The radical idea that women are people

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Re: Today I Learned

Postby Quixotess » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:39 am UTC

Well, it's not just the establishment either. To draw a potentially valid analogy from a field I do know something about, take literature. The statement "I don't like feminist literature because I don't like works that deal with gender" is ridiculous because almost all works of literature deal with gender, even if it is often in ways that are difficult to see for some people. I'm taking a medieval lit course right now where the professor has not yet touched upon gender, but the texts have a lot to say about gender and sex whether it's mentioned or not.

Gender also appears in the way the courses are taught. For example, in my last quarter philosophy class (very entry level) in every single philosophical puzzle the professor posed the characters defaulted to male. Women only appeared when it was convenient for the men in the story to have a wife or a damsel in distress. That is a gendered aspect that is impossible for me to ignore.

Literature is also a gendered field because most acclaimed authors, and this is true the farther back you go, are men. That's definitely part of it.

Most fields of study that I've ever even touched upon are the same way, which is why I am willing to bet lots of money that it is the same way with philosophy.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby TheStranger » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:43 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:
cephalopod9 wrote:What I see most is specific examples, like "custody cases favor women".

Incidentally: every single time you see this, demand a citation that controls for which parent has been the primary caregiver.


Isn't that a result of the discrimination inherent in our society? Doesn't it then become the courts / laws place to push for equality by removing this sexist bias?
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Re: Today I Learned

Postby Philwelch » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:47 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:Well, it's not just the establishment either. To draw a potentially valid analogy from a field I do know something about, take literature. The statement "I don't like feminist literature because I don't like works that deal with gender" is ridiculous because almost all works of literature deal with gender, even if it is often in ways that are difficult to see for some people. I'm taking a medieval lit course right now where the professor has not yet touched upon gender, but the texts have a lot to say about gender and sex whether it's mentioned or not.


Literature is mostly about human beings, most of whom have gender, and they tend to act in various ways depending upon the author's conception of gender. I'd imagine literature that didn't deal with gender would be extremely boring for this reason.

Whereas when you're discussing whether or not knowledge can be defined as true justified belief, the answer's going to be same for female knowers as it is for male knowers.

Quixotess wrote:Gender also appears in the way the courses are taught. For example, in my last quarter philosophy class (very entry level) in every single philosophical puzzle the professor posed the characters defaulted to male. Women only appeared when it was convenient for the men in the story to have a wife or a damsel in distress. That is a gendered aspect that is impossible for me to ignore.


Did this at all influence the philosophical point under question, or did you get too caught up in the professor's use of pronouns and gendered names to get the point? I certainly hope that the issue of gender-neutral pronouns or the problem of equally mixing male and female names in made-up scenarios isn't the entire depth of the feminist criticism of philosophy.

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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:02 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:Literature is mostly about human beings, most of whom have gender, and they tend to act in various ways depending upon the author's conception of gender. I'd imagine literature that didn't deal with gender would be extremely boring for this reason.

Whereas when you're discussing whether or not knowledge can be defined as true justified belief, the answer's going to be same for female knowers as it is for male knowers.
Erm, philosophy is rather a broad category. Saying "philosophy has no truck with feminism because epistemology is not relevant to feminism" takes the specific case and applies it to the general.

See, I would have come up with a clever simile there, but I'll leave that to others on this board.

Philwelch wrote:I certainly hope that the issue of gender-neutral pronouns or the problem of equally mixing male and female names in made-up scenarios isn't the entire depth of the feminist criticism of philosophy.
Well, for the most part feminist philosophy isn't interested in "criticizing" philosophy (though the way you phrased that made it appear to me that you've dismissed feminist philosophy sight-unseen and haven't really read much of it). De Beauvoir, for instance, and I'll use her example because I've read her, examines the Hegelian concept of the Other through the lens of feminism: women are frequently construed as the Other and non-normative. Her contributions to feminist existentialism were also notable. Feminist philosophers can examine phenomena with "attacking" traditional philosophy or the contributors thereof.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Quixotess » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:24 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Noam Chomsky wrote: In fact, the entire idea of "white male science" reminds me, I'm afraid, of "Jewish physics". Perhaps it is another inadequacy of mine, but when I read a scientific paper, I can't tell whether the author is white or is male. The same is true of discussion of work in class, the office, or somewhere else. I rather doubt that the non-white, non-male students, friends, and colleagues with whom I work would be much impressed with the doctrine that their thinking and understanding differ from "white male science" because of their "culture or gender and race." I suspect that "surprise" would not be quite the proper word for their reaction.

Wow. Noam Chomsky is a tosser. I...I'm having trouble expressing what a tosser move this willful misinterpretation of the criticism is. Leave it to patriarchs to interpret "Your area of study is male-centric and white-centric" as "Women and POC are inferior." Projection much?

Philwelch wrote:So there aren't enough women philosophers, or enough women mathematicians. I agree that's a problem. I don't think that's a philosophical problem, outside specific applications of certain principles about ethics and justice we might want to hold.
Philwelch wrote:I certainly hope that the issue of gender-neutral pronouns or the problem of equally mixing male and female names in made-up scenarios isn't the entire depth of the feminist criticism of philosophy.

