I’m not expert in comics and/or superheroes and I know there ARE female superheroes, or better, superheroines, such as Firestar, Black Widow, Aquagirl, and Batwoman.  (A wiki list can be found here.) Where are the mainstream superheroines geared towards kids lately?  It’s not that they never existed, but they have been written out of the newest iterations of the mainstream kid shows.  My son and daughter are into the superhero scene, which has led to my 7 year old daughter being mocked for liking Spiderman.  (She seemed bemused and dismissed the mocking and the mocker pretty quickly.)  We went with a Marvel comic theme in my son’s room and it wasn’t difficult to find many superheroines in posters and such for his room.  But when it comes to current kids TV shows, kids movies, and most kids merchandise today, the superhero seen is virtually all male. For girls, as we know the toy market is virtually all pink and princesses.

This predicament did lead to a fun activity with my kids.  They made up their own superheroines, including No Weakness, Scary Girl, Tool Girl, Hide Girl, and Loud Woman.

Where have all the mainstream superheroines for kids gone and how can we bring them back?

Envisioning Plurality: Feminist Perspectives on Pluralism in Ethics, Politics, and Social Theory

Call for Papers: FEAST: The Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory invites submissions for the Fall 2013 conference:

Envisioning Plurality: Feminist Perspectives on Pluralism in Ethics, Politics, and Social Theory

Oct. 17-20, 2013

Fiesta Resort and Conference Center Tempe, AZ

Submission deadline: February 28, 2013

Keynote speakers: Linda Martín Alcoff, Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Author of Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self,  Alcoff has initiated public discussions of pluralism, through both her Pluralist’s Guide to Philosophy and her 2012 NYT op-ed piece addressing Arizona’s censorship of the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.

Jennifer Lisa Vest is a mixedblood (Black/Florida Seminole/German) poet and philosopher who holds the position of Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Central Florida.  Co-author of Philanthropy in Communities of Color, her book manuscript Sovereign Wisdom: Generating Academic Native American Philosophy is under review.

Invited Sessions: •       Viewing and discussion of film, “Precious Knowledge” •       Invited Panel on Pluralism

FEAST encourages submissions related to this year’s theme. However, papers on all topics within the areas of feminist ethics and social theory are welcome.

Description of this year’s theme: One meaning of pluralism within philosophy is that it seeks to bring underrepresented theoretical perspectives and underrepresented groups into the philosophical mainstream, transforming philosophy as a result. Yet what is meant by “pluralism” and how to assess whether or not pluralism has been achieved remains hotly contested.

While philosophy is often depicted as the academic field most in need of pluralistic correctives, other disciplines, too, struggle with the marginalization of those whom, due to their theoretical approaches or their bodies, have been pushed to the edges of their disciplines.

This year’s FEAST conference encourages submissions that challenge us to think in new ways about the boundaries, methodologies, and subject matter of academic subfields that pertain to feminist ethics, politics, and social theory, broadly construed. The program committee welcomes papers that take both theoretical and practical approaches to these issues. We aim to create a conference with a diverse group of presenters and a wide range of approaches, topics, and styles. FEAST strongly encourage members of groups that are underrepresented in academia to send submissions.

Call to submit a panel proposal (topic and speakers) for a lunch time “Difficult Conversation” FEAST conferences typically feature a lunch time “Difficult Conversation” that focuses on an important, challenging, and under-theorized topic related to feminist ethics or social theory. Past topics include: Critical Understandings of Dependency and Disability; Are Academic Feminist Philosophies and Methodologies Still Too White?; A Difficult Conversation about Feminist Sexualities and Identities.  We hereby invite proposals for next year’s Difficult Conversation.

Submission Guidelines A completed paper of no more than 3000 words must be submitted for individual presenters and prepared for anonymous review. Proposals for a Difficult Conversations session or for non-paper formats (e.g., workshops, discussions, etc.) must include detailed descriptions (500-750 words).

