A Concern Discussed at a session at the Pacific APA

I don’t think anything is gained by my identifying either the session or the speakers, particularly since the problem is quite general.  I should say that in the remarks I mention, both very mainstream analytic philosophy and philosophy of race and gender were discussed.

A speaker remarked that there was little feminist work done in an analytic area.  In the discussion another philosopher maintained that in fact there was on-going work by feminists in that area, but that it challenged the structure the speaker used to define the area.  The voices of such feminist philosophers are mostly at least muted since (a) it is extremely difficult to get such work published, and (b) if it does get into print, just about no one reads it or discusses it.  Several other women at the meeting registered that it was good that we were talking about gate-keepers.  Afterward a women who had given a paper I thought genuinely brilliant and illuminating told me that she had given up on publishing in journals and now relied on being invited to publish.

Another kind of example:  A recent paper in a visible publication said its main idea came from an impressive book by a woman philosopher.  Previously two mainstream presses had said they couldn’t find anyone to review it, and another editor completely reversed the main thesis and then rejected it as not interesting.

Our profession can ill-afford such silencing.  One remarkable contribution outsiders can make to a profession is to provide new and critical perspectives on traditional topics.  This contribution is just lost if people refuse to consider it.

Probably we all get self-published books from people who have discovered the secret of the universe.  In contrast, the outsiders I am describing tend to be highly credentialed.

Nancy potter on defiance & the social imaginary

The lecture looks fascinating. I’ve just ordered two of her books.

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Reminder: Royal Institute of Philosophy Public Lecture at the University of Kent

1 March 2017, 3 pm – 5 pm
‘“Difficult people”: A theory of defiance and the role of the social imaginary’
Nancy Potter, Louisville

Abstract: Difficult and defiant people present problems to social cohesion, to law enforcement, to education, to psychiatry, and to the juridical system. But whose problems are these, and who bears the burden of responsibility to understand and address this problem? For example, Black children are suspended, referred to law enforcement or psychiatry, physically restrained, and expelled from school at a disproportionately higher rate than whites are. They may get diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Although some defiant people have gone down in history as heroes, most defiant people are vulnerable to being interpreted as criminals, as dangerous to the social fabric of society, or having a personality disorder such as Antisocial Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. In order correctly to interpret defiant behaviour, we need a theory of defiance. This paper gives a short version of that theory, focusing on the role that oppressive norms and the social imaginary play in conceptualizing certain people as exhibiting ‘mad or bad’ defiance. I argue that sometimes defiance is good and, as such, requires that teachers, law enforcement, social workers, and psychiatrists need to grapple with the difficult social imaginary. Understanding the social imaginary as both historically given and as contingent allows those in authoritative positions to work collaboratively in creative, engaged change. One ingredient in a shift toward creating an instituting, rather than instituted, social imaginary is to give uptake to those who exhibit—or seem to exhibit—defiant behaviour. I present cases to illustrate these ideas.

All are welcome to attend. The lecture will be held at Keynes Lecture Theatre 2:
https://www.kent.ac.uk/maps/location/campus/building/room/KLT2

Funding generously provided by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Questions about the series can be directed to: Camillia Kong, c.e.h.kong@kent.ac.uk

Philosophy in the Public Good: Yes!

A recent article (see below) analyses 52,000 questionaire responses from men and women of varying sexual orientation. The focus was on the frequency of orgasm during sex. There were some disturbing results. Some were no surprise; for example, heterosexual women having sex with a male partner have the lowest rate of orgasms. In contrast were results about what increases the rate of orgasm in women, and the mistaken beliefs a significant number of men have (From the Guardian):

“About 30% of men actually think that intercourse is the best way for women to have orgasm, and that is sort of a tragic figure because it couldn’t be more incorrect,” said co-author of the research Elisabeth Lloyd, a professor of biology at Indiana University and author of The Case of the Female Orgasm.

According to the research, only 35% of heterosexual women always or usually orgasm during vaginal sex alone, with 44% saying they rarely or never did. By contrast, 80% of heterosexual women and 91% of lesbians always or usually orgasm with a combination of genital stimulation, deep kissing and oral sex – but without vaginal sex. “To say that there needs to be some education I think is an understatement,” said Lloyd.

Elisabeth Lloyd is also a very distinguished philosopher.

“Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample,” David A. FrederickEmail authorH. Kate St. JohnJustin R. GarciaElisabeth A. Lloyd, archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017.

And the years just fell away

Two events last week seemed to come at me from the past. They could have occurred five years ago, or even 10 or 20 years ago. I did not, however, feel a burst of youth. Rather, I felt a real sadness for all of us who had once found such things common.

One was a lecture at the Jowett Society at Oxford and the other an emailed notice. The lecture itself itself was given by Jennifer Lackey. It was terrific. In fact, I wanted to raise an issue. Indeed, I put my hand up. And then someone else was called on. When that discussion was over, I put my hand up again. And then again. For 50 min my arm was straight up whenever there was a pause for a question. I was incredulous.  I might as well have been invisible.  I finally spoke out.

The other event was earlier. The other event was the CFP for this conference.

SCIENTISM AND CONSCIOUSNESS
A Conference at Keele University, UK, 27-28th June 2017

Keynote Speakers
Philip Goff • John Cottingham • James Tartaglia • Keith Frankish • Christopher Norris

Five male speakers and no female speakers. I was incredulous, and indeed kept rereading the list to spot my mistake.

Well, one good thing: Jennifer Lackey’s sterling performance was a great example of why and how we benefit when women can speak.

When ICE knocks

ICE = US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to today’s Houston Chronicle, there’s a lot of anxiety in the city among immigrants even though the city is a ‘sanctuary’ city. The newspaper has printed a set of guidelines. Even if you are ‘safe’, knowing these guidelines is worthwhile. They may help you keep others safe.

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“The Philosophical Case for Polyamory”

This week’s Cronicle of Higher Education uses the above title to announce an article about Carrie Jenkins’ work on love.  And it appears available to all. And there is more, including the story of the You Know What sent through the mail.  Don’t miss it! http://www.chronicle.com/article/I-Have-Multiple-Loves-/239077?cid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=a6d11fea7e0b4f379c2894b999fef99e&elq=488455c098b74e8cb5e61505fe3fc148&elqaid=12459&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=5067

Feminism and Racism

No one will be surprised to hear that many women of color experience feminism as exclusionary.  There were some efforts at a number of levels to make the March yesterday be inclusionary.  Women of color, for example, were dominant in the final roster of lead organizers.  Now might be a very good time to work on inclusion.  In doing do, the kinds of injustices effectively addressed will be increased.  And given such efforts, we can all end up in a backed by a more powerful unity.

There are some articles recently looking at racism and the march.  Following a recurring line of advice, I suggest we try to listen very respectfully to what people who feel excluded are telling us, perhaps especially those of us who may well not fully understand what checking our white privilege could or should consist in.

Colorlines has some wonderful relevant articles.  I’m going to give some snippets from one of the most direct.  Everyone really should read the whole piece.

… On the other hand, I’m really tired of Black and Brown women routinely being tasked with fixing White folks’ messes. I’m tired of being the moral compass of the United States. Many of the White women who will attend the march are committed activists, sure. But for those new-to-it White women who just decided that they care about social issues? I’m not invested in sharing space with them at this point in history.

Thus, I am affording myself the emotional frailty usually reserved for White women and tapping out this time. I’m not saying that I will never stand in solidarity with masses of White women under the umbrella of our gender, but it won’t be this weekend. Managing my depression is a complicated daily task, one that will certainly be exacerbated by the presidential inauguration festivities. It won’t serve my own mental health needs to put my body on the line (a body that I believe will invite more violence from Trump supporters than paler attendees) to feign solidarity with women who by and large didn’t have my back prior to November. Not yet. Eventually? Perhaps. But not now.

I’d like to see a million White women march to the grave of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth or Audre Lorde, or perhaps to the campus of Spelman College to offer a formal apology to Black women. It’s time for White women to come together and tell the world how their crimes against Black women, Black men and Black children have been no less devastating than the ones committed by their male counterparts. Perhaps the Women’s March on Washington will provide the grounds for the level of catharsis required to make that happen. If anyone can plant the seed, it’s Mallory, Perez, Sarsour and Janaye Ingram, the march’s head of logistics. But I just can’t make my way to Washington D.C. this weekend to find out.

Maybe next time.

[Jamilah Lemieux is a writer and the vice president of Men’s and News Programming for InteractiveOne. Follow her on Twitter: @jamilahlemieux]