Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Law and Politics Book Review: FINDING JUSTICE: A HISTORY OF WOMEN LAWYERS IN MARYLAND SINCE 1642
This engaging volume was produced as part of the Finding Justice Project, a collaborative effort among a small group of judges, lawyers, and legal academics to recover and illuminate neglected histories of women in law in Maryland. Sponsored by the Maryland Women’s Bar Association Foundation, the project sought to identify and learn about the work and lives of as many women lawyers as possible practicing in Maryland since 1642. For this purpose, a research team collected information from many sources, including records of the names along with signatures of all who received bar admission, court records describing the cases in which women lawyers participated, birth and death certificates and census records of their families, and newspaper reports regarding the professional and personal lives of some women lawyers in the state. One product of these efforts is a list of nearly 25,000 women admitted to the Maryland bar through 2014, a list reproduced in an appendix organized by year of admission that is printed on nearly 100 pages (pp. 173-268).
We learn in the Preface that the Project initially hired an author to write a book based on the data collected. After the author withdrew, The Honorable Lynne A. Battaglia, the editor of this volume and a central advocate for the Project, developed a new plan to produce an edited collection to include several chapters written by a variety of women practitioners with different themes related to women in law, with emphasis on particular women in law, and with a focus on various historical moments. Although the chapters are generally brief in a book that includes only 167 pages of text prior to appendices, together they present a coherent and interesting portrait of the many challenges and opportunities experienced by diverse women interested in legal careers in Maryland over time. The chapters are well organized and conceived, and the details provided regarding legal careers in Maryland are often quite fascinating.
H/t Legal History Blog, Sunday Book Roundup
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Kathryn Stanchi, Linda Berger, Bridget Crawford, Introduction: US Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the US Supreme Court (forthcoming Cambridge Press 2016)
Abstract:What would United States Supreme Court opinions look like if key decisions on gender issues were written with a feminist perspective? To begin to answer this question, we brought together a group of scholars and lawyers to rewrite, using feminist reasoning, the most significant U.S. Supreme Court cases on gender from the 1800s to the present day. While feminist legal theory has developed and even thrived within universities, and feminist activists and lawyers are responsible for major changes in the law, feminist reasoning has had a less clear impact on judicial decision-making. Doctrines of stare decisis and judicial language of neutrality can operate to obscure structural bias in the law, making it difficult to see what feminism could bring to judicial reasoning.
The twenty-five opinions in this volume demonstrate that judges with feminist viewpoints could have changed the course of the law. The rewritten decisions show that previously accepted judicial outcomes were not necessary or inevitable and demonstrate that feminist reasoning increases the judicial capacity for justice, not only for women but for many other oppressed groups. The remarkable differences evident in the rewritten opinions also open a path for a long overdue discussion of the real impact that judicial diversity has on law and of the influence that perspective has in judging.
