Thursday, November 20, 2014
In the aftermath of Veterans' Day, some thinking about women in the military.
- On the draft: Lawmaker Wants Selective Service to Include Women
- On combat: Marine Corps Study May Help Shape Future for Women in Combat Roles
From disposable razors to chocolate, French women are being charged more than men for near-identical products, according to the French rights group Georgette Sand. The group has taken photographs at a variety of stores that appear to show different prices for similar types of products depending on the gender they are being marketed to.
The group calls it a secret "tax" on women. For example, according to photos posted by the group, women pay more for disposable razors sold in separately branded packaging.***
In response to the public outcry, some French media outlets are pointing at the United States as a role model. In 1995, California signed a bill that banned gender discrimination in pricing, and many states have since followed suit. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times from back then, analysts were optimistically expecting to save women $1,350 a year per person but warned that the law could theoretically also force some merchants to raise prices to ensure equality. However, a 2010 study conducted by Consumer Reports magazine showed that gendered pricing persisted in many other parts of the United States.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Well, Ms Rybody, it’s funny that you should ask this for, truly, this has become the biggest fashion question – possibly even the only fashion question – in not just the world, but the entire cosmos. For anyone who might have missed it, last week there was some dinky story about a probe landing on a comet for the first time ever. I know what you’re thinking: “Probe, schmobe, get to the real issue here – what was one of the scientists wearing?!?!?!?” Glad to be of service! The project scientist, Dr Matt Taylor, appeared on TV wearing a shirt patterned with images of semi-clothed women that I assume (not being an expert in either of these fields) reference video games and heavy metal albums. Cue internet rage! Everything that followed was utterly predictable, but not especially edifying. The story went through the five cycles of internet rage: initial amusement; astonishment; outrage; backlash to the outrage; humiliated apology. First, our attention was drawn to the shirt via some sniggering tweets; this was swiftly followed by shock and its usual accompaniment, outrage, with some women suggesting the shirt reflected a sexism at the heart of the science community. As generally happens when a subject takes a feminist turn on the internet, the idiots then turned up, with various lowlifes telling the women who expressed displeasure at the shirt to go kill themselves. (This is not an exaggeration, and there is no need to give these toerags further attention in today’s discussion.)
Just as a simple error on the part of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s driver led to the start of the first world war, so this stupid shirt sparked the beginning of World War Shirt. The scientist knew he had to respond and so, during what I am told by youngsters is called a “Google Hangout”, Dr Smith issued a tearful apology for his shirt. Rumours that the offending shirt, stiff with dried salty tears, has been spotted in Dr Smith’s local charity shop have yet to be confirmed.
Look, I didn’t especially like his shirt, but I also don’t think one can expect much more of a heavily inked dude with a well-established penchant for bad T-shirts. As a cursory search on Google Images (hard research here, people!) proves, this one, while not in the best of taste, was clearly part of that tendency. Yes, it’s an embarrassing shirt and yes, it was a stupid shirt to wear on international TV. But the man is – classic batty scientist cliche – so absentminded that, according to his sister, he regularly loses his car in car parks. So if Taylor committed any crime, it was a crime of bad taste and stupidity rather than burn-him-at-the-stake sexism.
And, well said conclusion:
I totally understand why some women were offended by Taylor’s shirt, and I especially understand the frustration felt by female scientists who feel marginalised enough in their profession without high-profile men wearing shirts featuring half-naked women. But I can’t help but feel that outrage would be better spent on complaining about how few women were present in the control room for the probe landing. There are so many signifiers of sexism in the world and – I believe (again, not an expert in this field) – the science world that to attack a man for his shirt feels a little bit like fussing at a leaky tap when the whole house is under a tidal wave. Some people online have suggested that Taylor’s shirt proves he is a misogynist, or that he sees women purely as sex objects, or that he revels in marginalising them. Personally, if I saw a male colleague wearing that shirt, my reaction would be amazement that a grown man has the fashion taste of a 13-year-old. There is a difference – and I concede, the difference may be fuzzy in some cases – between enjoying the weird fantasy-world depiction of women, and seeing actual women as sex objects. Taylor has the right to wear whatever pig-ugly shirt he likes, and people have the right to be outraged by it. But when that outrage leads to a grown man weeping on TV, perhaps we all need to ask if this outrage is proportionate. My God, I’m a fashion bitch and even I don’t want to make anyone cry over my comments about their clothes.
