published with permission from katinka matson
Copyright © 2011 Katinka Matson.
see more at the artist’s website
published with permission from katinka matson
Copyright © 2011 Katinka Matson.
see more at the artist’s website
On this radio show— Why? Philosphical discussions about everyday life. the host, Jack Russel Weinstein, interviews Eva Feder Kittay, Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, on questions about justice, caring, and the mentally disabled. She is the author of Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy; Love’s Labor: Essays on Women, Equality and Dependency (Thinking Gender); The Subject of Care: Feminist Perspectives on Dependency (Feminist Construction) which she coauthored with Ellen K. Feder, and more.
Professor Kittay is the mother of a forty year-old daughter with severe mental retardation and Cerebral Palsy. She had previously worked with abstract, linguistic aspects of philosophy; but eventually found that liberal philosophy, in its efforts to define what is human and what is just, excluded human dependency and those who care for the dependent. She challenges the failure of liberal thought to address justice in families, and for the mentally disabled. She asks, “What is the relationship between family and state?” and points out that historically, individual members of families were invisible, and it was only the head of the household that was given the agency to make contracts. The liberal conception of justice, that all are free and all should be treated fairly, in accordance with laws that serve each well, seems unaware of the fact that it is embedded in a fundamentally patriarchal society in which women are assigned the responsibility of care, and the role of caregivers. In this role, individual women seem to be invisible in philosophy. By prioritizing the individual, without challenging the patriarchal structure of society, liberal philosophy fails to recognize dependency as a universal and necessary part of being human.
Philosophers have traditionally used the term “men” as if they were talking about all of humanity, but essentially, they’ve been talking about men by failing to address dependency, inter-dependency, and the need for care in human society. Though women have made much progress, the pay differential between men and women has hardly changed. She asks, ‘Why have women not been able to obtain equality, and political representation? How difficult is it for women to participate in the public sphere, and compete in the job market when they are primarily responsible for giving care? Care-giving is a handicap on women that makes it difficult or impossible to compete as independent equals. Most women have a child or children, at the same time of life in which career development is most important and most expected. Though housework can be evenly divided and/or outsourced, taking care of dependents is a hands-on job, though it is not recognized as a job. Professional caregivers are poorly paid, because there are so many women doing these jobs for free.
Dependency is a human condition in early life, later life, and with disability and illness. The failure to recognize this distorts our understanding of the human condition and our efforts to achieve justice and fairness for all. This reminded me of an article I read recently, Pluralism in ‘Academic Politics’: The Collateral Damage of Cronyism and Legal Aspects of Common Misconduct, by Naomi Zack. In it, she talks about white male cronyism in philosophy departments and the ways in which it distorts the cronies’ perceptions of themselves and the value of their work, and how it corrupts their use of power. Here is a personal example I thought of, when Professor Kittay discussed the invisibility of women as caregivers in our society.
While in a military unit in which I suffered sexual harassment and abuse from being shunned as being the lesbian I never was, to a rape attempt; two of my superiors would use any excuse to denigrate, punish, and try to humiliate me; even as they had me doing a job that was way above my pay grade and involved a lot of responsibility, because I did it very well and I was very responsible. One day, my immediate enlisted supervisor standing in the middle of operations, in front of everyone, started bitching about the condition of my uniform. He pointed to himself and his uniform as an example of how much better an airmen he was than I. So, I replied,
“LOOK ME IN THE EYE AND TELL ME THAT YOUR WIFE DOESN’T TAKE YOUR UNIFORMS TO THE CLEANERS!”
“IT WOULDN’T SURPRISE ME IF SHE SHINED YOUR BOOTS!”
silence and a whiff of regret, I think, that he decided to try to humiliate me in front of my peers
By not acknowledging the work that women did in their lives, these men gave themselves credit for things they didn’t do and they got awfully haughty about it, too. Men in authority do this a lot. When men or women do this in philosophy, their philosophy fails to recognize what is central to human experience, denies one’s own dependency in childhood, the possibility of becoming dependent later in life through old age, illness, or injury; and fails to recognize reliance on people in other capacities. The tendency to want to see oneself as a perfect specimen of independent thought and action is essentially delusional, but it insidiously works it way into unconsciously judging and exploiting others while buttressing one’s dominance over others by merely reinforcing the status quo without challenge. Which, I think, is why it’s so important to challenge this delusion on every level at its level, which is why I think the work of feminist philosophers is vital for humanity’s task in facing reality and dealing with each other in just and humanistic ways so that we don’t destroy ourselves by perpetuating harmful delusions and the evils to which these delusions lend themselves.
