Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

The Sunday cat herewith approves of robotic cat icons for the very elderly November 22, 2015

Filed under: ageing,aging,cats — annejjacobson @ 4:36 pm

Everyone else living wth an indoor cat must just cope with litter box.


h/t to PJ


“Calcium does not increase bone density” October 6, 2015

Filed under: ageing,food,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 5:55 pm

According to the NY Times:

Calcium, eaten in foods or taken as supplements, has little or no effect on bone density or the risk of fracture in people over 50, according to two large reviews of studies in BMJ.

Presumably that’s the British Medical Journal. Before dismissing the finding as just another of these reversals of beliefs so ingrained as to seem like common sense, do know that the studies together had over 50,000 participants. And the BMJ is very highly regarded.

I can’t decide quite why I’m feeling a bit irritated. Maybe one or many of these:

– The chances of a reversal of this showing up within a year, given how these hot health news stories get worked out.
– The sanctimonious manner in which one can be asked by anyone taking health data, “And calcium supplements”?
– The number of times I’ve checked on the calcium content of foods.
– The times I’ve bought prime cost yoghurt because of its high calcium content.


What is wrong with dying? II September 19, 2015

Filed under: ageing,aging,death — annejjacobson @ 8:09 pm

I gingerly picked up on this topic a few years back. I recounted then that quite a few people I had discussed issues around dying with did not seem to have what is often taken to be a standard, egocentric sense of great loss that dying would seem, paradoxically, to bring. (It’s paradoxical because the dead person is no longer in a position to suffer the loses.) Rather, many people I had spoken to were worried about the harms and losses visited on those whom they would leave behind.

One conclusion might be to say that there is no one kind of bad thing about dying. What one doesn’t want to happen will depend on all sorts of other things. But what I have started wondering is whether there need be anything bad about dying. Might not one feel a complete enough individual with a quite good account of how one has used one’s talents and worked to overcome adversity that one could be rather content to leave now, or five or ten years hence. The point being that one feels one’s done a lot.

What happened to me to raise this question was that I had developed a very bad abdominal infection and had to have emergency surgery. It was close to life-threatening, and so I ended up reflecting on what it would be like had it actually been life threatening. “Well, whatever,” I thought, as I fell back asleep full to the gills with narcotic pain killers and intravenous antibios.

Because of those circumstances, I don’t for a minute want to make this about me or my life’s experiences, still less my accomplishes. Rather, I think that if one’s feelings are skewed by a lot of pills, one shouldn’t draw on them to reach a large conclusion. Still, it seems a sensible question that can be asked. Is there a sense of completeness that can leave one fairly calm in the face of death?

What about those one leaves behind? In the case of an older academic who agreed with Alva Noe’s view about stopping with one child, that child may have inherit enough to quite drastically change their control over their life’s circumstances. And one may be leaving one’s partner embedded in a supportive community.

In this case, is death so awful? My whole life I have thought of death as a pretty terrible curse. But need it be? Of course, death might be preferable to years of severe pain, but might death also be not to be feared in some fairly ordinary circumstances.


Sex in the country of the aged April 15, 2015

Filed under: ageing,aging,politics,sex — annejjacobson @ 7:07 pm

Does sexual activity always require the capacity to consent?  I’ve started to wonder.

Suppose you and your beloved spouse, both middle-aged and abled-body, arrived home from a party and realize one of you has had too much to drink.  More than either of you had realized.  But, curling up in bed, both of you feel that hugs and kisses wherever they may lead are very appealing.  Should the sober one refrain on the grounds that the other can’t really meaningfully consent?

There are many possible complicating factors with sexual encounters, which is why I added in marriage, age and ability.  A similar scenario could quite easily become a legal nightmare.  And what about a specific disability, dementia?  Right now this issue may be addressed in a court:

Henry Rayhons, 78, has been charged with third-degree felony sexual abuse, accused of having sex with his wife in a nursing home on May 23, 2014, eight days after staff members there told him they believed she was mentally unable to agree to sex.

