Tuesday, December 30, 2014
If mansplaining means “to comment on or explain something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner,” then O’Reilly clearly sees America as a suggestible (though fortunately profligate) woman in desperate need of a seemingly limitless amount of remedial mansplanation. And to be fair, if the most popular nonfiction books are a reliable guide, Americans crave mansplaining the way starving rats crave half-eaten hamburgers. We’d like Beck—not an education professor—to mansplain the Common Core to us. We want Malcolm Gladwell—not a neuroscientist or a sociologist or psychologist—to mansplain everything from the laws of romantic attraction to epidemiology. And we want O’Reilly—not an actual historian—to mansplain Lincoln, Kennedy, Jesus, and all of the other great mansplaining icons of history. We want mansplainers mansplaining other mansplainers. We dig hot mansplainer-on-mansplainer action.***
The easiest explanation is that a newly enfeebled America craves mansplanations and shuns humility. Humility conjures falling stock prices and ineffectual wars and citizens who don’t feel proud so much as desperate, and maybe even a little embarrassed—by Enron, by Katrina, by Ferguson, by the 101 cruel missteps of the past two decades. Humility is a woman thing, and by the hectoring logic of our mansplaining franchises, woman things are almost always embarrassing and bad. Novels by women are chick lit. Essays by women are “girl-friendly tales.” Professional journalists are mommy bloggers. Man things deserve shiny hardcovers and pride of place on the coffee table. Woman things get flimsy covers with cursive writing and a leopard-print high heel illustrated on them, and they’re shoved into purses and nightstand drawers. Humility and self-reflection are for the weak or silly.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
From Legal History Blog, New Release: Pliley, Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the Making of the FBI
New from Harvard University Press: Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the Making of the FBI (Nov. 2014), by Jessica R. Pliley(Texas State University). A description from the Press:
America’s first anti–sex trafficking law, the 1910 Mann Act, made it illegal to transport women over state lines for prostitution “or any other immoral purpose.” It was meant to protect women and girls from being seduced or sold into sexual slavery. But, as Jessica Pliley illustrates, its enforcement resulted more often in the policing of women’s sexual behavior, reflecting conservative attitudes toward women’s roles at home and their movements in public. By citing its mandate to halt illicit sexuality, the fledgling Bureau of Investigation gained entry not only into brothels but also into private bedrooms and justified its own expansion.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Slate, Disagree in Good Faith?: Sonia Sotomayor Pushes Other Supreme Court Justices Past Their Comfort Zones, reviewing Joan Biskupic’s new biography of Sotomayor, Breaking In
Joan Biskupic’s new biography of Sonia Sotomayor, Breaking In, opens with a telling story from the justice’s first year on the Supreme Court. At a party celebrating the end of the term, Sotomayor decided to shake up the staid affair. After the law clerks put on a series of “tame” skits, she informed them that their performance “lacked a certain something.” She signaled a clerk, who produced a stereo. When Latin music began filling the room, before the clerks, her colleagues, and 200 staff members, the newest member of the court began to salsa.
That would certainly have been enough to make the occasion memorable, but Sotomayor wasn’t done. One by one, Biskupic writes, “she beckoned the justices” to join her. They were resistant, she was determined. “I knew she’d be trouble,” Justice Antonin Scalia quipped when the dance off was over.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
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.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Leigh Bienen, Florence Kelley and the Children: Factory Inspector in 1890s Chicago (2014)
A new book by a Northwestern University School of Law scholar aims to fill in the gaps in all that has been written about Florence Kelley—focusing particularly on the somewhat neglected decade the late 19th-century advocate for women and children spent in Chicago. Though Kelley is the subject of three biographies and an autobiography, author Leigh Bienen, a senior lecturer at the School of Law, concluded during her extensive research on the legal and social activist that too little had been written about her efforts to improve working conditions in Chicago, where starving women and children labored long hours in unsafe conditions.
In an interesting twist, Bienen parallels her own life in Chicago with Kelley’s in the new book. She braids together three narratives, the story of Kelley’s life as a mother and reformer in the tumult of 1890s Chicago, the story of her (Bienen’s) own arrival in Chicago a century later and her life and work here, as well as a narrative of the extraordinary events leading to the abolition of capital punishment in Illinois.
