Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Clarifying ‘sexual violence’ September 26, 2014

There are many forms of sexual and gender based violence. Some of them have only come to light in more recent history, and some we still tend, collectively, to fail to understand. However, the University of Michigan’s (otherwise seemingly wonderful) initiative to prevent and more effectively respond to domestic and intimate partner violence, has offered a very worrying example of sexual violence. The site reads:

Examples of sexual violence include: discounting the partner’s feelings regarding sex; criticizing the partner sexually; touching the partner sexually in inappropriate and uncomfortable ways; withholding sex and affection; always demanding sex; forcing partner to strip as a form of humiliation (maybe in front of children), to witness sexual acts, to participate in uncomfortable sex or sex after an episode of violence, to have sex with other people; and using objects and/or weapons to hurt during sex or threats to back up demands for sex.

Withholding sex and affection is not a form of sexual violence. Rather, too often, claims of failing to be sexually available and affectionate enough have historically been used to justify mistreatment of (and sometimes violence towards) partners–just think of the offensive (and mythical) stereotype of the ‘frigid wife,’ and the various ways in which it has been employed.

 

Perceptions of Abrasiveness in Tech by Gender August 30, 2014

Filed under: gender inequality,work — Stacey Goguen @ 4:26 pm

Fortune published an article this week on a small study about people’s performance reviews in tech companies, and whether the tone of such reviews differed based on the employee’s gender.

Spoiler: it did. You can read it here.

(NB: The numbers are not percentages. It took me a moment to realize that.)
performance-reviews-graphic

Not only did negative criticism show up more in reviews of women, but also women also received much more negative criticism regarding their personality and tone.

“This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.” [emphasis mine]

 *Edited to reflect that the reviews were from tech businesses specifically.

 

2013 Gender Inequality Index August 17, 2014

The U.N. (Development Program) released the 2014 Human Development Report (and the 2013 Human Development Index within it) a few weeks ago on or around July 24, 2014. It incorporates data from 2013 for the latest Gender Inequality Index on pages 172-175 in Table 4. This index reflects gender inequality along three dimensions – reproductive health, empowerment, and the labor market – as rated by five indicators: both maternal mortality ratio and adolescent fertility rate for reproductive health, both shares of parliamentary seats and population with at least secondary education for empowerment, and labor force participation rates for the labor market.

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This year, all 187 countries ranked in the 2013 Human Development Index are also ranked in the 2013 Gender Inequality Index. The U.S. ranks #47 (down from 42 last year), the U.K. ranks #35 (down from 34 last year), Canada ranks #23 (down from 18 from last year), Australia ranks #19 (down from 17 from last year), New Zealand ranks #34 (down from 31 from last year), and South Africa ranks #94 (down from 90 from last year).

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Also out of those 187 countries (for the 2013 Gender Inequality Index…), Slovenia ranks #1 (up from 8), Switzerland ranks #2 (up from 3), Germany ranks #3 (up from 6), Sweden ranks #4 (down from 2), Denmark ranks #5 (down from 3 formerly with Switzerland), Austria also ranks #5 (up from 14), Netherlands ranks #7 (down from #1), Italy ranks #8 (up from 11), Belgium ranks #9 (up from 12), Norway also ranks #9 (down from 5), Finland ranks #11 (down from #6), and France ranks #12 (down from 9).

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In addition, out of those 187 countries (for the 2013 Gender Inequality Index…), India ranks #127 (up from 132), Saudi Arabia ranks #56 (seemingly up from 145 – is that right?), Afghanistan ranks #169 (down from 147), and Yemen ranks #152 (down from 148).

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Click here for a PDF of the full 2014 Human Development Report (with the Gender Inequality Index on pp. 172-175).
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Click here for a more detailed account of the Gender Inequality Index that includes indicator data (for 2013 and also for some earlier grouped years).
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Click here for a webpage that contains some frequently asked questions and answers about the UNDP Gender Inequality Index.
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Click here and scroll down to “technical note 3” on pages 5-6 for a PDF file that provides details on how the Gender Inequality Index is calculated.

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Unfortunately, the UNDP seems frequently to delete and/or change the URLs/web-addresses for the aforementioned links. Please report any changes (or updates!) in the comments and I will try to update accordingly.
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Click here for links on/for the 2012 Gender Inequality Index

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What do readers think? All sorts of data here for all sorts of comments…

 

More news from Boulder August 7, 2014

From Daily Camera:

For only the fourth time in University of Colorado history, Boulder campus leaders have begun the process of firing a tenured faculty member after paying a graduate student $825,000 to settle accusations the philosophy professor retaliated against her for reporting a sexual assault by a fellow graduate student.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano recently issued a notice of intent to dismiss associate professor David Barnett, Boulder campus spokesman Ryan Huff confirmed to the Daily Camera.