Here's a problem with philosophy-taught-patriarchal: being dismissive of the concerns of women philosophy students. I don't think you can distinguish between the discipline and the ideas quite so much as you'd wish. Chomsky's claim that he "doesn't know" whether he's reading something by a man or a white person or not is related: it is not possible for me to ignore that I am not included in philosophy the same way my male counterparts are. It's male as default, female as other, and yes, it distracts me. I am a smart woman, though, and easily capable of understanding both the intended lesson and the unintended lesson imparted to me by my professor. Your implication that it is a trivial thing is mistaken.

However, your simultaneous implication that this is all feminist philosophy concerns itself with is disingenuous, given as it is right after a post in which I listed several concerns women and feminists might have with philosophy.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:34 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:Here's a problem with philosophy-taught-patriarchal: being dismissive of the concerns of women philosophy students. I don't think you can distinguish between the discipline and the ideas quite so much as you'd wish. Chomsky's claim that he "doesn't know" whether he's reading something by a man or a white person or not is related: it is not possible for me to ignore that I am not included in philosophy the same way my male counterparts are. It's male as default, female as other, and yes, it distracts me. I am a smart woman, though, and easily capable of understanding both the intended lesson and the unintended lesson imparted to me by my professor. Your implication that it is a trivial thing is mistaken.
Philosophy is a particularly interesting subtopic of the problems of women in academia because the classes are so often discussion-oriented. You can actively see the comments made by women taken less seriously by both professors and fellow students (common in my ethics class, strangely less so in Rationalism, where the male-female ratio is 6:1). I wonder how this experience compares to that of women in maths and science, another historically male field and how the types of classroom activities (lab vs. discussion vs. seminar vs. lecture) affect the environment for women in those classes.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:35 am UTC

Chai Kovsky wrote:
Philwelch wrote:Literature is mostly about human beings, most of whom have gender, and they tend to act in various ways depending upon the author's conception of gender. I'd imagine literature that didn't deal with gender would be extremely boring for this reason.

Whereas when you're discussing whether or not knowledge can be defined as true justified belief, the answer's going to be same for female knowers as it is for male knowers.
Erm, philosophy is rather a broad category. Saying "philosophy has no truck with feminism because epistemology is not relevant to feminism" takes the specific case and applies it to the general.

See, I would have come up with a clever simile there, but I'll leave that to others on this board.


I was using that as an example, though in ethics gender is only a peripheral issue (shouldn't even affect theory that much if at all), in metaphysics it shouldn't even come up, in logic it's outside the scope, and in political theory it has a limited role at best.

Chai Kovsky wrote:De Beauvoir, for instance, and I'll use her example because I've read her, examines the Hegelian concept of the Other through the lens of feminism: women are frequently construed as the Other and non-normative. Her contributions to feminist existentialism were also notable. Feminist philosophers can examine phenomena with "attacking" traditional philosophy or the contributors thereof.


Heh—see, I have little use for Hegel or existentialism. I'm an analytic philosopher through and through. Your "think of a woman philosopher" challenge sent me to Anscombe just as quickly as it sent you to De Beauvoir.

Chomsky's claim that he "doesn't know" whether he's reading something by a man or a white person or not is related: it is not possible for me to ignore that I am not included in philosophy the same way my male counterparts are. It's male as default, female as other, and yes, it distracts me. Your implication that it is a trivial thing is mistaken.


It's a problem, but as I said it's a social problem rather than a philosophical problem. And I think you're misinterpreting Chomsky just as much as he's misinterpreting your position.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:45 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:I was using that as an example, though in ethics gender is only a peripheral issue (shouldn't even affect theory that much if at all), in metaphysics it shouldn't even come up, in logic it's outside the scope, and in political theory it has a limited role at best.
That's where I believe the essential error comes into play: philosophy is an evolving field, and feminist concerns, particularly in ethics and philosophy of identity, can grow. Philosophy of language is a young field also, but to say that it's unimportant as a result blatantly ignores the realities of contemporary philosophy.

Philwelch wrote:Heh—see, I have little use for Hegel or existentialism. I'm an analytic philosopher through and through. Your "think of a woman philosopher" challenge sent me to Anscombe just as quickly as it sent you to De Beauvoir.
Oh, there are a fair number (I hesitate to say "plenty) of women philosophers, but my point is that there are few if any household names, in the way that the Plato/Aristotle/Aquinas/Descartes/Kant/Mill/Hegel/Heidegger/Nietzsche crowd are.

(Historical point: de Beauvoir is one of the better-known female philosophers because her book The Second Sex is seen as one of the foundations of modern feminist thought in addition to feminist philosophy. In effect, she's better known qua feminist than qua philosopher and that's why I jumped to her as closer to a household name. Also, her whole thing with Sartre made her infamous by association).
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:54 am UTC

Chai Kovsky wrote:
Philwelch wrote:I was using that as an example, though in ethics gender is only a peripheral issue (shouldn't even affect theory that much if at all), in metaphysics it shouldn't even come up, in logic it's outside the scope, and in political theory it has a limited role at best.

