Monday, July 27, 2015

Obama criticizes Kenya on gay rights

President Obama is presently traveling through Africa.  Recently, he gave a speech in Kenya condemning the nation's refusal to protect the rights of its gay citizens.  From the NYT: 

NAIROBI, Kenya—Widespread celebration of President Barack Obama’s visit to a country teeming with national pride over an American leader considered a local son was briefly overshadowed Saturday by a public disagreement with his Kenyan counterpart over gay rights.

In an awkward moment of tension, Mr. Obama condemned Kenya’s treatment of gays and lesbians as “wrong—full stop” while standing alongside Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a joint news conference.

The president, whose personal story has deep resonance in Kenya, even used himself as an example of why discrimination on the basis of gender, race or sexual orientation should be illegal.

“As an African American in the United States I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law,” said Mr. Obama, whose father was born and raised in Kenya.

To no avail......

But none of it swayed Mr. Kenyatta, who responded by saying his country does not share the U.S. president’s view.

“For Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” Mr. Kenyatta said, stressing matter-of-factly that economic and security concerns are of higher concern.

July 27, 2015 in International, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

"For Transgender Americans, Legal Battles Over Restrooms"

An editorial from the NYT: 

Gavin Grimm sat quietly in the audience last November as dozens of parents at a school board meeting in Gloucester County, Va., demanded that he be barred from using the boys’ restrooms at school. They discussed the transgender boy’s genitals, expressed concern that he might expose himself and cautioned that being in a men’s room would make the teenager vulnerable to rape. One person called him a “freak.”

When Gavin, 16, got his turn at the podium, he was remarkably composed. “I didn’t ask to be this way,” Gavin said. “All I want to do is be a normal child and use the restroom in peace.”

And: 

On Monday, Judge Robert Doumar of Federal District Court in Virginia is scheduled to consider whether the school board’s decision to prohibit Gavin from using the male restroom is unlawful discrimination. The case addresses one of the main unresolved battles in the fight for transgender equality.

A favorable decision for the student would be the first time a federal court has ruled that refusing transgender students access to proper restrooms is discriminatory. Any other outcome would reinforce cruel policies that deny dignity to some of the most vulnerable students and subject them to more bullying and stigmatization.

July 27, 2015 in Legislation, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Paid Leave This Week: Everywhere Is Better Than Here"

The headline is from a New Republic article, whose contents read in part:  

Young women have no illusions about how hard it is to be a working mother in America. The New York Times highlights recent evidence that millenial women are less likely than prior generations to expect careers equal to their husbands. 

The rest of the world continues to treat mothers better: India’s high court ruled that mothers who use surrogates are entitled to maternity leave. Meanwhile, Ireland’s government is considering extending its paid parental leave policy from six months to one year, which can be shared by both parents.

IBM introduces Uber for breast milk: Nursing mothers who work for IBM will now be able to use an app to ship their breast milk back home while travelling for business.

Day care can now cost more than college tuition. Working parents can expect to pay an average of $11,000 a year for a spot at an infant day care center ($16,549 if you’re unlucky enough to live in Massachusetts), more than average tuition at a four-year public college.   

The art of inequality: An art gallery in New York is exhibiting a mural-sized infographic by Portugese painter Rigo 23 depicting the last eight countries on earth without mandated paid maternity leave—the U.S. is right in between Tonga and Nauru.

July 27, 2015 in Family, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Upcoming Big Screen Movies on Women and the Law

Suffragette - on the British women's suffrage movement starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, and Helena Bonham Carter 

She's Beautiful When She's Angry - on the second-wave US feminist movement

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic

Ms., Lilly Ledbetter's Fight for Equal Pay is Coming to the Big Screen

 

 

July 25, 2015 in Legal History, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Equality Act Introduced in Congress

Huff Post, The Equality Act is a Visionary Piece of Legislation--And Way Overdue

Something extraordinary happened Thursday to advance fairness and equality in the United States. Members of Congress introduced legislation to amend the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 to embrace a more robust vision of equality.

 

The bill -- aptly named the Equality Act -- would amend existing law to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expand protections against discrimination for women. The bill would also extend the reach of protections against discrimination by businesses and stop the use of religion to discriminate. It's historic -- and it may also be a surprise because many people think such discrimination is already illegal

Slate,"The Equality Act": Democrats Push Bill Banning LGBT Discrimination

The Equality Act Could End Legal LGBT Discrimination for Good

Sweeping LGBT Rights Bill to be Introduced this Week

July 25, 2015 in Legislation, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Exaggeration as manly trope

A recent study at the U of Washington confirms what every guy knows: men exaggerate about how great they are.  All men do this, I suspect, to varying degree.  