Chapter 1Introduction to the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, and Bridget J. CrawfordChapter 2 Talking Back: From Feminist History and Theory to Feminist Legal Methods and Judgments Berta Esperanza Hernández-TruyolChapter 3. Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. 130 (1873)Commentary: Kimberly HolstJudgment: Phyllis GoldfarbChapter 4. Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 (1908)Commentary: Andrea DoneffJudgment: Pamela Laufer-UkelesChapter 5. Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)Commentary: Cynthia Hawkins DeBoseJudgment: Laura RosenburyChapter 6. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)Commentary: Inga N. LaurentJudgment: Teri McMurtry-ChubbChapter 7. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972)Commentary: Nancy D. PolikoffJudgment: Karen Syma CzapanskiyChapter 8. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)Commentary: Rachel RebouchéJudgment: Kimberly M. MutchersonChapter 9. Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973)Commentary: Iselin M. GambertJudgment: Dara E. PurvisChapter 10. Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974)Commentary: Maya ManianJudgment: Lucinda M. FinleyChapter 11. Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977)Commentary: Brenda V. SmithJudgment: Maria L. OntiverosChapter 12. City of Los Angeles Department Dep't of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702 (1978)Commentary: Cassandra Jones HavardJudgment: Tracy A. ThomasChapter 13. Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297 (1980)Commentary: Mary ZieglerJudgment: Leslie C. GriffinChapter 14. Michael M. v. Superior Court, 450 U.S. 464 (1981)Commentary: Margo KaplanJudgment: Cynthia GodsoeChapter 15. Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981)Commentary: Jamie R. AbramsJudgment: David S. CohenChapter 16. Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986)Commentary: Kristen Konrad TiscioneJudgment: Angela Onwuachi-WilligChapter 17. Johnson v. Transportation Agency, 480 U.S. 616 (1987)Commentary: Deborah GordonJudgment: Deborah L. RhodeChapter 18. Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989)Commentary: Dale Margolin CeckaJudgment: Martha ChamallasChapter 19. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992)Commentary: Macarena SáezJudgment: Lisa R. PruittChapter 20. United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996)Commentary: Christine M. VenterJudgment: Valorie K. VojdikChapter 21. Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998)Commentary: Margaret E. JohnsonJudgment: Ann C. McGinleyChapter 22. Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, 524 U.S. 274 (1998)Commentary: Michelle S. SimonJudgment: Ann BartowChapter 23. United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000)Commentary: Shaakirrah R. SandersJudgment: Aníbal Rosario LebrónChapter 24. Nguyen v. INS, 533 U.S. 53 (2001)Commentary: Sandra S. ParkJudgment: Ilene DurstChapter 25. Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)Commentary: Kris McDaniel-MiccioJudgment: Ruthann RobsonChapter 26. Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005)Commentary: Patricia A. BroussardJudgment: Maria Isabel MedinaChapter 27. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015)Commentary: Erez AloniJudgment: Carlos A. Ball
Monday, January 11, 2016
I've posted Chapter 1 of my book, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law, forthcoming this summer from NYU Press. This chapter introduces Stanton, her legacy for the law and domestic relations, and her holistic legal feminism. See The "Radical Conscience" of Nineteenth-Century Feminism.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
A careful study of recent popular history books reveals a genre dominated by generals, presidents--and male authors.
In recent years, as academic history has taken a turn toward the cultural and social, producing more and more works about women, minorities, and everyday life, the kinds of history books you see on the New Releases table at a Barnes & Noble have begun to feel like throwbacks. A quick survey reveals naval battles, grand adventures, and biography after biography about the Founding Fathers. Call these “uncle books”—tomes that you give an older male relative, to take up residence by his wingback armchair.
This state of affairs dismays many academic historians. Last year, at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, a presenter in a session on “Buying and Selling History” included a slide listing the best-selling trade history books of 2014, as tallied by BookScan. The generous helping of politically conservative histories by Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly caused concern, but some historians noticed another troubling trend: The list was dominated by male authors. Of 23 titles, two were written by women. * * *
Why does this matter? Academics are interested in cultural and social history because those approaches allow room for contemplation of what it was like to live life as an everyday person in a certain period, not just as a general or president or pioneer. Last year, historian Ann M. Little noted that the best-selling biographies of 2014 tended to be about men—and a particular kind of man, at that. Popular biographies of Founding Fathers and war heroes, wrote Little, “reflect our contemporary preoccupation with modern history themes: politics, economics, warfare, the nation-state. … These biographies are invested in a particularly modern kind of subjectivity, that of the heroic individual who bends history to his will.” In other words, the popularity of biographies of presidents and sports heroes reflects and reinforces the idea that interesting lives are lived in public, often defined by conflict and glory. Cultural and social histories make the meta-point that history is about communities, not just individuals.