That's where I believe the essential error comes into play: philosophy is an evolving field, and feminist concerns, particularly in ethics and philosophy of identity, can grow. Philosophy of language is a young field also, but to say that it's unimportant as a result blatantly ignores the realities of contemporary philosophy.


I think there are some metaphilosophical questions we disagree on. For instance, I tend to think that most philosophy, including ethics, philosophy of language, and so forth should be general enough to apply to all rational beings.

Chai Kovsky wrote:
Philwelch wrote:Heh—see, I have little use for Hegel or existentialism. I'm an analytic philosopher through and through. Your "think of a woman philosopher" challenge sent me to Anscombe just as quickly as it sent you to De Beauvoir.
Oh, there are a fair number (I hesitate to say "plenty) of women philosophers, but my point is that there are few if any household names, in the way that the Plato/Aristotle/Aquinas/Descartes/Kant/Mill/Hegel/Heidegger/Nietzsche crowd are.


Right—I neglected to say that but thats what I meant. There are indeed a fair number of women philosophers working in the field who are not famous.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:05 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Chai Kovsky wrote:
Philwelch wrote:I was using that as an example, though in ethics gender is only a peripheral issue (shouldn't even affect theory that much if at all), in metaphysics it shouldn't even come up, in logic it's outside the scope, and in political theory it has a limited role at best.

That's where I believe the essential error comes into play: philosophy is an evolving field, and feminist concerns, particularly in ethics and philosophy of identity, can grow. Philosophy of language is a young field also, but to say that it's unimportant as a result blatantly ignores the realities of contemporary philosophy.


I think there are some metaphilosophical questions we disagree on. For instance, I tend to think that most philosophy, including ethics, philosophy of language, and so forth should be general enough to apply to all rational beings.
That seems a rather provincial view, especially considering that there are fields doubtlessly relevant to philosophy that wouldn't make that cut. Are they supposed to slink over to psychology or some such?

Philwelch wrote:
Chai Kovsky wrote:
Philwelch wrote:Heh—see, I have little use for Hegel or existentialism. I'm an analytic philosopher through and through. Your "think of a woman philosopher" challenge sent me to Anscombe just as quickly as it sent you to De Beauvoir.
Oh, there are a fair number (I hesitate to say "plenty) of women philosophers, but my point is that there are few if any household names, in the way that the Plato/Aristotle/Aquinas/Descartes/Kant/Mill/Hegel/Heidegger/Nietzsche crowd are.


Right—I neglected to say that but thats what I meant. There are indeed a fair number of women philosophers working in the field who are not famous.
But why aren't they famous? That is the question the feminists ask.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:16 am UTC

While doing my undergrad Student Teaching at a highschool, I ended up teaching part of the Philosophy course offered to Grade 12 students.

There were no female philosophers in the book--but it did include a handy little link in a neat blue box to a website that included information about female philosophers should anyone care.

We found it one day when I had them analyze the text book looking for representations of minority groups in the text--the only non-white dude in there was Confucius.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:11 am UTC

Chai Kovsky wrote:
Philwelch wrote:I think there are some metaphilosophical questions we disagree on. For instance, I tend to think that most philosophy, including ethics, philosophy of language, and so forth should be general enough to apply to all rational beings.


That seems a rather provincial view, especially considering that there are fields doubtlessly relevant to philosophy that wouldn't make that cut. Are they supposed to slink over to psychology or some such?


Example?
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Pizzashark » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:28 am UTC

All this talk about there not being a lot of non-white, non-male philosophers. Why do you think this is? That the white male patriarchy (that's kinda redundant, isn't it?) is preventing these other philosophers from getting published, or what?
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Quixotess » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:43 am UTC

It's a lot more complex than that, Some Asshole. Did you read what I said here?

Quixotess wrote:Here's a problem with philosophy-taught-patriarchal: being dismissive of the concerns of women philosophy students. I don't think you can distinguish between the discipline and the ideas quite so much as you'd wish. Chomsky's claim that he "doesn't know" whether he's reading something by a man or a white person or not is related: it is not possible for me to ignore that I am not included in philosophy the same way my male counterparts are.

Or what Chai said here?

Chai Kovsky wrote:You can actively see the comments made by women taken less seriously by both professors and fellow students (common in my ethics class, strangely less so in Rationalism, where the male-female ratio is 6:1).

Just for examples. These are women's experiences in the field of philosophy.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:58 am UTC

Some Asshole wrote:All this talk about there not being a lot of non-white, non-male philosophers. Why do you think this is? That the white male patriarchy (that's kinda redundant, isn't it?) is preventing these other philosophers from getting published, or what?
To add to what Quixotess said, it's also a general problem with academia. People are given the impression that academia and family life are mutually exclusive, and women in particular are told that they shouldn't go into academia if they want a family (why don't they tell men this?).

If nothing else, it simply isn't true. Academia is one of the more flexible professional jobs. [Anecdotal evidence] My mom held down a job as a full professor, a full-time researcher, and a practicing physician. As a single mother. [/anecdote] But because of this myth about academia and family life, many women drop out of PhD programs, in philosophy and many other fields. If they get their PhDs, they are less likely to get full professorships than their male counterparts. I believe, Quixotess, you could probably find it more easily than I, that they are less likely to get tenure-track positions as well.

