Dialogues on Disability: Shelley Tremain interviews Kit Connor

The new instalment of Dialogues on Disability is up, in which Shelley Tremain interviews Kit Connor. This extremely interesting piece contains a lot of insights relevant to feminist philosophy and the tools it can provide:

Feminist philosophies give me tools and company in which to begin to ask and articulate the questions: what could it mean to subvert, transform, make different these kinds of scaffoldings within the material worlds and workings of oppression in which they are maintained? To bear weight? To hold grief differently? What could it look like to celebrate unpredictability in the outskirts? I look to philosophy—in, within, and outside the academic institution—as a mode in which to collide personal histories of my hatred for my willing parts and their usefulness without reducing this collision to a story only about subjugation, resistance, subversion, or celebration, as a mode to recognize this hatred within collective intersecting histories and realities of containment.

But also ways in which feminist spaces can remain exclusionary:

Even within spaces of academic feminist communities, which may be at work to make themselves permeable, to interrupt the constructs and barriers that prevent inclusion and movement of certain bodies in them, I often find that I am usually not what is expected.

You can read more here: http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/2017/11/dialogues-on-disability-shelley-tremain-interviews-kit-connor.html

Me too: But What About You?

If you’ve been on social media much in the last few days, you might have seen a lot of status updates saying “Me too” with or without explanation. The idea is to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem of sexual assault and sexual harassment, particularly of women, though my personal take is this ought to be something for people of all genders. While it seems likely that the nature of the violence would vary depending on the genders of the people involved, we do ourselves no favours in framing sexual violence as exclusively a women’s issue.

But now that we see each other as survivors, what are some next steps? One, I think, is to know that many people do not feel comfortable speaking up about their own experiences, for a variety of reasons, and that we ought not make assumptions.

But another piece of this: who has been causing the violence? There are huge numbers of people speaking up about their experiences of harassment and assault, but let’s not ignore the fact that these wrongs have all been committed by someone. And who are those people who have perpetrated these wrongs? The hard truth is that in many cases it is also us. I think that the common narrative of perpetrators as predators, deviant, outsiders, and others, has resulted in a great deal of harm. It does not help us see that in a world run through with injustice, it is very easy to be ignorant of ways in which we harm one another and perpetuate injustices.

Perpetrators of assault and harassment need not be monsters. They can be us, having watched too many movies portraying the relentless pursuit of an unwilling romantic partner as charming rather than terrifying. Or having internalized women’s resistance to sex as obligatory behaviour, and not necessarily reflective of a woman’s actual desires. Or having accepted an ideology of pity, that disabled bodies are inherently undesirable, and anyone who is disabled (or otherwise not-conventionally-attractive) should be grateful for sexual attention of any kind. It is not that hard for us to hurt each other without being monstrous in moral character.

So perhaps instead of just feeling heartbroken and helpless in the face of wrongs perpetuated only by others, it would be a good time to wonder about situations in which we have ignored boundaries to which we ought to have attended, or interpreted situations in line with our desires rather than another’s. But the point isn’t just to feel bad about this, either, or to treat it as just a sign of your own bad moral character. The point is that there is a reason that this behaviour is easy to ignore on your part, as well as on the part of others. It is easy to disbelieve that a friend has committed sexual assault because you know them to be at heart a good person, and think that the two things are incompatible with each other.

All of this needs to go. Guilt and shame are not ends in themselves here, and the mere recognition of our own wrongdoing is not enough. Recognizing wrongs in retrospect at times like these does not change the fact that many of these wrongs did not seem so wrong at the time. And it is this last fact that needs to change before these problems can be solved. Without that work, these confessions seem (as many other things do to me) like just more yelling into the void.

Oxford Dictionaries and All Male Panels

Thanks to a reader for pointing out this entry on the Oxford Dictionaries blog: https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2017/07/on-the-radar-manel/

The Gendered Conference Campaign (GCC) has for some time pointed out various instances of all male panels, but now we can have a term to refer to them, namely a “manel.” Not to be confused with an indie pop band from Barcelona.

