Rape and the porn industry

In the wake of the multiple rape allegations against porn star James Deen, former porn actress Aurora Snow has written a fascinating piece for The Daily Beast about pornography, the normalization of violence toward women, and the affect this has on performers:

Rape in an industry where sex—and even violent sex—is treated as just another day at the office can become a bit muddled for some.
From my experience, I’ve learned that certain professionals in porn have varying definitions of what rape is—yet the standard definition should still apply. On-set behaviors and attitudes that would be shocking to most and sometimes even criminal are normalized, and after years of performing, it can be hard to separate the work from reality.

Black Friday and Economic Justice

The past couple of years, just around this time — when friends post on social media about staying home on Thanksgiving and Black Friday to spend time with their families, and hoping to give store employees an opportunity to spend time with theirs, or expressing dismay that anyone would want to brave the crowds of shoppers in the first place — I’ve thought about writing a post on the ethics and economics of holiday shopping. Obviously, I’ve never gotten around to it before, but I just came across this article, which nicely expresses partly why I think this is a more ethically complicated issue than it first appears.

As we’ve seen of late in the Ferguson-related unrest, the physical struggles of non-white America writ large make for great television. I’ve seen dozens of variations on the obvious and racist pun in the name of the day itself already today. But one thing we can say for sure is that it isn’t the wealthy or the comfortable who are standing in line in the cold, or wrestling with one another over a slightly discounted Xbox . . . None of which is to say that resorting to violence over a discounted television or video game console is admirable, but it’s worthwhile to stop and consider just what it is that inspires such desperation in the first place. As in the world of Panem, an artificial scarcity is imposed from the top down — Wal-Mart, Target and so on — in order to whip the public into a frenzy of aspiration. The affluent media corporations are then complicit in the con, gorging themselves on advertising from the very stores raking in the sales revenue. And we, the advantaged, sit at home in front of our computers and tablets and phones, all of which we’ve already purchased at non-bargain prices, and delight in the spectacle.

Rejecting the soul-sucking materialistic consequences of capitalism as it functions in a society like the U.S. is more than a one-day-a-year project. It’s an everyday project, and whether or not we go shopping ourselves on Black Friday does not answer the question of whether or not we’re contributing to circumstances in which employees are exploited, treated unfairly, or kept from their families.

I worked in retail for years — before going to college, and during — and for my own part, I wanted to work holidays because it meant extra pay which in turn meant less worrying about how I would pay my bills. I wasn’t alone. For quite a few of my co-workers (though surely not all) being able to work holidays was a relief rather than a burden (not merely for economic reasons; some people find the holidays a painful time). I am under no delusions that my own experience is universal. That I wanted (at times, needed) to work holidays doesn’t mean others do, just as that I was treated fairly by my employer in the process doesn’t mean all employees are treated fairly, nor that no change is needed. Walmart employees have made this clear, multiple times. But, I do think it’s another reason to be cautious about issuing general statements about what retailer workers need and want, or about how and when it’s okay to shop. It’s another reason to try to remember that what happens on holidays is in part a function of how we — all of us — behave in our economy throughout the entire year.

Feminist Philosophy Quarterly

This great new journal has put out its second issue, all open access!



Remembering Claudia Card: Two Tributes
Paula Gottlieb and Lynne Tirrell


And don’t forget to submit your papers– so great to have another excellent feminist philosophy venue!

Livng happily ever after

I had just mentioned to a friend about my discomfort at some (but not all) recent weddings when I saw the following at Digressions and Impressions:

[5] Love is not blind, nor yet forgiving. “O yes, believe me,” as the song says, “Love has eyes!” The nearer the intimacy, the more cuttingly do we feel the unworthiness of those we love; and because you love one, and would die for that love to-morrow, you have not forgiven, and you never will forgive, that friend’s misconduct. If you want a person’s faults, go to those who love him. They will not tell you, but they know. And herein lies the magnanimous courage of love, that it endures this knowledge without change.

[6] It required a cold, distant personality like that of Thoreau, perhaps, to recognise and certainly to utter this truth; for a more human love makes it a point of honour not to acknowledge those faults of which it is most conscious. But his point of view is both high and dry. He has no illusions; he does not give way to love any more than to hatred, but preserves them both with care like valuable curiosities.–Robert Louis Stevenson, “Henry David Thoreau: His Character and Opinions” Cornhill Magazine, June 1880.

– See more at: http://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/digressionsimpressions/#.dpuf

I wondered, particularly after reading Stevenson’s comment, what role of the idea of living happily after has in the various sub-cultures even of Western Anglophone culture. Hopefully being realistic about what’s in the future for long-term relations does not mean one expects to find the other unworthy of one’s love. But what is expected? And what do we assume others’ marriages? Do we assume that there are a number of things about, e.g., Obama, that could easily drive his wife crazy? Or do we generalize from the public picture people present of fairly serene love?

