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Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

“But isn’t she way overreacting?”. October 13, 2014

Filed under: autonomy — annejjacobson @ 7:09 pm

This post comes from a discussion I was having with someone happily unconnected to professional philosophy.  It concerns something I started thinking about some years ago, when I first heard about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which was supposed to be the first effective therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder.  I was very curious for a number of reason, not least of which was my perplexity at what could be called that.  And I think the book I’m going to quote from was the only thing at the time that didn’t cost a huge amount.

Still, lots of incidents over the last several years, and recent cyber discussions have reminded me that lots of us use an idea of normal emotional reactions.  And this idea has normative implications. The non-normal is wrong, bad, etc.
so it seems to me useful to remind ourselves that our baseline emotional reactions may vary a great.  One person who has an unpleasant encounter on Thurs may be struggling with it still a week later (or more) while another cannot understand why they cannot get over it.  So the empirically reasonably well-informed  Dialectical Behavioral Therapy tells us

A lot of people struggle with overwhelming emotions. It’s as if the knob is turned to maximum volume on much of what they feel. When they get angry or sad or scared, it shows up as a big, powerful wave that can sweep them off their feet.If you’ve faced overwhelming emotions in your life, you know what we’re talking about. There are days when your feelings hit you with the force of a tsunami. …

There’s a fair amount of research to suggest that the likelihood of developing intense, overwhelming emotions may be hardwired from birth. But it can also be greatly affected by trauma or neglect during childhood. Trauma at critical points in our development can literally alter our brain structure in ways that make us more vulnerable to intense, negative emotions. However, the fact that a propensity to intense emotions is often rooted in genetics or trauma doesn’t mean the problem can’t be overcome.

 

This sort of reaction is still seen as a problem because one may well have better things to do. And if pathology gets mixed in, it can become very socially destructive.

***this ends the didactic part of this post. What follows might be a quiz. ****

The book is actually full of internet stuff about mindfulness, but I was quit flummoxed by an early exercise. It concerns practicing radical acceptance. This means just accepting what’s happened without judgment or evaluation.

Here’s part of the list:

-Read a controversial story in the newspaper without being judgmental about what has occurred.

-The next time you get caught in heavy traffic, wait without being critical.

-Watch the world news on television without being critical of what’s happening.

-Listen to a news story or a political commentary on the radio without being judgmental.

I actually manage #2. I’m tempted to try a transcendental argument for the impossibility of the others. What do you think?

 

“Women in clothes” October 4, 2014

Filed under: appearance,autonomy,empowering women,objectification — annejjacobson @ 8:11 pm

This is a new book of interviews and illustrations that just might take your mind off the philosophy profession (eck!).

[i mean no disrespect to those who have worked and are working hard to air the profession's problems and to explore solutions.  Rather, I am thinking of someone on facebook who commented that her mother wondered if she was thinking about the PGR too much.  If you notice the non-philosophers among your family and friends are rolling their eyes when you speak, think of reading "Women in Clothes".]

 

Here’s part of the amazon buzz:

Poems, interviews, pieces that read like diary or journal entries-all these responses help the editors fulfill their aims: to liberate readers from the idea that women have to fit a certain image or ideal, to show the connection between dress and “habits of mind,” and to offer readers “a new way of interpreting their outsides.” “What are my values?” one woman asks. “What do I want to express?” Those questions inform the multitude of eclectic responses gathered in this delightfully idiosyncratic book Kirkus
About the Author
SHEILA HETI is the author of five books, including the critically acclaimed How Should a Person Be? and an illustrated book for children, We Need a Horse. She frequently collaborates with other artists and writers.
HEIDI JULAVITS is the author of four novels, most recently The Vanishers, winner of the PEN/New England Fiction Award. She is a founding editor of The Believer and a professor at Columbia University.
LEANNE SHAPTON is a Canadian artist, author, and publisher based in New York City. She is the author of Important Artifacts and Swimming Studies, winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.

Here a conversation with the editors.  http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/women-in-clothes-video-book-sheila-heti-heidi-julavits-leanne-shapton/

The kindle edition has color illustration at least for the ipad app.

three of the four amazon reviews make reading it sound like a transformative experience.

 

A return to stock photos: Women suspicious of birth control September 23, 2014

Filed under: autonomy,body,gender,health — philodaria @ 6:54 pm

We’ve posted before about women laughing alone with salads. Now, Erin Gloria Ryan is drawing attention to women suspicious of birth control. From Jezebel:

Women featured in stock photos have busy, complicated lives. They’re laughing alone with all kinds of salads, both with and without croutons. They’re diversely inept at riding bikes. They fly into unpredictable hysterics in the presence of a scale. But there’s one thing that most stock photo women agree on: birth control. In that they’re incredibly suspicious of it. . .

