Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

The Prison Divestment Movement July 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 2:30 pm

Feminist philosopher Christia Mercer on why universities should divest from prisons.

Columbia’s prison divestment campaign called special attention to G4S, the world’s largest private security firm, and to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the United States, whose guards are reported to use “extreme isolation arbitrarily and abusively,” exposing prisoners to contaminated water, and delayed medical care, causing “needless suffering.” As a Columbia Prison Divest organizer made the point, “The private prison model is hinged on maximizing incarceration to generate profit — they’re incentivized by convicting, sentencing, and keeping people in prison for longer and longer times.” In words reminiscent of the apartheid campaign, she added, “We don’t think about how the privileges and resources students get access to are premised on violence done to people by virtue of their race, class, or citizenship status.”


Women in Philosophy: An Online collection

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 8:16 am

Taylor and Francis has put out an online collection of articles by and about women in philosophy.  They’re all available free until the end of the year.




Microagressions: Quelle Horreur July 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 8:49 pm

I first heard about Microagressions from Sally Haslanger at a workshop at Rice University.  The term seem to me to collect together all the various kinds of actions, verbal and other, that express directly or indirectly the negative stereotypes someone falls under.

it turns out that microagressions can bring out a lot of aggression on the part of critics.  A (silly)writer in the CHE (behind a wallmaintains that claims about being the target of microaggressions are creating a victimhood culture.  And the discussion at Daily Nous is fraught enough that it could fracture whatever peace of mind one has before reading it.

So what is happening?  Here’s one take that seems plausible.  We all now know that there are a lot of implicit biases lurking below our usual self-awareness.  A lot of microaggressions are signs of these biases and/or other more explicit ones.  And taken together, their targets are at least fatigued by these mini-assaults.  We want this stuff to stop.  Among other things, they are harmful.  But guess how the perps feel!  THEY ARE OFTEN UNHAPPY.  Free speech, don’t ya know. Check out the CHE or Daily Nous.


If you’re new to the topic of Microaggressions, the following might be helpful.

To some extent the examples and indeed discussions reflect that the fact that in many areas white middle/upper class men are the source of relevant norms and Microaggressions may place some members of the rest of humanity below that.

For example, a woman who warms to a philosophical debate may be told to calm down.  White men are cool headed, while women are emotional in a way that can threaten the quality of a philosophical discussion, the stereotype has it.  But there are certainly areas where white guys can be the target of microaggressions.  For example, a white guy trying out for a basketball team may hear snickering from players of color as he tries to shoot a basket.  Or a father with his 6 year old daughter who is trying to buy a birthday party outfit for her may find assumptions of his incompetence are clearly communicated to him and his daughter.

These incidents can be harmful.  It is harder to shoot well when people are snickering.  No one needs to leave a clothing store with a child worried about her parent’s competence.

in the arenas where white men form the stereotype of the good performer, others may find these microaggressions abound.  You might, if you are like me, be treated like the madwoman who has escaped from the attic.  Or you may find that the graduate student on whose work you coomented failed to see you had given arguments to back up your criticisms.  (These are true cases; the second has happened twice at professional meetins.  The first too many times to count.) Such cases are not going to ruin one’s career, but they are professionally harmful and sometimes just appalling.



Workshop on Feminist Ontology, MIT, 2nd-3rd October

Filed under: events,Uncategorized — kaitijai @ 1:57 pm

A read-ahead workshop on feminist ontology will take place at MIT on the 2nd and 3rd of October. Registration is free and all are welcome.

