Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Now Renegades Are the People With Their Own Philosophies

The Sally Haslanger article (pdf!) Leiter's linked to is a cold blast of perspective. I'll leave it up to PGOAT say more about women philosophers' experiences in grad school and the job market, since she's the she around these parts, but I want to point to one thing. Haslanger talks a bit about hostility within philosophy to feminism. Wanna see what that looks like up close and personal? Lookee here in this random forum:
Feminist Theory? This is philosophy?
I was peeking around the ol' internets this evening, and stumbled across a page listing philosophy jobs (mostly schools hiring for philosophy teacher positions) and more than a few of them were hiring for "Feminist Philosophy" or "Feminist Theory".

Since when is this philosophy and not sociology? Can anyone tell me what "Feminist Theory" is beside what I think it probably obviously is? Can one devote an entire career to the "theory" of feminism? . . . .

ETA: If "Feminist Theory" is considered philosophy, couldn't "Football Theory" be a valid discipline at that point?
To which some other guy responds:
There are 2 or 3 philosophers at my school whose main interest is feminism. I don't know anything about it and don't care to. I avoid those classes like I avoid race theory classes. I don't have a problem with it or anything; I just don't give a damn.
I might check out "football theory" though. :)

Where the fuck does that hostility come from? Both these asshats seem to be undergrads, so they hardly speak for the profession. But they had to get these attitudes somewhere, and I'll bet it wasn't from random goons they talk to in laundromats.*


*Yeah, I know this post doesn't actually have anything to do with the job market, but I've been looking for an excuse to link to those two knobs for a while, and that Haslanger article is too awesome not to mention.

18 comments:

Philosopher for hire said...

There are 2 or 3 philosophers at my school whose main interest is feminism as well. Similarly, I don't know anything about it and don't care to either. I don't have an issue with feminist philosophy; I just don't give a damn about it, just like I don't really give a damn about ethics or philosophy of science. I fail to see why that makes me an asshat, though. Philosophy is too broad for those who study and practice it to give a damn about every single area.

Anonymous said...

But there is pretty clearly a difference between saying "x is not my thing w/in my field" and "x is not in my field at all, and has no place in this field."

--New Scotland

Anonymous said...

Actually, it does have something to do with the job market, if you do feminist stuff and prospective employers don't think what you do is philosophy or otherwise don't give a damn about your area.

Anonymous said...

A follow-up to my previous comment: feminism and continental philosophy were among the areas that an external report recommended my department hire in, but -- funnily enough -- they are the two areas mentioned in that report that my department is *not* looking to hire in this year.

philosopher for hire said...

New Scotland: Assuming your comment is meant for me, my point was that the second villain of the original post just seemed to be stating his preference. I don't see any attitude like "x is not in my field at all, and has no place in this field" being expressed.

Anonymous said...

Context is everything, so I wouldn't say that the 2nd poster is simply reflecting a preference, given the flow of conversation in the forum. I find it unlikely myself, although maybe I am also misreading "asshattery" into it.

Replying to a post that says "feminist phil. is not phil, if it were why not football theory" w/ "I don't care for it, but football theory on the other hand (smirk)" does seem to have an issue of tone that borders on dismissive.
-New Scotland

Anonymous said...

I am of the same opinion as those supposed asshats. I am totally ignorant of feminist philosophy and I suspect that my beliefs about the subject would embrace popular stereotypes, and of course I believe my beliefs to be (probably) true.

I don't see myself as being prejudiced or sexist in any way, in fact very much the opposite. I'm not interested in learning about feminism or feminist philosophy (the history of feminism is trivially interesting I suppose), because I genuinely see women as being equal with men and don't really see the need for a non-biological distinction. It seems to me that feminists that argue that the sexes are equal are saying something trivial and uninteresting, and the feminists that argue that women are superior are saying something blatantly false and not worth listening to. (I wonder what the proportion of the former to the latter is?)

From what I know of feminism, I can't see how it belongs in philosophy departments, but I'm willing to accept that there might be something non-obvious that can be taught as philosophy, but I haven't worked out what it is.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous "I am of the same opinion..."

Why don't feminists just learn to shut the hell up since they already have perfect equality? Let's look at the facts:

1. Women get all the good jobs - a friend's cousin's boyfriend's uncle I know got passed over for a job just because the seclected candidate has ovaries! I'm sure if we looked at job stats in various fields (including philosophy!) we would clearly see parity.

2. Women have pay equity - everyone knows women can just wear short skirts at HR-review time if they want a pay raise. Considering they want time off to bare children and all, they sure do get paid a lot for all that time off. Again, I'm sure if we had stats it would clearly show that women make the same amount of money as men for doing similar jobs.

For me it just comes down to: I don't throw my masculinity in your face, so why should you get to throw your feminity in mine? Women should just hurry up and realize they're equal and let the rest of us carry on with our lives.

Anonymous said...

anonymous quote, above:
"I am totally ignorant of feminist philosophy and I suspect that my beliefs about the subject would embrace popular stereotypes, and of course I believe my beliefs to be (probably) true."

