New Delhi SlutWalk, late July?

I was rather happy to open the Toronto Star this morning and see plans in the works for a Delhi SlutWalk.

Few cities would seem to need a SlutWalk as much as New Delhi does. One quarter of all the rapes that occurred in India last year were reported in New Delhi. While 189 rape complaints were filed in the larger city of Mumbai in 2010, New Delhi had 489, up from 459 a year earlier, according to police statistics.

A survey commissioned last year by a human-rights group reported four out of five women in New Delhi said they had been verbally harassed.

Half had been stalked, and one-third were victims of physical assault.

It’s still routine practice for unmarried women here who claim they’ve been raped to be subjected to a so-called “finger test,” according to a recent Human Rights Watch report, to conclude whether the alleged victim was “habituated to sex” before being assaulted.


Linda Alcoff, this week’s Philosopher of the Stone

And dare I say, it’s the best entry in the Stone I’ve ever read, a gentle refutation of a variety of relativism, appealing to the DSK arrest as an example.  To whet your interest, I excerpt just a wee passage:

The genitals are simply unique in the role they play for reproduction and physical ecstasy, and no discourse can operate as if this is not true. A light touch on the shoulder and a light touch  on the genitals elicit distinct sensations. The body is not infinitely alterable by discourse.

Go read the rest!

Fortress Britain

Every evening, when I’m sitting in my warm, secure house, tucking in to a hearty plate of food, I turn on my expensive flat screen TV and I hear news of those pesky brown people over in North Africa and the Arab Spring nations fighting each other – some minor matter to do with democracy, I gather. Anyway, it now seems that some of them have had the gall to come over to Europe to ‘escape the violence’. Quite a nuisance they’ve been in parts of Italy, sleeping in the streets, and requiring food. The Italian authorities have been calling for other EU countries to help ‘share the burden’ of dealing with these people, and I was growing quite pale at the thought that some of them might even make it as far as Britain. You can thus imagine my great relief when I heard about our own, dear Teresa May’s response on Monday. I was rather worried our government might not see these brown people for the workshy scroungers that they are, and might start saying we’d got to provide some sort of help to people who’ve been fighting against dictatorial regimes propped up by Western governments, had their lives ripped apart by violence, lost loved ones in the struggles, had to leave everything they own and come to a hostile continent, mostly populated by rich strangers who can’t seem to recognise a fellow human in genuine need when they’re staring them in the face. Luckily, Ms May poo-poohed any ridiculous notions of ‘burden-sharing’ and said that countries have got to co-operate to stop this huge deluge of brown people from entering Britain. So we can all sleep easily in our beds, knowing that our government will be working to strengthen our borders. A relief!

World University Rankings

I’m somewhat suspicious of league tables and rankings – although not suspicious enough to reject them entirely (yet). But however one personally feels about them, it’s impossible, as an academic to escape them. I was thus very interested in reading Howard Hotson’s analysis of the World University Rankings. US universities figure heavily in the world top 20. A quick glance at the rankings might thus suggest that we should adopt the US model to improve our university system. However, Hotson argues that if we take into account such obvious factors as population size, and amount invested into the university system, the data actually reveals the opposite.

The natural interpretation of the World University Rankings flies in the face of the key assumption underpinning current British government policy. Market competition in the United States has driven up tuition fees in the private universities and thereby sucked out the resources needed to sustain good public universities, while diverting a hugely wasteful share of these resources from academic priorities to improving the ‘student experience’ and debasing academic credentials through market-driven grade inflation. The partially privatised university system in the United States is not ‘the best of the best’. In terms of value for money, the British system is far better, and probably the best in the world. Willetts should follow the example of the health secretary, take advantage of a ‘natural break in the legislative process’, and go back to the drawing board.

Thanks to Jonathan for drawing our attention to this article in comments.