Ásta Sveinsdóttir (San Francisco State University): “Social Construction as Social Significance”
Commentator: Abigail Klassen (York University and University of Nevada-Las Vegas)

Céline LeBoeuf (Harvard University): “Anatomy of the Thigh Gap”
Commentator: Hilkje Haenel (Humboldt University)

Elizabeth Barnes (University of Virginia): “Realism and Social Structure”
Commentator: Rebecca Mason (University of San Francisco)

Katharine Jenkins (University of Sheffield): “The Institutional Reality of Gender”
Commentator: Åsa Burman (Stockholm University)

Charlotte Witt (University of New Hampshire): “Feminist Metametaphysics”
Commentator: Shannon Dea (University of Waterloo)

For full details, including accessibility information and contact details for the organisers, see: http://feministontology.weebly.com


Call for Papers

Filed under: Uncategorized — michaelsbrownstein @ 12:45 pm

“Feminist Phenomenology, Medicine, Bioethics, and Health”

International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics

Special Issue 11.1

Guest Editor

Lauren Freeman
Department of Philosophy
University of Louisville

Although by no means mainstream, phenomenological approaches to bioethics and philosophy of medicine are no longer novel. Such approaches take the lived body – as opposed the body understood as a material, biological object – as a point of departure. Such approaches are also invested in a detailed examination and articulation of a plurality of diverse subjective experiences, as opposed to reifying experience under the rubric of “the subject” or “the patient.” Phenomenological approaches to bioethics and medicine have broached topics such as pain, trauma, illness, death, and bodily alienation – to name just a few – and our understandings of these topics have benefitted from and are deepened by being analyzed using the tools of phenomenology.

There is also a rich history of approaching phenomenology from a feminist perspective. Combining these two approaches and methodologies has furthered our understandings of lived experiences of marginalization, invisibility, nonnormativity, and oppression. Approaching phenomenology from a feminist perspective has also broadened the subject matter of traditional phenomenology to include analyses of sexuality, sexual difference, pregnancy, and birth. Moreover, feminist phenomenological accounts of embodiment have also helped to broaden more traditional philosophical understandings and discussions of what singular bodies are and of how they navigate the world as differently sexed, gendered, racialized, aged, weighted, and abled. Feminist phenomenological accounts and analyses have helped to draw to the fore the complicated ways in which identities intersect and have made the case that if we are really to understand first person embodied accounts of experience, then a traditional phenomenological account of “the subject” simply does not suffice.

The aim of this special issue is to explore and develop the connections between feminist phenomenology, philosophy of medicine, bioethics, and health. The issue will consider on the one hand, how feminist phenomenology can enhance and deepen our understanding of issues within medicine, bioethics, and health, and on the other hand, whether and how feminist approaches to medicine, bioethics, and health can help to advance the phenomenological project.

Topics appropriate to the special issue include, but are not limited to, feminist phenomenological analyses and/or critiques of:

·      Health, illness, and healthcare

·      Social determinants of health (e.g., food justice, environmental justice, labor equity, transnational inequities)

·      Negotiating medical bureaucracies and access to care

·      Health/care in constrained circumstances (i.e., in prisons, as migrants, in conditions without secure health insurance)

·      Sex and gender

·      Rape, sexual violence, or domestic violence

·      Transgender and trans* experiences of embodiment, health, or healthcare

·      Intersex experiences of embodiment, health, or healthcare

·      Death and dying

·      Palliative care and end of life

·      Caregiving for ill friends, family members, and children

·      Pregnancy, labor, childbirth

·      Miscarriage

·      Abortion, contraception, sterilization

·      Organ transplantation

·      Cosmetic surgery

·      Body weight

·      Addiction

·     Mental illness

·      Physical and cognitive disability

Submission Information

Word limit for essays: 8000 words.

IJFAB also welcomes submissions in these additional categories:

·      Conversations provide a forum for public dialogue on particular issues in bioethics. Scholars engaged in fruitful exchanges are encouraged to share those discussions here. Submissions for this section are usually 3,000–5,000 words.

·      Commentaries offer an opportunity for short analyses (under 4,000 words) of specific policy issues, legislation, court decisions, or other contemporary developments within bioethics.

·   Narratives often illuminate clinical practice or ethical thinking. IJFAB invites narratives that shed light on aspects of health, health care, or bioethics. Submissions for the section are usually in the range of 3,000–5,000 words.

Deadline for submissions: February 1, 2017

Anonymous review: All submissions are subject to triple anonymous peer review. The Editorial Office aims to return an initial decision to authors within eight weeks. Authors are frequently asked to revise and resubmit based on extensive reviewer comments. The Editorial Office aims to return a decision on revised papers within four-six weeks.

Submissions should be sent to EditorialOffice@IJFAB.org indicating special issue “Feminist Phenomenology and Medicine” in the subject heading.

All submissions should conform to IJFAB style guidelines. For further details, please check the IJFAB website at http://www.ijfab.org/cfp.html

For further information regarding the special issue please contact Lauren Freeman at Lauren.Freeman@louisville.edu


Call for Chapter Proposals

Filed under: Uncategorized — michaelsbrownstein @ 12:43 pm

Series Title: Moral Psychology of Emotions
Volume: Shame
Edited by: Cecilea Mun

Call for Chapter Proposals
I am submitting a proposal to Rowman and Littlefield International for a volume on Shame as part of an already accepted series on moral psychology and emotions, which was submitted by Mark Alfano. I invite chapter proposals from all disciplines and areas of study. Scholarly work in feminist philosophy, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and law are especially welcome. Proposals dealing with corollary issues like resentment and anger are welcome, as long as they are clearly and appropriately related to the central topic of Shame.

Submission Details
Proposals should be between 200-300 words, include citations, and should clearly describe the author’s thesis and provide an overview of the proposed chapter’s structure. All proposals should be prepared for blind review, removing any reference to the author. As a separate document, authors should provide a short CV containing contact information and relevant publications, presentations, and/or research on Shame. Please email your submission to rlshamevolume@gmail.com with the subject line “Shame volume proposal from [your name].”
Abstracts Due: August 14, 2015
Notification of Acceptance: August 31, 2015
Finalized Draft Due: December 31, 2016

Thank you for your time and consideration!
Cecilea Mun, Ph.D.


The Brutal Truth: power too often wins July 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 9:34 pm

Something a number of people stressed at the May Diversity Conference held by the APA Committee on the Status of Women:  do not expect to win if you go up against power at your university, and do not advise others to do so without very clear warnings about the high possibility of costly losses.

Today a report has come out about how (some) leaders in an important organization colluded with a very powerful gov’t organization.  I think it is extremely unpleasant news.  I wish it were surprising.

The over-500 page report appears to be behind a wall. I think you can read it on the NY Times, but as a subscriber, I can’t really tell what access non-subscribers have. But try here:
And see commnt1 below.

From today’s NY Times:




Anonymity of peer review reports ‘definitely’ enables egregious behavior July 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — KateNorlock @ 12:46 am

Added, from Jenny Saul: “Those who want more will want to look at Carole Lee and Christian Shunn’s paper on philosophy review practices. A key point that comes out there is how much nastier philosophers are than other reviewers studied.”

In the last couple years, I have presided over or assisted in peer-review processes for journal issues, anthologies, and conferences in Philosophy, with one consistently repeated shock across all venues, at least in my limited experience so far: It seemed to me as if anonymized peer-review seemed to bring out something vindictive in almost half of referees. Everyone who’s had an infamous “Reviewer #2” experience may be nodding right now, but I did not expect this. (I’ve gotten my own wee share of mean reviews, yes. But I am still surprised.) It caused me to seriously question whether doubly anonymous peer review is proven to be effective and good. I also thought that perhaps my impression was idiosyncratic.

I went looking for research to reaffirm the worth of peer-review, but I found little empirical verification that peer-review in journals achieves desired ends. I was relieved to find Hilda Bastian’s recent PLOS blog post, “Weighing Up Anonymity and Openness in Publication Peer Review,” in which she announced she had “taken a deep dive into this literature.” She only makes three unqualified statements, and the first of them is there is not a lot of great data:

But first, what evidence do we have that masking the identities of authors and peer reviewers achieves what it is meant to?

Well, it’s complicated. Which means it really needs a solid, up-to-date systematic review… We don’t have an overwhelming evidence basis for anything.

