Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Thursday, August 25, 2016

10 Books by Women to Read Before Starting Law School

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Review Symposium: Comments on "All the Single Ladies"

 

Signs, Short Takes: All the Single Ladies

Table of Contents

 Surveying the Singles Beat
Kate Bolick

 Ain’t We All Women?
Rebecca Carroll

 It’s Great to Be Young
Nancy F. Cott

 The Urgent Need for a Singles Studies Discipline
Bella DePaulo

 Great Stories about Ladies without Partners
Barbara J. Risman

 Our Work Is Never Done
Judith Stacey


 A Response
Rebecca Traister

August 23, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: Women in Early America

Zoe Detsi, Review, European J. American Studies, Thomas A. Foster, ed. Women in Early America (NYU Press 2015)

Women in Early America is an intriguing collection of essays offering richly diverse readings of women’s lives and experiences in 17th- and 18th- century America. This volume is a significant contribution to the scholarship concerning the role of women in history and their participation in historical moments of political change and cultural negotiation. From Gerda Lerner’s seminal work on The Woman in American History (1971) to Linda Kerber’s enlightening book titled Women’s America: Refocusing the Past (6th ed., 2004), to Mary Beth Norton’s meticulous transatlantic study Separated by their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World (2011), scholarly efforts have been made to deepen our understanding of women’s history by initiating a shift of focus from their domestic role and dependent status to their active involvement in political, military, and economic affairs, as well as cultural production.

 

The scope of the volume’s methodological approach to the history of early women in America is very broad. The essays cover an impressive range of women’s experiences from the colonial period to the American revolutionary war offering a number of perspectives that embrace cultural history, gender theory, race studies, while resenting a multitude of women’s voices from different social, cultural, political, ethnic backgrounds, and geographical areas. All eleven essays provide scholars and researchers with a wealth of archival material – diaries, letters, narratives, documents – and with fresh insights into examining women in history as active agents in their own right challenging social conventions and political decisions. Either as aristocratic women in New Mexico or indentured servants in Virginia and Maryland, as slave owners in Jamaica or runaway slaves, as interpreters in Puritan Massachusetts or traders in  French America and Detroit, as Loyalist women during the revolution or proponents of female education in the new nation, early women in America were deeply involved in (inter)cultural practices and greatly affected by economic policies and social changes.

The Table of Contents is here.

August 12, 2016 in Books, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Book: Irish Feminist Judgments Project

Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project: Judges' Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity (forthcoming 2017)

The Irish project Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges' Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity builds upon the work of the feminist judgment project completed at Durham and Kent and which integrated feminist theory and judicial method, re-writing influential judgments from feminist perspectives. The project will produce an anthology of re-written judgments from Northern/Ireland as well as innovative web resources with materials of use to both academics and civil society. Bringing together academic partners at institutions across the UK and Ireland including the Law Schools at Kent, LSE, UCD, UCC, Queen's Belfast, and the University of Ulster, with solicitors, barristers and civil society groups, the project creates a broad new community of Irish feminist scholars around an ambitious Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. The project will create tangible resources which can be used to engender a societal dialogue about legal decision-making and social change, developing dynamic resources for future research and teaching in judicial studies. The project focuses on the gendered political roles of judges in contexts of transition from conflict, colonialism and religious patriarchy.

August 8, 2016 in Books, Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

New in Books: A Feminist Proposal for Using ADR to Address Marital Problems and Violence in India

Srimati Basu, The Trouble with Marriage: Feminists Confront Law and Violence in India (U. Cal. Press 2015) (with podcast):

Are solutions to marital problems always best solved through legal means? Should alternative dispute resolutions be celebrated? In her latest book The Trouble with Marriage: Feminists Confront Law and Violence in India (University of California Press, 2015) Srimati Basu answers such questions and many more through explorations of "lawyer free" courts and questions surrounding understandings of domestic violence, analyses of the way rape intersects with marriage and how kinship systems change with legal disputes and by delineating the most important acts that frame marriage law in India. Theoretically and politically astute the book offers an ethnographic insight into legal sites of marriage trouble in India.

