Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Women Cannot "Stand Their Ground" in Self-Defense

Amanda Marcotte, Slate, South Carolina Says "Stand Your Ground" Law Doesn't Apply to Abused Women

South Carolina has an expansive "stand your ground" law that paves the way for someone to get immunity from prosecution by declaring that they killed another person in self-defense. Liberals have been critical of these laws, arguing that they make it far too easy for violent people to deliberately provoke or escalate confrontations and then avoid prosecution when things get out of hand. (There is some proof that such laws correlate with a rise in the murder rate.) There are also concerns that the laws are unfairly applied, due to massive racial disparities in who successfully invokes "stand your ground" to avoid punishment. Now comes a reason for women to be especially worried.

 

In South Carolina, prosecutors are trying to argue that a woman's right to stand her ground in a domestic dispute is less than a man's right to stand his ground with some stranger he's gotten into a fight with. Andrew Knapp at the Charleston Post and Courierwhich has been aggressively covering the issue of domestic violence in recent months—reports that three North Charleston women have been "charged with murder during the past two years after stabbing a boyfriend or a roommate she said attacked her," despite the existence of the state's strong "stand your ground" law. 

[h/t Molly McBurney]

We recently blogged here about legal scholarship on this issue.  In this article, Professor Mary Anne Franks argues:

This two-track system of self-defense — Battered Women’s Syndrome for women and Stand Your Ground for men — has far-reaching implications outside of the courtroom. Battered Women’s Syndrome sends the legal and social message that women should retreat even from their own homes in the face of objective, repeated harm to their bodies; Stand Your Ground sends the legal and social message that men can advance against strangers anywhere on the basis of vague, subjective perceptions of threats.

October 21, 2014 in Gender, Manliness, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

John Grisham Meet Catharine MacKinnon

During this media firestorm, John Grisham might want to study up on the work of legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon.  Her key takeaways: Pornography is oppression of women. Pornography exploits and harms the girls and women in it, and the men who consume it facilitate and further that exploitation and sex discrimination. 

Here's more on the story:

ABA Journal, John Grisham Says US "Has Gone Nuts" with Child Porn Incarcerations, Then Issues Apology.  Grisham said,

"We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child,” he said.  “But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”

 

He said the justice system fails to distinguish between child abusers and people who download porn. “I have no sympathy for real pedophiles,” Grisham said, “God, please lock those people up.”

 

For one response, see Heidi Stevens, Chicago Tribune, John Grisham, Kesha Cases Display Sexism

John Grisham's ire is up because a law school buddy of his got caught up in a Canadian child porn sting.

 

"His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website," the 59-year-old best-selling author told The Telegraph. "It was labeled '16 year old wannabe hookers or something like that'. And it said '16-year-old girls.' So he went there. … He shouldn't 'a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys."

 
Why are 16-year-old girls acceptable pornography subjects? Why is a middle-age man with a law degree justifying the exploitation of children, as long as the children are female? Does he believe 16-year-old girls actually "wannabe" hookers?

 

I don't know. I've never spoken with Grisham and I don't know his heart or his values. But I know his comments, and they are a deeply disturbing example of our ingrained and toxic belief that girls and women have, above and before all else, two roles: sexpot and helpmate.

 

 

October 21, 2014 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sex Discrimination History and the Flight Attendant Story

Flight Attendants Helped to Ground Sex Discrimination

[B]efore she started her job each day, Worrell had to step on the scale to prove she weighed between 105 and 118 pounds, undergo an inspection to make sure the seams in her stockings were straight and submit to a girdle check.

 

"It was just the way it was back then," says Worrell, 66, who started as a "stewardess" with United Airlines in 1968. "I didn't think it was the least bit odd. If they told me to stand on my head in the corner, I probably would have done it."

 

But during her 34-year career as a flight attendant, Worrell and other young women who started as stewardesses helped change the way the airlines and all employers dealt with women in the wake of the groundbreaking Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

 

"The flight attendants played an astonishing role in the development of Title VII," says professor Mary Rose Strubbe, assistant director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Strubbe, 66, who started her law career with a Chicago firm representing many of those flight attendants in discrimination cases, will be one of the presenters Thursday at the institute's conference on the role of flight attendants in fighting sex discrimination.

