Monday, June 24, 2013

On Campus? C'mon!

Yes indeedy do, it's a happy Monday afternoon when you leave your office to walk across campus for a coffee and get sexually harassed on the way.

I was walking along the path and a teen-aged boy (at least it wasn't a student here) came up behind me on his bike, followed right behind me for a while, then made an inappropriate comment about my physical appearance.  I glared and snapped back, full voice, "I am FACULTY here!"

Which I thought would be some sort of win for The Witty Insult Campaign (I've been working on that entry by the way-- forthcoming, my dears!).  But instead of being ashamed of himself or being cowed by my loud and articulate response in the presence of the, oh, 3 or so other people in the vicinity, he made an obscene gesture with his tongue, laughed, and rode away.

Curses upon thee, thou goatish bat-fowling botch of nature!

Well, I'm going to publish the Witty Insults anyway, even if this whole having-a-good-response thing doesn't deter idiots from being idiots like I hoped it might.  The next best thing is to laugh about it, I suppose.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. (Matt 10:29)

I said goodbye to my best friend yesterday. I will always remember his sweet horsey breath on my cheek, his gentleness with small children, and the delight we both felt when we cantered through the woods. He was smart, kind, loyal, and sensitive; I was enormously blessed to call him my friend, and just being in his presence always filled me with joy and peace. Godspeed, dear Zak.

O God, you created all that is, and you love all that you have made: we come to you this day with grief and in thanksgiving. We grieve the death of our beloved Zak, who has been our companion on the way, and we thank you for the gift of his presence among us as a sign of the richness of your creation and the generosity of your love, through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More bad news for women in philosophy

Today, a Facebook friend linked to this short blog post, and it left me simply aghast.


It got me thinking about my own recent experiences. One involved the convening of a very big-wig, super-exclusive, by-invitation-only annual conference in my field that has rarely had women participants and even more seldomly invited women to be official discussants or speakers. I gave some moderate flack to a few of the organizers and participants from this year's all-male shindig, but was met with the very unsatisfactory response that "An effort was made" to include women.


As far as publications, I've got a story there, too. I was recently asked to contribute an article to a volume of conference proceedings. I was flattered and accepted, but then got to thinking. The proceedings are of a conference that I was not invited to, that took place a while ago, was an all-male event, and was on a topic I have not myself specifically engaged with in research or teaching. Not by a good margin, in fact.

I conclude that I was surely invited to contribute in order to serve as the token female. Or at least, that had to have been a key factor. Why else would they have asked ME? I was so bewildered by this that I wrote a brief email to the organizers asking point-blank why they had asked me to be a part of this project, given the non-overlap between my research and the topic of the conference/volume. What I wanted to know but didn't add to my email was: Why are you asking me when I can easily list 6 women in the field who HAVE published outstanding work in recent years on topics of greater relevance to the proposed project? Do you not know of this work by your female colleagues? Additionally, given the existence of such relevant work by women in the field, why weren't any of them invited to be part of your original conference? Hmm???

The answer I got back to the question I did ask was vague-- along the lines of, you've done some historical work that is kind of relevant, but if you don't wish to write about that, well, you can pretty much write whatever you want to write.

I guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth and all that, but something died in me a little to realise that they wanted a contribution from me and they didn't necessarily care about its contents. I mean, maybe -- just maybe -- I appear to be such a brilliant light in my field that they had to have a contribution from me, even if it wasn't in my subject area. Or perhaps through divine foresight the organizers sensed I would add something crucial to the debate, despite my lack of engagement in the debate hitherto. But the likelihood of that is quite small, whereas my being welcomed in as the lone female author is far more probable.

For now I'm going to adopt an optimistic stance, because what else can a girl do? I'm going to forget about all this and give the organizers the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just wanted to help a young career kid get another good publication out, and I just happen to be female. Who knows. And besides, why the hell not? I'm up for the challenge of adopting an entirely novel direction for my research and having the resulting work be published alongside contributions from Big Names in The Field who've been thinking about, writing about, and attending conference without me on this particular topic for years. All in a girl's day's work, I guess.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Speaking of domestic violence...

... you may have seen the horrifying pictures of Nigella Lawson being strangled in a restaurant by her husband, who later said that the incident was merely a "playful tiff."  Wiser people than I have responded to that particular incident, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to issue this general reminder:

Domestic violence is a real problem.  It is everywhere: among the wealthy, the poor, the beautiful, the homely, the educated, the illiterate, the religious, the secular.  No group of people is magically made immune.  And violence from a date, a family member, a partner, or a spouse is never ok. 

Update: Everyone, men and women, should read Gavin De Becker's The Gift of Fear.  This book had been on my list of things to read for years, and I finally got around to it.  I'm sorry it took me so long.  If you think you may be suffering from abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013