This past fall I was asked to write an article about young women and philosophy for the American Philosophical Association. As most of you probably don’t know, I have a minor in Philosophy and have spent a lengthy amount of time studying it. When I was given the topic for the article, I had just finished my Feminist Philosophy course and felt equipped to delve into the complexity of the issue. If any of you have studied or read the work of famous philosophers like Nietzche, Plato, or Kant, you would know that philosophy has been historically male-dominated. As I wrote about in my article for the APA, undergraduate women learn philosophy and the basic ideas of society, love, and ethics through the eyes of white men.
In the wake of an important time for women, it is even more detrimental they study or read philosophy. Industries across the country are promoting a cleanse from male empowerment and the abuse as a result of it. The ever-growing “Me Too” campaign has now turned into “Time’s Up” in Hollywood. The American government is pushing to purge elected officials who have sexually harassed or abused others. Even the President of the United States is being accused of immoral and unjust behavior towards women. The next wave to fight for women’s rights and the demand for respect seemingly arrived once Trump was elected, but it has progressed and flourished into a historical event.
Although philosophy has a history of being dominated by white males, just like American history, it’s important for women to learn from that past and draw attention to the change that is needed. Reading the work of Plato allows women into the confined spaces of a man’s mind; one who lived during a time of female disregard. They say we learn history so that we don’t repeat it, so why not learn about the men who shaped the modern day ideas of right and wrong?
There are a lot of tools and important lessons women can take away from reading philosophy, but understanding the history of ideas and knowledge is immeasurable. Reading about what was considered to be poltically and socially correct back then will push young women to promote change even further. As I said in my previous article, “The coming evolution of our gender depends upon the wisdom of modern day women. We look to our mothers, aunts, sisters, and friends for knowledge – but philosophy can and should also provide guidance in teaching us about the history of our gender roles and how it might impact our future. Without understanding and ultimately questioning societal “truths”, we won’t be able to continue our progression towards equality and value. Philosophy can be the gateway drug to the euphoric high of living in a world of understanding if it’s advertised as such. Young women will gravitate to philosophy classrooms if they are taught how necessary and influential thinking intuitively will be not only their future but also to the future of humanity.” It’s important to know where we have been in order to go where we need to.
For a more in-depth analysis and look at women in philosophy, read my article “What Undergraduate Millenial Women Want”