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According to Hillary Clinton, "Women have always been the primary victims of war

According to Hillary Clinton, "Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat." On what conceivable grounds could such a statement be made given that dying tends to be kind "victimizing"? Has feminist discourse gone so far that it egocentrically sees even male loss in terms of female victimization? Should feminist thinking be criticized for it tendency toward sexism toward men? Or if feminism is by definition something that isn't sexist because feminism is about opposing sexism how do we address the fact that so much that is called "feminism" doesn't live up to that definition?

One might try to argue that men are typically the proponents and organizers of war and, in this sense, not really victims (because, like boxers, they bring the harm to themselves). I don't think this is empirically accurate: many men are pacifists and many women have strongly supported wars. Moreover, support for war is often manufactured with false information and cruel manipulation of people's patriotic sentiments -- producing victims even among the war's supporters. So I agree with you that this is a silly statement. Most of us say silly things sometimes; with top politicians the silly things they say are often broadcast to millions. I doubt Hillary Clinton would care to defend what she said if pressed to do so.

One might try to argue that men are typically the proponents and organizers of war and, in this sense, not really victims (because, like boxers, they bring the harm to themselves). I don't think this is empirically accurate: many men are pacifists and many women have strongly supported wars. Moreover, support for war is often manufactured with false information and cruel manipulation of people's patriotic sentiments -- producing victims even among the war's supporters. So I agree with you that this is a silly statement. Most of us say silly things sometimes; with top politicians the silly things they say are often broadcast to millions. I doubt Hillary Clinton would care to defend what she said if pressed to do so.

It is said that whether sexism is intentional or not does not matter - it is

It is said that whether sexism is intentional or not does not matter - it is sexism all the same. How does that work, though? We generally distinguish between, for instance, killing someone by accident (as in manslaughter) and killing someone on purpose (murder, especially premeditated murder), and we generally agree that the longer or more intensely a crime has been intended, the worse it is. Why, then, should accidental sexism be just as bad as sexism that is intentionally perpetrated by somebody who explicitly approves of sexist ideas?

For the reasons you give, an accidental sexist utterance or other act does not reflect as badly on the agent as a like premeditated sexist utterance or other act. So let's be charitable and interpret the initial sentence as meaning that such an act -- whether intentional or not -- is just as harmful. The point of saying this is to get us all to try harder to avoid "accidents".

For the reasons you give, an accidental sexist utterance or other act does not reflect as badly on the agent as a like premeditated sexist utterance or other act. So let's be charitable and interpret the initial sentence as meaning that such an act -- whether intentional or not -- is just as harmful. The point of saying this is to get us all to try harder to avoid "accidents".

Have philosophers before the 20th century had anything good to say about women?

Have philosophers before the 20th century had anything good to say about women? Schopenhauer and Nietzsche obviously did not have very nice things to say and Kant said they were better for matters of beauty and Hegel compared them with plants but I don't know if that is a bad thing since he compared men with animals but I don't know if any philosopher ever said anything good. (I just remembered Mill said good things but I don't who else.)

Plato calls in his Republic for women to participate as equals in the activities of citizenship, saying that surely many women are more excellent than some men and that less excellent women should be disqualified from various roles (along with less excellent males) on account of their lesser excellence rather than on account of their gender.

Plato calls in his Republic for women to participate as equals in the activities of citizenship, saying that surely many women are more excellent than some men and that less excellent women should be disqualified from various roles (along with less excellent males) on account of their lesser excellence rather than on account of their gender.

Is the role where men financially support a woman in a marriage compatible with

Is the role where men financially support a woman in a marriage compatible with the feminist belief in the equality of the sexes?

A society where this is the norm is not one in which the two sexes are equal. So, as a social norm, this division of gender roles is not compatible with the feminist belief in the equality of the sexes. But at the individual level the two are compatible. In a society in which the sexes are equal, there would be lots of women working while their male partners mind the kids. This is compatible with feminism, surely. Therefore, a feminism that believes in the equality of the sexes must then also find acceptable the mirror image: men working while their female partners look after the kids. If these two role divisions were roughly equally frequent, I think feminists should find no fault.

A society where this is the norm is not one in which the two sexes are equal. So, as a social norm, this division of gender roles is not compatible with the feminist belief in the equality of the sexes. But at the individual level the two are compatible. In a society in which the sexes are equal, there would be lots of women working while their male partners mind the kids. This is compatible with feminism, surely. Therefore, a feminism that believes in the equality of the sexes must then also find acceptable the mirror image: men working while their female partners look after the kids. If these two role divisions were roughly equally frequent, I think feminists should find no fault.

