Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Bias in Wikipedia Articles Towards Men as Default Gender February 12, 2015

Filed under: internet — Stacey Goguen @ 4:56 pm
Tags: , ,

“Computational Linguistics Reveals How Wikipedia Articles Are Biased Against Women” (published last week)

“It turns out that articles about women are much more likely to link to articles about men than vice versa, a finding that holds true for all six language versions of Wikipedia that the team studied.

“More serious is the difference in the way these articles refer to men and women as revealed by computational linguistics. Wagner and co studied this counting the number of words in each biographical article that emphasize the sex of the person involved.

“Wagner and co say that articles about women tend to emphasize the fact that they are about women by overusing words like “woman,” “female,” or “lady” while articles about men tend not to contain words like “man,” “masculine,” or “gentleman.” Words like “married,” “divorced,” “children,” or “family” are also much more frequently used in articles about women, they say.

“The team thinks this kind of bias is evidence for the practice among Wikipedia editors of considering maleness as the “null gender.” In other words, there is a tendency to assume an article is about a man unless otherwise stated. “This seems to be a plausible assumption due to the imbalance between articles about men and women,” they say.

“That’s an interesting study that provides evidence that the Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to tackle gender bias are bearing fruit. But it also reveals how deep-seated gender bias can be and how hard it will be to root out.”

 

Responding to gender-based violence (online and elsewhere) January 21, 2015

Many readers will recall that recently, John McAdams, a Marquette political science professor, drummed up a spurious reason to make a politically-motivated public attack on Cheryl Abbate, a graduate student of philosophy (our previous posts here and here; Daily Nous coverage here and here. Marquette is taking action against McAdams; its outcome is thus far unclear).

As a result of his actions, Abbate received hateful, misogynistic abuse, disturbing in both content and quantity, in a number of forms and forums. She has now written a blog post detailing the extent of this abuse, exploring her experiences on the receiving end, reflecting on how one should respond to it, and making it quite clear that McAdams bears responsibility for inciting it.

(For those clicking through, I reproduce Abbate’s trigger warning: “This post includes a number of reprinted misogynist and homophobic comments”. She’s not wrong).

Abbate says that she was mostly advised to ignore the abuse, but chose to expose it and draw attention to it, for a number of reasons. This was a brave decision. Abbate says the most important reason she has for speaking out is that, if we aren’t aware that such horrible abuse takes place, we can’t begin to do anything about it. This seems quite right to me. I’m unlikely to receive any misogynistic email myself, and I find it reprehensibly easy and tempting to bury my head in the sand about such things. I really shouldn’t. If someone writes about their experiences with such courage, to read and think about it is the very least I can do.

 

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!)

 

Seduction, Assault, and Consent in Western Art via The Toast November 24, 2014

Filed under: Arts,internet,sex,sexual assault,sexual harassment,violence — Stacey Goguen @ 7:45 pm

If you are not already aware of The Toast’s captioning of pictures from Western art history, it is a thing, and it is entertaining. You can find all the articles in the series here.

In one of the most recent posts, Mallory Ortberg pokes fun at what Wikimedia Commons has labeled instances of “seduction in art.”  She pulls out examples and describes how many of these cannot possibly be instances of “seduction,” unless by seduction we mean assault or harassment.

The piece does a good job of bringing out the cognitive dissonance from accepting “seduction” as aggressively pursuing someone for sex without their explicit consent, thinking that sex requires consent, and accepting seduction as a legitimate part of sex.

If you are not familiar with Ortberg’s series of posts on Western art history, you should note that some of these examples are more hyperbolic than others. She is framing many of these scenes as non-consensual where consent seems ambiguous. (Though part of her point may be, shouldn’t sex and seduction only involve people who are unambiguously excited about engaging in it?) Underneath the hyperbole and satire, Ortberg is posing a serious question: “Why does seduction look a lot like assault and not seem to require any real degree of consent? What kind of thing is seduction if these are what count as examples of it?”

She suggests, “Perhaps you have confused “pushing someone away from you” with “getting seduced.””

You can read the post here:

“Paintings That Wikimedia Commons Has Inaccurately Categorized As “Seduction In Art””

*A few of the pictures contain nudity.

 

Instagram account highlights online harassment of women November 3, 2014

Filed under: gender inequality,internet,sexual harassment — philodaria @ 8:56 pm

Alexandra Tweten created an instagram account that compiles screen shots of harassing messages directed at women in retaliation for rejection.