More on the conference

Title: "The Civil Rights Act @ 50: The Pioneering Role of Flight Attendants in Fighting Sex Discrimination"
What: A multimedia exploration of the critical role flight attendants played in the enforcement of Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination in the workplace
When: 9:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, Oct. 23
Where: IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law's Governor Richard B. Ogilvie Auditorium, 565 W. Adams St., Chicago
Sponsors: IIT Chicago-Kent's Institute for Law and the Workplace, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law
Cost: Free         

October 21, 2014 in Conferences, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Australian Airlines Discrimination against Men

The story is old (two years, now), but intriguing, and I haven't found any news to indicate a change in policy.  

One Qantas passenger said he felt he had been branded a "kiddie fiddler" after he was asked to move away from a young girl.

Daniel McCluskie, a nurse who had been seated next to a 10-year-old girl, said he was left humiliated and paranoid after a flight attendant asked him to swap seats with a woman passenger.

"After the plane had taken off, the air hostess thanked the woman that had moved but not me, which kind of hurt me," he said. "It appeared I was in the wrong, because it seemed I had this sign I couldn't see above my head that said 'child molester' or 'kiddie fiddler' whereas she did the gracious thing and moved to protect the greater good of the child."

Qantas said its policy was consistent with other airlines but it rarely asked passengers to swap seats after boarding.

Hold on, though: 

But one woman, Susan Lyons, a 67-year-old grandmother, said male passengers "should be whooping for joy" at the opportunity to avoid enduring a flight next to unaccompanied children.

"Be thankful you are blokes," she said in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. "Pity the lady who was hoping for a quiet flight that had to swap seats with you."

October 20, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hotel Housekeepers at "Great Risk" of Sexual Assault

From the New Republic

When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of assaulting Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who was sent to clean his hotel room, hospitality workers thought the story seemed all-too-plausible. In a New York Times op-ed, Jacob Tomsky, a veteran of the hotel industry, wrote that housekeepers are assaulted by guests “more often than you’d think,” and that their employers don’t offer much protection. In a recent account on xoJane, an anonymous woman describes a decade’s worth of sexual harassment in different parts of the hotel industry—from working the front desk to cleaning rooms. It’s so systemic, she says, that the women developed coordinated strategies to cope with it—like enlisting other housekeepers to stay with them when they’re assigned to clean the room of a “known pervert.”

And: 

These anecdotes are alarming—and now, new empirical research paints a truly dire picture of the lives of female hotel workers. For a new paper in the journal Gender, Work & Organization, a team of researchers from the Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management at Griffith University in Australia, interviewed female hotel workers employed by 5-star hotels on the Gold Coast, a city in Queensland. Of the 46 women who participated in the study, 44 had experienced some kind of inappropriate advance from a male guest—ranging from jokes to propositions to assaults. Sanrda Kensbock, the study’s lead author, wasn’t able to give me a breakdown by type of incident, but it’s safe to say that—whatever form it takes—harassment a widespread problem. “We found guest-initiated sexual harassment to be pervasive and normalized within the hotel workplace,” she wrote. “The low status of hospitality workers renders them particularly vulnerable, with the power held by the instigator being a critical component of sexual harassment.”

October 20, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Books: A History of Women in Law and Lawmaking in Europe

Eva Schandevyl (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium), ed., Women in Law and Lawmaking in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Europe (Sept. 2014)

Exploring the relationship between gender and law in Europe from the nineteenth century to present, this collection examines the recent feminisation of justice, its historical beginnings and the impact of gendered constructions on jurisprudence. It looks at what influenced the breakthrough of women in the judicial world and what gender factors determine the position of women at the various levels of the legal system.


Every chapter in this book addresses these issues either from the point of view of women's legal history, or from that of gendered legal cultures. With contributions from scholars with expertise in the major regions of Europe, this book demonstrates a commitment to a methodological framework that is sensitive to the intersection of gender theory, legal studies and public policy, and that is based on historical methodologies. As such the collection offers a valuable contribution both to women's history research, and the wider development of European legal history.

October 18, 2014 in Books, International, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sheley on "Condemned Woman as Historical Relic"

Erin Sheley, GW Law, has uploaded "Doubled Jeopardy: The Condemned Woman as Historical Relic."  It is forthcoming from Law and Literature and its abstract reads: 

This article explores how Sir Walter Scott's fictional condemned women serve as relics through which a history of evolving British legal authority becomes present and legible. It argues that Scott's treatment of gender aestheticizes a particular concept of and reaction to the condemned woman in the context of the common law tradition generally. Using the backdrop of eighteenth century penal practice, it also shows how Scott establishes the female condemned body as an object necessarily fixed in time in order to contemplate legal change through a historically controlled process. The first part of the article considers the late eighteenth century movement to abolish the punishment of burning at the stake for women convicted of treason, and the extent to which competing understandings of chivalry reified an entire history of penal practice into the body of the burned woman. The second part argues that the interrelations between archaic practice and evolved norm which characterize the precedent-based common law system are dramatized in the fixed, idealized bodies of Constance de Beverly and Rebecca of York through which Scott acknowledges the implicit need for legal change over time, while simultaneously legitimizing adherence to a chivalric tradition.

