“The Colonel’s’s Lady and Judy O’Grady…

The title of this post comes from a Kipling poem that ends with

The Colonel’s Lady an’ Judy O’Grady
     Are sisters under their skins!

The poem reflects the easy racism and sexism of a powerful imperial country, as Great Britain once was.  It would, however, be a mistake to think that we’ve moved beyond the deep expectation that European women form the model for women around the world.  According to very recent research reported in the NYTimes, women are not all the same under the skin; the idea that they are may be a source of some harm in, e.g., medically assistedd childdbirth.

Look up the term “pelvic canal” in the typical anatomy or obstetric textbook, and you likely will find a description such as this: “Well-built healthy women, who had a good diet during their childhood growth period, usually have a broad pelvis.”

Such a pelvis, the text continues, enables “the least difficulty during childbirth.”

But such characterizations have long been based on anatomical studies of people of European descent. In reality, the structure of the pelvic canal, the bony structure through which most of us enter the world, varies tremendously between populations, according to a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The findings have implications for how obstetricians treat patients of color, the authors say. In the United States, racial disparities in maternal health care are prevalent. Compounding factors like interpersonal and institutional racism, poverty, poor health care access and environmental burdens disproportionately harm black mothers. These contribute to the risk of pregnancy-related deaths being three to four times higher for black women than for white women.

George Yancy: owning responsibility

From the NY Times

… That day I learned something about me. I didn’t respect her {my new wife’s} autonomy, her legal standing and personhood. As pathetic as this may sound, I saw her as my property, to be defined by my name and according to my legal standing. While this was not sexual assault, my insistence was a violation of her independence. I had inherited a subtle, yet still violent, form of toxic masculinity. It still raises its ugly head — I should be thanked when I clean the house, cook, sacrifice my time. These are deep and troubling expectations that are shaped by male privilege, male power and toxic masculinity.

If you are a woman reading this, I have failed you. Through my silence and an uninterrogated collective misogyny, I have failed you. I have helped and continue to help perpetuate sexism. I know about how we hold onto forms of power that dehumanize you only to elevate our sense of masculinity. I recognize my silence as an act of violence. For this, I sincerely apologize.

 

CFP, #MeToo by March 31, 2019

From Lauren Freeman:

CALL FOR PAPERS

The American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy

Fall 2019 Issue: #MeToo and Philosophy

 The APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy invites papers on the topic of #MeToo and Philosophy. In 2006 Tarana Burke, a Black feminist social activist and community organizer, founded the Me Too movement to focus on the experiences of abuse suffered by Black and brown girls and women who are and remain disproportionately vulnerable. More specifically, the goal of Me Too was to connect survivors of sexual assault to the resources they need in order to heal. More than a decade later, this movement became #MeToo, a hashtag used in social media to demonstrate the ubiquity of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. As Tarana Burke has recently said, “What #MeToo allowed people to do was create community with these shared experiences. You have a built-in group of people who automatically gets you, who automatically believes you, who automatically wants to hear you. That’s the wildfire of it.”

This movement continues to be foisted into national and international consciousness as more and more men are accused and charged of sexually harassing and abusing women. And yet the number of cases that go unreported, the number of women who remain silent are even larger, pointing to the systemic problems of injustice for victims of abuse, assault, and harassment and the systematic failures of our institutions to bring about justice. All of these problems are complicated by the class, race, nationality, immigration status, sexuality, gender identity, and disability of victims.

#MeToo is a crucial form of resistance and the #MeToo movement, in all of its complexity, is ripe for philosophical engagement and analysis.

The APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy invites papers, book reviews, and narratives for the Fall 2019 issue that include, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • #MeToo and anger
  • #MeToo and shame
  • #MeToo and forgiveness
  • #MeToo and epistemic injustice
  • #MeToo and gaslighting
  • #MeToo and credibility
  • #MeToo and testimony
  • #MeToo and allies
  • Intersectional analyses of #MeToo movement
  • #MeToo and himpathy
  • #MeToo and misogyny
  • #MeToo and misogynoir
  • #MeToo and transmisogyny
  • #MeToo and justice
  • #MeToo and domestic violence
  • #MeToo and sex education
  • #MeToo and internet bullying
  • #MeToo and civility
  • #MeToo and the silencing of victims
  • #MeToo and academia
  • #MeToo in non-western countries and contexts
  • Trauma informed responses to #MeToo
  • #MeTooAfterKavanaugh
  • #WhyIDidn’tReport
  • The backlash of #HimToo

Invited papers by the following philosophers will appear in the issue:

  • Cassie Herbert (Illinois State University)
  • Alice MacLachlan (York University)
  • Lori Watson (University of San Diego)
  • Robin Zheng (Yale NUS-College)

SUBMISSION DETAILS

The APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy welcomes three different types of submissions:

  1.  Papers: philosophical papers should be no longer than 7000 words (including references and footnotes).
  2.  Book reviews: The newsletter will publish reviews of books with feminist content. The length should be between 1500-2500 words. Review books need not be related to the topic of the special issue. Reviewers must have specific expertise on the subject of the text. The format of book reviews is as follows. They should begin with a brief description of the book as a whole, should contextualize the book within the relevant literature, and should develop a critical evaluation of at least some of the main themes and arguments. Evaluative comments should be specific, instructive, and respectful of diverse philosophical methods and voices.

If you are interested in reviewing a book for the Newsletter, please send a C.V. and a brief explanation of your particular interest in and qualifications for reviewing the chosen text to the following address: Lauren.Freeman [at] Louisville.edu. If you do not own the book, I will request a copy from the publisher. Deadlines for reviews are negotiable.

