Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

New study further confirms implicit bias towards non-native speakers of English at work May 7, 2014

Filed under: bias,language — axiothea @ 12:46 pm

Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, here.


We propose and test a new theory explaining glass-ceiling bias against nonnative speakers as driven by perceptions that nonnative speakers have weak political skill. Although nonnative accent is a complex signal, its effects on assessments of the speakers’ political skill are something that speakers can actively mitigate; this makes it an important bias to understand.


There are interesting tie-ins with an earlier post in this blog on bias and foreign languages.

Thanks F!


Germany moves toward gender-neutral language March 24, 2014

Filed under: language — jennysaul @ 8:03 pm

Now, with the federal justice ministry emphasising that all state bodies should stick to “gender-neutral” formulations in their paperwork, things are changing again. Increasingly, job ads use the feminine form as the root of a noun, so that even a male professor may be referred to as der Professorin. Lecturers are advised to address their students not as Studenten but Studierende (“those that study”), thus sidestepping the gender question altogether.

For more, go here.

(Thanks, Mr Jender!)


Gender-neutral language debated in the House of Lords January 15, 2014

Filed under: language,law — Heg @ 12:32 pm

There was an interesting and well-informed debate in the House of Lords in December 2013 on gender-neutral language in legislation.  One illustrative highlight:

In my view, it was perfectly reasonable for Jack Straw in 2007 to call for an end to any such male stereotyping in our use of English, specifically rejecting the Interpretation Act 1978 and its reiteration of the convention that masculine pronouns are deemed to include feminine reference. If it ever worked, that convention no longer does, and there have been convincing psycholinguistic experiments showing that sentences such as “Anyone parking his car here will be prosecuted” predominantly call up images of a man doing the illicit parking.

To return to the policing Bill, we find that most amendments are thoroughly sensitive in this respect, with anaphoric reference employing “he or she” or repetition—“a person … that person”. But among the minority using the traditional “he”, there are striking cases, especially in Amendments 93 to 95, where the singular masculine pronoun is used no fewer than 18 times. In all of them, the antecedent of “he” is surely a tell-tale phrase: “the judge”. Since we do indeed have a judiciary that is largely manned by men, it is hard to believe that the use of “he” in these amendments really means “he or she” rather than endorsing one particular male stereotype as a fact of life.

(The speaker here is Lord Quirk, who founded the Survey of English Usage in 1959. I really don’t like the fact that we have an unelected upper house in the UK, but the fact we get contributions like this gives me pause.)


Article on Increased Respect for PGPs (Preferred Gender Pronouns) December 1, 2013

Filed under: education,gender,language — Stacey Goguen @ 6:15 pm

A recent article in the Telegram.com is titled, “Preferred Gender Pronouns Gain Traction at Colleges” and discusses how Mills College in Oakland, CA is incorporating PGPs into various aspects of college life.


“On high school and college campuses and in certain political and social media circles, the growing visibility of a small, but semantically committed cadre of young people who, like Crownover, self-identify as “genderqueer” — neither male nor female but an androgynous hybrid or rejection of both — is challenging anew the limits of Western comprehension and the English language.”


“Inviting students to state their preferred gender pronouns, known as PGPs for short, and encouraging classmates to use unfamiliar ones such as “ze,”’sie,” ”e,” ”ou” and “ve” has become an accepted back-to-school practice for professors, dorm advisers, club sponsors, workshop leaders and health care providers at several schools.”




PC Police Officer Says: Maybe Don’t Be Such as Jackass? August 4, 2013

Filed under: language — Stacey Goguen @ 12:42 pm

Watch a video about what it means to be PC.

Some choice quotes:

“It’s not that your feelings are wrong. It’s that you are expressing your feelings like a jackass.”

“If you want to be edgy, if you want to push people’s buttons…talk about white privilege.”

“Using inclusive language is not hard. If you think it’s hard, it’s because you’re not trying.”

“You may have noticed that I’ve used the word ‘Jackass’ many times over the course of this presentation.  That’s because, well, I’m a little drunk. But also…”




Reader query: pronouns and historical texts July 27, 2013

Filed under: history of philosophy,language,teaching — Jender @ 11:21 pm

I had a question which I thought might be of interest to discuss on the blog.

Normally I work on contemporary political philosophy and I standardly use “she” or “her” whenever I can. But I am now trying to write a historical piece that deals with a political philosopher who uses “man” to refer to “people” and only uses the male pronouns “he”, “him”, etc.

Looking around the literature the standard thing to do seems to be to follow the practice of the original philosopher, because they don’t want to appear anachronistic. But this seems unsatisfactory to me, since it just reproduces the sexism of the original. But I’m not sure sticking to the language I would use for contemporary philosophy is a perfect option either.

Are there any thoughts on how to get around this, or what is a good compromise?


Surgeons prefer to be called ‘Mr’ July 2, 2013

Filed under: language — Jender @ 2:12 pm

So says the Telegraph style guide. (Crucial background: in the UK, it is indeed true that surgeons don’t use ‘Dr’. However, as you might have guessed, many of them do not prefer to be called ‘Mr’.)

Thanks, H!


Shifting Taboos & Profanity in English

Filed under: language — Stacey Goguen @ 12:33 am

NSFW: profanity (even if they don’t pack quite the same punch that they used to)

An article at Slate
looks at how profanities and taboo words are changing in the English language.  (Shoutout to KG for posting this on FB!) Here are some choice quotes:


“”We all say them [swear words] all the time. Those words are not profane in what our modern culture is—they are, rather, salty. That’s all.””


“There are, he says, “a number of things going on with fuck.””


““There used to be a shock value in saying fuck in public,” says Allan, “but I think that’s totally gone.””

[OP: There is still shock value in saying the word in certain contexts (e.g. church, family get-togethers, in front of young children, etc), though definitely not as much.]


 “”I think it’s going to be a long, long time before we lose fuck.””


“What’s left is the one category of taboo utterances that seems to be swimming upstream, actually ascending the offensiveness spectrum.  “What you can see becoming more taboo are racial slurs, but then also anything that kind of sums someone up,””


“People with disabilities generally used to be looked at and laughed at, but that’s not allowed anymore. And it’s becoming more taboo.”

That is really fucking good news.


‘Mx’ in Brighton May 27, 2013

Filed under: language,trans issues — jennysaul @ 5:56 am

Got all excited when I read a student essay telling me that Brighton is introducing ‘Mx’ as a title and making it the only title to be used in all council paperwork. Sadly, it seems they decided not to do that. Instead, they’re adding it as an additional title for those who reject the gender binary. Still good, but not as good to my mind as dropping all titles that tell you gender or marital status. It does, however, come along with a broader commitment to being trans-friendly, and that’s great.


Dealing with offensive comments in seminar May 9, 2013

Filed under: academia,education,improving the climate,language,teaching — philodaria @ 12:34 pm

There’s a post up on this over at NewAPPS; go check it out!



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