October 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

When Transgender Rights Clash with Feminism

From the NYT: 

Like every other matriculating student at Wellesley, which is just west of Boston, Timothy Boatwright was raised a girl and checked “female” when he applied. Though he had told his high-school friends that he was transgender, he did not reveal that on his application, in part because his mother helped him with it, and he didn’t want her to know. Besides, he told me, “it seemed awkward to write an application essay for a women’s college on why you were not a woman.” Like many trans students, he chose a women’s college because it seemed safer physically and psychologically.

And: 

Last spring, as a sophomore, Timothy decided to run for a seat on the student-government cabinet, the highest position that an openly trans student had ever sought at Wellesley. The post he sought was multicultural affairs coordinator, or “MAC,” responsible for promoting “a culture of diversity” among students and staff and faculty members. Along with Timothy, three women of color indicated their intent to run for the seat. But when they dropped out for various unrelated reasons before the race really began, he was alone on the ballot. An anonymous lobbying effort began on Facebook, pushing students to vote “abstain.” Enough “abstains” would deny Timothy the minimum number of votes Wellesley required, forcing a new election for the seat and providing an opportunity for other candidates to come forward. The “Campaign to Abstain” argument was simple: Of all the people at a multiethnic women’s college who could hold the school’s “diversity” seat, the least fitting one was a white man.

October 17, 2014 in Education, LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lawyer Denied Continuance for Maternity Leave Challenges Sexism of Judge

ATL, Judge Refuses to Postpone Hearing Because Maternity Leave Isn't a Good Enough Excuse.  Solo practitioner denied requested and unopposed motion to postpone a hearing for three weeks due to maternity leave.  She then appears for the hearing, with her weeks-old infant, but is berated by the judge for her lack of parenting skills. The lawyer subsequently filed a complaint against the judge for sex discrimination.  As she explained:

I was forced to bring my weeks old daughter with me as day care centers do not accept infants less than 6 weeks of age and I have no family in Georgia that could help me look after my baby.  My husband is a truck driver and was out of state today.  My family is in Iowa and my husband’s family is in New York and New Jersey.  We have only lived in Georgia since November of last year.  When the IJ saw me with my daughter, he was outraged.  He scolded me for being inappropriate for bringing her.  He questioned the fact that day care centers do not accept infants less than 6 weeks of age.  He then questioned my mothering skills as he commented how my pediatrician must be appalled that I am exposing my daughter to so many germs in court. He humiliated me in open court. 

 

The IJ believes that because I accepted representation knowing the next master calendar hearing was during my maternity leave, I am at fault and undeserving of a continuance to October 24- the day I’m expected to be cleared for return to work by my doctor.  Apparently my clients do not deserve to be represented by counsel of their choice if that counsel happens to be a pregnant woman.  Likewise, pregnant women should not be litigating attorneys due to their “condition”.  This thinking is absolutely reprehensible and should not be accepted by anyone within or representing the Department of Justice.  I am horrified that this occurred and that I had to bring my infant to court with me.  Despite the IJ’s belief, child birth is no minor inconvenience and rightfully calls for a six week absence from work – if not longer as most other developed countries recognize.  Furthermore, I am a qualified, experienced and ethical attorney that should not have to stop practicing law upon becoming pregnant to accommodate the backward thinking of certain judges.

 

October 16, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (1)

Zeal to Address Campus Sexual Assault Violates Due Process

In our zeal to address campus sexual assault, and compensate for past inaction, we may be running afoul of basic due process protections.  It's not a zero sum game here--we can both respond meaningfully to campus assault and comply with the usual and important protections of due process.

Some Harvard Professors Oppose Policy on Assaults

Dozens of Harvard Law School faculty members are asking the university to withdraw its new sexual misconduct policy, saying that it violates basic principles of fairness and would do more harm than good.

