Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Girls left out August 3, 2014

Filed under: empowering women,intersectionality,poverty,race,rape — annejjacobson @ 9:26 pm

This post follows on an earlier one about My Brother’s Keeper, Obama’s program for boys of color.

From Colorlines:

Kristie Dotson knows what it’s like to have to do her homework on the backs of cars because she doesn’t have a home to go to after school’s out. “I too have gone homeless,” Dotson said of her youth in South Central Los Angeles. Today, she’s a professor of philosophy at Michigan State University but, she said, voice shaking, “Even when you get out, there is no getting out.”

On Tuesday night Dotson, who’s African-American, and a dozen other girls and women of color testified about their experiences coming up in Los Angeles in poor, disenfranchised black and Latino neighborhoods. The event, organized by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program, was the third of such hearings held around the country this year to lift up the experiences and struggles of girls of color. It’s also a pointed response to My Brother’s Keeper, President Obama’s $200 million initiative to support boys of color.

“This hearing was necessitated by the silence around girls of color that we’ve seen in the discourse around the school-to-prison pipeline and more recently in the silence in My Brother’s Keeper,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University and UCLA and a host for the evening’s proceedings. Too often, said Crenshaw, people settle for fallacies that suggest that girls and women of color suffer less than men of color do from racism. The truth, said Crenshaw, is that “girls experience some of the same things boys experience and some things boys never dream of.”

Much of the rest of the short article is about things many of us can at best half-imagine. It ends importantly with:

Single black and Latino women have a median wealth of $100 and $102, respectively, while single black and Latino men have a median wealth of $7,900 and $9,730, respectively, according to the Insight Center for Community Economic Development (PDF). Dotson is confounded that My Brother’s Keeper could ignore this reality.

“My Brother’s Keeper doesn’t want to talk about the fact that those boys of color coming off those mentor programs are going to come back to these same households supported by these women of color who are struggling,” said Dotson. “Does anyone care?”


Philosophers in the media today July 30, 2014

Jason Stanley on Detroit, water, and democracy in the NYT.

The chief values of democracy are freedom and equality. The willingness to subsume freedom to claims of efficiency is one sign of an undemocratic culture. Toleration of the denial of fresh water to others is another. After all, it is hard to imagine denying fresh water to those one regards as political equals. The pressure that has resulted in the decision by Detroit’s emergency manager to turn back control of the water department to the mayor, however temporary, is, one can hope, one small sign that the drought in Detroit’s democracy may be ending.

Myisha Cherry in the Huffington Post on why love is not all we need.

We can also get lost in universal language and think that the rhetoric and projects refer to us all. But unless this rhetoric also comes out of a respect for everyone, with proof that is not afraid of expressing specificity, these “love projects” will not achieve much.

Lastly, Nussbaum and King’s love ethic also neglects the work of other emotions. While I do see the usefulness of love in certain contexts, love cannot be a doctrine of exclusivity. Love will not work in all contexts and therefore is not an end all-be all to our social problems. Shame and fear may work better in certain contexts.

Both excellent and important articles, and actually a rather good fit with each other.


Black academia in Britain

Filed under: academia,race — Jender @ 2:00 pm

Starting with UK-national staff only, Black people constitute just 1.1% of the total of academic professionals. This is the smallest percentage of any ethnic group, although Chinese are close-by with 1.2%. Even when we add together non-national and UK-national staff we find that out of a total academic professional staff of 165445, 2560 are Black, that is, 1.54%, even though they constitute 3.3% of the British population. Alternatively, white academic professionals compose 87.45% of the total and are over-represented in terms of being 86% of the broader population. In contrast, 6.91% of white workers (both UK-national and non-national) are employed as cleaners, catering assistants, security officers, porters and maintenance workers; while 19.27% of Black staff are employed in these roles.

Thus, Black people are significantly under-represented in academic roles and significantly over-represented in manual jobs.

For more, go here. (Thanks, N!)


Yellowface: traditional art and colonial racism July 20, 2014

Filed under: bias,discrimination,race — annejjacobson @ 6:35 pm

To what extent should traditional Western artworks be altered in order to excise the racism (or sexism, etc) in them? What do you think?

