I was hoping the dogpile had ended, but it hasn’t.

Brian Leiter has a brief post about the role of Lisa Guenther.

Lisa Guenther is the Vanderbilt philosophy professor and former member of Rebecca Tuvel’s dissertation [committee?] who not only was an early signatory of the defamatory “Open Letter” but also offered several public facebook explanations for her conduct.

So I decided to look up her several Facebook explanations.

Depressing shit.

April 30:

Robin James on the deep reckoning and accountability demanded of those of us who do work in philosophy — especially white feminist philosophers like myself, because we should know better than to keep using the master’s tools over and over and over again —

“Rephrasing something I said in a comment elsewhere: Hypatia is not a bad apple here–it’s symptomatic of deeper and more fundamental issues in the profession, in the institutional practice of ‘philosophy’ as such. The journal and the article’s author are doing “Philosophy” perfectly. The white supremacy, racism, and transmisognoir are embedded in the project of ‘philosophy’ itself; how many scholars have *already* said this?

Except that there was no white supremacism or racism or “transmisognoir.”

Also April 30:

Essential reading for anyone who is reeling from Hypatia’s publication of an article on transracialism, and trying to figure out what accountability means in the wake of this act of epistemic injustice. [Then a paragraph by Rachel McKinnon]

People are “reeling” – over this “act of epistemic injustice.”

May 1, linking to the Hypatia apology:

This is what accountability looks like: “Working through conflicts, owning mistakes, and finding a way forward is part of the crucial, difficult work that feminism does. As members of Hypatia’s editorial board we are taking this opportunity to make Hypatia more deeply committed to the highest quality of feminist scholarship, pluralism, and respect. The words expressed here cannot change the harm caused by the fact of the article’s publication, but we hope they convey the depth and sincerity of our commitment to make necessary changes to move forward and do better.”

There was no harm caused by the fact of the article’s publication.

Also May 1:

Via Meena Krishnamurthy: “One of the central criticism of the piece by Tuvel on the infamous Dolezal case is that it failed to engage with much of the relevant literature by POC and transgender people.”

Then a call for help drawing up a list of relevant literature. This post is innocuous in itself, but as part of a relentless series, not so much.

Also May 1:

This is what a collective demand for accountability looks like:

With a link to that disgusting Hypatia “apology.”

May 2, one I posted about at the time:

This article, like the post at the Daily Nous, goes through the arguments of Rebecca Tuvel’s article, “In Defense of Transracialism,” to argue that they’re not so bad after all: no outrageous claims, no offensive slurs, nothing but reasonable arguments. But this is precisely the problem: it’s what Charles Mills critiques as “ideal theory,” which attempts (in the words of author Jesse Singal) to “pull up one level from the real world and force people to grapple with principles and claims on their own merits, rather than — in the case of Dolezal — baser instincts like disgust and outrage.”

But ideal theory is not the only alternative to irrational “baser instincts.” What ideal theory abstracts from–and this is the reason why Mills argues that ideal theory is ideology– is the network of power relations that shape particular historical contexts and meanings.

THIS is the fundamental problem with Tuvel’s article, and with all of the defenses I have read so far: It “toy[s] around” (Singal’s words again) with a few arguments about issues that deeply and viscerally affect the lives of people whose social location is radically different from her own, with no evidence in the article of an awareness of the context, power dynamics, or stakes of these issues for trans people and people of color. This is why it should not have been published in Hypatia, and why the demand for a retraction is not simply the irrational whim of an “angry” mob, but a critique of white feminist ideal theory as transphobic and anti-black ideology.

Full disclosure: I know Rebecca Tuvel, I was on her dissertation committee, I don’t think she intended to do harm by writing this article. But intentions do not determine or reduce impact. The point is not to avoid ever saying anything “wrong” or problematic. The point is to commit to accountability — both as actors and as bystanders. This is what all of us are called upon to do in this moment.

She accuses Tuvel (somewhat indirectly) of outrageous claims and offensive slurs, then says “I don’t think she intended to do harm by writing this article.” Oh really.

