaining the different aspects of sex, sexuality, and gender.

It turns out that site’s creator, Sam Killermann, plagiarized that graphic, and now has thrown a bunch of intellectual property stamps on it, and has even included it in a book he made. (Though you can get the book for free. But he has still made money off of all this.)

The four original authors of the concept are: Cristina GonzálezVanessa PrellJack Rivas, and Jarrod Schwartz

As awesome as it is to have people want to be cis straight while male allies,  we have to as allies constantly keep vigilant that we are not blocking out the voices of the people we are trying to support with our own.  Otherwise we are undermining the very project we are trying to help. And one thing you notice sort of quickly from Killermann’s projects is that you see a lot of him, and hear a lot of his voice but you don’t see or hear a lot of specific people that he is advocating for.

So again, here are some of their voices, specifically on his plagiarism.  (Same link as above.)

And here is one of the earlier gingerbread persons:

Some parts of Killerman’s projects still have merit: the comment thread on this post has some good stuff in it. But I think legitimately, some people will not want to visit his websites.

As Laverne Cox said when this issue of plagiarism was brought to her attention,

“…those who lay the groundwork don’t often get the credit. The universe is trying to tell me something. We cannot silence the voices of those doing the hard work so that we can flourish.”
(Sorry I can’t find the exact tweet. This is also in the storify post linked above.)

That is, without respect for the people we are trying to support, our support is hollow.

From Cisnormativity (the Storify OP):

 Without that respect, any work done in the name of social justice isn’t actually the practice of social justice. It’s erasure. It’s a tossing of the most marginal people from the bus of acceptance, enfranchisement, and citizenship. It’s the theft of lived experiences. It’s why intersectionally marginalized people along multiple axes still cannot reach so many of their dreams, their potentials, or their hopes .

 

Men taking up too much space September 14, 2013

Filed under: appearance,body,gender,teaching — Jender @ 7:14 am

for next time you teach Bartky!

tumblr_mt0tm8Fq9s1sqv9too1_500

Thanks, S!

 

“Dark-skinned and plus size” June 29, 2013

If you are watching the trial of Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, you’ll probably get that the title above refers to Rachel Jeantel, with whom Martin was talking on the phone shortly before he was killed. It is from the Salon article linked to below.

I have seen her mostly on CNN, but I see many other members of the press to pick up the same theme: She is so different from white people, how can anyone side with her and her narrative? Well, at least there’s some recognition of the fact that racism is alive and well, but couldn’t they register that this is not a good thing?

Some commenters said she should have been trained to give testimony. I think that’s very close to saying that in court you have to sound like whites to be believable. On CNN Mark Garegos has been insisting that our court system is deeply affected by race. That certainly seems what most commenters believe. And there’s a lot of evidence in this trial – not to mention many others – that should frighten any supporter of a person of colour in a trial.

Back to the Salon article: Brittany Cooper tells us in Salon.com:

The thing about grammars, though, is that they rely on language, on a way of speaking and communicating, to give them power. And Rachel Jeantel has her own particular, idiosyncratic black girl idiom, a mashup of her Haitian and Dominican working-class background, her U.S. Southern upbringing, and the three languages – Hatian Kreyol (or Creole), Spanish and English — that she speaks.

The unique quality of her black vernacular speaking style became hypervisible against the backdrop of powerful white men fluently deploying corporate, proper English in ways that she could not do.  The way they spoke to her was designed not only to discredit her, but to condescend to and humiliate her. She acknowledged this show of white male power by repeatedly punctuating her responses with a curt but loaded, “Yes, Sir.”

Even more, she seemed very good at picking up on assumptions a question was carrying. “That’s real retarded, sir” was her (unfortunately abelist)comment on one.

If you look for her on youtube, avoid the comments unless you are feeling strong. I saw ones i’m hoping to forget.

Disrespecting one of zimmerman’s lawyers:

 

A Beautiful Body June 25, 2013

Filed under: Arts,beauty,body,empowering women,self-esteem — philodaria @ 1:26 am

Go check out this HuffPo article on photographer Jade Beall’s project documenting the beautiful, un-photo-shopped bodies of mothers (there’s a slideshow at the end with some photographs from her series–it’s stunning).

“We are facing an epidemic of women who feel unworthy of being called beautiful,” Beall told HuffPost, describing a world in which “nearly all of us struggle to feel beautiful in our own skin.” And the expectations faced by women who have given birth are particularly harsh. “Shaming mothers for not ‘bouncing back’ after childbirth can cause feelings of failure when being a mother is challenging enough and when a big number of us have already lived a life of feeling un-beautiful prior to giving birth,” she says.

It’s also worth watching her video on the Kickstarter page for the project.

 

Everyone Poops. January 25, 2013

Filed under: body,discrimination,gender,gender inequality,violence,war — philodaria @ 3:44 am

Yes, everyone poops. But discovering that reality could be even more traumatizing than discovering the reality of the violence of war. Or so Ryan Smith, who authored this piece at the Wall Street Journal (titled “The Reality that Awaits Women in Combat”), seems to imply.

Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation’s military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?

Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.

 

Feminist philosophy and weight loss January 3, 2013

Filed under: appearance,body,health,weight loss — Lady Day @ 5:00 pm

There’s a great new post on feminist philosophy and weight loss over at Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty. Blogger Sam B sings the praises of philosopher Ann Cahill’s account of her experiences with weight loss in “Getting to My Fighting Weight” published in the Musings section of Hypatia (25 (2):485-492, 2010).

Cahill is a beautiful writer and I love her language when she talks about reconciling her decision to lose weight with her feminist values:

“I realized that maximizing my ability to move, quickly, effectively, strongly, was entirely conducive to my feminist aspirations and activities. I wasn’t aspiring to skinniness or frailty, just the opposite: I wanted to bring strength and vigor to whatever struggle I chose. I wanted to get to my fighting weight.”

It’s great to see the very fraught business of weight loss receiving philosophical attention. As a feminist who lost a good chunk of weight when I started running, I struggled with the experience. There are things about weight loss that I really enjoyed, but every time someone said “You look great!” I felt like a bad feminist. “It’s for health reasons, not aesthetic reasons,” I would sputter (even though I secretly, guiltily, enjoyed some of the aesthetic side-effects).

Here’s the link.

 

January 8 addendum: Alas, I’ve had to close comments on this thread following a series of unkind comments, which we have removed.

This is a group blog and each of the bloggers parses the blog’s policies a bit differently. (And, in general, the OP moderates the thread.) I lean to the more laissez-faire end of things. Although I support the blog’s approach of sometimes unapproving comments that lower the tone or make the blog feel less safe for contributors, I’ve never before tonight actually removed any comment myself. I’ve been wrestling with this thread from the start, though. I thought that one interlocutor’s initial comment was merely sarcastic. It made me sad to see it, but I decided, rightly or wrongly, to leave it up. Then, when that comment ended up leading to what seemed to me a thoughtful, interesting thread, I was glad I had. True, that thread included a couple of oblique jabs between some of the commenters, but these occurred within comments that were overall well worth reading. And then a comment appeared which engaged in name-calling against the interlocutor whose initial sarcasm had vexed me. Again, I struggled. I actually asked one or two colleagues whether to leave it up or take it down because I didn’t trust my own judgment. No one thought I should take it down. It was name-calling. It was uncharitable. On the other hand, I didn’t think that it was any worse that the initial sarcastic comment. Maybe I felt that way because I’d been on the receiving end of the first one.  In any event, the sniping has continued; so I’ve closed comments. It’s very saddening. What can I say? I hope that I’ll be a better moderator someday. It’s hard.

 

A Snark-Filled Checklist for Sexuality Research December 17, 2012

Filed under: body,glbt,kyriarchy,sex,sexual orientation — Stacey Goguen @ 6:48 pm

Does anyone else get sort of bored reading articles on scientific research into sexuality?  It seems like the scientists and journalists involved are…unimaginative (/unobservant).  It’s like they all stick to the same weird checklist.  Below, I try to recreate what I think that checklist is.  Please feel free to add, comment, or correct (since I might slip into my own unwarranted assumptions on this.)

This project came into being after reading this article:  “What We Know and Don’t Know About the Biology of Homosexuality.”  It’s actually pretty decent as far as reporting on scientific research in general goes, but again I was just struck by all the suppositions and the weirdly narrow framework that seem to go into this sort of research and reporting.

A Checklist for Doing Scientific Research on Sexuality:

–Assuming that homosexuality is a variation of a heterosexual default: check
–Assuming that homosexuality is essentially just one sex taking on the other sex’s normal behavior/traits: check
(i.e. male homosexuality is when men are biologically feminized)
–Being completely ignorant of / uninterested in transsexuality and the sexuality of people who are transgender: check
–Pathologizing homosexuality even while acknowledging the arbritrariness of the concept “normal” in this context: check
–Linking genitals to sexual orientation as if there’s clearly a strong, un-contentious connection between the two: check
–Erasing the possibility of a coherent sexuality for people who are intersexed: check
–Erasing bisexuality, pansexuality, and asexuality as categories: check
–Talking about the evolutionary advantages or disadvantages of different sexualities as if that is automatically relevant to what our current social attitudes towards them should be: check
–Thinking about sexuality research by asking questions like, “What factors contribute to heterosexuality in humans?” or “Is there a straight gene?” or “Does our biology even support the notion of having a sexual orientation?”: uncheck

Has everyone run across research or reporting on sexuality that doesn’t make this laundry list of assumptions?

 

Vegan Athlete of 2012 Contest December 7, 2012

Filed under: body,women in philosophy — Stacey Goguen @ 12:49 pm

The website Great Vegan Athletes is running a contest to have people vote for the Best Vegan Athlete of 2012.  (You can cast your vote here.)

 

One of the contenders, Sarah Stewart, is not only a vegan athlete but a philosopher as well!

So if you want to vote and get in some philosophers’ solidarity while you’re at it, this is a great chance to do so.

 

 
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