Slate on the Northwestern lawsuit


The article’s main conclusion:

Here’s the thing. Providing a remedy for the kind of infractions Ludlow is accused of—unwelcome kissing and touching, getting an underage woman drunk and then failing to respect her wishes—is precisely the purpose of Title IX. Maybe he didn’t do it, but that’s not what the university’s own investigation found. No one goes to jail for this stuff, but that doesn’t mean they should get off scot-free. Title IX is meant to complement the criminal justice system. It’s meant to add another layer of protection for students and others in the university.

So what is particularly galling about this case—and why I hope the Northwestern suit continues to receive widespread media attention—is that the internal investigation did what it was supposed to do. Slavin appears to have acted with with due diligence when she found in favor of the student—and yet, something spooked the university into backing off. The public deserves to know what, and universities the country over need to realize that they cannot get away with shirking their Title IX responsibilities.



‘Lad culture’ on UK campuses

The NUS recently commissioned this study into ‘lad culture’ on UK campuses. It’s a long and daunting read*, and I can’t help thinking that something a bit shorter and less convoluted might have been more useful, but it is, nevertheless, an important insight into the experiences of some women students at UK universities. Here’s a summary of the main findings from p. 28 of the report:

  1. This report presents the findings of a qualitative research project conducted with 40 women students (4 focus groups and 21 interviews), focused on their encounters with ‘lad culture’ and their experiences of university life.
  2. Our sample was mostly composed of white, British, undergraduates aged between 18 and 25; most also identified as heterosexual and middle class. However, a significant minority of our respondents did not fit this profile, and our findings reflect intersections with other aspects of identity such as ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, disability and age.
  3. Our participants defined campus culture as largely located in the social side of university life, led by undergraduates and significantly shaped by alcohol consumption. They also defined campus cultures as gendered, and saw strong connections between ‘lad culture’ and the values, attitudes and behaviours evident (and in some cases pervasive) on their campuses.
  4. Read More »

Call for nominations: Philosophy of Science Association Women’s Caucus Prize 2014

Nominations are now open for the 2014 Philosophy of Science Association Women’s Caucus Prize. The Prize is awarded biennially for the best book, article, or chapter published in English in the area of feminist philosophy of science within the five years prior to each PSA meeting. The winner will receive an award of $500, which will be presented to them at the November 2014 PSA meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

The deadline for nominations is May 1, 2014. To be considered, works must have been published between May 1, 2009 and May 1, 2014. Articles posted electronically on journal websites in final (accepted) form prior to May 1, 2014 are eligible for consideration. Self-nominations are allowed but are limited to one per person. One may nominate more than one paper by someone else.

To make a nomination, please provide information about the article, book or chapter you are nominating by clicking on this link.

Reader query: how to cope with disturbing information about mentor

A reader writes:

About 6 months ago, I learned that my undergraduate mentor in philosophy routinely slept with his female students, during my time at the university and for many years beforehand. He never made any even slightly inappropriate advances towards me, and he spent an enormous amount of time and energy mentoring me and supporting me through grave doubts about my abilities as a philosopher – indeed, had it not been for him, I would never have considered graduate school, and would not now have the Assistant Professor job that I love so much. He was always exceptionally kind, supportive, and sensitive to (and indeed often a champion of) feminist concerns. Over the past six months since learning this information, though, I’ve felt deeply hurt and betrayed, and have at times started to doubt myself in all of the old ways. Was I not in fact a good philosopher in undergrad? Was he only as supportive as he was because I was young, and female, and conventionally attractive? Did my other professors take me less seriously as a philosopher because they assumed that I was sleeping with him, too? The part of me that remembers how close our relationship was believes that he would feel deep regret if he knew how his actions affected past (and present?) students like me, but the part of me with more distance doubts that anyone who routinely slept with the 20-year-olds he taught could possibly care. I’ve wanted to get in touch with him recently, to tell him how hard his behavior has been even on students like me with whom he had a fully appropriate relationship, in part because I feel a responsibility to try to get him to change his behavior if he still does this to students. But is it utterly naive to think that getting in touch with him would have any positive affect? And might there be any negative repercussions to doing so that I’m not thinking of? (He’s not a particularly successful or influential philosopher, so I don’t think that he would have any ability to harm my career.)

Please leave your thoughts in comments, but absolutely DO NOT reveal identifying information about other similar situations (or this one, for that matter).

Appearance norms – facial hair

Harnaam Kaur
Photo credit: Huffington Post

Hats off to Harnaam Kaur! After enduring years of bullying due to her thick facial hair caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, she decided to stop attempting to shave, pluck, and bleach it out of existence, and for the last few years has had a full beard. Hats off too, to Harnaam’s brother, Gurdeep Singh (pictured above), who she says is her biggest supporter:

Kaur slipped once and shaved off her beard at the age of 17 after pressure from her extended family, but revealed: “All I could do was cry because I didn’t feel like myself without my beard.

“My brother was actually the one person who was completely shocked by what I had done – he hugged me and said I had looked so beautiful with my beard, he didn’t understand why I had done it.”

She added: “It was from that point that I thought I’m never going to remove it ever again.”

You can read more here.

Leaning in, leaning back, overwork and gender

Interesting article.

And just as work has expanded to require employees’ round-the-clock attention, being a good mom has also started requiring ubiquity. Things were different in my own childhood, but today, parenting has become a full-time job: it requires attendance at an unending stream of birthday parties, school meetings, class performances, and soccer games, along with the procurement of tutors, classes, and enrichment activities, the arranging of play dates, the making of organic lunches, and the supervising of elaborate, labor-intensive homework projects than cannot be completed without extensive adult supervision.
Oh yes: By incredible coincidence, parenting was discovered to require the near-constant attention of at least one able-bodied adult at just about the same time women began to pour into the workforce in large numbers. Sorry ’bout that, girls!

We need to fight for our right to lean out, and we need to do it together, girls. If we’re going to fight the culture of workplace ubiquity, and the parallel and equally-pernicious culture of intensive parenting, we need to do it together — and we need to bring our husbands and boyfriends and male colleagues along, too. They need to lean out in solidarity, for their own sake as well as ours.
Women of the world, recline!