If a man feels like his masculinity is being questioned he is more likely to lie about his physical and mental traits.

Researchers have found that men will overcompensate by lying about their height, how athletic or they are and how many relationships they have had in order live up to the male stereotype.

In contrast, men who don’t feel threatened are more honest when quizzed about their physical appearance or past.

And:

Male students at Stanford University were told they were participating in research on how exertion impacts decision-making and were asked to squeeze a handheld device with each hand.

Researchers marked their scores on sheets that showed fake results, representing 'typical' male and female results.

Participants were scored either in the middle of the female or the male curve, suggesting that their grip was either weak or average.

They were then asked to fill out a questionnaire asking about their height, number of previous relationships, various personality traits and their interest in products that skewed male or female, along with 'distracter questions' about things such as their college major.

Associate Professor Cheryan said the consistent exaggeration about height among the group who thought they scored lower was particularly surprising.

'Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men,' she said.

The findings, researchers said, underscore the pressure men feel to live up to gender stereotypes and the ways in which they might reinstate a threatened masculinity. 

July 24, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Editorial on the Boy Scouts of America and Gay Rights

Boy Scouts marching in Seattle Pride Parade

From the LA Times, an interesting comparison with the much more open policy of the Girl Scouts.  

The Boy Scouts of America didn't go as far as it ought to have with its new recommendation on gay Scout leaders, but it did make reluctant headway. This wasn't the leap of an organization that now views sexual orientation with more tolerant eyes, but rather a shuffling step by a tradition-bound group that has been prodded by dramatic changes in societal views of sexual orientation, as well as the financial realities of needing to woo back corporate donors such as Walt Disney Co. that are reluctant to sponsor an organization that discriminates against gay people.

The resolution approved last week by the Scouts' national executive committee puts an end to the organization's official ban on gay Scout leaders and volunteers. But rather than banning such discrimination entirely, it leaves the decision up to individual troops and units. (The new policy is expected to be ratified by the executive board July 27.) Some of those troops already have shown interest in welcoming all interested and qualified adults, regardless of sexual orientation; many others are expected to keep a ban in place.

Compare that with the way the Girl Scouts recently made news: A Scouting council in western Washington rejected a $100,000 donation that came with the stipulation that it not be used to support transgender Scouts. That's in line with the organization's history. The Girl Scouts also became racially integrated much earlier than the Boy Scouts, and had little problem accepting atheist members.

July 24, 2015 in LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Closing Abortion Clinics on Grounds of Protecting Women's Health

Linda Greenhouse (NYT/Yale) and Reva Siegel (Yale), Casey and the Clinic Closings: When "Protecting Health" is an Undue Burden, Yale L. J (forthcoming).

Abstract:      

We seek in this article to understand how the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence addresses laws that invoke, not potential life, but women's health as a reason to single out abortion for burdensome regulation that closes clinics. We approach this project with a sense of urgency. The current wave of health-justified restrictions — prominently including laws that require abortion providers to secure admitting privileges at nearby hospitals or to become the functional equivalents of hospitals themselves — is destroying the clinic infrastructure on which women depend in order to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. 

There is now a sharp circuit conflict over how judges are to evaluate the states' claims that admitting privilege laws protect women's health. Some circuits read Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and the Court’s subsequent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart to require courts to examine whether health-justified regulations actually and effectively serve health-related ends. Others construe the cases to require judicial deference to the states' claims. We argue that Casey/Carhart require judicial scrutiny of health-justified regulations to ensure these regulations do not obstruct abortion by unconstitutional means.

The analysis of health-justified restrictions we offer rests on an understanding of Casey's undue burden standard — reaffirmed in Carhart — as the product of a compromise over Roe v. Wade. While prohibiting states from banning abortion before fetal viability, Casey allowed government to express a preference for childbirth throughout a woman's pregnancy by trying to persuade her, through a 24-hour waiting period and the provision of information, to forego abortion. Persuasion is the heart of the Casey compromise: government may protect potential life, but not in ways that obstruct women from acting on their constitutionally protected choice.

Regulations that close clinics in the name of women's health, but without health-related justification, do not persuade; they prevent. In so doing, they violate the constitutional principle at the core of the Casey compromise: that government express respect for the dignity of human life by means that respect the dignity of women.