The following images were all among a popular stock photo service’s “most relevant” results in a search for “birth control.” As the results became less “relevant,” the number of happy or calm-looking stock women with birth control increased. Probably because birth control, in Stock Land, is on par with piles of baking powder arranged in lines to look like cocaine and a gathering of empty shot glasses before a person clutching car keys.

Women In Stock Photos Do Not Trust Birth Control

 

These men are NOT saving room for cats! September 21, 2014

Filed under: academic job market,autonomy,empowering women,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 6:37 pm

Irritated by the seemingly inexplicable behavior of men who spread their legs wide whem sitting in public spaces? Feeling forced to collapse in on yourself?

Here we’ve enjoyed laughing at the phenomenon and the idea that they are making room for cats.


However, what may be going on is a quite serious and quite deep reinforcement of differences valued by patriarchy.

We’ve known for some time that one’s facial expressions can affect one’s mood, but according to the NY Times, Amy Cuddy (assoc prof, Harvard Business School), has shown one’s stance and how much space one occupies affects how powerful one feels and conveys. People spread out on the subway wil feel more powerful than thoses crunched up. Before an interview you will be more confident if you’ve been practiccing wonderwoman poses

Lately, she has been examining the differences between subjects who sleep sprawled out versus those who curl up. Early results show that people who arise with arms and legs extended feel brighter and more optimistic than the 40 percent who start the day in a fetal position.

But there’s hope. “If you wake in fetal pose,” Ms. Cuddy said, “open yourself up like the guy on the subway taking up too much space, and soon enough you’ll feel like a happy warrior.”

 

A reply to Robert George: Why sexual assault can’t be blamed on the sexual revolution May 18, 2014

Recently, philosopher of law Robert George wrote a piece in which he links the culture of sexual assault on college campuses to the sexual revolution. A philosophy graduate student has written a beautiful and moving reply. I quote from it below, and the full response is here.

Yet, the fact is, sexual assault is deeply wrong and harmful regardless of the victim’s sexual history or values. The Philadelphia Magazine article provides ample evidence that students who have casual sex, seemingly without sharing metaphysical or ethical commitments about what it means for “two to become one,” still experience assault as a serious trauma. Moreover, sex workers can be sexually violated and process it as such, irrespective of their views on sex. Some people might counter that victims can be mistaken about the source of their trauma, and that if they think it has nothing to do with the meaning of sex, they are lying to themselves. This reasoning, much like sexual violence itself, denies people agency. It’s hard to capture the sheer horror of having one’s will subjugated by another person, the utter powerlessness of being at someone else’s mercy. As long as we see sexual assault as an offense against purity or chastity rather than primarily against autonomy, we cannot do justice to that experience.

. . . Professor George, I share your sadness and yearning for truth, in my various roles as young Catholic philosopher, Swarthmore alum, sexual assault survivor, and human being. I am just worried that when culture wars overshadow the discussion of sexual violence, it leaves all parties hurt and none transformed. By all means, let’s create spaces for college students to discuss campus sexual culture, the meaning of sex, and healthy relationships. All I ask is that we not let questions over which many reasonable people disagree turn our attention away from the distinct and severe wrong of sexual assault. Otherwise, I fear you will be right: We will live in a “hell on earth—complete with ideologies hardened into orthodoxies to immunize it from truth-telling and to stigmatize and marginalize truth-tellers.”

 

Duke freshman and porn-star speaks out February 22, 2014

Filed under: autonomy,bullying,gender,gender inequality,pornography,sex work — philodaria @ 5:44 pm

This is well worth a read.

 

 

Transforming Gender Relations in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa October 25, 2013

The book “Transforming Gender Relations in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa” is now available. The book is by Cathy Farnworth, Melinda-Fones Sundell, Akinyi Nzioki, Violet Shivutse, and Marion Davis.
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Click here for a low-res PDF of the entire book – the PDF file size is 3 MB.

Click here for a high-res PDF of the entire book – the PDF file size is 43 MB.
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“This book distills lessons learned about integrating gender equality into agricultural development initiatives in Africa, with case studies of efforts at all levels, from households to national government.

“The authors start from the premise that empowered women and men are better, more successful farmers who can make the most of the opportunities around them. They argue that there is a causal relation between more equal gender relations in the household and in the community, and better agricultural outcomes: the one underpins the other.

