Contrivers’ Review Call for Essays on Technology
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Donna Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs,” an essay that blurred the boundaries between the organic human being and the human being as a machine, a set of social practices, and cultural modes of communication and representation. Since then the postmodern turn represented in texts like Haraway’s “Manifesto” has been itself superceded. We see a resurgence of Enlightenment thought–and all the baggage it brings–in initiatives like the re:enlightenment project and The History Manifesto. However, we undoubtedly live in a world inundated with technology so that Haraway’s claim that “We are all chimera” remains accurate even if the ground of technology, politics, and gender have dramatically shifted since 1985.
As part of our long term investigation of technology and the humanities, politics, and arts, Contrivers’ Review invites submissions on any subject relating to gendered and LGBT cultures and their intersection with technology broadly defined. Some issues that might be covered include:
Social media, violence, and harassment
Gender, Feminism, and gaming culture
Discrimination in the Tech Industry/Silicon Valley/Gamer Culture
Feminist and Queer history/historiography of new media
Technologies of bodies
Gender, professionalism, and online identities
Feminist Digital Humanities
Contrivers’ Review is an intellectual journal not a scholarly, refereed publication. As such, we publish essays and reviews that bridge academic audiences and the wider public. Submissions and pitch letters should be addressed to a broad audience, not fellow specialists in the academy. Essays should be between 1,500 and 3,000 words. Please send us a query letter at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please refer to our masthead.
CFP: Essays on Technology March 29, 2015
NOTHING. Or rather, one person was allowed to retire early and the others got a lecture.
We wrote about the 300 girls in Oxford. There are a number of other cities where young girls and women were repeatedly trafficked and raped. A report on the first of these cases has been released. From the NYTimes:
LONDON — The recent revelations that teenage girls were systematically raped and trafficked by gangs of older men over long periods of time in several British cities prompted a host of inquiries into why the authorities had seemingly turned a blind eye for so long.
This week, a police report into the first such case to be successfully prosecuted concluded that there had been a forcewide failure to address sexual abuse in the northern city of Rochdale, but that no police officer would face serious discipline.
Chinese Feminists: don’t let them disappear! March 11, 2015
From the NYTimes
BEIJING — China detained at least 10 women’s rights activists over the weekend to forestall a nationwide campaign against sexual harassment on public transportation that was to overlap with International Women’s Day, according to human rights advocates and associates of those detained.
At least five of the detained were still being held on Sunday evening, while the others had been released after being interrogated. All were women.
There is a sign-up link below for feminists all over the world to use to support them and urge the government to release them as soon as possible.
Please sign up and circulate the link as much as you can. Our goal is to collect support from 1000 feminists’ support from 50 countries within a week.
Good for Duke and Project vox March 9, 2015
Project Vox seeks to recover the lost voices of women who have been ignored in standard narratives of the history of modern philosophy. We aim to change those narratives, thereby changing what students around the world learn about philosophy’s history.
H/T Charlotte Witt on Facebook.
300 young girls in Oxfordshire groomed and raped March 4, 2015
The Guardian reports on yet another gang of men getting away with victimizing very young British women and girls. The number of girls is this relatively small compared to the 1400 estimated in other areas, but there is the same enabling circumstances: authorities are alerted and do nothing for years and years.
Serious case review slams police failure in serial abuse of Oxford girls
Some of the 300 victims were exploited for more than eight years despite repeated calls for help to authorities
Some of the report focuses on six young girls, so in fact it becomes difficult to tell sometimes whether they are talking about 6 or 300. I think all the passages below are about 6 young girls who were under the responsibility of the Oxfordshire social services.
Police and social services in Oxfordshire will be heavily criticised for not doing enough to stop years of violent abuse and enslavement of six young girls, aged 11-15, by a gang of men. Such was the nature of the abuse, suffered for more than eight years by the girls, it was likened to torture. All of the victims had a background in care.
A serious case review by the Oxfordshire safeguarding children’s board, to be published on Tuesday, will condemn Thames Valley police for not believing the young girls, for treating them as if they had chosen to adopt the lifestyle, and for failing to act on repeated calls for help.
Oxfordshire social services – which had responsibility for the girls’ safety – will be equally damned for knowing they were being groomed and for failing to protect them despite compelling evidence they were in danger. One social worker told a trial that nine out of 10 of those responsible for the girls was aware of what was going on.