I find it very shocking that a philosopher (presumably you are one?) would actually write this. You are totally ignorant about feminist philosophy, feel perfectly comfortable proclaiming that fact, and also feel perfectly comfortable embracing stereotypical views about feminist philosophy?

If you are ignorant, then have the grace to either read some feminist philosophy and form an informed opinion, or shut up.

Anonymous said...

I am the 11:41 poster.

I recognise that society in general does not treat men and women equally. As mentioned I believe that they ought to be, and therefore believe that they ought to be paid the same as men. (I think that is a bigger issue than the glass ceiling problem) Maybe this is only obvious to me and a few others? My position is that I don't need to be convinced by moderate Feminists because I already am one. I'm probably more open to extreme Feminism although I doubt there are any good arguments because they would have had better exposure already.

"If you are ignorant, then have the grace to either read some feminist philosophy and form an informed opinion, or shut up."

I'm just proclaiming that my ignorance and the ignorance of others is quite important to the original post. Those supposed undergraduates weren't being hostile, they were just being indifferent and ignorant to Feminism, like myself. No need to get offended just because nobody cares.

just another grad student said...

"Those supposed undergraduates weren't being hostile, they were just being indifferent"

Did you read the first post quoted in the entry? If you did, and you didn't think it was hostile, I am rather surprised that you can do philosophy, what with all the reading and everything.

If you didn't, you might want to read it before you declare your opinion to be the same as the one expressed in it. Well, it's a little late for that now. But it might still be worth reading.

Note: This reply is hostile. Just in case you were wondering.

Anonymous said...

It isn't hostile. It just takes the piss a bit. The part that most resembles hostility is when one of them says they don't give a damn about Feminist philosophy. What's wrong with that? Stop whinging. You are living up to all of your stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

"I'm probably more open to extreme Feminism although I doubt there are any good arguments because they would have had better exposure already."

Yeah, your unfamiliarity with such arguments couldn't possibly have anything to do with your failure to engage with the literature. And the failure of such arguments to gain currency is surely not due to there being interests at stake in their not being taken more seriously.

Is this seriously the view you take of other positions you don't already find plausible?

Anonymous said...

"No need to get offended just because noone cares."

If he were alive today, would you say that to Martin Luther King Jr's face? Do you think he would get offended if another white male told him "I want you to be equal just like the next guy, but I don't think issues surrounding black empowerment have a place in academia."?

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Holy crap. My internet goes down for a day and some guy named "anonymous" has a crazy split personality debate with himself when I'm not looking.

Actually, one upside to being forced off-line for a day is that lots of smart people people beat me to what I wwould have wanted to say anyway.

So I guess at this point, I just have a few things to add. First, it's simply not true that femimist philosophy is restricted to ethics ad philosophy of science. Feminists have written about every sub-discipline in all of value, and have also had a lot to say about ideas like knowledge and truth and meaning and objectivity, which I'm told are ideas touched on in core M&E from time to time. So while it's true that you can philosophy that just doesn't relate to anything feminist philosophers have to say, you'd have to be doing some preety narrow work for that to be true.

Which gets us to point #2. What if you're working in core M&E--epistemology, say--and just don't have time to read everything. Who does? Well, at this point, you've got choices to make. You can choose to learn *even more fine-grained detail* about some prgram in formal epistemology you already know *very well*; or you can not read every latest article on that program in third-tier journals, and start to bone yourself up on how what some feminists say might relate to your interests. Ie, you can choose to continue ignoring feminist philosophy, or you can choose to seek out the connection between in and your interests.

It's clear that SOP in analytic philosphy is option #1. Too bad. Analytic philosphy is intellectually poorer because of it.

Philosopher for hire said...

Pseudo, I'm afriad you missed my point when you wrote:

First, it's simply not true that femimist philosophy is restricted to ethics ad philosophy of science. Feminists have written about every sub-discipline in all of value...

My issue was with your characterisation of the second poster in the thread you linked to who, as far as I could see, merely expressed indifference to fem. phil. Why should indifference towards some area of philosophy automatically make one an asshat? (Though I agree that the first post you linked to was rather hostile.) Analagously, I'm indifferent and couldn't give a crap about ethics and philosophy of science. I recognise they are areas of philosophy, but they're areas I just don't give a shit about. I don't believe indifference to feminist philosophy could make one an asshat any more than the same could plausibly be said about indifference towards ethics and philosophy of science. (Although maybe I'm just saying that because I couldn't give a shit about ethics or philosophy of science and don't want to be seen as an asshat.)

Becca said...

The 12:20 PM guy is kidding, right? Right?



Also, as an aside, why is it that any conversation about women in philosophy always immediately leads to a conversation about people working in feminist theory? Are women in M&E still unthinkable?

P.G.O.A.T. said...

I hear you, Becca. It's not that I don't think feminist philosophy is important. (Nor would I deny that it's treated with undeserved suspicion by way too many small-dicked wankers in this goddamn discipline.) But I still get irked by the assumption that it *must* be what I work in, merely in virtue of my mysterious lack of a penis.