Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

What to do if you witness racial abuse? June 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Monkey @ 3:00 pm
  • Report it to the police.
  • If it is safe to do so, film it and then take the film to the police as soon as possible – it can help secure a conviction.
  • If it is safe to do so, speak up for the victim.
  • Share this message, so others also know

From 38 degrees.

I would also add:

  • Say something to the victim afterwards. It helps some to know not everyone agreed with the abuser, even if it wasn’t possible to speak up immediately.

Here’s a good article from last November about what to do.

And here’s the link again for reporting abuse to the police online.

(This advice also works for witnessing public abuse against other groups too.)


Thought my last post was a bit hyperbolic?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Monkey @ 2:13 pm

CONTENT WARNING: racist abuse.

Just one of many such incidents being reported all over Britain. I wondered about showing this in case it further legitimizes abuse. But I also thought it was important to see what’s now going on.

I’d also like to praise the bystanders, who managed to summon the wherewithal to speak up. It’s not easy to know what to do in the shock of the moment, especially with the threat of physical violence hanging over the scene. Well done for saying something.


How Fascism came to Britain?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Monkey @ 10:12 am

I’ve been struggling to write this post ever since last Friday. There are too many things to say. This morning, however, all I want to say is this. The Leave campaign was fought and won, largely on the back of fears about immigration. People worried about immigration come from all sections of British society – including those who are more recent immigrants to this isle themselves. Not all of these views deserve to be called racist or even xenophobic, although they are often summarily dismissed as such. People are worried that there are not enough jobs to go round, not enough houses, not sufficient capacity in the NHS and other services. The country is ‘full-up’. Sharp practices on the part of some employers have meant that it is sometimes true that British people have lost out to cheaper workers from elsewhere. Unions that could show both groups that they lose out from this arrangement, and help fight a common cause against exploitation, are missing. A lack of ready access to any facts concerning immigration, jobs, and the economy, makes it difficult for people to assess the situation. Then, of course, there are the views that count as racism.

Perhaps like people everywhere, there is a xenophobic streak in British culture. I’m mixed race. My coat was flushed down the toilet at school every day for weeks for being ‘a Paki’. A school friend stopped playing with me and called me a ‘brown streak of shit’ after taking me home to meet her parents for the first time. On holiday with my best friend’s family, they derided the driver of a car in front for being ‘a proper Paki, one of the really dark-skinned ones’. The local church choir where I croaked a wobbly soprano through a brief religious phase, loudly stated ‘they didn’t want to sing at a wog wedding’ upon learning that the bride and groom were black. A co-worker once came in boasting that he’d smashed up a BMW on his way into work as it was a German car (ironically, he was clad head to toe in Adidas). A friend’s mixed-race, three year-old daughter, was called ‘a filthy mongrel’ by a group of lads in a passing car. A black friend reports that every single time he goes into the centre of the town where he lives, someone calls him ‘a nigger’. The Spanish friend told to ‘speak English’ in the local supermarket. The lady at the bus-stop who tells me that the town was a lot better before ‘our friends – you know who I mean’ arrived. The disproportionate amount of black and minority ethic people who die in UK police custody (yes, that’s a thing here too). I could go on.

There is a spectrum of views from rational fears about immigration, non-racist fears that are nevertheless misguided, and views that are actually racist or xenophobic. By lumping all these together as ‘racism’ and refusing – in some sense – to address them – the legitimacy of certain fears starts to confer legitimacy on those that are not.

It’s nonsense to think that the 52% of people who voted Leave are racist, but as many people have pointed out, those who are racist, including Britain’s small but significant far-right, now think that 52% of people agree with them, and as the rash of xenophobic attacks illustrate, are emboldened as a result. The National Police Chiefs’ Council states that there has been a 57% increase in reported hate crime since the EU referendum vote. Anecdotes shared online and in the press show that a number of people have taken ‘Leave’ to be, not (just) what UK should do with respect to the EU, but a command to anyone who is not white and English – including recent EU migrants, British Muslims, and others who are, or who are merely perceived as, ‘foreign’.

There is a well-known correlation between economic hardship and the rise of Fascism. (Presumably, not all people in Fascist societies were racist. Take note.) If economics experts are to be believed, leaving the EU has the potential to plunge the UK headlong into another recession. Moreover, promises made concerning immigration – and those implied, intentional or not – cannot be kept. Immigration will not immediately stop. ‘Foreigners’ will not immediately be deported. Conditions of austerity will not immediately lessen. Public services will not immediately improve. Employment will not immediately rise.

