Ethics Updates


Gender & Sexism

Internet Resources Relating to Gender and Ethics

Court Decisions Commission Reports, Documents Gender-Related Web Sites

Online Surveys

NPR's Talk of the Nation

Women's Wasteland? (14.4 | 28.8Host:  Melinda Penkava.  Cyberspace was once dominated by men, but there's an increasing number of websites not only aimed at women, but designed and created by women as well. Some observers have complained that the new offerings-- much like offerings in television, cable, and magazines-- are full of the same tired cliches about women as empty-headed consumers. Is new media relying on old stereotypes?  February 10, 2000

The New (Old) Machismo (14.4 | 28.8Host:  Mike Shuster.  Lately it seems more acceptable-- even endearing-- for men to be insensitive slobs. Programs like 'The Man Show' glorify beer-drinking, boorish frat-boy humor, while making no apologies for objectifying women. Much of the humor is tongue in cheek, but is the irony too subtle for most people? January 10, 2000

The Changing American Family  (14.4 | 28.8Host:  Brooke Gladstone.  The American family is undergoing a major transformation. People are getting married later-- if at all-- and families with more than one child are becoming more and more rare. Researchers say that by the turn of the century, more than half of the nation's children will not be living with both parents. What will the future family be? How will these changes affect children?  December 2, 1999

Infidelity (14.4 | 28.8Host:  Melinda Penkava.  Infidelity is no longer a private matter... beyond political scandals, therapists and family counselors are writing more about the issue, and new studies are researching what motivates infidelity, and ways to repair the damage it inflicts on marriages and families.  November 4, 1999

Motherhood and Work(14.4 | 28.8) Host:  Ray Suarez.  Nearly everyone would agree that mothers have a right to work if they wish... but SHOULD mothers work, or stay at home with the children? It remains a contentious question, with advocates on both sides quick to launch into moral arguments for and against. February 17, 1999

Sexual Harassment Two monumental decisions involving workplace harassment were handed down by the Supreme Court on Friday. Studies indicate that many working women have experienced some form of sexual misconduct on the job. With complaints of harassment at work on the rise, the consequences of the recent court rulings could have important ramifications for employers and supervisors around the nation. The Supreme Court rulings on sexual harassment, and what it means to you...on the next Talk of the Nation....from NPR News. June 29, 1998

Sexual Harassment Law   Guests:  Linda Holstein, Partner, Lockridge, Grindall, Nauen & Holstein, Head of the Employment Law Group.  The Paula Jones case and the Monica Lewinsky scandal have directed national attention to the challenges of defining and interpreting sexual harassment law.  March 25, 1998.

Working Fathers , James Levine, Director of the Fatherhood Project at the Families and Work, Institute in New York City. June 12, 1997. Host: Melinda Penkava

Working Mothers , Host: Melinda Penkava. April 30, 1997.

Sexual Harassment in the Army . Host: Ray Suarez. February 11, 1997.

Sexual Harassment Guests: Joe Artebane, Partner, Riley and Artebane Lawfirm, Washington, D.C. May 8, 1996.

Women in the Military . Guests: Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, History Professor, Emory University, Author, Feminism is Not the Story of My Life (Doubleday, 1996); Captain Rosemary Mariner, Captain, US Navy, Professor of Military Strategy, National War College. December 4, 1996.

Women and Pornography . Guests: Wendy McElroy, Author, A Woman's Right to Pornography (1995, St. Martins Press); Susie Bright, Editor, The Best American Erotica (1995, Touchstone Books)

Feminism Revisited Anne Roiphe, author of Fruitful: A Real Mother in the Modern World, and her daughter Katie Roiphe, author of The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campus, join Talk of the Nation for a conversation about their differing takes on feminism and how they've bridged the generation gap. October 16, 1996

A Bibliographical Survey of Philosophical Literature on Gender

Biliographical essays are drawn from Lawrence M. Hinman, Contemporary Moral Issues


In addition to the standard journals in ethics discussed in the Appendix, there are several excellent journals devoted to issues of feminism. Signs is one of the oldest, and is a genuinely interdisciplinary journal devoted to issues relating to women; Hypatia is a philosophy journal created by members of the Society of Women in Philosophy; also see Feminist Studies and differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies.

Review Articles; Overviews

For an excellent overview of feminist ethics, see Alison M. Jaggar, "Feminist Ethics," Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1992), Vol. I, pp. 361-370; Jane Grimshaw, "The Idea of a Female Ethic," A Companion to Ethics, edited by Peter Singer (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), pp. 491-499. For an excellent overview of various positions, see Rosemarie Tong, Feminine and Feminist Ethics (Belmont: Wadsworth, 1993) and Feminist Frameworks, edited by Alison M Jaggar and Paula S. Rothenberg, 2nd edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 1984).

Anthologies, Articles and Books

There are a number of excellent anthologies on feminism and ethics, including Eva Feder Kittay and Diana Meyer's Women and Moral Theory (Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1987); Feminism and Political Theory, edited by Cass R. Sunstein (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990); Claudia Card's Feminist Ethics (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 1991), which contains an excellent bibliography; Explorations in Feminist Ethics, edited by Eva Browning Cole and Susan Coultrap-McQuin (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), which also has an excellent bibliography; Ethics: A Feminist Reader, edited by Elizabeth Frazer, Jennifer Hornsby, and Sabina Lovibond (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992); Women and Values. Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy, Second Edition, edited by Marilyn Pearsall (Belmont: Wadsworth, 1993). For a lively, representative selection of contemporary articles on feminism, see Feminism: Opposing Viewpoints, edited by Carol Wekesser (San Diego, CA : Greenhaven Press, 1995).

