Now that I’ve stopped laughing and can breathe again, I can share this website that I came across through a Sociological Images article.

Sexcereal: The first gender-based wholefood.


Seriously though, I first thought this was a joke, because saying that men need testosterone and women need “balanced hormones” is the most ridiculous oversimplification of our biology, ever.

And then I remembered: ridiculous oversimplification of biology is the standard conception of gender in our cultures.

Invitation to the Seminar of Luce Irigaray

Since 2003, Luce Irigaray holds a seminar with researchers doing their PhD on her work. This way, they have the opportunity to receive personal teaching from Luce Irigaray and to exchange ideas, methods
and experiences between them. The seminar was welcomed by the University of Nottingham during the first three years (see Luce Irigaray: Teaching edited by Luce Irigaray with Mary Green, and published by Continuum, London & New York, 2008), by the University of Liverpool the fourth year, by Queen Mary, University of London, the fifth year, by the Goodenough College of London the sixth year, by the University of Nottingham the seventh year, by the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol as co-hosts the eighth year, and by the University of Bristol the ninth year. The seminar will take place at the University of Bristol in 2013.

The framework of the seminar is this: A group of at most fifteen researchers, doing their PhD on the work of Luce Irigaray, stay one week on the university campus. The timetable includes a presentation by each researcher of the aspect of their PhD which most focuses on the work of Luce Irigaray, the discussion of this presentation by the group, the comments of Luce Irigaray herself and her answers to the questions asked by each one, and also sessions devoted to an explanation of some key-words or key-thoughts chosen by the participants. Personal meetings with Luce Irigaray are organized on the last day. The participants pay for their travel, but receive, at least in part, hospitality from the university. The language of the seminar is English.

The participants in the seminar come from different regions of the world, they belong to different cultures, traditions and fields of research – Philosophy, Gender Studies, Religious Studies, Literature, Arts, Critical and Cultural Studies, etc. The themes of their research include, for example: the treatment of personal or cultural traumatic experience; the resources that various arts can offer for dwelling in oneself and with the other(s); the maternal order and feminine genealogy; the interpretation and embodiment of the divine today; the contribution of sexuate difference to personal and social development; new perspectives in philosophy etc. In each of these fields, diverse domains, approaches and methods are represented. To date, the participants came from Australia, Vietnam, Korea, China, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Latvia, France, Belgium, Pakistan, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Romania and from different regions and universities of the U.S.A. and of the U.K. Beyond the multicultural teaching which results from such a gathering, the participants learn to live together and to share in difference during the time devoted to the work, and during meals, walks, personal meetings etc. The atmosphere of the seminar is intense but friendly and joyful, and its outcome highly successful for both the research and the life of each participant.

If you are interested and would like to participate in such a seminar please send as soon as possible a CV, a PhD abstract (1 page) and a presentation of the issues and arguments of your PhD that most focus on the work of Luce Irigaray (5 – 6 pages) to Luce Irigaray (by mail: 15, rue Lakanal, 75015 Paris, France). After receiving this material, Luce Irigaray will tell you if you can participate in the seminar of 2013. You will be in contact, for further practical information, in the Spring after the selection of the candidates.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin


“Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. […] Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.”

~ Jeremy Knowles

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a truly extraordinary woman. (Thanks, J!)

Denis Mukwege: helping women in the Democratic Republic of Congo

As readers will no doubt be aware, rape is used as a weapon of war in the DRC. Denis Mukwege is a surgeon there who has helped thousands of women, developing expertise in dealing with serious sexual injuries. The war that has been raging for several years in DRC is about resources. A good way to force people off their land is to publicly rape and torture all the women, forcing everyone else to watch. In this way, a whole community is made to flee, leaving behind their homes, belongings, and land.

After being attacked by armed men at his home, Denis Mukwege moved with his family to Sweden, but the women of DRC begged him to return, even saving money to pay for his plane ticket. He couldn’t refuse, and has gone back to carry on his work.

You can read more on the BBC website.

Gender and Uptalk

I’ve been thinking about uptalk a bit lately–someone suggested to me that it’s not a beneficial speech habit for women, as it might play in to negative stereotypes–and just came across this discussion of an interesting study on gender differences in the use of uptalk. The take-away:

As Linneman explains, “One of the most interesting findings coming out of the project is that success has an opposite effect on men and women on the show.”  Linneman measured success in two ways: He compared challengers to returning champions, and he tracked how far ahead or behind contestants were when they responded.  Linneman found that, “The more successful a man is on the show, the less he uses uptalk. The opposite is true for women… the more successful a woman is on the show, the more she uses uptalk.” Linneman suspects that this is “because women continue to feel they must apologize for their success.”

There’s another interesting discussion at Slate, In Defense of Upspeak.

Readers: What do you think?

Guns & Sexual Assault

One of the current hashtags trending on twitter is #LiberalTips2AvoidRape.  It started off as conservatives mocking liberals (based on something a Democratic Colorado legislator said), but I recently checked the hastag and there seem to be as many (if not more) progressives using it to mock the hashtag itself.

For instance, there’s this one:

#liberaltips2avoidrape: Don’t rape someone. Oh, I’m sorry, are these supposed to be sarcastic?

But there are still some originalist tweets out there, too, like this one:

#Liberaltips2AvoidRape Don’t carry a gun. Just call 911 and enjoy the next 10 minutes while you wait.

I understand that Republicans and conservatives suddenly acting like *they* are the ones who really care about sexual assault prevention is kind of laughable.  But there is an actual argument going on here that is sort of substantive; it’s an offshoot of the general gun debate in the US.  I myself probably support banning concealed weapons on campuses, because I believe that statistics show that having more people carrying around concealed weapons is likely to increase the prevalence of violence, not decrease it.  But there are (at least) two actual arguments to engage in here: (1) Is that actually what the statistics say?  and (2) Even if those statistics are correct, is any other compelling reason why we should still permit people to have concealed weapons on campus?  There’s also a parallel argument to be had about whether a woman owning a gun tends to increase or decrease her chances of being harmed, specifically in the context of the threat of assault.  (Again, I think the statistics heavily suggest that guns don’t actually help keep women safe in this way.)

But honestly, I find myself a little miffed at the liberal hordes out there who are suddenly acting like *they* are all hardcore feminists every time conservatives do something misogynistic. Conservatives are not the only ones to score cheap political points on women; they have valid points to make about Palin and Bachmann, for instance.

Then again, I’m sure that some people are legitimately outraged at conservatives using rape to score political points against straw Democrats, so I won’t suggest that all the mocking of the hashtag is in bad faith. And I am seeing some actually helpful information about sexual assault and guns being disseminated through the hashtag, so bully for that.
I guess I’m just tired of the trench warfare surrounding the gun control debate in the US, where people scream that their opponents are either unthinking pawns of the gun lobby or unthinking pansies who are putting their fellow citizens in danger through incompetence.  What gets ignored in this newest context is that the whole country has done a terrible job at preventing rape and sexual assault.  When it comes to preventing violence and specifically violence against women, none of us really have the moral high ground to scoff at the other side because the whole country has largely ignored the epidemic of rape culture.

It’s not just conservatives who have terribly wrong misconceptions about rape and sexual assault.  It’s not just conservatives who think it’s okay to make rape jokes (and it’s a stretch to say this hashtag was originally a kind of rape joke–the butt of the joke was the supposedly clueless democratic legislators, not people who get sexually assaulted).  So while it’s good that people are hijacking the hashtag, I can’t help but roll my eyes at the notion that liberals are TOTALLY AGHAST that anyone would use sexual assault for cheap political points or cheap laughs.

Welcome to America, home of the pervasive rape culture.