Barnett, who is not the alleged sexual assailant, is accused of compiling a 38-page report painting the victim as “sexually promiscuous” and alleging she falsified the report of the assault, according to a notice of intent to sue CU filed by the victim last month.

The move to fire Barnett, who has taught in the philosophy department since 2005, comes as CU already was under federal investigation for possible violations of Title IX, the federal gender-equity law. It also comes six months after a scathing report detailed sexual harassment, bullying and other unprofessional conduct within the philosophy department . . .

The victim, who declined to speak with the Camera through her attorney, Debra Katz, filed the complaint because Barnett “smeared her reputation” and she wanted to prevent something similar from happening to future victims who report sexual misconduct, Katz said.

“She felt it was very important to bring that issue to the attention of the appropriate parties within the university and not only protect her own rights, but to ensure that other people who come forward and report serious Title IX violations are not retaliated against,” Katz said.

Katz said that if the university tolerated retaliation, it would have a “chilling effect” on anyone wishing to come forward to report a violation.

She added that while her client did not ask for Barnett to be dismissed, the decision sends a “very strong message” that the university is serious about disciplining people who violate Title IX.

While not speaking about the allegations against Barnett specifically, Huff said it’s important for investigations into possible university policy violations to be conducted by professionals.

“We have established mechanisms with trained professionals who are in charge of conducting investigations,” he said. “Having non-trained, non-professional people conducting unauthorized investigations is not appropriate.”

For those who are unclear on how retaliation in the context of a Title IX complaint is itself a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX, I recommend reading through the SCOTUS decision on Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education as well as the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter from the Office for Civil Rights of April 2013.

 

A Reply to “The Gender Academy” July 14, 2014

In a July 5th article, “The Gender Academy,” University of Colorado Boulder philosophy grad student Spencer Case complains about his department’s new “Best Practices” document, which recommends, among other things, that classroom discussion facilitators make an effort to assist students from underrepresented groups in participating in discussion “by, for example, intervening when such students are interrupted or spoken over while attempting to contribute.”

“This is micro-managing and worse,” he objects, “Instead of being an objective facilitator of learning for all, the teacher must now be an advocate for some.”

Kudos to University of Colorado Boulder philosophy grad student Sofia Huerter, who wrote a reply to Case, drawing on Jenny Saul’s work on implicit bias and stereotype threat:

“I have, for some months, permitted myself to remain silent with regard to the climate in my department because I have become so preoccupied with my own fears of confirming stereotypes about women in philosophy, namely that we aren’t very good at it for one reason or another. I have felt fearful that any slip-ups on my end will result in accusations of fallacious and misguided reasoning, engendering yet more negativity in the debate about the status of women in philosophy…

Stereotype threat is a psychological phenomenon which affects the way that members of stigmatized groups perform. Victims of stereotype threat tend to under-perform on relevant tasks, such as writing papers, because they are unconsciously preoccupied with fears of confirming stereotypes about their groups…

As women enter graduate programs in philosophy, they are likely to be reminded of their under-representation in various ways. For instance, as Jennifer Saul notes, in most classes, other than perhaps feminist philosophy, they are likely to encounter syllabuses consisting overwhelmingly of male authors, and the people teaching most of their classes are likely to be male. Further, those who are teaching are susceptible to implicit bias. As such, we are likely to witness in philosophy departments the same well-documented asymmetries in the treatment of male and female students that have been observed in other areas of academics. For instance, we are likely to see teachers calling upon male students more often than female students…”

(See here for the full reply.)

UPDATE: Case has published a reply to some of his critics, in which he argues that feminism is not a sub-discipline of philosophy and ought to “be discussed alongside conservatism, libertarianism, liberalism, fascism, and socialism in political-philosophy classes.” Presumably his arguments are directed at feminist philosophy, and not feminism — which is not (and as far as I know has not ever been) characterized as a “sub-discipline of philosophy.” Even under this charitable reading, however, Case’s argument is little more than a classic example of a straw-person fallacy; the argument shows merely that feminist philosophy should not be “insulated” from “criticism” — which, of course, is not a conclusion that anyone would contest. What the “Best Practices” document recommends is that philosophers refrain from disparaging sub-disciplines of philosophy, not from providing a rational critique.

