Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Men Writing About Sexism (Well) and the Phenomenology of Doing Feminism April 6, 2013

This recent article from the video game site Rock, Paper, Shotgun (RPS)  is a well-written article about sexism in the gaming industry.  (All quotes below are from the article.)

Game Developers Conference 2013

Even if you are not particularly interested in the intersection of feminism and video games, the article touches on an emotionally charged sub-topic: the phenomenology of social justice, a.k.a., the weird psychological and epistemological stuff that happens when we partake in these discussions.

“In having written about the subject of women and games over the years, I’ve received a significant amount of abuse. (I’m not going to fret about saying, “But of course not as bad as…”, because of course it’s not as bad as…) Most of the abuse I receive is lazy insults, and until recently I tended to assume them fairly innocuous. Some has been extreme, such as forum threads dedicated to associating my name with acts of child molestation to skew Google results, personal threats, and deeply personal insults. All of it has one purpose: to intimidate.”

 

It is reassuring and interesting when other people talk about the psychological effects of the backlash for talking about the -isms.  Also, it’s impressive when a guy writes about the backlash he receives and I find myself genuinely sympathetic because he ‘gets it’.

 

“Generally the motivation for my writing any sort of polemic on RPS is because I’m angry about something – constructively angry about something a person should be angry about – and I want to see positive change. That’s what causes me to start typing, including this piece. But as I go along, those words creep in. “You’re just saying this to win the approval of others.” “You’re just trying to make girls like you.” “You think women need you to stand up for them.” And so on. They get to me. They’re getting to me right now. They’re evil spells, cast to insidiously infect.”

 

So I want to ask people about their own experiences with studying the -isms.  I find the phenomenal and psychological aspects of engaging in social justice projects fascinating because I am going through a (for lack of a better term) paradigm shift in how I understand the norms of human action.  In short, I’m shedding the worldview of pull-your-self-up-by-your-bootstraps atomized individualism that I grew up with and adopting a more…sociological?…understanding of human interaction.  Things I used to hold as mantras I now see as false:  It does matter what other people think of you; words can do more than break bones–they can rend souls; and there is no such thing as a self sufficient person–only a really privileged person who gets to enjoy the illusion of self sufficiency.

 

Have other people experienced things like this?  Do you look back five or ten or twenty years in the past and realize you had a completely different understanding of how the world works?  Do you struggle with managing the psychological aspects of using feminism in your work? (e.g. intimidation, isolation, social disapproval, wondering if you are insane or totally misled, etc.)  I find these things creeping in whenever I write or say anything about the -isms. They get to me.  It helps to know they get to other people, too.

 

Central APA: meeting up? UPDATE ON MEETING February 18, 2013

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,survival strategies,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 10:44 pm

There,s another important meeting on Fri evening, so we’ll meet up on Thurs, when the beer is free! Let’s head for 8:30 to 9, at the reception, near the beer!

——–

The program is, I hope you will think, remarkedly diverse. It’s got some wonderful speakers on analytic philosophy, feminist philosophy, and critical race theory/Black Experience. On one count I figured we had 20 main program sessions on black experience. I doubt that’s quite right, but there are a lot, relatively speaking.

And inevitably some important concerns have been left out.

Rachel McKennon and I have communicated about getting some of us together. Some people can’t make Thurs evening, so let’s meet at the reception(aka “smoker”)on Friday. It starts at nine. How about meeting up at 9:30, near the place where one buys beer?

I’m thinking of “us” as FP commenters, and others who are interested in diversity, the state of the profession, etc.

What do you think?

 

Feminism Fizzles !?! January 28, 2013

Filed under: survival strategies,Uncategorized,women's studies — annejjacobson @ 5:41 pm

It’s the CHE again. The author, Rachel Shteir, maintains that Friedan’s book was wonderful, energizing, liberating, etc, but few people read it today, and contemporary stuff is uninspired and narcissistic.

A taste of now and then:

Friedan wades into women’s lives, painting a picture of how myriad forces created the feminine mystique. It is as though she is reworking one of the great reform classics of the early 20th century, like The Pit or The Jungle. You believe completely in the vortex sucking women under: In the first few pages, the reader is swept into birthrates, education, India, kitchen design, and diets.

Compared with Friedan’s 1963 book, the new W(orks)onW(women) also fall short as works of writing. They seem to either chirp or thunder rather than evoke, as Friedan does. They do not offer her sweeping take on women and society, and not only do they reject psychology, but they seem not to understand it. Slaughter is outraged when some female assistant professors asked her to stop talking about her children in public, telling her that it detracted from her “gravitas.” She reflects: “It is interesting that parenthood and gravitas don’t go together.” She goes on to insist that her colleagues add her children to her bio when they introduce her.

The article seems to me to be a mishmash of ideas. She writes as though a revolutionary book must be followed by revolutionary books, and does not seeem to realize that the next step will likly be the details, with lots of mistakes, etc. And there is no mention of vibrant feminism outside the US borders.

