What about the men in philosophy?

The author of this post, a graduate student, has solicited our views. I won’t try to summarise the post– you should go read it– but it seems to me she is worried that men in philosophy may sometimes be mistreated on grounds of their gender, which she takes to be problematic for projects like the What is it Like blog. She mentions, by way of example, the possibility of false harassment charges or false claims of sexism. She worries that feminism may be viewed with hostility for not paying attention to these cases.

So here’s what I think:

(1) If there was a systematic problem of male underrepresentation in philosophy it would be well worth having a blog devoted to the experiences of men in philosophy. But there isn’t.

(2) Claims of false rape charges are vastly overstated– false rape accusations are made at the same rate as false accusations of any crime. It seems likely to me that false sexual harassment charges would be similarly rare, though I haven’t seen statistics on this. If you look through the examples on What is it Like, you certainly won’t be left with the impression that these charges are easy to make and acted on quickly and decisively by the authorities. So, no, I really *don’t* think feminists should spend time talking about false harassment charges. We are still, unfortunately, struggling to get the true ones taken seriously. (And accusations of sexism that does not count as harassment are even less likely to be taken seriously– and at least as likely to impede the career of the accuser.)

(3) Should feminists talk about problems in the formulation of institutional sexual harassment codes? Absolutely. And feminists who work on sexual harassment are doing this. Vicki Schultz’s work is one excellent example.

(4) But (again) there’s no reason to think that there is any particular problem for men in philosophy.

(5) So I don’t think there is any problem for projects like the What is it Like blog.

What do you think? (If you go over to her blog, do observe our “be nice” rule.)

47 thoughts on “What about the men in philosophy?

  1. In a way, I guess this post gets at a traditional issue involved with any criticism of power and oppression – some people who are oppressed will feel as though their concerns are not being addressed. One thing I would note is that the “What is it like…” blog did include a few posts from men who were mistreated on account of their gender. Another thing to note is that it isn’t clear to me why a person who felt left out would explicitly connect *feminism* with their own oppression.

    But maybe another key point is that it’s important not to lose sight of broader issues concerning power and authority. The university system in which we work has systematic and structural problems that work in addition to society’s issues with gender. Any system where some people are given large amounts of power and authority over others is going to lead to abuse of that power and authority. The university system is one such system. It’s important, I think, to keep in mind and promote alternative ways of organizing a university.

  2. Matt, I agree that the roles of power and oppression are important here. It might be that the grad students is framing the issues quite differently.

    We can see that the little power faculty have is much more is much more in the hands of the men than in the hands of the women. Further, the evidence is that young men, much more than young women, are socialized for taking on their own share of the power later. It is in this context that one has to set the fact that after one or two decades of women working on the problems of women in philosophy without significant success in getting more women in philosophy, it’s important to see just what’s maintaining the lines of power. And one good way is to see what’s going on in daily experiences.

    There just isn’t a comparable explanatory task with the men.

  3. I can only say that my own experiences and, so far as I know, the experiences of my male colleagues, have been nowhere near as disgusting and and despair-inducing as the vast majority of posts on the WIL Blog seem to indicate the experience of women is. Moreover, on the rare occasions when we do have bad experiences, I don’t think we tend to attribute them to our genders or, at least, we’re not prone to asking if gender played a factor, which at least removes some elements of self-doubt, feelings of isolation, and so on.

    In fairness, I don’t think I’ve been privy to the kinds of abuse against women that the WIL Blog describes, either. But I just don’t think that these experiences translate across the gender gap very often.

  4. “The worry is that men in philosophy are also often treated in very bad ways in part because of their gender,”
    –Men, as a social group, are not treated badly based on their gender.
    (by “sexuality” I’m not sure if the author means sexual orientation or displaying sexuality (desire, etc.))

    “Men are gossiped about, manipulated, and can be really hurt– both professionally and emotionally– by things that seem to me quite similar to much of what people are pointing out here”
    –These men are not vulnerable to gossip and manipulation, however, as men. For instance, suggesting that a (hetero) man slept with a professor in not NEARLY as damaging as suggesting that a (hetero) woman slept with a professor. (With different sexual orientations, there are much more complex interactions. But again, where a man’s homosexual or bisexual orientation could potentially harm his reputation, his gender could not.)
    –Furthermore, we need to distinguish between people’s individual prejudices (where someone could discriminate against a man as a man) from systematic and structural sexism (from which men do not suffer from since women as a group are not given a substantial advantage over them.)

