Thursday, April 9, 2015
Police officers in Beijing have asked prosecutors to charge five women’s rights activists who have been detained for more than a month with organizing a crowd to disturb public order, lawyers for two of them said on Thursday.
The filing allows the police to detain the activists, all of them women whose plight has led to harsh criticism from abroad, for seven more days while prosecutors make a decision on whether to bring charges.
The police had originally investigated the women on suspicion of “picking quarrels” but have since changed the charges they want prosecutors to impose, said one of the lawyers, Wang Qiushi.
He said the charges of organizing crowds to disturb public order were tied to two actions: an attempt by the women to organize a nationwide campaign last month against sexual harassment on public transportation, as well as an earlier public campaign they had carried out against domestic violence in which they wore wedding dresses smeared with fake blood.
From Al Brophy at The Faculty Lounge, Jones on Lynch Nomination
Martha Jones of the University of Michigan's history department and law school has an op-ed at Huffington Post on Loretta Lynch's nomination to be attorney general and the increasing political influence of African American women. Let me use this as an opportunity to mention, as well, the book that Martha has just co-edited, Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women. This obviously builds on Martha's pioneering book on African American women and political ideology in the nineteenth century, All Bound Up Together.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
From the Men's Style section of the NYT:
John McWhorter, a linguist who teaches at Columbia University, said that some men shy away from emoji because, as he put it, “Women use them more.” That may not continue to be the case, he added.
“Women tend to be more overtly expressive in language,” he said. “But something women start in language has a way of making it to men. Men would benefit from using emoji more.”
Emoji, he said, allow for an expressive, human way of translating the spoken word into text, with the goofy symbols providing a texter or tweeter with the means to convey tone. “There should be male ways to use emoji,” he added.
"Prison officials must treat an inmate's gender identity condition just as they would treat any other medical or mental health condition, the Justice Department said in a court filing Friday."
The news story continues:
"The Southern Poverty Law Center in February filed a lawsuit against Georgia Department of Corrections officials on behalf of Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman. The lawsuit says prison officials have failed to provide adequate treatment for Diamond's gender dysphoria, a condition that causes a person to experience extreme distress because of a disconnect between the birth sex and gender identity."
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
At USC School of Law, Reframing the Welfare Queen: Feminist and CRT Alternatives to Existing Poverty Discourse
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Moynihan Report, a Senate report issued in 1965 that pathologized the creation of black, female single-parent households with long- term dependence on state assistance programs, and in this way laid the political foundation for the political construct known as the "welfare queen." The "welfare queen construct" has played a key role in political debates and facilitated the transformation of public assistance programs. For the past fifty years it has played a prominent role in presidential politics, shaping discussions of poverty during the Reagan, Clinton and even Obama presidencies. Moreover, the construct led to a spate of concrete policy changes in 1996, ones that transformed older open-ended welfare programs into TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Many TANF features are direct responses to the threat of the welfare queen, including: family caps limiting benefit levels for families above a certain size; workfare programs requiring welfare recipients to work; and strict time limits that sunset welfare benefits after a set number of years.
Numerous scholars, activists and commentators have explored how the welfare queen construct is used to demonize poor women of color in need of state assistance programs. And while the critiques launched by these early conversations about the welfare queen have been important in opening a much-needed dialogue about the needs of the poor, this conference attempts to move us beyond discussions that isolate poor minority female welfare recipients as a special class. Instead the conference explores how the construct of the welfare queen imposes costs on us all, by revealing the hidden institutional norms naturalized by the construct and the cultural anxieties it creates that prevent people from seeking state assistance. Our project is to "reframe" the welfare queen - to challenge the ways in which claims of need are represented as pathological by the state; feminized and racialized in ways that marginalize and render invisible certain needy communities; and foreclose recognition of certain kinds of "need" and certain relationships of support between the individual and the State. By "reframing" the welfare queen have an opportunity to image new forms of governmental assistance that might better match up with the working poor's needs and lived experiences and with feminist values and anti-poverty advocates' goals and understandings.
In the Egalia, a preschool in Stockholm, there are no male or femalestudents. Instead, all children are referred to as 'hen' – a gender-neutral pronoun that has become so established in Sweden that it will be recognized next month in the newest edition of the country's official dictionary.
