Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Oxford’s Women in the Humanities initiative February 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 3:59 pm

Selina Todd, a social historian at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, relays the following anecdote that will sound pretty familiar to many philosophers:

At a recent academic conference, I stepped back in time, and not because we were all talking about history. Here was a group of men who announced they were “redefining” modern history. They swaggered through presentations – about men – asserting that only those in their charmed circle had anything of significance to say. Male speakers were introduced as great scholars – “he needs no introduction” a favourite opening – while the few female speakers were granted brief, unenthusiastic descriptions of their work. Few women asked questions; those who did were often ignored, though if a man picked up and repeated their ideas, these were then considered worthy of debate. We are all wearily used to “mansplaining” and being talked over, excluded or ignored. But this conference was a personal nadir.

On the first day I thought: is it me? We’re often told that women overreact, taking offence where none is meant. These were younger men, who’d grown up since the 1970s: wasn’t misogyny meant to disappear when they came of age? Yet, as I watched our next generation of professors perform, it was as if feminism had never happened.

On the second day, I left an overrunning session (those men sure can talk) and discovered a bunch of other women huddled around the cold coffee and curdling milk, who felt exactly the same. Something, we said, has to change.

This experience led to the formation of a new collaborative initiative at Oxford – Women in the Humanities. Todd describes the project in The Guardian in an article that includes many references to philosophy and the British Philosophical Association’s ‘Women in Philosophy’ report (as well as lots of useful information and comparisons.)

(Hat tip BW!)


Yet more on gender and citation February 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 10:11 pm

Political Philosop-her has a wonderful post up discussing the implications of the latest information on gender and citation in philosophy:

Almost everyone has had the chance to read the new Healy data on the citation of women. As another female philosopher has stated, a central take home point is that “women are cited. But they are only allowed to chip in to the debates–they are not allowed to be the agenda-setters.”

The question now is, what should we do about this? Increasing the diversity of those who participate in philosophy will not in and of itself change things unless we also find mechanisms to allow a more diverse range of people to “create” philosophy or to “set agendas” in philosophy, in Healy’s terms. Though it might mean some small progress, focusing on improving the citation of women’s work (for example, through a gendered-citation-campaign) will not fundamentally change things. Even if the citations of women’s work were to increase, women may still be prohibited from engaging in creative or agenda-setting philosophy.


#AskAWhiteFeminist at the Oscars February 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 6:59 pm

I guess we really shouldn’t look to the Oscars – or to movie or pop stars generally – for help in promoting feminism, or any other cause. Yet we do! So it was doubly disappointing that Arquette’s statement for equal pay for women turned into a really insulting argument based on the assumptions that 1) all women (or all these whose rights to equal pay are worth fighting for) are white and straight, and 2) that black and LGBT people have received sufficient support in fighting for their rights and that it’s now their turn to help (and 3 that  until now they have only fought for their own rights qua black or LGBT ?). The responses can be read on twitter under the hashtag #AskAWhiteFeminist. This page has a small selection as well as some replies from Arquette.


More data on gender and citation in philosophy

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 6:19 pm

Kieran Healy has provided some more fascinating information on gender and citation in philosophy, based on data taken from the ‘top four’ generalist philosophy journals (Nous, Mind, J Phil, Phil Review):

The story here is rather sobering and, if you’re familiar with the literature on citation, unsurprising. Citation counts are highly skewed. Even though these are all peer-reviewed articles published in high-prestige journals, almost a fifth of them are never cited at all, and just over half of them are cited five times or fewer. A very small number of articles are cited more than twenty or thirty times. Getting cited just twenty five times is enough to put a paper in the top decile of the distribution. (As I said, philosophers don’t cite each other much.) The top one percent of papers are cited seventy five times of more. The most-cited paper in the data has just shy of 300 citations. . .

From the co-citation analysis we already know that within the articles published in our four journals women make up just 3.5 percent of the 500 most-cited items. We don’t have a baseline for the number of potentially citeable items here in general, nor do we know whether that 3.5 percent is proportional to the number of women amongst the full count of cited items. (This was one of the motivations for wanting to code all 34,000 by gender.) For the case of the articles themselves, though, we do have a base rate: 87.5 percent of the published articles are by men, and 12.5 percent are by women. If we add up the total citations held by those articles, we find that articles written by men have 88 percent of the citations, and those by women have 12 percent of the citations. So at this level of resolution, things are proportional in the sense that the share of citations to articles by women lines up with the overall share of articles by women. On the average, articles by women are not cited less often than articles by men. It’s the very low base-rate of articles by women that’s driving things.

We’re not quite done, though. Overall, citations are proportional, given the low base rate of women in the field. At the same time, rates of citation in general are extremely skewed. It’s worth looking more closely about what these two things mean together. . .