    “I know a number of men who have been demonized by other philosophers, male and female, for unfair reasons, and it is clear that these men would not have been so demonized had they been women.”
    –The only example I can think of is if a man is demonized for abusing power that he wouldn’t really have were he a woman. (For instance, if he slept with a (female) student with suspicion of coercion involved.) This is demonizing someone who is capable of abusing power. For reasons too long to get into, I argue that this is different.

    “Though there is clearly a major imbalance of power in philosophy, and women are clearly overall in a much worse position than men, in the cases I’m thinking of, women really do have the power to destroy mens careers/hurt them emotionally in much the same way that we worry that men are doing to us all the time in the philosophy world”
    –It’s not consistent to say that there is an imbalance of power and then say that women (as women) have the ability to hurt men (as men.) Woman, as tenured professors, have the ability to hurt men, as untenured profs or as students.

    “But others do nothing wrong and are publicly accused of doing act X or are reported to the University for cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, etc., where there really is none of this going on. In short, there is a way to harm men in philosophy that seems to be not applicable, or very close to not applicable, in the case of women”
    –Women are also vulnerable to be charged with doing something they didn’t actually do. Without numbers to back this up (and which above it’s suggested don’t exist) this isn’t a case of discrimination against men.

    “Part of the worry is that these men will end up feeling alienated/ angered by feminism”
    The point is, they shouldn’t be. They should feel alienated and angered by the systems of kyriarchy that screw us all over, or at the university system if it fails to give them them an appropriate recourse to appeal, or to individuals gossiping about them.
    But it’s completely inappropriate for a man to feel angry for feminism ignoring him when the whole freakin world has ignored women in important ways. Feminists should not be concerned with hurting people’s feelings based on social privilege they feel entitled to.

    “Feminists should be concerned with the negative effects of gendered behavior/sexism on men as well as women.”
    –Many feminists do not ignore the effects of kyriarchy on men. However, stating that feminists “should” think more about men is frustrating to hear since the whole freakin world doesn’t think about men enough. The worry behind this whole post is that no one is looking out for the men. But people are. Society as a whole looks out for (able-bodied white middle-upperclass hetero) men.
    So telling the people who are trying to look out for women that they can’t forget about the men is missing the point. Yes, patriarchy hurts men, too, and yes, there may even be certain social structures where men receive short-term disadvantages. But calling this “sexism” against men is suspect, and furthermore, telling someone who is focusing on an often ignored injustice to focus on an injustice that has received significant social support is not productive. If the author thinks feminists are completely ignoring how patriarchy affects men, that’s a potentially valid argument. But from the post, the author is arguing that feminists aren’t focusing on men enough….where the whole point of feminism is that we’re going to stop focusing on men for once.

    tl;dr The author’s worry is unfounded; men qua men are not vulnerable to the same degree of personal and professional harms that women qua women are. Feminists should not be concerned with hurting men’s feelings since–for once–they are not at the center of attention.

  5. When I teach philosophy of oppression, it is ultra important to point out the distinction between prejudice, discrimination, and hate as opposed to oppression which is bolstered by, situated in and fostered through institutional power. I know of no/zero institutions at least in the United States that are controlled by women. This does not mean that women cannot be prejudiced against men or hate them (or people of color towards white people) but the kind of suffering victims of oppression experience is not comparable to discrimination. As Marilyn Frye notes so clearly and well – not all pain is oppression. So, the experiences of women in philosophy are not comparable or even analogic to what may happen to some men, although I have to say I have never seen a male philosophy student or professor abused by a woman philosophy student or professor, whatever their relevant ranks may have been. I have noticed, though, some women students who want to defend and protect their male peers – from what I don’t know.

  6. Sophia, I agree that the puzzling phenomenon of wanting to protect male peers may be behind some of the post and comments on it. I think there are so many different things that could be going on.

    Maybe one thing we have to remember is that complaining and demanding better is wisely seen to be risky. In addition, a lot of women have been heavily rewarded in our lives for expressing a general concern for all the others.