The term manel, used to refer to an all-male panel of speakers, has recently emerged to join the ranks of the ever growing lexicon of words that are formed by blending the word man with an existing word. While slightly older examples of such terms like mankini, a typically revealing bathing suit for men, or murse, a purse for a man, drew attention to how traditional western concepts of manhood might be in flux, the most recent wave of man- words has had a decidedly different effect. Words like mansplaining or manspreading aim to put names to social phenomena that represent the ways in which those traditional concepts still carry on, typically without the men engaging in them even realizing it.

The social phenomenon of men wearing small bags seems less worth pointing out than the social phenomenon of men being seen as default experts on most topics, so while I  tend to be skeptical about the usefulness of words like “murse,” words like “manspreading” and “manel” do seem to me to be helpful. Feel free to browse some manels of your own on Twitter.  Or look up an array of old GCC posts on this site.

CFA: John Dewey and Critical Philosophies for Critical Political Times

John Dewey and Critical Philosophies for Critical Political Times

University College Dublin

19th-20th October 2017

Recent events have occasioned the need for theorists working on critical projects to grapple with unprecedented political phenomena in Western societies – phenomena such as Brexit and the rise of the extreme right-wing. Although reminiscent of previous generations’ political practice and thought, there appears to be a unique inflection in the present moment that renders simple appeals to ‘history repeating itself’ unconvincing. At the same time, critical theorists working in a variety of fields have increasingly turned to pragmatism as a framework for theorising contemporary political problems and ideas, as evinced by pragmatism’s proliferation across the European continent. Given this contemporary concern with pragmatism as a resource for critical philosophical and critical political endeavours, and given the need for theorising that makes sense of the sometimes bewildering current political context, we now invite contributions on the work of one of the most explicitly political pragmatists, John Dewey. Dewey’s thought has long constituted a philosophical resource, and his political engagement a fountain of inspiration, for critical theorists, activists, and policymakers. By bringing together scholars working on critical philosophies and John Dewey, we wish to shed light on the following:

  • What is new about contemporary political practice and thought? What is merely echoing the thinking and affective investments of previous political moments? What is critical about this moment in time?
  • How can we draw on the philosophy of John Dewey to make sense of contemporary political contexts?
  • How can we bring together Dewey’s critical, philosophical project, with theorists working in a variety of critical areas, such as feminism, queer theory, critical race theory, and disability studies?
  • How might theorisations drawing on Dewey inform contemporary political contexts and policy approaches (to, for instance, immigration, globalisation, global governance structures, or democratic institutions)? What promise do they hold for political change?
  • How can we motivate a case for pragmatist views on hope and meliorism?
  • Can the idea of a critical philosophy shed light on the idea of political crises and responses to crises?

While engaging the conference theme of ‘John Dewey and Critical Philosophies for Critical Political Times’, we therefore encourage authors to address these questions by submitting abstracts on the following topics (without being limited to these):

  • Trump, Brexit, and the rise of the far-right
  • The state of leftist politics and potential rehabilitations
  • The economic crisis, economic inequality, and class
  • Gender inequality and sexual violence
  • Militarisation and securitisation
  • Global warming and threats to the environment
  • Democracies and elections
  • Freedoms and limits on freedom
  • Nationalism, patriotism, and identities
  • White supremacy and imperialism

Given the interdisciplinary interest in John Dewey’s thought and critical philosophies, papers from a variety of disciplines, including gender studies, philosophy, politics, sociology, cultural studies, and history, are welcome.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Prof. Charlene Seigfried (Purdue University)
Prof. Matthew Festenstein (University of York)

Please submit abstracts of not more than 500 words by July 7th 2017 to clara.fischer@ucd.ie. Successful applicants will be contacted by 17th July.