Some of us are trying hard to swim against this tide:
Tracy A. Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law (forthcoming NYU Press 2016)
Felice Batlan, Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid, 1863-1945 (Cambridge 2015)
Arissa Oh, To Save the Children of Korea:The Cold War Origins of International Adoption (Stanford 2015)
Mary Ziegler, After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate (Harvard 2015)
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Table of Contents:
Section One: Approaches to Motherhood, Feminism and Gendered Work
The Role of Theory in Understanding the Lived Experiences of Mothering in the Academy
Andrea N. Hunt
Crying over “Split Milk”: How Divisive Language on Infant Feeding Leads to Stress, Confusion and Anxiety for Mothers
Tracy Rundstrom Williams
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray
Encountering Others: Reading, Writing, Teaching, Parenting
Erin Tremblay Ponnou-Delaffon
A Qualitative Study of Academic Mothers’ Sabbatical Experiences: Considering Disciplinary Differences
Susan V. Iverson
Motherhood: Reflection, Design, and Self-Authorship
Cynthia J. Atman
Confessions of a Buzzkill: Critical Feminist Parenting in the Age of Omnipresent Media
Section Two: Identity and Performance in Academic Motherhood
More Mother than Others: Disorientations, Motherscholars, and Objects in Becoming
Sara M. Childers
Doing Research and Teaching on Masculinities and Violence: One Mother of Sons’ Perspective
M. Cristine Alcalde, Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies
Cultural Border Crossings between Science, Science Pedagogy & Parenting
“You Must be Superwoman!”: How Graduate Student Mothers Negotiate Conflicting Roles
Erin Graybill Ellis
Jessica Smartt Gullion
“There’s a Monster Growing in our Heads”: Mad Men’s Betty Draper, Fan Reaction, and Twenty-First Century Anxiety about Motherhood
Section Three: Bringing it to Light: Giving Voice to Motherhood’s Challenges
Silence and the Stillbirth Narrative: Stories Worth Telling
Elisabeth G. Kraus
A Tapestry of Sweet Mother(hood): African Scholar, Mother, and Performer?
Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum
Dropped Stitches: Classrooms, Caregiving, and Cancer
Martha Kalnin Diede
The Other Female Complaint: Online Narratives of Assisted Reproductive Therapy as Sentimental Literature
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Emily Bazelon, NYT, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Clark Kent had Superman. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has Notorious R.B.G. For 80 of her 82 years, the Supreme Court justice was known for being brilliant, reserved and a little dry. Then in 2013, the Internet gave her a super-hip-nerd alter ego. On a Tumblr created by a law student, Shana Knizhnik, fans posted photoshopped tributes to Ginsburg. In one frequently shared image, she wore a crown with the caption “Can’t Spell Truth Without Ruth.” She also appeared as a bobblehead doll, a tattoo on a bicep, a decal on a fingernail, and a baby wearing a huge pair of glasses.
Notorious R.B.G. refers to Notorious B.I.G., the young rapper who was killed in 1997. The unlikely comparison gave Ginsburg’s fans the perfect vehicle for turning her precise lawyerly voice into a cultural roar. ***
Knizhnik has teamed up with Irin Carmon, an intrepid MSNBC reporter, to turn the Tumblr, which is still up and running, into a book. Turning the pages, I felt as if I were on a tour of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Museum with two conscientious and loving young curators. They show off Ginsburg, in old photos, at every age. They give us her workout, her favorite of her husband’s recipes (pork loin braised in milk, maybe the most un-kosher dish ever), and the intensely moving letter he wrote to her before he died.
Ginsburg and her family clearly embraced this project, a gain for the reader and for the justice. We get up-close details, like Ginsburg’s reaction to her granddaughter Clara’s nose ring: “She kept calling it ‘that thing on your face.’ ” And Ginsburg gets help reaching readers who aren’t lawyers. Carmon, who wrote the text (Knizhnik chose the images), deftly annotates sections from Ginsburg’s major opinions, adding color, humor and context with a red pen.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
More on the forthcoming book from the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project
FYI - the Conference on the project Rewriting the Law. Writing the Future. is next year, October 20 & 21, 2016 at the Center for Constitutional Law following the release of the book.
"Feminist Judgments" puts a new spin on famous Supreme Court cases.
In 2012, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made headlines by saying she hoped to see an all-female Supreme Court one day. "When I'm sometimes asked when there will be enough [women justices] and I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked," she explained during a legal conference in Colorado. Nobody "ever raised a question" when nine men dominated the court, added the now-82-year-old, one of three women on the bench today.