Tireless in her efforts to improve working conditions and eradicate child labor, Kelley was fleeing an abusive husband when she came to Chicago from New York in the 1890s and took up residence with her children at Hull-House, the legendary settlement house co-founded by Jane Addams. Although strapped for funds, Kelley did the work she set out to do, held several government jobs, and, along with others, persuaded the public that this was the time to do something about the conditions in the tenements. She was named the first chief factory inspector for the state of Illinois. Gov. Peter Altgeld’s 1893 appointment of a woman to such an important position was nearly unprecedented. Kelley implemented a factory inspection law adopted by the Illinois legislature in 1893, limiting women’s working hours to eight per day.
The new book grew out of an interactive website based on Bienen’s research on Kelley that was launched in 2008 (http://florencekelley.northwestern.edu). “I am interested in her life, her family life, her children and how she managed to be both a public figure and a mother,” Bienen said. “None of the biographies adequately deal with her decade in Chicago, perhaps because they were written by Easterners,” Bienen said. “None, in my opinion, conveyed the richness of the historical context of the effort to reform conditions in city sweatshops and tenements and the actions and personalities of public figures such as Florence Kelley and Jane Addams.”
Also of particular interest to Bienen, Kelley earned a law degree from Northwestern in 1895 -- during a time when college graduate education was highly uncommon for women. Kelley was also known for combining fiery stylized prose with well-researched findings in her advocacy and investigations. ***
Extensive litigation challenging Kelley’s work and the new factory inspection law resulted in the Illinois Supreme Court declaring parts of the law unconstitutional in 1895. However, Kelley and her colleagues triumphed years later when the U.S. Supreme Court, at the urging of Louis Brandeis, upheld such statutes. Kelley and her colleague Josephine Goldmark invented the Brandeis Brief for that case.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I have published the 2014 edition of Women and the Law (Thomas Reuters). This annual edition collects selected top scholarship in women's legal rights from the past year. A sort of greatest hits of women and the law articles compiled for the researcher and practitioner to stay up on both current trends and the breadth of work in the field.
The Table of Contents:
Tracy A. Thomas, Back to the Future of Abortion Rights in the First Term, 29 Wis. J. Law, Gender & Soc’y 47 (2014)
Feminism and the Family
Melissa L. Breger, The (In)Visibility of Motherhood in Family Court Proceedings, 36 N.Y.U. Rev. of Law & Social Change 555 (2012)
Lauren Sudeall Lucas, A Dilemma of Doctrinal Design: Rights, Identity and the Work-Family Conflict, 8 FIU L. Rev. 379 (2013)
Violence Against Women
Carolyn B. Ramsey, The Exit Myth: Family Law, Gender Roles, and Changing Attitudes Toward Female Victims of Domestic Violence" 20 Michigan Journal of Gender & Law 1 (2013)
Sarah Lynnda Swan, Triangulating Rape, 37 NYU Review of Law and Social Change 403 (2013)
Women in the Workplace
Joan C. Williams, Double Jeopardy? An Empirical Study with Implications for the Debates over Implicit Bias and Intersectionality, 37 Harv. J. Gender & Law 185 (2014)
Kimberly Yuracko, Soul of a Woman: The Sex Stereotyping Prohibition at Work, 161 U. Penn. L. Rev. 757 (2013)
Laura Rosenbury, Work Wives, 36 Harv. J. Law & Gender 345 (2013)
Kimberley D. Krawiec, John M. Conley, Lissa L. Broome, The Danger of Difference: Tensions in Directors’ Views of Corporate Board Diversity", 2013 University of Illinois Law Review 919 (2013)
Women as Economic Actors
Linda Coco, Visible Women: Locating Women in Financial Failure, Bankruptcy Law, and Bankruptcy Reform, 8 Charleston L. Rev. 191 (2013)
Amy Schmitz, Sex Matters: Considering Gender in Consumer Contracts, 19 Cardozo Journal of Law & Gender 437 (2013)
Feminist Legal Theory
Rebecca Zietlow, Rights of Belonging for Women, 1 Indiana Journal of Law & Social Equality 64-99 (2013)
Aya Gruber, Neofeminism, 50 Houston L. Rev. 1325 (2013)
Saturday, September 6, 2014
From WaPo, Feminism Unfinished
“Feminism Unfinished"... argues that the “wave” metaphor obscures the history of a continuous American women’s movement sustained by labor activists, civil rights advocates and social-reform campaigners, who may have looked placid on the surface but were paddling like hell underneath. Each of the three authors contributes a chapter to their history of American feminism, and they declare together in their prologue that “there was no period in the last century in which women were not campaigning for greater equality and freedom.” They hope that uncovering the “multiple and unfinished feminisms of the twentieth century can inspire” the women’s movements of the 21st. That’s the surprise signaled in the teasing subtitle.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
From Slate, It is Good to be a "Bad" Feminist
I bristled a little at the title of Roxane Gay’s new collection of essays: Bad Feminist. Was that “bad” a backhanded boast, a Cool Girl’s rejection of all the supposedly militant and humorless “good” feminists out there?
