Heidi Lockwood on Roiphe

Over at NewAPPS. Read it all.

But I will show you why your “The Philosopher and The Student” piece in Slate was despicable, ignorant and mean-spirited. I will show you how a power differential can twist reality. I will show you how your refusal to see is the product of creating a narrative in which you yourself are victimized.

You see, Katie Roiphe: this much I know.

I know that one of my daughter’s friends drew a picture — when she was 17 — of her father, with hearts around it. A picture of her father and herself, in bed. He “loved” her. But the hearts didn’t mean that she loved him. The hearts were there because she was afraid of the consequences of making him angry. The hearts were there because what he thought of her mattered to her. The hearts were there because what he thought of her depended on whether she professed her love for him. The hearts were there because there was a power differential.

Gender gap in science around the world


See A Map of the Gender Gap in Science Around the Globe: A portrait from UNESCO shows where women are well represented among employed scientists, and where they are rare.

The map offers confirmation for the conclusion that (surprise) there’s no biological explanation for the low numbers of women in science.  Concludes in the Atlantic “Cultures vary, and the result is expressed in the map above. We’d do well to look at countries like Argentina and Brazil and see what is helping them achieve their nice purple color.”

Other sorts of relationships Katie Roiphe likes to imagine as ‘complex’ and ‘romantic’

In addition to all of this, readers of a certain Slate article (which we aren’t linking to) may want to bear in mind that Katie Roiphe is the author of a novel re-imagining the relationship between Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell, the child he met when she was four years old, eventually became obsessed with, and was ultimately banned (by Alice’s mother) from seeing again. Her novel has been described as “building in liltingly literary prose what comes close to a case for pedophilia”, emphasizing Alice’s awareness of, enjoyment of, and manipulation of her power over Dodgson. Here is an excerpt from (a generally positive) review:

But the strongest character in the book is, fittingly, Alice herself: the object of Dodgson’s desires (whatever their form) and, by extension, ours. And again, Roiphe’s work with Alice is distinguished by the complexity of her character development. Alice is no mere victim of Dodgson’s illicit desires; she is, even when she first appears in the novel as a four year old, fully cognizant of both the way people see her and the way she can manipulate her own image for their benefit (or shock). Feeling the men watch her in that first scene, Roiphe writes that Alice “stuck out her stomach” and “turned to stare in a way he [Dodgson] had never seen a child stare.”

Far from offering a simple victim / violator relationship, Roiphe draws out a decidedly more complicated one in which the expected roles are reversed: Dodgson silent and flummoxed, Alice cool and teasingly manipulative. Even when they are alone and Dodgson is most comfortable, the power structures in the relationship are pointedly even, if not actually tipped Alice’s way. Here, for example, is a superb scene in which Alice sits in Dodgson’s lap and listens to a story he’s making up for her benefit:

“Alice felt his legs underneath her, more fragile and birdlike than her father’s. She played with his collar as he spoke. She knew he was telling the story just for her, that he was making each moment up to please her. Oysters wearing shoes. Her mother served oysters at a party. He anticipated her desires even before she knew what they were, and she felt her presence in the story itself, her imprint on its invisible, muscular form. I weep for you, the walrus said: I deeply sympathize. With sobs and tears he sorted out those of the largest size. What does Alice want? She could feel Dodgson thinking as he spoke, underneath, and that question, that anticipation was it: her participation. The ideas thrown up from the depths just for her. This was something she understood right from the beginning, the collaboration of the story. These stories were not just for her, they were from her.”

So. . .yeah. There’s that.

Women, talking about sports, and epistemic injustice

Myisha Cherry writes, “As a former college basketball player and basketball fanatic who literally watches all 82 games of Miami Heat basketball every season, I have had the same experience as the woman in the bar. When I go to watch and talk sports with men, I am not taken seriously initially and sometimes not at all no matter how sound my arguments are. Or I find that what I say is considered more speculative than what men say. As a result, I find myself asserting myself in conversations, being extra argumentative, and quoting stats as if it was an ESPN Numbers Don’t Lie episode just so I can at least be heard and sound convincing. It’s annoying, makes me feel invisible, and I always feel treated unfairly because I am a woman.”

For a good discussion of the issues how it connects to epistemic injustice read Why Women Are Not Taken Seriously in Sports Conversations and What We Can Do About It at the Huffington Post here.