What do you think? Candour would be wonderful!

A later note: I think that there’s an underlying issue that I’m trying to engage. What is it to imagine another person? Many of us seem often enough to think of each other in something like shorthand. All sorts of things, including religion and Freudian psychoanalysis, have provided preferred shorthands. But we can also think of each other much more fully, as people with detailed lives and issues. The first may be very misleading, bcause it leaves so much out. The second may overwhelm us as we struggle to get the texture of a person. What are we to do when we need to think about real people in situations that will evolve over time? As, e.g., we watch friends move towards their new future as a committed couple? At least hope they don’t come to see each other as unworthy?

Political violence workshop

This looks like a really interesting conference – registration deadline is Monday.


The Injustice League and the Public Discourse Project at the University of Connecticut are excited to announce the Political Violence Workshop (Dec 4-6), which will discuss institutionalized and racialized violence in the U.S., with an emphasis on Black Lives Matter.

We have a wonderful lineup of speakers and topics, and we warmly invite you to attend and take part in the conversation!

Registration is free, and only takes about 30 seconds to complete: http://injustice.philosophy.uconn.edu/registration/ . The deadline to register is Monday, November 30th.

Men on Death and the afterlife

For an explanation of our Gendered Conference Campaign, see here.


Death and the Afterlife
22 January 2016

This symposium is an interdisciplinary exchange focused on the recent book Death and the Afterlife, by Professor Samuel Scheffler (New York University). It will bring together perspectives from social anthropology, philosophy, and political theory…It is open to scholars from all fields, and papers will be presented with a broad audience in mind.

Confirmed speakers:

Professor Samuel Scheffler (Department of Philosophy, New York University)
Professor Hallvard Lillehammer (Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London)
Professor Joel Robins (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge)
Dr James Laidlaw (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Dr Jonathan Mair (School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures, University of Manchester)
Dr Paul Sagar (Deparment of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge)

CFP: International Women’s Day Conference, Durham


Re-Sounding Voices: Women, Silence and the Production of Knowledge

The celebrated history of the sciences and arts is dominated by the voices of great men, whereas the voices of women have often been marginalised. While much has been done to redress this imbalance, the sound of women’s voices is still not as prevalent as that of their male colleagues and counterparts. Not only does a male-dominated canon risk the erasure of the contributions made by women, it perpetuates gender injustice—a teaching syllabus populated by men deprives young women aspirants of role models and sends them a clear message: this is not for you. A history of silenced women contributes to the silencing of women now and in the future.

How can we break out of this oppressive cycle? This conference explores this question under four broad themes: silencing; women in parenthesis; covert contributions; and identity and disavowal. We invite abstracts from any discipline or perspective that address themes related to any of the following topics and questions:

  • Silencing: what are the mechanisms through which women’s voices are silenced and their contributions and ideas erased or distorted? Do these mechanisms differ across subject area and period? How do the (putatively) self-reflexive norms and practices of academic disciplines perpetuate failures to see and appreciate the exclusion of women? Once we understand silencing and its effects, how should we respond, as historians, theorists, and women?
  • Women in parenthesis: why are there so few women accepted into ‘the canon’? Who are the women relegated to the footnotes and parentheses of their field? How can we recognise their contribution? Should women be put into the canon, or is the very idea of a ‘canon’ itself problematic?
  • Covert Contributions: Correspondents, editors, wives, sisters and mistresses: silenced women find other ways to speak, and their ideas may find their way into a discourse other than through ‘official’ channels. Who were the women correspondents of the men in the canon? Are there women editors whose work changed or shaped ideas we now associated solely with their male ‘authors’? Who were the wives, sisters, and mistresses of ‘great men’, and which of them made contributions which went beyond that of domestic and emotional support?
  • Identity and Disavowal: Sometimes women have forced their voice into a literature by adopting a male identity or by disavowing their female identity. Cases include adopting male pen names, performing masculine identity, distancing from female peers, erasing identity through anonymity, addressing topics within a male-defined discourses and interests, and avoiding solidarity with other women. Does work on stereotype threat suggest that these mechanisms might in fact be legitimate? Who are the women who have adopted these strategies to find a place in the canon? What harm have these practices perpetuated, in terms of silencing and marginalizing women? Or, on the other hand, are there cases where this fluidity of gender and identity has had a positive impact on women’s contributions?


Proposals for 20 minute papers should be sent to resoundingvoicesdurham AT gmail.com in the form of 300 word abstracts by 15thJanuary 2016. Please indicate which of the four themes your paper addresses.