The Swedish Academy's SAOL dictionary, which is updated every 10 years and will be republished April 15, will feature 'hen' as an alternative to the male pronoun 'han' and the female 'hon.' The revised edition will also include thousands of other new words.
According to linguistic expert Sofia Malmgård, the gender-neutral term can be used in two ways. "First, if the gender is unknown or not relevant (as in: "If anyone needs to smoke, 'hen' may do so outside"). Second, it can be used as a pronoun for inter-gender people (as in: "Kim is neither boy or girl, 'hen' is inter-gender")," she explained.
To many Swedes, the decision of the Swedish Academy reflects how quickly their society has embraced gender-neutral language. "Over the last few years, the word 'hen' has more and more found its way into the Swedish language," Malmgård told The Washington Post.
Five years ago, barely anyone in Sweden was aware of the word. The decision to now include 'hen' in the authoritative SAOL dictionary is expected to facilitate an even more frequent use of it in everyday conversations. Set up in 1785, the academy was established with the aim to adapt the Swedish languages to changing cultural and societal influences – a role the institution still feels committed to.
According to experts, the 'hen'-revolution in Sweden has two primary origins: LGBT groups have promoted the pronoun as a way to raise awareness for their cause. However, support for the idea has also come from a more unexpected side: Nurseries, kindergartens and preschools such as Egalia increasingly argue that the pronoun's usage allows children to grow up without feeling the impact of gender biases. "The public debate over the pronoun actually only started after the publication of the country's first gender-neutral children's book", Lann Hornscheidt, an professor of Scandinavian languages and gender studies at Berlin's Humboldt University explained.
Four women who say they were victims of sexual abuse while on active military duty filed a federal lawsuit against the Pentagon alleging that the military created and condoned a sexually hostile environment. Speaking at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, one of the plaintiffs, her lawyer, and several sexual assault prevention advocates described obscene and violent songs, violent sexual assaults, verbal and physical attacks, and retaliation when trying to report crimes and harassment.
Jennifer Smith, one of the plaintiffs and a former Air Force technical sergeant, described being sexually assaulted while deployed in Iraq and subjected to crude songs and pornographic materials stored on government computers while she was stationed in South Carolina. She says she reported both the harassment and the assault but "waited for months and never heard back from anyone."
"All of the officers [in my case] received nothing more than a piece of paper reprimanding them. All were in command, or supervisory roles. All will still lead. They will oversee rape and sexual assault claims and make decisions on whether the case will be prosecuted," she added.
The plaintiffs charge that the military has failed to "prevent and punish widespread sexual harassment" while permitting "widespread retaliation" against victims, and has deprived victims of their constitutional right to a fair trial. They also argue that it's inappropriate for most military commanders to oversee sexual assault investigations since they often have no legal experience and must supervise both the victim and the perpetrator.
Two deputy district attorneys for Los Angeles County are suing their former supervisor, saying he sexually harassed them and gave out “stale” cases when they rejected him.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tannaz Mokayef and Beth Silverman’s lawsuit says profanity and sexual favors are commonplace in the major crimes division of the DA’s office, which handles some of the highest-profile crimes in the county.
The accusations are against Gary Hearnsberger, then head deputy of the major crimes division. The lawsuit says he repeatedly subjected the two women to unwanted touching, graphic sexual comments and sexual gestures. Silverman alleged Hearnsberger touched her buttocks at least twice, and followed it up once by saying “You know you like it.” Mokayef says Hearnsberger compared her vibrating phone to a sex toy and repeatedly told her she “smells good.”
The women say that when they rejected his advances, they were penalized—not only with “stale cases” given to Mokayef, but also with profanity and screaming directed at her and humiliating public criticism of Silverman. By contrast, they said female attorneys who cooperated were given opportunities for career advancement.
They also accuse Hearnsberger of other crude behavior at work, including jokes about a transgender attorney’s genitals and showing up to a 2012 costume party for those working in the hardcore gangs division wearing a stuffed sheep stapled to the crotch of his overalls. Photos of this costume were Exhibit 3 to the complaint.
Monday, April 6, 2015
The Indiana law that ostensibly protects religious rights--while effectually permitting discrimination against gays--has provoked companies like Angie's List to pull out of Indiana.
