Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Practical advice for dealing with epistemic injustice and quieting in social situations? April 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — lanternerouge @ 9:03 am

A teenaged woman, call her Amy, reports her frustration and even her despair at constantly having the least valued opinion when talking with men and boys. People will sit around and BS; alleged facts will be pulled out of thin air (or worse places); strong opinions will be conjured on topics of little prior reflection. That’s all good. But even this BS is at least taken seriously enough to be worth counter-argument when it comes from men. Whether the dismissal of her opinion is scornful, or indulgent with a patina of affection, she finds her (relatively rare) contributions in social situations treated as silly or naïve by default. And when she tries to point out that this is happening, this observation too is treated as silly or naïve, and dismissed out of hand as well. She can’t break through the attitude of dismissiveness, even to point out its existence. “What do I have to do to at least make you recognize that I’m serious about this?” she muses. “Do I have to stab you to get your attention?” Amy is the least violent person I know, making this both very funny and a clear sign of her being truly fed up.

“Is this just how it’ll always be?” she wonders. Smiling avuncular pooh-poohing of her contributions to social discourse dominated by men?

On one hand, my conversation with Amy is a spur to continued activism, including micro-level social awareness. On the other hand, it leaves me at something of a loss when I consider what advice and guidance is available to Amy.

I can listen sympathetically and validate her experience, certainly. We can talk about epistemic injustice, and I can help explain how that connects with epistemology and justice more generally. I can help situate the failed uptake of both her conversation and her remarks about the conversation relative to notions of speech-act silencing or quieting. On these topics I count as relatively expert; and helping her to theorize or understand the phenomena more richly is plausibly some form of assistance. But what about practical suggestions? Amy would prefer to be able to improve or repair social situations, rather than blowing them up; firebrand is not usually her style. I can offer my own personal take on how to broach socially hard topics or correct anti-social behaviour; or talk about things I’ve seen other people do that worked (or didn’t). But this all feels pretty idiosyncratic. There is a huge range of strategies that people marginalized by social prejudices use to confront and mitigate the situations that trouble Amy, the success of which vary according to all sorts of factors. Is there already a sort of online clearinghouse of strategies that people have used to good effect when facing this sort of dismissiveness? Or a good book that gives practical advice of this sort? (Something aimed specifically at young women would be particularly valuable in Amy’s case.)

Or could people share their favoured approaches here? Choices of tone, gesture, turns of phrase… broader social strategies (including “get better friends”) — what has worked for you?


Reminder: Dialogues on Disability April 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Monkey @ 5:21 pm

Just a quick reminder that Shelley Tremain’s series of interviews with disabled philosophers is due to start soon. The interviews will be posted at the Discrimination and Disadvantage Blog. There is a definite need for this sort of thing, as the following message attests:

I was recently tipped off to the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog and the upcoming series on “Dialogues on Disability.” When the email was forwarded to me, I just let out a big sigh of relief. I’m really grateful, already, for this series, especially as a resource for what often is still experienced as if it (being in graduate school with a disability/illness) is happening for the first time ever.


Early Modern Women Philosophers Email List

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 1:06 pm

In the context of a SSHRC partnership development grant directed at developing networks and resources to promote the development of New Narratives in the History of Philosophy, and in particular narratives that include women, Lisa Shapiro has started an email list. The purpose of the list is to exchange information on events and activities around early modern women philosophers. You can join the list by sending an email to earlymod-womenphil-request@sfu.ca  with subscribe in the subject line . You will be sent a confirmation email. To complete the subscription process, click Reply in your email client and send the reply. Do not edit the subject line. If the confirmation was successful, you will get a welcome message from the maillist.


Another All-Male Conference Lineup

Filed under: Uncategorized — phrynefisher @ 2:20 am

This one is a conference on the normativity of rationality, taking place at Cardiff University in May. There are nine listed speakers. All nine are men.


“what-does-gender-equality-mean-for-women-researchers-in-the-21st-century” April 10, 2015

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,politics — annejjacobson @ 5:13 pm

The title above is for an article about Delivering Equality: Women and Success, a summit-conference at Cambridge University.  The opening sentences by the article’s author, Alice Atkinson-Bonasio, tell one why both it and the summit are important:

The theme of gender inequality seems to evoke a certain sense of resistance from both men and women, who argue against “radical feminism” and suggest that women nowadays are empowered to follow whatever career path they choose and succeed on their merits.

The battle, in other words, has been won.

Indeed, as a woman enjoying the successful pursuit of my career of choice, it felt strange to be in a room with some of the most outstanding female researchers in the world to discuss how difficult it still is for a woman to progress in her academic career compared to her male counterparts.