All of that contributes to men being overwhelmingly the majority in academia. As for people of color? In both my philosophy classes there is a combined total of 4 people of color. Four. That's 6.67% POC. In the middle of Southern California, where white people aren't even the majority. I don't even think my philosophy department has a single person of color teaching (if it does, I haven't seen him/her).

Philosophy, like many specialties, is overwhelmingly white and male.

(Philwelch, certain aspects of applied ethics come to mind immediately, and philosophy of identity tends to use examples uninclusive of all rational beings).
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:04 pm UTC

Chai Kovsky wrote:All of that contributes to men being overwhelmingly the majority in academia. As for people of color? In both my philosophy classes there is a combined total of 4 people of color. Four. That's 6.67% POC. In the middle of Southern California, where white people aren't even the majority. I don't even think my philosophy department has a single person of color teaching (if it does, I haven't seen him/her).


What's the percentage of racial minorities ("people of color" is just "colored people" rearranged and I refuse to use that demeaning phrase) at your university? You might want to kick some blame down to admissions, or down to the public school system, out of fairness.

Here in eastern Washington, one of our grad students and several dozen of our undergrads were racial minorities.

Chai Kovsky wrote:(Philwelch, certain aspects of applied ethics come to mind immediately, and philosophy of identity tends to use examples uninclusive of all rational beings).


Applied ethics is why I said "most". I'm not immediately familiar with what you mean by "philosophy of identity", but most of the metaphysical questions of identity (mind/body, Theseus' ship, etc.) are general.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Quixotess » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:43 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:racial minorities ("people of color" is just "colored people" rearranged and I refuse to use that demeaning phrase)

Uh...you seem to be under a bit of a misapprehension here.

First, a comparable but smaller-scale example. In my AA Lit class, we are currently reading the novel China Men. The title of the novel, and it as an identity term throughout the text, is merely a rearrangement of the common slur "Chinamen." "Chinamen," however, is an assigned term: it was applied to Chinese/Chinese Americans, of both genders, by whitefolk. China Men is a self-identification: the author, who is Chinese American herself, chooses to identify the men she writes about by this term, and she does so with respect, honor, and the intent to humanize. Note that the "China" no longer overwhelms the "Men"--the part of the term that indicates their status as people.

She also chooses this term because of its greater comparability with the ideographs as written in Chinese. She has, in short, all sorts of really good reasons for her decision. She could, of course, use the term "Chinese men" instead, but she doesn't, because the reclaiming of the Chinese American identity is her entire goal. And when talking about her characters, the disrespectful decision in this case would not be to use the term, slur rearranged though it is, but to ignore her wishes.

Now, coloreds/colored people versus people of color. The chief difference is the same as in my lit text: colored people is an assigned or imposed term, whereas POC is a self-identification. This is also the same difference between, say, Oriental and Asian American. Now, POC are not a monolith, but this is generally the preferred identification you will see if you go to various race-conscious places. And if you go to a place where POC is the preferred identification, and you insist on using "racial minorities"--note that this is a term which erases the personhood of the people referred to, as contrasted with people of color, which, like China Men and "people with disabilities", foregrounds and emphasizes the personhood--if you insist on using "racial minorities," then you will be the one who is choosing to demean.

Imposed versus self-identified: the difference is friggin important. Respect the right of people to identify themselves.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby sophyturtle » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:56 pm UTC

I studied a bit of philosophy, including things like bio-medical ethics and rationality. Most philosophers I could fairly easily find fault in but one I really liked was Nussbaum. We read her while discussing justice. I found her to not only be more useful read because she looked at minority groups and women (I read Sex & Social Justice) but unlike the men who had been dead for years she could include the contemporary landscape.
I understand why we read the old dead. It is good to have a foundation in the past. But I should not have needed to get to a high level philosophy class before even hearing the name of a woman. I realize being about to ripe up Descartes 'proofs' are an important skill, but once that is done we could move on to contemporary philosophers. Which happens to be a group that includes more women and minorities.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby natraj » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:16 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:What's the percentage of racial minorities ("people of color" is just "colored people" rearranged and I refuse to use that demeaning phrase) at your university?


I hate when people say this nonsense. It's just like when I self-identify as queer and people go, oh, I refuse to use that term, it's insulting, I'm going to call you [lesbian|gay depending on whether or not they're also being dicks about my gender identity] despite the fact that, you know, it's more freakin' demeaning (and paternalistic and condescending) to refuse to use people's preferred terms and to instead decide what you think they should be called.

So, yeah. I am a queer person of colour. I don't actually know any people of colour who would prefer that someone go "hey, I think POC is insulting so I'm gonna call you a racial minority instead!".

(Basically: What Quix said, but with some personal pissedoffness thrown in.)
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:31 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Chai Kovsky wrote:All of that contributes to men being overwhelmingly the majority in academia. As for people of color? In both my philosophy classes there is a combined total of 4 people of color. Four. That's 6.67% POC. In the middle of Southern California, where white people aren't even the majority. I don't even think my philosophy department has a single person of color teaching (if it does, I haven't seen him/her).