All of the men were Asian, which seems to be the case in other abuse circles. In Rotherham, where 1,400 girls were abused, the reason why it seemed better and simple to the authorities to do nothing included concerns about race relations, according to earlier reports in the Guardian. Such concern does not, of course, go anywhere toward excusing the failure to protect.
Jennifer Saul on women in philosophy in phil magazine February 28, 2015
In the latest issue of Philosopher’s Magazine Jennifer Saul describes the dearth of women in philosophy, lists a number of causes and describes some remedial steps. The result is a great introduction to a very serious problen in the philosophy profession. It’s also a quick refresher course for those who’ve pick up this material in bits and pieces.
In the UK, women are 46% of undergraduate students in philosophy, but only 24% of permanent staff. Women are approximately 21% of professional philosophers in the US, but only 17% of those employed full-time. These figures are very unlike those for most fields of the humanities, in which women tend to be near or above parity with men. Indeed, they more closely resemble mathematics and physical sciences (biological sciences are much closer to parity). One recent study by Kieran Healy showed philosophy to be more male than mathematics, with only computer science, physics and engineering showing lower percentages of women.
We’re recognized a number of times in this blog that there are other features that can provoke discriminatory reactions in philosophy: disability, race, not having English as your first language, class and being in the glbt community. And no doubt more my memory is not bringing to the fore. O, and then there’s ageism, which I think we don’t discuss much. You are welcome to take note of any of these in discussion.
Faculty deal with sexist abuse on Yik Yak January 31, 2015
The three Eastern Michigan University professors had no idea that they were under attack by the Honors College students seated before them.
The three women knew that many of the nearly 230 freshmen in the auditorium resented having to show up at 9 a.m. every Friday for a mandatory interdisciplinary-studies class. But whatever unhappy students previously had said directly to them seemed mild in comparison to the verbal abuse being hurled at them silently as they taught one Friday morning last fall.
Students typed the words into their smartphones, and the messages appeared on their classmates’ screens via Yik Yak, a smartphone application that lets people anonymously post brief remarks on virtual bulletin boards. Since its release, in November 2013, the Yik Yak app has been causing havoc on campuses as a result of students’ posting threats of harm, racial slurs, and slanderous gossip.
After the class ended, one of its 13 fellows—junior and senior honors students who were helping teach—pulled a professor aside and showed her a screen-captured record of what she and her colleagues had just gone through. Students had written more than 100 demeaning Yik Yak posts about them, including sexual remarks, references to them using “bitch” and a vulgar term for female anatomy, and insults about their appearance and teaching. Even some of the fellows appeared to have joined the attack.
In an email to administrators later that day, one of the three, Margaret A. Crouch, a professor of philosophy, said, “I will quit before I put up with this again.”
Eastern Michigan is hardly alone in grappling with how to tame abusive behavior on Yik Yak, which has designated bulletin boards for more than 100 campuses. But the episode at Eastern Michigan is significant because it highlights the potential for anonymous online comments to sour relationships among students, faculty members, and administrators. Instructors who once felt in charge of their classrooms can suddenly find themselves at students’ mercy.
Sites such as Yik Yak and other forums for anonymous online comments give speech “scope and amplification” it did not have before, which “changes the quality of the community,” says Tracy Mitrano, director of Internet culture, policy, and law at Cornell University. Although offensive speech posted to Yik Yak generally disappears from the site within a few hours, on other sites, Ms. Mitrano says, often “it remains there, and the individuals don’t have any power to remove it, and it hurts.” . . .
Susan Moeller, president of Eastern Michigan’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, this month urged faculty members in an email “to get the EMU administration to take this issue seriously.” She called cyberbullying “an issue of classroom safety” and said it “can pose a serious threat to faculty members’ work environment and ability to conduct their classes.”
Ms. Crouch and another target of the online attack, Elisabeth Däumer, a professor of English, say they see the Yik Yak incident as part of a broader deterioration of students’ discipline and respect for female instructors. Their students’ hostility appeared fueled, they say, by unhappiness over being required to devote nearly three hours every Friday morning to an experimental honors course, “Interdisciplinary Exploration of Global Issues: The Environment: Space/Place, Purity/Danger, Hope/Activism.”
