NY Times ‘Well’ Blog: This week’s worst column in the world?**

Dana Jennings was very seriously ill; he had prostate cancer and was given Lupron, which suppresses testosterone.  He says it induced in him a state like menopause.  In addition to severe hot flashes and inconvenient food cravings, he had some emotional effects.  Which led him to announce this conclusion:

Even though I only got to spend a brief time on the outer precincts of menopause, it did confirm my lifelong sense that the world of women is hormonal and mysterious, and that we men don’t have the semblance of a clue.

And, guys, when your significant female other bursts into tears at the drop of a dinner plate or turns on you like a rabid pit bull — whether she’s pregnant, having her period or in the throes of menopause — believe her when she blames it on the hormones.

Yuck!  And double yuck at the roughly 80%+ of the commenters who congratulate him on the beautiful column and his aquired understanding.  Some comments, though, get it.  It isn’t as though men don’ have psychoactive hormones – some of which may well contribute to making some of them rapists, wife-abusers, self-seeking executives who can steal millions and millions, murderers, leaders who take their countries into war in order to prove themselves, and so on. 

So what in the world is going on?  We have the first Latina nominee for the Supreme Court and the right wing is going out of their way to be sexist and disgusting about her.  Liddy is worrying about her peiods!  So just very innocently the NY Times publishes an article suggesting menopausal women are like pit bulls?

Articles like this are not cute.  It is surely strange to suppose that a man undergoing hormone therapy for a brief time will  feel as a woman does.  Among other things, by the time menopause starts most women have had well over 30 years of learning to cope with hormonal changes. 

What about  all those who agree with him?  Well, hot  flashes, cravings and weight gain are not fun.  But in addition, people have an unfortunate tendency to buy into cliches which excuse bad behavior.  It’s like the teenage boys who  think that getting  aroused means they can just say “I couldn’t help myself,” and the charge of rape will go away.

In the meantimes, maybe the NY Times could think a bit before it publishes an article that sides with the far right’s worries about mixing leadership and female hormones.  And if it becomes one of the most emailed articles, maybe they could put something at least in the errata about not actually intending to defame women and recognizing the millions of professional women who are less pit bullish than some of the male colleagues.


**Title borrowed  from a certain TV commentator whose name I am reluctant to mention ever since he declared Katie Curic a day’s worst person in the world for saying the coverage of Clinton was sexist.

What’s Missing?

Reader Amy has alerted us to a new Oxford venture, Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy. Here’s the Editorial Board:

Prof. Robert Audi (Notre Dame)
Prof. Quassim Cassam (Cambridge/Warwick)
Prof. Tim Crane (Cambridge)
Prof. Pascal Engel (Geneva)
Prof. Martin Kusch (Cambridge/Vienna)
Prof. Jon Kvanvig (Baylor)
Prof. Peter Lamarque (York)
Prof. Brian Leiter (Chicago)
Prof. Adrian Moore (Oxford)
Prof. Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund)
Prof. Ernest Sosa (Rutgers)

Since the topic of the series is *Philosophy*, there really isn’t much room for the thought that there just weren’t any appropriate women in the field. Apparently they’ll be adding some more editors, so I’m going to gently suggest the addition of some women, as well as inviting the editor to comment on this post. I suspect that what we’re seeing is the v. powerful influence of unconscious bias and stereotype effects. Women just *aren’t coming to mind* when they try to think of top philosophers. But every time this happens, that effect is reinforced. To fight it, we really have to get more women onto these boards.

The list comes from the first comment on this post.