The new Director of Public Prosecutions in England & Wales, Alison Saunders, has said juries should be warned about myths and stereotypes associated with rape BEFORE they hear evidence:
Ms Saunders said: “There is lots of really good practice now, so the judge gives the jury directions on myths and stereotypes. But, what normally happens is that they’re given at the end of the case when the jury is just about to go out and deliberate.
“All of us are human – you’re going to hear the evidence, you’re going to make a judgement and then you’re told to set your judgement aside and [are told by the judge] these are the things you should be taking into account – actually it’s better to hear that at the beginning.”
It’s an interesting article, based on an interview with Alison Saunders and Martin Hewitt, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on adult sexual offences.
Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, here.
We propose and test a new theory explaining glass-ceiling bias against nonnative speakers as driven by perceptions that nonnative speakers have weak political skill. Although nonnative accent is a complex signal, its effects on assessments of the speakers’ political skill are something that speakers can actively mitigate; this makes it an important bias to understand.
There are interesting tie-ins with an earlier post in this blog on bias and foreign languages.
What a neat idea! Travesti is a new play that takes verbatim women’s “stories about unruly body hair, being groped on public transport, and experiences of sexual violence” and puts them in the mouths of an all-male cast. Here’s what its creators have to say about it:
By putting these stories in men’s mouths, we wanted to highlight the absurdities of typically ‘female’ behaviours – why are women expected to wear make up and men aren’t? Why are we expected to shave our body hair and men aren’t? Why are we expected to consider our safety at night in ways that men don’t have to? Happily, as a result, it also opens up interesting discussion about the social roles enforced on men, for example how male rape is something that is not discussed in the same way as female rape. Our intention was to make a feminist theatre piece that looks like the women we know: intelligent, playful, funny and sexy.
Want to help Travesti get to the Edinburgh Festival? Here’s their Kickstarter page.
Philosopher Sarah Richardson has a great piece in Slate this week detailing how a Nature article about the discovery of twelve genes on the Y chromosome that fill the same function as similar genes on the X chromosome quickly morphed into reports in major media outlets about “a major new finding of sex difference.”
The New York Times reported that scientists had discovered 12 genes on the Y chromosome that play “high-level roles in controlling the state of the genome and the activation of other genes.” They “may represent a fundamental difference in how the cells in men’s and women’s bodies read off the information in their genomes.” TheHuffington Post quoted one of the studies’ authors as saying that these “special” genes “may play a large role in differences between males and females.”
Yet what the Nature articles actually show is the exact opposite. The 12 genes residing on the Y chromosome exist to ensure sexual similarity. The genes are “dosage-sensitive,” meaning that two copies are needed for them to function properly. We’ve long known that those 12 genes exist on X chromosomes. Females have the 12 genes active on both of their X chromosomes. If males, who have just one X, didn’t have them on the Y, they would not have a sufficient dosage of those genes. Now we know they do. Just like women.
How did a story about sex similarity become a story about sex difference? Richardson engages in “a little literary forensics” and concludes that science journalists focused on the brief, speculative bit at the end of the Nature article, rather than the article’s actual evidence and conclusions.
Part of this, no doubt, is the result of pressure on journalists (evident well beyond the realm of science journalism) to run with the most provocative story. However, over and above this common journalistic foible, is the pernicious influence of what Richardson terms the “sex difference paradigm.” In short, writes Richardson, “when it comes to sex, scientific reviewers, journals, funders, and reporters simply find similarities less interesting than differences.”
I posted last week on a different way in which our gender biases skew our understanding of biological sex. So, what is an appropriately critical scholar (or lay reader) to do? Richardson ends by plugging Stanford’s Gendered Innovations initiative, which works to show how critical thinking about sex and gender can lead to scientific innovation.
UPDATE: Clarifications inserted in response to reader query.
Someone who states that they are ‘case 2’ from this story – and who is posting under the pseudonym ‘Lisbeth Mara’ – has started a fundraising site with the stated goal of raising money for a lawsuit against the person discussed in this Thought Catalog story, by someone else. The case [Lisbeth’s] is discussed briefly [by the Thought catalog author] here, and, unlike the story from Thought Catalog, this one does allege illegal conduct.
Please note that we are sharing this website under the heading ‘News Feminist Philosophers Can Use’. We’re not sharing it to suggest that our readers donate, nor are we involved with this fundraising effort.