And the nuns, of course

This will seem surprising to some, though it surely ought even to be expected. The limitts to spontaneous imagination in matters of morals and action needs investigation.

From the NYT, FEB 5, 2019.

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the Roman Catholic Church had a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops, the first time he had publicly acknowledged the issue.

Catholic nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in recent years in India, Africa and in Italy, and a Vatican magazine last week wrote about nuns having abortions or giving birth to the children of priests. But Francis had never mentioned it until he was asked to comment during a news conference aboard the papal plane returning to Rome from his trip to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

“It’s true,” Francis said. “There are priests and bishops who have done that.”

#MeToo at Davos: we’re losing again

Too many powerful men are sayng they are afraid of even professional involvement with women. That such claims are made is hardly news. Male professors may even cite such worries to explain why their mentees are all male. Even years ago.  It is partof the history of discrimination.

From the NYT:

The #MeToo movement, which burst into the spotlight in the fall of 2017, bringing down powerful figures in Hollywood, the media, politics, sports and more, continues to reverberate 15 months later. It has empowered women to speak up about harassment in the workplace and forced companies to take the issue more seriously. More than 200 prominent men ven explain have lost their jobs, and nearly half of them were succeeded by women.

But in one unintended consequence, executive and analysts say, companies seeking to minimize the risk of sexual harassment or misconduct appear to be simply minimizing contact between female employees and senior male executives, effectively depriving the women of valuable mentorship and exposure. Strong grant organizations – like NSF – try to combat the exclusion of women. It is very hard.

It may be the deeper problem is that too many men are not motivated enough to act in the interest of women in their field.

really older women

From the NYTimes:

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, became the first woman and African-American to lead the House Financial Services Committee, at the age of 80.

Men, of course, have led major organizations well into their seventh and even eighth decades, retaining their power and prominence. But the #MeToo movement has toppled some high-profile males, from 77-year-old Charlie Rose to Les Moonves, 69, who was ousted as head of CBS after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, creating unexpected openings for the elevation of women.

And Susan Douglas, a professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan who is writing a book on the power of older women, said “a demographic revolution” was occurring — both in the number of women who are working into their 60s and 70s and in the perception, in the wake of #MeToo, of their expertise and value.

“Older women are now saying ‘No, I’m still vibrant, I still have a lot to offer, and I’m not going to be consigned to invisibility,’ ” she said. “These women are reinventing what it means to be an older woman.”

“a woman’s rights”

The NYTimes has a series of pieces exploring what happens as ‘More and more laws are treating a fetus as a person, and a woman as less of one,  as states charge pregnant women with crimes…

A woman studying nuns in the middle ages told me recently that nunneries were often seen as refuges from too-often fatal pregnancies.  Reading the Times’ series one feels pregnancies can be dangerous, not so much physically as legally.  The series is so full of details that it is, as far as I cn see, goood material for classes.

How many Barbies are you giving this season?

I’d guess that most readers of this blog are not thrilled at the idea of buying one Barbie, still less a flock to distribute among the girls they give presents too.  However, a recent op-ed In the NY Times argues that anti-Barbie feelings are a prejudice that valorizes boys toys – and so signs of masculinity – over a femininity in girls.

Eschewing femininity in girls while embracing masculinity in boys (and girls too) sounds initiatively pretty bad.  The writer misses, however, the extent to which the icons on each side encode, and propagate, particular values.  It would be very hard to copy Barbie, though not impossible.  But her presence can still make clear societal values concerning weight, skin color and wardrobe.  Be thin!  Lighter is better!  Wear the trendy!  It isn’t that being thin is bad, but the message that thinness is the preferred look can, surely we all know, be harmful.

Is my negative reaction right?  What do you think?  One quasi-objection might be that for younger people what I’ve called icons are in fact less gendered. What difference might this make?

 

Women and Autism

Autism is much more frequentlly diagnosed in males than in females.  An article in the British Psychological Psychological Association’s journal suggests the underlying difference lies in a crucial distingushing feature.  To invoke the cliches of the syndrome:  autistic males are loners who lack intuitive understanding of the neuro-typicals’ actions and reactions.  Autistic women, on the other hand, have the same. lack of intuitive understanding, but they have a much stronger desire for social relations.

On this account, autistic women lack the skills to fulfill a fundamental desire they have.  They may learn to compensate for their intuitive lack.  However, I would suppose that getting help is very difficult for them.  Therapists won’t be prepared to see the problems they have.

 

ADDITION: Books to be translated for chinese faculty and students: nominations open

What wouuld you recommend?

Let’s suppose we’re aiming for a good sized list.  Let us know which would be your candidates.

 

Thoughtful comments made me realize I left out two important facts:

  •  What’s needed are philosophy books by women.
  • I think the idea is to have books from philosophy specifically.  Books that also involve another discipline are fine, but only if they are recognizably philosophy books.

 

Women and academic careers

When individuals could decide quite openly that one would not have an academic career.

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (2018)

Plot

  • In1956, four years before Jane Goodall ventured into the world of chimpanzees and seven years before Dian Fossey left to work with mountain gorillas, in fact, before anyone, man or woman had made such a trip, 23-year old Canadian biologist, Anne Innis Dagg, made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to become the first person in the world to study animal behavior in the wild on that continent. When she returned home a year later armed with ground-breaking research, the insurmountable barriers she faced as a female scientist proved much harder to overcome. In 1972, having published 20 research papers as an assistant professor of zoology at University of Guelph, the Dean of the university, denied her tenure. She couldn’t apply to the University of Waterloo because the Dean there told Anne that he would never give tenure to a married woman. This was the catalyst that transformed Anne into a feminist activist. For three decades, Anne Innis Dagg was absent from the giraffe world until 2010 when she was sought out by giraffologists and not just brought back to into the fold, but finally celebrated for her work.

  • Dr. Anne Innis Dagg re-traces the steps of her groundbreaking 1956 journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild – and discovers a startling contrast between the world of giraffes she once knew and the one it has become. Weaving through the past and present, her harrowing journey gives us an intimate look into the factors that destroyed her career and the forces that brought her back.

Women in Ireland worry: does wearing a thong mean you can’t be raped?

This issue is not exactly protection, unless one sees the (alleged) rapist as protected:

Rape trial sparks thong protests in Ireland

A teenager’s underwear was used as evidence that she might be sexually promiscuous during a recent rape trial in the Irish city of Cork. “You have to look at the way she was dressed,” the accused lawyer’s said of the complainant. “She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” The 27-year-old man accused was subsequently found not guilty. The trial triggered protests across Ireland this week. Many women carried items of underwear and chanted slogans like “My little black dress does not mean yes.” Women also posted pictures of their underwear on social media with hashtags #IBelieveHer and #ThisIsNotConsent.

“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.