I see that the Philosophy Job Market Blog has picked up on the fun of the conversation over at Leiter Reports as to whether or not senior faculty have an obligation to retire at some point. It IS fun, isn’t it? Such a nice distraction from writing about global warming, torture, and my usual choices of subjects.
Yet seriously, I didn’t start writing about the feminist and personal for journals until the year I got tenure, and I’m not so much young anymore. My mentor, Claudia Card, only found her “outlaw” voice years after getting tenure, and has done her most prolific writing in her sixties. I remember her smilingly saying, in the hallways of the Wisconsin philosophy department, “They’re going to have to carry me out of here in a body bag,” and I remember thinking, That is great news. I recall reading Zillah Eisenstein, who observed that she wrote in proper, WELL-BEHAVED analytic fashion for years before daring to be a less well-behaved full professor and radical feminist. And I consider the persistently low numbers of women in philosophy, and I think, there’s few of us enough already. And then I think my own colleagues will have to carry me out in a body bag. (I know, I know, if the quality of my work is suffering, if it’s not an option, etc., etc. Sure there are reasons some should retire. I’m arguing against an across-the-board obligation.)