Will Kansas law shut down last 3 abortion-providing clinics?

Whenever I’m getting an outpatient procedure, I always ask, is the janitor’s closet big enough?  Because if it is not, how can you safely provide medical services for women?  Via Huffpo:

According to some of the new clinic requirements, an abortion facility in Kansas must be set to a temperature between 68 and 73 degrees, have a janitor’s closet of at least 50 square feet and an operating room of 150 square feet, feature separate dressing rooms for staff and patients and have 13 different types of drugs on hand. A patient is now required to stay in the recovery room, which must have a temperature between 70 and 75 degrees, for at least two hours after her procedure, even if the procedure requires no anesthesia.

The requirements are so numerous and specific that it’s almost impossible for Kansas’ three abortion clinics to get up to speed by July 1, the licensing deadline. The Republican lawmakers who pushed for the bill insist that they aren’t aiming to shut down all of Kansas’ abortion clinics — but that they are just looking out for women’s health and safety.

Do you do this? Enlisting a male voice to help.

I remember many years ago a woman philosopher friend phoned me to say she felt so ashamed.   She had had someone out to her house to discuss repairs and he was putting her under some perssure to sign up.  She couldn’t get rid of him, she said.  So  eventually she just said, “I’m sorry but I must discuss it with my husband before I can agree to anything.”   She wasn’t married.

Now, I don’t think that strategy had ever occurred to me before then, and I have to say that my spouse is not keen on coming on as the decider and/or in other contexts the heavy.  But recently I have been trying to negotiate my way through a very complex hierarchical buracracy, when the behavior can unhelpful to the point of being bizarre.  And incomprehensible.  E.g., I finally got this very major giant of an organization to phone.  And in fact they phoned three times.  Each time I picked up the phone and said “Hello”.  There was a three second pause (timed by my phones) and then a click as the call was ended.

Of course, having called, they felt they had discharged their obligation to contact me.  So enter the spouse, who does get short-tempered.  Cleverly, they said they could not discuss the situation with him, because I had not given them permission to do so.  However, he was undeterred.

The thing is, it works.  Problem solved.  This has happened twice in the last two weeks. 

Does one get corrupted by brining on one’s spouse, whether fake or real?  I’m afraid so.  But, on the other hand, I had spent 3 days and 10 phone calls trying to do it on my own, and gotten only these ghostly phone calls..

Would you ever do this?

Bodies in Crisis – call for papers

Bodies in Crisis

The Nordic Network Gender, Body, Health in collaboration with RIKK – Center for Women’s and Gender Research and EDDA – Center of Excellence at the University of Iceland
2-4 November, 2011
University of Iceland, Reykjavik

The Nordic Network Gender, Body, Health is based at the Centre for Gender Research at Uppsala University, Sweden and had its first network meeting in January 2008. With the aim of achieving productive interdisciplinary work on issues concerning gender, body, and health, the network gathers researchers and practitioners from a number of diverse fields such as medicine, comparative literature, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, cultural geography, sports- and health sciences, psychiatry, social psychology, and history of science.

We now invite submissions for the fifth meeting with the network Gender, Body, Health, an international conference under the theme “Bodies in Crisis”. The conference will take place on November 2-4, 2011 at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary Conference of RIKK – The Center for Women’s and Gender Research at the University of Iceland.

We welcome submissions for papers, panels, and mini-workshops approaching issues within the overarching theme from a broad range of disciplines and fields of research.

Topics can include, but are not limited to:

• Representations and Discourses of Bodies in Crisis
• Vulnerability and Suffering
• Bodies in Economic Crisis and Poverty
• Trauma and PTSD
• Sexuality and Reproduction in Times of Crisis
• Global Bodies and Bodies in Transition
• Bodily Boundaries and Integrity
• Responsible Bodies and Crises of Responsibility
• Healing and Cathartic Forces of Crisis

One page abstracts are due August 1, 2011. Please submit your abstracts to body@gender.uu.se.

Reader Query Re Partners of Sex Workers

A reader writes:

The girlfriend of a female acquaintance of mine has recently decided to become a prostitute with male clients. Apparently her reason is that she is sex positive and really wants to do this. My acquaintance (who is not a sex worker herself) is having hard time coping with this decision. In order to come to grips with it, she would like to know of websites, discussion forums or blog that are aimed at and/ or written by partners of sex workers. Does anyone have suggestions?

I’ll be very grateful if you could put suggestions in comments. I’d like to ask you, though, to confine yourself to the question asked. There are lots of very legitimate debates that could be had over sex work, and also over words like ‘sex positive’. But let’s not have them here.

Epistemic Justice and the Costs of Exclusion

A welcome email from Alison Wylie gave a web site for the contents of an issue of Hypatia on Epistemic Justice and Women in Philosophy:  the Costs of Exclusion.