I think the article is available to all.

 

On Insults September 12, 2012

Filed under: bullying,disability,mental health,silencing,survival strategies,violence — Stacey Goguen @ 2:41 am

NSFW:  I use swears/slurs in this post.

I recently got into a discussion with a few of the other bloggers on this site about insults and blog etiquette, particularly in light of ableism.
(Here’s a starting point if you’re not familiar with the concept.  If you are interested in reading more on ableism or activism for mental health, I recommend the blogger Daisy Bee at Suicidal No More, who is a fantastic writer and incredible human being and Renee at Womanist Musings who has an seemingly endless amount of stamina when it comes to social justice and calling out bullshit.  Neither of these blogs are of the ’101′ variety so please be aware of that should you choose to leave a comment on either.)

To sum up the issue at hand: I think using the word “crazy” to insult people is somewhere in the territory of using a slur.  I think it only works as an insult because it is relying on the stigmatized status of people with a mental illness.  It’s an easy and nasty way to silence people, claim that their perspective is illegitimate, and dehumanize them.  In future posts of my own I’m probably going to ask commenters to not use that word or similar words in this manner.

 

This is a controversial stance, though, even in the context of anti-ableism and anti-sexism.  I invite others to think about this along with me.  My own thoughts on insults and especially the word “crazy” have changed drastically in the past five years, and I expect them to morph further in the years to come.  While personal insults might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things politically, I take the concept of  “safe spaces” very seriously, even if they are ultimately ideals that are unachievable in theory or practice. (This is not to imply that others don’t take this seriously, but only to articulate my own priorities.)

Also please note: I’m not arguing that the word “crazy” should be stricken wholly from the English language.  Also, in this context, I’m much less concerned about words with sketchy histories than I am with words that trade on current oppression to silence and insult people.  However, maybe I’m wrong in thinking that I can make that division and at least temporarily avoid the slippery slope concern.

 

(much more after the jump)
(more…)

 

So it is possible, if you have the money July 31, 2012

Filed under: maternity,paternity,survival strategies,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 3:29 pm

Education to a professional, post-doctoral level can represent a heavy substantial financial investment; it is also something from which a country’s economy can benefit greatly. So what do we do about the apparently large number of people who take a break in their scientific careers because they having conflicting caring responsibilities?

Money may well help, a fact all too depressing to relatively unsupported disciplines such as philosophy, which is seen as making little difference economically:

From: UAS Race Equality
Date: 31 July 2012 16:03:44 GMT+01:00
To: “race-equality-network@maillist.admin.ox.ac.uk”
Subject: EPSRC funding to support research scientists with caring responsibilities: Call for proposals

Dear REN

Please find attached information on funding available via the From: UAS Race Equality
Date: 31 July 2012 16:03:44 GMT+01:00
To: “race-equality-network@maillist.admin.ox.ac.uk”
Subject: EPSRC funding to support research scientists with caring responsibilities: Call for proposals

Dear REPlease find attached information on funding available via the EPSRC to support and retain research scientists with caring responsibilities, including:

· Women and men who have taken, or are currently taking, a career break to care for a child or close relative (including for maternity/paternity/adoption reasons)
· Women and men who are working part time because they have caring responsibilities.

Applications should be sent to vanessa.howe@admin.ox.ac.uk by 5pm on 31 August or 21 September 2012.

Whilst this may not be of direct interest to you please can we ask you to publicise this funding as widely as possible. A successful pilot of this strategic funding was carried out in 2011/12 and it had a real impact on enhancing the grant holders research.

Thank you in advance for your help in spreading the word.

Caroline

Caroline Kennedy
Equality and Diversity Unit
University of Oxford
University Offices
Wellington Square
OX1 2JD
email: caroline.kennedy@admin.ox.ac.uk
Tel: 01865 289825
Web: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop

Thanks, Nathaniel!

 

Project Unbreakable: survivors of sexual violence December 12, 2011

Filed under: survival strategies,violence — KateNorlock @ 5:36 pm

From a reader:

I wanted to bring to your attention a new project that’s happening online by a 19-year old student named Grace, Project Unbreakable.  She started it by taking photographs of sexual violence survivors holding up signs with what was said during their attack. it’s snowballing because it gives a voice and a way for survivors to take back what happened to them.

 

Why are Nepalese women killing themselves? January 30, 2010

Filed under: medicine,paternity,survival strategies — hippocampa @ 1:15 am

Unfortunately, the answer is unclear, but apparently, suicide is the leading death cause in women aged 15-49 in Nepal. This is puzzling, because worldwide, suicide isn’t even in the top 10 in causes of death (WHO stats here).

I haven’t been able to find detailed stats on mortality rates in Nepal, but generally, men are far more prone to suicide than women. It is just flabbergasting that suicide is the number one cause for mortality in women, in a country which used to have perinatal circumstances as a leading cause for death. It would probably be overly optimistic to think that the perinatal circumstances have improved so dramatically that it fell behind as a major cause of mortality.

