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.
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!)
New Thor responds to the ‘anti-feminist’ brigade. February 24, 2015
And she’s not amused. Here.
My favourite is this tweet. The comment reads: “When I said I would go [to the march] with my three children, they said: you’re crazy”.
Update on the Stubblefield sexual assault case February 23, 2015
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.
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.
“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
… 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.
Readers may recall that the BPA and SWIP jointly rolled out a set of good practice guidelines for women in philosophy. Departments were invited to consider signing up for them in full or in part. I’m very pleased to say that Helen Beebee has just posted an initial list of departments that have signed up to the guidelines so far! A few of these have links to their own pages on how they have implemented the policies. More links are coming soon, as they are sent to us. And anecdotally I’ve heard great reports of really productive discussions taking place across the country as the guidelines are being considered.