Actually, there’s quite a bit of Hypatia news on the web site; here’s the part most relevant to the particular issue of Hypatia (#2 of vol. 26):

Epistemic Justice, Ignorance, and Procedural Objectivity
The groundwork has long been laid, by feminist and critical race theorists, for recognizing that a robust social epistemology must be centrally concerned with questions of epistemic injustice; it must provide an account of how inequitable social relations inflect what counts as knowledge and who is recognized as a credible knower. The cluster of papers we present here came together serendipitously and represents a striking convergence of interest in exactly these issues. In their different ways, each contributor is concerned both to understand how dominant epistemic norms perpetuate ignorance and injustice and to articulate effective strategies for redressing these inequities…

Women in Philosophy: The Costs of Exclusion
Philosophy has the dubious distinction of attracting and retaining proportionally fewer women than any other field in the humanities, indeed, fewer than in all disciplines but for the most resolutely male-dominated of the sciences. As Marije Altorf notes in her contribution to this cluster, “the debate on the sparseness of women in philosophy often starts with shocking numbers or with anecdotes about means of exclusion” (this issue, 388), and certainly there is much to report on this front. It is striking however, that while the contributors to this “found cluster” take such evidence as their point of departure, their focus is on questions about the implications of under-representation—not just of women but of diverse peoples of all kinds in philosophy, as Kristie Dotson characterizes the problem—and on devising effective strategies for change. I begin with some of the depressing figures presupposed by the article, the four Musings, and two reviews that make up this cluster, and then briefly identify key themes that cross-cut these discussions…

Read Alison Wylie’s entire introduction for the clusters (Epistemic Injustice and Women in Philosophy) and access the table of contents and articles of the issue at Wiley-Blackwell

The College Board and Educating young men of color

Many may think of the College Board’s role in the education of young men of color as at least problematic.  The College Board is often taken to be the gate keeper to much in higher education in the United States, and their exams are thought by many to provide very hefty obstacles for many whose social environment is not solidly white American. 

I think we should put those issues aside to look at the recent results of the Board’s advocacy and policy arm, which is making available the results of quite extensive research on how to increase the success of young men of color in college.  While they do not address all the questions we have raised – such as why there is a dearth of African American professors of philosophy – some of their general recommendations could give one ideas about how to make a philosophy department more attractive to people of color.

This web site has videos from a conference on educating young men of color and three important publications, the latter on the right hand side. 

The publication on legal implications and policy guidelines looks to address concerns about programs that admit a subgroup that is identified by race or sex.  It looks to be important if you want to design a program, but it also addresses some issues that may come up as one just starts to discuss addressing, e.g., the present whiteness of an area of study.

A publication review of research and progress is to some extent case based, and draws on the experience of specific individuals.  Another publication, with the alarming subtitle “Capturing the student voice,” has a lot of data that breaks down various sub-groups.   These two publications also have general policy recommendations.  The latter address some of the issues about framing the questions that guide research and perhaps misguide it.  For example, one passage points out that white experience is standardly taken as the norm against which the experience of people of color is measured.  As they point out, this leaves out the question of whether meeting that norm is a particularly good goal.

Here’s one list of general recommendations, from the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s article,  for what is emphasized as an important national problem:  the nation’s failure to capitalize on the talent and resources in communities of color:

1. Minimize the experience of ‘feeling like an outsider’ by recruiting a critical mass of men of color.
2. Elevate the importance of aid that addresses life issues to the same level as academic and financial aid.
3. Increase access and support for students who step off the pipeline, yet want to step back on.
4. Close the engagement gap (in terms of curriculum and learning) for better outcomes.
5. Increase the chances for getting help from campus resources.
6. Create a support culture of community, connection, and relationship building on campus.

Thanks, Nathaniel!!

How to (not?) defend the humanities!

The British Academy host a conference on “the humanities under threat“, featuring a “distinguished panel” of seven male speakers.

No women.

Now, I welcome the organising of such events. But isn’t it precisely the study of humanities that should (also) teach us the value of diversity????? Shouldn’t such a conference set an example of what the study of humanities involves, not merely discuss what it should be? Walk the walk, not merely talk the talk?

Why oh why was this overlooked — again?

rant over.

More women charged with murder after miscarriages

The Guardian reports:

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

And she’s not the only one. Yet more cases to discuss next time you teach Susan Bordo’s brilliant “Are mothers persons?” (Unbearable Weight)

I’m figuring the feminist worries about this are too obvious to spell out in this context, so I thought I’d note a less obvious one.

I have a friend who specialises, in the UK, in care for pregnant women with addiction problems. She has helped hundreds (actually, probably thousands by now) of women addicted women through their pregnancies and birth and thanks to the specialised care they provide they have all been healthy, as have their babies. But the specialised care is important. And she tells me that such care is simply not possible in the US, because addicted pregnant women who admit their addiction risk criminal charges. Even if all you care about is the babies, then, you should oppose this: the babies of addicted women are far less likely to be born healthy when their mothers can’t seek the care they need.

And, may I just add, HTF does “depraved-heart murder” get to be a legal category?!

(Thanks, M!)

The Wal-Mart Case and Indirect Discrimination

As noted here and here, the Supreme Court has ruled that the women of the class action discrimination lawsuit don’t have enough in common to constitute a class for this purpose. A crucial part of the reasoning behind this seems to be the claim that there was nothing systematic involved in denying women promotions and pay increases: these decisions were devolved to individual managers, and the corporation had a clear anti-discrimination policy. So it must have been just a bunch of individual decisions– no reason to believe there’s a pattern.

But there’s a nice argument from Nelson Lichtenstein that this is not the case: Walmart required managers to work 50 hour weeks on a regular basis, and 80-90 hour weeks occasionally. It also demanded that nearly everyone promoted to managerial ranks move to a different store, often hundreds of miles away. All this, quite obviously, disadvantages women. The idea that policies like this unfairly disadvantage women will be a familiar thought to feminist philosophers. Susan Moller Okin and Joan Williams discuss this, and it would count as discrimination under MacKinnon’s Dominance conception. I’m pretty sure it would also count as Indirect Discrimination under UK and EU law. And it’s definitely a pattern, so should have been enough to ground a class action suit.