August 5, 2016 in Books, Family, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Review: Black Women and the Carceral State

Black Women and the Carceral State

Reviewing:    

No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity
by Sarah Haley
The University of North Carolina Press, 2016, 360 pp. Link here

 

Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South
by Talitha L. LeFlouria
The University of North Carolina Press, 2016, 280 pp. Link here.

 

When you think of convict labor in the postbellum South, you probably think of men. Consider the cultural touchstones: John Henry driving steel in West Virginia, Robert Burns’s I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang!, the manacled singers in Alan Lomax’s field recordings, Nat Adderley’s classic “Work Song” (“Breaking rocks out here on the chain gang/Breaking rocks and serving my time”). Or perhaps not—by far the finest rendition of “Work Song,” after all, is Nina Simone’s. By singing Adderley’s song, Simone made audible what has been systemically silenced: the historical experience of black women subjected to coerced labor and state violence. While the repression and coercion of black women have been constant features of American life in one form or another across the centuries, they are also today the site of a vital strand of political resistance. The appearance of two historical works on the subject, then, is significant. Talitha L. LeFlouria’s Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South, and Sarah Haley’s No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity, represent the most thorough historical accounting of the system of carceral labor inflicted on black women.

 

These are books for our moment. African-American women—queer, black women in particular—have been critical in local organizing against police violence, and have emerged as the leaders of the nation’s most significant national movement for racial justice, Black Lives Matter. Partly, this reflects a long tradition of black female political leadership; partly it is the product of the relative invisibility of state violence against black women.

July 12, 2016 in Books, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Books: Fiction on Campus Sexual Assault by and about a Woman Prosecutor

ABA J, The Last Good Girl

Author Allison Leotta has used her 12 years of experience as a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C., to bring real-world issues into her fiction. Leotta has written five novels chronicling the adventures of her protagonist, prosecutor Anna Curtis. The most recent, The Last Good Girl, takes on the issue of campus sexual assault at a fictional private college in Michigan.

The ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles spoke with Leotta about how she shifted her career from lawyer to author; why the issue of campus sexual assault is so timely; and what’s next for her intrepid heroine Anna Curtis.

July 8, 2016 in Books, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Books: Race and Gender in Copyrighting Choreography

Anthea Kraut, Choreographing Copyright: Race Gender and Intellectual Property Rights in American Dance (Oxford 2015)

In Choreographing Copyright: Race, Gender and Intellectual Property Rights in American Dance, Anthea Kraut wrestles mightily with these questions as she presents the first book by a dance scholar to focus explicitly on matters of copyright and choreography. Combining archival research with critical race and gender theory, Kraut offers new perspectives in this cross-genre history of American Dance. Professor Kraut’s research addresses the interconnections between American performance and cultural history and the raced and gendered dancing body.

July 8, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Review: Two Books on Cyberspace Harassment of Women

Catharine Ross, Taming the Wild West: Online Excesses, Reactions and Overreactions, 51 Tulsa L.Rev. 267 (2016)

Abstract:     

A review essay discussing Danielle Keats Citron’s Hate Crimes in Cyberspace (Harvard University Press 2014) and Amy Adele Hasinoff’s, Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy and Consent (University of Illinois Press 2015). Both books consider the risks and harms in cyberspace, blaming of victims, and the interaction between law and online expression. Citron documents widespread hate speech, cyberstalking, revenge porn, and other speech that especially targets women online. Hasinoff, grounded in feminist and cultural studies, emphasizes the positive aspects of the agency girls who sext voluntarily display in exploring and displaying their sexuality, arguing that advising girls that control of their own lives must lead them refuse to sext (a widespread approach) deprives them of voice. Both books analyze law and propose legal reforms, and both also explore the relationship between social norms and legal regimes. Ross’s review finds commonality in the authors’ arguments that women “have a right to sexual expression without fear of moral or legal repercussions” and that both ultimately “look to greater self-policing by the technology industry,” and to promoting “cultural transformation” as much as legal change.