Back to the talk— when asked by a caller if her choice to include her personal story in one of her books was a rhetorical device or something more, Professer Kittay described how, through the influence of feminist philosophy, she became aware that her experience and the experience of other caregivers was excluded from philosophy. Her awareness that none of us could survive unless a person spent time, energy, and effort to take care of us as children required her to address the intimate bond of caring from a personal perspective, because intimate caring bonds are fundamentally and necessarily personal, and so she included her personal relationship with her dependent daughter in her book. Since her daughter didn’t speak, she could not determine if her daughter was rational, and so pondered the fact that in the the history of philosophy many attempts have been made to describe specific traits, the use of language, and self-consciousness, for instance, as being fully or morally human. She asserts that what makes us a good society, and a just society is being more trusting, more inclusive, and more understanding of all people with our imperfections, rather than promoting an ideal that cannot exist.
Four Iraq men who were tortured in Abu Graib, and later released without charges have filed a federal lawsuit against a U.S. based contractor for participating “directly and through a conspiracy in war crimes, including torture, and other illegal conduct while it was providing interrogation services.”
The four Plaintiffs had all been held at the “hard site” in Abu Ghraib prison. The suit, brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and federal question jurisdiction, brings claims arising from violations of U.S. and international law including torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; war crimes; assault and battery; sexual assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring and supervision; and negligent infliction of emotional distress. There are also civil conspiracy and aiding and abetting counts attached to most of these charges. Through this action, Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages.
Among the heinous acts to which the four Plaintiffs were subjected at the hands of the Defendant and certain government co-conspirators were: electric shocks; repeated brutal beatings; sleep deprivation; sensory deprivation; forced nudity; stress positions; sexual assault; mock executions; humiliation; hooding; isolated detention; and prolonged hanging from the limbs.
All of the Plaintiffs are innocent Iraqis who were ultimately released without ever being charged with a crime. They all continue to suffer from physical and mental injuries caused by the torture and other abuse. Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari was detained from 2003 until 2008, during which he was held at Abu Ghraib “hard site” for about two months. While he was there, CACI and its co-conspirators tortured him in various ways. He was subjected to electric shocks, deprived of food, threatened by dogs, and kept naked while forced to engage in physical activities to the point of exhaustion. Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid was detained from 2003 until 2005, during which he was imprisoned at Abu Ghraib “hard site” for about three months. While detained there, CACI and its co-conspirators tortured Mr. Rashid by placing him in stress positions for extended periods of time, humiliating him, depriving him of oxygen, food, and water, shooting him in the head with a taser gun, and by beating him so severely that he suffered from broken limbs and vision loss. Mr. Rashid was forcibly subjected to sexual acts by a female as he was cuffed and shackled to cell bars. He was also forced to witness the rape of a female prisoner. Sa’ad Hamza Hantoosh Al-Zuba’e was imprisoned at Abu Ghraib from 2003 until 2004. CACI and its co-conspirators tortured him while he was detained there by subjecting him to extremely hot and cold water, beating his genitals with a stick, and detaining him in a solitary cell in conditions of sensory deprivation for almost a full year. Salah Hasan Nusaif Jasim Al-Ejaili was imprisoned at the Abu Ghraib “hard site” for approximately four months. While he was there, CACI and its co-conspirators stripped him and kept him naked, threatened him with dogs, deprived him of food, beat him, and kept him in a solitary cell in conditions of sensory deprivation.
According to the panel, the situation in Syria gets more confusing all the time. One million family dwellings have been destroyed, and the previously well-functioning health care system is now in total disarray. Most social services are broken and are often targeted.
