Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

A brilliant performance poem about objectification November 17, 2014

Filed under: teaching — kaitijai @ 5:05 pm
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Performance poet Hollie McNish has done a brilliant performance poem about sexual objectification. The poem is designed as a commentary to the music video for the pop song ‘Blow My Whistle’ by Flo Rida – you play the poem alongside the muted song video. It’s very witty and clever and comical - in fact, you should probably listen to it before reading my two pennies worth (nothing spoils literature like hearing a second-hand description of it first!).

I recently used this video in a third-year philosophy lecture to introduce Martha Nussbaum’s excellent paper ‘Objectification‘, and it worked really well. Part of what Nussbaum does in that paper is to make a case for the existence of a positive form of sexual objectification – a temporary object-like treatment of a person that enhances a mutual and otherwise respectful sexual relationship. It struck me that this is very much in line with the position McNish takes in the poem. Interestingly, whilst McNish does critique the objectification of women in the music video, she reserves her real scorn for Flo Rida’s self-objectification. If he really must compare his penis to a musical instrument, she wonders, why choose a whistle – irritating, shrill, and easy for anyone to get a noise out of? Why not, McNish asks, a saxophone – something that requires skill, but which, when played well, can produce beautiful music? In other words, the problem with the penis/whistle (and consequent oral sex/blowing) metaphor is not the fact that it objectifies Flo Rida per se, but that it objectifies him in a way that completely fails to open up any fulfilling or exciting sexual possibilities – something that sexual objectification, if carried out with more imagination, might be able to do.

The video sparked a great discussion* between students about objectification in its own right, and it also, I believe, helped the students to grasp what Nussbaum had to say about positive objectification when I went on to explain her argument. The connection between the poem and Nussbaum’s paper is really very striking. This made me wonder about other pieces of media, art, or literature that could work the same way. Has anyone else found something that captures a philosophical claim really accurately like this, and used it in their teaching? What was it, and how did it go?

*One particularly important point that was raised was whether the poem endorses a harmful ‘bigger is better’ attitude to penises. Now, I do think that there’s room to read the remarks about size as pointing out the irony of Flo Rida implying (via the whistle metaphor) that he has a small penis, when that probably isn’t what he intended to convey. However, the poem doesn’t do much to distance itself from the more harmful reading, which is a bit of a shame.


Diversifying Syllabi November 3, 2014

Filed under: academia,improving the climate,teaching — philodaria @ 4:12 am

This is cool:

The Georgetown‘s Women in Philosophy Climate Coalition (GWPCC) is pleased to announce the launch of a new website, “Diversifying Syllabi” compiling an annotated bibliography of philosophical texts by diverse philosophers, appropriate for teaching in undergraduate courses. The website includes a reading list with text summaries and teaching tips.

We welcome others to join in this initiative by sending in suggestions for additions to the reading list and resources for teaching these texts.

To visit the site, go to http://diversifyingsyllabi.weebly.com

(The website grew out of a summer workshop for Georgetown graduate students that the GWPCC and philosophy department sponsored, “Diversifying Syllabi 101″ where we read and discussed papers written by diverse philosophers and discussed pedagogical strategies for incorporating the texts in our own teaching.)


Body hair teaching exercise July 6, 2014

Filed under: appearance,teaching — Jender @ 7:14 am

That’s the question confronting students in classes taught by Breanne Fahs, associate professor of women and gender studies in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Since 2010 Fahs has offered students the chance to participate in an extra-credit exercise related to body hair.

Female student participants stop shaving their legs and underarms for ten weeks during the semester while keeping a journal to document their experiences. For male students, the assignment is to shave all body hair from the neck down.

“There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” said Fahs. “There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal. But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.”

For more, go here.


Content restrictions in classroom discussion? March 20, 2014

Filed under: teaching — jennysaul @ 8:58 am

Do any of you use restrictions on content of discussion contributions in your undergraduate classrooms? By this I mean restrictions on expressing or arguing for particular views, even if politely expressed. (I’m assuming we’d all block students from using hate speech or being directly abusive to each other.) The kind of thing I’m wondering about is e.g. forbidding students from advocating white supremacy, or arguing that consent is not necessary for morally acceptable sex. If you do use such restrictions, how do you formulate them?

Thanks for your help!


Query: teaching SM, post-50 Shades February 2, 2014

Filed under: sex,teaching — Jender @ 8:03 pm

I haven’t taught SM in my feminism class since 50 Shades of Grey came out. Back in the pre-Shades era, the whole idea of safe words, etc was clearly news to many (though obviously not all) of my students. I knew what misconceptions I needed to correct. Am I right in suspecting it’s a different ball-game now? What are the new misconceptions to correct? Are there interesting works of philosophy I should be adding to do so?

