Sally Haslanger on gender in the election

Just a small taste:

There are many things that might be said about the androcentrism of the U.S. political system and the ways it rewards masculinity. Masculinity, of course, is associated with strength, courage, protection, and violence (as needed); femininity is associated with care, upkeep, negotiation, peacekeeping. Although national security is a reasonable concern in a presidential election, one could argue that, in Jane Addams’ words, civic housekeeping is at least as important for the well-being of our country as defense (Haslanger 2016).

Yet how much do Clinton’s decades of work on children’s rights, health care, and environmental protection count as qualifications for president, compared to Trump’s alleged business success, built upon unfettered self-interest and aggression toward any threat? Are Clinton’s strengths too feminine? Has she developed hawkish values in order to compete for the office of “top man”? Clinton is caught in a double bind: If she appears feminine, then due to androcentrism, she isn’t suited to office; if she appears masculine, then due to misogyny, she must be corrected or punished.

Read the whole thing!

What Feminist Epistemology Would Say to Donald Trump

By Miranda Pilipchuk:

Since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States in June 2015, the internet has exploded with reports and analyses of the candidate, with a special emphasis placed on the shocking and dramatic statements Trump has made the forefront of his campaign. As of yet, however, there has been relatively little attention paid to what feminist epistemology has to say about Trump, and his shocking and dramatic statements. This blog post is a small attempt to remedy this gap in the conversation, focusing specifically on Trump’s position as an epistemically privileged subject, and how this epistemic privilege shapes Trump’s approach to the truth.

Read on!

Why was this the breaking point?

Kate Manne:

are Republicans finally rejecting Trump for his misogyny as such, or rather for being kind of disgusting, in a way which just so happened to be misogyny? The misogyny has of course been instrumentally useful for Republicans to harp on, since it gives them an easy out via moralistic outrage and the usual veneer of paternalism. (What about the women?) But I suspect it was the peculiar phraseology, creepy boastfulness, and all-around social awkwardness that probably bothered them more than anything — certainly more than what Trump actually does to women, which they had ample evidence of already. They still don’t give a flying proverbial about women as people, each one an individual with a mind, will, and body that belongs to her and no-one else. So Trump may be ousted as a misogynist in name only. And if Pence does succeed him, our prospects are no better.


Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon TODAY (Oct. 8th, 1:30PM PST onward)

Today from 1:30PM PST onwards, there will be a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to improve the coverage of underrepresented philosophers and philosophy (see our earlier posts about the editathon here and here), in honor of Kevin Gorman, whose passionate work on behalf of women in philosophy we highlighted in an earlier post (see also here). The editathon will be in the San Diego Central Library as part of Wikiconference North America, but you may also join us remotely from wherever you are.  If you’d like to join remotely, please send me an email (  (If I don’t get back to you right away, that will probably be because I’m on my way to the event — I’ll definitely get back to you well before it begins!)

We will have Wikipedia-savvy folks on hand to help newbies learn how to edit, but if you are intimidated by the prospects of editing, you can also just email me stuff, e.g., in a Word doc, to hand off to the seasoned editors.  At this point we have a lot of the basic background information about a lot of folks.  Going forward we’ll probably most need external references, for example, discussions of people’s work, awards, or service which appear outside of their personal and faculty webpages, such as a book review that emphasizes the contributions they’ve made, or a short news article mentioning an honor.  If you’re not sure whether something is useful or relevant, please err on the side of sending it my way rather than withholding it!

See our earlier post for working lists of folks about whom we’ll try to write pages (see also here).  (Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions!  I’m sure there are still tons of names being left out, of course, so keep those suggestions coming.)

Sexual abuse in UK universities

makes the front page of the Guardian— again.

The majority of cases reported to the Guardian involve senior male academics, often professors, harassing and abusing younger female PhD students whose work they supervise. There are also accounts from undergraduates and female academics, while a small number of other allegations involve assault, male-on-male harassment and one allegation of sexual assault by a female lecturer.

Many of the accounts indicate that universities are failing in their duty of care to students and staff who are harassed. One female academic who made a complaint of sexual harassment against a more senior male colleague – against whom there had been previous complaints – said she was marched off the university premises and suspended for three months after he accused her of making a false allegation.

The Quiet Obliteration of Women’s Autonomy – Trump Edition

The Washington Post broke a story today about remarks Donald Trump made in 2005 while accompanied by Billy Bush, then host of Access Hollywood. 

I want to point out how Trump and Bush’s remarks about women, and the way that newspapers are reporting on those remarks, subtly dissolve the autonomy of the women who are being commented on.

Part I – The Remarks: Below are a good portion of the remarks. You can also listen to them in the link above in the WaPo story. [Heads up: they contain expletives and objectifying descriptions of women.]

Read More »

A Statement from Jason Stanley

I wanted to address the situation that has arisen from the series of articles in right-wing media outlets about me, and then me and Professor Kukla, that resulted from a private Facebook exchange being published and taken out of context, followed by a public thread that was a response to the fact that all of those messages were made public and taken out of context. I will begin by apologizing to Professor Richard Swinburne. I regret that he is involved at all, and I regret even bringing his name into the conversation in my public post.

