Affirmative Action For Male Feminists?

A discussion in comments has led to something I think is worth discussing in its own right.

In the journal rankings discussion, commenter Anon pointed out that Hypatia’s editorial board is overwhelmingly female. This led me to speculate about the possibility that feminist philosophers should not simply take for granted that this is an acceptable state of affairs. Yes, some feminist philosophy draws on the experience of being female. But much of it doesn’t, or needn’t. And work drawing on the experience of being male could also be (and in fact already is) really useful and interesting to feminist philosophy. Ross Cameron, in comments, suggests that actually it’s more important for men to be feminists than for women to be:

In some ways, it’s more important that men be feminists than it is that women be. (For the same reasons that the people you’d *really* like to convince that blacks aren’t inferior to whites are white supremicists, not black people who most likely believe that anyway.)

So, should we try to make feminist philosophy more friendly to men? I think we should, for lots of reasons. But one especially relevant to recent discussions is this: People are more likely to know and respect journals they read. They are more likely to read journals in areas they work in. If men feel unwelcome in feminist philosophy, they’ll be unlikely to read feminist journals. With philosophy’s male/female ratios, how can we possibly hope to mainstream feminism and get widespread respect for feminist work if most of the profession feels sealed out of feminism?

One might argue that men can’t possibly feel like feminism is off-limits to them, given their general dominance of philosophy. But this just isn’t true. Aside from things like stereotype threat and the problems with solo status (see Haslanger), there are major feminist philosophy conferences (UK-SWIP, definitely, and I’ve heard conflicting things about C-SWIP) at which they’re not to permitted to give papers.

Separatism has its place, but that place isn’t very helpful for mainstreaming. So I say: let’s make an active effort to get men into feminist philosophy.