Wendy Kaminer At The Atlantic: ‘Sexual Harassment And The Loneliness Of The Civil Libertarian Feminist’

Full post here.

“This is not simply a loss for liberty on campus and the right to indulge in what’s condemned as verbal harassment or bullying, broadly defined. It’s a loss of political freedom: the theories of censoring offensive or hurtful speech that are used to prosecute alleged student harassers are used to foment opposition to the right to burn a flag or a copy of the Quran or build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero.”

There would be good reasons to support a minority of civil libertarian women, against the gender equity feminists, “the personal is political” crowd, and others, some of whom have strong-armed their way into our institutions as drivers of social change.

Also, this wouldn’t be a surprise:

‘That simplistic, practically hysterical anti-libertarian approach to offensive speech appears to be shared by the Obama administration.’

And always worth pointing out for those interested in broad definitions of free speech:

‘But underlying trivial and tragic deprivations of liberty, the authoritarian impulse is the same.’

See:  Martha Nussbaum On Judith Butler

On This Site: He may have been fired for many reasons, some of them not so good:  Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

Conservative Briton Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart in the humanities: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To JudgmentRepost-From Scientific Blogging: The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not

Martha Nussbaum saw this coming a while ago, but is her platform broad enough to define liberal education?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’.

From The Chronicle Of Higher Ed Via A & L Daily: Christina Hoff Sommers “Persistent Myths In Feminist Scholarship”

 

Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

He may have been fired for many reasons, but Summers off-the-cuff Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce had a lot to do with it:

1.  The first is what I call the high-powered job hypothesis-Summers notes that high positions demand high commitment.  Science could be analogous to other professions like law.   He appeals to a longitudinal study that suggests that fewer women may agree to, or be willing to, devote such time and energy to their jobs over their careers as do men.  Changing the nature of these professions to higher female ratios may change some of the fundamental ways we arrange our society:

“…is our society right to expect that level of effort from people who hold the most prominent jobs?”

Perhaps…though the subtext might be:  are some members of our society right to expect that the guiding ideas of diversity and equality won’t come with a host of other problems…?

***Charles Murray takes it a few steps further, asserting that our social sciences are leading us to become more like Europe (less dynamic and less idealistic in our pursuit of Aristotelian happiness)  He also argues that there is a sea-change going on in the social science that will come to support his thinking.

2.  The second is what I would call different availability of aptitude at the high end-The bell curve argument that there are more genius and idiot men.  When you get to MIT, 3 and more standard deviations above the mean…means a lot.

3.  The third is what I would call different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search-If discrimination is such an important factor in there being a lack of women scientists, then economic theory holds that there are going to be:

“…very substantial opportunities for a limited number of people who were not prepared to discriminate to assemble remarkable departments of high quality people at relatively limited cost simply by the act of their not discriminating.”

So if the theory holds…where are the science departments scooping up all women scientists at low cost…who’ve been rejected elsewhere due to discrimination?

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I believe there is quite arguably discrimination against women in the sciences, and they have a harder road to reach success.  But there is also substance here…and clearly politics was a factor in Summers’ firing as well;  the women’s groups who viewed his ideas as an attack on their belief appealed to public sentiment in the worst kind of way.

Will social science ever be enough to address such an issue…or is it possibly changing to adapt to the demands people require of it?

On This Site:  Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Addition:  I always get an email or two that suggests I’ve joined the ranks of those who don’t fully understand the problem and seek to oppress women.  I don’t think I’ve done such a thing, and if women are going broaden and deepen feminism, they may well have to answer to arguments like these.

It’s not like there aren’t women in the sciences either, Vera Rubin, Lisa Randall and Lise Meitner come to mind, but this debate is clearly not just about science.  It’s also about feminism, the social sciences, money, politics, public opinion etc…

Larry Summers - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2007 by World Economic Forum

Other things on his plate-worldeconomicforum