Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

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. 

 

Where’s the line on street harassment? September 29, 2013

Soraya Chemaly argues that violence is a natural end-result of the same principles which operate in what we ordinarily refer to as street harassment:

Earlier this week a man in a car pulled up next to a 14-year old girl on a street in Florida and offered to pay her $200 to have sex with him.  [. . .] The girl said no. So what does this guy do? He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times.  Bystanders watched the entire episode in shock. He almost killed her, but she lived and ID’d him in a line up and he’s been arrested and charged with Attempted Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and False Imprisonment.  What was the Deadly Weapon referred to in the charge I wonder? Given our normatively male understanding interpretation of what is threatening, does a man pulling up to a girl like this and talking to her in this way constitute imminent harm?

This was an incident of street harassment taken to extremes.

You’re thinking,  “He’s crazy! You can’t possibly put what he did in the same category as street harassment!”  Yes, I can.

He stopped and talked to a girl he did not know and he told her what he thought and what he wanted her to do.  Clearly, he felt this was okay, or he wouldn’t have done it. This isn’t insanity, it’s entitlement. This is, in principle, the same as men who say, “Smile,” “Want a ride?” “Suck on this” and on and on and on.  And, that’s all before the public groping that might ensue.

OK. No big deal I’ve been told.  But, he went further, as is often the case.  When she said no, he just took her.  He crossed a red line that seriously needs to be moved.  “Taking someone” should not be the “red line” for public incivility and safe access to public space.

You can read the whole piece here on the HuffPo Blog.  About a year ago or so, I went to the store — I pulled into the parking lot, and I noticed that in the space next to me, a man was sitting in his car. When I came out of the store, he was still there — except now, he was masturbating. In his car. In broad daylight. He smiled and waived at me. I called the police about it, but effectively, they do didn’t do anything (when the police came, he wasn’t doing it anymore, and by the time I requested specifically that the police allow me to file a witness report or press charges, they had already let him go without taking his name or any information, so there was no one to press charges against). Certainly this experience is no where near the sorts of extreme cases mentioned in Chemaly’s piece, but I have wondered since, if this is the sort of thing that’s effectively permissible in public space, where is the line? When I voice discomfort over my inability to go to certain gas stations without being cat-called, hit-on, etc., my less fervently feminist acquaintances think I’m being over-sensitive, or give me the usual “You ought to take that as a compliment” (which I think is a ridiculous response for a million reasons that are probably obvious to all of our readers) and yet, my run in with the public-masturbator seemed like it ought to be a predictable escalation of that same sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

Is physical violence likewise on that same spectrum?

 

Rape conviction rates up, but… April 29, 2013

Filed under: domestic violence,law,police,rape — cornsay @ 5:25 pm
Tags: , ,

It was reported last week that conviction rates for rape in the UK are higher than they’ve ever been. 63% of prosecutions in 2012/13 resulted in a conviction, which is 5% more than five years previously. Similar success is reported regarding domestic violence. This is, of course, good news. However, it’s not quite a straightforward success.

First,  the ‘conviction’ rate includes all convictions resulting from the prosecution, many of which are not actually for rape (someone might, for example, be tried for rape and convicted of a lesser sexual offence). In 2010/11, the actual rate of conviction for rape was 33% out of an overall conviction rate of 58%. The same is likely to apply to the reported figure for 2012/13.

Second, as the initial linked article points out, another main complaint about the legal process concerns the proportion of reported rapes which result in a prosecution. According to this article, an annual average of 15 670 reports results in an average of 2 910 prosecutions. That’s about 19%. So even if 63% of those 2910 cases result in convictions, that’s a mere 11% of the original reported total. In other words, 89% of reported rapes don’t result in any sort of conviction. Bear in mind that the Crown Prosecution Service recently released a report (pdf) which establishes pretty comprehensively that false allegations of rape are extremely rare.

Third, yet another problem with the legal process is the fact that so many people are discouraged from reporting rape in the first place. For fairly obvious reasons, statistics on under-reporting are hard to come by or verify (one estimate attributed to the Ministry of Justice in the Independent article above is 60 000 to 95 000 — that’s quite a variation between the upper and lower limits). But it’s apparent that this is a problem, and it’s apparent that even if conviction rates continue to increase, there’s a lot more to be done to improve the legal and policing environment which results in under-reporting and under-prosecution.

 

 

Man held in solitary confinement for two years with no trial March 8, 2013

Filed under: mental health,police — Monkey @ 9:10 am

A horrifying and scarcely believable tale from New Mexico – Stephen Slevin was arrested in 2005 for drink driving and on suspicion of driving a stolen car. Reports say that the car actually belonged to a friend who had lent it to him. Slevin suffered from long-term mental health issues. Consequently, he was thrown into solitary confinement, and left there for two years. His case seems to have never gone to court. Instead, the authorities forgot about him and he was left there to rot. His physical and mental health deteriorated – he lost a large amount of his body weight, developed bed sores, a fungal skin infection, and had to pull his own rotten teeth as he was denied dental treatment. He became more and more depressed and desperate until he entered a delirium. He cannot remember much of his time in prison. Slevin’s sister, who lived some distance away, eventually discovered the conditions in which her brother was being held. His family then began petitioning for his release. He was eventually allowed to leave jail in 2007. The case against him was dropped. Slevin took his case to court, and was awarded $22 million in compensation. The New Mexico authorities contested the payout, and he has now settled for $15 million. Slevin says the lawsuit was never about the money. He wanted to try and prevent others from suffering the same fate. “Prison officials were walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate. … Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help.” You can read more from the Huff Post here.