 

July 7, 2016 in Books, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Books: Fair Labor Lawyer

Marlene Trestman, Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin (2016)

As a trailblazing attorney, Bessie Margolin lived a life of exceptional achievement. At a time when the legal profession consisted almost entirely of men, she earned the esteem of her colleagues and rose to become one of the most successful Supreme Court advocates of her era. Doing so, as Marlene Trestman demonstrates inFair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin(Louisiana State University Press, 2016), required overcoming not just the ingrained assumptions that men had towards professional women during that time but also the poverty of her early childhood and the loss of her mother when Margolin was only three years old. As Trestman reveals, Margolin exploited to the full the opportunities she was given as a ward of the Jewish Orphans Home in New Orleans, which provided her with a comfortable upbringing and a good education. From Newcomb College and Tulane University, Margolin went on to a fellowship at Yale University and a career in the federal government, which she began by participating in the defense of some of the most important laws to come out of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program and concluded by championing measures mandating equal pay and opposing age discrimination. And yet Trestman shows that for all of the sacrifices she made to establish a career for herself, Margolin did so on her own terms and in a way that many Americans can relate to today.

 

July 5, 2016 in Books, SCOTUS, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Review Symposium on "Nine to Five" and Workplace Sex Discrimination

Concurring Opinions hosted a symposium of several book reviews on Joanna Grossman's new book Nine to Five.  Reviews are provided by Sam Bagenstos, Naomi Cahn, Nancy Dowd, Kate Silbaugh, and Verna Williams.

grossman-book-nine-to-five-lawnews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Concurring Opinions is delighted to introduce Professor Joanna Grossman, and the participants in our online symposium on Nine to Five: How Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Continue to Define the American Workplace (Cambridge University Press 2016).

I previously posted about the book here.

 

June 15, 2016 in Books, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Book Review: Linda Greenhouse Reviews Gillian Thomas's "Because of Sex"

Linda Greenhouse, NYT, Bittersweet Victories of Women

In Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work, Gillian Thomas focuses on the afterlife of the Smith amendment as part of the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII, which deals with employment. (Other titles concern voting, education, and access to public facilities and public “accommodations,” meaning hotels, restaurants, and other private businesses serving the public. Title IX, a law we hear much about these days, is not part of the Civil Rights Act but of a different law, the Education Amendments of 1972.) Thomas, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project who has litigated sex discrimination cases for many years, is interested not in how Title VII’s “because of sex” clause came to be, but in what has become of it since.

June 3, 2016 in Books, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Annette Gordon-Reed on Becoming a Lawyer and Historian

Last Lecture: Annette Gordon-Reed Traces Her Journey from Texas Childhood to Lawyer and Historian

[After working as a lawyer] she finally decided to enter academia. She felt, she said, that moment “was the only shot I had to be able to write, to be able to think about issues, to be able to use all of the things that I had been thinking about up to this moment—to be thinking about society, to be writing about society in a way that I thought would be useful.”

 

“Law is important. Obviously I believe that. But the kinds of human relations, the kinds of things we’re talking about in both of these books, transcend it,” Gordon-Reed said. “Sometimes you have to look beyond it, because the law is not put in place for everybody, is not made to work for everybody. It’s our hope that we can try to make it work for everybody, but the historian understands that there are moments when that just was not the case, and slavery was one of them."

May 12, 2016 in Books, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New in Books: Nine to Five

Joanna Grossman (Hofstra/SMU), Nine to Five: How Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Continue to Define the American Workplace (Cambridge University Press, May 2016)

At the heart of this collection is a basic question: What is sex discrimination? The answer may seem obvious, but, in truth, it is complicated. Are all classifications on the basis of gender discriminatory, or are there times or places when sex differentiation, or even sex segregation, are permissible or desirable? Should seemingly benign classifications be prohibited because they might perpetuate damaging stereotypes and gender subordination? If so, when?

Check out the terrific Table of Contents showing an engaging style and wide range of issues covered in this new book.

May 10, 2016 in Books, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Review: How Feminism Sold Out by Becoming Cool

Wash Post, How Feminism Sold Out by Becoming Cool

This new mutation can be called “marketplace feminism,” the author writes, “a mainstream, celebrity, consumer embrace of feminism that positions it as a cool, fun, accessible identity that anyone can adopt.” If any purported feminist campaign is touched by corporate or private interests, it is suspect. For Zeisler, feminism is feminism and capitalism is capitalism, and when they hook up it’s just gross....

