Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

“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:

 

Constructing the Myth of the Crack Baby May 21, 2013

Filed under: disability,discrimination,gender,intersectionality,law,medicine,miosgyny,race — Stacey Goguen @ 5:12 pm

Ta Nehisi Coates has a short blurb about about the crack baby ‘epidemic’ in the early 1980s in the US.  You can also watch a ten minute video / short documentary about it here.

pic

a pregnant woman with one hand resting on her belly.

Coates mentions the influence of racism in how women were being prosecuted for being pregnant while addicted to cocaine. In fact, there’s a whole confluence of racism, classism, misogyny, and ableism that feed into the crack baby hysteria:
–the racism and classism that goes into poor WoC being more easily seen as irresponsible mothers who were recklessly endangering their unborn children
–the general misogyny that a woman’s health (like helping her with her addiction) is not nearly as important as the health of the her unborn child (so she should be prosecuted for potentially harming it.)
–the ableism that influence our standards of health.  Part of the hysteria was that babies would be born with physical and cognitive disabilities, which not only lead us to think of them as not being fully human, but we were then also concerned about all the extra money they disabled kids would cost us.  Because you know, the *tragedy* here is not that there are a bunch of women addicted to a dangerous drug, but that people’s taxes will go up from from all these costly, disabled babies.

Eek, it’s like a messed-up game of “spot how the -ism influences our moral concerns.”

 

“Hijacking feminism” April 4, 2013

Filed under: gender inequality,intersectionality,work — Stacey Goguen @ 3:29 pm

An Op-Ed by Catherine Rottenberg: “Hijacking feminism” 

“Yet the ideal for both women [Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter] remains the same – having a very successful career and a heteronormative family and being able to enjoy them both.

This, unfortunately, is how the “truly liberated” woman of the 21st century is increasingly being construed. What is particularly troubling about this feminist moment – especially since both women espouse liberal ideals – is exactly how little emphasis either Slaughter or Sandberg ultimately places on equal rights, justice or emancipation as the end goals for feminism.”

 

” Zillah Eisenstein calls this imperial and trickle-down feminism.”

 

Psychological study of intersectionality December 4, 2012

Filed under: gender,intersectionality,race,science — Jender @ 9:05 am

I’ve been frustrated by not finding many psychological studies of intersectionality. This study of the intersections of gender and race seems to be one of the first. Let’s hope there are many more to come! (Thanks, TD.)

Racial and gender stereotypes have profound consequences in almost every sector of public life, from job interviews and housing to police stops and prison terms. However, only a few studies have examined whether these different categories overlap in their stereotypes. A new study on the connections between race and gender — a phenomenon called gendered race — reveals unexpected ways in which stereotypes affect our personal and professional decisions.

 

And now for the rest of the story… November 5, 2012

Filed under: intersectionality,race — annejjacobson @ 2:37 pm

You’ve probably heard the story: mon and children trapped in a car filling with water. Mon tries to get them to safety, but a wave sweeps the little boys away. Residents nearby refuse any help, even just phoning 911.

An important fact is now reported. She is black; the neighbors white.

Police on Thursday said two brothers, ages 2 and 4, who were swept away Monday night when waves of water crashed into an SUV driven by their mother in Staten Island were found dead.

Glenda Moore left her Staten Island home with two children and was driving to a family member’s house in Brooklyn when her car became submerged underwater. She freed her two kids from their car seats but rushing waves of water swept the kids away from her arms.

“It went over their heads… She had them in her arms, and a wave came and swept them out of her arms,” the mother’s aunt told the NY Daily News.

Local Staten Island newspapers have reported the mother unsuccessfully tried to get help from neighbors but the New York Daily News is reporting another side of the story:

According to the sister, a dripping-wet Moore banged on doors looking for help in the middle of the hurricane, but couldn’t find anyone willing to help her.

“They answered the door and said, ‘I don’t know you. I’m not going to help you,’” said the sister. “My sister’s like 5-foot-3, 130 pounds. She looks like a little girl. She’s going to come to you and you’re going to slam the door in her face and say, ‘I don’t know you, I can’t help you’?’”

Moore spent the night huddled on a doorstep as the hurricane’s assault continued. At daybreak, her sister said, the desperate mother walked until she found a police car and related her heart-breaking story…

 

“I don’t date … “ October 21, 2012

Filed under: bias,intersectionality,race,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 2:50 pm

Is it racist when a white woman declares, when asked out on a date, that she will only date white men?