Then I started reading the book, and I realized the professor cum novelist cum voice-on-the-Internet isn’t proclaiming herself a chiller, smarter, funnier feminist than anyone else. She is exploring imperfection: the power we (we people, and especially we women) wield in spite and because of it. Her essays, which are arresting and sensitive but rarely conclusive, don’t care much for unbroken skin. They are about flaws, sometimes scratches and sometimes deep wounds. Gay studies the cracks and what fills them.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
In preparation for teaching a fall intersession class of ADR, I read the new book, Doug Linder & Nancy Levit's (UMKC) The Good Lawyer. Their defining characteristics of a good lawyer according to Linder and Levit are:
- Empathy (care about your client's case; put yourself in the client's shoes; active listening)
- Willpower (for the long-haul of litigation; stay healthy; reduce anxiety)
- Value the legal community (civility)
- Both Intuitive and Deliberative Thinking
- Realistic about the Future (avoid overconfidence; use decision trees)
- Serve the True Interests of the client (you are a counselor, not a hired gun)
- Integrity (pro bono, honesty, big picture justice)
- Persuasive (empathy, honesty, prepared)
- Maintain Quality in Changing Environment (no dishonest billing; work/life balance)
It was noted that women lawyers exhibit more empathy and better avoid the overconfidence problem.
Here's a review from WSJ.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Rebecca Lee (Thomas Jefferson), has posted Book Review, Sonia Sotomayor: Role Model of Empathy and Purposeful Ambition, Minnesota Law Rev. Headnotes (2013).
In writing her memoir, My Beloved World, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressly acknowledges that she is a public role model and embraces this responsibility by making herself accessible to a broad audience. As a public figure, she sees an opportunity to connect with others through an account of her life journey, with details of initial challenges and lessons learned along the way, to show that one’s beginnings need not constrain one’s aspirations. Although her memoir ends at the point she begins her judicial career, twenty years ago, her experiences and reflections provide a sense of how she may approach her work on the Supreme Court, including the importance she attaches to perspective-taking — or empathy — in relating to others and viewing the larger world. Her empathic skill, as well as her understanding of public purpose as a Justice and role model, all serve to strengthen the judicial function and present a hopeful picture of further important contributions to come as she continues her work on the bench.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Walk into a bookstore, browse Amazon cookbook category listings, and you’ll find various genres of cookbooks.....But absent is a category for women, revealing the assumption that unmarked cookbooks are for women.
There is a lot of gendered discourse we can examine in books like cookbooks for men. The titles themselves are loaded with stereotypes: “Man Meets Stove: A Cookbook for Men Who’ve Never Cooked Anything without a Microwave,” “Men’s Health Muscle Chow: More than 150 Meals to Feed Your Muscles and Fuel Your Workouts,” and “Eat like a Man: The Only Cookbook a Man will Ever Need.”
Thursday, June 26, 2014
From the Legal History blog: New Release: Clément on "Sex Discrimination and British Columbia's Human Rights State, 1953-84"
In Equality Deferred, Dominique Clément traces the history of sex discrimination in Canadian law and the origins of human rights legislation, demonstrating how governments inhibit the application of their own laws, and how it falls to social movements to create, promote, and enforce these laws.