 

This book’s critique of “marketplace feminism” offers no wiggle room: If you claim feminism without combating structural inequality, your feminism is counterproductive, prioritizing personal advancement rather than attacking the systems that perpetuate wage disparities or gender-based divisions of labor. And don’t bother suggesting that a movement might benefit from the popularization of its tenets — however superficial the interpretations may be — because Zeisler isn’t buying it. “The diversity of voices, issues, approaches, and processes required to make feminism work as an inclusive social movement,” she writes, “is precisely the kind of knotty, unruly insurrection that just can’t be smoothed into a neat brand.”

May 6, 2016 in Books, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Why Feminists are Rewriting Judgments

Heather Roberts (Australian Natl) & Laura Sweeney (NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby), Review Essay: Why (Re)Write Judgements?, 37 Sydney L.Rev. 457 (2015)

Australian Feminist Judgments is a collection of fictional judgments for real Australian cases that have been rewritten by Australian scholars from the perspective of a feminist judge. Each judgment is introduced by a commentary, written by a different scholar, explaining the legal and historical context of the original decision and the choices made by the feminist judge. This review essay locates the collection within more general debates surrounding judgment writing, particularly leading Australian extra-judicial commentary on how and why judgments are written. Against this larger plane, we consider a number of the key issues raised by the collection about judgment writing, including the significance of recounting the facts of a case, the uses of formalist judicial method and the capacity of judgments to effect change. Drawing on a number of examples from the collection, this review essay contends that Australian Feminist Judgments makes a valuable contribution not only to contemporary feminist debates, but also to issues going to the heart of judicial practices and judgment.

The US Feminist Judgments rewriting projects is here

A fall conference on rewriting judgments, The US Feminist Judgments Project: Rewriting the Law, Writing the Future is planned for October 20 & 21.

 

 

May 2, 2016 in Books, Conferences, Courts, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New in Books: Gender Remade: Citizenship, Suffrage, and Public Power

From Legal History Blog, VanBurkleo's "Gender Remade", Abstract and TOC:

Sandra F. VanBurkleo, Associate Professor of History at Wayne State University, has published Gender Remade: Citizenship, Suffrage, and Public Power in the New Northwest, 1879–1912 (Cambridge UP).

Gender Remade explores a little-known experiment in gender equality in Washington Territory in the 1870s and 1880s. Building on path-breaking innovations in marital and civil equality, lawmakers extended a long list of political rights and obligations to both men and women, including the right to serve on juries and hold public office. As the territory moved toward statehood, however, jury duty and constitutional co-sovereignty proved to be particularly controversial; in the end, 'modernization' and national integration brought disastrous losses for women until 1910, when political rights were partially restored.

April 28, 2016 in Books, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

New in Books: Gender Remade

From Legal History Blog, VanBurkleo's "Gender Remade", Abstract and TOC:

Sandra F. VanBurkleo, Associate Professor of History at Wayne State University, has published Gender Remade: Citizenship, Suffrage, and Public Power in the New Northwest, 1879–1912 (Cambridge UP).

Gender Remade explores a little-known experiment in gender equality in Washington Territory in the 1870s and 1880s. Building on path-breaking innovations in marital and civil equality, lawmakers extended a long list of political rights and obligations to both men and women, including the right to serve on juries and hold public office. As the territory moved toward statehood, however, jury duty and constitutional co-sovereignty proved to be particularly controversial; in the end, 'modernization' and national integration brought disastrous losses for women until 1910, when political rights were partially restored.

April 28, 2016 in Books, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Roe as a Negative Precedent for Same-Sex Marriage

Cary Franklin (Texas), Roe as We Know It, 114 Mich. L.Rev. 867 (2016), reviewing, Mary Ziegler (Florida State), After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate (2015)

The petitioners in last year’s historic same-sex marriage case cited most of the Supreme Court’s canonical substantive due process precedents. They argued that the right of same-sex couples to marry, like the right to use birth control and the right to guide the upbringing of one’s children, was among the liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court in Obergefell v. Hodges agreed, citing many of the same cases. Not once, however, did the petitioners or the majority in Obergefell cite the Court’s most famous substantive due process decision. It was the dissenters in Obergefell who invoked Roe v. Wade.

April 26, 2016 in Abortion, Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Who is Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Why is she on the $10 Bill

The news focused on Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, but more women will be featured on the $10 bill.  Five women suffrage leaders will appear on the back of the $5 bill.  These five are Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth.