 

Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required” by the federal anti-discrimination law, known as Title IX, they wrote in an op-ed article signed by 28 current and retired members of the Harvard Law faculty and posted online by The Boston Globe on Tuesday night.

 

“It’s a totally secret process, in which real genuine unfairnesses can happen, and it’s so airtight that no one would know,” Janet Halley, one of the professors who signed the article, said Wednesday.

More here, New Republic, Accused College Rapists Have Rights Too: The Victims Deserve Justice. The Men Deserve Due Process.

October 16, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cosmopolitan's Editor Discusses Double-Standards for Men

In the New Republic, the EIC of Cosmpolitan said: 

I think that women's lives are multilayered. I have no problem understanding that women are interested in mascara and the Middle East. Men are allowed to talk about sports relentlessly and yet we still take them seriously. I don't understand why women can't talk about fashion, or sex, or love, or wanting more money and not be taken as seriously as men.

More here. 

October 14, 2014 in Manliness, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics to Stay Open"

Thus reads the article title from the NYT's on Tuesday.  The story:  

The Supreme Courton Tuesday blocked a federal appeals court ruling that was forcing many abortion clinics in Texas to close.

The Supreme Court’s order, which was five sentences long, will allow the clinics to remain open while appeals proceed.

On Oct. 2, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, provisionally let stand a Texas law that requires all abortion clinics in the state to meet the standards for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing.

State officials said the law’s requirements were needed to protect women’s health. Abortion providers said the regulations were expensive, unnecessary and a ruse meant to put many of them out of business.

The Supreme Court vacated the part of the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that had let the surgical-center requirement go into effect. It also vacated a second part of the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, concerning the law’s requirement that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as it applied to clinics in McAllen, Tex., and El Paso.

October 14, 2014 in Abortion, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomas on Divorce History Through a Gendered Lens

Tomorrow, I am presenting as part ofthe University of Akron's Rethinking Gender series." The title of my talk is "Understanding Divorce Law Historically Through the Lens of Gender."  It is based on a chapter of my book project, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law now nearing completion.

One running theme of the book is appreciating Stanton as a lay lawyer - a person trained by her father, who was a judge and lawyer who apprenticed young lawyers in their home; a person analytically inclined to "think like a lawyer;" who understood the normative function of the law; and who advocated for legislative reform and legal change.  This legal understanding, I think, offers insights for us in both understanding her work in the nineteenth-century, and also incorporating its relevance today.  See Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Notion of a Legal Class of Gender, in Feminist Legal History (Thomas & Boisseau, eds. NYUP 2011).

On divorce, Stanton was a vocal and persistent advocate for no-fault, or "easy divorce."  But more importantly from my perspective is that she framed divorce as a woman's issue.  Divorce was both a right and a remedy for woman's wrongs. Her life-long commitment to divorce reform attacked the problem of restrictive marriages, which confined women into legal obscurity under coverture, patriarchal social expectations, and sometimes domestic abuse. 

Her framework of gender approached the divorce issue from the three classic feminist approaches: equality, difference, and systemic.  As to formal equality, Stanton challenged the double moral standard that supported the law of divorce, for example, allowing divorce for the wife's adultery, but requiring "aggravated" adultery of adultery plus some additional fault like cruelty, dessertion, or sodomy by the husband.  Her equality theories conceptualized divorce as a individual right, granting women autonomy and psychological freedom to control their own personal relations. 

As to difference, Stanton argued that fault grounds for divorce should be expanded to address the different concerns of women.  The law was too focused on grounds based on sexual privilege, as in adultery and failure to consummate.  Instead, it needed to include grounds most relevant to women, cruelty and desertion. A cruelty divorce mechanism connected to Stanton's work on temperance and against domestic violence, arguing the necessity of releasing and protecting women and children in abusive relationships.  Desertion was important for women because they needed a court to restore their legal rights as a single woman to contract, hold property, earn income, and have custody of their children.  Men accomplished desertion by practice, simply walking away, often headed West, retaining their legal identity, all property rights, and the ability to earn a livelihood and thus in little need of the courts. 

These specific arguments as to divorce grounds though were part of Stanton's much bigger and radical challenge to the system of marriage itself. She conceptualized marriage not as a covenant or status, but as a contract.  And as a contract between two fully equal partners.  And as a contract like any other employment or commercial contract that could be modified or terminated at the will of the parties. This gave her the legal foundation to justify no-fault divorce, though it didn't mollify the moral critics.  Despite opposition from most other feminist reformers, Stanton continued to advocate for free access to divorce, fighting against the backlash and growing conservativism at the end of the century.  See Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the Federal Marriage Amendment, 22 Const. Comment. 137 (2005).


