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Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

From the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric: website:

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric and the Hume Writing Center invite proposals for the Ninth Biennial Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, to be held at Stanford University September 25-28, 2013. Our emphasis this year is on links, the connections between people, between places, between times, between movements. The conference theme—Linked: Rhetorics, Feminisms, and Global Communities—reflects Stanford’s setting in the heart of Silicon Valley, a real as well as virtual space with links to every corner of the globe. We aim for a conference that will be multi-vocal, multi-modal, multi-lingual, and inter-disciplinary, one in which we will work together to articulate the contours of feminist rhetorics. (more…)

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Note: As of this posting, RAIL has adopted the convention of posting the author’s name and institutional affiliation at the bottom of each article.

 

What do patterns of abusive argumentation reveal?  Feminists maintain that we receive a disproportionate level of abusive responses to our argumentation, and a disproportionate level of abuse, even relative to the level of anger and hatred on the internet.  Because people are skeptical about the prevalence and level of verbal abuse that feminists receive, and because abusive comments are deleted on many websites, feminist video blogger Anita Sarkeesian AKA “Feminist Frequency” has archived the response to her argument-based request for research support. More details can be found in The New Statesman, and I would add that I (and other feminist instructors) occasionally receive sexist abuse directed at the feminist course content in anonymous comments that are part of our student evaluations of teaching. Anonymity may be a crucial factor in this phenomenon. (more…)

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I keep hearing from colleagues in other disciplines that the stakes are incredibly low in contemporary psychology.  Requests for explanation get me no further than utterances of despair over the stranglehold caused by increased ethical standards for research on humans.  There will be no more Stanford prison experiments or Milgram authority tests.  All that is left are either peculiar lab objectifications of the social or discourse analysis.

I don’t understand the despair:  we’ve learned what we needed to from Zimbardo and Milgram, surely.  The new social psychology involved with cognition and discourse provides good fodder for argumentation studies (or at least it can).  It encourages critical thinking that will be informed by empirical analysis of what works, rather than armchair speculations.  All this feeds democracy.

Argumentation and discourse analysis (of which I have only the vaguest understanding) seem especially important given the current proliferation of discourse.  Discourse may also be the site of some of the most persistent stumbling blocks to social justice.  Micro-inequalities and implicit bias impede women’s and minorities’ social and political participation.

Cecelia Ridgeway suggests implicit bias may be a central cause for the stalled gender revolution:  despite the massive improvements for women in wealthy countries during the 20th century the progress stalled around 1990.  On the major markers of social status (income, wealth, and political participation as I recall), we are still where we were 22 years ago!

While Ridgeway argues we cannot directly affect our cognitive biases, given their deep and unconscious operation, we can certainly affect their impact on our discourse, watch for it, and compensate.  We can revise our hiring and promotion practices, we can change more casual standards too perhaps, e.g. by making direct eye-contact with marginalized people.  That could be part of critical thinking too, and might aid its impact. Attention to micro-inequalities may be critical too in the sense of necessary to push beyond the stall, and psychology is helping us sort them out.  The stakes remain pretty high for women and minorities.

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Rush Limbaugh’s recent dismissal of Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute” reminds me of how much more vulnerable women are than men to the abusive ad hominem.  There is a a greater number of abusive words associated with women:  add “whore,” “bitch,” “cunt,” “old maid,” “hag,” “bag,” “jezebel,” “hoochie mama,” etc., as opposed to “prick,” “dick,” and “boy toy.”  Plus the feminine insults tend to be considered so bad that people often won’t actually say them, but only allude to them, for instance in saying “the c-word.”

On top of that, women tend not to be listened to, so the ad hominem may always be more effective against women.  Merely pointing out that a speaker is a woman may act as reason to ignore her. The same would apply to any marginalized people.  One’s very identity can undermine one’s claims and one’s reasons.

Lorraine Code has argued in a few places that the dismissal of women’s reasons for being women’s reasons should be identified as ad feminam.  The vulnerability of women to ad hominem suggests indeed that ad feminam deserves recognition as a distinct category.

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This [a disconnected link to a logic course webpage] is no way to get women into logic.  The “naughty schoolgirls” Vince Hendricks, an editor of Synthese, probably the most prestigious epistemology journal, anticipates in his logic class will surprise the rest of us.  The kinderwhore fashion is ten years out of date and provides too little clothing for Copenhagen.  In all seriousness, it’s such a throwback (except for the iPod) that I thought it was The Onion.

Hendricks gradually removed the images, beginning with these, which I caught with screen shots.  The page was changed to indicate they come from a magazine spread, which does not mitigate Hendricks’ choice to use cheesecake to advertise logic.  Perhaps mooning is a new transformation rule that he’s taught his students?

A similar arrogance, though not specifically sexist, was noted on the part of Hendricks by the Leiter Report, when he shut down criticisms of creationism.  Leiter  credits the  feminist philosophers blog for breaking the cheesecake story, (I thank them for my first joke,) and you can find more discussion there.  But here on RAIL are the screen shots everyone has asked for as a record of what logic looks like without feminism, even now.

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