ECSBookJacket

I have spent the last 10+ years researching and writing about Stanton.  My focus has been her contributions to the philosophical development of legal feminism and her work for legal reforms of gender equity in the private sphere of the family. 

Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law (NYU Press forthcoming Oct. 2016)

From the abstract for the book:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the principal feminist thinker, leader, and “radical conscience” of the nineteenth-century woman’s rights movement. Stanton initiated the women’s rights movement on July 19, 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York, where she issued her feminist manifesto, the “Declaration of Sentiments,” demanding women’s right to vote. This is generally all that history has remembered of Stanton. Her Declaration, however, demanded seventeen other rights for political, religious, social, and civil rights equality. These included the right to public office, marital property, divorce, education, employment, reproductive control, and religious autonomy. As Stanton explained, the institutions of government, church, family, and industrial work constituted “a fourfold bondage” of women, with “many cords tightly twisted together, strong for one purpose” of woman’s subordination. They were all intertwined, so that “to attempt to undo one is to loosen all.” As Stanton later explained, to break down this complexity required women to have “bravely untwisted all the strands of the fourfold cord that bound us and demanded equality in the whole round of the circle.” Holistic reform was required to break down the complex system of women’s oppression. 

The family was one centerpiece of Stanton’s feminist agenda. The family, governed by patriarchal laws and sentimental gender norms, created and perpetuated women’s inferiority. “If the present family life is necessarily based on man’s headship,” Stanton argued, “then we must build a new domestic altar, in which the mother shall have equal dignity, honor and power.” The private sphere of the family was not segregated from the public sphere, as both nineteenth-century suffrage reformers and twentieth-century feminists often argued, but instead was intertwined with the other institutional strands strangling equality. As a result, radical concrete change to the family institution was required in the forms of egalitarian partnerships, economic rights, free divorce, and maternal autonomy. Stanton’s commitment to women’s equality in marriage and the family was longstanding -- from Seneca Falls to her last writings. As Stanton said, she “remained as radical on the marriage question at the age of eighty-six as [she] had been a half a century earlier.” 

Stanton’s family reforms seem less shocking today because most of them have become law. Her proposals to reconstruct marriage and the family, detailed in this book, are now mainstream. Women have separate and joint marital property rights. Spouses inherit equal shares of estates when one partner dies without a will. Common law marriage is prohibited in most states, and civil marriage requires procedural safeguards. Divorce is available for irreconcilable differences or for misconduct equally applicable to both spouses. The law supports domestic violence protections, reproductive choice, and maternal custody.

Recovering Stanton’s feminist thinking on the family reveals the longevity and persistence of women’s demands for family equality. Contrary to popular wisdom, these feminist ideas were not invented in the 1970s, but instead reach back more than a century earlier as part of the original conceptualization of women’s rights. This longer perspective bolsters the truth and credibility of such feminist demands, dispelling their characterization as a modern anomaly and demanding legitimization and consideration in the law. As these issues of family, marriage, work/life balance, pregnancy, and parenting continue to challenge the law and confound feminism, Stanton’s work adds historical evidence of important principles that should be part of the legal equation. Her work shows that feminism and the family have not been historically in opposition, as we usually think. To the contrary, feminists have existed not apart from the family, but within it. 

See also:

Tracy A. Thomas, Misappropriating Women's History in the Law and Politics of Abortion, 36 Seattle L. Rev. 1 (2012) (on Stanton’s theory and advocacy of maternity)

Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Notion of a Legal Class of Gender, in Feminist Legal History (Tracy A. Thomas & Tracey Jean Boisseau, eds. 2011) (on foundations of constitutional sex equality inquiry)

Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the Federal Marriage Amendment: A Letter to the President, 22 Constitutional Commentary 137 (2005) (on marriage equality and divorce)

Tracy A. Thomas, Introduction to Symposium, The Origins of Constitutional Gender Equality in the Nineteenth-Century Work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 7 ConLawNOW 1 (2016)

Tracy A. Thomas, The New Face of Women's Legal History, 41 Akron L. Rev. 695 (2008) (on Truth and Stanton)

 

April 25, 2016 in Books, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)