Hi, here comes another question about feminism and philosophy and feminist

Hi, here comes another question about feminism and philosophy and feminist philosophers. I am 30 years old and was a student of philosophy in Germany for 6 years before graduating to Master of Arts. Recently I read a book about 19th century's feminists and stumbled over a small notice concerning John St. Mill's "Subjection of Women". Although I would describe myself as a quite diligent student of philosophy (even in high-school) and also very interested in feminist topics, I never knew about this well known philosopher being a feminist as well. Now I ask myself three questions and hope you can help: 1) How can it be explained that even at university level the discussion of a classic philosopher like Mill never touches the bad F-word (i.e., feminism)? And who is to blame? 2) If even students of philosophy do not touch these topics if not accidentally altough it should be their genuine field of activity, how will other people, to whom the matter is quite distant, ever find out? 3) How many other...

Your experience may be more reflective of philosophy in Germany than of philosophy more generally. There are at least three relevant factors. German students specialize early while students in the US, say, take a broad range of courses in diverse fields during their undergraduate studies. In particular, they take broad (often mandatory) Western civilization courses that focus on philosophical materials that (i) integrate well with non-philosophical materials produced at or around the same time and (ii) are attractive and helpful to students through their relevance to present society. This relates to the second point, that universities in the US tend to reward (often quite directly) teachers and departments for attracting students; and it's rather easier to attract undergraduates to feminist themes than to, say, the philosophy of language. All this in turn reinforces the third point that German academic philosophy tends to be a bit narrow and conservative.

While feminism certainly has a presence in US universities, it tends to be segregated. We have women's studies departments, for instance, and the occasional philosophy course on feminism. Yet gender issues are still not well integrated into courses on moral and political philosophy, professional ethics, and the like. And likewise for philosophical publications. There are some very good feminist writings, but virtually all the major books on moral and political philosophy, professional ethics, and the like ignore the very interesting issues raised by the systematically differential life chances women and men have in virtually all existing societies.

For an accessible discussion of who else has written on this topic, I would recommend Susan Okin's books Women in Western Political Thought and Justice, Gender, and the Family. The former deals with some older, the latter with some more recent treatments of the subject (both feminist and anti-feminist). You can probably also find out a great deal through the internet. One easy way to start is with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-topics/ with various subentries). But I also found a lot of interesting stuff through a google search for (jointly) feminism and philosophy.

Your experience may be more reflective of philosophy in Germany than of philosophy more generally. There are at least three relevant factors. German students specialize early while students in the US, say, take a broad range of courses in diverse fields during their undergraduate studies. In particular, they take broad (often mandatory) Western civilization courses that focus on philosophical materials that (i) integrate well with non-philosophical materials produced at or around the same time and (ii) are attractive and helpful to students through their relevance to present society. This relates to the second point, that universities in the US tend to reward (often quite directly) teachers and departments for attracting students; and it's rather easier to attract undergraduates to feminist themes than to, say, the philosophy of language. All this in turn reinforces the third point that German academic philosophy tends to be a bit narrow and conservative. While feminism certainly has a presence in...

Bonjour, I am considered an attractive 26 year old woman. I have at times been

Bonjour, I am considered an attractive 26 year old woman. I have at times been asked to model but never have. I find our culture's obsession with beauty unappealing and it has led me to sort of play down my beauty in dress. Should I be worried or at least concious of society and its issues around beauty? Or should I just strive to be the most beautiful I can be, disregarding other things, purely for the sake of aesthetics?

I don't disagree with the first respondent, but I'll give you a somewhat different response, and taking my cue from the 'Bonjour' with which you open, will give it en français. (If the cue was misleading, I'll be happy to translate subsequently!) Premièrement, la beauté est une chose rare et précieuse, et ceux ou celles qui s'en réjouissent ne devrait jamais se sentir coupable à son égard. Deuxièmement, même si la beauté n'était qu'une affaire d'esthétique, qui dit que l'esthétique est moins importante que l'éthique, ou que l'esthétique ne comprend pas, d'une certaine optique, un aspect éthique? (Certainement pas Kant!) Troisièmement, personne n'arrive vraiment à négliger ou à nier complètement les valeurs de la societé entourante; de plus, ces valeurs ne sont jamais avec du moins une certaine justification. Quatrièmement, c'est vrai que la beauté ouvre beaucoup de portes qui autrement resteraient fermées, mais ce n'est pas la sagesse de refuser d'y entrer pour cette raison seule; on n'a que d'y entrer avec circonspection, et sans aveuglement. Cinquièmement, pour en finir, je dirais que la vie de mannequin n'est pas, tout bien consideré, une vie souhaitable, mais qu'on peut quand même tirer de la satisfaction du fait qu'on vous l'avait proposée...