    One can see why it’s awfully nice to have people around who seem much more interested in the group welfare than in their own particular welfare, or the welfare of the sub-group of which they are members. And have been praised for that, one might want to continue it.

    There’s another possible cause. I do remember when my son was about 3 and in a very politically correct day care place. The children were not allowed to play mommy and daddy or doctor and nurse. This was long ago and at that time, there was really only one script those scenes would have. So they played deer and medical person. The boys were these brave deer who ran through a burning forrest and then came back to be taken care of by the medical people, who were the girls. I wonder if these young women writing and supporting the post have a cadre of brave and wounded young men who have read the What is it like blog and had the bright thought: I can do this too. And then I’ll get all this care and attention. And the girls can write about how it is not fair that I’m suffering too.

    O dear, it’s late and I feel I am getting uncharitable.

  7. I have never been subjected to sexual harassment and I have never been (falsely or truly) accused of sexual harassment, but I have had a few experiences like the ones mentioned on the WiP blog. One episode that stands out in my mind happened at the student/faculty mixer my first week in graduate school. As I was talking to one of the other graduate students, a professor came up to us. The professor introduced herself to the student I was talking to with a handshake and the two of them talked for about 30 seconds before the professor walked away. The entire time I was waiting for the professor to introduce herself to me as well, but she didn’t even look at me a single time. I have had several other experiences of being ignored or talked over by professors or other graduate students. However, I have never attributed these incidents to sexism. I have usually just chalked them up to inadvertent oversight or rudeness, and I have come the conclusion that many people in philosophy (myself probably included) are somewhat less socially intelligent than average. I don’t say all of this to suggest that none of the episodes mentioned on the WiP blog have been due to sexism. I’m just saying that I (as a man) have also experienced similar incidents, and so some of the episodes that women experience as sexism may be due to a plain (asexist) lack of social awareness. There may, therefore, be some misattribution going on among women who have contributed to the WiP blog, in some cases. If what I’m saying here is true, one may conceivably run a base rate fallacy argument against some of the claims made in Jender’s (2) (although I’m not sure if this is what Dan Hicks had in mind).

  8. With all due respect, though I appreciate the discussion of my post here and at my department’s blog, I find it pretty offensive and hurtful that Sophia and jj are speculating about my motives for writing the post, and seem to be assuming that there can’t be a reason for me have done so that doesn’t have something to do either with me wanting to play nurse, or with me looking for rewards. I was simply genuinely trying to start a dialogue about an issue that I actually think is important. I’m disappointed and hurt by what this has turned into.

    Further, I’m a female grad student who comments on this blog every now and then, and genuinely cares about feminism and feminist philosophy. I guess I find it strange that you would want to come up with (entirely confused) explanations of my behavior rather than just engaging with the post itself. I would ask you to please engage with my ideas (and the ideas of other graduate students also putting themselves out there over at my department’s blog) instead of speculating about my character and motives.

  9. I personally thought I was addressing the points made in the blog post. My only point was not that male philosophy students can’t suffer discrimination, et al, but that the experiences are unalike in kind and intensity from the ones women students/faculty experience. This is a very important point, given the control of all the institutions involved is in the hands of men. If there is ever any question about the importance of this point, go read the rape law for whatever jurisdiction you live in and ask yourself if women would have written such a law. I did not say that men are not sometimes on the receiving end of wrongly expressed hate, discrimination, and bias. I’m sure they are. However, it is not oppression as is experienced by women in philosophy.

  10. Sophia wrote, ” I have noticed, though, some women students….” That’s not assuming this is the only thing that the author’s post must be. It is speculating, true.

    JJ wrote, “I agree that the puzzling phenomenon of wanting to protect male peers may be behind some of the post and comments on it. I think there are so many different things that could be going on.” Neither is this assuming that’s the only thing it must be. JJ even admits, “I feel I am getting uncharitable.”

    I agree, speculating about an author’s motives risks being uncharitable and not productive to the conversation at hand. But two comments does’t constitute “what this discussion has turned into,” either.

    On the other hand, I understand the justifiable annoyance and frustration from having your psychology compared to that of 3 and 4yr olds.

  11. “I have noticed, though, some women students who want to defend and protect their male peers – from what I don’t know.”

