Sunday, September 11, 2016

Why do men and women have different conversation styles?

This is the monologue for the most recent episode of Why? Radio: "Should Prostitution Be Legal?" with guest Peter De Marneffe. 
Click here to listen to the episode.

I always define feminism for my students in the same way. It's the claim that gender is a legitimate category of analysis. In other words, feminism as a philosophy is the idea that we gain relevant information by asking how something affects women as women, and men as men. This seems commonplace now, but for most of the history of philosophy—frankly for most of the history of the human pursuit of knowledge—gender difference was invisible. All humans were men; women were just lesser, or incomplete.

We now know this isn’t true. There are biological differences, for sure, but there are also differences in cultural expectation and personal experience. Feminists disagree about how important these factors are—how much the difference is derived from nature and how much from culture—but whatever the cause, we still don’t understand many of its effects. This is true in politics. It’s also true in linguistics.

A sermon and an essay on the events of September 11, 2001.

I found it very difficult to choose a picture for this blog entry. How do you choose something meaningful without being exploitative or pornographic? I settled on this one. I don't know who the photographer is. 

In honor of the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks on September 11, I thought, rather than write new comments, I would offer links to two pieces I wrote that sum up many of my complicated feelings about the event. I'm a New Yorker born and bred, and many people I know were personally affected by the tragedy. My high school has a plaque commemorating 12 students who died. I can't count the number of friends who witnessed the violence first hand. Yet, the event will always be a tangled web or reflection, analyses, and critique for me. I'm a philosopher. That's how I think about stuff.

Click on the title to download a free PDF of each essay.