These are a few of my favourite posts

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’ve never been a very active blogger here, but I’m a very grateful one. And so, inspired by Prof Manners’ wonderful post In Praise of Ceremonial Gratitude, I’m going to demonstrate my gratitude by sharing a few of my favourite posts. All of these have made me think, some have made me smile, and others – which is the greatest compliment of all – have changed my mind. More than anything, the whole blog has changed my mind about an academic field which I left 15 years ago feeling pretty despondent. I’m busy doing other things now, but I’m so happy the field I still love is in better hands.

‘Call out culture’: the case of ableist language

The Ethics of Public Shaming

Cochlear Implants, Viral Videos, and Sexism

What’s wrong with dying?

Thoughts from an assault survivor in philosophy

Social construction and gender identity

Perfect Recipe for Sustaining the Patriarchy, Compliments of God

How to discuss Searle, etc.

Spare Rib now available online

Well, this is cool: JISC’s journal archives now include Spare Rib, and selected highlights from Spare Rib are introduced at a British Library page. From the British Library page:

Spare Rib was an active part of the emerging women’s liberation movement in the late 20th century. Running from 1972 – 93, this now iconic magazine challenged the stereotyping and exploitation of women, while supporting collective, realistic solutions to the hurdles women faced. Spare Rib became the debating chamber of feminism in the UK, and it now provides a valuable insight into the lives of women in this period.

The patchwork quilt of achievement

This is just wonderful, the wonderful Athene Donald reflecting on Mary Catherine Bateson:

Consider the following sentence:

‘We see achievement as purposeful and monolithic, like sculpting of a massive tree trunk that has first to be brought from the forest and then shaped by long labor to assert the artist’s vision, rather than something crafted from odds and ends, like a patchwork quilt, and lovingly used to warm different nights and bodies.’

[Bateson’s] sympathies are all with the crafting of a life from bits and pieces rather than those (few?) who simply move from A to B, knowing that B was always where they wanted to be, probably even having set a timescale to achieve this pinnacle of their aspirations. Some people may start off like that. Few I would wager actually manage such a straightforward passage, far fewer than the young setting out are likely to believe. For most of us, however successful we may look to others, there has been a substantial amount of crafting, reshaping, thinking again once one’s heart desire is snatched away and picking oneself off the floor amongst the detritus….

Here’s to patchwork quilts.


Warn juries about rape myths before they hear evidence

The new Director of Public Prosecutions in England & Wales, Alison Saunders, has said juries should be warned about myths and stereotypes associated with rape BEFORE they hear evidence:

Ms Saunders said: “There is lots of really good practice now, so the judge gives the jury directions on myths and stereotypes. But, what normally happens is that they’re given at the end of the case when the jury is just about to go out and deliberate.

“All of us are human – you’re going to hear the evidence, you’re going to make a judgement and then you’re told to set your judgement aside and [are told by the judge] these are the things you should be taking into account – actually it’s better to hear that at the beginning.”

It’s an interesting article, based on an interview with Alison Saunders and Martin Hewitt, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on adult sexual offences.

Call for Nominations: Berger Memorial Prize (Philosophy of Law)

Message from the committee:

The committee depends entirely on nominations for the pool of papers the winner will be selected from. We would be very pleased to have a strong group of papers in feminist legal theory to consider, but won’t have them unless people nominate the papers, so please, if you know of a good piece of feminist legal theory that fits the other requirements, please nominate it!

Deadline June 15, 2014

The Berger Memorial Prize in the philosophy of law, a prize established by the APA in memory of Professor Fred Berger of the University of California at Davis, is awarded every other year in odd years. The prize was made possible by gifts to the APA from Professor Berger’s friends, relatives, and colleagues following his untimely death in 1986. The prize is awarded to an outstanding published article in philosophy of law by a member of the association.


The prize, including a cash award of $500, is presented at the meeting of the Pacific Division of the APA, of which Professor Berger was an active member. If suitable arrangements can be worked out between the winning author and the program committee for the Pacific Division meeting, he/she will be invited to participate in a special symposium on the topics of the winning article at that meeting.


Submitted articles may have been published in philosophy serials, law reviews, political science serials, serials in other related fields, or regularly published anthologies such as Nomos or AMINTAPHIL volumes. Articles or chapters which have been published only in non-serial or non-periodical collections or anthologies are excluded. Articles published in 2012 or 2013 are eligible for consideration for the 2015 prize. Members of the APA committee on philosophy and law who will select the winning article are not eligible for consideration. Eligibility of published articles is governed by the date shown on the publication, not by the date of actual printing or mailing. Questions may be directed to .


The nominee must be an APA member in good standing. Nominators need not verify the author’s membership status in the APA, but they may wish to suggest that those whose work they are nominating join or renew their membership with the APA. Nominations may be made by the author, the editor, another APA member, or any other individual. If an article was originally published in a language other than English, that submission should be accompanied by a translation into English of quality suitable for publication.

