Archive | May, 2013

Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends

31 May

Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends

In many industries, women are still perceived to be token hires — which means that other women can feel like our chief competition.  “Who wore it best?” isn’t just a trashy tabloid feature, it’s a dynamic that we apply to the sartorial choices of everyone in our similarly dressed friend group. If we’ve read The Atlantic in the past year or so, we’ve probably becomeconvinced that there is a dearth of eligible men, so we’re all competing for them, too. And with the advent of dating apps like Tinder that allow potential suitors to judge women side-by-side, it’s not only women who are comparing and contrasting their bodies. When we meet other women who seem happier, more successful, and more confident than we are, it’s all too easy to hate them for it. It means there’s less for us. . . .

Here’s my solution: When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.


Damsel in Distress: Part 2

29 May

Second installment of Anita Sarkeesian’s must-watch Tropes vs Women in Video Games project. This one’s pretty dark.

Her good point must have been an accident

27 May

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

We are discussing two scenarios in seminar that seem to provide a similar result, and I ask how we can claim that the results are equivalent when there was no justification in one case for a belief about certain contents. Specifically, I said “This seems odd to me. How can we say that A “knows” what P means in the exact same way that B “knows” what P means, if A has no prior knowledge and no justification but B is a native speaker of the language that P is written in?”

A classmate responded with “you didn’t mean to say “know,” but that’s okay” and made a patting gesture with his hand at the side of his desk, slightly below desk height.

The professor entered the discussion: “Actually, I think that she inadvertently made a good point even if she didn’t mean to.”

I was still sitting right there…

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Which Matters More: Reporting Assault or Respecting a Victim’s Wishes?

25 May

Which Matters More: Reporting Assault or Respecting a Victim’s Wishes?

A conservative reading of Title IX has some schools ordering faculty and staff to report cases of sexual harassment even when the victim has pleaded for secrecy.



Girls and men

16 May

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

I’m a Ph.D. student in a field that isn’t philosophy, but I got a Master’s degree in philosophy and I still read it sometimes. The other night I read [redacted].

It’s a great textbook; I recommend it. But [then], I read this line, explicating an example:

“James has a date with a girl who likes tidy men, and his hair is a mess.”

So James, presumably, is an untidy man, but the woman he’s dating is just a girl.

And I thought: I bet it never in a million years occurred to [redacted] that this is a problem.

And I thought: I wonder if I ever met him, and told him it was a problem, if he’d see it and feel embarrassed, or would he think I was bizarre and humorless and maybe not that bright, and leave me to be the embarrassed one?

And I thought, thinking about [redacted]…

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Mentoring men

13 May

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

I submitted this earlier post about mentoring. I can’t believe it, but it just happened again. We’ve got two tenure-track people starting next year, one man and one woman. We were recently wrangling over our reduced budget, trying to decide where to direct resources, and several times the department chair asked a male colleague to check with our incoming man to see what speakers he’ll want to invite next year, what conferences he wants to go to, etc. These two men work in the same area, so it was pretty clear that the more senior person was being asked to informally mentor the more junior one. After several of these requests I finally spoke up and asked if anyone was going to do the same thing for the incoming woman. The chair looked surprised and said, “Oh. I don’t know. Could you take care of that?” So I guess…

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“Don’t say shitty, undermining things”: how hard can that be?

10 May

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

I was scheduled to be a speaker at a workshop in my area, which was canceled due to lack of funding. The conference organizer wrote this to me:

unfortunately for the only other workshop i have in mind the organizing theme is one where you won’t fit, but on the other hand for purely cynical political reasons i will need a token woman.

When I replied that I didn’t want to be his token anything and found his attitude disrespectful, he told me that the cancelled workshop

was 50% women, so if any of them were tokens they would have a hard time guessing this.

I tried one more time:

Yes, but please also don’t tell them shitty, undermining things. “I will need a token woman” is a rotten thing to say to somebody you want to come to your conferences. (Sometimes friends can say rotten things to each other…

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Disrespectful Clothing at UNM [Tell Your Story]

7 May

I’d like to start this post by painting a picture for you:

 I work at one of the libraries at the University of New Mexico. Spring was finally in full swing and I wanted to celebrate with a black short sleeved crop top and one of those skirts that goes all the way to the floor. This particular morning I was running a little late to work, and so when I finally arrived I only had about two hours left in my shift. My job duties at the library consist of checking out reserve books, laptops, and study rooms to the patrons. While I was sitting at the desk for the first hour I had had a couple of women compliment me on my clothing. One woman even told me that I looked like a princess. However I did get a peculiar look from one woman. Five minutes after I had exchanged glances with this woman one of the full time employees (I’ll name her Jane) calls me over to speak with her. We went into a room that had two doors (the kind that are placed in the middle of a large space…it’s an awkward layout). When I came into the half room again I noticed that women who gave me the strange look was in the room.  Jane asked me to take a seat and then sat down next to me while the other women proceeded to stand.  Jane then whisper scolded me. The exchange went a little like this:

Jane: You look nice today, but that’s really inappropriate wear for the workplace. You’re showing disrespect to your coworkers and all of your patrons. Do you have something you can change into?

Me: Yes I brought an extra shirt just in case.               

Jane: Good. Let’s try not to let this happen again.

Picture Painted.

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Take notice, and act

7 May

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

Let me preface this by saying that I am truly grateful to all of the women and men who have made, and who continue to make, our discipline a more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable discipline. I consider myself honored to know and work with some amazing, supportive, philosophers. That said, we are not there yet. Things are not changing quickly enough. We, as philosophers and as human beings, should not tolerate anything less than equity any longer.

Ever since its inception, I have found this blog therapeutic. Many of the stories here comport all too well with my own experience. There is some comfort in knowing that I am not alone. I have been amazed, time and again, when colleagues and friends express surprise at the stories they find here. I am amazed that they do not realize similar things are happening in such close proximity to themselves. I am…

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Wikipedia’s Sexism

5 May

Wikipedia’s Sexism

Early last week I noticed something strange on Wikipedia. It appeared that, gradually, over time, the volunteer editors who create the site had begun moving women, one by one, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. Female authors whose last names began with A or B had been most affected.