Please send your submission, in one document (a Word file, please, so that abstracts can be posted), to  by February 28, 2013.  Your document must include: paper title, abstract of 100-250 words, and your paper, with no identifying information. The word count (max. 3,000) should appear on the top of the first page of your paper. In the body of the email message, please include: your paper or panel title, name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, surface mail address, and phone number. All submissions will be anonymously reviewed.

Note: Panel organizers, please send the panel title and all three abstracts and papers in one document, along with word counts (3,000 for each paper). Difficult Conversations and other non-paper submissions should be marked as such.

For more information on FEAST or to see programs from previous conferences, go to: Questions on this conference or the submission process may be directed to the Program Chair, Jean Keller, at

“Perhaps I haven’t followed the argument, but it seems to me you might have a problem with…”

A brand new blog has opened with an interesting discussion. Do questions that start by positioning the speaker in a possibly subordinate position make her less believable professionally? Does one invite epistemic injustice for oneself? And should one therefore take a more aggressive stance?

The discussion is interesting and more complex than I’m capturing here. The questioned centered on is whether the writer should change her style. Do go have a look.

One question raised is whether the style of speech is more typical female than male. My own sense is that there’s wide agreement in the relevant literatures that there is a female or feminine style that is more hesitant and deferential. The effects are perhaps fairly unexpected and odd, if this abstract is right:

Women with feminine speech patterns (i.e., use of tag questions, modals, intensifiers, and numeral approximations) are seen as less confident, less assertive, and less believable than women with masculine speech patterns. The present study examined how masculine and feminine speech patterns affect the acceptance by superiors of decisions made by male and female subordinates. Seventy-nine male and female students listened to a tape recording of a subordinate’s proposal for a new electronic game. The results demonstrated that the proposals of subordinates with masculine speech patterns were more likely to be accepted by male listeners, whereas female listeners were not influenced by the speech patterns.

If the conclusion is right, it looks as though it would behoove women in a male dominated context to present themselves non-deferentially, etc.

At the same time, if you are fortunate enough to be able to have some discussion in your department about biasing factors, this particular area could go into the list of things to cover.

RIP Soran Reader

Soran did an enormous amount to resuscitate SWIP-UK several years ago.


We are very sad to announce the death of Dr Soran Reader, who died peacefully at her home in Cambridge on 1st September, following a long period of illness. Soran joined the Philosophy Department at Durham as a Lecturer in 1993, having completed her PhD at Cambridge. She was promoted to Reader in 2007 and also became the founder and director of Durham’s Centre for Ethical Philosophy. Soran retired due to illness in June 2012, at which point she was awarded the title of Emeritus Reader. She is best known for her work in ethics, on topics such as need and patiency. Soran’s writings on need include the monograph Needs and Moral Necessity (Routledge, 2007) and the edited volume The Philosophy of Need (CUP, 2005). Her work on patiency is exemplified by her important article ‘The Other Side of  Agency’ (Philosophy, 2007). Despite undergoing treatment for a brain tumour in 2009, Soran continued to work on her philosophy until her retirement. Some of her more recent thoughts are brought together in the article ‘Ethical Necessities’ (Philosophy, 2011). Soran was a passionate, courageous philosopher, who was not afraid to confront difficult issues, particularly concerning feminism, pacifism and employment justice; she was and will continue to be an inspiration to many. Soran will be greatly missed by her former colleagues and her many friends. She leaves two daughters, Chloe and Mahalia. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.

Anyone wishing to post or to email messages of support to her family is welcome to contact Dawn Wilson (née Phillips) at dawn.wilson AT


Matthew Ratcliffe and Dawn Wilson

Addressing sexual assaults on campus

Amid an investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice, the University of Montana has implemented a new requirement that all students score 100% on a quiz regarding to how prevent sexual assault after watching a mandatory online tutorial before they are allowed to register for their second semester of classes. Read about it here.