Ought we discuss sexual violence in higher ed?

From a reader:

I came across [trigger warning] this article about the motivations of perpetrators of sexual assault. It highlights the importance of talking about sex and sexual violence with young people.

This brought up an issue I’ve been thinking about a lot recently: do we have an obligation to intentionally foster discussions about sex and sexual violence in philosophy courses? It seems this might be the case particularly in courses where these discussions easily relate to the course material (as is the case in many introductory ethics courses.)  As authority figures we have the opportunity to normalize and validate the importance of the discussion of sex and sexual violence. This is particularly salient given that these issues are rarely discussed in other academic settings and that college students inhabit a culture where they often have to navigate these complicated issues.

I’m curious what other people think about this.

So it is possible, if you have the money

Education to a professional, post-doctoral level can represent a heavy substantial financial investment; it is also something from which a country’s economy can benefit greatly. So what do we do about the apparently large number of people who take a break in their scientific careers because they having conflicting caring responsibilities?

Money may well help, a fact all too depressing to relatively unsupported disciplines such as philosophy, which is seen as making little difference economically:

From: UAS Race Equality
Date: 31 July 2012 16:03:44 GMT+01:00
To: “race-equality-network@maillist.admin.ox.ac.uk”
Subject: EPSRC funding to support research scientists with caring responsibilities: Call for proposals

Dear REN

Please find attached information on funding available via the From: UAS Race Equality
Date: 31 July 2012 16:03:44 GMT+01:00
To: “race-equality-network@maillist.admin.ox.ac.uk”
Subject: EPSRC funding to support research scientists with caring responsibilities: Call for proposals

Dear REPlease find attached information on funding available via the EPSRC to support and retain research scientists with caring responsibilities, including:

· Women and men who have taken, or are currently taking, a career break to care for a child or close relative (including for maternity/paternity/adoption reasons)
· Women and men who are working part time because they have caring responsibilities.

Applications should be sent to vanessa.howe@admin.ox.ac.uk by 5pm on 31 August or 21 September 2012.

Whilst this may not be of direct interest to you please can we ask you to publicise this funding as widely as possible. A successful pilot of this strategic funding was carried out in 2011/12 and it had a real impact on enhancing the grant holders research.

Thank you in advance for your help in spreading the word.


Caroline Kennedy
Equality and Diversity Unit
University of Oxford
University Offices
Wellington Square
email: caroline.kennedy@admin.ox.ac.uk
Tel: 01865 289825
Web: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop

Thanks, Nathaniel!

Some kinds of sexism kind of liberating

There is a great article in Canada’s National Post, A Weighty Issue at the Olympics: Swimmer Leisel Jones is Fit not Fat. It documents the policing of women’s weight in the context of the Olympics. Swimmer Leisel Jones, the Brazilian women’s soccer team, heptathletes Louise Hazel and Jessica Ennis-and the British women’s beach volleyball team have all been called “fat.” I must say that in an odd way I’ve been finding the media’s scrutiny of the bodies of the women athletes competing in the Olympics liberating. First, there’s the debates about gender testing and body policing. Because we all know real athletes can’t actually be female. But there is also the attention paid to the size of the bodies of women athletes, rather than to their athletic achievements and performance. You see for years I’ve wanted to look like the recreational athlete I am, to have people see me and recognize the hours and effort I put in. However, I now see that’s completely unrealistic. If the media are going to harp on about the weight of women who have qualified for the Olympics, the rest of us don’t stand a chance. Athletes aren’t built like fashion models. Surprise, surprise. Clearly a healthier attitude is to give up noticing what the rest of the world thinks because clearly lots of the world is far out of tune with the reality of what athletes look like.

Inside Higher Ed on the Modest Proposal

Inside Higher Ed discusses Eric and Mark’s proposal. (Thanks, MA!)

Barbara Winslow reports in comments:

Thanks to the hard work of the Coordinating Committee of Women Historians (formerly the Coordinating Committee of Women Historians/conference Group on Women’s History) which convinced both major history associations, the American History Association (AHA) and the Organization of American Historians (OAH) that there can never be plenary or conference sessions that are all male (or all female for that matter) We did this almost 30 years ago.

The academic cost of parenthood

“Career progress relative to opportunity: how many papers is a baby ‘worth’?”

Natascha Klocker, University of Wollongong
Danielle Drozdzewski, University of New South Wales

How many papers is a baby ‘worth’? We were prompted to ask this provocative question by recent experiences, working on appointment committees and writing research grants in Australia, where provisions to quantify research track-records ‘relative to opportunity’ call
for applicants to explain how fluctuations in their publication outputs have been impacted by ‘career interruptions’ such as childbearing. In this age of the increasingly neoliberal university—where every activity, output, and impact is audited (Castree, 2000; 2006)—our commentary seeks to question how decision makers account (or not) for the career impacts
of having children.

Our interest in this issue is both personal and political. We are both female early-career researchers and each of us had our first (and currently, only) child within one year of attaining
our doctorates. One of us has a continuing/tenured position at an Australian university; the other is on a fixed-term contract. The demands on our time have been stretched considerably since starting our families; and an acute watchfulness of output and productivity is never far
from our minds. We worry about not being able to keep up with the expected pace of publishing, gaining grants, and teaching in between, thus remaining competitive and employable. Of course, we are not the first academics to feel like this. Well-documented coping strategies
adopted by female (and some male) academics include: waiting until tenured before having children or not having children at all, timing children to fit the academic calendar, working part-time, increasing research collaborations, hiding caring responsibilities, sleeping less,
sacrificing personal lives and, for some, moving into the ‘second tier’ (1) or opting out of academia altogether. It is against the backdrop of such prospects, and in the spirit of finding ways to incorporate parental responsibilities into the expectations of academic labour, that we find ourselves taking seriously the seemingly callous question of how many outputs childbearing might be ‘worth’ within the academic workplace.

See more here.

From Environment and Planning A 2012, volume 44, pages 1271 – 1277

Blatant Sexism and Misogyny in Olympic Advertising: Proudly Brought to You By GoDaddy

The SF Chronicle recently declared the 2012 Olympics “The Year of the Woman.”  The domain registrar GoDaddy appears to agree but seems to have a very different interpretation of women’s most impressive strengths and talents.  As Americans tune in to watch and support all the athletes in the 2012 Olympics, they will be also treated to GoDaddy’s sexist advertising.  These ads could be worse, though; they could feature Olympians instead of the nameless female bodies they do feature.  Wait, that might be better, for then viewers might at least recognize that the women depicted are subjects as well as objects, active as well as passive.

Critical thinking webpage, input welcome

From Cate Hundleby:
I have just launched a critical thinking webpage with the express purpose of guiding instructors in their choice of textbooks, but with larger pedagogical and liberatory purposes in mind.  The implicit feminist approach and the express goals of helping novice instructors in the field may make this site useful for women and feminist philosophers.  If women tend to do the part-time and temporary work they are likely also to be assigned to the (inappropriately) low-prestige work of teaching critical thinking at the first and second year levels.
I welcome input. (Note: I hope to expand the “feminist and liberatory” discussion. ) Feel free to email: