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Is academic philosophy a “safe space” for women? | FACTUAL FEMINIST


Some claim that philosophy departments are
hostile environments for women. Could they be right? Let’s look at the evidence—coming
up next on the Factual Feminist. In 2014, women earned 28% of the PhDs in philosophy.
By contrast, they earned close to 60% in English, anthropology, and sociology—and 75% in psychology.
When it comes to gender, philosophy looks more like math and physics.
A group of feminist philosophers is persuaded that women are being kept away by rampant
sexism, both overt and unconscious.  In the past few years, there has been a surge of
tendentious and alarmist articles, blogs, and studies on the precarious state of women
in philosophy. There is even a song! Recently, some in this group have ascended to power
in the American Philosophical Association and are hard at work addressing the alleged
crisis. I know that some of you are thinking: Why
should I care what happens in the American Philosophical Association? Well, if you want
to understand what is happening at colleges and universities today you should pay attention.
In 2008, MIT feminist philosopher Sally Haslanger published an article in an academic journal
lamenting that philosophy is combative and judgmental—a “hypermasculine environment.”
 Now look. I was a philosopher. My husband was a philosopher. My stepson is a philosopher.
I’ve been around a lot of philosophers. They are many things, but “hypermasculine”
isn’t one of them. Nonetheless, Haslanger was passionate—actually combative.  She
attacked analytic philosophy for favoring masculine terms such as “penetrating, seminal
and rigorous.” And she described the “deep well of rage” inside her—rage over how
she and others have been treated. Haslanger called on “established feminists,” to
organize and resist “the masculinization of philosophy spaces.”
Haslanger expected a backlash. Instead she ignited a hostile takeover. By 2013, she attained
a top position in the American Philosophical Association, and wrote in the New York Times
that her group’s “persistent activism….is becoming institutionalized.”   Her article
ended with these words: “We are the winning side now. We will not relent; so it is only
a matter of time.” The Factual Feminist is concerned. Academic
philosophy prides itself on logic, rule of evidence and analytical rigor.  But Haslanger
and others on the “winning side” appear to be making their case by other means: dogma,
misinformation, and pop-psychology. oss the curriculum. This APA-sponsored poster
is turning up in philosophy departments. (PhilosopHER). Maybe psych and anthropology departments should
have posters like these? [PsychoBROS]  Anthropolo-HE. First: It makes sense that women received
only 28% of the philosophy PhDs in 2014, because in the same year they received only 29% of
undergraduate degrees in philosophy. Why so few female majors? To find out, Australian
researchers conducted The movement also ignores the finding— consistently documented by
a vast empirical literature–that, on average, men and women tend to have somewhat different
interests. For example, a large study of multiple cohorts of mathematically precocious youth
found that males were more likely to have strong interests in investigative and theoretical
pursuits. Females, on the other hand, were more likely to show strong preferences for
social and artistic pursuits These are just patterns holding on average,
and we should be careful not to over-generalize. But the research helps explain why different
fields show different ratios of men to women—as in these numbers indicating majors from Princeton:
[insert graph] Yet when the New York Times invited five feminist
philosophers to discuss the gender gap in 2013, not one even entertained the possibility
that women might tend to find other subjects more interesting. Instead the group talked
exclusively about things like male privilege, harassment, and stereotypes.
But plenty of other fields in which women are now outperforming men once had stereotypes
and harassment. If these weren’t barriers to women elsewhere, why is philosophy different?
  Let us turn from anecdote and psychologizing
and consider a few facts— a survey of students in the most popular introductory
philosophy class at the University of Sydney. The female students were less likely to pursue
philosophy than the men, but not because they were put off by the argumentative style. Rather,
it was because they were less interested in the field—from the start. This didn’t
change when a professor focused on women in the coursework and always used female pronouns.
Second:  Philosophy departments are not biased against women in hiring. There may be fewer
women interested enough in philosophy to pursue a career in it, but those who do are more
likely to get jobs. According to a study by the APA, between 2012 and 2015, other things
being equal, female PhDs were 65% more likely than men to find a permanent academic job
within two years of graduating. And look at the APA itself. Over the past
5 years, women have held 60% of its top offices. For 2016 — women hold all the top positions!
 It is difficult to see how a profession that hires women at a higher rate than men
and awards them its top leadership positions is rigged against women.
Without pushback, this movement could mire academic philosophy in divisive gender politics
for years—and actually scare women away. The way they describe philosophy—hypermasculine,
unsupportive, filling women with rage—why would any woman want to enter such a field?
In my senior year of high school, my mom gave me Bertrand Russell’s History of Western
Philosophy. I relished that book. It was written by a man, and it was about men—Plato, Aristotle,
Descartes, Nietzsche. But I thought it was written for me. I wasn’t aware I had entered
an unsafe “hypermasculine” space—to me it felt like a sacred space. I pursued
a BA and PhD in philosophy and taught it for more than 20 years. It never crossed my mind,
in high school or as my academic career progressed, that I would be unwelcome because I was a
woman. I am glad that today’s grievance blogs, alarmist theories, and tirades weren’t
around back then to discourage me—and sorry to think of their influence today on young
women who are drawn to this great and challenging calling.


