Query from a reader:feminist philosophy in UK

UPDATE: Feel free to submit information on your own department, listing who you have working on/interested in feminism and trans issues.


A reader is looking for a UK PhD program in feminist philosophy, especially one where they can pursue trans issues.

I hereby invite readers to offer their suggestions!  Please don’t say anything negative– only suggest places that you have reason to believe are good, ideally mentioning the people in the department who would be helpful.  (Though of course you should mention if any of the information is objectively inaccurate– e.g. “No, X isn’t there any more.”)

A note in advance: this methodology will only yield a list of places to check out.  Anyone wanting to pursue graduate study should use this list merely as a starting place, and do investigations of their own, including preferably a visit and some chats with current students.

The male Gaze in retrospect

From CHE (Open access).

In 1975, the avant-garde filmmaker Laura Mulvey published her landmark essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” in the journal Screen. Bringing feminist theory to bear on a new wave of psychoanalytic film criticism, the essay set out to demonstrate how the structure of Hollywood films — camera angles, lighting, editing — foisted a masculine point of view on audiences watching passive, eroticized female objects. Mulvey’s notion of the “male gaze” made waves not just in film studies (four members of Screen’s editorial board resigned in protest of it and other psychoanalytic criticism) — but also across much of the humanities.
Forty years later, mainstream journalists casually toss off the phrase “male gaze” and it’s the name of a San Francisco post-punk band. But much has changed: Successive generations of feminists have debated women’s agency — for example, as not just subjects but also consumers of pornography. The notion of the lesbian gaze has gained currency. With the rise of social media, both men and women participate in a self-presentation that makes them the objects of the gaze as often as they are the gazers. Even the neat division of people into male and female seems, to many people, archaic.

Is Mulvey’s theory still relevant? How has it been most productively applied? How does it need to evolve? Here, four scholars reflect on those questions, and Mulvey responds.

On renaming institutions

Very nice article by Regina Rini. An excerpt:

We are links in a causal chain of reference, stretching back to institutional baptisms in 1931 and 1948, when university administrators pointed to a college and called it Calhoun, or pointed to a school and called it Wilson. These were performative utterances, issued with full authority, and part of their aim was to honour the legacies of dead racists. We do not have to be unthinking links in the chain. We, collectively, have the authority to pass on these names, or to replace them. Whatever we do – continue the chain or disrupt it – we are making a choice about whether to uphold the honour intended by those baptisms.

In fact, the students at Princeton are not asking us to make a comprehensive judgment: Wilson, good man or bad? The idea is to ask: does continuing to apply the name of such a person express ourvalues, rather than the values of a gone generation? We are not deciding the fate of Wilson’s eternal soul. We are asking whether we, who are the only ones with the authority to keep or change the name, have good reason to pass the name on to the next generation.

Read the whole thing here!


Gender stereotypes and assessment of candidates

I just came across this fascinating study.

Women outnumber men in undergraduate enrollments, but they are much less likely than men to major in mathematics or science or to choose a profession in these fields. This outcome often is attributed to the effects of negative sex-based stereotypes. We studied the effect of such stereotypes in an experimental market, where subjects were hired to perform an arithmetic task that, on average, both genders perform equally well. We find that without any information other than a candidate’s appearance (which makes sex clear), both male and female subjects are twice more likely to hire a man than a woman. The discrimination survives if performance on the arithmetic task is self-reported, because men tend to boast about their performance, whereas women generally underreport it. The discrimination is reduced, but not eliminated, by providing full information about previous performance on the task. By using the Implicit Association Test, we show that implicit stereotypes are responsible for the initial average bias in sex-related beliefs and for a bias in updating expectations when performance information is self-reported. That is, employers biased against women are less likely to take into account the fact that men, on average, boast more than women about their future performance, leading to suboptimal hiring choices that remain biased in favor of men.