This conference is supported by the Mind Association, the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, and UCD School of Philosophy.

Conference organisers:

Clara Fischer (University College Dublin)
Conor Morris (University College Dublin)

Second Anniversary Installment of Dialogues on Disability

Shelley Tremain has just posted the second anniversary installment of her series Dialogues on Disability, and is joined in the retrospective by Jesse Prinz, Tommy Curry, and Audrey Yap, all previous interviewees. You can read the full discussion here:

http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/2017/04/dialogues-on-disability-shelley-tremain-with-jesse-prinz-tommy-curry-and-audrey-yap.html

CFA: Lorraine Code: Thinking Responsibly, Thinking Ecologically

Call for Abstracts
Lorraine Code: Thinking Responsibly, Thinking Ecologically
(Preliminary Title)

Edited by Nancy Arden McHugh and Andrea Doucet
Under Consideration with State University of New York Press

Since the publication of her book Epistemic Responsibility in 1987, feminist philosopher Lorraine Code has been at the forefront of linking epistemology, epistemic injustice and ethics to shape critical frameworks for responsible, situated knowing and practice.  Her work has been path breaking on many themes, issues and problematics, including:

  • epistemic virtues,
  • individual and institutional epistemic responsibilities,
  • the epistemic significance of the gender of the knower,
  • the politics of epistemic and physical locations,
  • critical epistemic frameworks, such as ecological thinking,
  • the epistemic salience of gossip,
  • subjectivities and narratives,
  • the politics of testimony,
  • feminist methodologies and epistemic practices,
  • human and non human entanglements,
  • relational ontologies

On all of these issues, Code’s work has provided a gateway for subsequent work in feminist epistemology and philosophy of science, as well as more generally in feminist theory and methodologies. Moreover, through her critical analysis of mainstream epistemologies, medicine, law, literature, politics, psychology, and ecology, Code also provides avenues for creating institutional and social change.

We invite abstract submissions of 500-750 words that engage with the work of Lorraine Code by utilizing and building upon her theoretical, epistemological, and methodological arguments developed over the course of her writing and research career and/or by applying her arguments to new frameworks, cases, or problems. Please note that although Lorraine Code’s work has been housed in philosophy, her approach is highly interdisciplinary. Thus, abstracts are welcome from an array of disciplines and approaches. 

 Timeline:

Abstracts (500-750 words) and one-page CV due:
April 1, 2017

Abstract Acceptance notification:
May 20, 2017

Full papers of 6500-8000 words due:
January 31, 2018

Notification of Paper Acceptance:
May 20, 2018
 

Contact:

Nancy McHugh
Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Wittenberg University
Springfield, OH 4551
nmchugh@wittenberg.edu                                                                

 Andrea Doucet
Canada Research Chair in Gender, Work & Care
Professor of Sociology/ Women’s & Gender Studies
Brock University
St Catharines, On L2S 3A1
adoucet@brocku.ca

CFP: APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy

Call for Papers: APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy Spring 2017

Due Date: November 15, 2016

Feminism and Policing
Co-Edited with Julinna Oxley, Coastal Carolina University

The Spring 2017 issue of the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy will focus on the issue of policing from a feminist perspective.

In recent years, scholars have focused their attention on different aspects of the criminal justice system and proposed reforms. Feminist scholars have examined racial bias in prosecution, the effects of poverty and class in the justice system, and the treatment of women in prison. However, the practice of policing has received less attention. What can feminist scholars contribute to the critique of current police practices? How might feminist scholarship enrich the debate over how to reform law enforcement training programs, practices, and protocols?