From Colorlines:

“Yellowface is nothing new. But people seem unable to leave it behind as an embarrassment of the past. The Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with a production of the operetta duo’s classic “The Mikado.” Except, writes Jeff Yang over at CNN:

It is the most frequently staged of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas and a perennial favorite of the Society. Every time, they have done it the same way: As a photocopy of the Victorian original, with Caucasian actors wearing garish facepaint and outfits that cartoonishly approximate traditional Japanese garb.

[T]hese “traditional” productions — yellowface productions — of “The Mikado” have to end.

They are the deep-drilled root of the yellowface weed: the place from which the scourge keeps springing back, even when its surface expressions are plucked. There are older examples of yellowface in entertainment than “The Mikado,” but none so popular, and certainly none that have been as popular among mass audiences for as long — 129 years and counting.

I want to be clear that I’m not saying that “The Mikado” shouldn’t be performed at all.

Its biting satire and splendidly silly stage play make it quite possibly Gilbert and Sullivan’s greatest work. But when it is performed by an all-white troupe of actors dressed and made up as Asians, it shifts from a brilliant comedy of manners to, as Asian-American actress and blogger Erin Quill says, a “racist piece of crap.””


Sometimes two negative stereotypes can conflict, with perhaps surprising results July 10, 2014

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,human rights,race — annejjacobson @ 11:15 pm

Thanks to Shen-yi Liao’s comment on this post.

The Positive Consequences of Negative Stereotypes
Race, Sexual Orientation, and the Job Application Process
David S. Pedulla1

1Department of Sociology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
David S. Pedulla, Department of Sociology, Princeton University, 107 Wallace Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA. Email: dpedulla@princeton.edu

How do marginalized social categories, such as being black and gay, combine with one another in the production of discrimination? While much extant research assumes that combining marginalized social categories results in a “double disadvantage,” I argue that in the case of race and sexual orientation the opposite may be true. This article posits that stereotypes about gay men as effeminate and weak will counteract common negative stereotypes held by whites that black men are threatening and criminal. Thus, I argue that being gay will have negative consequences for white men in the job application process, but that being gay will actually have positive consequences for black men in this realm. This hypothesis is tested using data from a survey experiment in which respondents were asked to evaluate resumes for a job opening where the race and sexual orientation of the applicants were experimentally manipulated. The findings contribute to important theoretical debates about stereotypes, discrimination, and intersecting social identities.


Podcast Resource for Philosophy & History of Race July 8, 2014

Filed under: race — Stacey Goguen @ 8:20 pm

If anyone is interested  in discussions on race, Blackness, and social hierarchies in the American context that are less technical and widely accessible, this podcast series looks like a good resource.

Historical Blackness on TWIB with Historian Blair Kelley (iTunes Store link)

You can listen to the episode “What is Race” here. (It opens with examples from Charles Mills’ Blackness Visible). This episode sounded like it could be a good classroom resource (undergrad or grad) as a conversation starter or an introduction to how philosophy, history, and political theory intersect on the topic.


How to recruit more female undergrads?

Filed under: academia,gender,race,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 2:16 pm

Advice is being solicited here. Do consider offering ideas.


Some reflections on the Tata Top July 4, 2014

Have you seen the new “Tata Top”? Feeling ambivalent about it? Of course you are!  Help is on the way.

Over at Fit Is a Feminist Issue, Tracy offers a useful survey of the pros and cons of the Tata Top. Check her post out here.




Walking while black June 29, 2014

Filed under: race — Jender @ 6:33 am

A new video shows Dr. Ersula Ore, a professor at Arizona State University, body slammed by a police officer after being stopped for jaywalking near campus. But it’s Ore who is facing charges for resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, and other crimes.

(Thanks, T!)

Full story here.

UPDATE: Last night, I went bed in the UK with one problematic comment on this post, which I had decided to ignore. This blog is and should be a space where we can take for granted the background into which this incident fits, which renders it clearly about race. People can go elsewhere to have lively debates on this topic. I had decided not to respond because I didn’t want to make this a topic of discussion, and not to delete because I– with some trepidation– decided that ignoring was a better policy. That was clearly a mistake. I have now deleted quite a lot of the comments, including those about our moderation policies, which are simply off-topic. Comments are now closed.

