Women in Philosophy

For women the philosophy profession has real problems, starting with problems of exclusion.  Perhaps foolishly optimistically, I’ve thought that making the problem more visible would help. 

And I’ll confess upfront:  My idea of fun at an APA would be to combine the style of a Cristo and Jeanne Claude project with a philosophical version of the Guerrilla’s Girls statement.  Not that anyone at an APA meeting would notice, so a bunch of us might have to put on some sort of  costume (from “Cats!”) and perhaps act a bit menacing in the hall ways.

OK, maybe not that.  Still, see  if you can get some ideas from this:

And for Christo and Jeanne Claude:

see the Reichstag wrapped in silver cloth:

Or The Gates in Central Park:

9 thoughts on “Women in Philosophy

  1. The Advantages of Being a Woman Philosopher:

    – Working without the pressure of success.
    – Not having to be on panels or in journals with men.
    – Having an escape from the tenure-track in your 4 adjunct jobs.
    – Knowing your career might pick up after you’re eighty (and then getting your booty published on the cover of respected magazines!)
    – Knowing that whatever your area of specialization, or whatever you publish, it will always be labeled feminine.
    – Not being stuck in a tenured teaching position.
    – Seeing your ideas live on in the work of others, or being taken more seriously when men say them.
    – Having the opportunity to choose between a career and motherhood.
    – Not having to write for the NYTimes magazine or appear in the mainstream media.
    – Having more time to work when your S.O. dumps you for someone younger.
    – Being included in revised versions of the history of philosophy.
    – Not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius.
    – Never having to worry that students won’t comment on your clothes or your physique in course evaluations.
    – Not worrying about the pressure and attention of publishing in the so-called “top” philosophy journals.
    – Always being assured that people are judging your intellectual capacity in terms of your physical appearance.
    – The privilege of always representing your gender (i.e., being the only woman) on committees.
    – Getting to do all the “diversity” service in your department/college/campus.
    – Going to the smoker in a guerrilla suit.

  2. doctaj,

    Thank you! That’s wonderful.

    I might add:

    – Always being able to find time to be alone at those big conferences.
    – Having the pleasure of being dismissed or even villified for ideas that will be popular within a decade.

  3. … Or make that a cat suit. Okay, maybe not a cat suit. Groucho noses and mustaches? Big fake scary philosopher’s beards? Yes, that might be the way to go…

  4. JJ, thank you. The Guerilla Girls are inspiring.

    Doctaj, thank you for your list of the “advantages” of being a woman philosopher. To these I would add:
    –Having one’s excellent teaching treated as only to be expected, because women are good at these things, don’tcha know.
    –being asked for “the woman’s point of view”.
    –Having to listen, ad nauseam, to one’s male colleagues’ problems–because they seldom listen to each other.
    –As one gets older, either becoming invisible, or being treated with condescension.
    –Serving on endless committees, because they need a member who has female genitalia.
    –Serving as an ad hoc counsellor for students who are afraid to talk to their male professors.

  5. Thanks Introvertica. For your additions to the list! I hope we get some more; if we do, I’ll collate them all.

    I realized as soon as I saw your comment, maenad, that going as cats might lead to all sorts of silly puns, etc. I’m not sure about Groucho, since he is, after all, well, a male character.

    Not wishing to insult our sisters of the cloth, i wonder if we couldn’t dress as nuns. Or indeed in burkas, though dressing as nuns fits in with philosophy’s monkish era.

  6. Clever. I think right now in professional philosophy it’s as difficult for women philosophers to be recognized as serious thinkers as it is for nuns in the priesthood to be recognized as people of religious knowledge and authority. An

  7. An, I’m reminded that there are at least three hierarchies that spell trouble for women: the church, the military and the academy.

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