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
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
Apologies for the commercials; the video is worth the VERY SHORT wait, I think.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the bad isms of prejudice. December 12, 2013
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
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 .
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
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.
United Families and Friends Campaign 2013 Procession October 25, 2013
MEET 12.30PM TRAFALGAR SQUARE – MARCH TO DOWNING STREET
The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) is a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in immigration detention and secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmott, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard, Mikey Powell, Jason McPherson, Lloyd Butler, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Habib Ullah, Olaseni Lewis, David Emmanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger to name but a few. Together we have built a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.
During the late nineties the families of the most controversial deaths in police custody victims came together to form UFFC. Since then we have campaigned for justice for our loved ones and our efforts have yielded some results. The police self-investigation of deaths in custody, previously overseen by the Police Complaints Authority, was replaced by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Attorney General was forced to undergo a review of the role of the Crown Prosecution Service. We continue to monitor these developments. Since last year, and in particular through the case of Sean Rigg, the IPCC has been found not fit for purpose.
No reforms or reviews have ever addressed the lack of justice in outstanding cases such as Joy Gardner, Brian Douglas and Shiji Lapite, to name a few. These are human rights abuses and must be dealt with accordingly. Nothing can replace due process of law and with so much overwhelming evidence against police officers accused of murder or manslaughter, the question remains why have they not been convicted? UFFC has supported cases such as Ricky Bishop, Roger Sylvester, Mikey Powell and Harry Stanley. In recent years other high profile cases such as those of Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles De Menezes and Sean Rigg show how the IPCC and the CPS have continued to fail us. In the last two years alone we have had the deaths of David Emanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Lloyd Butler, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger. The deaths have not stopped and nor shall we. Our Annual Remembrance Procession will take place on 26th October 2013.
UFFC is supported by Migrant Media, Newham Monitoring Project, Pan African Society Community Forum, 4wardEver UK, Garden Court Chambers, Institute of Race Relations, INQUEST and Defend the Right to Protest.
The UUFC facebook page with more information is here.
The APA Committee on the Status of Women responds to Penn State September 17, 2013
16 September 2013
David Gray, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business
Susan Basso, Vice President for Human Resources
Penn State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Dear Mr. Gray and Ms. Basso:
According to an article in the 10 September Centre Daily Times and the 15 September New York Times, a health risk assessment questionnaire that is part of Penn State’s new employee wellness program asks women employees whether they plan to get pregnant in the next year. If the employee refuses to disclose this she is penalized $100 for every month she fails to yield up the information.
By requiring women employees to disclose information about their sex lives, Penn State violates their privacy rights and likely violates their rights under federal law (Title VII and The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title IX, privacy law, and equal protection). Highmark, Penn State’s health care provider, targets women employees by imposing on them a special burden of disclosure about their sexual intent. Are male employees required to disclose their intended sexual activity over the year? To avoid paying a fine, is a woman employee forced to lie? And if she has no plans but becomes pregnant accidentally, does that increase her insurance premiums?
In a culture where women’s bodies are socially policed from early childhood until well past menopause, it is particularly unethical to force a female employee to reveal her reproductive intentions to a corporation whose interest is in making profits—an interest that directly conflicts with the woman’s interest in retaining sovereignty over her body. We members of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women urge you in the strongest possible terms to direct Highmark to cease this practice immediately.
Hilde Lindeman (signed)
Chair, the American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Women
Pinky Mosiane was murdered at her place of work, the Anglo Platinum owned mine in South Africa. This article brings to light the context of that murder: one in which formal moves towards gender equality (the Mining Charter prescribing that 13% of employees should be women) have not been accompanied by changes in material conditions that ensure the safety of women (and indeed men) working in those environments. Sisonke Msimang writes:
although women are now being sent underground in greater numbers, nothing has been done to make mines safe spaces in which they can work free from sexual harassment and violence.
Women’s increased participation has been accompanied by informal practices (within problematic bonus structures which incentivise risk taking) in which women are treated as inferior workers and sexually exploited in exchange for their ‘share’ of the team bonuses:
In mines where women are part of underground teams, their male colleagues often resent their presence, suggesting that they are unable to mine as quickly. To meet team targets for production bonuses, a practice of bartering sex for bonuses and substitute labour has evolved. Essentially, female miners are coerced into stepping aside to enable their teams to meet the bonus targets. They receive a reduced share of the financial reward that goes to the team. Often, they are also forced to have sex with their colleagues in order to qualify to receive the bonus payments.
The judiciary have suggested that the rape and murder of women in mines is a ‘gender specific issue’, rather than a safety issue, and as such not a matter for investigation by the Chamber of Mines.