Medicine has not traditionally been very kind to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. While homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973, and was no longer considered a disorder, attempts by doctors to “treat” it persist even today. Though research and understanding of LGBT healthcare has improved in recent years, the social stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT people leads to health disparities that put them at higher risk for certain conditions. This is also the case with those who are gender non-conforming, or who are born with atypical sex anatomy (sometimes called “intersex,” though the medical term for the condition is “disorders of sex development,” or DSD).
With all that in mind, the American Association of Medical Colleges released new guidelines earlier this week on how to improve med school curricula to better prepare young doctors to treat their LGBT, gender non-conforming, and DSD patients. Authors of the publication spanned all aspects of the medical profession, from psychiatry to genetics to clinical practice. I spoke with Kristen Eckstrand, a fourth-year medical student at Vanderbilt University, chair of the AAMC Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Development, and editor of the guidelines about what doctors need to know to treat their patients effectively and respectfully.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who is eight months pregnant and cannot travel to Washington, will not be allowed to vote by proxy in the upcoming leadership battles, as Democrats refused to make an exception to their hard-and-fast rules about proxy voting.
National Journal reports that Duckworth, a Iraq War veteran and double amputee, wrote a letter to her colleagues, asking that she be allowed to participate in the votes:
I think Nancy got this one wrong. Pelosi Dismisses "Fuss" Over Denial of Proxy Vote to Pregnant Lawmaker
Pelosi raised eyebrows last week when she emerged as a leading opponent of Duckworth's request, not least because the California liberal has made women's empowerment issues — including efforts to bolster family leave for working women — a central plank of the Democrats' policy platform.***
Pelosi, didn't mention the Eshoo-Pallone contest Monday, but said she spoke with Duckworth — "a lovely conversation" — and urged her to savor the experience of becoming a mother.
"I was one of the ones who said to Congresswoman Duckworth, 'Don't come back here. This is a most glorious experience of your life, the center of the universe will change for you when you have this precious new baby,' " Pelosi said.
Umm... Is this a senior woman mentor who has climbed to success pulling up the ladder behind her? "In my day, we didn't grant no proxies for pregnancy. I traveled 5000 miles in my 9th month of pregnancy, in the snow, to give my vote."
Pelosi made the slippery slope argument. Once we grant one person an exception, everybody wants one, and then geez, how do you decide. Well, let's see. Some, like pregnancy are a protected status. And others are not.
BTW, Nancy, Washington Post, it's representative not "congresswoman."
Jed Rubenfeld, NYT, Mishandling Rape
Our strategy for dealing with rape on college campuses has failed abysmally. Female students are raped in appalling numbers, and their rapists almost invariably go free. Forced by the federal government, colleges have now gotten into the business of conducting rape trials, but they are not competent to handle this job. They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.
We have to transform our approach to campus rape to get at the root problems, which the new college processes ignore and arguably even exacerbate.***
Is the answer, then, as conservatives argue, deregulation — getting the government off the universities’ backs? Is it, as the Harvard law professors suggest, strengthening procedural protections for the accused?
Neither strategy would get to the true problems: rapists going unpunished, the heady mixture of sex and alcohol on college campuses, and the ways in which colleges are expanding the concept of sexual assault to change its basic meaning.***
But if schools are genuinely interested in preventing sexual assault, they need to overhaul how they think about assault and what they do about it. Prevention, rather than adjudication, should be a college’s priority.
Here's the response from 75 Yale Law Students. Professor's Campus Rape Op-Ed Gets it Wrong [Thanks Dara Purvis].
More than 75 students at Yale Law School have signed an open letter pushing back on a recent New York Times column about campus rape written by one of their professors.***
[W]hat has drawn the most ire are Rubenfeld's comments about consent. In his column, Rubenfeld characterizes affirmative consent policies as unenforceable and overly broad, and suggests that such an approach categorically redefines all drunk sex as rape.