July 23, 2015 in Abortion, Healthcare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"White Male Bluster"

GOP's toxic white male bluster: Trump, Cruz and Christie bully to overcompensate

So reads the Salon headline for an article that assesses the public rhetoric by GOP presidential candidates.  

Chris Christie roared onto the presidential campaign stage calling out his onetime pal, President Obama, for being “weak.” He labeled the economy as “weak,” U.S. foreign policy as “weak,” and the president’s style of governance as a “handwringing” incompetence. Christie’s theme is not just his, though; it seems to dominate the Republican candidates’ critique of any Democratic leader whose approach to the larger world refrains from their over-the-top bluster. The real question, though, is what makes the Republicans think theirs is the party of strength? What lies behind their in-your-face, Clint Eastwood-style American bravado?

July 22, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hillary Clinton and the Gender Card

Hillary Clinton was asked during an interview to respond to Mitch McConnell's charge that she plays the "gender card."  Her response was apt, it seemed to me: 

Clinton’s response — a riposte that the gender card is being played “every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception” — was a forthright appeal for women’s votes — and the latest signal that, yes, Clinton’s gender will be front and center in her campaign this time around.

And: 

Eight years ago, her first presidential campaign downplayed any focus on running as a woman. But Democrats say gender is not only a plus this time, but also crucial to Clinton’s strategy for winning a general election where she will need to boost the turnout of female voters, who are more likely to vote Democratic.

The campaign followed up on on the Facebook chat Tuesday, releasing a slick video replaying McConnell’s remark and then featuring the records of some of the GOP candidates when it comes to issues that affect women: Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz voted against paid sick leave; Gov. Scott Walker repealed an equal pay law in his state; and Jeb Bush made a comment offensive to poor women back in 1994, saying, “women on welfare should get their life together and find a husband.”

“There she goes again with the women’s issues,” Clinton says in a clip featured in the video, pulled from an appearance in Iowa last week. “Well, I’m not going to stop, so get ready for a long campaign.”

July 22, 2015 in Equal Employment, Theory, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mothers' Constrained Choice as Victims of Domestic Violence

Rona Kitchen (Duquesne), Constrained Choice: Mothers, The State, and Domestic Violence, Temple Political & Civil Rights L.J. (2015).

Abstract:      

Mothers who are the victims of domestic violence face unique challenges in their quest for safety. The legal response to domestic violence requires that mothers respond to abuse in specific state-sanctioned manners. However, when mothers respond accordingly, such as by reporting abuse and leaving the abusive relationship, their safety and the safety of their children is not guaranteed. Moreover, by responding in state-sanctioned manners, mothers risk a host of negative consequences including increased threat to their immediate and long-term safety, the loss of their children, undesired financial, health, and social consequences, and criminal prosecution. On the other hand, when mothers respond to abuse in unsanctioned manners, such as by staying in abusive relationships, they face similarly hostile consequences including continued abuse, the loss of their children, and criminal prosecution. Thus, regardless of how mothers respond to domestic violence, they risk being harmed by their abuser and the state. As a result battered mothers’ choices are significantly constrained. 

Though the legal response to domestic violence has improved dramatically over the past few decades, reforms are still needed. The state should sanction a broader range of maternal responses to domestic violence and accept greater responsibility for preventing and responding to private family violence. In addition to increasing victim safety, implementation of these reforms would increase respect for maternal autonomy and demonstrate the state’s true commitment to protecting women and children from domestic violence.

July 21, 2015 in Family, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women Underrepresented as Lead Trial Lawyers

ABA, Women Underrepresented in Lead Trial Lawyer Positions, ABA Study Reports

Female federal litigators serve as first chair far less frequently than men, and implicit bias is likely a cause, according to a study recently released by the American Bar Association.

 

The study, First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table (PDF), pulled data from 2013 cases filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Illinois. 558 civil cases, and 50 criminal cases, were randomly selected.

 

Out of the civil cases, 68 percent of all lawyers who made appearances were men, and 76 percent of the lead counsel were men. For the criminal cases, 67 percent of the lead counsel were men. Out of the criminal cases that went to trial, 79 percent of the lawyers serving as lead counsel were men.

 

Women lawyers comprise 36 percent of the legal profession, according to the study. it also notes that 17 percent of large law firm equity partners are women, and women comprise 22 percent of Fortune 500 general counsel.

