Survival Strategies 1

Reader SK sent us a lovely letter (thanks, SK!) in which she made a great suggestion.  Her thought was that we should pool resources, and discuss effective ways to respond to claims like:

the grrl got the job I so richly deserved (and therefore the grrlz get all the jobs), evolutionary psychological mumbo-jumbo about how women and/or people of colour just aren’t “hard-wired” to do philosophy, and the typical conservative/troll tactic of screaming that anyone who disagrees with you is merely being “politically correct.”

More generally, it would be great to discuss survival strategies for women and others who are in the minority in philosophy; and strategies for those who want to work to fix the problems that women and other minorities in philosophy face.

But right now, let’s start by discussing how to respond to people who make the 3 claims SK cited. Share your strategies in comments! All strategies welcome– quick ones, long range ones, ways of changing minds, ways of laughing things off, ways of reassuring yourself after the fact when you realise you didn’t manage to say the right thing on the spot, etc. Let’s get together and put this stuff in one place. And if you have other survival issues you’d like us to discuss, let us know– we’ll post, and solicit advice.

5 thoughts on “Survival Strategies 1

  1. I suspect that SK was inspired to think about this by the recent extended discussion on the Philosophy Job Market Blog, during which the trolls were out in force. Since the posters on that blog are more or less the next generation of philosophers, I urge people to take a look at this depressing but perhaps important discussion. On the plus side, a number of extremely articulate young white men have been valiantly arguing against this nonsense on the blog. But all in all, it’s just so disheartening to see these views still alive and well among young male philosophers.

    If you haven’t been reading, a simple google search turns up the blog quickly, and the relevant discussions are following posts made last week. There was a similar discussion back in maybe December but that one would take more digging to find.

  2. Yep, just as Einstein said an empty stomach makes a bad political advisor, I can’t help thinking that an interviewless calendar makes for a poor logical thinker. I don’t meet a lot of lucky, successfully employed philosophers who say women get all the jobs. I do, however, meet unlucky, un-/under-employed men in philosophy who say this.

    NOTE: I also know many, many un-/under-employed WOMEN in philosophy, none of whom perceive all the jobs as going to them, ha ha! (It’s funny because it’s sad.)

  3. Let me float this response – it’s just floated, not endorsed.

    “There is no evidence that all women are privileged on the job market. There is at least anecdotal evidence that the best new female PhDs from elite institutions have an advantage. But so what? That just means they’ll get the sort of jobs that the best males from those institutions get. And so they should, finally.

  4. Here’s the Philosophy Job Market Blog post::-(

    I’m reminded of David Lewis’ comment that he couldn’t argue with an incredulous stare. But on occasion I find that this stare is pretty much all I can muster in conversations with a tone like that of the PJMB post. One is faced with interlocuters who are so dense or oblivious and a discourse framed in such a distorted way that attempts to do much more than shake your head and gape seem at best futile and more likely merely exhausting.

    As for some concrete survival strategies, one helpful resource that I have attempted to use in conversations revolving around evo-psych mumbo jumbo has been to point people to Louise Antony’s article on human nature in the Janet Kourany anthology Philosophy in a Feminist Voice. I also suspect that the 2003 Travis anthology Evolution, Gender, and Rape might be helpful for responding to Thornhill-type arguments about the “biological predisposition” for rape, though I confess I haven’t actually read it.

  5. Thanks to these excellent suggestions– keep ’em coming! One quickie response I might make to claims about women getting all the jobs is to just say “Actually, that’s a very controversial claim. What evidence have you seen for its truth?” At best, you’ll get a single anecdote. It’s likely to be the 4th-hand, and that can be pointed out. Even if it’s 1st-hand, though, you might say that you’ve never been all that impressed by inductions from a single case.

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