Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

George Takei on Arizona’s pro-bigotry law February 25, 2014

Filed under: bias,human rights,sexual orientation — Jender @ 12:25 pm

Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.

Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.

For more, go here.

 

Talk about a triggering event! February 3, 2014

Filed under: academia,human rights,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 6:35 pm

It’s taken two days for the discussion of the Boulder situation to really sink it.  I think that a number of recent blog posts and articles are stressing the more general fact that philosophy as a field can be nasty and brutish for women, if not short.  People of color, members of the GLBT community have also suffered, and similarly for the disabled and the elderly. And no doubt others I’m failing to think about.  For those of us who have worried about the situation for years or even decades, the fact that a bright national light is fixed on it is at least a relief.

But then many of us have actually suffered in ways that have heavily impacted our careers.  And at some point, the present discussion may well bring it back.  I know it has for me this morning.  So what to do?

There’s short-term advice:  things that can help include exercise (maybe walking if you can), talking to friends, distracting yourself with something you like – download a movie, play music, get a good novel, etc.  Writing about it can also help, and here we have an excellent resource, the What is it Like to be a Woman in Philosophy blog.  Even if you have already described your experience, I think there’s room there for something more general, along the lines of “how my life has been impacted.”  In fact, I think I’ll go over there soon.

We’re keeping comments closed.  Otherwise we’ll be a conduit for misinformation.  But that shouldn’t stop you from using our “contact us,” and letting us know what more we  should be saying.

 

 

“Only 2 of the 15 complaints were found to be substantiated” February 2, 2014

Filed under: academia,human rights,politics,sexual harassment,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 7:13 pm

See correction/qualification below

The CSW report on Boulder recommends that the relevant office (ODH) explains what a finding or not finding on a complaint means. I have seen many remarks that suggest that 13 of the 15 complaints described by the CSW report were judged to be baseless. Such a conclusion does not follow at all. I said something about this in comments on the new apps site, but it seems that the issue should be addressed in a more general post. I cannot possibly speak about procedures at Boulder, but I saw a number of cases when I was in faculty governance and when I filed my own complaints. I am also going to suppose that the complaints were based on Title 7. Of course, there may not all have been, but I think the problems I’m describing are the same.

We should also remember that filing a complaint is not fun, and it looks like a good way to make enemies in the profession. Further, it is not thought to be an easy way to get one’s own back. Getting a finding against someone above one on the academic ladder can be very hard.

A disclaimer: I may be wrong at points, but my intention is principally to indicate that a “no finding” result need not be a finding that a complaint is baseless or frivolous. Things are very much more complicated.

First of all, the process often – perhaps always – goes through the hands of lawyers. We – faculty and students – are usually not legally trained. This is important because one’s complaint has to meet some demands that are legal in nature. For example, women form a protected class; that’s why women, and not fit young heterosexual white men, file complaints with the equal treatment office. But this means that one has to show that the egregious behavior is targeting one as a woman. It is not enough that one’s reputation is being trashed, for example; they have to be after you because you are a woman for the claim to be accepted. Being a jerk is not illegal. So really egregious behavior can be judged as irrelevant. No finding is made.

Secondly, at least in many cases, one has to show one has been harmed. That means that, e.g., an unjust decision on tenure has to result in one’s not getting tenure. Similarly for other unjust decisions about salary, leave, etc. A dean or provost can reverse the unjust decision and no harm is done, it is said. If the option is finding for the complainant or no finding, this may well go into the no finding category.

One is well advised to get a lawyer, but even lawyers acting on a contingency basis will want something up front. In Houston $25K is not unusual. That means a lot of people will have to complain without legal counsel. I think those one complains against may get legal counsel. It is not a level playing field.

But supposing a complaint is taken up, a lawyer has been hired, and it is clear the aggrieved won’t go away. They university may well not want the relevant pictures or emails or whatever to enter into a legal process outside of the university. And going to the federal EEOC is not really appealing to anyone, at least anyone I’ve known. So the university may try to settle with the complainant, and succeed in doing so. Here again, the bad actor is not found against, and I’d expect that instead a finding of “no finding” is official.

Let me say again that my intention here is just to illustrate some of the complications. Deciding a charge against title 7 is not at all like grading a paper. Just as a “not guilty” verdict does not mean the defendant was innocent, so a “no finding” conclusion does not mean there wasn’t very serious wrong-doing being reported.