But you know that the law isn't popular when NASCAR--the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing--is against it, too. Here's the statement by NASCAR:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 31, 2015) -- "NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race." -- NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes
Whither the Indy 500?
The administrator at our children's school recently called our house and asked if she could speak with "Mrs. Diamond." I understood instantly -- she wanted to speak to the mom. But my kids don't have a mom. They have two dads. To her surprise I replied, "This is Mrs. Diamond."
The administrator apologized, explaining that she had recently returned from a leave of absence. But my mind was racing: Why do schools and so many aspects of childcare -- from diaper commercials to changing stations in public restrooms -- focus on moms and exclude dads, gay or not? Even when coordinating things from school parties to carpools, the moms always make the assumption that everyone on the list is a mom. The email chain often begins with "Dear Ladies". When we travel with our kids on a trip, frequently we get asked if we gave the moms a weekend off. Even as women have rapidly moved out of the home and into the workplace, even as our society has increasingly accepted diverse family structures (including two-dad families), and even as more dads are staying home with their children, the perception of mom as sole caregiver has persisted.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is challenging this notion. In recent years, she has pushed to increase women's power in the workplace with her "lean in" mantra. Now she's asking men to join that effort, in a new "Lean in Together" campaign that encourages men not only to advocate for women in the office, but also take on more responsibility at home. I am thrilled that men have been invited to the "lean in" conversation and I share Sandberg's gender equality goal. Her noble aspiration to broaden society's perceptions of what women can accomplish in the workplace is matched by my hope to broaden perceptions of what men do at home. In a Yahoo News interview, Sandberg got it right when she said, "We also haven't supported men as caregivers. ... Women get discriminated against in the office; men get discriminated against when it comes to care."
Rolling Stone had reported about a rape that had occurred at frat house in UVA. After much criticism of its reporting, RS asked the Columbia Journalism School to assess its article. Columbia subsequently delivered a fatal critique of general incompetence. RS was never serious journalism on par with the WaPo, the WSJ and the NYT, but it is a very sad day for victims of rape whose stories are likely to be doubted because of RS's shoddy standards.
Saturday, April 4, 2015
For more information about each panel, go to Law and Society Association Annual Meeting and search the online program. (Seattle, May 28) The titles though provide a good overview of what issues academics are grappling with these days.
Separate Spheres? Church, State, Market, and Family
A Critical Look at How American Universities Handle Sexual Assault
Making Meaning, Making Change?: Visual Cultures of Trafficking and the Sex Trade
Gender and Judging
Gender, Law, and Empowerment
Islam and Legal History: New Research on Reform, Women, and Property
Law & Society Perspectives on Sex Work
Women/Gender in the Legal Profession
Gender, Race, Emotion, and the Processes of Criminalization in US History
Sex, Sexual Violence, and Consent
Women of Color in Legal Education
Birth, Abortion, and Law
New Forms of Intimate Ordering
Reproduction in the 21st Century: ART, Contraception, & Abortion
Reproduction in the 21st Century: ART, Contraception, and Abortion II
Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare in International Courts and Tribunals
Public Secrets of Law – Gender, Courts & Sexual Violence
AMR Salon: Ummni Khan - "Vicarious Kinks: SM in the Socio-Legal Imaginary"
Regulating Sex; Designating Victims and Offenders
Choice and Constraint: Changing Conceptions of Parenthood
Feminist Judgments: United States Supreme Court Cases Rewritten
Legal Responses to Domestic Violence
Reproduction in the 21st Century: Race, Religion, and Rights
Sexuality in the 21st Century: Law and Gender Equality Norms
International, Socio-legal Feminisms: Perspectives on Taxation Law
International Socio-legal Feminisms - Theorising Violence, Vulnerability and Autonomy
International Socio-legal Feminisms - Narratives in the Public and Private Spheres: Property, Personhood, Autonomy and Time
Policy, Police Work and Prosecution: The Promise and Peril of Investigating and Prosecuting Sexual Violence
Masculinity, Sexuality & Law
Comparative Perspectives on the Regulation of Gender: States, Families, and Legal Change
Friday, April 3, 2015
The Justice Department filed suit on Monday against an Oklahoma university alleging the school discriminated against a transgender professor. “Rachel Tudor was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in the English department at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2004, after applying as a man with a traditionally male name, according to the lawsuit filed Monday,” the Washington Post reports. “Then in 2007, Tudor told school officials that he would become a woman during that academic year, took the name Rachel, and began wearing women’s clothes and a traditionally female hairstyle.”
