What feminists and friends are doing about what it’s like
February 11, 2014 § 8 Comments
Thanks to Anne Jacobson, Amy Olberding, Neil Sinhababu, Hilde Lindemann, Tom Dougherty, Sally Haslanger, Laurie Schrage, Elizabeth Harman, Sabrina Bano Jamil, Annaleigh Curtis, Ned Markosian, and Alison Reiheld, for adding to efforts to do something about What It’s Like!
Why I’m thanking them: At Leiter Reports, a set of criticisms of the APA’s CSW Site Visit team was featured, which gave more prominence to deploring the feminism of our colleagues as viciously biasing than I’m accustomed to witnessing. Philosophers Peggy DesAutels and Carla Fehr worked to create a Site Visit program, and with Valerie Hardcastle wrote the report resulting from their visit to CU-Boulder. The critic of their work ended on the following note: ” There are plenty who wish to end sexual harassment in the profession despite having a very low opinion of ‘feminist philosophy’: I am one of them. Departments bringing in a CSW team deserve to have at least one team member whose ideological commitments will not be furthered by making a finding against the department.”
This really dropped my jaw, and I’m glad to see I was not alone. Philosophers, including many women, have replied to defend DesAutels, Fehr, and Hardcastle as women who are working so hard to contribute to ameliorating sexism in the profession, and many have argued against the cartoonish characterization of feminism. My reply was this:
Kate Norlock said…
I am mildly surprised to see the statement [from a reader*], “There are plenty who wish to end sexual harassment in the profession despite having a very low opinion of ‘feminist philosophy.'” If there are plenty, and if the Physics colleagues have been successfully doing similar site visits for decades, then why didn’t the ‘plenty’ of philosophers who deplore feminists start a site-visit program? Indeed, feminist philosophers including Peggy DesAutels and Carla Fehr started the site visit programs in part because of their concern for women and gender issues. Now that they’ve done most of the work, it is somewhat insincere to argue that only one member of a site visit team can/should have such a view, and that the effort should be more “balanced.” The philosophy profession, on the whole, seems to have been content to let a few hard-working colleagues do a very unbalanced share of the work of improving this aspect of the profession.
Last, as a feminist and philosopher, I’m somewhat appalled to see the criticism that my colleagues on the Site Visit team have their “ideological commitments … furthered by making a finding against the department.” This seems a clearly hostile statement imputing determined unfairness to Hardcastle, DesAutels and Fehr as the report authors, and borders on a smear.
*Note that the statement which shocked me so was by a correspondent of the blog host, and not written by the blog host.