Feminist Philosophers

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What I’m thankful for December 26, 2014

It’s been a tough year for the profession in a lot of ways. Lawsuits, lawsuits, and more lawsuits. Public scandals. Fighting over public scandals. Other scandals not public. Online harassment, bullying, and prejudice manifest. One could easily begin to feel despair. I know there are times when I have–and I know there are others who are grappling with how these issues have affected them, and the painful personal and professional costs that have been imposed on them as a result. In the hopes of spreading a bit of cheer amidst the less sanguine, I wanted to take a moment to say a bit about what I’m thankful for (this is not a complete list, of course, just the first few things that came to mind).

I am thankful for those of you who have courageously worked to make the discipline a more welcoming and inclusive place. Whether it’s been through addressing inequity, discrimination, harassment, or assault, working to create a culture where these things are less acceptable, being willing to listen to the voices of those who have been marginalized and oppressed, standing up for yourself, or providing support to others who have been unjustly harmed on account of their social identity.

I am thankful for those of you who are deepening your own understanding of the complexity of disciplinary boundaries and the ways in which they are sometimes used for exclusionary purposes, or pushing those boundaries with your own work.

I am thankful for the exciting and brilliant work that’s being done in feminist philosophy, critical race theory, and philosophy of disability. It’s been a joy to read, and though it is not this work that first spurred my love of philosophy it is the work that reminds me of it, and gives me the greatest hope for our future as a discipline.

I am thankful for my fellow bloggers here at Feminist Philosophers. You have been an inspiration to me.

What are you thankful for?

(Note: Comments in the spirit of this post welcome–i.e., spreading a bit of cheer–comments in another spirit are not, but the internet is a big place and I am sure you can find another platform to host other discussions)

 

Pseudonyms December 25, 2014

Filed under: gender,gender inequality,internet — philodaria @ 12:06 am

Many of us here at Feminist Philosophers blog under pseudonyms. One of my fellow pseudonymous Feminist Philosophers bloggers was outed today, by being named as the author of a particular post, on another philosophy blog. I just wanted to take a moment to say a few words about why I write under a pseudonym for those who might not understand why the privacy afforded by doing so ought to be respected.

Not very long before I was invited to become a blogger here, I had something I wrote under my own name published online (not here) that related to women’s rights. My contact information is available on my department’s website. Naturally, then, in response, I received several emails from people who had read it. Some of them were kind. Some of them were praising. Some of them respectfully expressed disagreement. Some of them just called me names. Some of them said they hoped I would be raped. Some of them said they hoped that I would die. Some of them I interpreted as threats. That wasn’t the first (or  last) time I published something on the internet under my own name, and it wasn’t the first (or last) time I received those kinds of emails in response. It was, however, what I thought about when I decided what name I wanted to blog under here.

I’m not alone. In the words of Amanda Hess, “None of this makes me exceptional. It just makes me a woman with an Internet connection.” She details some of her own experiences in “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.” If you haven’t read it yet, and especially if you don’t understand why some of us prefer, justifiably, to be pseudonymous and ask that our privacy be respected, I recommend reading it in full.

The examples are too numerous to recount, but like any good journalist, I keep a running file documenting the most deranged cases. There was the local cable viewer who hunted down my email address after a television appearance to tell me I was “the ugliest woman he had ever seen.” And the group of visitors to a “men’s rights” site who pored over photographs of me and a prominent feminist activist, then discussed how they’d “spend the night with” us. (“Put em both in a gimp mask and tied to each other 69 so the bitches can’t talk or move and go round the world, any old port in a storm, any old hole,” one decided.) And the anonymous commenter who weighed in on one of my articles: “Amanda, I’ll fucking rape you. How does that feel?”

Some people who disagree with posts at Feminist Philosophers are kind, respectful, reasonable people (and even though I think it’s true that this extends beyond the circle of bloggers here, I’d say this even if I didn’t, as we often disagree with one another).  But some people are less kind, respectful, and reasonable, and I prefer to avoid misogynistic harassment where I can. Of course, I would prefer we lived in a world where none of this was a concern. But we don’t. So I would ask that everyone please be considerate about revealing the identities of those who are pseudonymous.