Philosophers are invited to submit short essays on the topic of policing. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Analyses of how stereotypical gender norms affect the dynamics of policing protocols and practice.
  • Critical intersectional approaches to how citizens and communities experience surveillance, including race, gender, social class, ethnic background, religious orientation, and other vectors of oppression.
  • Critical evaluations of how white masculinity and white supremacy function in the reporting of crimes, arrests, and other dimensions of law enforcement.
  • Proposed normative ethical approaches to policing, which may include feminist principles and methods
  • Examination of community-relations outreach initiatives that seek to build trust, cooperation and social harmony between citizens and law enforcement
  • Feminist proposals for how to improve mandatory police trainings or police protocols, such as threat assessment, traffic stops, stop and frisk, the use of deadly force, etc.
  • Feminist analysis of the police industrial complex, and the increasing militarization of police forces (including SWAT teams)
  • Critical discussions of the (personal) experience of female and/or LGBTQ police officers, in their training, treatment as law enforcement officers or their approach to policing.
  • Feminist approaches to curtailing abuses of power in an attempt to maintain social order.
  • Critical discussion of the gender imbalance in law enforcement.

Papers on any aspect of the topic are welcome. Papers on other topics related to feminism and philosophy will be considered as well. Because of the nature of the newsletter and the fact that it is only available in electronic form now, articles of any length are acceptable. All papers are peer-reviewed.

Book Reviews

I welcome reviewers for the books listed below. I am looking for reviewers with specific expertise on the subject of the text. Please keep in mind that book reviews are not the same as book reports. They should engage with the subject of the text in the context of other texts on the subject.

If you are interested in reviewing one of these texts, or wish to review a text not included here, please email me at s.parekh@neu.edu with an attached C.V. and an explanation of your particular interest in and qualifications for reviewing the chosen text. If you do not own the book, I will request a copy from the publisher. Deadlines for reviews are negotiable.

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge 2014.

Barthold, Lauren Swayne. A Hermeneutic Approach to Gender and Other Social Identities. Palgrave MacMillan, 2016.

Bianchi, Emanuela. The Feminist Symptom: Aleatory Matter in the Aristotelian Cosmos. Fordham University Press, 2014.

Brake, Elizabeth, ed. After Marriage: Rethinking Martial Relationships. Oxford University Press 2015.

Butler, Judith. Senses of the Subject. Fordham University Press, 2015.

David, Miriam E. Feminism, Gender and Universities-Politics, Passion and Pedagogies. Institute of Education, University of London, UK, 2014.

Dea, Shannon. Beyond the Binary: Thinking about Sex and Gender. Broadview Press, 2016.

Harbin, Ami. Disorientation and Moral Life. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Nussbaum, Martha. Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Meyers, Diana. Victims’ Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights. Oxford Univeristy Press, 2016.

Oksala. Johanna. Feminist Experiences: Foucauldian and Phenomenological Investigations. Northwestern University Press, 2016,

Potter, Nancy. The Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric Engagement. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Shrage, Laurie and Stewart, Robert. Philosophizing about Sex. Broadview Press, 2015.

Sowaal, Alice and Weiss Penny A. Feminist Interpretations of Mary Astell. Penn State University Press, 2016.

Tarver, Erin and Sullivan, Shannon. Feminist Interpretations of William James. Penn State University Press, 2015.

The format for submissions of papers and book reviews is in previous issues of the Newsletter, available on the APA website: http://www.apaonline.org/?feminism_newsletter

Send submissions to: s.parekh@neu.edu
Serena Parekh
Editor, APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy Northeastern University, Department of Philosophy and Religion

Yale English Students Call for Changes to Foundational Courses

Yale English students are calling on their departments to focus on more than just white, mostly wealthy, male writers.

[Students] want the university to abolish the major English poets requirement, and to refocus the course’s pre-1800/1900 requirements “to deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity”.

The petition says that “a year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of colour, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity”, and that the course “creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of colour”.

The article also mentions that part of the university’s intention in choosing the major authors for its foundational course,

“is to provide all students with a generous introduction to the abiding formal and thematic concerns of the English literary tradition”. The poems the students read, it adds, “take up questions and problems that resonate throughout the whole of English literature: the status of vernacular language, the moral promise and perils of fiction, the relationships between men and women, the nature of heroism, the riches of tradition and the yearning to make something new”.