Focusing on British Columbia -- the first jurisdiction to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex -- Clément documents a variety of absurd, almost unbelievable, acts of discrimination. The province was at the forefront of the women's movement, which produced the country's first rape crisis centres, first feminist newspaper, and first battered women's shelters. And yet nowhere else in the country was human rights law more contested. For an entire generation, the province's two dominant political parties fought to impose their respective vision of the human rights state. This history of human rights law, based on previously undisclosed records of British Columbia's human rights commission, begins with the province’s first equal pay legislation in 1953 and ends with the collapse of the country's most progressive human rights legal regime in 1984.
This book is not only a testament to the revolutionary impact of human rights on Canadian law but also a reminder that it takes more than laws to effect transformative social change.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Naomi Cahn's book review for Concurring Opinions on The Good Lawyer by Doug Linder and Nancy Levit. The "good lawyer" possesses certain qualities:
Those attributes are addressed in nine of the book’s ten chapters, and they range from empathy to moral courage, cognitive skills, willpower, civility, honesty, and open-mindedness. As they explore the good lawyers’ attributes, the authors draw on behavioral economics, Tonglen Buddhism, cognitive psychology, and the law to support and explain their point
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
A list of recent books from professor members of the Feminist Legal Theory Critical Research Network, recently gathered at Law & Society.
Angela Campbell, Sister Wives, Surrogates and Sex Workers: Outlaws by Choice (Ashgate 2013)
June Carbone & Naomi Cahn, Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family (Oxford University Press 2014).
Feminism, Law and Religion (Marie A. Failinger, Susan Stabile, & Elizabeth Schiltz eds., Ashgate 2013)
Gender and Sexuality in Latin America: Cases and Decisions (Cristina Motta & Macarena Saez eds., Springer 2013)
Leslie Harris, June Carbone, & Lee Teitelbaum, Family Law (5th ed. Aspen 2014)
Jill Elaine Hasday, Family Law Reimagined (Harvard University Press 2014)
Clare Huntington, Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships (Oxford University Press 2014)
Ummni Khan, Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary (University of Toronto Press 2014)
Nina A. Kohn, Elder Law: Practice, Policy, & Problems (Aspen 2014)
Douglas O. Linder & Nancy Levit, The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law (Oxford University Press 2014)
Elizabeth Palley & Corey Shdaimah, In Our Hands: The Struggle for U.S. Child Care Policy (New York University Press 2014)
Kara W. Swanson, Banking on the Body: The Market in Blood, Milk and Sperm in Modern America (Harvard University Press 2014)
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Recommended reading by women's studies profs as excellent introduction to feminism and making it real for students.
Victoria Bromley, Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism (U. Toronto Press 2012)
INTRODUCTION: As you sit on the bus, in the library, at home in the living room, or in a commons on campus, you might find people looking over your shoulder and asking you what you’re reading. When you respond, “I’m reading Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism,” they might ask you why. Why indeed? Perhaps it’s because you’re interested in feminisms or because the book has been assigned as part of a course you’re taking. The word on the street, on the other hand, is that feminism is dead, so what could possibly be important about feminism? The short answer is, “Everything!”...
CHAPTER ONE: DON’T CALL ME THAT! FEMINISM AND OTHER “F-WORDS”
When you hear the word “feminism” or “feminist,” you might find yourself in a quandary. You might be curious, furious, or you might just want to run for cover. Feminism is a word that is frequently used and often abused. Where you hear it, who says it, and the context in which it is used often influences your reaction. How can the “F-word” stir up such emotion?
CHAPTER TWO: WHAT’S FEMINISM DONE (FOR ME) LATELY? FEMINIST CONTRIBUTIONS
We made it! We are equal. Feminism is no longer necessary. And, of course, feminism is dead. The struggle is over and we can put our concerns to rest. These are some of the tenets that we often hear. It makes us feel good to think that things are not as bad for women and other marginalized groups as they were in the past. Social commentary of this brand is often paired with the familiar preface for gender equality assertions: “I’m not a feminist but…” What follows is a laundry list of values or aspirations that most people can agree...
CHAPTER THREE: HOW DO I KNOW WHAT I KNOW? EPISTEMOLOGY AND THEORY
In the last chapter, we discussed the complex and interconnected histories of feminist and social justice movements. Feminism, however, is not simply a movement. It is also a theory. So, to understand feminisms more fully, we must also understand what theory is and why we need it. Yes, theory. OMG! Don’t run for cover just yet.