    This is a quotation from Sophia above.

    I take it that Michaela was responding to this comment when she wrote:

    “I guess I find it strange that you would want to come up with (entirely confused) explanations of my behavior rather than just engaging with the post itself”

    or when she said:

    “I find it pretty offensive and hurtful that Sophia and jj are speculating about my motives for writing the post, and seem to be assuming that there can’t be a reason for me have done so that doesn’t have something to do either with me wanting to play nurse, or with me looking for rewards.”

    The worry seems clear to me. The quote above, from Sophia, has a clear implicature. The implicature is simply this: Michaela was trying to defend her male peers and without good reason. I speak English. This strikes me to be an obvious implicature in English.

    But Michaela offered many good reasons for defending her male peers. It would be good to engage with those reasons. Moreover, there is no reason to think Michaela posted her comments to defend her male peers. I take it her point was simply that males suffer certain harms that, when issues of discrimination, oppression, etc. are considered, tend to go unnoticed. She thought this was worth pointing out. If one want’s to call this a “defense” or a “protection” of male peers, then that’s fine. We should applaud Michaela for doing so. If the question is what, exactly, she is protecting her male peers from, then reading her post should help to answer that question. So, Sophia, when you say “from what I don’t know?”, here is my suggestion: read her post.

    In the post by jj, the implicature is so obvious and absurd that I won’t consider it.

    I won’t post here again. But if either jj or Sophia studies philosophy, I would recommend reading an introduction to fallacies, or a basic logic text. You are attacking the person and not the argument. That’s a fallacy. It’s bad. But, in both of your posts, there are many other fallacies present. Pick up a book and be kind.

  12. Michaela, I am very sorry that my post seemed hurtful. The comparison with 3 year olds wasn’t meant very seriously, but apparently some people think it was. That strikes me as a bit remarkable, but never mind.

    Let me remind us of the issues: the situation of women in philosophy could hardly be much more seriously. We are talking about a situation in which many people are suffering serious misjustice. I know to some this concern seems effete, but it is only as effete as the general issue of women’s ability to affect learned culture is.

    It is in fact very common for a member of an oppressed group to feel that the discourse about oppression should pause to recognize the problems of members of the dominant group. Someone who does this might in fact feel that the opppressed are obliged to do so in some way. There’s a significant literature about the phenomenon. I think it was only to be expected that the “what it is like” blog would encounter such reactions.

    This reaction might be due to any of a number of factors. I conjectured about some; I think we could come up with about 10 or 12 if we tried. It is important to try to understand why it is happening, because in effect it seeks to lay some blame on a very important action and to change the course of an investigation into a very serious injustice. What seemed to Michaela to be insinuations about her were not that, as their impersonal rhetoric might have suggested. Rather, for me and surely others, the question is the more impersonal one of whysome members of the oppressed class feel uncomfortable with efforts like the ones on the blog in question.

    Finally, the appropriation of the problems of the oppressed by the dominant group is extremely familiar, and that’s what was the conclusion of my story about the deer. I think it is worth wondering whether stories about men’s oppression are going to start to become plentiful.

  13. At risk of being heavy-handed here… (1) Michaela is clearly well-intentioned, even though I disagree with her. She has done something immensely risky by posting non-anonymously on the internet, taking a view she has to suspect will meet with much disagreement from this blog, and asking us to comment. I think these means that we should be extra-careful in our dealings. So (2) Let’s refrain from any speculation on motives and take the post at face value. (Indeed, speculation about motives is something that the “be nice” policy specifically cautions about. Though it focusses on ‘nasty’ motivations. However, what constitutes nastiness is a matter for debate.) But also (3) CL, you’re violating our policies (don’t be insulting). You’re very welcome to post here again, but please refrain from insults.

  14. Jender, let me just reiterate the distinction between(1) considering possible explanations of a familiar phenomenon, and (2) proposing actual hypotheses about a particular person. Sophia raised the general question, and it seems to me important to do so. It is unfortunate that my discussion was taken personally, and I do regret doing anything to contribute to that.

    We in fact do (1) a lot here, and I’m now realizing that it’s important to keep it separate from (2).

