Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

The PGR’s un-women-friendly epistemology February 11, 2014

Lady Day:

McAfee’s punch line: “Is there a systematic bias in the PGR methodology that leads it to value more male-dominated departments? Well, yes. An unrepresentative and hand-picked advisory board plus unrepresentative and hand-picked evaluators will lead to a slanted take on the value of the work going on in the profession. You don’t have to be a stand-point epistemologist to see this.”

[Update:  I'm going to recommend that anyone who wishes to comment on the post do so at Gone Public, where it originally occurred, rather than below the reblog here. To that end (and because I'm not able to moderate comments today), I've closed comments below.]

Originally posted on gonepublic: philosophy, politics, & public life:

Julie Van Camp just updated her Spring 2004 article, “Female-Friendly Departments: A Modest Proposal for Picking Graduate Programs in Philosophy” that pointed out the under-representation of women on the advisory board of Brian Leiter’s Philosophical Gourmet Report . This month Van Camp expanded the  postscript with numbers showing that in the past ten years little has changed.

Postscript: November 20, 2004 [updated 2/3/2014]

The 2011 Report:
The list of the Top 51 doctoral programs is included in the 2011 Philosophical Gourmet Report. The 56 members of the  Report’s Advisory Board for 2011 included nine females (16.1%) and was based on the reports of 302 evaluators, including 46 women (15.2%).

The 2009 Report:
The 55 members of the  Report’s Advisory Board for 2009 included eight females (14.5%) and was based on the reports of 294 evaluators, including 37 women (12.6%).

The 2006-08 Report:
The 56 members of the Report’s Advisory Board for…

View original 359 more words

 

Two themes: excellence and self promotion. September 30, 2013

This post may need a bit of an explanation. I am supposed to give a brief talk to and about a partcular institution. I think the institution is often shooting itself in the foot. So I would like to talk about an aspect of institutional excellence at least to divert attention from inflicting wounds. The connection I mention below seemed to me to be possibly worth exploring. It occurred to me yesterday, so these are very preliminary reflections. I’m also reacting a bit to an earlier post on the topic of referring to one’s work.

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I’ve been thinking off and on about these two themes for some time. It occurred to me last night that in fact they may be very closely connected. A little more cautiously, two institutions that have recently seemed to be very similar even though they are very different in kind might seem so similar because of how these themes might be invoked in describing them. (Just so you know, I’ve been wondering for some time why two places I’ve recently seen a lot of – Somerville College, Oxford, and MD Anderson, Houston, often ranked as the US’s number one cancer treatment and research institution, have seem so similar in some way related to excellence. That is, related in a way that is more than simply both being excellent.)

So let’s consider this conjecture: with some excellent places, the accusatory assumption that someone who mentions her work is being self-promoting is absent, or nearly absent. Further, that absence can nuture excellence while it is itself a more intelligent reaction to excellence.

What could possibly cause any association between excellence and a lack of accusations of self-promotion? Here is one connection: it is pretty unthinking to assume someone mentioning her work is being self-promoting. The assumption is a mark of a failure in excellence. Why? For a lot of reasons:

1. People who think one’s motivation is self-promotion quite probably are not aware of some other very significant motivations. In particular, there can be a genuine joy in creating something and bringing something to a conclusion, whether it is a paper, a painting, a recital, a tennis match, or so on.

2. The hypothesis of self-promotion usually has a large gap; namely, there isn’t an answer given to the question of whom the accused is supposed to be trying to impress. Too often the accuser assumes they are among those whom the accused is trying to impress. Except in some special cases where the accuser has special power or resources, that may well be false.

3. The accusation is a way of dismissing someone’s work without incurring any burden of proof. That is less than honest trickery (At the same time, we might reflect that there are different reasons one might want to dismiss someone’s work. The quality of the work might really threaten one’s own sense of self-worth. Or one might be trying to derail some candidacy, etc. and there are no doubt more reasons.)

I think and hope I’ve said enough to give some sense of a line of thought.

I expect there are objections, and I’d love to hear of any you think of. You can also be positive!

There is a great deal, in fact, that remains to be said. For example, aren’t there some brilliant people who have made huge advances while still being nasty and accusatory about others’ supposed self-promoting narcissism? (talk about projection, one might say.) If you are thinking about this, please notice that the ideas get quite qualified as this post progresses.

So please add or subtract from these reflections.

 

“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:

 

Violence and Silence May 4, 2013

Excellent TED talk by Jackson Katz, one of the folks behind the bystander approach. Watch it. Then ask your friends to watch it.

 

 

 

 

Using History to Teach April 12, 2013

Filed under: critical thinking,education,history,race — Stacey Goguen @ 8:47 pm

From a recent news article:

“A high school English teacher could face disciplinary action for giving a writing assignment that asked students to make a persuasive argument blaming Jews for the problems of Nazi Germany, Albany school district officials said Friday.”