Reader Comments

  1. God this is so retarded. Philosophy is penetrating, how dare it be so masculine! Let's stop arguing with the rules of logic because it's manly and therefore oppressive to women. What???

  2. I have found that men in male dominated spaces are more welcoming or women then people give it credit. I find woman in male dominated spaces are more harsh of other women trying to get in, I feel that its the women that driving woman away from male spaces, IE gaming, all the male gamers I have know are very welcoming of woman while my female gamer friends were often jealous and would act cold and mean to other woman. Ive noticed this among groups of guys that have a single woman often that woman will not be as welcoming to another woman to the group while the guys will be nice and welcoming.

  3. Christina, you need to spell out more clearly why you are a Democrat and which "liberal" ideas you still believe in. People get the impression that you are Right Wing because you're so gung ho on Freedom of Speech and "American" values. I understand that the Feminists drove you and Cathy Young to seek shelter from the Right but these young people do not. You seem insensitive to the issues of slavery and race in your comments and I'm sure that's not how you feel. I would like to see you denounce racism but explain that you do not agree with their way of fighting it and suggest alternatives. I, for instance, am in favor of decriminalizing drugs for personal use and spending the money saved on rehab for addicts because I feel it would lessen the "armed camp" atmosphere in the inner city which is resulting in all these Black men getting shot. I was afraid the Black Lives Matter people would attack me when I first started posting about it but they have not. I'm pretty sure this is because I make it clear that I'm not trying to justify what was done to their people and I'm trying to help them even if we disagree on methods. No one on earth is angrier at Gender Feminism than I am but I try not to be so angry that I shoot myself in the foot. I originally posted this on your CSULA talk but I wanted to make sure you saw it.

  4. Name five women in philosophy? Name five men! Even if you allow ones who have been dead for literally thousands of years, most people wouldn't be able to name more than one. And Plato doesn't count – he was a playwright.

  5. People have been brainwashed into thinking that philosophy is for losers, and that philosophy majors will end up working for Starbucks. People have also been brainwashed into thinking that fortune and fame are the be-all-end-all, and philosophy doesn't offer a path to become rich and famous.

  6. philosophy isma mans club. just look up, i kow you would have to read but wt can we do, look up what the greeks like airstoteles or plato have to say about women. nietzsche and kant werent that nice either. however now a days women are more accepted, but still is a mans worlde and if some women didnt went through it doesnt mean it doesnt exist. as a matter of fact, i am a student of philosopher and male-ish and what ive noticed is in that field the problem is some philosophers, now a days, ego.

  7. I love Christina Hoff Sommers. What an absolutely top quality, incredible woman. Super smart, very sane, and completely fair minded.

