FemaleScienceProfessor writes: “Every time I post an anecdote about a possible situation in which I may or may not have been treated in a way that could perhaps be described at least in part as sexist, I always receive one or more comments:

* giving alternative interpretations of the incident,
* informing me that I am too sensitive,
* wondering why I am offended by such a minor incident, and/or
* telling me that I must hate men (or asking me why I hate men so much).”

More discussion is here, with loads of interesting and useful comments.

Any good examples of micro-inequities specific to philosophy?

4 thoughts on “Micro-inequities

  1. To speak generally: Of course there is a link to the Western philosophical tradition of mind-body dualism whereby anything that is “emotional” is deemed to be irrelevant to either real life itself or to the really important things in life. So, somehow women are deemed to be of a nature that makes them inclined to represent these non-relevant aspects of existence. I would say that these ideas lead to a huge undermining of women’s authority, rather than just undermining occurring at subtle, micro-levels. If we look at Freud’s idea that victimisation is often (but not always) a fantasy rather than reality, and put that together with the fact that women are more likely to be victimised in society to the extent that this ideology (and others like it) has come to reign supreme, then we can see the recursive nature of certain philosophical ideas and values in socially reinforcing women’s victimhood.

  2. What I am speaking about above is the way that the irrelevancy of one’s perceptions is reinforced on the basis of patriarchal ideology. No wonder many males come onto feminist blogs to proclaim: “I’ve also taken hits to my self esteem and sense of identity, but it wasn’t such a big deal in the overall scheme of things.” It isn’t simply because the patriarchal function that treats them in a particular way (as apart from women) isn’t recursive. If a man gets angry at his mistreatment, that is considered an appropriate response to it. But with women, the greater the evidence of her mistreatment (such as is evidenced by emotional responses of any sort), the more the recursive function of patriarchal ideology comes into play, to condemn such responses as “out of touch with reality”.

    So, unlike it is in the case of males, with women, the greater the injury, the greater the likelihood that one’s mistreatment will be dismissed out of hand as being nothing.

  3. I am genuinely grateful to Virginia Valian for emphasizing that the small slights women receive can add up to major difference between a man and a woman’s career. Are there any so specific to philosophy that they don’t occur anywhere else? I’m not sure, but one thing I noticed recently is still going on might be due to the general gender imbalance. Namely, one’s small success can be attributed to a suppose use of sexual appeal, as opposed to genuine merit.
    I was stunned recently to hear my last promotion attributed to my romancing the provost. I’m not sure what was more outrageous: the idea that I’d try, or the idea that I’d succeed.
    Is that one of the small insult/deficits that add up? I think so; it means that one’s accomplishments do not get added up into a positive picture of one as a valuable academic. They are down to one’s feminine trickery.

  4. I get the same thing when people refer to a research paper or topic as “sexy,” as if the success was due to the “hot” topic, not the worth of your ideas.

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