The actual story in which “I don’t date African Americans” was situated is a bit complicated. She, a white women, took her boss, an African American, to court on sexual harassment charges. During the hearings, he commented that she had said to him that she did not date African Americans, and he maintained that that was racist.

No one in the group I was with thought it was a racist comment. I, however, was uncomfortable and unsure. It is too likely that bias played some role, but I think now that the issue of whom one will feel attracted to is so complicated that it is difficult to decide what to think.

What do you think?

 

What Is the Current State of Feminism’s PR? October 9, 2012

Filed under: class,comedy,internet,intersectionality,race,technology,trans issues — Stacey Goguen @ 4:51 am

I hope everyone had a very nice Let’s-Glorify-Imperialism Day.

I came across this screen shot on failbook (which surprising takes quite a few shots at oppressive cultural patterns) and at first I had myself a mighty wince over seeing all the hackneyed stereotypes of feminism get thrown around.  But then I found the article that the screen shot comes from, and that adds a whole new context: the #sorryfeminists hashtag was created by feminists.  To mock these stereotypes. (here’s the article on Slate):

One of the most frustrating parts of being a feminist is how negative stereotypes created to discredit feminism are now pretty much conventional wisdom. Like the population at large, actual feminists can be funny and sexy, despite our bad rap as sexless and dour. It’s like living in Oz but repeatedly being told you’re in Kansas. That frustration boiled over this morning when Deborah Needleman, the editor of T Magazine (and the stylish wife of Slate‘s own Jacob Weisberg), put up this joking tweet suggesting that feminists dislike women being sexy:

At this point, stereotypes of feminists are mocked so thoroughly that it’s impossible to determine if someone who invokes one is trying to reinforce it, making fun of it, or playing up the ambiguity so that you get a little from both camps. Anna Holmes, the founder of Jezebel, and Irin Carmon of Salon (full disclosure: real-life friends of mine who are, may I say, ridiculously sexy ladies) decided to respond in a way that the Internet does best: embracing the confusion by creating the hashtag #sorryfeminists on Twitter.

It worked. The #sorryfeminists meme is, as I type, expertly tearing apart the idea that feminists hate fun, hate sex, and hate beauty. (It’s also, like any other Twitter meme, devolving into layers of irony and meta-jokes that pretty much stop making sense altogether.

So it seems like there are both people using the #sorryfeminists hashtag to make fun of stereotypes and makes fun of feminists.

Okay and now there’s yet another level.  If you actually look on twitter (#sorryfeminists) there’s a lot of people using this hastag to critique the white-washing and middle-class-centrism of feminism and its public face.   For instance:

#sorryfeminists is fun/funny to people who can afford to be that stereotype, or who have the knowledge to refute that stereotype.

Cutesy side of 2nd wave. What #sorryfeminists is NOT addressing? Those OTHER labels: at worst oppressive/racist, at best willfully blind.

You gotta stop this echo chamber of white feminists who are given book deals to recycle the same tired ideas. #sorryfeminists I’m not sorry.

If I was introduced to white feminism 1st I would’ve NEVER been a feminist. Thank goodness for Black/brown feminist scholars

Feminism has a double PR problem. It still hasn’t shaken some of these ridiculous stereotypes but it also all too often puts forward white middle class women and issues that are particularly (or only) pertinent to white middle class women–so they become interpreted as “the” issues of feminism.
(I sometimes catch myself doing this still: abortion is not the only issue for women’s reproductive rights and health; balancing work and family is not a “new” issue for lots of families;  fighting to gain respect for not changing your last name has little resonance for people whose marriage isn’t recognized as legitimate no matter what they do with their name, etc.)

So in the name of helping improve feminism’s PR, I’m giving a shout out to some of my favorite blogs that join in the dismantling of anti-woman oppression and that address issues that aren’t often given the spotlight:

Because We’re Still Oppressed

Angry Black Bitch

Womanist Musings

Geek Feminism

fbomb

Racialiscious

The Jaded Hippy

 

Security, Protection, Self-Care: international Feminism’s agenda April 27, 2012

Apparently a good amount of international peace and justice activists’ discourse is focused these days on issues about security, protection and self-care. At the same time, it can be difficult for policy makers to have much sense of the immense range of responsibilities women’s lives can involve; plans for a nation can too often neglect or work against women’s interests. In responding to this problem, women working for the security and protection of women in developing countries have, over the last several decades, developed a very nuanced and detailed agenda. It is still evolving, of course, but the recent meeting in Istanbul of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development seems to me to suggest an exciting and maturing convergence of agendas.

There is so much going on; so many questions being raised, so many action plans being developed. Follow through on some of the links from the conference, and see what you think.