May 3:

The problem is not Angry Mob vs. Vulnerable Untenured Professor. The problem is white feminism. By white feminism, I do not mean feminism that happens to be practiced by white people. I mean feminism that is invested in whiteness as power and property, and that is willing to further the interests of white women at the expense of other marginalized and oppressed groups. I mean feminism as the collective self-promotion and self-protection of the most privileged women. Feminism that would rather strategically ally itself with cis hetero anti-black patriarchy than struggle to figure out what it means to become an effective ally and accomplice of black (and) trans people. THAT is the issue here, and it’s not just an issue for one or two people, it’s an issue for all of us.

Also May 3:

YES to this post by Kristie Dotson — “Calling the righteous indignation against Tuvel’s objectifying and shoddy article a “witch hunt” is quite Trump-y. In fact, so much of the defenses and responses are Trump-y. Should you be allowed to say anything and introduce any range of “alternative facts” because you have free speech? Should you not be held accountable when your position is underdeveloped about issues that impacts people’s lives? Should you be able to speak about a class of people you are not part of in derogatory terms and claim ignorance as an excuse? Or that they are too touchy and should grow thicker skin? Should you by pass the criticisms with excuses or just double down on your right to objectify anyone you so chose because of your “good will” and PhD-privilege? Should you participate in playing a role, yet again, in securing white and cis-gendered privilege at the sake of everyone else’s well-being? Careful folks. Because this stuff is starting to get #unforgivable.”

May 4:

What SHOULD accountability look like in the wake of what some people are calling the Hypatia Affair? Some suggestions I’ve heard so far: a community accountability process; the development of professional norms for philosophical engagement with issues that affect marginalized communities; changing or clarifying the editorial review process; changing the composition of the editorial board, so that there are fewer cis het able-bodied white women on the board and more trans, queer, and disabled people of color. This is an incomplete list. Please add to it, and/or critically discuss the possibilities I’ve listed here. I have not identified the people who came up with these ideas but if you’d like to self-identify, please do.

I have an idea! Choose one white feminist every week as a target for this kind of Correction. Be sure of course she is young and untenured, and that she hasn’t actually done anything wrong. Spend the week tearing her to shreds. The Perfect World will ensue in no time.

Also May 4: a link to someone else’s long long long post on the chosen target.

May 5:

Over the past few days, I have posted a few thoughts about accountability. A close friend (and a few strangers) have challenged me to account for gaps and failures in my own scholarship as a feminist philosopher, and for my responsibilities as a mentor to past and current graduate students.

So she does a paragraph about her own omissions and then has the fucking gall to say this:

I still stand behind the book, but it has many flaws, gaps, and silences that I would want to address if I were writing it now, and that I would probably critique in a peer review process. I’m thankful for criticism of the book, even when it’s painful or difficult to hear, and even though there’s nothing I can do to un-write the book.

But I have never had to contend with personal attacks or insults about my work or calls for retraction, and I don’t want to underestimate the very different kind of pain that this inflicts on a person. And I want to express my admiration for those who have been supporting Rebecca Tuvel as a person throughout the past week. I want to apologize to her personally for any pain I caused by signing the open letter requesting retraction, especially given that I was a member of her dissertation committee. I did not sign the letter lightly, and I do not consider the call for retraction a personal attack. The letter was addressed to Hypatia as a journal, and I continue to see it as a demand for accountability, made in a very intense, fraught moment, in an effort to stand in solidarity _with_ and _as_ black (and) trans feminist thinkers whose scholarship was marginalized in this article, but not only in this article.

So in the same moment that we condemn personal attacks, I think it’s absolutely vital for us, as a community of feminist philosophers, not to conflate personal attacks with substantive critique, and not to silence black and trans critics of Tuvel’s article by dismissing the critical response as a mob of haters who didn’t even read the article. Structural inequalities in power and authority compound vulnerability. White feminists can and have deployed our own vulnerability as a weapon against others whose position is more precarious than our own. I say “we” here because I want to be clear that this is something I am deeply implicated in, and also because I want to participate in what will no doubt be a long and fraught process of abolishing white feminism and committing to a practice of feminist philosophy that is creative, responsible, and liberatory.

What a nightmare.

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