October 14, 2014 in Family, Gender, Legal History, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Shows Gender Stereotypes Persist for Single-Sex Schools

Single-Gender Schools May Lead to Stereotyping

Public, single-gender schools have become more common over the last decade, but new research shows that people might choose such schools based on de-bunked ideas of differences in male and female brains.

 

Meagan Patterson, associate professor of psychology and research in education, co-authored a study with Erin Pahlke of Whitman College and Rebecca Bigler of the University of Texas in which they surveyed parents, teachers and students at both an all-girls school in the southwestern United States as well as parents, teachers and students from co-ed schools in the same district. They asked respondents about reasons that their district had opened an all-girls school and their personal endorsement of these reasons. The study is published in the journal Sex Roles.

 

They found that teachers largely embrace the idea that differences in boys’ and girls’ brains affect the way they learn. Neuroscience research fails to support that claim. But despite neuroscientists showing that such differences are small and the similarities between the two genders’ brains and learning styles are much greater, the idea has nto teaching materials, the media and acceptance in society.

October 14, 2014 in Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Young Women Fighting ISIS

From the New Republic: 

“I see the Syrian revolution as not only a popular revolution of the people but also as a revolution of the woman, therefore I see myself as part of the revolution,” said Jazera, 21. “The woman has been suppressed for more than 50,000 years and now we have the possibility of having our own will, our own power and our own personality.” 

Jazera, like thousands of other women in Rojava, the Kurdish region of Syria, is a member of the women’s wing of the People’s Protection Unit (YPG)—an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish-Kurdish guerrilla group designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union because of its three-decade insurgency against NATO ally Turkey. 

Of the 40,000–50,000 Kurdish troops in Syria, 35 percent are women, according to YPG spokesman Redur Khalil. Most women are not married, he added, but said there had been exceptional circumstances in which even mothers had joined the women's wing, known as YPJ.

October 13, 2014 in International, Masculinities, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Microsoft's CEO on Women and Pay Raises

Slightly old news now, but from the NYT: 

If you are a man speaking at a conference celebrating women in computing, it is probably all right to flatter the largely female audience members by telling them they possess “superpowers.”
It is probably unwise, though, to imply that they should avoid asking for a pay raise.

Just ask Satya Nadella.

Mr. Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, suggested on Thursday that women who do not ask for more money from their employers would be rewarded in the long run when their good work was recognized. The comments, made at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, drew swift and negative responses on Twitter.

And some commentary from Forbes magazine:  

Lots of men don’t “get it.” Lots of men don’t want to. And many men “get it” only imperfectly, but are open to course correction.

What we need now – all of us who have been working for gender equality in leadership, position and compensation – is a nuanced conversation focused on swift and effective action – not soapbox slogans. Women can not do this alone, and we can recruit those who are willing to our side…not alienate them for life. I for one think that Satya Nadella is the perfect candidate for an activist ally. Why not concentrate on that?

October 12, 2014 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

NYT Special Ed Book Review: Women and Power

New York Times: Books

What books would you have reviewed here?

October 11, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book Review: The Birth of the Pill

New Republic, How the Pill Overcame Impossible Odds and Found a Place in Million of Women's Purses.  Purses?? Well... whatever.

In The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, Jonathan Eig chronicles the decades-long effort to make that fantasy a reality. In his telling, this transformation is thanks to a unique alliance between feminists and scientists: the spotlight-seeking activist Margaret Sanger, the rebel researcher Goody Pincus, the single-minded heiress Katherine McCormick, and the photogenic family doctor John Rock. These four people provide a formula for what it takes to create scientific breakthroughs that are ahead of their time politically: an incredible amount of drive and little concern for traditional values, a willingness to flout powerful institutions and their rewards, a tremendous amount of money, and, eventually, a way to appeal to the mainstream. It’s no wonder that, despite lots of modern talk about disruption and innovation, truly world-changing breakthroughs are so rare.

 

 

October 11, 2014 in Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Malala Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Friday, October 10, 2014

Andover's GSA Is Having Their High School Conference This Weekend

Photo: GSA Pride Weekend officially starts tomorrow!!! 

Here's a comprehensive schedule of the weekend's events. We have some exciting things on the docket this year (including being joined by GSAs from other schools on Saturday), so make sure you don't miss out!

October 10, 2014 in LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)