  15. not to stir the pot but, in what way is non-anonymously posting a defence of the status quo risky? ‘advantageous’ would’ve been my word choice. (note that my claim is *not* that michaela purposely wrote a professionally advantageous defence of the powerful; just that, in fact, if it’s anything, it’s advantageous, not risky.)

    it’s nice to be nice to michaela, and it’s great she started what’s surely a very important discussion. but it’s also nice to try to understand why this objection to feminism comes up _again and again and bloody again_. how can we do that if we take every statement about how people behave within a power structure as a ‘personal attack’ on this author? we simply can’t understand why what she’s saying doesn’t wash unless we talk about how one’s position in a hierarchy can shape what one says.

  16. ELP: You’re right that Michaela’s post is,a s far as the wider world goes, likely to win friends rather than enemies. However, I’m assuming that Michaela likes and respects the people who hang out at FP. Given that, it’s personally risky to post something we’re likely to disagree with and then invite us to comment. It can be painful having people you like and respect publicly cricitising your post, and this is a risk that Michaela took on.

    In the context of Michaela’s post, any discussion of what might motivate this sort of post (say, X) does seem to me to be likely to implicate that X may have motivated Michaela’s post. Now, JJ has explicitly canceled that implicature, so it’s no longer present in her case. But I do think it’s worth being super-careful.

    Perhaps one of you could start a totally separate discussion of such things?

  17. Also, and importantly, I don’t think Michaela *is* defending the status quo. She clearly thinks that there’s a lot wrong with the treatment of women in philosophy, and wants to do something about that. But she is wondering whether we ought to also be paying more attention to problems she takes men to face in philosophy.

  18. yes, i think it carried that implicature, too. and i think the thought probably *was* that that might’ve motivated michaela, implicature-cancelling or no. but i don’t think that’s a personal attack.

    we’re looking at what’s going on w michaela’s post in order to try to get a handle on what’s going on w this sort of argument more broadly. so, even if it is a conjecture about what michaela was thinking, still it’s, in some very real sense, simply *not about her* in the way she worries. she’s one instance of a broader phenomenon; and what we’re concerned with is the broader phenomenon, not *her*. (compare to a researcher looking at lifestyle factors that might’ve influenced the progression of a tumour in an individual patient: even if the researcher is looking at what that patient does, still she’s not interested in *that patient*–she’s interested in cancer.) so, (1) it’s not an ad hominem; and (2) if she genuinely wants an answer to why she shouldn’t have this worry re the WIL blog, i think she needs to refrain from trying to shut down a discussion of *all* the reasons, noble and not, why one might be tempted to reason as such.

    i don’t know…i just don’t see that there’s any point in even discussing her post if we’re going to be so super-careful that we can’t even talk about very relevant factors. and i’m assuming that she sent it in in good faith, wanting a legitimate discussion of it. no?

  19. The discussion seems to have moved on a bit, but since Jender did ask for clarification:

    The author of that post is comparing the harm women suffer from sexual harassment to the harm men suffer from false accusations of sexual harassment. But she seems to be thinking only in terms of individual incidents — the harm suffered by woman A when she’s sexually harassed, the harm suffered by man B when he’s falsely accused. On that scale, she has a point; the two harms are commensurate, we might say.

    But she completely neglects the incidence of these two sources of harm. It’s fairly common for women to be sexually harassed; it’s much, much less common for men to be falsely accused. That’s an instance of the base rate fallacy. On the social scale, the sexual harassment problem is much, much more serious than the false accusation problem.

  20. I guess I’m confused about why M’s post is getting so much push-back here. It follows cleanly from a sensible definition of feminism that feminists ought to be concerned about the ways in which men are disproportionately affected by their gender and about the welfare of men more generally. Even if women do experience more injustice as a result of being women in philosophy than men do qua men in philosophy, it does not follow that we should not be concerned about the sorts of discrimination and injustice that men do, in fact, experience.

    I imagine, for example, that if the ‘What is it Like…” blog got a submission from a man who had been falsely accused of harassment, they would print it and that would be both appropriate and helpful. There’s no reason to view bringing attention to injustice as zero sum.

  21. AEC, I think you’re right that feminists are concerned with injustices faced by men, but at the same time feminism is not merely a concern with a set of individual injustices. Feminists also concern themselves with broader issues of oppression driven by institutional power. Sophia did a really nice job above (post #9) of laying out that distinction.