At least 3.5 million Syrians have been displaced— around 15% of the population. The UN says that there are 1.5 million Syrian refugees right now, but expects that number to rise to 3 million by the end of the year.
Syrian refugees are in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Libya. One of the members of the panel described a camp in Tripoli as being filthy and putrid. The refugees were required to pay rent, and there was very little work available in the area. Mud seems to be a problem in most of the refugee camps.
A camp in Iraq in the Kurdish region was very well run. It served mostly Syrian Kurds. The government of that region gives some refugees green cards so that they can work in the oilfields, and other industries. The Kurdish government also built a permanent structure for MSF to use to set up a hospital.
In Lebanon, which has the highest number of Syrian refugees, most refugees are left to their own devices. Lebanon has a pay for service medical system, refugees who cannot pay must register as refugees before being allowed any services. Once they register, they are eligible for food and fuel cards, and health care to be paid by UNICEF. It takes at least four months to be registered, because there is only one small board to handle all the refugees. Because the Lebanese government has not declared a state of emergency, international aid organizations are finding it very difficult, if not impossible to set up there in order to help the refugees. Also, only 30% of the aid promised by other nations has been delivered.
There are a lot of refugees, especially women and children, being treated for serious burns from burning fuel in ramshackle structures, or wood fires in crowded plastic tents. It’s been a cold and windy winter, with very little electricity is available to them.
MSF is doing what it can now to help stave off another impending crisis by vaccinating— measles is a problem right now— and working to provide clean water and sanitation in the camps before summer comes and cholera becomes a problem. MSF would like to set up a model refugee camp to serve as an example for the UN to emulate.
It is typically easy for MSF to provide care to those wounded in battle. The group has been providing Syrian medical personnel training to operate on war injuries, to deal with mass casualties, and to administer first aid to the war wounded to make them stable enough to get to a hospital. MSF has also been able to get drugs to these hospitals and clinics, and occasionally to get the wounded who need more specialized care out of the country and into a facility where they can receive expert care in well equipped hospitals for their wounds.
MSF has been working in three main hospitals in Syria, has set up two birthing areas for women and is working on an additional one now. Providing primary care and treatment for chronic illnesses like cancer, renal disease, diabetes, etc. has been very difficult. Doctors are having difficulty working with the government in Damascus, while the fighting is also getting closer to Damascus. It’s not too difficult to get care for the war wounded, but many people with treatable chronic illnesses are not considered to be in need of “emergency” care, so die waiting.
There is also a need for mental health counseling in Syria. One doctor described people coming out of anesthesia delusional, screaming, having flashbacks because they have been so deeply traumatized. Another speaker described a woman who had paranoid delusions— believing everyone in the city she and her family lived in was a spy, she moved her family to a remote place, with almost nothing, because she needed, more than anything else, to feel secure. Her husband had survived being kidnapped and tortured, and was completely debilitated.
A lot of patients wanted to take refuge in MSF hospitals. The doctors had to explain to them that they weren’t set up for that, and that all they could do was fix people up and then send them on their way.
The panel expressed concern that other nations help the governments of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan so that they don’t get overwhelmed and close the borders. And also expressed the importance of not letting political ends get in the way of humanitarian assistance.
Doctors Without Borders is a wonderful and dedicated relief group that works to relieve suffering and heal injuries. You can donate here. It’s also easy to set up a simple monthly payment of an amount that is comfortable for you. If you doubt that the money is being well spent, just check out their website. They show you what they do, and introduce you to a lot of the people they’re helping.
This is the live broadcast. Don’t know how long the Crisis in Syria video is going to be there, but it’s there now.
The greatest security of any nation is when its mothers and children are secure, when there is food on the table and water nearby, when there is a functioning school and, ultimately, the possibility of getting a job. That is the most secure nation.
I would urge our governments to rethink the relationship between military expenditure and expenditure on social and basic services. Just by buying one military helicopter less, governments can build 10 schools. That is the paramount challenge for governments all over the world.