Put otherwise: First, beauty is a rare and precious thing, and those who possess it should never be made to feel guilty about it. Secondly, even if beauty is only an aesthetic matter, who says that aesthetics is less important than ethics, or at any rate, that aesthetics does not include, viewed from a certain angle, an ethical aspect? (Certainly not Kant!) Thirdly, no one can entirely succeed in ignoring or denying the values of the society around them, and those values are also never without at least some justification. Fourthly, it's true that beauty opens many a door that would otherwise remain closed, but it's not wise to refuse to enter them just for that reason, provided one enters circumspectly and without self-deception. Fifthly, to conclude, I would say that the life of a model is not, all things considered, something to wish for, but even so, one can derive some satisfaction from the fact of having been asked...

Reading your "should" as alluding to what you owe the rest of us, I think there is no obligation either way. Perhaps some utilitarians would hold that you have a duty to maximize the general happiness, even by turning heads and upgrading others' visual fields. But such an assertion is more plausibly taken as a reductio ad absurdum of these brands of utilitarianism than as informative about your obligations. Reading your "should" as alluding to what it makes most sense for you to do, the answer depends in part on your ends and ambitions. Dressing up, you'll have a lot of silly boys and guys chasing you, which can become tedious rather quickly. Still, some of these will have money, power, connections -- and you may feel in need for one or more of these. Continuing your current practice will make you less discouraging to people who are interesting, and interested in you, in other ways; and it will also give you more time to interact with them. This is likely to make your life better, richer, than...

In the UK there are the 'Page 3' models (in case you are unfamiliar with them,

In the UK there are the 'Page 3' models (in case you are unfamiliar with them, they are topless models that appear everyday in The Sun , usually with snippets of text about how young they are, and suggestive speech bubbles). Because The Sun is such a widely read publication and because that particular page is so popular, Page 3 is readily accessible on the bus, in the tube, on the kitchen table, in the newsagents, etc., etc. A while ago the politician Clare Short tried to get Page 3 outlawed because she said that it promoted sexism. She quickly got shouted down by other politicans and by the public who mocked her for being unattractive and whining. It seems to me that Clare Short had a point. If people, especially young kids, see this type of woman everywhere they go they might believe that woman are there to be eternally young and up for it, so to speak, and that it is okay to see them purely as sexual objects. Equality between men and women could be suffering from this, surely? Or is that...

Surely anything that promotes sexism is, to the degree and for that reason, a bad thing. Truth is, the popular media and advertising reinforce all kinds of biases and prejudices (against older people, against people who do not fit social standards of beauty or attractiveness, against poor people, against people of color--by inadequate representation, and so on and so on). The media make money from doing so, because people have the interests they have--and these interests are often sexist and biased in all of the relevant ways.

So you want to ban all of the ways in which the media promote or reinforce such wrongs? Well...you will have a lot of censorship to do!

On the other hand, as Pogge suggests, surely there are more important concerns (in regard to sexism specifically, and in regard to making the world a better place more generally) than becoming overly concerned that Page 3 shows the breasts of young women. Before you get too far gone in moral indignation about this issue, it might be wise to consider whether there is anything else more important in the world going on--for which some effort from you would make a difference. Spending lots of moral capital on relatively minor evils, and thus ignoring more important ones, seems to me to be a significant lack of moral judgment in itself.

I'm not saying that sexism isn't bad--it is bad. I am saying that you probably have more important things to attend to than the Page 3 issue... If you are looking for trouble in the world, it isn't hard to find. Use your best judgment as to which of the endless troubles you find are most worth your concern.

Much that people and corporations do contributes to a sexist culture, undermining equality of men and women. Such conduct is wrong in most cases. But there's a big step from this insight to the conclusion that such conduct should be outlawed. Outlawing wrong conduct can easily be counterproductive in much the same way as Clare Short's proposal was by getting her ridiculed for being unattractive and whining. And it can have other bad effects as well -- just imagine what a law against lying with a $100 fine attached, or a law against sexist jokes and remarks, would do to interpersonal relations and the court system. I don't have enough information to judge whether it makes sense to outlaw that Page 3 in the UK. If it does make sense, there are probably better ways for most citizens to spend time and effort toward reducing sexism than organizing a Ban-Page-3 campaign. More importantly, if it does not make sense -- and even if it would be wrong -- to outlaw Page 3, this does not undermine your...