    I think a few people in this thread have been hesitant to equate the two types of cases on grounds (quite appropriate grounds, I believe) that men do not have to deal with the latter sort of oppression. It’s not that anyone is being dismissive of injustices against men, but rather that folks are trying to emphasize that there are often broader issues of institutional power that aren’t present in those cases.

  22. (Feminist Philosophers, forgive me if I am being uncharitable, unkind, or otherwise doing something you try not to do here)

    AEC- I think there is push-back because it is suggesting that in this place—created specifically to elucidate what it is like being a woman in philosophy, as part of a larger project (Women in Philosophy Task Force) that works to advance gender equality in the profession (recognizing that women are systematically disadvantaged in virtue of their gender)—we should devote time and energy to discussing wrongs which (as others above have pointed out) are not symptoms of oppression per se, nor do we have reason to believe these wrongs are particularly common, nor in my opinion do we have reason to suspect these are wrongs particular to either gender (women after all may also be falsely accused of sexual harassment and sexism as well just as they may be rightly accused of it) and therefore are not instances of injustice on the basis of gender.

    Now, that said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bringing attention to injustice in any form. But suggesting that a lack of discussion of this sort of injustice, in this particular place, constitutes a worry with the project is not merely bringing attention to injustice.

  23. Dan,

    Nowhere in the post does Michaela make (or even imply, on any charitable reading) either of the two comparative claims you mention — a point that’s been lost on a number of the other commentators, as well.

    Nowhere does she say (or imply) that the harm suffered by a woman (either in some particular case or in general) when she’s sexually harassed is commensurate with the harm suffered by a man (either in some particular case or in general) when he’s falsely accused of sexual harassment. And nowhere does she say (or imply) that it’s as common for men to be falsely accused of sexual harassment as it is for women to suffer from it. Rather, what the post says is exactly what AEC reports, which isn’t a comparative claim at all.

    Thus, nowhere in the post is there an instance of the base rate fallacy. The putative cases you mention aren’t instances of it, at any rate; and I don’t see any other plausible candidates.

    (Hi, by the way! Hope that all is well.)

  24. It might be helpful to distinguish three questions

    1) Should one be concerned about injustice to men in general, and male philosophers in particular? The correct answer is clearly yes. A moral person is one who is concerned about all instances of injustice, whether against men or women. Whether one is a man or a woman is irrelevant – one should be concerned about all instances of injustice. If person can do something to reduce injustice, whether against men or women, then he/she should. Micheala sounds like a moral person to me.

    2) Should the organisers of the ‘What is it like to be a woman in philosophy’ blog have done anything different to, or additional to, what they did? I have not seen any good argument to the conclusion that they should have. Nevertheless, reasonable discussion about this, sensitive to the feelings of those who organised the blog, is fair enough not least because it might be helpful in deciding what path to take next (if any).

    3) What should be done to reduce injustice to men in philosophy?

    I guess a lot of the ways – or perhaps that should be all of the ways – in which men are badly treated are ways in which women are badly treated too. See for example Ben’s post above, and the way unfair rumour and innuendo about a man or woman’s behaviour can be harmful. So reducing this type of mistreatment will benefit individuals of both sexes (and benefit women more than men if, as seems likely, they suffer from it more).

    I don’t know how common it is for a person to suffer false accusation – though I can imagine it is devastating when it happens. I guess both men and women suffer from this, though it is likely to be much more commonly men who suffer from it. It is certainly worth people spending thought, time and effort on working out how to prevent this happening, and how to limit the harm when it does happen.

    Finally, another type of major injustice that both men and women may suffer from is that of not being given the job despite being the best candidate. Women may not get it for reasons readers of this blog will be familiar with. Men may not get it because of affirmative action veering from what it should be, namely ‘ensuring women get fair consideration and the best candidate for the job is appointed’ into what it should not be, namely ‘giving women priority over men in hiring decisions, provided they are nearly as good as the men they are up against’. Again women suffer being unjustly denied a job more commonly than men, but one should do what one can to eliminate each and every instance of this type of injustice.

