Tuesday, July 14, 2015
In honor of today's release of Mockingbird II, Go Tell a Watchman, some suggested reading on the law and gender in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
Julia Ernst, The Exoneration of Mayella Ewell in "To Kill a Mockingbird," 47 Akron L. Rev. 1019 (2015)
Karla Holloway, Legal Fictions:Constituting Race, Composing Literature 114-16 (Duke U Press 2014)
Iris Halpern, Rape, Incest, and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird: On Alabama's Legal Construction of Gender and Sexuality in the Context of Racial Subordination, 18 Colum. J. Gender & Law 743 (2009) (WL link)
This is the fifth year the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction has been awarded. The prize is intended for the best novel-length work of fiction published that year to illuminate the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change. It is sponsored by the ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law, and named for the author of To Kill a Mockingbird.
The Secret of Magic is the story of Regina Robichard, an African-American attorney working for the Legal Defense Fund with Thurgood Marshall in the 1940s. She receives a packet detailing the disappearance and death of Joe Howard Wilson, a young black World War II veteran, and she travels to Mississippi to investigate. When she arrives, she discovers that nothing about the case, the town or its inhabitants is quite what it initially seemed.
Johnson is the first woman and the first African-American to be awarded the prize
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Legal History Blog, Woloch's "Class By Herself"
A Class by Herself explores the historical role and influence of protective legislation for American women workers, both as a step toward modern labor standards and as a barrier to equal rights. Spanning the twentieth century, the book tracks the rise and fall of women-only state protective laws—such as maximum hour laws, minimum wage laws, and night work laws—from their roots in progressive reform through the passage of New Deal labor law to the feminist attack on single-sex protective laws in the 1960s and 1970s
Saturday, May 16, 2015
The Feminist Legal Theory CRN group at the upcoming Law & Society is reading Roxane Gay's, Bad Feminist (http://www.roxanegay.com/bad-feminist/).
I just finished reading the book myself. I had read excerpts and reviews, but not the book until now. Really great. She's a professor, a writer, and a "bad" feminist - defined as a real, human, imperfect person who nevertheless believes in core principles of gender equality and the identification of such as "feminist." Refreshing, irreverent. Just keeping it real.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Excited - my friend Felice Batlan's book is out! Here's the review from the Legal History Blog.
This book re-examines fundamental assumptions about the American legal profession and the boundaries between “professional” lawyers, “lay” lawyers, and social workers. Putting legal history and women's history in dialogue, it demonstrates that nineteenth-century women's organizations first offered legal aid to the poor and that middle-class women functioning as lay lawyers, provided such assistance. Felice Batlan illustrates that by the early twentieth century, male lawyers founded their own legal aid societies. These new legal aid lawyers created an imagined history of legal aid and a blueprint for its future in which women played no role and their accomplishments were intentionally omitted. In response, women social workers offered harsh criticisms of legal aid leaders and developed a more robust social work model of legal aid. These different models produced conflicting understandings of expertise, professionalism, the rule of law, and ultimately, the meaning of justice for the poor.Reviewers say:
"Women and Justice for the Poor is an exciting and timely intervention into work on lawyering in the United States. Batlan establishes the deep relevance of ideas about gender and race to the history of law and legal practice through ambitious research, provocative analysis, and engaging narrative." -- Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, University of Michigan
"By tracking legal aid through the winding corridors of urban social institutions, Batlan gives us evocative insights into gender, reform, capitalism, and lawyering in a cogent and fascinating historical account. Her erosion of lay and professional boundaries, demonstrated by women’s contribution to legal aid and the pragmatic relief they provided to underprivileged clients, illuminates the value of using gender to frame the story." -- Norma Basch, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University
More information is available here."In a remarkably original social/legal history, Batlan is asking readers to rethink what lawyering has meant and could mean. And when you ask ‘outside the box’ questions, you come up with surprising answers. This book can help us understand why law today can be far from justice." -- Linda Gordon, Florence Kelley Professor of History, New York University
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