I’m told there was not much Western presence. I think that is a situation we should think about critically. Many of the problems being discussed are not regional.

 

Women arrested for sex attacks on men October 15, 2011

Filed under: intersectionality,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 6:49 pm

We do not deny that it can happen.

From CNN:

Police in Zimbabwe on Friday charged three women found in possession of 33 condoms containing semen with 17 counts of aggravated indecent assault in a case that may be a break in a string of sex attacks over the past two years by women targeting male hitchhikers.

Watch Ruparanganda, a professor of sociology at the University of Zimbabwe said : “Some sections of the society use these sperm for ritual purposes. The thinking is that it can be used for regeneration of life since they are source of life (biologically). Some people think that they can have their bad luck gone by using semen. I am sure that explains all this we have been witnessing (men being forced).”

 

What were the riots really about? September 4, 2011

Filed under: human rights,intersectionality,politics — annejjacobson @ 12:12 am

There seems to have been a distinctive feature, for me, of the explanation(s) of the recent riots in England.  A lot of commentators have agreed that there were factors that were contributing causes – for example, a decay in schooling, failures in the social safety net, astonishing unemployment, and so on –  but these singularly fail to be constitutive causes.  By and large, that is, many commentators do NOT think that the looting and burning was a claim for change in anything like the way the earlier student riots were.  The contributing causes did not tell us about the goals of the riots.

 If the rioters were not exactly dedicated criminals, the riots consisted in a wide spread engagement in criminal – and self-serving – activity.

What I’ve found worrying about such explanations is that it seems rather extraordinary that one can find little or nothing in values or goals  that connects the society that in which one participates with one of its major events.  One might think of this in terms of “six degrees of separation.”  Speaking as a citizen of the US, there’s a clear sense in which, for example, I have no connection with the movement toward the legalization of medical marijuana nor with the increase in violence on American campuses.  Nonetheless, there are connections between my segment of society and the values and choices that creates these others, though perhaps not direct one.  There are degrees of separation, but also connections.

In sum, the picture I was getting of the riots in England was that there were, as it were, enabling connections, but not ones that connected the goals of the riots to those of ordinary folk.  To put it as its most simple, prevailing explanations leave us with the thought there is in fact a lack of connection in values here. 

One way to deal with such a situation is to turn it around and say, that’s just the point.  That is, the point is that there is nothing to connect to.  Slavoj Žižek may be saying this when he claims,

The protesters, though underprivileged and de facto socially excluded, weren’t living on the edge of starvation. People in much worse material straits, let alone conditions of physical and ideological oppression, have been able to organise themselves into political forces with clear agendas. The fact that the rioters have no programme is therefore itself a fact to be interpreted: it tells us a great deal about our ideological-political predicament and about the kind of society we inhabit, a society which celebrates choice but in which the only available alternative to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out. Opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst. What is the point of our celebrated freedom of choice when the only choice is between playing by the rules and (self-)destructive violence?

This description does make it seem that we live in Metropolis, where the relief in the repetitiveness of the society comes best from powerful accidents.  Baumann is cited to give more content to the riots as protest:

Zygmunt Bauman characterised the riots as acts of ‘defective and disqualified consumers’: more than anything else, they were a manifestation of a consumerist desire violently enacted when unable to realise itself in the ‘proper’ way – by shopping. As such, they also contain a moment of genuine protest, in the form of an ironic response to consumerist ideology: ‘You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly – so here we are doing it the only way we can!’ The riots are a demonstration of the material force of ideology – so much, perhaps, for the ‘post-ideological society’. From a revolutionary point of view, the problem with the riots is not the violence as such, but the fact that the violence is not truly self-assertive. It is impotent rage and despair masked as a display of force; it is envy masked as triumphant carnival.

Not myself even a reader of Žižek normally, I was impressed by the daring of the following linkage, even though one has to worry that it may be obligatory in this sort of genre:

The riots should be situated in relation to another type of violence that the liberal majority today perceives as a threat to our way of life: terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. In both instances, violence and counter-violence are caught up in a vicious circle, each generating the forces it tries to combat. In both cases, we are dealing with blind passages à l’acte, in which violence is an implicit admission of impotence. The difference is that, in contrast to the riots in the UK or in Paris, terrorist attacks are carried out in service of the absolute Meaning provided by religion.

These are quite possible the connections that will drawn in 30, 40 or 50 years times.  My bet is that we’re enriched by trying to reach this sort of perspective now. 

What do you think?

 

 

 
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