Here, however, is some legal commentary by Daniel Manne:

The officer in this instance initially stopped Professor Ore for crossing the street at a non-designated location. Arizona Revised Statutes, Chapter 28, § 793 states pedestrians are permitted to cross the street outside of designated crosswalks so long as they yield to vehicles. When there are adjacent intersections with crosswalks, however, pedestrians must use them. A person who does not use a crosswalk between adjacent intersections is potentially subject to a civil penalty, i.e.: they can be fined. If Professor Ore was crossing in violation of Chapter 28, § 793, i.e., between adjacent intersections, the officer was within his rights to detain her and demand ID. The reason why an officer may demand identification in this instance is so that he may make out a ticket. If Professor Ore was crossing the street in a manner that did not violate any civil statutes, the officer was within his rights to question her and request ID, but Professor Ore was under no obligation to provide it or to cooperate in any way. If Professor Ore tried or asked to leave, i.e., to exit the conversation, the officer should have informed her of her right to do so. If she was not permitted to exercise this right, this would constitute a seizing of her person which is illegal absent probable cause of a criminal act. No criminal act is even alleged to have taken place at this point.

Under Arizona’s SB1070, police officers are required to demand ID from people who they have reason to suspect of being in the country illegally. So far, neither the officer nor the police department has alleged that the officer had reasonable suspicion that Professor Ore was an undocumented alien. In point of fact, she is a United States citizen.

Police are permitted to use reasonable force to subdue suspects, but Professor Ore had not yet committed any crime and is not even accused of have done so. Often police will argue that the suspect was resisting arrest, allowing them to use force. But that argument cannot succeed here because the police had not and could not legally have arrested Professor Ore at this point in the incident. The police could also argue that the officer was defending himself, but this isn’t credible on its face. Professor Ore was verbally confrontational, but she took no aggressive action, did not threaten force, and did not make any movements that could reasonably have been misinterpreted as threatening.

The police officer in question nevertheless tackled Professor Ore, forcing her down to the ground. She reports that her dress flew up, exposing her body, and that the officer touched her exposed body. Professor Ore is charged with aggravated assault of a police officer for the actions she took after she was assaulted – namely, kicking him. In virtue of being tackled, this was a clear instance of self-defense. The actions of the police officer were unlawful, and thus Professor Ore was within her rights to use reasonable force to defend herself.

Legally speaking, this isn’t a tough case. In the US, police officers are given a tremendous amount of latitude in the use of force, based on the premises that their job is dangerous and that they need to be able to defend themselves without having to think through all of the legal details first. Here, though, the officer was not in danger and could not reasonably argue that his use of force was defensive. The charges against Professor Ore are legally without merit and the actions taken by the police officer constitute abuse of power and criminal assault.


Women of Colour Urge Inclusion in “My Brother’s Keeper” June 17, 2014

Filed under: gender,intersectionality,race — Jender @ 3:01 pm

Read the letter here. (Thanks, K!)

While we applaud the efforts on the part of the White House, private philanthropy, social justice organizations and others to move beyond colorblind approaches to race-specific problems, we are profoundly troubled about the exclusion of women and girls of color from this critical undertaking. The need to acknowledge the crisis facing boys should not come at the expense of addressing the stunted opportunities for girls who live in the same households, suffer in the same schools, and struggle to overcome a common history of limited opportunities caused by various forms of discrimination.

We simply cannot agree that the effects of these conditions on women and girls should pale to the point of invisibility, and are of such little significance that they warrant zero attention in the messaging, research and resourcing of this unprecedented Initiative. When we acknowledge that both our boys and girls struggle against the odds to succeed, and we dream about how, working together, we can develop transformative measures to help them realize their highest aspirations, we cannot rest easy on the notion that the girls must wait until another train comes for them. Not only is there no exceedingly persuasive reason not to include them, the price of such exclusion is too high and will hurt our communities and country for many generations to come.



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