Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Pants on fire are a frequent motif in Jon Krakauer’s “Missoula,” a book about date rapes on a college campus. Mr. Krakauer, who admits to having known or cared virtually nothing about this subject before a personal experience prompted him to explore it, has a lot to say about lying.
When the alleged assaults are he said/she said encounters, credibility is everything. His book asks what the truth means to victims, assailants, university officials, local police, prosecutors, journalists and, eventually, the United States Department of Justice — which sees such a mess in Missoula’s handling of rape cases that it initiates an investigation. Mr. Krakauer’s book was not scheduled for release this soon, and he was still making corrections to it in March. But he has said that its publication has been moved up in the wake of Rolling Stone’s botched andretracted article about an alleged fraternity gang-rape at the University of Virginia.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
J. Shoshanna Ehrlich (U Mass, Women's Studies), Regulating Desire (SUNY Press 2014).
Starting with the mid-nineteenth-century campaign by the American Female Moral Reform Society to criminalize seduction and moving forward to the late twentieth-century conservative effort to codify a national abstinence-only education policy, Regulating Desire explores the legal regulation of young women’s sexuality in the United States. The book covers five distinct time periods in which changing social conditions generated considerable public anxiety about youthful female sexuality and examines how successive generations of reformers sought to revise the law in an effort to manage unruly desires and restore a gendered social order. J. Shoshanna Ehrlich draws upon a rich array of primary source materials, including reform periodicals, court cases, legislative hearing records, and abstinence curricula to create an interdisciplinary narrative of socially embedded legal change. Capturing the complex and dynamic nature of the relationship between the state and the sexualized youthful female body, she highlights how the law both embodies and shapes gendered understandings of normative desire as mediated by considerations of race and class.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
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.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
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.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Nzinga-Johnson, Sekile. Laboring Positions. Black Women, Mothering and the Academy. 2013. Demeter Press: Ontario
When I offered to review Nzinga-Johnson’s 2013 edited volume on Black women and mothering in the academy I felt compelled to do so as I needed to read something that directly addressed the intersections of my identity as a Black woman, recent mother, professor and administrator. Recent books about women being mothers in the academy have privileged a worker/mother dichotomy that tends to elevate the “worker” identity above that of the mother. This divide did not speak to neither my colleagues of color’s nor my experiences after becoming mothers and performing more care-related work (mentoring, community building, activism) on our college and university campuses. I know that as a working Black mother in the academy my story is not unique, but it is one that if often unheard, under valued, and silenced within the halls of the ivory tower.
That silence is being undone with the publication of Nzinga-Johnson’s 2013 edited volume: Laboring Positions: Black Women, Mothering and the Academy. The fourteen articles in this edited volume speak to the various experiences of Black women, Black mothers, and mothering/care work done in the academy. Using a variety of methods and disciplinary perspectives, Laboring Positions is grounded overall in Black and intersectional feminist understandings of mothering/motherhood.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Barbara Babcock, Book Review: Law Professor, Feminist, and Jurist Extraordinaire
Scott Dodson, editor, The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,Cambridge University Press, 2015 (336 pp., cloth, $29.99)
Scott Dodson, the editor of this volume, has brought together an impressive group of law professors, lawyers, historians, and journalists to write about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy. There are sixteen essays, each devoted to different periods of her life and work, with very little overlap in the coverage, and no real conflict of interpretation. In addition to Dodson’s own essay, the book includes contributions by, among others, Thomas Goldstein,Lani Guinier, Robert Katzmann, Herma Hill Kay, Linda Kerber,Dahlia Lithwick, Neil and Reva Siegel, Nina Totenberg, and Joan Williams.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Susan Azyndar (Ohio State) reviews Ruthann Robson's (CUNY) book, Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes, in 106 Law Library J. 3 (2014).
In Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes, Robson explores these concepts through a variety of intersections between law and clothing. Her central thesis is twofold: “the Constitution cabins, channels, and constrains” our sartorial choices, even as our “attire reflects the Constitution” (p.7). Hierarchy, sexuality, and democracy underlie this relationship and our thinking about it. The book aims to elucidate the “doctrinal incoherence” and “interpretive slovenliness” underlying judicial reasoning (p.3). ¶88 Each chapter examines a constellation of legal concerns, including professional dress, undress, and the labor and economics of clothing production. The first chapter, “Dressing Historically,” traces the relationship between clothing and the law through history, beginning with Tudor sumptuary laws. The remaining chapters present a wide range of legal topics. For example, in the chapter entitled “Dressing Barely,” Robson addresses strip searches, indecent exposure, obscenity, and nudism. Legal concepts addressed include separation of powers, federalism, First Amendment rights, the Slavery Clauses, due process, equal protection, the Commerce Claus
Questions of gender identity are nothing new. Way before Transparent and Chaz Bonoand countless other popular culture stepping stones to where we are now regarding gender identity, there were accounts of "female husbands."
Stories of women dressing and posing as men dot the journalistic landscape of 19th century America — and Great Britain — according to Sarah Nicolazzo, who teaches literary history at the University of California, San Diego.
For a fictionalized history of cross-dresser Jenny Bonnet, read Frog Music.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Danielle Citron’s Hate Crimes in Cyberspace is a breakthrough book. It has been compared, and with good reason, to Catherine MacKinnon’s Sexual Harassment of Working Women. The book makes three major contributions. All are central to furthering the equality of women and men both in cyberspace and elsewhere.
First, Citron convincingly catalogues the range of harms, and their profundity, done to many women and some men by the sexual threats, the defamation, the revenge pornography, the stalking, and the sexual harassment and abuse, all of which is facilitated by the internet. ***
The second contribution, and the bulk of the book—the middle third to half—is a legal analysis of these harms. Citron begins by comparing the current status quo regarding our understanding of gendered harms in cyberspace with the legal environment surrounding domestic violence and sexual harassment thirty or twenty years ago. ***
The third contribution, and last third of the book, is her discussion of possible objections, and then her turn to extra-legal reforms, with a particularly helpful focus on the roles of educators, parents, and the providers themselves (“Silicon Valley” for short).
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Nancy Leong (Denver) interviews Scott Dodson (Hastings) about his new book on Justice Ginsburg on YouTube, TheRightsCast: The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Jan. 27, 2015).
From the abstract:
In Episode 1 of The RightsCast, Professor Scott Dodson discusses his new book, "The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg." The book includes contributions by Nina Totenberg (NPR), Dahlia Lithwick (Slate), Judge Robert Katzmann (Chief Judge, Second Circuit), Tom Goldstein (SCOTUSblog), and a number of prominent legal academics.
View Professor Dodson's faculty homepage here: http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/f...
Professor Dodson's book, "The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," is available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Legacy-Ruth...
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Though women lawyers are outnumbered by males in partnerships at large law firms, they made strides at several law firms in Washington, D.C., in recent promotions.
Out of 35 law firms that announced the promotions of partners since October, 14 promoted as many or more females than men in Washington, D.C., theNational Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. In many cases, the proportion of women promoted to partner was greater in a law firm’s D.C. offices than in other locations.
Arent Fox promoted four lawyers nationally and all were women, the story says. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld promoted five lawyers to partner in Washington, D.C., and four were women.
Leaders of Arent Fox and Akin Gump told the National Law Journal that flexible work schedules help the firms retain and promote women. At Akin Gump, three of the four women lawyers promoted in D.C. have worked reduced hours and will continue to do so as partners.
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.