    In sum, focusing upon eliminating all types of injustice will benefit both men and women, but will benefit women disproportionately more because they suffer injustice more commonly.

  25. Comments that violate our policies, and ones flowing from them have been deleted. I will close comments on this post if it continues, and repeated violators will be blocked from posting.

  26. Right, it’s Wednesday morning again. I think wordpress has a staunchly conservative Jenderclone. The deletions get strangely inconsistent and heavyhanded around this time.

  27. From Our Policies: “Further complication: Of course, there will be borderline cases. And we’re just going to have to decide those the best we can. I’m sure you’ll disagree sometimes, as that’s the way borderline cases are. But know that we are really trying to get it right. ”

    Please note that insulting the moderators does not win you friends.

  28. So how does pointing out that Jenderclone’s Wednesday morning (UK lunchour) deletions are inconsistent and heavyhanded violate this site’s policies?

  29. Xena – the point is that sometimes people will disagree with moderators’ decisions about which posts violate our policies. But the moderators are moderating in good faith, and so disagreement is something we’ll all just have to live with.

  30. Moderating is also a lot of work. We do this for free, and we don’t really have time for it. We have clearly stated policies, and it should be pretty bloody obvious that some of the things I deleted violated them. I don’t really have time for this crap. Read the policies, follow them. If you violate them and we merely delete your comments without banning you, you should be bloody grateful.

  31. The real Jender knows where my priorities lie. I do what I do for the common good, not to win friends. She also considers words like conservative to be neutral, not insults.

    She also knows that calling an action inconsistent and heavyhanded is a constructive criticism, not an insult. Insults attack the person. I politely pointed out that Jenderclone’s deletions may not be in line with what this site is trying to accomplish. Jender may be interested in knowing how her employees are performing.

  32. I’ve just been watching this site for long enough to see patterns emerging in the responses. I like to be familiar with the people I’m talking to. I actually hold on to little tidbits like Monkey’s quirky sense of humour and elp’s hatred of royals. Common interests to chat about, you know?

    When somebody behaves out of character, I doubt myself the first 2 or 3 times. But if the unusual behaviour happens consistently during the same 2 shifts every week, I’m fairly certain that I’m not chatting with the same person anymore. Or something odd is happening to my usual host those 2 lunch hours every week? Bad egg salad moment?

    Anyway, my intention was never to hijack M’s post. If you still want to discuss this, we can talk about it over email.

  33. If someone were to reply to a comment by one of the regular male posters with the suggestion that he posted to garner favor with his women philosopher friends, the charge would (rightly) be met with annoyance and anger.

    The above speculations about Michaela’s motives strike me as relevantly similar.

  34. Andrew, the comment about being advantageous seems to me to be a comment about likely effects, not intentions. The idea that the commenter was talking about conscious intentions was explicitly negated.

    If a male commenter said something that seemed to me puzzling and wrong, then I’m doubtful that I’d find the explanation offered offensive.

  35. Hi Michaela,

    I am trying to post this straight on your blog, but it won’t let me!

    sorry about any crap you have received elsewhere for your posting! I believe (personal opinion) that a few of the above comments are unjustifiably dismissive.

    I say well done for raising this issue. My sense is that you are right in a way: there will be cases where men suffer and are accused illegitimately and harmfully. And we should be aware of that possibility. Similarly, some of the stories on ‘what’s it like’ will be cases where someone was not excluded because of gender, but because the excluder was a generic asshole/the exclusion had something to do with juniority/actual inferior quality of work or comments/other prejudices/etc. The possible explanations are numerous. Again we should be aware of that possibility and (always!) have a healthy dose of scepticism.

    But I neverthelesss think that in both cases the overall picture is convincingly and overwhelmingly one where women’s oppression/mistreatment/etc is more prevalent than men’s oppression/mistreatment/etc, and where the former group’s position might be improved by calling attention to it – as the ‘what is it like’ blog does. Also behind the women’s position there might be more systematicity. So I do think that it is important to give a lot of attention to the former kind of oppression/mistreatment – as you acknowledge. But within all that attention it is also important that we never let the latter form of injustice out of our sight. And that is exactly what you were trying to emphasise and alert us to, right? Kudos to you.

    ps – and yes, I too think that feminism has a slight tendency to be far more sensitive to harm and experience suffered by women than harm and experience suffered by men. For example MUCH more on struggles faced by women who break gender stereotypes and roles at work, than by men who do so in the domestic sphere. Maybe – probably – this is quite a forgivable tendency. But it is worth pointing it out and being reminded of it ever so often – kindly and unjudgmentally as you do. So thanks.

    pps Jender, Kudos to you to for posting some posts on ‘what it is like’ that are more ambiguous and raise some of the issues discussed here more explicitly. I worship you at my personal altar btw for starting the blog in the first place.

