Should the US Society for Women in Philosophy change its name?

In a recent talk I gave I mentioned the idea of marked terms. For example, it’s the Tour de France (for men) and the Tour de France Feminin (for women, or it used to be til the other race sued for trademark!) The dominant group doesn’t need to announce itself as a special case but the less powerful or less well known group does.

Consider the case of the Society for Women in Philosophy, or SWIP. Where is SWIP based? In the US, of course. But only in the US would that work as a name. I had the thought that it would be a progressive gesture for SWIP to rename itself the US Society for Women in Philosophy to match the UK Society for Women in Philosophy and the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy. Small things, I know. But increasingly I’m coming to believe that small things do make a difference.

What do you think?

20 thoughts on “Should the US Society for Women in Philosophy change its name?

  1. It would reverberate — Pacific, Midwest, and Eastern SWIP would have to change as well — but the ending of the marginalization implied by the name seems right.

  2. But Eastern US-SWIP isn’t that clunky. Certainly no worse than say the Western CPA or the Midwest APA (I prefer US to American for the usual reasons.)

  3. It really burns me that as a big fan (by institutional terminal degree and devotion) of the UT-Knoxville women’s basketball team–yes, “The Lady Vols”, which is very irritating in its own right–is further denigrated on Comcast/Xfinity in its listings as a programmed “Women’s Basketball” game as opposed to the baseline listing of “Basketball” for alll men’s games. This second-class gloss is especially irritating given that the women Vol team not only outperforms the men’s team and all other men’s sports at UT by record, but also graduates nearly all its players, which far surpasses by double-digits the percentage of graduation of the men’s teams. It would be far more reasonable to list “Women’s Basketball” alongside “Men’s Basketball” as fair and accurate descriptions of what sport is described.

  4. Seems like an easy no-brainer. There could be a global umbrella org called “SWIP”, but clearly regional groups should label themselves appropriately. I can’t think of any downside.

  5. That the international group is qualified while the regional group is not, of course, makes it even more imperative to change the regional groups name!

    So, yeah, no brainer, easy win.

  6. For the record, though, when SWIP started we really were just regional and in the U.S. It worked as a name because it was the first and only, at the time.

    There is no one body that decides what SWIP is, in the USA. We’re only constituted by regional chapters (Eastern, Midwest, Pacific, NY, etc.). There’s no president of SWIP.

  7. Looking at my own comment, I’m not sure I made clear the extent to which this is not the no-brainer one might think it is. Put more baldly, there isn’t a SWIP. There’s not an organization that meets that is just called SWIP. So women in the USA aren’t assembling at a national SWIP and voting on the organization’s name.

    But if y’all are suggesting that each regional chapter change their names (Eastern SWIP-USA, Pacific SWIP-USA, etc.), I could see that. I think NY-SWIP would imagine this unnecessary, however. Their referent is already unambiguous.

    EDITED TO ADD: Actually, given the thread here, and the far-flungness of academics during summer research projects, I went ahead and just emailed the three regional-div secretaries about the existence of this thread.

  8. Funny that this post went up precisely today: I just had a meeting with a couple of colleagues to discuss the idea of launching something like SWIP-NL for the Netherlands.Among other things, we were wondering whether we could simply use the ‘SWIP label’ without asking for anyone’s permission. Thoughts, anyone?
    And as for the main point of the post: sounds like a great idea, SWIP-USA or something like that!

  9. Catarina, there is no one’s permission to ask! Women in Germany were recently emailing around with the same question, and the answer remains: This is a decentralized affair, and no feminists own the label! SWIP away, in all countries!

  10. I’m exec. sect’y of ESWIP, one of three American branches of 5 international SWIP branches. SWIP represents all of them, not just the American ones, and it has no geographic location. Different branches oversee different activities For example, ESWIP makes sure the SWIP Distinguished Woman Philosopher Committee is populated and carrying out its mission, for all 5 SWIPS, and currently pays for the reception at the APA panel. It would be nice to have some overarching SWIP (intl) through which people could find ranches (the old SWIP page on the APA website is years out of date).

  11. I’m Exec Sec of P-SWIP. I don’t see a problem with a name change (although this isn’t for me to decide). However, I do think it’s worth agreeing with those above who have noted that there is no ‘SWIP’ that represents the US and is unmarked as such. Each US SWIP is geographically marked already. If NY SWIP doesn’t need to add ‘US’ out of redundancy, I wonder if there’s much difference in the case of ‘Midwest’, ‘Eastern’, and ‘Pacific’. I don’t know enough about how other countries geographically carve themselves up to know if these terms are used to subdivide academic groupings in places outside of the US. If not, then the US SWIPs are already reasonably marked as not being default SWIP organizations. If so, is it only a problem if some other country is forced to mark itself (e.g., “Eastern SWIP AUS”)? I don’t know the best answer.

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