The Stoics followed Heraclitus in believing that the cosmos is connected by an all-pervasive intelligence called the Logos, which you can translate as the Word or the Law. It’s a form of divine providence that guides all things. It exists in all things, but it vibrates particularly strongly in human consciousness. For the Stoics, the meaning of life, the goal of human existence, is to develop our consciousness and bring it into harmony with the Logos.
Ancient philosophy wasn’t merely a set of instrumental techniques for the individual. Schools like Stoicism, Epicureanism and Scepticism also offered ethical theories about the good, which linked the personal to the social, cultural, political and cosmic. These schools didn’t agree on whether God existed or whether there was a higher meaning to human existence, but at least they recognized that was a conversation worth having. CBT narrowed the focus down to just the individual, and the result is a somewhat atomized and amoral version of self-help.
A psychiatrists (and Charlie Brooker’s) insightful perspective on news coverage’s perpetuation of mass shootings in schools.
A Page One Selfie by Nathan Jurgenson at Cyborgology
Granting, of course, that Dzhokhar’s face work was certainly of a radically larger scale, selfie face work is a sort of fiction that is a common fact. The filtered selfie isn’t the most objectively accurate photo, but it might have been the most honest. It’s how he presented himself, down to the name-brand shirt, and it’s how many people his age understand and perform for increasingly ubiquitous photographic documentation. It’s a sort-of unreality that carries a sort-of truth. The selfie isn’t just any photo of you, it is, of course, one taken of yourself, by yourself, and there is something simultaneously fitting and upsetting in the young bomber taking his own mugshot.
The Page One bomber selfie also challenges what many of us thought the bomber would look like on the day the tragedy occurred. This image doesn’t conform to what “we”, as a culture, wanted, perhaps even needed, the bomber to look like. Instead of the stereotypical guy-in-a-cave or guy-in-a-shack, Dzhokhar here looks like someone we might know. More than that, given that this is an Instagrammed selfie, he even acts like someone we know, someone we recognize as “normal”. It breaks from the script: The bomber was never supposed to be so familiar.
The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders. Here’s How. by Zeynep Tufekci at The Atlantic
We need to figure out how to balance the public interest in learning about a mass shooting with the public interest in reducing copycat crime. The guidelines on reporting on teen suicides were established after a spate of teenage suicides in the United States, some through suicide pacts, in the 1980s. Those who created the guidelines looked at examples from other countries — for example, the subway suicides in Vienna in the 1980s, which decreased after the media changed its coverage — and provided specific recommendations: Don’t refer to the word suicide in the headline. Don’t report the method of the suicide. Don’t present it as an inexplicable act of an otherwise healthy person.
NRA Vendor Sells Ex-Girlfriend Target That Bleeds When You Shoot It by Elizabeth Plank at policymic
The target, which is delightfully called “the ex,” is sold by a vendor who was present at the annual convention. Although it’s unclear if they displayed the mannequin or not, it was included in the pamphlet they displayed at their booth. The company goes by the name of Zombie Industries and markets itself as the maker of “life-sized tactical mannequin targets.” After you shoot directly at it, the target will bleed and eventually look like this…
The company has a line of 15 zombies (one of which resembled President Obama so much that it was pulled from the conference by the NRA) and only one is female. To discriminate against Women by not having them represented in our product selection would be just plain sexist,” the website says. YES, because having the only female character in your line of mannequin targets be “the ex-girlfriend” doesn’t reinforce sexist and fatally dangerous stereotypes.
Maybe Shooting A Bleeding Target Of Your Ex-Lover Will Help Clarify Your Thoughts On Gun Control by Oliver Miller at Thought Catalog ®
Here’s an impassioned quote from one of the impassioned fans of the “Bleeding ‘The Ex’ Zombie Life-Sized Tactical Mannequin Target”:
“The dark haired one looks like my bitch ex-wife, who I HATE! I can’t wait to shoot her face off for taking my shit.”
Ah, such healthy, robust, all-American energy. Because ain’t that America, little pink houses for you and me, etc. Clearly, we’re in good hands, based on that actual quote from an actual person who owns an actual assault weapon. Anyway, so, the bleeding gory target of your ex-lover retails for $99.95. Buy yours today.