Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Fallout From The UC-Boulder Case: Is The Feminist Left Politicizing Philosophy?

The Gender Academy

What a damn mess.

Look, sexual harassment is a problem in philosophy. A very serious problem, because it is a very serious offense. I have no earthly idea whether it's worse in philosophy than it is elsewhere, nor how common it actually is, not any such thing. But I know it exists, and I know people get away with it. They deserve massive ass-kickings, which I would be only too happy to administer except for, y'know, law. In the case I know about, the guy is well-known and well-connected, at a top-ten department, protected by the Chair, and nobody--feminist colleagues included--want to open up an unpleasant can of worms. It's bullshit of the highest goddamned order...

However, that's exactly one guy I know of, despite his multiple violations. One is too many. But one is also one.

On the other side of the spectrum, I've experienced extremist feminist insanity and inanity through a fair bit of my career in academia. False accusations of sexism and sexual harassment, attempts to spin philosophical differences into "hostile environment" sexual harassment, sly insinuations of sexism, attempts to paint males who refuse to toe the line as "dangerous to women" (actual quote), and outright nutty interpretations of innocent actions.

Extremist feminist insanity is not the solution to the problem of sexual harassment.

In the middle, of course, are the sane folk, male and female, who are in no way sympathetic to sexual harassers, but who want real solutions rather than stalking-horses for political projects. In grad school one female grad student one said to me that she thought that I (as a guy hated by the extremists feminists) had it easier than she did--I was just evil, but she was a traitor to her sex, an apostate, and so even more hated...

This is all made more complicated by the fact that everybody recognizes that one side here is bad, but liberals are loath to admit--and often will not even let themselves recognize--that the other side is bad. That is a blueprint for disaster, and leads to the kind of nonsense we saw at Boulder.

OTOH, the Boulder business seems to be daft enough that even many academic liberals are calling bullshit on it...

One last point is that the social engineering of the kind discussed in the NR piece is generally subterranean--I've been on hiring committees, for example, where it was made clear that we would be disregarding all male applicants. I objected, and said that, were that to be done, it must be said in the ad. The response was: we can't say it in the ad, because that's not legal. My response, of course, was that if it's illegal to say your going to do it, then it's illegal to do it...

But, look: I'm not even sure I'm opposed to all such efforts. I think I am, but I'm not sure...  What I am sure of is: if you're going to do it, you've got to admit that you're doing it...

As for patrolling classroom discussions to make sure that evilwhitemales don't interrupt women and minorities...  Well, I've never noticed an interruption differential between whites and non-whites... But I have noticed (or seemed to notice) a difference between males and females. It's pretty obviously not malicious, but, IMO, guys just tend to say whatever flits through their pretty little heads in class, whereas girls tend to keep their powder dry, think about it more, and say only the best of what they've got. Each policy has something to be said for it. I honestly don't know which is better. But it does seem to lead to guys interrupting everybody more--male and female. My policy? I tell the girls "don't let the guys talk over you." This strategy has worked well. It also has the virtue of recognizing that the girls don't need my protection. They can play philosophy just as well as the boys can. They might need a little prompting to get into the rough-and-tumble...but they don't need teacher to take care of them. (I draw the line at actual aggressiveness or nastiness--and that goes for everybody. There's a difference between energetic discussion and nasty debate.)


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