Monday, November 17, 2014
“The phone call. The phone call," sighed Allison Strange. "There’s always that one call that you never expect to get.”
On Sept. 6, 2011, the caller ID showed her son's cell phone, but the voice on the other end wasn't Josh. Her son had been arrested for rape.
Josh Strange avoided prosecution, but he did face the justice of Auburn University, where he was a sophomore. Under federal civil rights law, colleges and universities have to conduct their own investigations into sexual assault reports, separate from a criminal one. And after a 99-minute hearing, the discipline committee – chaired by a university librarian – reached its decision.
“Josh was as white as a piece of notebook paper, and just looked like he had been punched in the stomach,” remembered Allison Strange, who was outside the hearing room. “I walked up and I looked, and Josh said, ‘Mom, I’m gone. They don’t want me here anymore. I can’t stay. They’ve expelled me.’”
In the aftermath, Allison and Josh Strange formed the group Families Advocating for Campus Equality that pushes for universities to get out of the business of adjudicating sexual assault cases. Allison Strange wants those cases to be left to the criminal justice system, and she says you only need to look at her son's case to understand why.
Prof. DiFonzo of Hofstra Law writes:
The November 2014 elections included a North Dakota voter initiative emblematic of the vigorous debate taking place nationwide about child custody.
The “Parental Rights Initiative” required courts to award “equal parenting time” to both parents after divorce or separation. The measure was defeated by a sizeable margin (62% to 38%) but it represents only the latest round in a combustible campaign to change how child custody cases are decided.
An important 2014 study shows that child custody norms are significantly changing in the 21st century, with the proportion of parents sharing custody rising dramatically. In fact, we reached a major milestone in the past decade: for the first time since the mid-19th century, custodial arrangements that did not provide sole custody to mothers constituted a majority.
The vocabulary of child custody is also adapting to shared parenting.
“Decision making” and “parenting time” are replacing “legal custody” and “physical custody.” The modern terms reflect a cultural pivot toward mutual child rearing responsibilities rather than declaring a winner and a loser. On balance, then, it appears that our society has adapted the best-interest-of-the-child standard to provide some variant of shared custody. In custody cases today, both parents increasingly enjoy significant, though not necessarily equal, amounts of parenting time.
Legally enforceable presumptions, such as the one proposed and rejected in North Dakota or the one that the Governor of Minnesota vetoed in 2012, are problematic. An equal parenting presumption shifts the starting point for a custody determination from the child’s best interests to how the parents will divide the 168 hours in a week so that each parent handles half the child rearing.
A 50/50 presumption alters the critical issue from what’s best for the child to how we can treat the parents equally. That’s not the same question at all. A legal presumption of equal parenting time effectively converts the current focus on the child’s welfare to a best-interests-of-the-parents standard.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
KHANKE, Iraq — The 15-year-old girl, crying and terrified, refused to release her grip on her sister’s hand. Days earlier, Islamic State fighters had torn the girls from their family, and now were trying to split them up and distribute them as spoils of war.
The jihadist who had selected the 15-year-old as his prize pressed a pistol to her head, promising to pull the trigger. But it was only when the man put a knife to her 19-year-old sister’s neck that she finally relented, taking her next step in a dark odyssey of abduction and abuse at the hands of the Islamic State.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
The decision is the first since the U.S. Supreme Court last June ruled that some for-profit companies may, like religious nonprofits, opt out of providing birth control coverage in their insurance plans. In the cases that have followed, various religious nonprofits have maintained, as they did in the Washington case, that the opt-out provision itself is a "substantial burden" on religion, and thus, that it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law enacted to enhance religious rights.
In rejecting that claim, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that "Religious objectors do not suffer substantial burdens ... where the only harm to them is that they sincerely feel aggrieved by their inability to prevent what other people would do ... "
These religious objectors have no right, the court said, "to be free from the unease, or even anguish" of knowing that others are legally entitled to receive or provide birth control. The court noted that birth control coverage was added to the Affordable Care Act because it accounts for a large part of women's preventive health care costs.
Writing for the 3-0 court panel, Judge Cornelia Pillard said the challengers' argument that the opt out harms them by triggering substitute coverage makes little sense in light of the government's need to carry out a duly enacted program.
