Over on the What We’re Doing blog, I’ve just put up a post that really moved me and made me feel good about what we’re accomplishing through this blog and through What It’s Like. It’s about a senior male philosopher who became aware of the problems for women in the profession through the Gendered Conference Campaign and the What It’s Like blog. He’s now going out of his way (in many ways) to support female colleagues. Here’s one of the things he says:
“The reason I am where I am today is that my best competitors were women who graduated the same year as me. They have all left the profession. You should not.”
I found this both very sad and very heartening. Sad, obviously, because of all the women who left the profession. But heartening that he realises his success is partly due to this fact (the sort of thing that’s very hard to acknowledge about oneself), and even more heartening that he’s doing something to keep women in the profession now.
Here’s what Dr Denis MacShane (PhD in Economics from Birkbeck!) said:
Mr MacShane: My hon. Friend mentioned the London School of Economics. Is she aware of its feminist political theory course, taught by Professor Anne Phillips? In week 8 of the course, students study prostitution. The briefing says:
“If we consider it legitimate for women to hire themselves out as low-paid and often badly treated cleaners, why is it not also legitimate for them to hire themselves out as prostitutes?”
If a professor at the London School of Economics cannot make the distinction between a cleaning woman and a prostituted woman, we are filling the minds of our young students with the most poisonous drivel.
Of course, it’ll come as no surprise to readers of this blog that Phillips was not by any means lacking ability to draw this distinction, but instead asking her students to reflect critically on similarities and differences. The full context:
One might expect feminists to unite in opposition to prostitution, seeing it as the ultimate symbol of male domination. In fact, there has been a more complex debate, part of which takes us back to the discussion of contract. Does a contract make something OK? Or are there certain relationships that remain exploitative, even if the parties voluntarily enter them? On the other side, if we consider it legitimate for women to hire themselves out as low paid and often badly treated cleaners, why is it not also legitimate for them to hire themselves out as prostitutes? If we treat these two occupations differently, does that involve an illegitimate paternalism or moralism? Again, does it mean endorsing some view of the body as sacrosanct, or of women as having a ‘special’ relationship to their body?
Students should divide themselves into two groups, one charged with making the case that prostitution is not significantly different from other forms of labour (ie, that it may be poorly paid and highly dangerous, but isn’t especially exploitative just because it involves sex/ the body); the other charged with opposing this. You should meet together before the session to work out your arguments and how you wish to present them… Each group will have 20 minutes in which to present its case. You may choose to elect two or three people from the group as spokespersons or may prefer a more collective presentation. For this week, we all meet together as a single group for a combined two-hour session.
Sigh. And, no shock, The Daily Mail has used this as an occasion to ask how we dare to offer Gender Studies courses in a time of budget cuts.
[Expletives deleted.] Thanks, S!
For more, go here.
From the Grindstone: A new study shows that overweight women are more likely to be paid less in their positions than overweight men. It was also found that overweight women are also more prone to being unemployed. The initial study was conducted in Iceland where the “greatest level of gender equality in terms of health, education, business opportunities and political participation” exists. But the trend isn’t just in Iceland, it’s worldwide.The same study found that overweight men are far less affected by the trend. “If anything, larger men were paid more,” said Michigan professor, Edward Norton. “There is something in western society that seems to penalize women for being overweight,” he continued.
The paper, “Do body weight and gender shape the work force? The case of Iceland” is published in Economics & Human Biology
Volume 9, Issue 2, March 2011, Pages 148-156.