Reading the harrowing blog What is it Like to Be a Woman in Philosophy, I find myself wondering whether there isn’t something at the core of philosophy that doesn’t generate these attitudes. These don’t seem to be simple stories of sexism produced as a lack of awareness, but rather seem to be represent outright misogeny. Could there be something about the philosophical project itself, as it has historically been conceived, and the philosophical concept of reason that generates this sort of misogeny? Historically, of course, the major philosophemes have been gendered within philosophy. The masculine side has been treated as the domain of reason, intelligibility, form, the subject, activity, autonomy, logic, moral duty, normativity, and the concept. The feminine side has been treated as the side of matter, the body, the object, emotion, affectivity, empathy, compassion, passivity, heteronomy, irrationality. Philosophy, historically, has sided with the former chain, calling for the domination and mastery of the latter. Does this persist today in philosophy even though these terms aren’t excplicitly conceived as gendered anymore? Does this lead to certain systematic ways of relating to women? Here philosophy would be “phallosophy” and this sort of misogeny would follow from certain unconscious axioms internal to the nature of philosophy as currently conceived and practiced. If there is anything to stereotypes about differences between how men and women communicate, this would certainly seem to follow. All too often masculine dominated philosophical communication is characterized by combativeness, the fight, a logic of victor and vanquished, etc. This would a priori exclude feminine styles of communication– if such exist –and would lead to unconscious attitudes towards women wherein they embody all the qualities that philosophy is supposed to vanquish. The most striking thing about the stories related at this blog are just how downright creepy so many men are in philosophy. These are truly bizarre attitudes and behaviors.
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