Read the full decision here Priests for Life v. US Dep't of Human Services
Is Anna Kendrick an actress or an actor? Is it ever okay to refer to her as a comedienne?
These days, gender-specific nouns are often considered inappropriate. Our waiters and waitresses are now servers, our stewards and stewardesses are now flight attendants, and our policemen and policewomen are now just officers. All the major style guides recommend avoiding gender-biased language.
Are there exceptions? Not many.
For some visitors to Germany, street crossings are among the main tourist attractions. In the formerly communist east of the country, little traffic-light men, some equipped with hats or walking sticks, were installed to guide pedestrians more than 50 years ago. This tradition is more alive today than ever before, even in some western German cities.
But in the western city of Dortmund, the undeniable preponderance of male figures in the traffic lights is causing a controversy. In one of the city's districts, the Green and Social Democratic parties have urged the municipality to pursue gender equality among their traffic lights.
"Given the equality of men and women, a partial transformation of 'traffic light men' into 'traffic light women' would only be consistent," the two political parties said in a statement quoted in national media outlets.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Amusing story with bits of cross-cultural illumination:
Call them stretch jeans, jeggings, ex-girlfriend jeans or what not - we're talking about men in tights. Tight jeans that is. While some men gasp in horror at the idea of wrapping their legs in stretch, others embrace the comfort the new trend provides. FashionUnited wanted to know how men like their jeans and did a bit of research.
First, there's the assumption that jeans have to be 'manly' – rugged, tough, weathered, worn for men, are adjectives that come to mind when thinking of jeans for me, as epitomized by pop icons like the quintessential cowboy John Wayne, rebel James Dean or the working class heroes that rock legends like Bruce Springsteen likes to sing about. Now picture them in a pair of skin-tight jeans instead of the rigid version. It's quite a stretch, isn't it (pun intended)?
"We may name it a Male Law, or Macho law," he said.
From the UK Express:
MEN who have children by different women should be PAID by the government for increasing the population, claimed a Russian MP.
The new "Macho Law", which was proposed by Valeriy Seleznyov, could see men that have a string of children with different women paid an unspecified amount to help cover child costs.
The MP wants to extend a system that is already in place in Russia - where woman can claim "maternity capital allowances" of around £6,500 when they have more than one child.
He went on to explain that the amount granted from the "Macho Law" could then be used to help cover property and education costs.
"Some men have several children from different women, each of whom is not eligible for the 'maternity capital programme, as some of them have only one child, and others can be married to another man," he explained.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The purpose of the workshop is to bring together researchers from different parts of the world to share their findings about the role of law in addressing some of the most challenging aspects of discrimination: those involving the intersection between gender, race and poverty. There were few opportunities of getting together researchers in Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America to work together on these issues. Despite the problems, the legal challenges and possibilities for reform are similar and closely related. The workshop will address the international and comparative law, and theory and practice.
The World Development Report 2012 identified substantive victories for women: there was an increase in their schooling, in their life expectancy and in their participation in the labor market. However, these gains were not reachable to poor women. Women in countries with low and middle income are more likely than men to die, they face unequal access to economic opportunities and are being marginalized in their homes and in society. This results in a cycle of discrimination and disempowerment. Women are responsible for a disproportionate share of care tasks in their homes, an activity that is not valued or remunerated, leading to lower levels of education and lack of preparation to seek financial independence in the formal labor market or to break with prejudices and stereotypes the role of women.