“The complaint said Tudor taught in the English department and was terminatedfrom the university in 2011 after the school denied her tenure,” Reuters reports. “A lawyer for Tudor said it was the first time the university had denied an English professor's application for tenure and promotion after a favorable tenure recommendation from a promotion committee and the department chair.” The DOJ suit alleges that someone in the university’s human resources department told Tudor that the school’s vice president for academic affairs had inquired about whether Tudor could be fired because her gender transition offended his religious beliefs.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University said in a statement: “The University is confident in its legal position and its adherence to all applicable employment laws."
It seems absurd for a man to be writing on the issue of women and self-esteem, yet the reality is, men do and will continue to play a role in how women see themselves—especially fathers. How we treat our daughters and our partners sets an example for how young ladies grow up thinking it is okay to be treated. As the father of three young women, I think this issue needs to be discussed.
The "Mask You Live In". From HuffPost:
This week I had the great privilege of attending a screening of Jennifer Siebel Newsom's latest film, The Mask You Live In, which embarks on a powerful exploration of the truth and consequences associated with modern masculinity in America. If you are unaware of this remarkable filmmaker, make note, as she is on course to becoming one of the great filmmakers of our time. This film is the second in a trilogy series that Siebel Newsom and her team have embarked upon. Her first film the groundbreaking Missrepresentation, widely acclaimed at Sundance, sparked a global education and empowerment conversation on the impact of pervasive media stereotypes and distorted messaging that negatively impacts the development of girls and young women. Both films are harrowing documentaries that artfully intertwine expert commentary layered with thoughtful images and deeply personal narratives, in what is becoming Siebel Newsom's signature style.
On 23 March, while arguing the case on these pages for a Minister for Men, Tim Samuels apologised for trespassing on feminism’s most hallowed ground and said: “We men have not had to fight tooth and nail for our votes”.
No doubt, everybody would go along with that. Everybody in this country is taught from infancy that the Suffragettes had to wrest votes for women from a brutal male establishment that was protecting the monopoly exercised by all men. My daughters learned that lesson at primary school before they had even been introduced to the cardinal beliefs of the world’s leading religions.
As is so often the case with the feminist catechism however, everybody - including Mr Samuels - is looking at history with one eye. As a matter of fact, men did have to fight before all men could get the vote. And men’s fight was not conducted in debating halls, demonstrations and salons, nor even from the relative safety of the prison cell. Before all British men were allowed to vote, poor young men had to be wounded in millions and to die in hundreds of thousands in a war from which all women were exempted solely by reason of their gender.
Mr Samuels was writing almost exactly on the 99th anniversary of the Military Service Act, under which every British man 18-41 was subject to conscription for the First World War. The actual wording of the Act was that every man of that age was “deemed to have enlisted”.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
For excellent coverage of the case, see Emily Bazelon, NYT, Purvi Patel Could be Just the Beginning
Patel’s case stands out, for the draconian length of the sentence she received, and for the disturbing image of a baby left in a Dumpster. But it is also part of a pattern. “This case shows how easy it is to sweep up women who’ve had miscarriages and stillbirths into a criminal justice framework,” Paltrow told me. For her, the key question is how to ensure that fewer women become as desperate as Patel must have been about her pregnancy. “Do you think these cases will be less rare if you terrify people and make them criminals?” she said.
Purvi Patel was sentenced Monday to 41 years in prison on charges of feticide and felony neglect of a dependent after an Indiana jury in early February found her guilty of the charges. She was ordered to serve 20 years in prison after receiving a 30-year sentence on the felony neglect charge, with an additional ten years suspended.***
Patel in July 2013 went to a hospital emergency room suffering from heavy vaginal bleeding. She denied that she had been pregnant, but eventually told doctors that she had miscarried and placed the stillborn fetus in a bag and placed the bag in a dumpster.
Police questioned Patel without a lawyer present while she was in the hospital. Police also searched the text messages in Patel’s phone, which prosecutors claim revealed that she had communicated to a friend that she was pregnant and had purchased drugs online to terminate the pregnancy. Patel, who is Indian-American, lived in a conservative Hindu household in which it was expected that she would not engage in premarital sex, and wanted to keep the pregnancy a secret from her parents.