From Ms. Magazine:

After seeing these disturbing messages grouped together, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that our society has a misogyny problem. The same forces that taught Elliot Roger that he was justified in murdering women for rejecting him, the cultural atmosphere that says it’s OK for hundreds of men to catcall any woman in a public space, the thing that drives men to brutally injure women who ignore them are all connected to the sense of toxic entitlement some men possess.

While Bye Felipe (a take on the meme “Bye Felicia”) uses humor to take away some of the power these insults may carry, I also like to point folks to the Tumblr “When Women Refuse,” which chronicles the serious problem of actual violence women experience at the hands of men who have been rejected.

I have been asked multiple times, “What’s the answer to this? What can these dating sites do to curb this problem?” And I struggle to answer, because this is just a symptom of a larger problem. Censoring these messages may help in the short term, but the messages featured on Bye Felipe are like an immortalized version of the catcalls and threats women receive on the the street every day, just walking around and existing. Until we change the cultural atmosphere, women will continue to receive these hurtful messages online and in real life.

The instagram account is here. 

 

Chris Lebron Interviewed at 3:AM: “The Colour of Our Shame” September 29, 2014

Filed under: academia,internet,minorities in philosophy,politics,race,social justice — Stacey Goguen @ 8:53 pm

You can read the interview here.

“Chris Lebron is a philosopher who asks deep questions about theories of justice appropriate for race. He thinks about bridging the gap between abstraction and lived experiences, about American democracy and racial inequality, marginalisation and oppression, about the idea of character and how it helps explain racial inequality, about the problem of social value, about why Rawls isn’t enough, about ‘white power’, about despair and blame, about perfectionism and egalitarianism, about soulcraft politics, about three principles of racial justice and about the lamentable number of black philosophers currently working in the Academy. Give this one the time of day to sink in, then reboot…”

 

Some What It’s Like to Be a Woman Links September 22, 2014

Filed under: internet — Stacey Goguen @ 5:23 am

Large H/T to GeekFeminism.org for several of the links.

 

What  it is like to be a woman and a war historian.

What it is like to be a woman and a cartoonist. (NSFW – nudity)

What it is like to be a woman and  a pioneer in the tech industry.

What it is  like to be a woman of color and “the only one in the room.”

What it is  like to be a woman and a game developer receiving online and offline harassment. (NSFW – expletives)

What it is  like to be a woman and sick of “writing about white people.”

What it is  like to be a woman and a superhero.

What it is t like to be a woman and a wizard at Hogwarts.

 

Leaked Nude Photos as Sex Crimes, Not Scandals September 2, 2014

Filed under: consent,internet,sexual assault — Stacey Goguen @ 1:46 pm

Two posts arguing that treating the recently leaked nude photos of several actresses as “scandals” is wrongheaded. They are intentional violations of people’s sex lives, and thus are sex crimes.

Post from The Belle Jar

Post from Forbes

(H/T RM)

 

Mansfeel Park August 1, 2014

Filed under: internet — Stacey Goguen @ 1:36 am

From a Buzzfeed article:

“Manfeels Park is a new web comic that takes actual comments from men on the internet and puts them into scenes from Jane Austen’s stories. Because basically, that’s where they belong. In the 19th century.”

 

Check it out here.  I thought this one was particularly good.

 

 

manfeels

 

Syllabi on Underrepresented Areas of Philosophy May 8, 2014

Filed under: feminist philosophy,internet — Stacey Goguen @ 2:57 pm

You can download sample syllabi from the areas of philosophy listed below. I think this is a great resource that a lot of people (myself included) have wished existed. Now it does!

(Link to the whole list of syllabi.)

African/Africana and African-American Philosophy; American Philosophy; Asian and Asian-American Philosophy; Bioethics; Feminist Philosophy; Indigenous Philosophy; Introduction to Philosophy; Islamic Philosophy; Latin American Philosophy; LGBTQ Philosophy; Multicultural/World Philosophies; Philosophy and Disability; Philosophy of Action; Philosophy of Art; Philosophy of Biology; Philosophy of Economics; Philosophy of Gender; Philosophy of Race; Philosophy of Religion;  Philosophy of Sport;  Philosophy of Science;  Social and Political Philosophy

 

 
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