    Unlike third wave feminists, she is living proof that women can be something that men can absolutely admire and respect intellectually.

  8. I love philosophy, but reading becomes harder as my muscles are so big i tear them apart when turning the page, and my beard so manly it obstructs my vision.

  9. I've got a Philosophy BA and continue to read Philosophy in my own time. I've studied other subjects and have arguments with people who have degrees in other subjects. What has struck me most about arguments between philosophers is how well-mannered and reasonable they are compared with practitioners and students of other subjects. In fact, this is an intrinsic part of philosophy: calm, rational debate without emotional/personal attacks or fear of being called unkind simply by pointing out the flaws in one's opponents' arguments. Anyone who can't take rigorous deconstruction and objective criticism of their ideas is the opposite of a philosopher—the point is to find truth, wherever it exists. This, I guess, makes feminists the opposite of philosophers. Feminist philosophy is a contradiction in terms.

    Anyway, I find most men I argue with are poor at philosophical argument too, often falling back on logical fallacies, over-simplifying naturally complex ideas, and getting their feelings hurt. I'm not denigrating men, just pointing out that while women are a minority of philosophers, philosophers are a minority of people. To those women who find philosophy too argumentative: you've missed half point of philosophy.

  10. This occurs because the people taking over these institutions are utilizing weapons they know work. This is why the ends never justify the means; if you find a weapon works…. you'll use it again. Calling misogyny works so they keep using it

  11. i remember that article about naming 5 female philosophers. I named quite a few, including Christina Hoff Sommers (with the qualifier that she no longer teaches, as far as I know)

  12. This episode made me a bit sad. What you described was your passion. Ironically it was not influenced by the type of identity politics that is going on today. In some ways I think I was born at the worst possible time in the human story. My mother was an unwed women who gave birth to me in a home for unwed mothers in Toronto, Ontario. I was removed immediately an never had a relationship with her. 30 years later I was foisted in front of a family law court and have not seen my nine moth old daughter since. The 2 most important women in my life, I have never known. I wonder how much better the world would be if these legislative norms were not in practice.

  13. It sounds like these women are literally complaining about having to actually do the hard work of debate, which is what philosophy is all about. I see this so often, feminists who think they're being attacked over their gender when in reality they're just being expected to keep up with the challenges that comes with the field.

  14. I love to pursue philosophy but I'm worried about financial security later on so ill do accounting for now. I do love numbers so at least I will cope.

  15. I always wonder how far these social justice types are willing to go in order to get their perfect idea of equality. Will they start forcing young women to study certain subjects? If there are 4 women and 8 men in a dept, but no other women applying, will they demand 4 men be fired? What is the end for them, and just how far will they go to reach this undefined end?

  16. 0:41 – "You Can't Name Five Women in Philosophy". Oh, really?:

    Linda Zagzebski
    Patricia Churchland
    Susan Haack
    Mary Wollstonecraft
    Emilie du Chatelet

    What do I win?

  17. This is why you don't let cancerous third-wave feminazis into positions of significance, they need that victim narrative to feel any level of validation. So they'll spin that narrative regardless of opposing facts or how much damage they are doing.

  18. a field that's based on arguments and bashing opposing idea together over and over again is unsupportive? who woulda thought? eh?

  19. I'm a philosophy student and all my professors are women. I actually hadn't noticed. My opinion of them is almost entirely based on how skillful they where or where not.

  20. I'm convinced that 3rd wave feminism is a mental illness. Also, why do so many of them dye their hair bright colours and seemingly have eye problems?

  21. I either have a conservative teacher or someone conservative influencing our curriculum because we read Harrison Bergeron(and watched 2081), talked about when books should and shouldn't be censored ( we read Tom Sawyer which one teacher in our grade didn't like because there was 2-3 pages where Tom was racist and used the N word.), and read Anthem by Ayn Rand, accompanied by a debate concerning the pros and cons of objectivism/individualism that probably had some quality responses for both sides.