What's the percentage of racial minorities ("people of color" is just "colored people" rearranged and I refuse to use that demeaning phrase) at your university? You might want to kick some blame down to admissions, or down to the public school system, out of fairness.
I use that term because where I live, white people are a racial minority, as they are in South Africa, for instance, so "racial minority" is not always descriptive, but that's for another thread. At any rate, my school is 53% comprised of non-whites. 7% minority in any major is ludicrous.

Philwelch wrote:
Chai Kovsky wrote:(Philwelch, certain aspects of applied ethics come to mind immediately, and philosophy of identity tends to use examples uninclusive of all rational beings).


Applied ethics is why I said "most".
If applied ethics is, by your admission, a proper part of philosophy, then your argument holds no water. "Most" doesn't cut it; either your definition of philosophy encompasses only studies that apply to all rational beings, or it does not. If it does not, then feminist philosophy is a valid consideration of philosophy by the same rule that admits applied ethics.

Not, admittedly, that feminist philosophy needs your sanction.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby wisnij » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

Quixotess wrote:
Philwelch wrote:
Noam Chomsky wrote: In fact, the entire idea of "white male science" reminds me, I'm afraid, of "Jewish physics". Perhaps it is another inadequacy of mine, but when I read a scientific paper, I can't tell whether the author is white or is male. The same is true of discussion of work in class, the office, or somewhere else. I rather doubt that the non-white, non-male students, friends, and colleagues with whom I work would be much impressed with the doctrine that their thinking and understanding differ from "white male science" because of their "culture or gender and race." I suspect that "surprise" would not be quite the proper word for their reaction.

Wow. Noam Chomsky is a tosser. I...I'm having trouble expressing what a tosser move this willful misinterpretation of the criticism is. Leave it to patriarchs to interpret "Your area of study is male-centric and white-centric" as "Women and POC are inferior." Projection much?

Depending on the original context of the quote, I think what Chomsky might be referring to here is the assertion (sometimes made (badly) by those of an extreme postmodernist bent) that the scientific facts themselves are culturally determined, rather than just the process and social institutions in which science happens to be conducted.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:37 pm UTC

natraj wrote:So, yeah. I am a queer person of colour.

For my part, Haze, I think of you as a queer person of color. After all, "colour" is just "color" misspelled in the French manner, and I refuse to use such an un-American spelling. :-)
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:42 pm UTC

Especially as that phrase is not found in British English.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby natraj » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:05 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
natraj wrote:So, yeah. I am a queer person of colour.

For my part, Haze, I think of you as a queer person of color. After all, "colour" is just "color" misspelled in the French manner, and I refuse to use such an un-American spelling. :-)


Gmal, you are oppressing me! I have self-identified with the non-American spelling and I reject your attempts to impose your American standards on me!
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Quixotess » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:33 pm UTC

...I don't think you even know who you're making fun of anymore.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:37 pm UTC

natraj wrote:Gmal, you are oppressing me! I have self-identified with the non-American spelling and I reject your attempts to impose your American standards on me!

You know what? If you want to use your namby-pamby, Frenchy-Redcoat spellings, go right ahead. Just don't do it in public or in *my* presence. This is Amurrica, and we don't go for the extra 'u' in our words for colored folk.

Quixotess wrote:...I don't think you even know who you're making fun of anymore.

Sure I do: Philwelch. And I'm pretty sure Haze was riffing off the same.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:00 am UTC

See, I was going to say the same thing to Philwelch that everyone else was saying, but since I didn't know whether or not he IS a person of color, I held back. I mean, I could understand a POC saying "I don't like that term; I'm going to use something else to denote my racial identity." I know that as a white Hispanic, I DON'T identify with the term POC because of the colorism shit I get from it (colorism: BFD in the Hispanic community). On the other hand, if he's white and trying to dictate what terms are and aren't acceptable, yeah, just a dicky move.

Sophy, one of the things about philosophy is that not everyone is interested in contemporary philosophers. Kind of like literature: you don't talk about being "done" with Shakespeare and moving on to contemporary authors; some people specialize in Shakespeare. And the problem in philosophy is that there is a consistent lack of women and minorities. There are stunningly few active philosophers who are minorities, and disproportionately few women.

The issue with minorities is one of recruitment: my classes, for instance, illustrate that minorities avoid the study of philosophy in the first place. The issue with women is that, while there are some there, they don't advance--instead, they're siphoned off at each step up the academic ladder and even the few that get all the way up to the rank of full professor aren't very well-known.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby T-Form » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:44 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:Now, coloreds/colored people versus people of color. The chief difference is the same as in my lit text: colored people is an assigned or imposed term, whereas POC is a self-identification. This is also the same difference between, say, Oriental and Asian American. Now, POC are not a monolith, but this is generally the preferred identification you will see if you go to various race-conscious places. And if you go to a place where POC is the preferred identification, and you insist on using "racial minorities"--note that this is a term which erases the personhood of the people referred to, as contrasted with people of color, which, like China Men and "people with disabilities", foregrounds and emphasizes the personhood--if you insist on using "racial minorities," then you will be the one who is choosing to demean.

Imposed versus self-identified: the difference is friggin important. Respect the right of people to identify themselves.