The professors characterized the online abuse as part of a hostile work environment. In a confidential report on the Yik Yak incident issued last month, Sharon L. Abraham, the university’s director of diversity and affirmative action, said the professors had “described a classroom environment where students talked during lecture, responded aggressively to requests to stop inappropriate behavior, and were generally disrespectful.” It said the professors had “felt threatened when dealing with students in the class who were physically large and male.”
Some Yik Yak posts about the professors suggested racial and cultural divides.
After one of the professors described a topic as too complicated to get into, one student wrote, “Are you calling me stupid? I’m an honors student bitch!”
Another Yik Yak post said, “She keeps talking about Detroit. Bitch, yo white ass probably ain’t never been in Detroit.”
Ms. Däumer recalls reading the Yik Yak posts directed at her and asking herself, “Just who the hell did they think they are?”
Ms. Crouch says the Yik Yak posts “wrecked the class” and “made it impossible for us to appear in front of the 220 students again.” The instructors did not confront their students about the remarks, she says, because “we did not really feel we had any authority anymore.”
Ghostbusters January 29, 2015
You might have heard that the Ghostbusters re-boot will feature four female leads. If you’re like me, you might have thought the casting choices were excellent. If you did, then you might have been disappointed (though perhaps unsurprised) by many of the reactions to the news on twitter, reddit, and other online fora. Jezebel provides some comic relief (language warning for the full piece in the link, in case swearing offends you):
Four female Ghostbusters simply aren’t realistic. Only men are uniquely equipped to wield proton packs and analyze ectoplasm, a substance emitted by ghosts, WHICH ARE REAL. Women’s hands are much TOO SMALL to hold a proton pack. GHOSTBUSTERS is supposed to be a COMEDY and WOMEN AREN’T FUNNY. And good luck getting audiences to believe that FOUR WOMEN could possibly do SCIENCE, much less in the same room without GETTING THEIR PERIODS ALL AT ONCE or snatching each other’s weaves in a fight over a man. I watch television AND READ THE INTERNET. I know how women are.
. . .
Also: SEXISM!!! THE SEXISM!!! Imagine how angry feminists would be if Hollywood decided to make an all-male Sex and the City, or an all-male Joy Luck Club, or an all-male… OTHER MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN. Ladies, you ALREADY direct 17% of all major studio movies, and even sometimes are allowed to talk onscreen. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?!!?
How many college men are willing to commit sexual assault? January 10, 2015
Close to 1-in-3 collegiate males admitted in a recent study they would force a woman to sexual intercourse, but many would not consider that rape, Newsweek reports.
The survey found 31.7 percent of men said they would act on “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if they could get away with it, but just 13.6 percent said they had “intentions to rape a woman” if there weren’t any consequences.
The authors of this study note the difference relies on whether or not they described what constitutes sexual assault, versus whether they simply called it rape. For this study, the researchers defined rape as “intercourse by use of force or threat of force against a victim’s wishes.”
. . . The team surveyed 86 male college students, most of whom were juniors and Caucasian, at one university. In addition to asking them about forced sexual intercourse and rape, the participants were quizzed on various items to determine whether they held hostile attitudes towards females. The researchers concede their sample size was small, and hope to expand on it, but Edwards told Newsweek, “the No. 1 point is there are people that will say they would force a woman to have sex but would deny they would rape a woman.”
Similar to the results of this survey of would-be perpetrators, victims are often found to shy away from identifying their experience of forced intercourse as rape. For example, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 17 percent of female undergraduates said in a survey they experienced unwanted sexual behaviors involving force, threat or incapacitation. But only 10 percent of those MIT women also said yes when asked if they were sexually assaulted, and just 5 percent said yes when asked if they were raped.
Via Bustle, a spoken word performance:
“The trio of teenage girls start the poem ominously: ‘The greatest lessons you will ever teach us, you won’t even remember.’ From there, they jump into fairly controversial, dark topics like rape, race, gun control, socioeconomics, and censorship. Emotions rage so hard in the three-and-a-half-minute piece, occasionally you can spot a small vocal crack in the performance, but that just lends more validation to the truth they kept spouting. ‘Somewhere in America,’ ushers in the hard-to-hear stuff, ‘Women are killed for rejecting dates, but God forbid I bring my girlfriend to prom.’ Another: ‘The preppy kids go thrifting because they think it sounds fun. But we go ‘cause that’s all we’ve got money for.’ “