We are largely anonymous, although some of us let that slip from time to time. Why? For several reasons, which each of us undoubtedly weight differently.
(1) Women on the web, especially those who write about sexual topics (as we sometimes do) have been subjected to some pretty nasty harassment. We don’t want that.
(2) Some of us are very junior professionally and we need to able to speak freely in spite of that.
(3) Anonymity makes it harder to act on the basis of hierarchies, encouraging the evaluation of arguments rather than just the prestige of their sources. We like that.
(4) Some of us don’t want to engage in the self-promotion aspect of philosophy blogging, and anonymity blocks that.
But if you’re really curious about who we are, we can tell you this. We are a variety of genders. We are from a variety of ethnic/”racial” groups. We are students, post-docs, temporary lecturers, permanent lecturers, tenured professors, untenured professors, and philosophers with jobs outside academia. Some of us are disabled. We have a variety of sexual orientations. We are on 3 continents. We work in ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, experimental philosophy, equity policy, history of philosophy, analytic and continental philosophy. Oh yeah, and feminist philosophy.
The purpose of this blog
We’re here primarily for feminist philosophers. We think it’s fantastic if others find our work useful, and we’re thrilled that so many seem to do so. But sometimes we will take things for granted that aren’t taken for granted elsewhere– e.g. that feminist philosophy is a worthwhile endeavour, or that sexism exists. That’s not because we think it’s illegitimate to want arguments for these claims; it’s because we’re in one of the few places where we can use these claims as starting points and try to build up something more. We’re usually very happy to explain ourselves to non-feminists or non-philosophers, but sometimes we may just want to get on with something without such explanations. Please don’t be offended if this happens. (Also, if you just want to rant about how you hate the feminists, expect to get deleted. That’s just boring, to us and to our target audience.)
Our main rule: BE NICE. Engage arguments, but do not insult people you’re arguing with. When engaging with arguments, do so respectfully. Don’t attribute nasty motivations to people unless they really make it clear that they have those motivations. Try to be as charitable as possible. Abusive comments may be deleted, including but not limited to sexist and racist comments. Repeatedly abusive posters may be blocked. Why do we have this policy? Because we think it’s the best way to facilitate productive dialogue. We might be wrong. But it’s our blog and our policy.
Complications: Sometimes we just have to get ranty. We’re feminist philosophers, and as such the world isn’t always the way we want it to be. And sometimes we want to get ranty about people. That’s OK– as long as they’re not people we’ve got some chance of a productive dialogue with. In practice, this means don’t get ranty about people writing for or commenting on the blog; and don’t get ranty about other living philosophers in such a way that they’re identifiable. So by all means– rant away about George Bush or Sarah Palin. But don’t rant away about named living philosophers. (Note: For those who wonder, this is indeed a change in policy. In an effort to only minimally interfere in discussion, the scope of the “be nice” rule had previously been limited to those actually engaged in discussion on the blog. We’ve re-thought this, and expanded the scope accordingly.)
Further complication: Of course, there will be borderline cases. And we’re just going to have to decide those the best we can. I’m sure you’ll disagree sometimes, as that’s the way borderline cases are. But know that we are really trying to get it right.
Addendum: ‘If your comments are repeatedly expressing views that (intentionally
or otherwise) make this blog an unsafe environment for those who are on the receiving end of oppression, you may be asked to change your behaviour. If this doesn’t succeed, you may be placed in
moderation or blocked.’ For more on this policy, go here.