‘Flexibility stigma’ bad for all workers

Interesting: this blog post summarizes a paper on what it’s like to be in a department where attempts to work flexibly are stigmatized:

To capture flexibility stigma, our survey asked whether STEM faculty who are fathers and mothers of school-aged children are seen as less committed to their career than their non-parent colleagues, and whether the use of formal or informal work-life policies has negative consequences for careers…

… we find several important consequences of being employed in a department with flexibility stigma, regardless of whether they personally have childcare responsibilities: faculty who report a flexibility stigma in their departments are less likely to intend to remain at their institutionless satisfied with their job overall, and feel like they have less work-life balance than colleagues who do not report such stigma in their departments. In other words, flexibility stigma is bad for all workers in the workplace, not just those personally at risk for being targets of the stigma.

Country objects to sexualised images of itself, wins

I guess if you want to object to sexualised images, you’re better off as a country than as a woman:

Sports giant Adidas is suspending the sale of World Cup T-shirts after Brazil’s authorities complained they sexualised the country’s image.

One read “Looking to score?” next to a scantily-dressed woman; another printed a heart [which was] shaped like a bikini-clad bottom with the phrase “I love Brazil”.

Brazil says it has been trying to distance itself from the sexual stereotypes that marked the country for decades.

Gender-neutral language debated in the House of Lords

There was an interesting and well-informed debate in the House of Lords in December 2013 on gender-neutral language in legislation.  One illustrative highlight:

In my view, it was perfectly reasonable for Jack Straw in 2007 to call for an end to any such male stereotyping in our use of English, specifically rejecting the Interpretation Act 1978 and its reiteration of the convention that masculine pronouns are deemed to include feminine reference. If it ever worked, that convention no longer does, and there have been convincing psycholinguistic experiments showing that sentences such as “Anyone parking his car here will be prosecuted” predominantly call up images of a man doing the illicit parking.

To return to the policing Bill, we find that most amendments are thoroughly sensitive in this respect, with anaphoric reference employing “he or she” or repetition—“a person … that person”. But among the minority using the traditional “he”, there are striking cases, especially in Amendments 93 to 95, where the singular masculine pronoun is used no fewer than 18 times. In all of them, the antecedent of “he” is surely a tell-tale phrase: “the judge”. Since we do indeed have a judiciary that is largely manned by men, it is hard to believe that the use of “he” in these amendments really means “he or she” rather than endorsing one particular male stereotype as a fact of life.

(The speaker here is Lord Quirk, who founded the Survey of English Usage in 1959. I really don’t like the fact that we have an unelected upper house in the UK, but the fact we get contributions like this gives me pause.)

‘Don’t call me Freakface’: Changing Faces campaign

I can’t say I’m very familiar with Moshi Monsters, but I know how massively popular it is. So it seems important that it shouldn’t reinforce deeply unpleasant stereotypes about people with disfigurements by using character descriptions like ‘Bruiser’s scarred skin makes for a scary sight’. The charity Changing Faces is launching a campaign to change that:

Changing Faces, the national disfigurement charity, is launching a new campaign, ‘Don’t call me Freakface’.  It is calling on Mind Candy, the creators of Moshi Monsters, to stop using names like ‘Freakface’ which are common terms of abuse towards children with disfigurements.  It is also asking Mind Candy to stop using scars, spots and missing eyes to emphasize the evil nature of their bad characters.

There’s more in James Partridge’s blog post, including Mind Candy’s responses.  And for more on why it matters, see our post ‘Moving beyond the stereotypes‘.

“Equality must never be the icing on the cake”

The Fawcett Society has published a report today warning the UK Government not to scrap the Public Sector Equality Duty:

The Fawcett Society has today warned the government against taking a ‘dramatic backwards step’ when it comes to women’s equality and rights.

In a report published today (16th July 2013), Red Tape, Red Line: five reasons why government should not “drop its duty” to tackle women’s inequality’  Fawcett considers the UK’s ‘equalities architecture’  – specifically the way in which different laws and organisations concerned with progressing equality and / or preventing discrimination have come about in the last 50 years. It then goes on to examine what has happened since May 2010 when the Coalition Government took power.

The report exposes:

–     The abolition or weakening of key institutions concerned with progressing equality in the UK

–     An on-going reduction in legal requirements with regards to equalities and so a greater reliance on voluntary action to prevent discrimination

–    The dangers of abolishing or weakening the Public Sector Equality Duty, which is currently under ‘wholesale review’

It sets out alternative actions government could take instead if it genuinely wants to improve its own effectiveness and that of the wider public sector in tackling discrimination against women and other groups.

We’ve blogged about the Government’s plans before, and its review of the Equality Duty is due to be published soon.  If it recommends scrapping or weakening the duty, it’s going to turn the clock back decades.  Please consider writing to your MP, or – if petitions are your thing – sign the petition at  They need to know that people care about equality, even when times are hard.