Consciousness-Raising at Newsweek

There’s a really awesome article calling out sexism in the workplace, and especially at Newsweek. And it’s in Newsweek– which impressively went ahead and published it. There SO much that’s excellent in it. But one thing I found particularly interesting was the epistemic situation that the authors found themselves in regarding sexism.

In countless small ways, each of us has felt frustrated over the years, as if something was amiss. But as products of a system in which we learned that the fight for equality had been won, we didn’t identify those feelings as gender-related. It seemed like a cop-out, a weakness, to suggest that the problem was anybody’s fault but our own…
In countless small ways, each of us has felt frustrated over the years, as if something was amiss. But as products of a system in which we learned that the fight for equality had been won, we didn’t identify those feelings as gender-related. It seemed like a cop-out, a weakness, to suggest that the problem was anybody’s fault but our own…
Somewhere along the road to equality, young women like us lost their voices. So when we marched into the workforce and the fog of subtle gender discrimination, it was baffling and alien. Without a movement behind us, we had neither the language to describe it nor the confidence to call it what it was.

One thing that really hits me is how much this all sounds like the consciousness-raising groups that finally named and began to fight sexual harassment, as discussed in (among other places) Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice. Women who each thought they were dealing with individual problems start talking to each other, seeing commonalities, and finding they need a new vocabulary to talk about them. (The lack of such a vocabulary is what Fricker calls ‘hermeneutical injustice’.)