Kieran has lots of information and very pretty pictures up on his post – and, in particular, some very revealing data about what the very top echelons of highly cited papers in philosophy look like with respect to gender. (Spoiler alert: they look very, very male.) Go check it out! (And thank you, Kieran, for doing this!)


This is a thing that exists

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 6:01 pm

Filthy Philosopher soap!

Filthy Philosopher - Forest Rose


New Thor responds to the ‘anti-feminist’ brigade. February 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 6:55 pm

And she’s not amused. Here.

new thor


Update on the Stubblefield sexual assault case February 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 7:55 pm

Those following the case of Anna Stubblefield, the Rutgers-Newark philosophy professor accused of sexually assaulting a disabled man, may be interested in the following update to the case:

Judge Siobhan Teare ruled [that a proposed expert for the defense], Rosemary Crossley, will not be allowed to testify in regard to her assessment of the alleged victim, known as D.J. The evaluation was meant to test D.J.’s ability to communicate.

The judge found Crossley’s methods were “unreliable,” because she assisted D.J. in moving a communication device during the assessment.

But Stubblefield’s attorney, James Patton, said he is still requesting that Crossley be permitted to testify at the trial about the methodology used by the state’s experts in evaluating D.J., if those experts are allowed to testify.

Those experts have determined D.J. did not have the ability to consent to the sexual activity.

Stubblefield has apparently claimed that her relationship with “D.J.” was consensual because he consented via facilitated communication. Facilitated communication is highly controversial method of communication aimed at allowing people with cognitive disabilities to communicate, even if they are not capable of written, spoken, or signed language (as in the case of “D.J.”). There appears to be very little evidence that facilitated communication is a reliable method of communication. (Indeed, there seems to be quite a lot of evidence that it is not reliable and that responses are heavily influenced by the facilitator). Nevertheless, the method continues to be championed by some disability advocates and caregivers.

Stubblefield – herself a defender and practioner of facilitated communication – is relying on the good standing of the practice for her claim that her sexual encounters with “D.J.” were consensual. She repeatedly had sexual contact with “D.J.” in her office and is claiming he consented to this via facilitated communication. But experts for the prosecution have – unsurprisingly – found that “D.J.” is incapable of consent. The judge has now ruled that there is insufficient scientific evidence to allow an advocate of facilitated communication to testify as an expert witness on behalf of Stubblefield.


Philosophy, Depression, and Mental Health at Daily Nous

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stacey Goguen @ 1:54 pm
Tags: , ,

Over at Daily Nous you can read Peter Railton’s C-APA Dewey lecture, as well as join in an open thread on philosophy and depression. DN also links to an earlier post from PhDisabled on the same topic.

From PhDisabled:

“We are not beyond a society that sees mental illness as a stain within one’s soul, some present-age demons who continue to torment mortals. Mental illness still stands as something to be ashamed of because we want to believe in karma or something similar. We want to believe that the ills that we suffer are somehow dependent upon something we deserve.

“Those of us who are more scientifically inclined want to believe that we can redeem and fix mental illness, as if it were machinery. If we could only figure out the brain, then we believe that we could “normalize” it, or better, “cure” it.”

“I think it should be the job for philosophy to demand that society’s discourse regarding mental health gets less awful. Good philosophy should offer alternatives for social problems, or at the very least scold the often careless ideologies that cause social problems.

“But first, academic philosophy itself needs to turn its gaze to depression and how it is treated within its own ranks. We treat it with silence. No one finds it polite to speak on it, unless talking about the personal lives of the dead or as a dry systematic theory. We philosophers prefer to hold depression at arm’s length, even though it often lives so close within our chests as a tightening knot limiting our actions.”


And the prize for worst anti-harassment measures goes to: February 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 5:14 pm

… the vice-principle of a Turkish high school who decided that the best way to stop boys harassing girls who wear short skirts was to ask the boys to harass them! Here is the story in English, but the Turkish article gives more detail, including a report that the vice principle said girls who wear short skirts ‘deserve’ to be harassed, and the detail of the two step prevention program: 1) a group of boys is detailed to warn specific girls that they should not wear short skirts, and 2) if the girls persist, they should harass them in any way they can.

My first reaction was that my complaints about my own daughter’s school’s sexist dress code (short skirts and shorts not allowed) paled in comparison – and it does! But the underlying attitudes and sentiments are the same – that girls who are on the receiving end of harassment somehow ‘provoked’ it both in the sense that they asked for it and that they caused the harassers to become bad and misbehave – and as long as we allow this sort of discrimination to go on in schools we keep the door open for more criminal behaviour on the part of teachers and students.


Charles Mills at PEA Soup February 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 6:11 pm

This coming Monday Charles Mills will be the featured philosopher at PEA Soup, where he’ll be discussing “Black Radical Liberalism (And Why it Isn’t an Oxymoron”. Details here. Don’t miss it!



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