  22. Wow, Mrs. Haslinger, for a girl complaining about hyper-masculinity you sure sound a lot like…Achilles.
    That being said, Philosophy could be less dismissive of women's role in societies past and present. Which is, I think, the real reason behind why there are so few women interested in becoming philosophers. Having taken a philosophy class, I really didn't feel like much of the class was anything of interest to me until we got to religion and even then not so much until we got to abortion. Debating theory in my Anthropology or Classics classes was much more interesting because we would often talk about what women did. More discussion of what different philosophers thought about women would probably help recruit more women into the department. Sexism doesn't stop women from entering a department: what stops them is when they don't think the subject is relevant.

  23. you've fallen into the trap of 'why aren't feminists solving men's problems too?' why should they? if feminists are worried that women are being kept out of philosophy and stem fields, what's wrong with them encouraging more women to enter these fields? and why does that mean they suddenly have to start encouraging men into sociology and psychology? if men feel they are being excluded from these fields, then they should make similar campaigns.

  24. If I may make the observation, the question shown "Name Five Women in Philosophy. Bet You Can't." is just as valid as a question that I've posed more than once in other venues. "Name three of the most recent Nobel Prize winners." Nobody could, but they sure could name the starting lineup of the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys or the cast of Big Bang Theory. That's not a problem for women, it's a problem for society, when intelligentsia is either ignored or derided as being "less than", somehow, where the "big kill" industries of sports, acting, and popular culture are well known and celebrated.

    1:27 I'd just like to say that Philosophy (from my understanding) IS competitive and combative. Philosophy requires the debate and discussion of ideas and ideals. Not everyone will have the same viewpoint. That doesn't make it "hypermasculine", though, which you already addressed.

  25. Not really surprising since analytic philosophy is more like math and physics than sociology and psychology in methodology. Analytic philosophy is one of the only disciplines within the humanities that rejects cultural relativism. Post-modernism, well that's a different story.

  26. Truth is not gendered. Real philosophers those filled with the love of wisdom can not care about gender. There are philosophical ideas which can be validated by logic, thought experimentation, and by comparison to real world phenomena, but none that depend upon estrogen or testosterone for their worth!!

  27. "We are on the winning side." – No. You're a loser who hates so much to lose that you would sooner destroy the institution.

  28. There's a vast field dedicated to injecting feminism into Philosophy and Science.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-epistemology/

  29. College course sign up:
    Mostly men sign up for STEM fields
    Mostly women for gender studies and liberal arts.
    Ten years later:
    The women who chose to do the useless degrees-"We need more women in STEM fields"

  30. data data data people. You don't need to believe anything you are told, ever. If you have the data, the truth will be self evident. The question is, do you want to know the truth or be told that your feelings and ideology are justified. If it's the latter than you are poisonous to society.

  31. It seems like a lot of these feminazis stopped their history classes when they got to the 1920's and think they're still being oppressed like they were back then. At least that's how they're acting.

  32. Studying Philosophy now and hoping to get a Doctorate, and the number one fear I have is not being able to get an academic job because I'm a man due to reasons such as this.

  33. Only 4 seconds in and I'm already laughing. Of all things, philosophy is hostile to women? LOL Who says that? Adult babies who need totalitarian control of others to feel "safe"? Just my guess. >_<

  34. Feminists should be declared a domestic terrorist group based on their lies and ill-conceived crusades.

  35. I am a philosophy PhD student, and I am so far the only person I know of in the field who does sports. Hypermasculine… yeaaa….

  36. Wow! After working the family Farm while attending college and Law School ; I never expected that my marginally educated sisters would overnight mom out of town after Dad died in order to inherit said dirty farm. They had found out it had oil and kept the fact from me. Then they produced fraudulent letters saying that I did not want the farm I had worked all my life for. They beat me, a lawyer! Now the farm lies fallow as sisters enjoy Las Vegas money. No manufacturing jobs for veterans, no solar/wind refrigeration. Just Gravy.