When googling for mortality causes and rates, I did come across this interesting WHO graph about suicide in the world. The red bits are where suicide rates are higher. So that’s one huge block of red in the Orient.

But still. It is worrisome that suicide is risen so high amongst women in the reproductive age in Nepal.

It is bit of a sad possibility that both the practice of forced marriages and the custom of outcasting widows has to do with it, but there are no data on that.

 

What’s a self-respecting feminist to do? April 29, 2009

Filed under: survival strategies — Jender @ 7:06 pm

Reader pjs has written in with this query:

Yesterday, I had a bad experience, and I need some advice. I went to return a shirt at Walmart. The customer service employee was maybe five years older than me, late twenties, white male. He asked me if the shirt was too big. Unthinkingly, I smiled and said yes. Almost immediately, I began to feel extremely self-conscious. I believe I blushed, a very rare occurrence for me. At first I thought he was just drawing attention to the fact that I’m fairly thin. Then, it dawned on me that he might be calling me flat chested (I am proud to be a 34A). The remaining few minutes of the transaction felt like forever, and then I dashed away.

Today, I was thinking about it again, and decided maybe I should submit a complaint to the store. But then I reconsidered – the thought of some manager and the guy having a laugh over the complaint was disgusting. From what I hear, Walmart has a terrible track record with these sorts of things (I probably shouldn’t have been shopping there in the first place). The complaint probably wouldn’t have any effect, and I’m highly unlikely to see this guy again. On the other hand, the comment was truly inappropriate no matter which way he meant it… right?

And maybe I’m overthinking it entirely. Maybe my recently acquired interest in feminism is turning me oversensitive and causing me to see males in a new and worse light.

What’s a self-respecting feminist to do?

This sort of thing is very tricky to deal with. It’s hard enough to get one’s complaints taken seriously about comments and behaviours that are unambiguous, and in this sort of case it’s really hard to imagine a complaint accomplishing anything. Then there are the epistemic difficulties of knowing what was really intended. One fairly all-purpose solution I like is to simply look puzzled and ask for clarification, forcing the person to either spell out something offensive, make it clear they meant something else, or simply get embarrassed. I learned this from my excellent Irish friend M. We were dealing with a fool (F) who had come to pick up some boxes to be shipped to the US. M helped him with all the adding and measuring, for which he was grateful. Then he discovered he’d lost his card-reader (the old-style kind that stamps his company’s details on a receipt) and panicked. M explained that he needn’t worry too much since whoever had it could only put payments into F’s company. F started laughing, imagining “some Irish guy” doing just this. M simply looked at him and said “Oh, really?” with a sweet smile. F’s jaw dropped in horror and he froze in that position for sometime. I still smile when I remember it.

So that’s my recommendation. What’s yours?

 

On the state of the profession March 30, 2009

Filed under: survival strategies,women in philosophy — jj @ 1:50 pm

This year does not look good.  Students are complaining that getting into graduate school is very difficult, while the  job market seems to be really limited this year.   People who might retire very soon and so free up jobs are probably being advised to wait.  In any case, lots of universities will have trouble hanging onto such jobs, one suspects. 

Are any of the APA committees collecting data, or preparing to do so?

We might remind ourselves that tenured jobs are not entirely safe.  Financial need can lead to restructurings and closing downs that can end a tenured job.  Has anyone experienced this?

Who are the most vulnerable?  I would bet that those who hold the adjunct-plus conditions, where one gets something like class rates plus a  retainer, may get withdrawn quite easily.  I hope that’s wrong, but since I experienced it once, I can say that it comes as an unpleasant exercise in you-versus-them.

If you feel like sharing a story of hardship in the present situation, please do so.  We need to know more about what  is going on.  If you have a survival strategy, please let us know!

 

When is a joke just a joke? When is a response needed? February 11, 2009

At the risk of demonstrating clearly that feminist philosophers have no sense of humor at all:

The 86th Philosophers Carnival is up.  The first cited entry is on strong friendships in contrast with romantic relationships.  The first are intrinsically valuable, according to  Aaron Weingott, while the  second are only instrumentally valuable.  The carnival is on a cartoon site and accompanying the reference  is the following cartoon (not by AW):

bros

 

Words really do fail me, though about 20 minutes after having first seen it, I’m struck by the fact that the race and gender of the cartoonist seem pretty obvious, and the age of the author, Aaron Weingott, also fairly clear. At least, I hope men tend to grow out of this sort of view of human life, though when I think of it …

Earlier (in  comments) we explored the idea of just querying a comment when supposedly jokey remarks employing discriminatory discourse are used in public spaces. I’m thinking that just saying, “Could we just clarify the point of  the brothers-and-whores analogy?” might be better than nothing.

The following thought does also occur to me: “They really think they own the world and provide the model for it.”   But, jj, where is your sense of humor?!?

What do you think?

 

 
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