Rita C. Manning, Speaking from the Heart. A Feminist Perspective on Ethics (Lantham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1992) is one of many excellent defenses of feminist perspectives in ethics. For a critical look at some elements in contemporary feminism, see Katie Roiphe, The Morning After. Sex, Fear, and Feminism (Boston: Little, Brown, 1993) and Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994).

Gender and Moral Voices

Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982) has had a profound impact in a wide range of disciplines; her more recent work is to be found in a collection of essays that she co-edited with Janie Victoria Ward and Jill McLean Taylor, Mapping the Moral Domain (Cambridge: Center for the Study of Gender, Education and Human Development, 1988) and in Meeting at the Crossroad, by Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992). Nel Noddings's Caring (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984) and, more recently, her book Women and Evil (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989) have also been influential in articulating a distinctive moral voice for women.

Several journal exchanges are also of particular relevance here, most of which have appeared in Ethics: the Kohlberg-Flanagan exchange on "Virtue, Sex, and Gender" Ethics, Vol. 92, No. 3 (April, 1982), pp. 499-532; Lawrence Blum's "Gilligan and Kohlberg: Implications for Moral Theory" Ethics, Vol. 98, No. 3 (April, 1988), pp. 472-91; and the symposium on "Feminism and Political Theory," Ethics, Vol. 99, No. 2 (January, 1989). Owen Flanagan's Varieties of Moral Personality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991) contains several excellent chapters (esp. Chapters 9-11) on this issue. Blum's essay, along with his previously unpublished "Gilligan's 'Two Voices' and the Moral Status of Group Identity," are both to be found in his Moral Perception and Particularity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Also see the essays in Part III of Claudia Card's anthology Feminist Ethics, cited above.

Pornography and Hate Speech

For a survey of the ethical issues surround pornography, as well as an excellent bibliography, see Donald VanDeVeer, "Pornography," Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1992), Vol. II, pp. 991-993. See the now classic pieces in Take Back the Night, edited by Laura Lederer (New York: William Morrow, 1980). For strong statements of opposition to pornography, see Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (New York: Perigree Books, 1983), Catharine A. MacKinnon, Only Words (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993). For a representative selection of philosophical positions on this issue, see Pornography and Censorship, edited by David Copp and Susan Wendell (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1983).

The issue of banning hate speech has received a lot of attention in the past decade. Some of the most influential essays are gathered together in Mari J. Matsuda, et al., Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1993) and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., et al., Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex, Hate Speech, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, with an Introduction by Ira Glesser (New York: New York University Press, 1994); also see Gates' "Let Them Talk: Why Civil Liberties Pose No Threat to Civil Rights," The New Republic, Vol. 209, No. 12-13 (September 20, 1993), pp. 37 ff. Andrew Altman, "Liberalism and Campus Hate Speech: A Philosophical Examination," Ethics, Vol. 103, No. 2 (January, 1993), pp. 302-317. On the more general issue of sexist language, see Sexist Language. A Modern Philosophical Analysis, edited by Mary Vetterling-Braggin (n.p.: Littlefield, Adams and Co., 1981)

Sexual Harassment

See the review article "Sexual Abuse and Harassment" by Naomi Scheman in Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1992), Vol. II, pp. 1139-1141. Also see Catharine MacKinnon, Sexual Harassment of Working Women (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979) for a view of sexual harassment as sex discrimination. Also see the excellent anthology, Sexual Harassment: Confrontations and Decisions, edited by Edmund Wall (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1992)

Affirmative Action

For a general bibliography of affirmative action, see the references mentioned in the bibliography for the chapter on race and ethnicity. For a perceptive analysis of the ways in which certain practices result in sex discrimination, see Mary Anne Warren, "Secondary Sexism and Quota Hiring," Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 6 (1977), pp. 240-261. In addition, see Justice, Gender, and Affirmative Action, by Susan D. Clayton and Faye J. Crosby (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992).

Recent Literature on Gender

Mary Mahowald, "Reproductive Genetics and Gender Justice." Full text available.

Berkshire Associates Inc. - Recent Articles on Affirmative Action. Good selection of resources on affirmative action and gender.

Marquita Sykes, "The Origins of Affirmative Action." A History of Affirmative Action. Full text.

Yael Tamir, "Hands Off Clitoridectomy: What our revulsion reveals about ourselves." The Boston Review, 1996.

Suggestions for Discussion Questions and Term Paper Topics

Rights and Relativism
  • Recently, several women have sought asylum in the United States while fleeing the practice of genital mutliation in their home countries.  The case raises several interesting issues, one of which concerns cultural relativism. Can we judge the moral worth of practices (such as genital mutiliation) that occur in other cultures? How should we act when confronted with such practices? For more information on this issue, see The Global Action Against Female Genital Mutilation and The Female Genital Mutilation Research Home Page.
Same-Sex Educational Institutions
  • The Supreme Court has recently declared the Virginia Military Institute's policy of admitting males only to be unconstitutional.  Yet this raises questions about whether state-supported same-sex education is ever permissible. For example, plans are currently under way in New York to open a public school for girls only, beginning with seventh graders. (See "Plan for Girls-Only School Raises Issues of Bias," New York Times, July 16, 1996.) Studies have suggested that girls, especially from poorer neighborhoods, do better in classrooms without boys, at least in part because of social pressure not to appear smarter than the boys. (Also see Jeffrey Rosen, "Single-Sex Schools and Double Standards," The New York Times, July 3, 1996.) Do single-sex schools have any legitimate place in our society? What does your answer to that question reveal about your views on the place of gender in the ideal society?