  37. I was touched when you said that you felt like Russell's History of Western Philosophy was written for you. I'm not sure why, but it was heartwarming. Perhaps because I felt similarly to Feynman's lectures in physics in my younger formative years.

  38. Women are probably more skilled than men when it comes to collective intelligence, so it is more difficult to pick up a single name Conversely, men are better at individual competition, so it is easier to identify a champion.

  39. As a woman who loves philosophy, I am horrified by the shameful conduct of these women who are obsessed with some notion of identity over truth. I was always welcome and challenged (and challenging!) in my university philosophy courses, and I'm embarrassed to think that when people who fail at philosophy (or any other endeavour) happen to be women, they're now encouraged to express "rage" and try to tear down the system and high standards–rather than improve themselves and the quality of their own reasoning. I think these women's actions are (ironically) demeaning to women everywhere.

  40. Dear Christina, I studied philosophy in Rome, and I have never found the kind of emotional nonsense it seems to be so common in America nowadays. Thank you for your words, your intellectual honesty and your factual-based analysis, so needed right now.

  41. Love you so much! This is very true. As a female philosophy student, I've never felt put off by other people to study philosophy. It just seems to me that females are not that interested in it.

  42. there is no "safe space" in philosophy you dumb bitch. in philosophy anything goes as long you can justify why.

  43. This question of toys and gender stereo typing goes back a while now and has been dealt with already in the world of behavioural science.
    It was discussed, and the purported 'issues' dismissed. In 1981 in English Lit class our teacher told us how their toddler son was confronted with choices between traditionally male toys and female ones. He went to the male toys every time.

    Experts must watch these SJWs parading their ignorance and shake their heads in dismay. They have infected the White House. No wonder parents of children with no agenda about gender voted for President Trump.

  44. Thanks again Factual Feminist. You have skilfully demolised the pretext that modern feminists want equal representation across the board. It's clear that they seek domination.
    "We shall use the sytemic sexism of the patriachy to punish all males… The oppressors of wimin!"

  45. As a Phd in Philosophy (Eastern) The world remains in conflict because of extremism. This extremism is exacerbated because 1. It caters to a market place where books sand seminars are available at hefty prices. 2. Powerful people manipulate institutions on the bases for perpetuating political agenda as strategies. 3. This cause conflict as a strategy to divide solidarity for progress. These people who do this are not real Liberals, but actually conservatives in Liberal cloak. 4. Constantly distracting from solutions and offering nonsense keep a problem going which allows these people to exploit the minds of the foolish. Political expedience as the method. There is a lot to say.

  46. I took Asian Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology and Ethics & Western Philosophy.

    It's a field of interest that to anyone who loves deep thinking and non exclusive debate can enjoy.

    I enjoyed hearing the thoughts others in presentations. The Woman whom dominated a large portion of these classes were brilliant and equally impressive to that of my male classmates.

    Philosophy is not for any specific gender. It's for those with manners, class, and a deep mind that can see between the lines.

  47. I good philosophy class is difficult. In that sense, it's a hostile environment for everybody, both men and women. Get over it … or just give-up and retreat into the worthless world of gender studies.

  48. all these videos have validated my feelings about current feminism and how most of it is detrimental to the work that has been done in recent history. i am in the philosophy and psychology department, however, i am struggling to find a voice because i am afraid of the backlash of those who don't wish to hear alternative or opposing viewpoints. especially in my women's studies course! its just sad to see the state of academia and its trajectory into an overly sensitive future.

  49. Haslinger exhibited narcissism when she spoke of her rage. Narcissism is increasing, and feminists are responsible for promoting narcissistic female leaders.

  50. I just need information and facts for gender roles in philosophy essay becuase weirdly I can't find any. This was not helpful for a balanced argument.