The article is full of ideas and information, and anyone engaged in the area will probably find some of the material very interesting.

I’m going to concentrate on two things:  the list of some of the important questions the summit ended up posing, and some of the talks, slide presentations and links to material that are available at the site.  The first seem to me at times quite clarifying questions, one which organize the issues in good ways.  The second will be very useful for a number of reasons.  Entries can help those who haven’t really studied issues like that of implicit bias thoroughly enough to be able to discuss it in challenging contexts.  There are videos that are suitable for sharing at meetings and in classes.  In fact, the presentations and links are numerous enough that I’ve picked just three.  Do go and discover more for yourselves!

There are two contributions by Jennifer Saul, who is a prominent contributor on this blog.  My links to her in this post reflect the fact that she is featured in the article.

The questions:

Some of the many burning questions that emerged from those conversations were:

  • How can we create environments that attract and develop talented women, as well as men, throughout all levels of our institutions?
  • To what extent are we genuinely committed to becoming more inclusive?
  • How can we define, measure and reward success more effectively?
  • How can we reframe the debate away from “women’s issues” to talk about effective, modern workplaces?
  • What policies, procedures, training, metrics and systems can we improve in order to accelerate progress?
  • How can we encourage the emergence of more diverse, visible role models and senior leaders progressing change in academia?

The Presentations:

1. slide presentation by Jennifer Saul.

2.  lecture by Jennifer Saul.

3.  Illuminating interviews with women in STEM


The TransAdvocate interviews Catharine MacKinnon

Filed under: feminist philosophy,gender,glbt,trans issues — noetika @ 5:38 am

Really interesting interview with Catharine MacKinnon here. I’ll only quote a few bits (I really am leaving out interesting things though, so do take a look yourself):

MacKinnon on who is a woman:

I always thought I don’t care how someone becomes a woman or a man; it does not matter to me. It is just part of their specificity, their uniqueness, like everyone else’s. Anybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, is a woman.

And on ‘bathroom panic':

Many transwomen just go around being women, who knew, and suddenly, we are supposed to care that they are using the women’s bathroom. There they are in the next stall with the door shut, and we’re supposed to feel threatened. I don’t. I don’t care. By now, I aggressively don’t care.

On misrepresentations of her views:

Williams: I know that you were falsely accused of claiming that “all sex is rape” (along with similar variants). What do you think people misrepresent most about your theories and why?

MacKinnon: It having taken about 20 years of litigation to establish that that statement is libel, I learned that people — in this case, originally Rush Limbaugh and Playboy at almost exactly the same time — create defamatory lies so that audiences will not take seriously work that threatens them (their power, ie their sexuality). Because of my analysis of male dominant sexuality as a practice of sex inequality, especially as deployed in the multi-billion dollar industry of pornography, they saw me as the enemy and set out to destroy me by whatever means were at their disposal. Once the New York Times Book Review voluntarily published its longest correction in history in 2006, saying I not only never said this, and my work did not mean this, but I didn’t THINK this (!), it pretty much stopped. Many academics, however, who largely don’t read, I am sorry to say, have not kept up. As you recognize, this is only one such misrepresentation.


France considers BMI restrictions for runway models

Filed under: appearance,beauty,gender,health — noetika @ 5:23 am

Via the facebook page for the Center for Values and Social Policy at the University of Colorado, a story from the Wall Street Journal:

French lawmakers have voted in favor of a measure that would ban excessively thin fashion models from the runway and potentially fine their employers in a move that prompted resistance in the modeling industry.

The country’s National Assembly on Friday approved an amendment that would forbid anyone under a certain level of body mass index, or BMI, from working as a runway model . . .

“The law is to protect models who are getting so thin that they’re in danger,” Mr. Véran said in an interview. “It’s also to protect adolescents. This image of so-called ideal beauty augments the risk of eating disorders.”

Doctors say a healthy BMI, which takes into account the weight and height of a person, is between 18.5 and 24.5. Mr. Véran didn’t suggest an appropriate BMI level for models, saying France’s workplace health authority should determine the number.

France’s move, which follows similar measures put in place in Italy and Spain, could ultimately force top haute couture brands to change the preferred profile of ultrathin models as a showcase for their latest clothes.

What do readers think? I haven’t thought much about this — but I do wonder if there would be a better measure than BMI to target the driving concern behind the proposed law.


Stereotypes, disability, and teaching moral problems April 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 3:15 pm

Wireless Philosophy recently released a video – written and narrated by Molly Gardner (UNC) – on the nonidentity problem. Before I say anything else, I’d like to make very clear that this post isn’t a criticism of Gardner – her explanation of the problem is beautifully clear, and she didn’t do the illustrations, which are what I’m going to criticize. While I’m not the biggest fan of setting up the nonidentity problem in terms of maternal responsibility – given how much everyone already loves to heap judgement on pregnant women – it’s definitely the standard way of presenting the issue, and the narration does a wonderful job of clearly articulating the basic points.