On a note from a reader:

I may have been wrong or at least misleading.  I said that in the case of an unjust decision, such as a tenure decision, the finding of “no finding” might happen if the decision is overturned.  I didn’t mean to say that the legality of the unjust decision might change.  In any case, I do want to clarify the situation.  An informed reader has commented:

 If a department votes to deny tenure, tenure is not ipso factodenied, and if a dean overturns the department, the issue may be moot but the US government doesn’t think so. The legal question is whether an act of discrimination took place on a particular date. Subsequent acts may be considered, but only pursuant to the question.

There’s some worry on others’ part that my comment might discourage others from seeking legal redress.  Even more important, I think, is that filing adds to a paper trail that you may well need if things get worse.  I would in fact go to your office of affirmative action right away and file a complaint.  My university in fact stresses going through all the proper channels, which means that in our situation you don’t want to go to the gov’t right away.  This is something you should ask about.

My information about what happens in the case of an unjust decision – the example I used was tenure – was actually based on my own experience going up for promotion to full professor.  The college committee denied my request; every sentence in the explanation they provided was false.  For example, it said my publication record had gotten worse, but in fact it had gotten better.  It was completely remarkable; since this didn’t happen to the men denied that year, and since I’m a member of a protected class, I had a very good case for saying I was receiving unequal treatment.  But the university legal department said that I had to wait to see if actual harm resulted.  And indeed the provost overturned it.  

 

Anita January 30, 2014

Filed under: gender inequality,human rights,politics,sexual harassment,the arts — philodaria @ 8:25 pm

The trailer for a new documentary about Anita Hill’s testimony during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing has been released. (It’s worth remembering that additional witnesses who could have confirmed her testimony, and who made themselves available to testify, were not called to do so.)

 

“Am I dead?” January 22, 2014

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,human rights,politics,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 12:28 am

I hope the quote marks manage to suggest the “I” does not necessarily refer to me!

A recent movie reminded me of a literary trope about death.  The actor is often first shown in some very dangerous or threatening situation.  In the next scene, the character is back in a familiar setting.  Still, no one seems to notice, even people very close to them.  Then they try to speak to someone, but no one hears and so no one replies.  Someone in the scene might get the sense that there’s something unusual in the environment, perhaps an odd wind or lowering of temperature, but the character’s presence is not understood.

How many times, I wondered, have I experienced this scene in philosophy?  It used, I think, to happen a great deal, when one didn’t get called on however often one’s hand went up in a question period until finally at the end one could say something and it was completely misunderstood and dismissed.  I might count the two experiences I’ve had recently of having my comments responded to at a conference by someone who didn’t recognize that I actually argued for the counter-claims I had made.  I could put in here a conviction I recently discovered was shared in a group a people; namely, nothing I did benefited my department or my college.  The latter might have at least asked for my opinion, if I existed.

Interestingly, the too often reported experience of having one’s comment in a question period attributed to someone else certainly fits the literary trope.  Here is a scene in which the character says something and it is heard, but everyone thinks it came from someone else who is visible to them.

I have also had much more perfect instances of the trope, one recent one taking the prize, though without the danger, unless one counts publishing as a woman in philosophy dangerous.

Enough about me!  What about you?

 

Violence against women in Papua New Guinea January 16, 2014

Filed under: bias,gender,human rights,race — annejjacobson @ 8:01 pm

Apologies for the commercials; the video is worth the VERY SHORT wait, I think.

Click here.

 

Is the US a racial democracy? January 13, 2014

Filed under: bias,discrimination,human rights,law,police,politics,social justice — philodaria @ 3:25 am

Jason Stanley and Vesla Weaver have a piece up on The Stone–very well worth a full read– arguing that the United States is a racial democracy, i.e., a democracy “that unfairly applies the laws governing the removal of liberty primarily to citizens of one race, thereby singling out its members as especially unworthy of liberty, the coin of human dignity.” Here, I except:

As one of us has helped document in a forthcoming book, punishment and surveillance by itself causes people to withdraw from political participation — acts of engagement like voting or political activism. In fact, the effect on political participation of having been in jail or prison dwarfs other known factors affecting political participation, such as the impact of having a college-educated parent, being in the military or being in poverty . . .