  51. Your point is well taken and I agree with most of it. I am in the field of music and as an undergraduate when I asked if there were any women composers, my professor said, "Yes, but they were not as good as men". I walked out in disgust, to the amusement of my more obedient, trying-to-get-a-good-grade classmates. We had to memorize music by the main composers and had a list of totally unknown male composers and that's what bothered me. Philosophically speaking, it is not the objection of mainstream male philosophers that's at stake, but the ignoring of any female philosopher in history per se. Same in music. So, that you can perfectly identify with all male philosophers being a female seems to some women like treason. If women never have any female role model in an underrepresented field like philosophy or music history/composition, or neuro science and math, it is because traditionally, women only had a certain amount of power in the US by becoming K-12 teachers; and because of lack of support getting a decent paying job in those fields does not earn enough; unless one goes for a teminal degree; which is many times expensive, and so time consuming that the prospect of having a mate and a child gets slimmer and slimmer, especially if one comes from a not-so-rich in academic degrees or money family. So it is not so much "interest" by itself that women are less represented, but the reality that doing anything worth while in those fields probably gets silenced to death by those who rule the historical and contemporary playing field and agenda. I made a discovery in music history and had zero support from any male in the field which was interpreted as professional jealousy by by friends, in fact, many plagerized my ideas covertly. The only professors that supported me were or right after retired. I did get an outstanding thesis award calling my research extraordinary, but that did not open any doors. It went the same avenue as many, the library owns it, peers, all men, silence it to death. So to make a strong point here: It's about inclusion and not pointing out that one had this or that body part/organ. Yet swimming against the stream makes us stronger. Therefore, being happy that all male philosophy became your own is not helping, unless you can convince and promise that one or two of your books/ideas/treaties about human nature and existence on earth becomes the property of any man as well as woman.

  52. I found so many flaws in this speech: first, saying that men and women appear to have different interests when it comes to university and career DOES NOT prove that some fields are completly accessible to women. Psychology, sociology and veterinary medicine are all considered CAREGIVING, and who is always considered predisposed to caregiving? Yes, women. Second, you and your family are all philosophy professors, well your experience IS NOT the experience of all the others, and you should know that, as a philosopher. Third, you don't consider the work of female philosophers, not even once, and all you do is criticizing feminism from the social network point of view, talk about philosophy for god sake, and not about your facebook feed. Not only you are not a feminist, in my opinion you are not a philosopher either

  53. I was bullied out of an access to healthcare course by feminists in the humanities dept at Macclesfield college. All they do is regurgitate the same old clichés.

  54. This is the only feminist channel I can bear to watch. I respect the feminism of yesteryear, the suffragettes and factual feminism of today, but modern feminism has took a toxic turn for the worst. We need more women like Christina Hoff Sommers in the world to balance the insanity. Subbed. Liked. Commented.

  55. My experience as a philosophy student was that the focus was on the ideas, not the people. There was very little argumentation between students. We were just trying to understand the professors. 🙂

  56. Thank you! Finally a voice of reason in all this. I don't have any experience university yet but I'm the only girl in my philosophy class in high school, and I have never once felt judged for anything but my ideas.

    Preach it based mom!

  57. If it weren't for women like Ms. Sommers and Camille Paglia, I would state that the term "Feminist Philosopher" is an oxymoron.

  58. Weird how, since 90+% of workplace deaths are men, that no one cares about safe spaces for men…

    Well, that's because men are seen as disposable resources and utilities.
    They aren't even seen as human by Feminists. They treat their cats better than they treat men…

  59. So male philosophers are more sexist than male psychologists? I wouldn't want to pursue philosophy now. It's all imbued with rhetoric about whiteness and colonization.

  60. It is safe to say universities in america as an overall generalization has been taken over by rabiate feminists and racist anti white demagogues, at least if you take the last 20 years of headlines of the traditional established newspapers and news shows with headlines of anti white anti male propaganda. As such i have lost any and all respect and trust in those august institutions of indoctrination to carry even the smallest part of neutrality or pluralism.

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