 

saudi women defies religious police May 28, 2012

Filed under: autonomy,police,political protests,politics,religion,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 7:46 pm

Whew!

Thanks PJ!

 

The NYPD continues its efforts to garner public sympathy for OWS October 20, 2011

Filed under: critical thinking,police,political protests,politics — annejjacobson @ 4:06 am

This time they arrested Naomi Wolf for discussing walking up and down a side walk. 

From the Guardian:

The feminist author Naomi Wolf has criticised the erosion of the right to public protest in the United States after she was arrested alongside Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York.

Wolf was led away in handcuffs after addressing protesters outside an awards ceremony held to honour New York’s governor, at which she was a guest.

She told the Guardian on Wednesday: “When I came out, the protesters had been pushed across the street. This happens in Britain, too, with kettling. Police keep inventing this right to barricade people in and tell people where to protest, but in the United States this is wrong: it’s against the first amendment rights of freedom of assembly.

“So I walked over to where they were – they were backed up against the wall. Police said there was a permit saying they couldn’t walk on the sidewalk. There was this giant phalanx of police.”

After discussing the issue with officers, Wolf said she established that the event’s permit did not prevent people from walking on the sidewalk outside the venue. Along with a small number of other protesters, she started to pace up and down the sidewalk.

“Then, a huge group of men in white shirts, who seem to be affiliated to the New York police department, but who are not self-evidently so – bigger and fitter than the rank-and-file blue-shirted officers – came in droves. About 30 or 40 of these men appeared.

“They got a megaphone – which the protesters are told is illegal – and they started shouting that we were illegally disrupting an event and we should disperse.”

Wolf said she “calmly” disputed the order with one of the officers in white shirts, who are more senior than those in blue shirts. “By this time I was surrounded by them. One of them asked me if I was going to get out of his way. I didn’t think consciously that I couldn’t step away, but I froze. My conscience froze me.”

Officers then detained Wolf, and took her to a precinct where she said she spent about half an hour in a cell. Her partner, the film producer Avram Ludwig, was also arrested. Both were later released with a summons for “refusing a lawful order”.

To be more serious for a moment, the clip seems scary to me.  It turns out that one cannot conduct a calm argument with the police.  If you are wrong, you can get arrested. 

Far worse than being an undergraduate in a logic course.

 

Of course you can withdraw your money from your bank, but figure in some jail time… October 16, 2011

Filed under: police,political protests,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 7:03 pm

Just what happened is in dispute, as you will see below the video clip.  It was all mixed in with OWS:

From the Gothamist:

 Twenty-four …  arrests came when demonstrators marched to the Citibank at 555 LaGuardia in a mass attempt to close their accounts (see video below). They were all charged with criminal trespass, while one was also charged with resisting arrest. Now, Citibank is laying the blame for the arrests on the NYPD’s shoulders: “no one was arrested for closing an account; we didn’t lock people in our branch—the police decided to close the branch; and we didn’t ask for anyone to be arrested—that is a police decision.”

Well, we philosophers know there are tricky questions about what was really intended, and maybe it just was the helpful NY Police who want to ensure the protestors got new international publicity.  Gosh, if so, thanks guys; you sure do know what makes a viral video.

And thanks to NC for the clip.

 

Does Criticizing India Count as Sedition? Arundhati Roy Will Find Out December 1, 2010

Does Criticizing India Count as Sedition? Arundhati Roy Will Find Out (11/30/10)

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/11/30/does-criticizing-india-count-as-sedition-arundhati-roy-will-find-out/

“Mr. Pandit, who belongs to a minority Hindu community, has accused Ms. Roy of committing sedition for saying that Kashmir was not an integral part of India, and said the country should set a tough example by punishing those ‘who instigate communal passions in the name of Kashmir.’

Many Kashmiri Hindus were forced to flee Muslim-majority Kashmir after an insurgency against Indian rule flared up in 1989 and the region has also been a cause for ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan.

Ms. Roy could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday. But last month, when talk of a possible sedition charge first began, she said in a statement from Kashmir, ‘I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice.’”

“If convicted, a person can face punishment of up to life in prison.”

see also, Arundhati Roy faces arrest over Kashmir remark (10/26/10)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/26/arundhati-roy-kashmir-india

 

Just bleed all over the airport– it’s safer November 26, 2010

Filed under: discrimination,human rights,law,police,technology — Jender @ 8:48 am

A self-described “rule follower” went through an airport pornoscanner wearing a panty-liner (she was menstruating). Because the hygienic item obscured the screener’s view of her vulva, she was made to endure a humiliating fondling, “so invasive that I was left crying and dealing with memories that I thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults.”

For more, go here.

 

 
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