Whereas the World Development Report highlights that these gaps are more pronounced when gender and poverty are combined with other exclusion factors – ethnicity, caste, remoteness, age, race, disability and sexual orientation – there should have a critical study of forms of interaction between gender, race and poverty. While the feminization of poverty is a phenomenon long recognized, gender inequality, racial inequality and poverty are conceptualized as separate problems. Poverty is often approached from a neutral point of view with regard to gender, rather than adopting a comprehensive, integrated and holistic gender perspective. Likewise, racial discrimination is accessed by a neutral perspective regarding both gender and poverty. These approaches are not adequate to portray the various and intricate human rights violations experienced by poor women with multiple identities
With progress towards improved judicial diversity moving at snail’s pace, ‘the time has now come for quotas’ according to a Report, Judicial Diversity: Accelerating Change, commissioned by the shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan, published last week. This is not a surprise. Back in April 2014 when announcing the appointment of the Report’s authors, Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC and Karon Monaghan QC, the press reported that “Nothing is off the table”:
“A Labour government would be prepared to introduce the “nuclear option” of quotas for female and black and ethnic minority judges to avoid a 100-year wait to achieve a judiciary reflecting the composition of the population. “
More recently, Lord Neuberger has stated that the absence of judicial diversity, especially in senior posts, is a major concern for the judiciary. Emphasizing that we must not assume that the problem will resolve itself, he continued
“I am not one of those people who optimistically thinks that if we just sit back it will all sort itself out and the judiciary will eventually include many more women and ethnic minorities.”
[h/t Sonia Lawrence]
For nearly 80 years, U.S. officials have collected crime data from local, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies in order to paint a statistical portrait of violent and property crimes reported across America. And for nearly 80 years, this Uniform Crime Reporting program has relied on the same old definition of rape: the “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”
Last year, the FBI finally updated the definition for the modern era. Rape is now defined as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Now, the FBI hopes that the statistics will finally reflect “a long list of sex offenses that are criminal in most jurisdictions, such as offenses involving oral or anal penetration, penetration with objects, and rapes of males” that had previously been erased from the big picture. The new definition also drops the “forcible” qualifier in favor of “without the consent of the victim,” encouraging jurisdictions to report rapes perpetrated without a show of physical force.
Today, the FBI released Crime in the United States 2013, its first annual report to rely on this more inclusive definition of rape.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Clare Huntington, Fordham Law, has uploaded "Postmarital Family Law" on SSRN. It's forthcoming from Stanford Law Review and its abstract reads:
Family law is based on marriage, but family life increasingly is not. The American family is undergoing a seismic shift, with marriage rates steadily declining and more than four in ten children now born to unmarried parents. Children of unmarried parents fall far behind children of married parents on a variety of metrics, contributing to stark inequality among children. Poverty and related factors explain much of this differential, but new sociological evidence highlights family structure — particularly friction and dislocation between unmarried parents after their relationship ends — as a crucial part of the problem. As the trend toward nonmarital childbearing continues to spread across class lines, the effect will be most pronounced among children.
This shift is the single most important issue facing family law today, yet scholars have been slow to engage with the structure and substance of the law in response. In family law, the marital family serves as a misleading synecdoche for all families, not only marginalizing nonmarital families, but also actively undermining their already tenuous bonds.
It is essential for family law to address the needs of both marital and nonmarital families. This entails a new theory of state regulation as well as new doctrines, institutions, and norms in practice. Some feminists argue that the state should privilege caregiving between parents and children instead of marital relationships, while other commenters stubbornly advocate marriage primacy — the elevation of marriage above other family forms — despite all evidence that marriage promotion fails. These responses fundamentally misunderstand nonmarital family life, in which dynamics between parents deeply affect children yet marriage is not realistically returning. We must instead understand that it is possible to separate marriage from parenthood but not relationships from parenthood. The state must accordingly help unmarried parents become effective co-parents, especially after their relationship ends, so they can provide children with the healthy relationships crucial to child development. This theoretical insight, and the family law that flows from it, will inaugurate a larger debate about how to prepare for a world in which marriage is not the defining institution of family life.
Thus writes a NYT reporter regarding quarterback Tony Romo (he of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys) who has suffered genuinely painful injuries but feels pressure to play.
Romo is a terrific fourth-quarter quarterback, a warrior in the beloved military argot of the N.F.L. He has played with torn ligaments and broken bones and come back early from many injuries.
He walked out stiffly to meet the press Thursday morning. “I mean, it’s sore,” he said. “It’s not a comfortable feeling.”
Then he added, “Just normal stuff.”
He was lying. I called Dr. Frederick Azar, an orthopedic surgeon who is the team physician for the Memphis Grizzlies of the N.B.A. and president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
“Romo’s still in the inflammatory stage; it takes three to four weeks just to calm the nerves and muscles down,” Azar said. “If he thinks he can go, O.K., but he’s going to be in a lot of pain.”