Query From a Reader: Dismissive Comments

A colleague of a reader recently circulated one of my papers on women in philosophy around her department. It’s been my experience that people usually respond well to the empirical data and the non-blamey tone. (Though maybe that’s just how they respond *to me* and they say other things when I’m not there.) Anyway, this time a more senior colleague responded with dismissive mockery. Any thoughts on how to deal with this?

Zerlina Maxwell Discusses Gun Control & Rape Culture; Receives Threats of Violence

(trigger warning)
Zerlina Maxwell, a media pundit and activist, went on Hannity to talk about gun control and sexual assault. (Specifically whether making it easier for women to be armed can lower the rates of sexual assault and rape.)

Maxwell said,

“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.”


People are reporting that Maxwell has received a huge backlash on the internet, filled with of course, rape threats and racism.  Talking Points Memo discusses the backlash here.

But Maxwell went on to restate her argument on Feministing.  And there is now a twitter hashtag #tyzerlina for people to support her.

As for the content of the discussion, there are reasons to think that focusing on the perpetrators works.

And as messed up as the backlash is, it’s actually doing a decent job of demonstrating what people mean when they talk about “rape culture.” (Here’s a link to the tweet below.)

“Got a rape threat for tweeting about @ZerlinaMaxwell getting rape threat. #Rapeculture is a thing, y’all. #TYZerlina

Focus on perpetrators WORKS

The message on the poster is blunt. A young woman in red tights and a skimpy black dress is flaked out on the edge of a couch, her head turned away. A few wine bottles are on the floor.

“Just because she isn’t saying no doesn’t mean she is saying yes,” the poster says. “Sex without consent = sexual assault. Don’t Be That Guy.”

The poster is one of three that went up at bars and around the city last summer as part of a campaign to chip away at the increasing rate of sexual assaults in recent years in Vancouver.

Six months later, Deputy Chief Doug LePard says the Don’t Be That Guy campaign has contributed to a turnaround in statistics on sexual offences in Vancouver.

The rate dropped in 2011 by about 10 per cent, the first time in several years it had gone down.

For more, go here. (Thanks, A!)

URGENT: Oppose ‘pay to publish’ model

As we’ve noted before, the UK government is adopting a very shortsighted policy of insisting that any research which was funded by the government (including PhD research) must be published at a ‘Gold’ standard of open access if the journal publishing it offers this. The Gold standard requires the submitter to pay. Wealthier institutions will be able to pay this for authors. But even they will have to choose which papers they’re willing to pay for. And those at poorer institutions, or un/under-employed will have to pay themselves (which will very often be the case for recent PhDs). HEFCE has opened a brief consultation. Please do write in and tell them why this is such a terrible idea. It looks to me like you don’t have to be a UK academic to write in. And it seems to me that the shaming of the international community might be a good thing. (If the government went for ‘Green’ open access there would be no charge to publish.)

The address to write to is openaccess AT hefce.ac.uk, and the deadline is 25 March.

For more on the topic from the British Philosophical Association see here.