The post of mine that was made public was not about Richard Swinburne. It was a comment, or a reply to a comment, on a private Facebook thread. The Facebook thread was about how the Swinburne episode reminded a gay colleague and friend of the harsh discrimination they had faced as a gay philosopher. I knew about what this person had experienced, and from whom. I saw that they were using Facebook to channel frustration about discrimination. So I used strong words, including expletives, to exhibit my support. But I simply was not talking about Richard Swinburne.

A screenshot of that comment, as well as other posts and comments from other philosophers, which were intended for specific audiences, were taken out of context and publicized on a blog. I faced a difficult situation, and the anger in my public post which followed was directed against those who made those comments public. I was both deeply frustrated at the violation of privacy, and worried that the others on that thread would face harsh recrimination, and felt that it was my responsibility, as a person with some power in the field, to take the heat. But I forgot that having my position at Yale makes anything I say part of the whole campus wars. For example, Rod Dreher was one of the main figures in November, 2015 who attacked our undergraduate students in very harsh terms. So that meant anything associated with me would be taken national.

For those who don’t know me, it may come as a surprise that the national discussion in right wing media has also been wounding to me, because I am sensitive to the difficulties many religious Christians face in academic settings. We live in a country, the vast majority of whose citizens are followers of one of the world’s great intellectual and moral systems, Christianity. And though the majority of philosophers in American are Christian or were raised as such, there is a significant difference between being in our intellectual community and being in America outside its walls.

I was almost always the only Jewish person in my classes growing up. In my high schools in tenth and eleventh grade, I was the first Jewish person to attend. I am very familiar with the isolation that is involved, even when there is no overt discrimination (though I grew up being asked if I had horns and such like, this was ignorance and not malice). It is woven into the tapestry of my existence what it is like to be in a minority faith among a majority. I can’t imagine what it must be like to go from a community in which one’s cultural traditions and many of its assumptions are just part of the ordinary tapestry of existence, to one in which that is considerably less so. I have tried in the departments I have been in to be very sensitive to this. And my own work, both academic and public, leaves theism in any form alone.

But this is not to say that the only issues here are the complete confusion caused by the publication of out of context private messages. I do have a dispute with those philosophers (Christian or otherwise) who irresponsibly espouse harmful theories about sexual minorities that are out of touch with the literature, current science, and the experiences of those minorities themselves. I also have another, distinct dispute with those who would violate the privacy of their friends by taking expressions of support and frustration — which were intentionally visible only to select audiences — out of context, publish them, and mislead the public as to their meaning. Anyone who thinks that is perfectly ordinary Christian behavior has a much lower opinion of Christians than I do. I also think both of these distinct disputes are ones we can have in public spaces in a respectful manner.

The last week has been very extreme for me. My family, which is the core of my existence, has been frightened. I can’t here explain everything that has happened, but it has been very ugly at times. But much worse than that is the legitimation of the very real discrimination that gay philosophers have to face on a daily basis from colleagues, from students, and from the media.

When gay philosophers try to speak up, even privately, about actual discrimination they face, they now know they risk a media storm against them. They see from my case that the student paper at their university may even add fuel to the fire.

So: do I regret that Swinburne has been sucked into this? I regret this very much. I apologize for bringing Swinburne in at all. I sincerely apologize for my error in judgment in even mentioning his name. But my central concern right now is entirely about our gay colleagues in academia who have been watching this episode in horror, rightly concerned that any complaints about discrimination they may raise, even in private spaces, will result in the kind of incredibly intense retribution that Rebecca Kukla and I have been singled out and subject to over the past week. And those concerns would be legitimate.

I need to end with the issue of anti-Semitism. On my public post, someone posted a disturbing comment about Swinburne’s death. I contemplated deleting it but then wanted to wait to see if anyone would ‘like’ it before addressing its horrors (no one did). It is hard to avoid the suspicion that the media discussion starting with the September 28th piece in The American Conservative, and then the Washington Times, is straightforwardly anti-Semitic. How did a non-story about the complexity of communication that results when screenshots from private conversations are made public, become a national story about two leftist Jewish professors and the dangers they pose?

At first, the story was solely about me. Then, the other Jewish philosopher who posted on that thread, Rebecca Kukla, was also targeted. What ensued was a terrible anti-Semitic narrative, channeling a virulent 20th century form of anti-Semitism, now present in Russia; that leftist Jews seek to use the issue of homosexuality to target the Christian faith. I hope we can, as a profession, have a respectful discussion about the two disputes I mentioned above. I responded to disrespect in kind, and I regret that this may have made it more difficult. We need to have these conversations, though, in a way that does not invite retribution against our gay colleagues, whose experiences of discrimination need to be highlighted, rather than forced ever more into the shadows. And we need to have it in a way that does not help bring in the stain of anti-Semitism.

Appear on the Global Philosopher!

The BBC is looking for people, anyone other than professional philosophers (philosophy students are fine), to take part in a giant debate….

The Global Philosopher

On 18 November 2016, BBC Radio 4 is hosting a debate about meritocracy. Sixty people from all over the world will be “dialling in” – using Skype-like technology – to a state-of-the-art facility at Harvard Business School to discuss this topic with Professor Michael Sandel (and with each other), while hundreds of other participants will be observing the debate and contributing to it via an online platform. Professor Sandel will spend about 90 minutes guiding the audience through the issues and confronting them with moral and ethical dilemmas along the way. If you’d like to take part, please register your interest via this web form and the production team will reply with further information.

It would be great to get some feminist philosophers involved!