The bit that I've underlined seems pretty strongly opposed to the rest of what you're saying. You acknowledge that "POC" aren't a monolith - that some of the people you'd apply it to would object to the term - but you use it regardless. For those people, that's still an imposed category, and it's no better than "coloured people". In fact, I'd say it's worse than "coloured" in a linguistic sense, - you can link up any number of adjectives, but although it's not the noun itself, there's only space for one "of X". The "POC" abbreviation, apart from seeming insulting in itself (perhaps because it "erases the personhood" again? Perhaps because it suggests a disrespectful laziness? I'm not really sure), actually behaves as a noun, which has even stronger categorial undertones. Furthermore, it's a category that defines people by "non-whiteness" and disregards their specific culture/heritage/etc; I suspect that's why (as far as I know) Maori people don't tend to use it.

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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Quixotess » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:54 am UTC

There is no term that will not offend some people. I try to be respectful of the predominant feeling where I'm at. Duh.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby EmptySet » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:33 am UTC

wisnij wrote:Depending on the original context of the quote, I think what Chomsky might be referring to here is the assertion (sometimes made (badly) by those of an extreme postmodernist bent) that the scientific facts themselves are culturally determined, rather than just the process and social institutions in which science happens to be conducted.


Yes, that's what I thought Chomsky was referring to. Consider something Quixotess said earlier: "For example, I noticed in the feminist philosophy article that one big contention is that the patriarchal philosophy plates great emphasis on reason and rationality, and genders those ideals as male."

Now, I think most of us would agree that the problem here is that reason and rationality are being gendered as male, which is pretty insulting to women. However, some people go the exact opposite way: they decide that reason and rationality really are inherently male. Preferring reason over just pulling stuff out of thin air is a manifestation of androcentrism, and the scientific obsession with such male-oriented things as facts and accuracy should be cast aside and replaced with mysterious female intuition. Or, alternately, "facts" are just made up to please men or something: for example, Luce Irigaray has (in)famously argued that the equation "e=mc^2" is "a sexed equation" because it "privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us. What seems to me to indicate the possibly sexed nature of the equation is not directly its uses by nuclear weapons, rather its having privileged what goes the fastest ..." This kind of thing is what I believe Chomsky was talking about.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Chai Kovsky » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:49 am UTC

Just a thought: when you're not sure what an author is saying, go read the context (pdf). Quote itself is on page 7. He's comparing the postmodern rejection of rational inquiry to the old concept of Deusche Physik (ironically, the Wiki article references that Chomsky quote).

Contrast this with the context when the quote was originally presented:

Philwelch wrote:In my judgment, some people find patriarchy, invisible social structures, sex, race, and class even in places they don't really exist. I hold a view similar to that of Chomsky (substituting philosophy for science where applicable):
Noam Chomsky wrote:In fact, the entire idea of "white male science" reminds me, I'm afraid, of "Jewish physics". Perhaps it is another inadequacy of mine, but when I read a scientific paper, I can't tell whether the author is white or is male. The same is true of discussion of work in class, the office, or somewhere else. I rather doubt that the non-white, non-male students, friends, and colleagues with whom I work would be much impressed with the doctrine that their thinking and understanding differ from "white male science" because of their "culture or gender and race." I suspect that "surprise" would not be quite the proper word for their reaction.
I'm not particularly surprised Quixotess answered the way she did when the quote was used to an entirely different end than Chomsky's paper itself would indicate.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby wisnij » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:02 am UTC

Chai Kovsky wrote:Just a thought: when you're not sure what an author is saying, go read the context (pdf). Quote itself is on page 7. He's comparing the postmodern rejection of rational inquiry to the old concept of Deusche Physik (ironically, the Wiki article references that Chomsky quote).

Ah, that's good to know. Thanks for the link; the post I'd quoted hadn't provided one.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:07 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:Now, coloreds/colored people versus people of color. The chief difference is the same as in my lit text: colored people is an assigned or imposed term, whereas POC is a self-identification. This is also the same difference between, say, Oriental and Asian American. Now, POC are not a monolith, but this is generally the preferred identification you will see if you go to various race-conscious places. And if you go to a place where POC is the preferred identification, and you insist on using "racial minorities"--note that this is a term which erases the personhood of the people referred to, as contrasted with people of color, which, like China Men and "people with disabilities", foregrounds and emphasizes the personhood--if you insist on using "racial minorities," then you will be the one who is choosing to demean.

Imposed versus self-identified: the difference is friggin important. Respect the right of people to identify themselves.


Chai Kovsky wrote:See, I was going to say the same thing to Philwelch that everyone else was saying, but since I didn't know whether or not he IS a person of color, I held back. I mean, I could understand a POC saying "I don't like that term; I'm going to use something else to denote my racial identity." I know that as a white Hispanic, I DON'T identify with the term POC because of the colorism shit I get from it (colorism: BFD in the Hispanic community). On the other hand, if he's white and trying to dictate what terms are and aren't acceptable, yeah, just a dicky move.


natraj wrote:
Philwelch wrote:What's the percentage of racial minorities ("people of color" is just "colored people" rearranged and I refuse to use that demeaning phrase) at your university?