It is rare, possibly unprecedented, for such circumstances to prompt criminal charges. Mr. Rayhons, a nine-term Republican state legislator, decided not to seek another term after his arrest.

There is no allegation that Mrs. Rayhons resisted or showed signs of abuse. And it is widely agreed that the Rayhonses had a loving, affectionate relationship, having married in 2007 after each had been widowed. They met while singing in a church choir.


Can one be hugely disappointed but not at all surprised? September 11, 2014

Filed under: academia,academic job market,ageing,aging — annejjacobson @ 7:24 pm

If so, here’s a good case, from CHE

U. of Illinois Board Votes Down Salaita Appointment
The University of Illinois’s Board of Trustees voted on Thursday to deny the appointment of Steven G. Salaita to a professorship on the Urbana-Champaign campus, in the latest chapter of a month-old saga that has inflamed academe.

That Mr. Salaita’s appointment appeared on the list of proposed faculty hires to be voted on by the board came as a surprise. The campus’s chancellor, Phyllis M. Wise, who has been the subject of several no-confidence votes at the college, maintained in recent weeks that she would not send the appointment to the board. Trustees have expressed support for her leadership.

H/t also to Dailynous


Naomi Wolf on Aging: What do you think? August 12, 2014

Filed under: academia,ageing,aging,appearance,beauty,body,gender stereotypes,self-esteem,sex — annejjacobson @ 5:50 pm

Is the following just a description, or in part a recommendation? In any case, it carries a lot of information about values, though just whose may not be clear. In any case, what do you think about it? definitely on the right track? Spending too much on yoga, pilates, organic food and expensive hair stylists? Some big flaws? Just wait untill she gets to 65?

When I am at a social occasion, the showstoppers are no longer the young beauties in their 20s. Rather, those who draw all the light in the room are the women of great accomplishment and personal charisma — and these are usually women in midlife. (Indeed, at events I have attended recently, cadres of conventionally beautiful young women seem now to be treated almost like wallpaper or like the catering staff.)

The change in social norms around the issue of women’s aging is immense. There is now an influential and growing demographic of educated, well-off women whose status, sense of self-esteem and sexual cachet rise rather than fall as they head toward midlife. I do not see younger women looking at accomplished women in their 40s with pity or derision: I see them looking ahead with admiration and even envy...

Because of advances in health and well-being awareness, many women I know are entering midlife feeling as good as (and looking better than) they did in college. But they also have professional success, self-knowledge, sexual magnetism and awareness, and even thriving children, admiring husbands or ardent lovers. These signs of accomplishment merely add to the allure of many midlife women — women who, when asked if they would like to be in their 20s again, think of doing so with a shudder.

So male philosophers who hit on young women in classes or conference are what? Incredibly insecure? Following the pro-creation narrative? Out of touch with the values of the cultural elite?


Beware the DNR order February 17, 2014

Filed under: ageing,bioethics,medicine — annejjacobson @ 4:47 pm

This post is for those of us involved in caring for ourselves or others. (If you don’t give a sh*t about anyone, don’t read on.) It comes from a blog post by a highly credentialed physician and professor of medicine.

“DNR” is supposedly just about employing CPR. Even that was somewhat surprising, but facts about how it’s used can be very upsetting:

And it’s not just in the midst of a disaster that physicians mistake “DNR” for “Do Not Treat.” Study after study has shown that physicians say they would not administer a whole variety of treatments to patients who are DNR. One representative study of 241 physicians found that they were far less likely to agree to transfer a patient to the intensive care unit or even to perform simple tests such as drawing blood.

Most recently, physicians and nurses caring for pediatric patients also told interviewers that in practice, DNR means far more than just do not perform CPR. In this survey of 107 pediatricians and 159 pediatric nurses in a hospital setting, 67% believed a DNR order only applies to what to do after a cardiac arrest—but 33% said it implied other limitations. And 52% said that once a DNR order is in place, a whole host of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions should be withdrawn, over and beyond CPR, and a small but disturbing minority, 6%, said that a DNR order means that comfort measures only are to be provided.