What bugged me about the video wasn’t the narration, but rather the illustration. Gardner describes two women who desire to have children with poor health (notice she never mentions disability at all). The illustration of these two children is this:

Screenshot 2015-04-09 10.41.35

The mothers are modern women in business suits. The doctors are modern doctors in white coats. What is this picture of a disabled Victorian street urchin doing in the middle of this video? (Although, to be fair, this could also be a picture of a disabled hipster. It can be hard to tell the difference.)

The answer, of course, is that this isn’t just any Victorian urchin. This is a readily identifiable disability trope – one that will instantly set many disabled peoples’ teeth on edge. This is Tiny Tim! Tiny Tim has a distinctive look:

He is even instantly recognizable in mouse or frog form:

Okay, so what’s so bad about Tiny Tim? He was a sweet kid, right? The problem with Tiny Tim is both the way he’s presented – the sweet, tragic disabled child who exists to teach a moral lesson (by dying, obviously) to the non-disabled main character – and how archetypal he has become in non-disabled peoples’ minds. Tiny Tim is the cheerful overcomer – his life is sad, but he will make the most of it, so that, e.g.:

“He hoped the people saw him in church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant for them to remember on Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”

An image of Tiny Tim isn’t the image of normal, happy, well-adjusted disabled person. It’s the image of everyone’s favorite maudlin stereotype of disability.

But why does it matter? It’s just a cartoon, right? It matters, in part, because the way we see Tiny Tim affects the way we see normal, everyday, often fully grown up and very much non-Victorian-urchin disabled people. (So much so, indeed, that in a video filled with otherwise modern illustrations, to the go-to depiction of a disabled child was Tiny Tim.) And the way the Tiny Tim stereotype permeates peoples’ perceptions of disability drives disabled people up the goddamn wall. Here, for example, is what disability blogger stothers has to say on the matter:

I hate Tiny Tim.
TT is on the ropes in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Sickly and dependent, TT is getting shakier and shakier on that homemade little crutch. But he is saved from death by old Ebeneezer Scrooge, who sees the light in the nick of time.
Now, before you go apoplectic at my assault on wee Tim, think about how he helps shape some of society’s most cherished attitudes — charity, pity (for poor little TT), for example. Tiny Tim, plucky, sweet and inspirational, tugs at the public heart.
TT has become Disabled Everyone in popular culture. TT is Jerry’s Kid.
Society idealizes this sentimental image of disability as a pitiful child in desperate need of help. People feel better when they give a few bucks or a little toy for a kid with a disability.
As an enduring symbol of modern Christmas time, Tiny Tim resonates with a deeper, darker meaning for people with disabilities. The problem is that not all people with disabilities are children, but we all tend to be treated as if we are Tiny Tims.
When I’m in the stores and malls this time of year I get a lot of smiles meant for TT. How do I know? Well, I am a middle-aged bearded and balding adult in a power-driven wheelchair. People, mostly women but some men also, flash smiles at me. Not the kind of smiles most men would hope for from a woman, nor the neutral courtesy smile exchanged by strangers passing on the sidewalk, but that particular precious smile that mixes compassion, condescension and pity. It’s withering to the person on the receiving end.
I hate it.

But all too often when we talk about disability in ethics – and especially when we teach ethics – we fall back on the most hackneyed stereotypes and cliches about disability, precisely as this video does. And no wonder – those stereotypes are powerful, and they produce powerful moral reactions. But some of the reactions they provoke are harmful, especially – as is more and more likely to be the case, given the widening access for mainstream eduction that disabled people are achieving – there’s a disabled student in the class.


Discussion of police violence and race at Daily Nous April 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 4:50 pm


I don’t feel like I have any words that are worth saying or any words that are adequate. But hopefully those that do will chime in.


History of women philosophers and scientists at Yeditepe, Istanbul. April 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 5:16 pm

Originally posted on Feminist History of Philosophy:

The Department of Philosophy at Yeditepe, Istanbul, is offering, jointly with the University of Paderborn, the world’s first Master’s program in the History of Women Philosophers.

The Department of philosophy will host an event to present the new program Joint Master Program on 9th April. The German Minister for Innovation, Science, and Research of Land Nordrhein-Westfalen, Frau Svenja Schulze, will attend the opening and  Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber, head of Paderborn Philosophy Department, will give a talk entitled “2600 Years History of Women Philosophers”. The event will take place in German and Turkish – program below. Everybody welcome, please share!


yeditepe program

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