CHAPTER FOUR: MAKING MY HEAD SPIN: CRITICAL INTERSECTIONALITY
Intersectionality is a conceptual tool for analyzing differences. It allows us to think about multiple identities and how they may be interconnected in complex ways. It is also a tool for understanding how multiple systems of oppression may be interrelated. Feminists use the concept of intersectionality, a term coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, to consider how interlocking systems of oppressions, complex identities, and social inequalities affect people’s lives (Crenshaw 1989). The concept of intersectionality has long been used by black feminists to explore the lives of racialized women.
CHAPTER FIVE: SO MANY DETAILS AND SO MUCH READING: FEMINIST THEORIES
Thinking through the intersectionalities of identities, the complexities of people’s lives, and the very real struggles that people face every day is not simple. Nor is it easy to understand how people confront and resist oppressions, exploitations, and marginalization. Yet resistance on multiple fronts continues and theories help us to understand not only the struggles towards social justice but also the triumphs of achieving justice. Feminist theorizing, then, is an ongoing process. It does not assume that one theory can address all the complexities of women’s and men’s lives in vastly diverse social, political, economic, and geographic spaces or across...
CHAPTER SIX: FROM UNIVERSALIZING TO QUEERING AND GLOBALIZING THEORIES
In the previous chapter we noted an ongoing dialogue among feminist theorists and activists. The dialogue continues in this chapter with the exploration of postmodern, “Third World,” postcolonial, queer, and transnational feminist theories. The purpose here is to introduce some current feminist debates and discover some of the key questions and arguments being raised in these debates. We will also reflect on some of the limitations and critiques of these theories as a way for us to think about feminisms. We will question how different theories, feminist and otherwise, might influence the way we think, not only about theory but...
CHAPTER SEVEN: TAKING FEMINISM ON THE ROAD: FEMINIST METHODS
Theory is all very well, but what is the point in theorizing if we have nothing concrete about which to theorize? Where is the evidence? Where is the research? How do we collect it? Feminist research draws on insights from the struggles and lived experiences of women and marginalized people. Feminist perspectives, informed by theory and practice, encourage feminist researchers to ask different questions. It makes sense that the evidence to answer our questions must also come from different places. Feminist research is complex and sometimes, rather than just answering the research questions posed, it leads us to more and...
CHAPTER EIGHT: IT’S NOT DEAD? CONNECTING THE DOTS ACROSS THE WAVES OF FEMINISMS
The link between feminist theory and women’s movement is not always immediately visible. Nonetheless, doing feminist theory means you have to be grounded in lived experiences. It is this connection to women’s lives that gives meaning to feminist theory. Feminist activists have long been struggling to increase the value of women’s experiences in order to achieve women’s equality and their inclusion at all levels. However, it is through the process of theorizing these activist practices and the lives of women that activism becomes more effective. This means that theory and practice must become praxis.
CHAPTER NINE: DON’T MEN COUNT, TOO? FEMINISMS AND MASCULINITIES
As a feminist, I know it is important to think about men and masculinities. However, to write about them with a sense of authority is a challenge. This is not because I have no understanding of the issues, debates, and research—I do. Men are important in my life; they are my family members, my friends, and my colleagues. Still I struggle. Perhaps this struggle is related to my identity as a “woman” and all that it encompasses.
CHAPTER TEN: THE STRATEGIES THAT EMPOWER US: FEMINIST ACTIVISM Feminists today have entered a new era of thinking about and doing feminism. We continue to struggle and succeed, but we are still committed to ending oppression and advancing social justice. As feminists, we need to continue to ask new questions and develop new strategies to meet our goals. We must learn from our past, rethinking past actions and strategies, so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time a new challenge emerges. Re-examining what we think and how we know about our world is critical. These are not easy tasks.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: STILL STRUGGLING: MAKING CHANGE
Just when we thought we had equality, reality sets in. While feminism has been struggling for equality for well over a century, we have yet to meet this goal. When we look at the world in which we live, we know that we cannot abandon our struggles. We must continue to fight for social change to end exploitation and oppression in all its various forms. In this chapter, we will look at some of the ongoing struggles in which feminists are engaged. We will explore what is at stake in the struggle for equality and social justice in the area