Schliesser on de Gournay: sexism is “serious blasphemy”

Yesterday, at his Digressions & Impressions blog, Eric Schliesser posted a (second) lovely discussion of 17th century philosopher Marie de Gournay and her account of the Church’s role in the subordination of women. Strikingly, de Gournay argues that, in having played this role, Christianity also oppresses men, by encouraging them to make idols of themselves.

For, men have chosen to let themselves be ruled by “superiority of…strength” (73) and not their rational faculty. In fact, she argues that in so doing men have committed “serious blasphemy” because men have elevated themselves above women. For, women are “worthy of being made in the image of the Creator, of benefiting from the most holy Eucharist and the mysteries of redemption and of paradise, and of the vision–indeed, the possession–of God.” (73) Man’s political decision to deny women “the advantages or privileges of man” is, thus, a way to make an idol of himself. 

De Gournay’s argument is a powerful reply to the Pauline-Augustinian argument that woman only expresses God’s image when she is united to man (de Trinitate, Book 12, Ch. 7). I know what I’ll be adding to the syllabus the next time I teach philosophy of gender. Thanks, Eric!

Notre Dame refiles its HHS lawsuit

The University of Notre Dame announced yesterday that it would be refiling its lawsuit against the HHS mandate (dismissed last spring) regarding contraceptive health care coverage. University president, Rev. John Jenkins wrote:

The government’s accommodations would require us to forfeit our rights, to facilitate and become entangled in a program inconsistent with Catholic teaching and to create the impression that the university cooperates with and condones activities incompatible with its mission. . . The U.S. government mandate, therefore, requires Notre Dame to do precisely what its sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit — pay for, facilitate access to, and/or become entangled in the provision of objectionable products and services or else incur crippling sanctions.

How sincere those religious beliefs are remains to be seen.


Pope thinks the RC church has become obsessed with sex

Not quite his words.

According to the NY Times,

“Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics…
In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

APA Scheduling

For at least the last 7 years, the Pacific APA meeting has fallen over the Easter holiday (and other associated holy days for Christians). For at least the last couple of years, the Pacific APA has also fallen over part of Passover. I realize this has been brought up for discussion before, but I want to raise the issue again because it does strike me that this is a very serious issue of inclusion. Several wonderful philosophers I know had to skip this last APA meeting because of religious obligations. This is not purely a matter of religious inclusion either; those whom have primary care responsibilities for children will, I suspect, find attending both the Pacific and the Eastern division meetings rather difficult given school holidays.

I am sure no one is intentionally scheduling meetings so as to keep the religious philosophers and the primary-caregivers out—but the effects are problematic regardless of intentions. So, here is my question: Why is the APA schedule as it is, and what can we do about it?

Regarding the “why” issue, we already know the motivation is to keep costs down, and for whatever reason, hotel rates for conferences tend to be less expensive at these times, and rearranging the schedule will increase the cost. I’d be curious to know just how much of a difference in cost is at issue here, but however much it is, it seems there’s an easy solution: Move the APA meetings to less expensive locations to compensate for the difference.

Yes, I know; if we don’t have the APA meetings in lovely places like San Francisco, it might turn out that conference “attendance” will drop. Now, I’ve put “attendance” in quotes, because while this is the most common reply I’ve received when discussing the possibility of moving the meetings, it is entirely unclear to me how many philosophers who are primarily motivated by the location, actually attend the conference itself outside their own sessions.


Update on Free Amina

Article here.  (NSFW warning)

When asked about the Topless Jihad protest, Amina Tyler said,

” I am against. Everyone will think that I encouraged their actions. They have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable.”

When asked what she thought of the reaction to her topless photograph, Amina replied: “At the moment I don’t regret what I did. But I do not know what the future holds.”

As to whether she supports Femen “whatever happens”, she says: “Until I’m 80-years-old. Because they are true feminists.”

Femen contacted Huffingtion Post UK and responded to Amina’s comments,

“It’s clear to us that she was not speaking freely. We know that she’s been constantly under the supervision of her family, and, as far as we know, they’ve been making her take some sort of anti-depressants, which could account for her halting speech. That Tyler incorrectly described Femen’s mosque protest proves to us that she has no independent access to the media. Her family is telling her things to make her stop her ‘playing around at being free.’ That she’s at home with her family in no way means she’s free or safe.”


Granted, Femen could be partially right about Amina being under supervision. But if Amina is not speaking freely, why would she have been allowed to say that she’ll support Femen until she’s 80 and that she didn’t regret what she did?  I don’t want to unreservedly assume that Femen is so narrow-minded and arrogant that they are reflexively taking a fellow feminist’s criticism of their protest as evidence of her not being in her right mind, but holy hell, it sure does look that way.  Unless there are big chunks of information missing from this report, this amplifies the criticisms of how Femen is engaging with the women they are trying to be in solidarity with.

The new pope on women in politics?

Someone please tell me this didn’t really happen. (Seriously, if anyone knows more, please do say so in the comments.)

Women are naturally unfit for political office (…) The natural order and facts teach us that man is a politician par excellence, the Scriptures show us that woman is always the supporter of man, the thinker and doer, but nothing more than that.

From here and here (in Spanish), among other places — all seemingly in Spanish, so if you find it in English, please post that, too, in the comments.

UPDATE: This is probably not a real quote. The only reference I can find (until the last few days, that is) online is the one in the yahoo answer forum Kathryn linked below. My guess is that the comments here are correct, that the quote was fabricated in 2007, and is being picked up now. See swallerstein’s comments below for more pressing concerns regarding Pope Francis’s history.