Note: comment 1 below draws our attention to the possibility of state variations on a DNR order. In addition, some DNR forms are part of a living will, where you specify more about what is wanted. So it is worth checking out what is available. The focus of this post is to say ‘DNR’ may not be understood as you want it to be.

I’m reminded here of the Wiittgensteinian point that you won’t find an interpretation that won’t itself need an interpretation. That’s why at some point we need community practices.


Having a cocktail is such fun; let’s blame breast cancer deaths on it. April 12, 2013

Filed under: ageing,aging,breast cancer — annejjacobson @ 12:37 am

Goodness knows why alcohol got the blame, but it certainly did. A large study based on nurses’ self-reports was a very significant factor in this story.

Alcohol and Risk of Breast Cancer
Steven A. Narod, MD
JAMA. 2011;306(17):1920-1921. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1589.

In this issue of JAMA, Chen and colleagues1 report findings from the Nurses’ Health Study exploring the relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk. The authors’ principal findings were that the cumulative amount of alcohol a woman consumes during adulthood is the best predictor of her breast cancer risk and that low levels of alcohol consumption (as few as 3 drinks a week) are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Everyone (it seems) at the large, famous and amazingly effective cancer center, MD Anderson, is extremely anti-alcohol.

But that may not be the whole story. From today’s NY Times:

Alcohol consumption is known to increase the risk for breast cancer. But a new study suggests that moderate drinking has little effect on survival after diagnosis, and may reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers, writing online in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, studied 22,890 women with breast cancer, recording information on alcohol intake before diagnosis and, for a subset of 4,881 of them, after diagnosis as well.

After controlling for age, education, stage of cancer, body mass index, smoking and other factors, they found that breast cancer survival was similar in women who drank alcohol after diagnosis and those who did not. But women who drank moderately before diagnosis — three to six drinks a week — were significantly less likely to die of breast cancer and of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease, the authors write, is increasingly being recognized as a mortality cause among breast cancer survivors.

There are a lot of questions left unanswered. One is about the difference between risk and death for people not yet diagnosed at age 50.


Feeling past it? Don’t! February 12, 2013

Filed under: ageing,aging,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 8:55 pm

I haven’t had time to watch the whole thing, but I’d bet it is heteronormative. On the other hand, its portrayal of African American women seems to be non-standard in a good way, though it might be classist. See what you think!


Pensioner dies after care agency shut down February 6, 2013

It’s difficult to know where to start with this. The bare facts, as reported by the BBC website, are that an eighty-year old woman was left without food, water, or medication for nine days after the company responsible for her care was raided and shut down by the UK Border Agency. Sadly, she later died in hospital. The agency, it seems, had been illegally employing folks without papers, although I don’t think that much has been officially confirmed. There are so many things about this tragedy that make me angry. First off, care work is one of the most poorly paid jobs going. A 2010 report by the Low Pay Commission found that 9% of care workers were paid less than the minimum wage. Many were not being reimbursed for their travel costs. No surprise there, as caring has been – and still is – associated with women, and what has traditionally been considered ‘women’s work’ is always more poorly paid than traditionally masculine roles, no matter how important it may be. In addition, few care workers are union members, and as private companies have taken over – and made to compete for – the provision of care, this has led to reduced pay and poorer working conditions. Second, migrants without papers are one of the most easily exploited groups of people – lacking any official means to support themselves, they have to take any work they are offered, and their illegal status means that they have no power over their pay or working conditions. They cannot join a union to fight for a better deal, and they cannot complain if their jobs fail to meet the legally required standards. Third, the existence of such a vulnerable group of people, living in the shadows of our society, makes it harder for those with papers. Their pay and working conditions are driven down by the exploitation of illegal migrants, and they must now compete for work with people who can be paid less, made to work longer hours, and so on – people whom, from a certain perspective, it makes more sense to employ. And there we have it: a matrix of oppression, which leads to the various sufferings of care workers, folks without papers, and those who require care.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,808 other followers