Fallacies for feminist philosophers

Can you share a favorite case of a fallacy-for-feminist-philosophers?  Or add something to the tentative discussion below of the ‘second kind’ of fallacy?  If so, please join in with a comment.

There are lots of times when a good fallacy comes in handy.  Critical thinking classes are one, but in most philosophy classes I  teach, it’s necessary at some point to discuss a fallacy and often to go a bit more generally into fallacies and fallacious reasoning.  I assume others find this true.

There are two kinds of examples of fallacies for feminists that I can think of.  One kind is a perfectly ordinary, standard kind of fallacy, but the specific example illustrates a  feminist point.   The other kind includes the fallacies that show up in reasoning about women (and sometimes others), but which may not have a standard name. 

For example, I think this post is concerned  with a common fallacy-of-composition-PLUS-fallacy-of-equivocation that is rampant in science popularizations.   It would be great to have a name for  it.   Maureen Dowd’s recent piece on Hillary Clinton –  discussed in an earlier piece today –  is an extended use of a fallacy that is showing up a lot in conservative writing about HC, and in some more liberal writers too.  And, of course, it’s applied to lots of other women.  It might  be  nice to be able to say when one hears this stuff, “Well, that’s just the same old fallacy of X.”

Supposing it’s true that these last two cases don’t have names and should, I’ll suggest a candidate for each.   Please bring in alternatives if you want.

For the first: The fallacy of cognitive displacement.  E.g., assuming women think with their ovaries.

For the second:  The fallacy of gendered projection:  E.g., assuming that one’s problems with powerful women reveal important facets of other people.

(I’m not completely happy with either of these; the second seems particularly hard to name.)

If we start to find enough of these unnamed fallacies,  we could adapt a recommendation of Calypso’s and call them the  fallacies of pernicious effect.  The effect being at least the further spreading of sexist attitudes.

Please add anything you like!

Maureen Dowd breaks record for sexist journalism

The record is for the winner in the category of “those who do know better.”  Here’s how she did it:

What is the environment for the woman who is the first ever to do such-and-such?  Well, she’s often one woman in a hitherto exclusively male club.  Feminism has made us aware of the temptation to describe the significance of her actions in terms of their (conjectured) gendered impact on the guys.   To do so is more than belittling; if people take you at all seriously, it is damaging in a way that goes beyond what the actions alone merit.   It strengthens  the  biases that  give her an unfair extra burden.

Here are things you might be tempted to think. But to do so is really to once again position a woman as a kind of sex object.

If she is tough, she’s their dominatrix.  
If she puts one of them down, she may be just like his wife. 
If she swears,  you should described it as directed now and in the past at the men.

The following should be an easy question on the “do you have any grasp of your own biases” test:

True or false:  Women’s actions are significant in so far as they are part of a continuing struggle between the sexes. 

False.  To publish such a view of Hillary Clinton  in the New York Times  is unconscionable.  And Maureen Dowd has done it.

Raped Men and Silence

A few days ago, I wrote about the story of a Saudi woman who was gang-raped. She was alone with an unrelated man at the time of the attack, which is why she was sentenced to 90 lashes, later increased to 200 when she appealed and her lawyer went to the media. What I didn’t know, and what was almost nowhere reported, was that the man who was with her was also raped– and also sentenced to 90 lashes. (He didn’t appeal.) It’s very important to remember that it’s not only violence against women that may go unreported. Jill at Feministe has the story, and a very good discussion of how its reporting plays into larger Islamophobic narratives.