The assignment, first reported Friday by the Albany Times Union, asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then assume their teacher was a Nazi government official who had to be convinced of their loyalty. The assignment told students they “must argue that Jews are evil.”

My first reaction was, this could have been a poignant exercise on rhetoric, logic and history, but didn’t take into account the current existence and legacy of antisemitism.  Though, whether that is a valid reaction might depend on what one thinks of things like The Third Wave experiment.  The more I read over the article though, the more I’m baffled about what the teacher in NY was even trying to accomplish. (Were they just trying to be edgy?)

 

“It Stands to Reason, Skeptics Can Be Sexist Too” October 27, 2012

Filed under: critical thinking,internet,sexual assault,sexual harassment — Stacey Goguen @ 3:30 am

I spoke out about sexual harassment among atheists and scientists. Then came the rape threats.

Blogger and podcast co-host Rebecca Watson has a piece up at Slate about the sexist backlash she received in the skeptic community when she talked about feminism and her experiences as a woman.  Sadly, her story resembles others you’ve probably heard:  threats, accusations that she’s lying or exaggerating or can’t take a joke, more threats, etc.

Her piece is somewhat cathartic, especially with snappy observations like this:

What I said in my video, exactly, was, “Guys, don’t do that,” with a bit of a laugh and a shrug. What legions of angry atheists apparently heard was, “Guys, I won’t stop hating men until I get 2 million YouTube comments calling me a ‘cunt.’ ” The skeptics boldly rose to the imagined challenge.

 

“creationism is not appropriate for children” August 29, 2012

Filed under: critical thinking,religion,science,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 3:28 pm

From “Bill Nye, the Science Guy.”

I was surprised to find that the argument seems to me at first glance fluffy and question-beginning, but I think it might be fun to analyze it with a class. One might end up with a good sense of what the arguments really are.




 

John Corvino on the moral worth of gay sex August 28, 2012

Corvino is speaking on the 29th at Rice U, and in looking for some background I discovered he’s got a DVD on GLBT sex and its morality. (Thanks to John in comments for the correct date!) There is also an extended trailer; see below.

In fact Corvino is a very experienced speaker, and though I didn’t see new arguments in the trailor, the presentation is great.

However, the point for me of putting this up is really connected with the thoughtful post here about civility. Unlike a number of people commenting on that post, I do not think of philosophical discourse as particularly calm and reasonable. Somewhat relatedly, I am wondering what people would expect from students who were asked to watch the DVD in class. Here in Houston I wouldn’t count on all my students remaining calm. Also, I’d probably be protecting myself by giving those who found it upsetting permission to leave. I’d probably cast it as asking people who cannot respect the humanity of LGBT students to leave.

What would you expect? And what would you do?






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No doubt my view about philosophy’s civility was shaped in part by seeing some fairly volatile philosopher commenting on blatant and culpable philosophical error. I do remember remarking on US seminars when I first returned to the country that they were interestingly different from Oxford’s. The bullwas still forced to its knees, but no one was insisting in spilling blood.

 

Can Humor Make Us Better Thinkers? August 25, 2012

Filed under: critical thinking,kyriarchy,race — Stacey Goguen @ 6:41 pm

 

 

This picture (cropped from here) doesn’t prove anything, but it exemplifies a thesis I’ve had rattling around in my skull for a while.   There are certain ideas out there, such as, “There is this thing called systematic racism exists and if you don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis, that’s a privilege you have no real right to brag about.”  Now, a lot of people can be really obtuse about these this kind of idea if it’s presented as an argument.  However, I’ve seen a bunch of situations where someone comes up with the right joke and suddenly a switch flips–people get it.  (i.e. They understand what you’re trying to say…and they seem to agree with most of your premises.)

tl;dr When I look at the kind of humor people are able to pick up on, I suspect that more people understand basic issues of kyriarchy than I realize.

 

(Go here if you want to browse more of these jokes on twitter.)

 

More rambling after the jump.

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Critical thinking webpage, input welcome July 26, 2012

Filed under: critical thinking — KateNorlock @ 4:46 pm
From Cate Hundleby:
I have just launched a critical thinking webpage with the express purpose of guiding instructors in their choice of textbooks, but with larger pedagogical and liberatory purposes in mind.  The implicit feminist approach and the express goals of helping novice instructors in the field may make this site useful for women and feminist philosophers.  If women tend to do the part-time and temporary work they are likely also to be assigned to the (inappropriately) low-prestige work of teaching critical thinking at the first and second year levels.
I welcome input. (Note: I hope to expand the “feminist and liberatory” discussion. ) Feel free to email:
<hundleby[at]uwindsor[dot]ca>
 

 
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