Since this is the kind of topic where things can get heated, I’d like to ask readers to simply go with my assumption that there is no one feminist view to take on this topic. Ta.


AAPT 2014 Seminar on Teaching and Learning in Philosophy January 10, 2014

Filed under: teaching — Lady Day @ 4:11 pm

American Association of Philosophy Teachers
and American Philosophical Association


2014 Seminar on Teaching and Learning in Philosophy

Location: College St. Benedict and /St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN

(1.5 hour drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport)

Date: July 31 – August 3, 2014

Eligibility: Current Graduate Students or Recent (2012 forward) PhDs

Seminar Facilitators: Stephen Block-Schulman (Elon University)

Donna Engelmann (Alverno College)

Mimi Marinucci (Eastern Washington University)

Participants: Maximum of 20

Application Deadline: April 11, 2014


Through readings and interactive experiences, seminar participants will explore issues and engage in a community of reflection in order to strengthen their pedagogical choices. Participants will study how to identify and select challenging and transformative learning goals and, by understanding the principles of integrated course design, will examine how to guide students to the successful achievement of these goals. Topics will include preparing to teach (for example, syllabus design), developing learning-centered philosophy classes, using traditional and non-traditional methods of assessment, and engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning. The friendships and collegial relationships built here can last a lifetime.


Participants are required to attend all sessions, which will be held each morning, July 31- August 3. A voluntary social gathering will take place on the evening of the 30th.

Fees & Waivers

The seminar is held in conjunction with the AAPT’s Biennial Conference. Participants are encouraged to attend the regular AAPT Conference sessions in the afternoons and evenings. The registration fee for the AAPT conference is waived for seminar participants. The cost of meals and lodging, approximately $325, and travel expenses will be the responsibility of participants. We encourage participants to solicit their departments for support. The American Philosophical Association generously offers travel grants of up to $300 for each participant. Recipients of APA travel grants must be members of the APA.

To apply please send the following three items to Stephen Bloch-Schulman

(1) Background Information






Summer Contact (Phone or email if different from above):

Major Fields of Interest:

Estimated Travel Expenses:

Applying for APA Travel Grant? (Yes/No); Member of APA? (Yes/No)

(2) A statement of interest or description of what you hope to gain from the seminar. If you have previous teaching experience, briefly describe it. (350 word limit)

(3) A letter of support from your Department Chair, indicating what your teaching duties will be in 2014-2015

Contact Information

For additional information about the Seminar (content, application status, etc.), please contact Stephen Bloch-Schulman (email: sschulman@elon.edu)



CU Boulder students say tenured faculty member being forced out over a lecture on prostitution December 15, 2013

Filed under: academia,free speech,prostitution,sex work,teaching,women in academia — philodaria @ 2:19 am

At Thursday’s 2 to 3 p.m. class inside the Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry auditorium, or “chem 140″ as it’s called by students, Adler lectured for about 20 minutes before telling students she would not return in the spring.

Students said Adler then told the class that she was being forced into retirement because the administration thought her lecture on prostitution was inappropriate, degrading to women and offensive to some minority communities.

The prostitution lecture is given as a skit in which many of Adler’s teaching assistants dress up as various types of prostitutes. The teaching assistants portrayed prostitutes ranging from sex slaves to escorts, and described their lifestyles and what led them to become prostitutes.

Students said Adler told them the administration heard a complaint about the skit. On the day of the lecture, several people who did not appear to be students attended the skit and took lots of notes, students said.

Adler told her students she tried to negotiate with the administration about leaving the skit off the syllabus. Administrators allegedly told Adler that in the era of sex scandals at schools like Penn State University, they couldn’t let her keep teaching.

From here. 


Stereotype threat and philosophy December 6, 2013

Filed under: bias,science,teaching,women in philosophy — Jender @ 1:57 pm

A discussion over at Crooked Timber.


‘Classic’ readings by women November 26, 2013

Filed under: queries from readers,teaching,women in philosophy — magicalersatz @ 2:44 pm

A reader sends the following query:

Our department is setting up a proseminar (basically a seminar for first year PhD students to get through some classic material, reinforce some methodology and do some bonding). Of course, there is a danger that ‘classic’ will be read as ‘seminal’ and all the papers taught will be by men. Does anyone have a list of classic papers by women? It might help my cause if I can proactively suggest some.

Suggestions much appreciated!


Good guidance on teaching triggering issues? November 11, 2013

Filed under: teaching — Jender @ 8:54 pm

I’m working to develop some guidance for teaching triggering issues, to use at my university (hopefully not just in the philosophy department, though that would be a good start). Does anyone know of universities that have set out good guidance policies on this? Some links would be super-lovely if so!



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