A commentary by Bharath Vallabha on the function of the Philosophical Gourmet Report has been posted at Richard Heck’s blog. In the piece Vallabha invites reflection on a “standard narrative” about the PGR, namely that it provides a service to students. (Commenting is available at Richard’s blog, for those who wish to comment.)
On A “Standard Narrative” About The PGR October 17, 2014
On the occasion of Pinktober over at Fit is a Feminist Issue.
Before being diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013, I was a physically active person, who enjoyed yoga, dance, biking, kayaking and also went to the gym regularly. Although I was no athlete in my pre-cancer life, it was shocking to find myself in a wheelchair unable to breathe or to walk as a consequence of chemotherapy induced pulmonary embolisms and atypical pneumonia. Once I pulled through the crisis I decided that regaining my range of physical activities would be the central focus of my life after treatment. Accordingly, a week before the end of my daily radiation treatments, I went back to work and I joined a Livestrong program at my local YMCA. (http://www.livestrong.org/) The Livestrong program provides free exercise coaching and YMCA membership to cancer “survivors”…
“Universities have set in place a system which allows female lecturers’ careers to be influenced by their ability to “satisfy”, among others, young men who view women in the terms expressed in this and similar chants. This should give pause for thought about the implications of this marketised system for equal opportunities.”
See Sexist student chant raises wider concern about appraisals of female lecturers in The Conversation.
Missed the chanting story? See here for background.
A reader has asked for recommendations of work on affirmative consent policies (either at the university level or in law) for an upcoming course. Suggestions?
Colorado resumes grad admission October 16, 2014
Maureen Ryan tackles cyber misogyny and the harassment of Anita Sarkeesian (among many others) in an editorial at the Huffington Post. Concerning the treatment of Sarkeesian in particular she writes:
Death threats, bomb threats, terrifying abuse: All because, under the banner Feminist Frequency, she created a series of YouTube videos that offer rational, reasonable critiques of the ways in which female characters are used and misused in video games. As a fellow critic, I find her work thought-provoking and valuable.
But let’s review what prompted the death threats: Sarkeesian used words and images to critique a media product. That’s all.
Agree or disagree with Sarkeesian’s critiques all you want — it’s a free country. Except it isn’t for Sarkeesian, who can’t go home and who’s frequently been in touch with law enforcement as threats to her and other women have escalated over the past couple of months.
The flood of abuse directed at Sarkeesian began in 2012, when she announced a Kickstarter for her “Tropes vs. Women” video series. She got far more money than she asked for, but that was partly because of the shocking malevolence hurled at her for even coming up with the idea. She got funded, but she also had a hate mob after her.
The mob has grown, and it’s gotten uglier.
She then reflects on the systematic problem of which the treatment of Sarkeesian is just one (terrifying) instance:
The abusive incidents against women who speak out and speak up is so demoralizing that it’s hard not to want to crawl into a Wi-Fi-free cave. Developer Adria Richardswent through an awful cycle of abuse a year ago. Writer and developer Kathy Sierra’s story is one of the most terrifying accounts I’ve ever read. The response of the titans of the tech community to what Sierra had to endure — or rather, their shrugging non-response — did not make me optimistic for the future. If leading figures in the industry don’t care much about her treatment, what are the chances that the average Silicon Valley firm will take seriously the safety of female users and customers?
Of course, convenient apathy, defensive ignorance and abusive behavior aren’t limited to the gaming and tech worlds. Toxic Internet trolls can be found clinging to the underside of any topic, and if you step out of line — an entirely arbitrary line, of course — they will be sure to let you know it. Try writing about rape and “Game of Thrones” if you want to see what I mean.
Whether such individuals are part of a coordinated effort or not, whether their actions spring from a desire to lash out or a deeply entrenched set of objectionable beliefs, the activities of abusive individuals frequently force women to pay what activist McEwan calls “the Misogyny Tax.”
It’s the price women pay when they encounter abuse and have to process it intellectually and emotionally. It’s the price they pay when they have to stop what they’re doing and report harassment or other intimidating behavior to a website or network. It’s the time and the mental energy they lose when they ponder what to write and create — and what not to write and create — in order to avoid living a life that is not dominated by a dread of what could be lurking around the next corner.
The women who endure this abuse daily, hourly, for months, for years: I don’t know how they get through it, because the tax being levied on them and their loved ones is so high. It’s too goddamn high.
Philosphy Born of Struggle Conference October 15, 2014
The program and registration information is available here for “Racism, Empire, and Sexual Violence,” a conference being held Oct. 31 – Nov. 1, 2014 at Paine College in Augusta, GA.
An email sent to Utah State University officials threatens to terrorize the school with a deadly shooting over a talk to be delivered by feminist critic and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games creator Anita Sarkeesian, Polygon confirmed with the school’s Center for Women and Gender Studies. . .
“If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Center,” the message reads. “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.”
The Montreal Massacre, also known as the École Polytechnique Massacre, took place in 1989 in Canada. Marc Lépine, who the email references, killed 14 women, injured 10 and killed four men in the name of “fighting feminism” before committing suicide.
The sender claims to be a student at the school, and adds “you will never find me, but you may all soon know my name.”
This latest threat marks yet another in a growing history for Sarkeesian herself and women in the video game industry at large. In August, following the release of another episode of her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, Sarkeesian fled her home after receiving “some very scary threats” against her and her family. During GeekGirlCon, which took place this past weekend, officials confirmed to Polygon that a threat was made over her appearance there.
1000 word philosophy on feminism: The Difference Approach October 14, 2014
In April Annaleigh Curtis wrote the first in a three-part series on philosophical feminism over at 1000-Word Philosophy Now she’s just published her second excellent essay in the series, “The Difference Approach.” Link: http://1000wordphilosophy.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/feminism-part-2-the-difference-approach/
A different perspective on Malala October 13, 2014
However, some Pakistanis are wary of this recognition, precisely because it fits neatly into a Western narrative of backward Muslim countries. Yet again, the West rescues and honors brown women who defy their barbaric cultures. This is not to say that Malala is a stooge of the West (as some lunatic conspiracy theorist claim.) In fact, her agency is on full display and her strength shines through her character. Indeed she ought to be a source of pride for the country.
The wariness stems from the lack of outrage at death of young girls caused by acts in which the West is complicit in, such as drone strikes, and a simultaneous embrace of those girls that highlight Pakistan’s regression on women’s rights. For people in the west, indignation comes much easier at the oppression of women/girls’ rights by the Taliban in Pakistan’s northern regions, however, there is a glaring absence of any reflection (and a definite absence of outrage) on our complicity in these very same girls’ death by drones.