Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is the 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. As we think about how to teach about racial prejudice, gay marriage rights, women excluding men from conferences, and other excellent and worthwhile topics recently broached on this blog, let’s not forget that there are people who have lost their lives over the way they present their gender. Let’s not forget that fear of violence, not only exclusion, threatens transgendered persons as well as those who, regardless of how they identify, do not fit into neat social norms.

This is not a thing of the past, it happens regularly.

There are events all across the United States today–see if you can find one to attend.

Women Priests? Not if the Pope can help it.

From Democracy Now:

The Vatican has threatened to excommunicate well-known Catholic priest and longtime peace advocate Father Roy Bourgeois this Friday unless he recants his support for the ordination of women into the priesthood. …

This August, he took part in a ceremony to ordain a member of the group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. He was informed last month that he would face the harshest form of ecclesiastical punishment—excommunication—unless he recanted within thirty days.

Bourgeois points out that it took the church many years to respond to the child abuse perpetrated by priests, but three months to threaten him with excommunication.

Relatedly, the fall Ms has  an article on the Church and contraception, which refers to the great damage the ban has done in developing countries, not just because of the immense burden on women, but also because the use of condoms to prevent HIV transmission is prohibited.

(I relayed to the virtue ethicist, Rosalind Hursthouse,  that I planned to claim that the miracle siamese cat, Mary of the Rose (aka Rosemary), is a manifestation of the Blessed Virgin.  Her agenda contains support for women priests, contraception and same-sex marriage.  RH responded wisely that I should set my sights (or hers) higher and claim she’s the real pope.    For the first installment of this saga see here.)

CFP: SWIP UK Conference

You’ll notice that this conference is listed as “women-only”, and that may puzzle you because as we’ve reported SWIP UK conferences are now open to both women and men (both to attend and to give papers). Given the policy, the only explanation would seem to be that some sort of exception was made for this conference. It may be worth noting that most of us (possibly all) here at FP strongly oppose such restrictions. (SWIP conference themes, by the way are decided by the individual conference organisers.) Anyway, here’s the CFP:

13th February 2009—SWIP UK/International Association of Women in Philosophy (IAPh) Joint Conference
Venue: To be announced

Feminist Philosophy Made Simple

Feminism claims women are oppressed, and aims to free them. Like any liberation movement, feminism is dogged by propaganda. But anti-feminist propaganda has been astonishingly effective. Despite endemic and persistent serious harms to women including abuse of girl-children, rape, domestic violence, economic, legal and political disadvantage, and despite centuries of work by feminists, most men and women today will say “I’m not a feminist” or “feminism goes too far”.

The aim of this conference is to affirm the unity and simplicity of feminism in the face of the propaganda. The unity is captured well in Simone de Beauvoir’s phrase “absolute feminism”, which points to necessity as well as unity. The liberation of women is necessary, not something a just society can do without. At the conference we will explore how the apparent complexity and diversity of feminism may be no more than a superficial effect of oppression. Feminists face sceptical, even hostile, standards of evidence and argument. They are expected not only prove there are problems, and suggest solutions. They are also expected to prove feminist solutions are possible, will work—and are not just covert attacks on men. In epistemic conditions like this, it is no wonder feminists modify their claims, distance themselves from each other, and make distinctions so fine they tend to paranoia.

Pace the propaganda, feminism is simple. It needs just a couple of concepts to hold it together. At its core, it needs the idea that there are women, who are being harmed and need help. But it seems the propaganda has found a way to undermine even this most fundamental feminist idea. The concept “gender” used to be a feminist tool for exposing the wrongs of sex roles. But it can also become a patriarchal Trojan horse, smuggling into the heart of feminism tools for the dismantling of the core concept, “woman”. Proposals are invited for philosophical ways to re-affirm women, without affirming oppressive sex roles.

Please send abstracts of up to 400 words by 9th January 2008 by email to Soran Reader with the title “SWIP UK Spring 2009” in the header line. Please note this is a women-only event.

Venue to be announced. For further information and updates see SWIP UK website & the IAPh website.

Hillary can’t be trusted as secretary of state, but OK with children


Care of MediaMatters for Amercia:

“On Hardball, MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard asserted that if President-elect Barack Obama names Sen. Hillary Clinton secretary of state, “she will run a parallel government. It will be a huge problem.” Additionally, Jennifer Donahue, political director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, asked: “Will she [Clinton] be, in fact, trying to create only one term for Barack Obama?””



The take home message of the program is that Hillary is too power hungry and ambitious to be trusted in this top level job. They assert that she will pretend that she is the president and will scuttle Obama’s reelection. The evidence was that she ran a very tough campaign in the primaries (What would we say about her if she didn’t?) and that she is using her power to try to dictate the terms of her job (Who wouldn’t?).  When Mathews tried to defend her, he was trounced by his guests.

And then we get one of the most telling points in the program, what work should she do? Not the spot that is fourth in the line of presidential succession, but “HHS, Supreme Court … education, children.”



Here are some excerpts from MediaMatters’ transcript of the program:

MATTHEWS: “I would assume that among her other concerns are, which are stressed here in the news reporting, is who’s gonna get Defense, who’s gonna get CIA, who’s gonna get NSC, the national security adviser. In other words, she’s sort of dictating terms here in what looks to be a proffer of a job. Jennifer, it’s an extraordinary position of power she’s in, in what normally would be considered one of the great prizes in the world she’s being given.…”

BERNARD: “she could also walk — go around the world acting as if she is not the secretary of state but the United States — the president of the United States. That’s a huge danger for him. It’s a very, very high-level job.”

MATTHEWS: “Jennifer, would you trust her to be a loyal subordinate, or believe she would be a bit too aggressive as a colleague?”

DONAHUE: “Well, let’s take past as prologue. I mean, how did she handle herself during the nominating fight? How did she handle it when Obama was coming up upon her and then lapped her? She didn’t handle it very kindly. She didn’t allow him to have his piece. She went negative. She tried to bury him. And I think that he should take a lesson from that.”

DONAHUE: “ [Obama] picked Rahm Emanuel not to be someone who could bring people in every party together but to keep his own party in line. That’s what Rahm Emanuel knows how to do. Are they going to keep Hillary Clinton in line? Yes. Are they going to keep watch on her? Yes.”

DONAHUE: “Her strength: HHS, Supreme Court — there’s plenty of places — education, children. These are things that are near and dear to her.”