Incels and the Literary Canon

I’m recently back from talking about Kate Manne’s important book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny at the Canadian Philosophical Association (CPA) conference. It has a lot to say about the normalization of male entitlement to women’s attention. Women who do not provide in accordance with gendered norms are often criticized  as being cold, stuck-up, aggressive, etc. And there are many cases, correspondingly, of men reacting badly, sometimes violently, when women do not give them things to which they feel entitled.

This analysis applies extremely well to incel (involuntary celibate) culture online. So with this on my mind, I saw this interesting article linked on a friend’s Facebook page, which had a lot to say about how popular and canonical literature reinforces this mindset. (We should probably also include movies – I’m looking at you, romantic comedies!)

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/04/incel-movement-literary-classics-behind-misogyny

Reassessing the canon allows us to see that one of the reasons why “he was a lonely virgin” sounds like reasonable justification to us for a spree killing is that we have long valorized male isolation. Our literary canon treats such desire as if it is a (if not the) central topic in the lives of white men. It treats the frustration of male desire as if it merits exploration time and again. Maybe people like Jordan Peterson and Ross Douthat (two mainstream writers who have recently entertained the possibility that society would benefit from “sex redistribution”) wouldn’t think male isolation was a privileged social problem (rather than an individual psychological problem) if our literary culture didn’t also support that idea. Maybe Donald Trump wouldn’t have won the presidency in a country that didn’t worry so much about what white men think all the time.

CFP: Public Feminisms

The following CFP for Signs on Public Feminisms might be of interest to some of our readers:

Even as antifeminist and right-wing forces have gained footholds worldwide, feminists have forcefully asserted themselves in the public sphere as key voices of resistance. From the Women’s Marches around the world that took place the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, to the 2012 protests in Delhi, to a new resurgence of writers proudly adopting the moniker, feminists have organized to claim public space and a public voice. It is no overstatement to claim that “the resistance” is being led by women, with intersectional feminism at its core.

Meanwhile, a shifting media landscape has enabled contradictory dynamics: feminists—through innovative uses of social media and online media outlets, as well as mainstream media—have found (and created) platforms to amplify their public voices, yet the pool of public intellectuals and the punditry continues to be largely dominated by white men.

This special issue seeks to address these dynamics through a multifaceted and interdisciplinary discussion of “Public Feminisms.” Signs has sought—through the creation of the Feminist Public Intellectuals Project—to actively advocate for feminist voices in both the scholarly and the public sphere, building a critical mass of public intellectuals who speak with a feminist voice to audiences outside of academia. These multipronged efforts have engaged feminist theorizing and historicizing with the pressing political and social problems across the globe. This special issue seeks to further extend the discourse of public feminisms.

Possible areas of focus might include:

  • How have new forms of media enabled new public forms of feminism (or antifeminism)? How does changing media create new risks for feminist discourse or feminist individuals?
  • How are feminist publics and public feminisms represented in literature, film, television, theater, dance, or other cultural forms today and in prior moments of resistance? How can these forms of expression be put to feminist use?
  • How has feminism either challenged or contributed to the concept of publicness itself? What historical models of publicness has feminism adopted or transformed?
  • How has claiming public space related to claiming discursive space, or vice versa? How have feminisms conjured new publics or counterpublics?
  • How do race, nation, religion, class, sexuality, and caste structure where and which feminisms tend to become public? How have feminists across time challenged these dynamics?
  • How do nonfeminist forces shape what circulates in the name of feminism, and how can feminists combat it?
  • What can comparisons among different historical eras, geographical areas, or political climates tell us about the conditions under which public feminisms can emerge?
  • To what extent are new languages necessary to shifting public discourses about feminism? How are new conceptual languages or vocabularies adopted as part of public discourse?

Signs particularly encourages transdisciplinary and transnational essays that address substantive feminist questions, debates, and controversies without employing disciplinary or academic jargon. We welcome essays that make a forceful case for why public feminism demands a specific and thoughtfully formulated interdisciplinary feminist analysis and why it demands our attention now. We seek essays that are passionate, strongly argued, and willing to take risks.

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2018.

Please submit full manuscripts electronically through Signs’ Editorial Manager system at http://signs.edmgr.com. Manuscripts must conform to the guidelines for submission available at http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/journals/signs/instruct.

Chapel Hill Public Philosophy Workshop

From Caleb Harrison:

I am co-organizing a Public Philosophy Writing Workshop at UNC in May (along with Macy Salzberger and Barry Maguire). The workshop will include talks by folks who have experienced success in writing and publishing public philosophy (Myisha Cherry, Anita Allen, David V Johnson, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong), along with workshop sessions for attendees and presenters to work through ideas they have for written public philosophy. We have some funds set aside to help offset travel costs for early-career and non-tenured folks, and are looking for more submissions.

The workshop information can be found here: https://philevents.org/event/show/40486.

The new deadline for submission is March 20.

Hypatia: Call for Nominations for Editors

On behalf of the Editorial Search Committee for Hypatia:

Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy is seeking an editorial team to serve a term of five years, beginning July 1, 2018. The journal issues a call for nominations for editors every five years in order to consider new proposals and directions for the journal and to give others a chance to be involved. All proposals will be judged on their merits. We encourage self-nominations as well as nominations of others. This search began in 2016 but was interrupted last summer. We commence the search anew, recognizing the necessity of a shortened timeline.

Nominations are due March 15, 2018, proposals on May 1, 2018.

Hypatia is the preeminent journal for feminist philosophy; it has a wide international readership and a robust institutional subscription base. It serves as an important resource not only for philosophers, but for all those interested in philosophical issues raised by feminism, including interdisciplinary women’s and gender studies scholars. The journal publishes work covering a wide range of philosophical traditions and topics, and therefore we encourage nominations (including self-nominations) of editors who have diverse interests and expertise in sub-areas and methodologies of philosophy and feminist studies. Hypatia is committed to the inclusion of trans, critical race, transnational, critical disability, decolonial, and queer scholarship in feminist philosophy, and we especially encourage nominations of those whose experiences include marginalization or underrepresentation in feminist philosophy.

Candidates should have a record of publication in feminist philosophy. Some previous editorial experience is desirable. Individuals constituting an editorial team need not be members of the same institution. At least one member of the editorial team should be at an institution with graduate students in Philosophy, Gender/Women’s Studies, or another related program who can serve as managing editors and editorial assistants. Candidates should also indicate what types of institutional support they expect to receive and the manner in which members of the editorial team would share the work of the journal.

If you are nominating yourselves, please send brief CVs for each member of the editorial team. Also, please include a statement of interest that indicates how the work of editing the journal will be shared and where the journal will be housed, as well as brief statements regarding your previous relevant experience and the directions in which you would like to take Hypatia.

If you are nominating others, please send an email briefly stating your reasons for nominating them, as well as their institutional/postal addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses. We will contact them and request that they provide the same materials as self-nominators, should they wish to be considered.

As noted above, we have a shorter timeframe than usual for the search process: After reviewing the nominations submitted by March 15, 2018, the search committee will invite a subset of nominated editorial teams to submit full proposals by May 1, 2018.

Further instructions for the preparation of proposals will be posted on this Hypatia website and a sample of past proposals will be made available.

Nominations (including self-nominations) should be sent by March 15, 2018, to the Chair of the Search Committee:

Kim Q. Hall, hallki@appstate.edu

Please write “Nomination for Hypatia Editorial Team” in the subject line of the email. If you have any questions about the nomination process, please contact Kim Q. Hall.

Other Search Committee members include: Ann Garry, Desirée Melton, and Paula Moya.

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