I hate when people say this nonsense. It's just like when I self-identify as queer and people go, oh, I refuse to use that term, it's insulting, I'm going to call you [lesbian|gay depending on whether or not they're also being dicks about my gender identity] despite the fact that, you know, it's more freakin' demeaning (and paternalistic and condescending) to refuse to use people's preferred terms and to instead decide what you think they should be called.


I actually like "queer", because it's probably the last thing a straight person would try to call me if they were trying to assuage their guilt.

And I'm all for self-identification. But as Quix said, "people of color" are no monolith. In my experience, black people prefer to be called "black", American Indians prefer to be called "American Indians", Asian Americans prefer "Asian American", and so I use these terms.

Something I learned about the term "American Indian" resonates with me and might explain my thinking here. "Native American" was a term invented by whites who thought it was offensive to American Indians to call them American Indians. "People of color" rubs me the wrong way for similar reasons that "Native American" does—it's a neologism, it's not even technically accurate ("native" refers to anyone born on the continent, while "colored" seems like a poor term for light-skinned Asians or Hispanics), and it sounds like too much of a hypercorrective attempt to sound inoffensive. I don't think "people of color" is necessarily an offensive term (in the sense that a racial slur would be), I just find it against my sensibilities as a writer and speaker of English.

In other words, I'm not the one dictating what terms are acceptable. That would be all of you. I'm just explaining my own usage.

Chai Kovsky wrote:
Philwelch wrote:
Chai Kovsky wrote:(Philwelch, certain aspects of applied ethics come to mind immediately, and philosophy of identity tends to use examples uninclusive of all rational beings).


Applied ethics is why I said "most".
If applied ethics is, by your admission, a proper part of philosophy, then your argument holds no water. "Most" doesn't cut it; either your definition of philosophy encompasses only studies that apply to all rational beings, or it does not. If it does not, then feminist philosophy is a valid consideration of philosophy by the same rule that admits applied ethics.


Not necessarily

First off, I could simply clarify that only metaethics and ethical theory are properly within the domain of philosophy, while applied ethics is something philosophers and people-trained-in-philosophy do, much like engineering is not science but is something that scientifically trained people do. In practice this makes a lot of sense. Applied utilitarianism would look a lot like economics; applied deontology would look a lot like law; applied virtue ethics would look like a cross between psychology and a self-help book.

Arguing in the alternative, even if I were to allow applied ethics to be properly within the domain of philosophy, that does not necessarily mean feminist philosophy has to be as well.

As for the context of Chomsky: I was operating under the assumption that we were discussing the content of philosophy rather than the social establishment that produces that content. I don't actually disagree with either of you on the social problems in academia, I quite frankly never imagined that Quix was criticizing the community of philosophers rather than the discipline and content of philosophy.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Quixotess » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:08 am UTC

Re: Irigaray: that's been discussed by my personal forum hero here.

EmptySet wrote:Yes, that's what I though Chomsky was referring to. Consider something Quixotess said earlier: "For example, I noticed in the feminist philosophy article that one big contention is that the patriarchal philosophy plates great emphasis on reason and rationality, and genders those ideals as male."

Now, I think most of us would agree that the problem here is that reason and rationality are being gendered as male, which is pretty insulting to women. However, some people go the exact opposite way: they decide that reason and rationality really are inherently male. Preferring reason over just pulling stuff out of thin air is a manifestation of androcentrism, and the scientific obsession with such male-oriented things as facts and accuracy should be cast aside and replaced with mysterious female intuition.

I think this is a misrepresentation of certain claims, which are as follows:

In Western culture,
1. Reason and rationality are privileged as means of discovery over emotion,
2. Emotion is taught to be anathema to reason,
3. Emotion is gendered as female (this is a claim about SOCIETY; it is not gender essentialism),
4. Rationality is gendered as male (a claim about SOCIETY),
5. The above have been used, among other things, to privilege men as more intelligent and more valuable thinkers than women.

In other words, reason and rationality being gendered as male is only part of the problem. For me, 2 is an immensely harmful narrative as well (this woman is angry, therefore her point is invalid), and 1 deserves a hard look.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:17 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:
EmptySet wrote:Now, I think most of us would agree that the problem here is that reason and rationality are being gendered as male, which is pretty insulting to women. However, some people go the exact opposite way: they decide that reason and rationality really are inherently male. Preferring reason over just pulling stuff out of thin air is a manifestation of androcentrism, and the scientific obsession with such male-oriented things as facts and accuracy should be cast aside and replaced with mysterious female intuition.

I think this is a misrepresentation of certain claims, which are as follows:

In Western culture,
1. Reason and rationality are privileged as means of discovery over emotion,
2. Emotion is taught to be anathema to reason,
3. Emotion is gendered as female (this is a claim about SOCIETY; it is not gender essentialism),
4. Rationality is gendered as male (a claim about SOCIETY),
5. The above have been used, among other things, to privilege men as more intelligent and more valuable thinkers than women.

In other words, reason and rationality being gendered as male is only part of the problem. For me, 2 is an immensely harmful narrative as well (this woman is angry, therefore her point is invalid), and 1 deserves a hard look.


