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Thursday, April 15, 2010


Stereotype for 'philosopher' (outdated): old-looking, man, suit, pipe smoker, whiskey drinker, a serious look on his face, sober analytic writing style, not prolific, secret meetings at philosophers’ houses to study dead philosophers, knows that to steal ideas from one person is plagiarism but to steal from many is research, fails to respond to mail from people below himself, is obsessed with ivy-league universities, interviews female job candidates on hotel beds.

Stereotype for 'philosopher' (up to date): young-looking, man, poorly dressed or Euro-trash, beer-drinker, fun, endearing analytic writing-style, prolific, confuses career with life, tardiness in responding to emails from people below himself, has a mental list of good and bad people and good and bad philosophy, travels frequently, changes jobs often, contributes to one or more weblogs, has a webpage with links to all published articles and works in progress, is a member of Facebook, has at least 200 Facebook friends, owns a MacBook, owns an iPhone, is obsessed with department and journal rankings, frequently attends the meetings of the American Philosophical Association mostly to be seen and to hang with the inner circle, obsessed with media presence, surrounded by female groupies.

Stereotype for 'The Eastern Meeting of the American Philosophical Association': over-prized hotel rooms, poorly attended talk sessions, scared job candidates, obsession with the university affiliation listed on people’s name tags, free-beer smoker, over-prized beer smoker, hitting on female students, parties in hotel rooms, drunkenness, the Presidential address.

Stereotype for 'man': doesn’t go to the bathroom when he needs to make an emergency crotch adjustment, doesn't need to schedule sex around his reproductive system, never lets hot wax near his pubic area, his orgasms are real (always), his last name stays put, people don’t glance at his chest while he is talking to them, nobody secretly wonders if he swallows, can have great sex with people he doesn’t like, sorts laundry into "filthy" and "filthy but good enough to wear", wonders how service stations keep their restrooms so clean, can walk down the street with a balding head and a beer gut and still think he is sexy, can be president.


C said...

Damn, no iphone or groupies. There must be a connection. Get groupies and borrow an iphone?

In all seriousness, I had something rather depressing happen. One of my favorite students attended a couple of conferences. Found that at one conference, all the speakers resembled the 1st stereotype and were an unfortunate mix of angry and boring. At the second, the speaker fit the stereotype for man. When asked a question about his paper, he looked at her chest and tried to get her to have a drink. (Which is hard, because she's 19.) Now she wants to know if she should go into philosophy because, basically, it's overrun with shitty men. (I don't exclude myself from that number, but I'd like to think I'm more boring and obsessed with work than lecherous.) I told her that she's probably right that it is, but it's probably better inside philosophy than out.

Brit Brogaard said...

You are right. Surprisingly, I got several Facebook messages, each saying that they fit one or the other stereotype. Hmmm, not good for our profession. Someone suggested that I should write a list of stereotypical features of female philosophers but there are so few of us that I wonder whether there really is a stereotype for "female philosopher".

C said...

Logically speaking, they would be the smallest stereotypes possible. Like, I have stereotypes based on Philippa Foot and Judith Thomson and only PF and JJT fit them.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I found myself re-reading your stereotype for 'philosopher' (up-to-date). Perfect!

We need more stereotype-busters.

Brit Brogaard said...

I think we need the 'female philosopher' stereotype. But I don't think I want to write that one.

Alan said...

If Stephen Colbert ever needs a writer for a segment on philosophy and the APA, I think he has one. The truth hurts so good when it comes from laughing so hard.

Loved it!

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Only a woman could get away with writing the 'female philosopher' stereotype. I think there might also be an outdated and an up-to-date version.

Brit Brogaard said...

Eric: you are the master of stereotypes. Love your "there is beer in the fridge" belief stereotype. You are clearly the man for the job. You too, Alan! Maybe the two of you can team up and write a "female philosopher" stereotype song!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha this is excellent!

Although it's a bit tragic that you have such a poor view of men. I would defend my sex's brilliantly uncomplicated biological sensibilities- it allows us to focus on being good in other areas... take comedy and philosophy for example...:D

Anyway, brilliant stuff!

Brit Brogaard said...

Thanks Philip! These are stereotypes. They needn't reflect my view of men ;) Purple is one of my favorite colors too. Upism sounds interesting. I still have to find out what it is.