In order to support the contradictory charges of feticide and felony neglect of a dependent, the state was required to prove that Patel both “knowingly or intentionally” terminated her pregnancy “with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus,” and that she neglected a dependent.
A charge of feticide requires a dead fetus, while a charge of neglect of a dependent requires a live birth.
Melvin Konner, The End of Male Supremacy, Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Women are not equal to men; they are superior in many ways, and in most ways that will count in the future. It is not just a matter of culture or upbringing. It is a matter of chromosomes, genes, hormones, and nerve circuits. It is not mainly because of how experience shapes women, but because of intrinsic differences in the body and the brain.
Do these differences account for all the ways women and men differ? No. Are all men one way and all women another? Also no. But none of those considerations seriously impede my argument or deflect its key conclusion: Women are superior in most ways that matter now.
And no, I do not mean what was meant by patronizing men who said this in the past — that women are lofty, tender, spiritual creatures. I mean something like the opposite of that. I mean that women are fundamentally pragmatic as well as caring, cooperative as well as competitive, skilled in getting their own egos out of the way, deft in managing people without putting them on the defensive, builders not destroyers. Above all, I mean that women can carry on the business of a complex world in ways that are more focused, efficient, deliberate, and constructive than men’s because women are not frequently distracted by impulses and moods that, sometimes indirectly, lead to sex and violence. Women are more reluctant participants in both. And if they are drawn into wars, these will be wars of necessity, not of choice, founded on rational considerations, not on a clash of egos escalating out of control.
Interesting use of Elizabeth Cady Stanton here too.
This is not a new idea. Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave an address to the National Woman Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 1869. She said, "The same arguments made in this country for extending suffrage … to white men, native born citizens, without property and education, and to foreigners … and the same used by the great Republican party to enfranchise a million black men in the South, all these arguments we have to-day to offer for woman, and one, in addition, stronger than all besides, the difference in man and woman. Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman’s thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government."
She also said, "When the highest offices in the gift of the people are bought and sold in Wall Street, it is a mere chance who will be our rulers. Whither is a nation tending when brains count for less than bullion, and clowns make laws for queens?" Almost 150 years later, the highest offices are still bought and sold on Wall Street, and clowns make laws for queens. But the latter, at least, is coming to an end.
Yet notice: What additional argument for women’s equality is "stronger than all besides"? "The difference in man and woman." Men and women complement each other. After a century and a half of research, Stanton’s argument from difference is stronger than ever, grounded in evolution, brain science, child psychology, and anthropology. And we can take it a step further
I discuss Stanton's feminist theory of difference in the context of parenting and property rights in my forthcoming book. But her feminism was more complex than this one speech suggests. She believed in equality, difference, as well as radical feminism, as all were part of the web of women's oppression.
Alyson M. Zureick, "(En)Gendering Suffering: Denial of Abortion as a Form of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment," 38 Fordham Int'l L. J. 1 (2015)
From the abstract:
The regulation of abortion has long been considered a prerogative of the state. In recent years, however, international human rights bodies have begun to consider the conformity of domestic abortion regulations with a state’s human rights obligations. This paper examines a notable trend among human rights bodies: namely, finding that denying or obstructing a woman’s access to abortion can amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under multiple human rights treaties. First, human rights bodies have found that states can be responsible for CIDT inflicted on women who are harassed and denied services that are legally available to them under the state’s laws. Second, human rights bodies have found that the application of restrictive abortion laws themselves may inflict CIDT by depriving women of an abortion in particularly serious cases, such as rape or when the woman’s life is threatened. I argue that these findings reflect an understanding that certain restrictions on abortion — or the state’s failure to act to prevent de facto restrictions from arising — are unjustifiable and disproportionate to lawful state aims. They also demonstrate a limited but important recognition that deprivations of autonomy in the reproductive rights context can lead to the kind of pain and suffering that is unacceptable in modern societies. At the same time, I argue that human rights bodies should further strengthen their understanding of women’s autonomy interests in this context, particularly the ways in which the frustration of their reproductive autonomy can inflict severe and unacceptable pain or suffering tantamount to CIDT.