  1. Narrative essays: We also invite shorter narrative style essays of around 2500 words in length. These essays should be less formal than standard philosophical papers and can discuss issues and problems related to feminism that philosophers face within the academy, but also in our public and personal lives.

The format for all submissions to the Newsletter is available on the APA website: http://www.apaonline.org/?feminism_newsletter

Submissions should be prepared for anonymous review and must be submitted by March 31, 2019.

Send submissions to: Lauren.Freeman [at] Louisville.edu

Lauren Freeman

Editor, APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy

University of Louisville, Department of Philosophy

 

 

Grete Hermann: neglected philosopher of physics

Do check out this short video!

In the early 20th century, Newtonian physics was upended by experiments that revealed a bizarre subatomic universe riddled with peculiarities and inconsistencies. Why do photons and electrons behave as both particles and waves? Why should the act of observation affect the behaviour of physical systems? More than just a puzzle for scientists to sort out, this quantum strangeness had unsettling implications for our understanding of reality, including the very concept of truth.

The German mathematician and philosopher Grete Hermann offered some intriguing and original answers to these puzzles. In a quantum universe, she argued, the notion of absolute truth must be abandoned in favour of a fragmented view – one in which the way we measure the world affects the slice of it that we can see. She referred to this idea as the ‘splitting of truth’, and believed it extended far beyond the laboratory walls and into everyday life. With a striking visual style inspired by the modern art of Hermann’s era, this Aeon Original video explores one of Hermann’s profound but undervalued contributions to quantum theory – as well as her own split life as an anti-Nazi activist, social justice reformer and educator.

CFP by 12/15 for Philosophical Engagements with Trauma (March 22-23, 2019)

Call for Papers

Philosophical Engagements with Trauma March 22-23, 2019
University of North Carolina Asheville Asheville, NC

The Philosophy Department of the University of North Carolina Asheville will host a conference on Philosophical Engagements with Trauma on March 22-23, 2019. Featured events for the conference include a panel on Melissa Burchard’s recent book from Routledge Press, Philosophical Reflections on Mothering in Trauma, and our invited speakers:

Dr. Peg O’Connor, Gustavus Adolphus College
Dr. Abby L. Wilkerson, George Washington University

As this conference is the first that we know of to specifically focus on philosophy and trauma, we encourage a broad range of topics and engagements from, hopefully, a broad range of perspectives, including those traditionally underrepresented in philosophy.

Please send submissions to Melissa Burchard, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at UNCA, mburchar at unca.edu by December 15, 2018.

Something worth reading on the internet

I really had come to the point where I thought no good could possibly come of further internet-based discussion of the UK Gender Recognition Act. I was wrong.

“Some feminists see no difficulty in reconciling a commitment to feminism with a commitment to the rights of trans people. Feminists of this persuasion tend to take the view that trans women are women and that, as such, they – like cis (i.e. non-trans) women – are part of the ‘constituency’ that is feminism’s primary concern. Trans people more broadly are also regarded as an oppressed group in their own right, and hence proper recipients of the solidarity of feminists who subscribe to the principle of ‘intersectionality’: the idea that the struggles against different forms of oppression – such as those relating to race, class, gender or sexuality – must be conceived of not as unconnected or competing struggles, but as fundamentally intermeshed.

But certain other feminists see things very differently. While expressing condemnation of transphobic violence and harassment, and affirming the right of trans people to live in dignity and safety, they contend that there is a deep tension between the demands of some trans women to access women-only spaces and a feminist concern for the safety and well-being of those born and raised female, who have often already been subject to violence and discrimination on the basis of their sex…

Ultimately, we think this argument fails. Yet, we also think that it is unhelpful to lump it together with arguments that are explicitly based on prejudice. While there is no shortage of unvarnished transphobes who continue to depict trans people as perverts, freaks or monsters, some of the feminists who are now raising concerns about the proposed reform of the GRA offer an argument that is at least in principle distinct from this rhetoric. We have seen from experience that this argument is, in some cases, succeeding in raising doubts about reform among people who are broadly sympathetic to trans rights and who would therefore reject overtly bigoted arguments without hesitation.”

Read on.

Obituary: Mary Midgley

We are saddened by the death of Mary Midgley, and we’d like to share with you this obituary which Ian Kidd is allowing both SWIP UK and Feminist Philosophers to share. I especially like the ending:

The best tribute to her, though, is to carry on the sort of work she exemplified and encouraged. At the International Women’s Day Conference at Durham in 2016, Liz McKinnell and I formally presented Mary with a copy of the festschrift we co-edited for her, entitled Science and the Self: Animals, Evolution, and Ethics: Essays in Honour of Mary Midgley. Duly grateful, she offered her thanks, then turned to us and asked, “So, what’s next?” I don’t recall our answer, but it ought to be been a promise that we would crack on with the philosophical plumbing and do our best to help stop the flood of “muddled thinking”.

Here’sObituary-Mary Midgley-2 the full obituary.

The international Day of the Girl

from the NYTimes:  A photo-journalism look at some young women around the world:

“This is 18” aims to capture what life is like for girls turning 18 in 2018 across oceans and cultures — in Mexico and Mississippi, Ramallah and Russia, Bangladesh and the Bronx.

But while girls have long been the subject of the photographer’s lens, they have far less often been behind it. So we asked young women photographers to document girls in their communities — taking the photos and conducting the interviews themselves. Each photographer was paired with a professional mentor to guide them through the process.

The result is a celebration of girlhood around the world — across 12 time zones and 15 languages, featuring 21 subjects and 22 photographers.