 

Sponsored by the American Bar Foundation and the Commission on Women in the Profession, the study also examined case types. It found that women appeared as lead counsel in 41 percent of real property cases, but only in 15 percent of the contract cases.

 

Also, the study found that in civil cases involving the U.S. government, 31 percent of the lead counsel for the government were female.

 

In criminal cases, 69 percent of the women who appeared as lead counsel represented the government, and 31 percent represented defendants.

 

Family responsibilities may play a role in opportunities for women lawyers, the study notes, but it also notes potential bias from senior partners and clients, as well as inappropriate comments and treatment from judges and opposing counsel. It mentions a notion that women litigators show too much emotion, but male litigators who show the same level of emotion are often seen as zealous advocates who are passionate about their cases.

 

“All of these issues apply with even greater force” for women litigators of color, according to the study.

 

The ABA’s Commission on Women the Profession plans to work with the profession and identify how women can better get litigation training and courtroom experience.

 

Law schools, the study notes, should specifically teach how women can navigate implicit bias in the courtroom, and let women who want to be litigators know that government jobs probably offer them the most first-chair opportunities.

July 21, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Feminism is Like Brussels Sprouts

Both are delicious. And good for you.

Slate, When Did Feminism Get So "Sneaky"?

But the moment I recognized the excellence of Brussels Sprouts represented a twofold cause for celebration. Not only was I set up for a lifetime of consuming a nutritious vegetable, but I suddenly had the discernment to enjoy said vegetable. . . . Just so with feminism. Mainstream culture has finally figured out that feminism is delicious, and we should rejoice rather than squint doubtfully into the glorious, gender-equal sunrise.

July 21, 2015 in Media, Pop Culture, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2015

The disappearance of the manly journalist?

Image for Where Have All the Manly Journalists Gone?

An amusing, and interesting, essay from the Atlantic.  

I, Elspeth Reeve, am the manliest journalist in the world. That’s not something I go around thinking about all day, but recently Mark Judge wrote a semi-viral article titled, “Where Have All the Manly Journalists Gone?” I am here to answer that question. 

Judge’s essay for Acculturated.com, “an online magazine about the virtues and vices of pop culture” with a politically conservative slant, drew some attention when he savvily tweeted it at many journalists. It is a tailored-for-Twitter version of a longstanding anxiety—ex: “THE SISSIFICATION OF AMERICA CONTINUES APACE.” Judge, who has written a book titled A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll, wonders what happened to the burly old guys with alcohol problems who wrote about big wars: “Ernest Hemingway. Ernie Pyle. Jack London. Christopher Hitchens.” The article is illustrated with a photograph of Hemingway using a typewriter outdoors, with rugged mountains behind him, while wearing a leather vest and pomade in his hair, which clearly was not staged for his own vanity, because that would be unmanly.

In the good old days, there was an “intense physicality” to reporting, Judge writes, and “journalism was a job of grit and hard effort, like boxing.” These days, we type things on computers, like pussies.

July 20, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

The US men's soccer team......

......never won the World Cup.  Ever.  They never even reached the finals.... or quarter finals.  For this failure they were paid FOUR TIMES more than the US women's soccer team, which won the World Cup.....three times.  

From the New Republic: 

n Sunday, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) won the World Cup for the third time—more than any other team in women’s soccer history. For their efforts, the team will earn $2 million in prize money, up from $1 million in 2011. The money is awarded to the national federation, which usually distributes it between players and the organization itself. That’s not a bad sum—until it’s put into context. Last year, the U.S. men’s team was knocked out of the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Brazil—and pocketed $9 million for it. Germany, which went on to win the tournament, was awarded $35 million.

July 20, 2015 in Sports, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Invisible Plight of Black Women in the Justice System

Sandra Bland and the Invisible Plight of Black Women in the Justice System

And in Waller County, Texas, days before she was scheduled to start a new job at her alma mater, Sandra Bland died in police custody. Officers contend she hung herself, but family and friends suspect foul play — especially since video shows officers slamming her head to the ground three days earlier.

 

Due in large part to social media, Bland’s death has received a lot of attention since the video of her arrest was circulated. And the FBI has already joined the investigation into her death.

 

”Prevailing narratives around Black violability and anti-Black racial violence pivot around Black men and boys,” Dr. Treva B. Lindsey, assistant professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies told DAME. “Both historically and contemporarily, when many people working towards racial justice around the issue of racial violence, the presumptive victim is a Black male. From lynching to police brutality, the presumed victim is a Black male. Therefore, Black women and girls are viewed as exceptional victims as opposed to perpetual victims of anti-Black racial violence.”