(And to those who celebrate, Merry Christmas!)

 

Presidential rejection of toy gendering December 24, 2014

Filed under: gender,gendered products — jennysaul @ 9:12 pm

Merry Christmas!

In a video making the rounds this week, the president joins First Lady Michelle Obama to present gifts to the Marine’s Toys for Tots program at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. When it’s time to sort the toys into “boy” boxes and “girl” boxes, President Obama goes against the grain.

“You know what? I just want to make sure some girls play some ball,” he says as he places a basketball in the girls bin.

A few moments later, “T-ball? Girls like T-ball.” And into the girls bin goes the Little Tikes set.

At one point Obama appears to catch flak from the crowd of onlookers for placing a toy tool kit in the girls bin.

“Girls don’t like toys?” he replies.

 

Fantastic new directory of philosophers from underrepresented groups! December 18, 2014

Ruth Chang writes:

It is fully searchable and really neat. If you’re a conference organizer looking for philosophers in your city who work on X, you can search the directory and come up with a list of such philosophers from underrepresented groups that fit the bill. If you’re on a hiring committee, and the usual suspects keep coming to mind but you’d like to do a more thorough search, you can pull up the directory and find all philosophers in the directory who work in a general AOS or even on a specific research topic. If you’re an editor looking for a list of possible candidates to invite to contribute to a volume or to referee a paper, the UPDirectory can help you.

This sounds like a really wonderful tool. Go check it out!

 

RIP: “best books of YYYY” lists based on the idea that women’s books appealed only to women. December 5, 2014

Filed under: achieving equality,bias,gender — annejjacobson @ 8:53 pm

This blog has run for about 7 and a half years; I joined 3 or 4 months after it started. During those years I have counted the number of women in all sorts of lists. Seven years ago it was pretty depressing. This went for conferences, book authors’ list, lists of directors of plays and movies, and so on and so forth for a seemingly endless number of items. I remember vividly an at least very feminist friendly commentator suggesting that maybe women did not have the big ideas for world-class fiction. And though it would seem very wrong to say all those lists were drawn up to inculcate the sense of women as outsiders in cultural production, that certainly was their impact on many.

That, thank goodness, is changing. I’ve been informally counting the number of women in the “best of 2014″ lists that are coming out. Women easily come out at well beyond the earlier 0% to 20%. One of the most enjoyable signs of this is to be found in the following remarks in the NY Times:

In nonfiction, it was a year for young women writers to expand the possibilities of nonfiction: Leslie Jamison’s searching personal essays in “The Empathy Exams”; Olivia Laing’s group portrait of alcoholic writers mixed with memoir in “The Trip to Echo Spring”; Eula Biss’s “On Immunity,” a literary investigation into the anxieties surrounding vaccination; Kerry Howley’s “Thrown,” a tale of mixed martial arts fighters that is mostly true, probably.

The fiction list has its share of veterans — Lorrie Moore, David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, Marilynne Robinson — but it also has a remarkable number of debut books: 10. Smith Henderson’s “Fourth of July Creek,” about a social worker’s quest to help a boy in off-the-grid Montana, and Yelena Akhtiorskaya’s “Panic in a Suitcase,” the comic tale of a Ukrainian family in Brooklyn, are joined by work from first-timers Boris Fishman, Kathleen Founds, Bret Anthony Johnston, Phil Klay, Eimear McBride, Celeste Ng, Matthew Thomas and Nell Zink.

 

Google and girls December 3, 2014

Filed under: academia,gender — annejjacobson @ 3:34 pm

Google’s search page has a puzzling sentence:

Light up a tree in our nation’s capital.

But when you click on it, you are taken to what looks like a large project to get girls involved with computer coding. Definitely worth checking out, IMHO.

 

RIP: PD James November 27, 2014

Filed under: bias,gender — annejjacobson @ 9:53 pm

I well remember the delight of her early novels that featured Cordela Grey, a character who might have been one of one’s friends. Could there be any Western reader who likes mystery stories and doesn’t know her work? (No doubt a naive question.)