It’s nice to know that, while relationships between men and women are an important theme that resonates throughout English literature, it doesn’t seem especially pressing to read what women poets have to say about them. Or, say, heroism, tradition, etc, etc.

Full article here.

Also hoping that with initiatives for diversifying Philosophy syllabi, it’s going to become increasingly more difficult to graduate with a Philosophy degree having read almost exclusively the works of well-off white men.

Ghomeshi Trial Verdict

The verdict has been read in the high-profile sexual assault trial of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi. The Ontario Court judge acquitted Ghomeshi on four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. The judge’s verdict was based on his finding the women who accused Ghomeshi not to be credible witnesses. A heartbreaking excerpt from his full verdict:

The success of this prosecution depended entirely on the Court being able to accept each complainant as a sincere, honest and accurate witness. Each complainant was revealed at trial to be lacking in these important attributes. The evidence of each complainant suffered not just from inconsistencies and questionable behaviour, but was tainted by outright deception.

I think that for many of us who were following the proceedings, it was not Ghomeshi on trial, but the women. Ghomeshi himself did not testify in the trial, so his behaviour was not similarly scrutinized.

This is troubling, because despite his acknowledgement that there is no single way in which sexual assault survivors behave, many of the judge’s issues with the complainants’ credibility had to do with a lack of “harmony” between Ghomeshi’s having assaulted them and their behaviour. For example, Judge Horkin did not seem to think that DeCoutere’s post-assault contact with Ghomeshi could be properly explained as an attempt to normalize their relationship. Further, even her involvement with sexual assault advocacy seemed to be portrayed in the verdict as an attempt to get attention.

It may be entirely natural for a victim of abuse to become involved in an advocacy group. However, the manner in which Ms. DeCoutere embraced and cultivated her role as an advocate for the cause of victims of sexual violence may explain some of her questionable conduct as a witness in these proceedings.

This of course is perfectly in line with the stereotype that of women who fabricate false sexual assault claims in order to get attention. Never mind, of course, that the very reason there might have had to be an #ibelievelucy hashtag was the default perspective that she was not, in fact, to be believed.

For many survivors, the fear of disbelief is precisely a reason not to come forward. Survivors continue to have their stories doubted – and even in cases where the stories are believed – to be blamed for the things which were done. So it is very sad in this case for these women to be found lacking in credibility, while the defendant’s credibility was not even called into question on the stand. But something also disturbing with far-reaching implications is Horkin’s claim that the presumption of truthfulness is equally dangerous as false stereotypes of expected victim behaviour.

Courts must guard against applying false stereotypes concerning the expected conduct of complainants. I have a firm understanding that the reasonableness of reactive human behaviour in the dynamics of a relationship can be variable and unpredictable. However, the twists and turns of the complainants’ evidence in this trial, illustrate the need to be vigilant in avoiding the equally dangerous false assumption that sexual assault complainants are always truthful.

While it might be true that not all sexual assault complaints are truthful, the function of this claim seems to be to dissuade us from believing survivors. At least nine women had come forward claiming that Ghomeshi had harassed or assaulted them in some way. Three went to trial and we were told that their testimony was not only unreliable, but also tainted by deception.

It doesn’t seem to me as though believing too many women is one of the pressing problems facing our justice system.

From the editors of Philosophia Mathematica

In light of a recent incident we discussed here, the editors of the journal Philosophia Mathematica have issued this brief statement:

In the recent review of Nick Haverkamp’s Intuitionism vs. Classicism: A Mathematical Attack on Classical Logic in Philosophia Mathematica, published online on October 27th 2015, a paragraph was included that did not meet the standards for which we aim in the journal. We apologise for this. The review has now been retracted and procedures have been established to prevent similar episodes in the future.