Ouch. That gets me right in the justified true belief. Her second firm finding confirmed something I’ve always longed to resist when students and colleagues allege it, just because it’s rather depressing (condensed below to avoid Bastian’s penchant for referring to anonymity as “blind”):

Institutionalizing anonymity [is] only partially successful at hiding authors’ identities, and mostly only when people in their field don’t know what authors have been working on.

Admittedly, she focuses on biomedical publications, but her review of the evidence includes non-biomed pubs, notably Budden’s (2008) comparative study suggesting that Behavioral Ecology saw more women published after changing to doubly anonymized peer review (which we have previously posted on here). She does not find that this study compellingly establishes that anonymizing authors reduces gender bias, although she notes evidence that at some science journals, “odds are stacked against women,” and there are “clear signs of other biases that have been shown at some journals,” notably status bias.

The only other really conclusive finding she offers is one that underlines the problem which sent me on my hunt:

On the other hand, the anonymity of peer review reports definitely enables negative, and even egregious, behavior.

Take heart, those of you with Reviewer #2 scars! You are not alone. Peer reviewers were more likely to be courteous when they, the reviewers, did not have anonymity:

Peer reviewers were more likely to substantiate the points they made when they knew they would be named. They were especially likely to provide extra substantiation if they were recommending an article be rejected, and they knew their report would be published if the article was accepted anyway.
In some studies, when the reviewers knew they would be named, they were likely to be more courteous or regarded as helpful by the authors.
There’s no support here for the concern that naming peer reviewers leads to systematically less critical reviews – and some support for improvement.
There was one large effect: many peer reviewers declined the invitation to peer review when they knew there was a chance they would be named – especially when they knew their colors would be nailed to the public mast if the article was published.

The results of Bastian’s investigations give me some hope that it is possible to gather evidence helpful to imagining better systems of quality-control and publication. I remain committed to anonymizing authors, since status bias seems no better to me than gender bias. But the porousness of author-identity masking, and the conduct of anonymized referees, gives me food for future thought.


What’s wrong with women’s speech, Part 352 July 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 6:03 pm

Last week, people started getting very excited about an article alleging that women’s tendency to use “just” makes them sound weak.  An old university friend and I on Facebook found ourselves both somehow annoyed, and had a good time exchanging examples of “weak” speech like “just fuck off!”  The whole thing reminded me of old criticisms of women’s use of tag questions, now debunked.  So I was thrilled to read this lovely blog post.

A small sample:

This endless policing of women’s language—their voices, their intonation patterns, the words they use, their syntax—is uncomfortably similar to the way our culture polices women’s bodily appearance. Just as the media and the beauty industry continually invent new reasons for women to be self-conscious about their bodies, so magazine articles and radio programmes like the ones I’ve mentioned encourage a similar self-consciousness about our speech. The effect on our behaviour is also similar. Instead of focusing on what we’re saying, we’re distracted by anxieties about the way we sound to others. ‘Am I being too apologetic?’ and ‘Is my voice too high?’ are linguistic analogues of ‘is my nail polish chipped?’ and ‘do I look fat in this?’


Important new paper on the under-representation of women in philosophy July 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 6:20 am

There’s a really important new paper out, based on a study at Sydney.  The headline news is that the study shows:

(a) At the very start of their first intro class, there are already significant gender differences in attitudes toward philosophy, with men generally more positively disposed toward the subject, more likely to think they’ll do well, and more likely to think they might major in it.

(b) This does not change from beginning to end of the semester.

They take this so suggest that key causes of the underrepresentation are already in place prior to university, but also suggest measures that could be effectively taken at university level to combat these.

I found the study both fascinating and surprising.  For me, one of the big lessons is the need to always expect and examine cultural differences.  In the UK, women and men sign up for philosophy degrees in roughly equal numbers, with women making their exit only after university exposure to the subject, dropping off at decision to do an MA.  A really fruitful research project might be a close examination of the cultural differences that produce these different outcomes.



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