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Is structural discrimination a core belief of feminism? I find the claim that women are through all times and societies worse off than men (like in the question posted on on January 23, 2015; ) an assumption that is ideologically biased and needs further investigation. "Worse off" contains difference in preferences (having to go to war, economically being responsible for a family, being statistically more prone to a violent death). Doesn´t the problem lie more in being tied to a predefined role to which each sex is tied, each one with its pro and contra, with variation across times and societies? thank you!

It is not a core belief of feminism that women are through all times and societies worse off than men. It is core to feminism that sex and gender matter, and that they often shape power relations in a society. There are pluses and minuses to being dominant and to being subordinate. And indeed, feminists challenge the idea of predefined roles on the grounds that they limit freedom of choice, not only for women but for men also. It is probably a core belief of most feminists that discrimination CAN be structural, that is, it can be produced by the institutions of society rather than any particular individual. This is a belief about the operation of social power and is shared by many social theorists, not specific to feminism.

Feminists often allege that their is something especially sexist about departments of academic philosophy? What would you day about this charge? One criticism of philisophy is that it doesn't allow any consideration of the subjective aspects of existence which are essential to feminist theorizing. They argue that philosophy as it is practiced excludes any possibility of addressing important questions of identity. An overly narrow concept of objectivity leads to erasure and marginalization of aspects of experience and this narrowing reflects the privilige of an overwhelmingly white male profession. What are your thoughts on that?

There are two issues here: whether or not philosophy departments are sexist, and whether or not philosophers devalue "subjective" reasoning. You seem to be more concerned about the second issue, so I will address that. It is true that many philosophers (male, female and trans, sexist and non-sexist), especially those of an analytic bent, are devoted to a general and abstract conception of objectivity. Such philosophers are usually willing to acknowledge that experience is particular/subjective, and that different people have different experiences. There is a good deal of room in their positions to acknowledge different social identities. It is true that some feminist philosophers, such as Sandra Harding, critique general and abstract conceptions of objectivity, claiming that they are supported by an underlying white male middle class partiality. Some non-feminist philosophers (especially in Continental and pragmatic philosophy) also reject general and abstract conceptions of objectivity.

I would like to ask if you feel it is contradictionary for chivalry to exist in a world where women push for equality. From a logical point of view a woman is perfectly capable of opening a door for herself and yet it is ingrained into society that men should open doors for women, the explanation for this being that it is polite, shows manners and shows you are a "gentleman". However I feel it is quite the opposite, if anything it promotes the idea that a woman is feeble and incapable of performing something as simple as opening a door. If a person had difficulty or was incapable of opening a door since I am performing for that person, what that person is incapable of. This makes sense. An even more extreme example is the romanticized idea of the man dying for the woman. If both men and women are equal shouldn't it really be every person for themselves in such a situation? Yet a man would be considered "weak" for allowing a woman to die when he could have saved her by sacrificing his own life in place of...

I think that you are right--in age of gender equality, opening doors for women, paying for them on dates, and definitely dying for them, seem to make little sense. Why, then, do these behaviors persist? In part, they persist because many people do not fully believe in gender equality. In addition, I think that some people just find it difficult to change their behavior for a variety of reasons, even when they believe in gender equality. My husband, for example, feels more well-mannered when he opens the door for a woman, and he likes that feeling (he was an Eagle Scout). (He prefers to be thought of as a little bit traditional than as a little bit inconsiderate.) As long as we treat women and men differently, gender equality will be a struggle. I ask my husband not to open doors for me--in practice taking turns opening doors seems to work best. We can all be more considerate of each other.

In this question, I'm going to assume there are strictly two human biological sexes, male and female. That assumption isn't exactly true (chromosomal variations), but it's a close enough approximation to ask the question. At restaurants such as "Hooters," provocatively-clad females serve food to patrons. There are no male waiters. No one seems to think too much about it. I think, however, that many people would be appalled if we had restaurants whose theme was to have provocatively-clad Jewish people serve food, or provocatively-clad African Americans serve food, or provocatively clad [insert religious or ethnic or national group] serve food. There are, of course, ethnic restaurants. So we might think of Hooters as nothing more and nothing less than another type of ethnic restaurant, this one peculiar to sex instead of ethnicity. Is this good reasoning? Maybe that reasoning is not valid. Women have a sex (female) and men have a sex (male). There can't be anything intrinsically more sexual about...

The questions that you are asking are terrific! They can also be taken further. E.g. is it necessary for you to assume that there are strictly two biological sexes? (I don't think so). Or e.g. What is wrong (if anything) with sexualization of a group? What is wrong with sexualization of a subordinate group? It is not difficult to turn up inconsistencies in what society considers to be socially normative.

Mary Warnock says we have a right to have children. It's a question I asked myself in the waiting room of a fertility clinic as I was registering for IVF treatment - it's a question I continuing asking myself as I see more and more gay fathers flying off to exotic lands for their offspring through surrogacy. How can we conciliate the right to have children with the exploitation of women? Best regards Pensiero Rome, Italy

The right to pursue certain goods (such as having children, or making money) does not justify using immoral means (such as exploiting women, or stealing) and does not entitle one to success (being a parent, or being rich). There are many ways to try to become a parent (or a wealthy person), some legal and some illegal, some moral and some immoral. Perhaps you think that the right to have children is more of a right than the right to make money? (Like, for example, basic rights for food, shelter, education or health care.) Even if it was a universal human right to become a parent (which I doubt), it would not follow that there are universal human rights to be a parent by any particular means (such as IVF, surrogacy, adoption etc.) There are many ways to become a parent, and as those in the adoption community often say, "second choice does not equal second best." I wish you the best.