“This is a radical thing to say, because it means that the standard development interventions – more extension services, better information, more fertilizer, better machinery – will not fully achieve their goals unless women and men are on equal footing, able to make rational economic decisions unhindered by gender norms that limit what is “appropriate” for women or for men to do, or to be.

“Empowering women as decision-makers in all areas of their lives is challenging and exciting. It is a key to poverty reduction. Transforming gender relations will help to make smallholder agriculture and associated development efforts more effective and efficient, with knock-on effects for a variety of development outcomes…”
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See the link below for more on these matters:

Recognizing the African woman farmer

http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/recognizing-the-african-woman-farmer/

 

Where’s the line on street harassment? September 29, 2013

Soraya Chemaly argues that violence is a natural end-result of the same principles which operate in what we ordinarily refer to as street harassment:

Earlier this week a man in a car pulled up next to a 14-year old girl on a street in Florida and offered to pay her $200 to have sex with him.  [. . .] The girl said no. So what does this guy do? He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times.  Bystanders watched the entire episode in shock. He almost killed her, but she lived and ID’d him in a line up and he’s been arrested and charged with Attempted Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and False Imprisonment.  What was the Deadly Weapon referred to in the charge I wonder? Given our normatively male understanding interpretation of what is threatening, does a man pulling up to a girl like this and talking to her in this way constitute imminent harm?

This was an incident of street harassment taken to extremes.

You’re thinking,  “He’s crazy! You can’t possibly put what he did in the same category as street harassment!”  Yes, I can.

He stopped and talked to a girl he did not know and he told her what he thought and what he wanted her to do.  Clearly, he felt this was okay, or he wouldn’t have done it. This isn’t insanity, it’s entitlement. This is, in principle, the same as men who say, “Smile,” “Want a ride?” “Suck on this” and on and on and on.  And, that’s all before the public groping that might ensue.

OK. No big deal I’ve been told.  But, he went further, as is often the case.  When she said no, he just took her.  He crossed a red line that seriously needs to be moved.  “Taking someone” should not be the “red line” for public incivility and safe access to public space.

You can read the whole piece here on the HuffPo Blog.  About a year ago or so, I went to the store — I pulled into the parking lot, and I noticed that in the space next to me, a man was sitting in his car. When I came out of the store, he was still there — except now, he was masturbating. In his car. In broad daylight. He smiled and waived at me. I called the police about it, but effectively, they do didn’t do anything (when the police came, he wasn’t doing it anymore, and by the time I requested specifically that the police allow me to file a witness report or press charges, they had already let him go without taking his name or any information, so there was no one to press charges against). Certainly this experience is no where near the sorts of extreme cases mentioned in Chemaly’s piece, but I have wondered since, if this is the sort of thing that’s effectively permissible in public space, where is the line? When I voice discomfort over my inability to go to certain gas stations without being cat-called, hit-on, etc., my less fervently feminist acquaintances think I’m being over-sensitive, or give me the usual “You ought to take that as a compliment” (which I think is a ridiculous response for a million reasons that are probably obvious to all of our readers) and yet, my run in with the public-masturbator seemed like it ought to be a predictable escalation of that same sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

Is physical violence likewise on that same spectrum?

 

Vaginas of Anarchy July 10, 2013

North Carolina’s GOP tacked on abortion restrictions to State Bill 353, which was the Motorcycle Safety Act. This, just after tacking on abortion restrictions on to House Bill 695 (originally aimed at banning the recognition of Sharia law in family courts). As of this moment, I can’t access the new text of the bill via the official NC legislative site, but you can find more information from those on the front lines on twitter.

And in the meanwhile, here’s a song about what’s been going on (with some explicit language).

UPDATE: More information from HuffPo:

On Wednesday morning, state Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D) wrote on Twitter, “New abortion bill being heard in the committee I am on. The public didn’t know. I didn’t even know.”

 

Rick Perry on what Wendy Davis should have learned June 27, 2013

Filed under: abortion,autonomy,politics,reproductive rights — philodaria @ 8:14 pm

You read that right. Rick Perry think he knows both what Wendy Davis has or has not learned from her own experience, and what Wendy Davis should have learned from her own experience. He must have some amazing (and, seemingly, impossible) epistemic skills.

“Who are we to say that children born in the worst of circumstances can’t lead successful lives?” Perry asked in a speech at a convention held by the National Right to Life organization. “Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She’s the daughter of as single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential, and that every life matters.”

Of course, this quote illustrates that he has fundamentally missed the point, and is trying to change the subject.

 

 
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