Fearful of such consequences, many people think the way forward is to ignore the results of the Referendum. As far as I can tell from the many analyses now doing the rounds, this would be both legal, and have precedent, given the ways in which various governments have used referendums on different occasions. There is also perhaps some moral grounds for such action, given that the country is split almost down the middle in its view on Europe, anecdotal evidence suggests at least some Leavers now regret their vote, and the lies peddled by the Leave campaign are now being revealed as such. But this is also a risky business. There is likely to be a racist backlash against such a move, the brunt of which would be borne by ordinary folks. It also promises to extinguish what little remaining trust there is in politicians, further increasing the power vacuum currently threatening to engulf Westminster.

The UK is in a serious double-bind. The politicians who got us into this mess – Cameron for holding this Referendum; Gove, Johnson and others who, seeing it as an opportunity to seize power, lied outrageously to the public for an outcome they seemingly didn’t believe would happen and didn’t actually want – are beyond contempt.

But as ordinary citizens, no matter which way we voted, or which class of people we belong to, or where in the country we live, our most important work now is to try and reach out to each other across the yawning chasms that have opened up beneath our feet. We need to do our utmost to stamp out racism where we see it, and not let racial abuse and harassment become normalised. But we also need to treat each other with kindness and respect. Zero tolerance of racism does not mean abusing online, anyone who voted to Leave. We need to talk to each other. Try to hear each other’s concerns. And the ‘others’ I am referring to here are our neighbours, our friends, our families, the shopkeepers, the people we pass in the street.

The picture I have painted here is, of course, the worst-case scenario. I do not mean that this will inevitably come to pass. Instead, the message here is a call to vigilance. Nip this thing in the bud before it properly gets going.

Let this not be the moment when the history books state that Fascism came to Britain.

Further reading: here, here, here and here.

If you see, or are the victim of, a hate crime, report it here.


A simple majority? June 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 2:40 pm

If the Brexit vote is treated as binding, a simple majority will have been given exceptional power over a country and generations of its citizens.

From Geoffrey Robertson in the Guardian:

Our democracy does not allow, much less require, decision-making by referendum. That role belongs to the representatives of the people and not to the people themselves. Democracy has never meant the tyranny of the simple majority, much less the tyranny of the mob (otherwise, we might still have capital punishment). Democracy entails an elected government, subject to certain checks and balances such as the common law and the courts, and an executive ultimately responsible to parliament, whose members are entitled to vote according to conscience and common sense.

Many countries, including Commonwealth nations – vouchsafed their constitutions by the UK – have provisions for change by referendums. But these provisions are carefully circumscribed and do not usually allow change by simple majority.


US Supreme Court strikes down Texas anti-abortion law.

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 2:31 pm

This is an important decision, the most important one on abortion for decades.

From CNN:

There were two provisions of the law at issue. The first said that doctors have to have local admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the second says that the clinics have to upgrade their facilities to hospital-like standards.

The law meant that there would be very few clinics providing abortion. In such an extremely large state the burden placed on women who would have trouble traveling hundreds of miles was a way of restricting any access to a legal abortion.


Silly steps off a cliff (addition) June 25, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 7:02 pm

By Barry Blitt



Are there good feminist reflections this situation? I suspect my mind is in an alarmed state, more geared up for action than thought.

I suppose one could reflect one feminist theme and say that in both the UK and the USA there are very serious challenges to the social order caused by a significant failure to care for large segments of the society. For me the wonder of it is that in the USA at least so many persist in failing to respond to the society’s needs despite the obvious consequences. We need gun legislation; we do not need a supreme court that can’t effectively decide some major issues. Perhaps the UK equivalent is cheerfully admitting that the facts cited to support leaving weren’t -opps! – really right.

Let us know what you think!



Dialogues on Disability – Joshua Knobe

Filed under: Uncategorized — Monkey @ 10:17 am

I’m really late posting this, so many readers will no doubt have already seen it. (I’ve been a bit preoccupied by current events of late..) But better late than never – Shelley’s latest installment in her series of interviews with disabled philosophers is out. This time, she chats to Joshua Knobe about experimental philosophy, the nature of the self, and more.