 

Good news, bad news June 10, 2014

Filed under: gender inequality,rape,sexism,sexual assault,violence — philodaria @ 10:11 pm

The bad news is that the Washington Post has been up to some sexist shenanigans. The good news is, it’s under fire for doing so. Read about it here.

 

University of Texas tells women what to wear June 4, 2014

Filed under: academia,discrimination,gender inequality,sexism — philodaria @ 6:56 pm

Via Jezebel.

UT Austin Dress Code

A reader spotted this sign up at the University of Texas School of Nursing in Austin.

Our reader said the signs popped up this week. “Revealing clothing MUST NOT be worn while in the School of Nursing Building. It distracts from the learning environment.”

“It distracts from the learning environment.” Oh, OK. For a second there I thought we were only teaching young girls in elementary, middle and high school that their bodies are nothing but shameful sin receptacles which must be covered up and hidden at all times from men who absolutely cannot control themselves at the slightest hint of a woman’s skin. Good to see that this outdated sexist bullshit is being instilled in college students in a professional training program, too!

 

Stop taxing periods. Period. May 21, 2014

Filed under: body,gender inequality,gendered products,health — Lady Day @ 1:27 pm

A new petition demands that the United Kingdom stop taxing women’s sanitary napkins and tampons as luxuries. According to the petition, men’s razors are not taxable whilst women’s sanitary products are because it is a woman’s choice whether or not to use the latter. Hmm… Perhaps it’s time that British women gather en masse whilst choosing not to use such products and descend on Parliament to protest the tax, perhaps sitting on some posh parliamentary cushions while they’re at it.

…or maybe just sign the petition. Here it is.

(H/t to CA for sharing the petition and to MS for the unorthodox protest suggestion.)

 

A reply to Robert George: Why sexual assault can’t be blamed on the sexual revolution May 18, 2014

Recently, philosopher of law Robert George wrote a piece in which he links the culture of sexual assault on college campuses to the sexual revolution. A philosophy graduate student has written a beautiful and moving reply. I quote from it below, and the full response is here.

Yet, the fact is, sexual assault is deeply wrong and harmful regardless of the victim’s sexual history or values. The Philadelphia Magazine article provides ample evidence that students who have casual sex, seemingly without sharing metaphysical or ethical commitments about what it means for “two to become one,” still experience assault as a serious trauma. Moreover, sex workers can be sexually violated and process it as such, irrespective of their views on sex. Some people might counter that victims can be mistaken about the source of their trauma, and that if they think it has nothing to do with the meaning of sex, they are lying to themselves. This reasoning, much like sexual violence itself, denies people agency. It’s hard to capture the sheer horror of having one’s will subjugated by another person, the utter powerlessness of being at someone else’s mercy. As long as we see sexual assault as an offense against purity or chastity rather than primarily against autonomy, we cannot do justice to that experience.

. . . Professor George, I share your sadness and yearning for truth, in my various roles as young Catholic philosopher, Swarthmore alum, sexual assault survivor, and human being. I am just worried that when culture wars overshadow the discussion of sexual violence, it leaves all parties hurt and none transformed. By all means, let’s create spaces for college students to discuss campus sexual culture, the meaning of sex, and healthy relationships. All I ask is that we not let questions over which many reasonable people disagree turn our attention away from the distinct and severe wrong of sexual assault. Otherwise, I fear you will be right: We will live in a “hell on earth—complete with ideologies hardened into orthodoxies to immunize it from truth-telling and to stigmatize and marginalize truth-tellers.”

 

Debate on changing the gender politics in UK universities May 9, 2014

Filed under: gender inequality,women in academia — axiothea @ 9:44 am

GENDER EQUALITY NOW!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 – 2:15pm to 7:00pm
Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Auditorium

Help us to change the gender politics of UK universities! Come along and listen to and debate
proposals from 4 leading humanities academics, who want to make universities a fairer place for all.
We’ll then break out into workshop sessions to design a manifesto for gender equality in the academy
– and launch it with a reception.

2.15-3.15 manifesto presentations by Edith Hall (KCL), Rebecca Reilly-Cooper (Warwick), Francesca
Stavrakopoulou (Exeter), Patricia Skinner (Swansea)

3.15-4.00 roundtable discussion

4.00-4.20 tea

4.20-5.00 breakout groups

5.00-6.00 presentations and general discussions

6.00-7.00 Reception and unveiling!

Attendance is free, but please sign up here:

www.SignUpGenius.com/go/10C0A4FAFAD22A6FF2-gender

Theme: Women and the Humanities
Contact name: Tim Whitmarsh
Contact email: tim.whitmarsh@ccc.ox.ac.uk
Audience: Open to all

 

 
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