Here at Feminist Philosophers…

As we announced April 23, Feminist Philosophers is shutting down. This is one of a series of posts by FP bloggers looking back on the blog and bidding it farewell.

 

I began my first ever post for Feminist Philosophers on June 4, 2012 with the following words: “Here at Feminist Philosophers, we love…”

It doesn’t matter how that sentence ends. What’s striking to me about it now is that in my very first post for a blog that had by then already existed for five years and had already received about four million site views (not a spitball; I just looked it up!), I was cocky enough to make myself perfectly at home in this way.

Some of that was no doubt due to my own bravado, but I think that a larger reason why I acted at home in my first Feminist Philosophers post is that by then, for me, as for countless other women philosophers, the blog really did feel like home. This is no mean feat in a discipline that often feels anything but hospitable to women.

For many women philosophers who felt isolated not only in the discipline but in their home departments, Feminist Philosophers was a crucial lifeline. It helped us to feel part of a scholarly community, but it also helped to change the community in big and small ways.

The blog shared advice, data, and analysis, called out male-only conferences, and fostered much-needed conversations about such topics as implicit bias, stereotype threat, micro-inequities, and sexism in academe. You can get a sense of the scope of the topics, by taking a look at the first page of the blog’s drop-down menu of categories available for each post:

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A glimpse of some of the categories available to Feminist Philosophers bloggers.

The blog also celebrated the work of feminist philosophers, and supported feminist philosophers when they were down. (A case in point: a couple of months before I joined the blog, a conservative pundit compared me unfavorably to Stalin. Feminist Philosophers poked gentle fun at the comparison, which helped me to feel like I was sharing a chuckle with savvy women colleagues rather than just being freaked out that somebody hated me enough to write about me as the pundit had.) As well, many readers wrote to the blog for various kinds of confidential advice and support during tough times — support that  they very often received behind the scenes thanks to the wisdom, discretion,  and generosity of some of FP’s senior bloggers.

I have been the beneficiary of the improvements in the discipline wrought by Feminist Philosophers to a much greater extent than I have been a contributor to those changes. I joined five years in, and having only authored 93 posts, I am one of the blog’s less frequent posters. (Ugh! If only I had counted my contributions before today, I could have contrived to go out on my hundredth post. Alas, 94 — this post — will be my last.)

Still, I have been enormously proud to play a tiny part in a blog that has served the discipline so well. While here, I learned a lot more about the contours of the discipline, I cut my teeth on public scholarship, and I wrote some posts that I’m proud of.

I think that the post I’m proudest of writing for Feminist Philosophers was one in which I as a Canadian woman worked through some of the legal issues that were exposed by the acquittal for sexual assault of notorious Canadian broadcaster, Jian Ghomeshi. Here’s a link. I don’t know whether the post was much better than others I wrote, but I do know that other women told me afterwards that they found it a helpful perspective at a difficult time. If we philosophers can occasionally offer a helpful perspective at a difficult time, then that is not a bad thing at all.

These days, most of my public philosophy contributions occur in the realm of academic freedom and campus free expression/speech issues. If you’d like to read some of that work, then check out my Dispatches on Academic Freedom column for University Affairs.

To the creators of Feminist Philosophers, thank you for all you have done to make philosophy a place where more of us feel at home, and thank you for letting me play a small part. I was honoured to join the team, and I am grateful to be able to participate in this final celebration of Feminist Philosophers as it winds down.