You’re like school in summertime: No class

Sophia Wong’s recent and excellent offering of mentoring tips for “someone who doesn’t look like me” generated delightful discussion on the FEAST listserve, and a couple of us couldn’t resist connecting issues regarding differences between class and educational background to issues of mentoring across race and ethnic differences.  Class and educational preparation, I joked on FEAST, don’t seem all that hidden and subtle when I’m the tall, towering doofus who’s never heard an opera or heard of a Hirsch number:

Just as I felt mannish around feminine girls, when growing up (ah, nonheterosexuality rearing its confused head), so I found immediately upon starting my first job that, when around faculty from educated families and academic backgrounds, I stick out like a sore thumb. I understood little of what my new coworkers were talking about when they referred to the history of the liberal arts, the rankings of the most prestigious journals, the Ivies — I never quite got down which ones were Ivy — and subfields in a discipline of which I was scarcely cognizant before my twenties, let alone the passing references to cultural events and pursuits that no one engaged in back home. I tried to swear less and mention television less…I’ll never forget the senior colleague who said he preferred applicants with a “long, strong background in liberal arts college settings.” He wasn’t referring to work experience, he elaborated, but a lifetime of a certain kind of education. And I though my state university was such an advance, since I was the first in my family to “go away” to school.

Let me clarify that I’m not actually a first-generation college student.  That honor goes to my parents, who came from working-class backgrounds and struggled to put themselves through city colleges – my dad on the G.I. bill, my mother on her wages – while living at home, taking care of their families, and working jobs, so that their future kids, unlike them, could start out middle class.  Their achievements were astounding.  Yet just as my own father’s decision to take the G.I. bill in the form of college tuition prompted his own dad to ask, “Why?”, so my suggestion that I could go on past the college degree to, as a teacher suggested, law school, prompted their own surprised, “Why?”

So, how can we mentor each other, my unschooled, uncouth, rube friends?  Couth philosophers are invited to chip in.  Here’s a start:

 Thanks to Jenny Saul for encouraging me to, well, to stick out even more by posting on this topic, ha ha!

CFP: Val Plumwood

CALL FOR PAPERS – special issue honoring Val Plumwood

Ethics & the Environment is considering papers for a special issue in honor of Val Plumwood. We welcome submissions on Plumwood’s philosophy, ecofeminism, indigenous environmental ethics, ecological perspectives on rationality, and other relevant topics.

Submission deadline: February 15, 2009. Manuscripts may be submitted as word files via e-mail to For matters of style, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

This special issue is in conjunction with a symposium in honor of Val Plumwood to be held at the University of Georgia March 20-21, 2009
Melissa Link
Managing Editor
Ethics & the Environment
University of Georgia
Department of Philosophy
Peabody Hall
Athens, GA 30602
Tel: (706)542-2362
Fax: (706)542-2839

Thanks, Kate!

What do you think? (About academic sex and anything else)

It might seem a bit early to do a “What do you think?” when the last one got no comments whatsoever.  But, as always, we are wondering what you are doing, reading, happy about, worried about, etc.  Conferences?  Papers?

AND ALSO Calypso has drawn my attention to some problematic developments in comments over at our good friends’ Philosophy Job Market Blog.  Someone has asked advice about their desire to sleep with a committee member. 

One problem that can arise when A WOMAN does that is that the guys think that she’s getting extra academic benefits in return for  sex and they’re mad.  And I gather at least one comment goes toward this.  I’m going to reserve my opinions here, because the point of this post is:


By the way, from what one can from the comments so far, gay sex is invisible in philosophy departments. 


Do women have a special perspective on health care?

Let me count the ways! 

Some perspectives are not at all welcome ones, as we point out here, for example.  And another recent example is found at Ms.  As the Associated Press reports, a  recent study sees discrepancies in VA care for women:

Health care for female military veterans lags behind the care offered to male vets at many VA facilities, an internal agency report says, even as women are serving on front lines at historic levels.

There are clear needs for more physicians trained in women’s care and more equipment to meet women’s health needs, said Friday’s review by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It did add that strides are being made, such as creating onsite mammography services and establishing women’s clinics at most VA medical centers. The department also is attempting to recruit more clinicians with training in women’s care.

For now, female veterans aren’t getting the same quality of outpatient care as men in about one-third of the VA’s 139 facilities that offer it, the report said. That appeared to validate the complaints of advocates and some members of Congress who have said more emphasis needs to be placed on women’s health.


Let’s hope no one reading this article thinks that somehow understanding the male body is just understanding the human body.  Women, who are over 50% of the US/worldwide population, are not some sort of strange creatures, despite the years and years in which medical research tended to privilege research involving male subjects. 

But some of the news  is surprisingly good:

The VA’s review noted that other studies have found better surgical outcomes and decreased mortality for women at VA hospitals compared to women who receive care under the Medicare Advantage Program or under private care. And, performance of breast and cervical cancer screening exceeds that of commercial and some government plans.

But also mixed:

Data were not available to compare the inpatient quality of care between men and women.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement that the findings confirm what she has been hearing from women veterans for years.

She encouraged passage of legislation that would, among other things, force the agency to do comprehensive studies of women veterans’ care and conduct a pilot program providing child care for veterans seeking mental health care.

Among the other findings of new report:

_Older and younger veterans appear to be receiving the same quality of care;

_About 86 percent of homeless veterans seen by VA received primary care, mental health care and/or substance abuse services;

_About 98 percent of appointments were completed within 30 days in primary care clinics and about 97 percent were completed during that period at specialty clinics;

_Overall quality of care appears to be good when reviewed using commonly accepted health care benchmarks;

_Minority veterans surveyed were generally less satisfied with inpatient and outpatient care than white veterans, but it wasn’t clear if the quality of care offered was different. A more comprehensive study of care for minority veterans is expected to be complete this summer.