SUNY Geneseo Colloquium: Perhaps not what it seemed

Today we have been hearing from Heidi Savage, a feminist philosopher at SUNY Geneseo about the talk many have recently posted on by Ted Everett. She tells us that the event has been very much misrepresented:

The talk was misrepresented in the assumption that Ted was seen as some kind of rape apologist, simply in virtue of the title, which he certainly isn’t. But this is how it’s been portrayed on jezebel and in a petition started to ask the president of SUNY Geneseo to condemn the talk. In fact, even the media represented the issue itself far more neutrally and reasonably! I’ve seen the talk and it raises legitimate issues, issues that are controversial within feminist discourse itself. To represent the issue as one between THE feminists and the anti-feminists is an embarrassment to me at least as a self-proclaimed feminist.

Moreover, in a somewhat ironic twist, the critics have failed to notice that there is a feminist woman responding to him. Here’s the full schedule.

Topic: Political Perspectives on the Sexual Assault Awareness Movement

Speaker: Dr Theodore Everett
Title: Against “Sexual” “Assault” “Awareness”

The quotes in the title indicate that I am not against SA awareness, but that I am against much of what’s *called* SA awareness. My central concern is that the sexual assault awareness movement counts too many borderline cases (for example, badgering somebody into letting you give them a kiss) as true sexual assault, when they are not really sexual and not really assault. This diverts attention away from the truly damaging core cases of rape and sexual assault that everybody cares about and toward borderline cases that no one believes are equally important, even though they also shouldn’t happen. The presentation of sexual assault as systemic to American culture rather than pathological behavior, together with the zero-tolerance mentality that it supports , both do more harm than good to college women, who in my view would benefit most from an honest, unpatronizing, genuinely respectful, and two-sided discussion of these issues.

Commentator: Dr Heidi Savage
Title: “No” means “no”: feminist and victim understandings of sexual assault awareness

While there are many different motivations for raising questions about the Sexual Assault Awareness Movement, at least one motivation comes from feminist controversies about what counts as consensual sex. Historically, this controversy arose between those known as “anti-pornography feminists”, and “sex positive feminists” whose proponents had very different understandings of what counts as sexual autonomy for women. It is important to understand that questioning the current definitions of what counts as an instance of sexual assault does not entail an anti-feminist agenda. There is not a unified feminist front on this topic. To assume otherwise is to risk silencing victims of sexual assault even further by imposing a particular conception of sexual assault upon them that they might themselves reject. If we are to properly address sexual assault as feminists we must listen to victims of sexual assault and develop a theory of consent in tandem with victims’ own understanding of that concept.

I’d like to ask that everyone be super-careful about being nice in their comments.

One Perk of NYC E-Hail Taxi Apps: Reducing Discrimination

a taxi cab

In a case about whether to allow New York City Taxis to use E-hail apps, which allow passengers to summon a taxi by using the app on their phone, the judge points out how this app may reduce the degree to which taxi drivers  discriminate by passing over some fares.


“At least on its face, the program appears better aimed at avoiding discriminatory passenger selection,” she wrote. “The driver must accept an e-hail without knowing the passenger’s identity or destination.”



Gender discrimination at Dutch universities

Women demonstrating in The Hague in 1978Two weeks ago at the launch of SWIP-NL, there was an interesting discussion about how universal gender discrimination is. The discussion was triggered by Jenny Saul’s presentation, and particularly the overwhelming number of responses and the often shocking reactions she received on “What it is like to be a woman in philosophy”.

The number of female professors in the Netherlands is appallingly low, so there definitely is a problem there. Recently a website got launched by het Proefprocessenfonds Clara Wichmann to collect accounts of gender discrimination at the Dutch universities. The number of complaints about discrimination in general is on the rise in the Netherlands, so it is surprising that not many stories have come in yet. So maybe it is good to mention it here: find it at (all in Dutch) and if you have an incident to report, please do so, as it will strengthen our case.