  36. I do think we should be clear that feminism tends to concentrate on equality for women, but not necessarily to the exclusion of equality for men. For example, several of the issues we’ve engaged in here are also ones important for men. We have discussed paternity leave and all sorts of issues for students. We weren’t worried about body scanners just because of women’s problem. We discussed the awful problem involving urine for a man’s enounter with scanners. We’ve just had two posts on injured men at the protests, one a journalist and not a student. Concerns about male children have been a recurring them.

    In addition, there was some men’s voices on WIL blog, some not very supportive of women. I am not sure why it should be suggested that we ignore men’s issues.

    I find it helpful sometimes in puzzling cases to look at what might be analogous cases. For example, blacks over the last 60-70 years have often worked hard to get equality for blacks. Should we be worried if they don’t include white rights? Should those fighting for undocumented laborers also include the problems of documented workers? In fact, some do, but is there something wrong with those that don’t?

    I’m not talking about blacks who might tear up white property during a protest or even more mildly would like to see whites disadvantaged; rather, I’m talking about those who do not have white rights on their agenda. After all, white men can get beat up by cops, for example, one might say. One could raise similar questions about the innocence project, latinos working the problems of undocumented ‘aliens’, religious groups fighting persecution within their country, and so on. Is there something wrong with groups advocating for women who are breast feeding if they don’t adopt getting men paternity leave as part of their agenda?

    I honestly don’t know what people think about these things. I think, though, that I’ve never felt that groups genuinely fighting for justice were wrong if they didn’t widen their agenda in these sorts of ways.

    I also don’t think we are as excluding as some of those groups.

  37. JJ–I suspect the idea is that a site that encourages accusations has some special responsibility to care about victims of false accusation, because there’s a link between accusing and there being people falsely accused. In the cases you cite, the different problems are independent of each other. There’s nothing at all the says you should be concerned about documented workers, just because you’re concerned about undocumented workers. The one problem is in no way the cause of the other.

    So theoretically you might read WIL and be worried about these falsely accused men, but honestly I don’t. Accusing a professor of sexual harassment is a huge undertaking, with lots of negative ramifications for the accuser. So I don’t really see how there can be a whole lot of spuriously accused men running around. There might be some problems for men in the profession, but is that a real one?

    On another note, I think it would be a fine thing if the stories at WIL were supplemented by some statistics. Part of knowing what it’s like to be a woman in philosophy is knowing how often these things occur.

  38. The analogy to “white rights” is unhelpful and even embarrassing. But it is hardly more embarrassing, I suppose, than the worry that blogs devoted to feminism or to the experiences of women in philosophy should make a point of concerning themselves with the mistreatment of men as such.

    There is no systematic or generally significant problem of white men in philosophy being mistreated on account of their whiteness or maleness. To suggest otherwise is a diversion, intentional or not, from incomparably greater social identity problems in the profession.

  39. Jean, I think the original post at Bolder really didn’t suggest this connection. I do agree that some connection might distinguish the cases I listed from this one, but I’d worry a lot if the connection you mentioned were alleged. Among other things, I think it’s important that little or nothing on either blog has encouraged official complaints. It is important that women discuss bad experiences, but unfortunately there’s a lot of evidence that officially complaining can result in a lot of harm done to the person complaining.

    anon sr philosopher: I wasn’t clear. I meant to refer to the civil rights movement (supposing one can assume there is one thing) and not anything to do with philosophy. There are white guys who maintain that that movement was faulty just because it concentrated on blacks. I meant to ask, then, whether the idea that feminists are faulty in their concentration on women is comparable.

    For the record, I’m not really supportive of white complaints that blacks are wrong to concentrate on injustice done to them.

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