July 18, 2015 in Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

EEOC Rules Title VII Does and Has Covered Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Slate, Scalia and the EEOC: How Oncale Made Sexual Orientation Discrimination Illegal

On Thursday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dropped a bombshell: Sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, the EEOC ruled, is already illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This ruling—which is binding on EEOC conciliations between employers and employees, and is an extremely persuasive authority for courts—has been a long time in the making. In fact, it can be traced back to a unanimous 1997 Supreme Court opinion written by none other than Justice Antonin Scalia.

 

That case, Oncale v. Sundownerdealt with Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination “because of sex.” Joseph Oncale worked on an oil rig with seven other men, who sexually harassed him physically and verbally. Oncale sued his employer, arguing that he faced discrimination because of his sex. But the court ruled against him, holding that Title VII did not protect men against sex discrimination by male co-workers.

 

In a terse opinion, Scalia emphatically rejected this reasoning. Male-on-male sexual harassment, Scalia acknowledged, “was assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII.” (The principal evil, of course, was male-on-female workplace discrimination.) Still, Scalia explained: "Statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed."
 

This passage has formed the bedrock of the EEOC’s expansion of Title VII’s protections to sexual and gender minorities. In a 2012 decision holding that Title VII bars discrimination based on gender identity and transgender status, the EEOC placed Scalia’s “comparable evils” declaration at the center of its analysis. On Thursday, the commission pulled the same maneuver, faithfully quoting Scalia and noting that the text of Title VII does not exclude sexual minorities from the law’s protections. And now, thanks in part to Scalia, LGBT employees in every state are protected from workplace discrimination by federal law.

July 18, 2015 in Equal Employment, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 17, 2015

taking gender out of the tax code

From the Detroit Free Press: 

WASHINGTON – A Michigan congressman today proposed to do formally what the U.S. Supreme Court effectively accomplished last month: take the gender references out of the federal tax code.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, introduced legislation intended to make clear that all married couples, regardless of gender, are equal under the tax code, removing gender references such as “husband and wife” and replacing them with nongender references like “married couple.”

July 17, 2015 in Legislation, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

The incredible dearth of women in tech firms

Tracy Chou, a young tech professional with Pinterest, started blogging about the dearth of women in the tech world.  The story is in the latest issue of Mother Jones.  Here are some of her findings: 

The numbers were as bad as you might expect: Just 17 of Yelp's 206 engineers (8 percent) were women, for example. Dropbox was barely better, with 26 out of 275 (9 percent). Nextdoor, a social-media tool for neighborhoods, had 29 engineers—all male. Change.org, which bills itself as "the world's platform for change," had less than 13 percent women engineers; it has since changed for the better, with 20 percent.*

Chou's project helped fuel the wave of public criticism that has shamed big companies into coming clean. Seven months after the launch, Google disclosedthat 17 percent of its tech staff is female. (Chou heard that her Medium post had made it all the way to cofounder Larry Page.) Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, and dozens of other companies coughed up their stats not long after: Most reported between 10 and 20 percent women in "tech" positions—which can be pretty loosely defined. Some household names, like IBM, Netflix, and Zynga, still have yet to produce meaningful diversity data. "The crowdsourced stuff is way better and more reliable than the official party line," notes Silicon Valley diversity consultant Nicole Sanchez, whom Github recently hired as a VP. (The racial diversity numbers are equally cringeworthy; see our related story on Jesse Jackson's efforts in Silicon Valley.)
 

July 17, 2015 in Technology, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Ireland passes law allowing trans people to choose their legal gender"

From the Guardian UK: 

Transgender people in Ireland have won legal recognition of their status after a law was passed allowing them to change their legal gender with no medical or state intervention.

The majority of countries in Europe require transgender people to undergo surgery and sterilisation, or be diagnosed with a mental disorder and get divorced if they are married, in order to have their desired gender legally recognised.

The gender recognition bill, passed late on Wednesday and set to be signed into law by the end of July, makes Ireland only the third European country, after Denmark and Malta, to allow transgender people aged over 18 to change their legal gender without intervention.

The bill was passed months after the people of Ireland backed same-sex marriageby a landslide in a referendum that marked a dramatic social shift in a country that decriminalised homosexuality just two decades ago.

July 17, 2015 in International, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)