Evidence suggests that minorities experience contact with the police at rates that far outstrip their share of crime. One study found that the probability that a black male 18 or 19 years of age will be stopped by police in New York City at least once during 2006 is 92 percent. The probability for a Latino male of the same age group is 50 percent. For a young white man, it is 20 percent. In 90 percent of the stops of young minorities in 2011, there wasn’t evidence ofwrongdoing, and no arrest or citation occurred. In over half of the stops of minorities, the reason given for the stop was that the person made “furtive movements.” In 60 percent of the stops, an additional reason listed for the stop was that the person was in a “high crime area.”

Blacks are not necessarily having these encounters at greater rates than their white counterparts because they are more criminal. National surveys show that, with the exception of crack cocaine, blacks consistently report using drugs at lower levels than whites. Some studies also suggest that blacks are engaged in drug trafficking at lower levels. Yet once we account for their share of the population, blacks are 10 times as likely to spend time in prison for offenses related to drugs.

The full article is here. 

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the bad isms of prejudice. December 12, 2013

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,human rights,politics,race,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 11:45 pm

The bad isms are racism, sexism, ageism, etc, etc.  There is a lot of recent work on how to combat biases of these kinds, particularly implicit ones, of which their possessors are not aware, or are only slightly aware.  Leverhulme, for example, generously funded 4 workshops at Sheffield on the topic.

Cognitive Behavioral Theory could also be seen as addressing biases in one’s thinking.  It is also, apparently, empirically tested and quite successful.  Plus, it also often comes with great little handbooks.

Particularly attracted to the idea of developing a handbook, I’ve been wondering whether anyone has ever tried to do a CBT version for racism, etc.  (I’m assuming a technique not identical to plagiarism could make the handbook development easier than it might be if one were starting from scratch.)

Do you know of anyone who has tried to develop CBT for racism, sexism?

The state of Texas, and no doubt many other states and countries, have something like mandated workbooks for these things, which are on the web in the form of exams.  These are worthless, really.  What will you get if you give the same test to 800 faculty?  Lots and lots of copying.

 

What’s in second place? December 11, 2013

Filed under: bias,gender,human rights,race — annejjacobson @ 11:28 pm

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death and disease, everyone seems to say.  How about two and three?  How far can we go in banning?

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) will stop hiring people who use nicotine at its Pennsylvania locations beginning July 1 [2014].

The ban will not apply to the crop of residents who begin this summer, but will be in force for applicants for 2014 residency slots. Last year, there were 1,975 full-time faculty, 769 medical students, 775 PhD students, 1,135 residents and fellows, and 789 post-doctoral candidates working in the nearly 18,000-employee health system.

 

Ifa Muaza deported by private jet November 30, 2013

Filed under: human rights,immigration — Monkey @ 10:01 am

I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that Team GB has managed to get another of those pesky brown people off our shores and back to where they came from! Thank goodness for that! And thank goodness for Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who made this happen! I’m so pleased that someone in government is brave enough to stand up for their principles, no matter what the cost.* Mr. Muaza is from Nigeria (which is part of the British Empire anyway, so I can’t really see what the man is complaining about) who claims he was being bothered by a terrorist group called Boko Haram, who have already killed two members of his family. Luckily for all of us in good ol’ Blighty, our asylum procedures include the wonderful ‘fast-track system’ which means we can get more of these people out of our country quickly! (Although the bleeding heart liberal do-gooding Guardian-reading types are always complaining that a couple of days isn’t sufficient to gather all the necessary evidence to put forward a proper asylum case. But this is tosh, because asylum-seekers are all benefit cheats who are only here to get free dental treatment on the NHS and steal our jobs.) Mr. Muaza claims he was treated unfairly, and has been starving himself for 100 days and can no longer see or stand up. He had to be carried out to the private jet that deported him on a stretcher. Thankfully, Theresa May saw through this cynical ploy to exploit the system, and had no truck with his complaining. I’m going to write to her now to ask if she could pay for my neighbours to be removed because they look a bit too brown to be here and I certainly don’t want my taxes being spent on their teeth. Go Team GB!

* An estimated £50,000 for the private jet that was used, plus whatever money is paid to hold someone in detention for over three months, and the legal fees required to carry out the legal processes that have made Mr. Muaza’s removal possible.

 

 
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