My guest today is Joshua Knobe. Josh is a professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Yale. Most of his research is in experimental philosophy. Though Josh tried his best in this interview to focus on more intellectual topics, what he is really most excited about these days is his five-year-old daughter Zoe.

You can read the complete interview here.


Gender-neutral on paper but not in effect

Filed under: Uncategorized — KateNorlock @ 2:20 am

“The policies led to a 19 percentage-point rise in the probability that a male economist would earn tenure at his first job. In contrast, women’s chances of gaining tenure fell by 22 percentage points. …They found that men who took parental leave used the extra year to publish their research, amassing impressive publication records. But there was no parallel rise in the output of female economists.”

Read the whole story at the NYT.


Conference CFP June 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 9:31 pm

Email: barbara.clare@anu.edu.au

Website: http://genderinstitute.anu.edu.au/gess-home

Message: Dear Feminist Philosophers,

I’m writing on behalf of Fiona Jenkins to promote a CFP for a conference being hosted at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

A brief version of the call is below, and includes a link to the full call and submission details. Many thanks, for this and for everything you do!

Research Assistant, Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences project, ANU.


Gendered Innovations in the Social Sciences
International symposium – call for papers

What impact does women’s limited presence in key fields of research have upon our capacity to grapple with social and political change? And if gender is ignored as an analytic category, can the social sciences make a meaningful contribution to understanding or resolving issues of gender inequality in society?

This conference will be held at the Australian National University, Canberra 7-9 November 2016. The conference aims to compare the status of gender analysis and feminist research in different social science disciplines.

Laurel Weldon, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute at Purdue University
Paul Dalziel, Professor of Economics and Deputy Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Catriona Mackenzie, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics.

Further keynotes to be advised.

Abstracts of approximately 200 words are to be submitted online by 21 July 2016 – access the full call for papers at .



Grad school experience: call for submissions

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 8:54 pm

from Dr. Yarden Katz:

A couple of us started a new project, Letters from Grad School (lettersfromgradschool.org) – an anthology of graduate school experiences (see details below). Our goal is to represent alternative voices and perspectives on graduate school, from current and former graduate students, dealing with aspects of it that are often neglected – including sexism and racism in science. These stories will be published online and a subset will be selected for a book. (We respect the wishes of those who with to write anonymously.) We’re really appreciate it if you can share with your readers and on social media.

Thanks very much!

NOTE from ajj: the call refers to biology and biomedicine, but it was sent to a philosophy blog. Presumably they have a wide conception of relevance.

Call for submissions:

For every graduate student, graduate school is a different experience filled with ups, downs, failures, and successes. The goal of Letters from Graduate School is to build a collective of graduate school experiences from graduate students in the biomedical/biology PhD programs–your experience, in your own voice!

We are looking for graduate students who are interested in writing about their stories and experiences in graduate school–the good and the bad. We are creating a platform for sharing these stories to highlight the diversity of graduate school experiences. These stories will be shared through our web platform, and a selected set of entries will be compiled into a book.

We encourage your entry to be focused on a single topic that was formative in your graduate school experience. We have a few sample topics listed below, but don’t feel limited to our suggestions; we want to include as many unique perspectives as possible.

If you are interested in writing for us, please fill out the short form on our website lettersfromgradschool.org – and we will get back to you. All essays will be edited in collaboration with the author before publication. We will respect authors who wish to share their story anonymously.

For any questions, email us at editors@lettersfromgradschool.org

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Kayla Lee
Chiara Ricci-Tam
Yarden Katz

The example topics below are divided into four sections, corresponding to graduate school stages: “Early years”, “The grind”, “Final stretch” and “Post-PhD”. Submissions should be under 2,000 words.

Early years
Why go to graduate school?
How to choose a lab?
Making friends in graduate school
Managing graduate school with a family
Rotations: getting the most out of them

The grind (mid-graduate school)
Intra-lab conflicts
On paper writing and publishing
Scooping: the threats, reality and recovery
Finance and graduate school
Depression and anxiety in graduate school
Switching labs
Deciding to quit graduate school
Being a minority in science
Sexism, racism, and classism in science

Final stretch (writing thesis)
Writing the thesis
Leaving things behind
Keeping in touch

Post-PhD (transitioning out of graduate school, finding next step)
Asking (and writing) your letters of recommendation
Finding a postdoc
Finding alternative (non-academic) paths
Learning from the graduate school experience



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