Interestingly, if you remove 3 and 4 (the only premises that even talk about gender at all), 1 and 2 won't get you anywhere near 5. They just serve as decent epistemic principles that everyone is encouraged to follow. This would be the closest to my view, though I am more forgiving of emotion and intuition (then again, so is society—how many detective shows hinge upon the brilliant detective holding fast to a hunch?)

If you hold fast to 3 and 4, then you have to reject 1 and 2 to avoid the sexist conclusion.

Of course, this analysis itself is question-begging, because I'm using reason and rationality to figure this out instead of my emotions. If reason isn't a good means of discovery then my analysis is useless, but maybe that's okay because I feel very, very confident in my conclusions. Relatedly, I think a full psychological account of the role emotion plays in our lives and in our reasoning would help us out here, but to get there we have to do psychology which means we need some sort of scientific method which means we have to agree upon a means of discovery.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby natraj » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:21 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:In other words, I'm not the one dictating what terms are acceptable. That would be all of you. I'm just explaining my own usage.


Dictating? No; I wouldn't really have cared one bit about your own usage if it hadn't been for your condescending I'm not going to use [term that Quix used] because that's demeaning.

It's not demeaning, and we explained why.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Quixotess » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:23 am UTC

I don't think 1 or 2 are decent epistemic principles...I think they're worth a critical look at best and flat wrong at worst. Especially 2.

Edit: and I didn't mention gender in my very very brief summary, but all of the points are inextricably linked to gender. For example, "you can't be reasonable when you're upset" often takes the form of "women can't be reasonable when they're upset." How many of your great detectives are women? How often are men's hunches validated and women's intuition, well, perhaps praised, but shown to exclude them from other masculine faculties? (Quick association: in A Song of Ice and Fire poison is referred to as a woman's weapon. This is meant to exclude women from swords and direct power; it is not used to reflect well on poison. It is swords that come with glory.)
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:31 am UTC

natraj wrote:
Philwelch wrote:In other words, I'm not the one dictating what terms are acceptable. That would be all of you. I'm just explaining my own usage.


Dictating? No; I wouldn't really have cared one bit about your own usage if it hadn't been for your condescending I'm not going to use [term that Quix used] because that's demeaning.

It's not demeaning, and we explained why.


You're right. It's not demeaning, and I apologize for saying it is. I should have been more clear about how, exactly, it bothered me.

Maybe in this case I should have thought out what I was going to say instead of going with my gut feeling.

Quixotess:

I don't think 1 or 2 are decent epistemic principles...I think they're worth a critical look at best and flat wrong at worst. Especially 2.


2 is too strong, but emotion definitely hinders reason at times.

What are your thoughts on 3 and 4? As I pointed out, if we didn't gender different means of discovery, 1 and 2 would not by themselves lead to any sexist conclusions.

I'm not sure how you'd argue against 1. It's going to very hard to talk about in any case because it's irrational to use reasoning to debate the efficacy of reasoning.
Last edited by Philwelch on Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:32 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby wisnij » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:31 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:In Western culture,
1. Reason and rationality are privileged as means of discovery over emotion,
2. Emotion is taught to be anathema to reason,
3. Emotion is gendered as female (this is a claim about SOCIETY; it is not gender essentialism),
4. Rationality is gendered as male (a claim about SOCIETY),
5. The above have been used, among other things, to privilege men as more intelligent and more valuable thinkers than women.

In other words, reason and rationality being gendered as male is only part of the problem. For me, 2 is an immensely harmful narrative as well (this woman is angry, therefore her point is invalid), and 1 deserves a hard look.

Request for clarification: what do you include in "discovery" above? If claim #1 were made in the context of an art form, I would say it is almost certainly wrong; made in the context of mathematics, almost certainly right.
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Re: Feminism (split from 'nfessions)

Postby Philwelch » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:34 am UTC

wisnij wrote:
Quixotess wrote:In Western culture,
1. Reason and rationality are privileged as means of discovery over emotion,
2. Emotion is taught to be anathema to reason,
3. Emotion is gendered as female (this is a claim about SOCIETY; it is not gender essentialism),
4. Rationality is gendered as male (a claim about SOCIETY),
5. The above have been used, among other things, to privilege men as more intelligent and more valuable thinkers than women.

In other words, reason and rationality being gendered as male is only part of the problem. For me, 2 is an immensely harmful narrative as well (this woman is angry, therefore her point is invalid), and 1 deserves a hard look.

Request for clarification: what do you include in "discovery" above? If claim #1 were made in the context of an art form, I would say it is almost certainly wrong; made in the context of mathematics, almost certainly right.


Hence the postmodern criticism that science and mathematics are white male bunk, while postmodern literature is somehow better.

Interestingly enough (at least to less radical theories of aesthetics) there are mathematical patterns in good music, logical (or at least sensical) patterns of progression in good literature, and scientific rules of focus and so forth in good paintings. I don't see good art as being anything in kind different than good engineering or good mathematics or good science. While a great musician might use their intuition to compose their music, it will have these patterns in it—likewise, a great scientist or mathematician will use the wildest imagination to search for, and then discover, something that logically follows from what they had to begin with. Proofs might be logical as all hell, but actually writing one from scratch takes a lot of fuzzy intuitive thinking.

Maybe this is closer to what Quix was getting to.
Last edited by Philwelch on Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:40 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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