From the NY Times:

Ms. James was one of those rare authors whose work stood up to the inevitable and usually invidious comparisons with classic authors of the detective genre, like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. A consummate stylist, she accumulated numerous awards for the 13 crime novels produced during a writing career spanning a half century. Seven of her mysteries were adapted for the public television program “Mystery!” and were broadcast in Britain and the United States….
Many critics and many of her peers have said that by virtue of the complexity of her plots, the psychological density of her characters and the moral context in which she viewed criminal violence, Ms. James even surpassed her classic models and elevated the literary status of the modern detective novel. She is often cited, in particular, for the cerebral depth and emotional sensibilities of Adam Dalgliesh, the introspective Scotland Yard detective and published poet who functions as the hero of virtually all of her novels.
…  Her readers found this brooding, morally conflicted character profoundly romantic. Even Ms. James thought he was sexy. “I could never fall in love with a man who was handsome but stupid,” she said. Still, Commander Dalgliesh (pronounced DAWL-gleesh) remained a self-contained, even aloof figure. “There’s a splinter of ice in his character,” she said.

In “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman” (1972), Ms. James introduced Cordelia Gray, a young private investigator whose professional competence and independent spirit put her in the vanguard of an emerging generation of female sleuths. These included Liza Cody’s Anna Lee in Britain, and Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone in the United States.

 

 

Philosophical issues about Gender Schema November 25, 2014

Filed under: academia,gender,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 9:08 pm
We have had a request for biblio resources for a student.  She has done some experimental work on gender schema and is now some more theoretical resources dealing with gender schema.
I sent her three suggestions (see below).  The second is very recent and contains interesting thoughts on inferences that vary with stereotypes.  It’s by Susanna Siegel.  The third may look more applied than she wants, but as I remember it contains enlightening work on self-assessment, motivations and stereotypes.
In any case, she’s like some more suggestions!!
 

Further updates on the Marquette situation November 21, 2014

Filed under: academia,gender,glbt,marriage,women in academia — philodaria @ 11:18 pm

Daily Nous posted a further update to the story on the political targeting of philosophy graduate student Cheryl Abbate of Marquette University:

Fox News has picked up on the story. The article, posted today, starts with a lying headline and is clearly meant to rally the troops. Ms. Abbate has written to tell me that she has already received hate mail as a result of the Fox News article. As of now, Marquette has yet to make any public statement supporting Ms. Abbate. I have been informed that the decision to release any such statement will have to come from the university level, and so I urge concerned parties to write to Marquette University President Michael Lovell at michael.lovell@marquette.edu asking him to step up and publicly support Ms. Abbate.

John Protevi posted a letter of support for Cheryl a few days ago (for which he is accepting additional signatures in the comments), but he has followed up on this update with another letter that may be of interest to our readers:

The harassment Ms Abbate is receiving in inimical to the values not only of American universities in general, but of the Jesuit tradition in particular (speaking as a Loyola University of Chicago graduate), and I ask you to take immediate action in the form of a public statement deploring this harassment and affirming Marquette’s commitment to the welfare of its graduate students. . .

If I may, I would direct your attention to these comments on an Open Letter I authored on the situation, which has garnered over 200 signatures in a few short days: http://proteviblog.typepad.com/protevi/2014/11/open-letter-in-support-of-cheryl-abbate.html

“Please add my name to this. Even if everything printed were true and the grad student said and did everything attributed to her ( which I do not grant) this response — public calling out, exposure to public condemnation, political labeling,– by a faculty member violates every expectation of graduate training and collegiality. It is a betrayal of the trust invested in faculty to mentor and guide students, not to make of them casualties in larger battles whether inside or outside their institutions. Bonnie Honig, Professor of Political Science, Brown University.”

 

Elisabeth Camp on Pink November 5, 2014

Filed under: appearance,gender,parenting — Jender @ 6:23 pm

Enjoy!

 

 
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