If Ginsburg got her wish, what might that mean for America? And what if women had taken a majority of seats on the highest court a long time ago? That's a question raised by dozens of feminist law scholars and lawyers across the United States who are putting together a new book, Feminist Judgments, in which they re-examine 24 of the most significant Supreme Court cases related to gender—dating from the 1800s to the present day—and rewrite the court's final decisions as if they had been the judges.
More than 100 people applied to help write the book, which will be published sometime next spring, according to Kathryn Stanchi, a law professor at Temple University and one of three editors overseeing the project. All selected applicants agreed to follow an important rule: They could only base their revision on the legal precedent that bound the Supreme Court back when the case was first decided.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
I just posted TJ Boisseau & Tracy Thomas, After Suffrage Comes Equality? ERA as the Next Logical Step, forthcoming as a chapter in the book 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment: An Appraisal of Women’s Political Activism edited by Lee Ann Banaszak and Holly McCammon (Oxford University Press 2016).
The chapter traces the long, and surprising, history of the Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923.
From the abstract:
Almost a full century in the making, the campaign for an ERA far exceeded in longevity the campaign for woman suffrage, however much a “logical next step” women's equality seemed to some following the spectacular achievement of the Nineteenth Amendment. The history of the amendment reveals how resistant to the idea of equality between men and women a political system—even one that includes women as voters—can be. In this chapter, we re-examine the route taken by the ERA through its many permutations in the century since the passage of woman suffrage. Proposed by Alice Paul in 1923 and immediately opposed by social feminists advocating protective labor laws, the ERA wound itself in and out of feminist, conservative, and public favor before its final defeat in 1982, three states short of adoption. Woven into the Supreme Court's analysis of Lochner and substantive due process, and the later evolution of equal protection law, women's equality--or difference--has been the foundation of much of the development of modern constitutional doctrine.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
The US Feminist Judgments Project is featured in Time, with editors Linda Berger, Bridget Crawford, and Kathy Stanchi.
The book is expected out next August.
The conference, building on the book and the broader question of the difference women make as judges will be next year, October 20 & 21, 2016 at the Constitutional Law Center @ Akron sponsored by Akron Law and UNLV Law.
Monday, September 7, 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, September 5, 2015
New this week in BOOKS:
The title tells all: Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World. Author Linda Hirshman's joint biography of the first and second women to serve on the nation's highest court is a gossipy, funny, sometimes infuriating and moving tale of two women so similar and yet so different. Sandra Day O'Connor, raised on a Western ranch and a lifelong Republican who cut her political teeth as majority leader of the Arizona Senate, was named to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1981.Twelve years later, President Clinton put Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Born and bred in Brooklyn, daughter of a Russian Jewish immigrant, Ginsburg was a professor, a litigator and the architect of the legal battle for women's rights. But as different as their backgrounds were, and even their approaches to judging, when it came to women's rights, they were allies.
See also Cary Franklin’s (Texas) review of Sisters in Law in the Washington Post
Anne Richardson Oakes, ed. Controversies in Equal Protection Cases in America: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation
'This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the central debates in American equal protection law. A brilliant survey in which some of the leading scholars in the field weigh in on both the current status of the law and where it might still need to go to fulfil its promise of equality.' --Devon Carbado, University of California Los Angeles, USA, and author of Acting White? Rethinking Race in 'Post-Racial' America
Ingrid Bego, Gender Equality Policy in the European Union
This book examines the role that the European Union (EU) has played in enhancing democratic values in new member states by requiring the adoption of gender equality laws, such as equal employment and reconciliation policies, in return for membership. Considering four EU member states in Central Eastern Europe - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia and Poland - it debates if and under what conditions the incentives for EU membership positively affected the successful adoption and implementation of gender equality policies.
Caryl Rivers & Rosalind Barnett, The New Soft War on Women
The authors argue in their book, The New Soft War on Women, the gains women have made in the workplace are actually being used rhetorically to keep equality from being fully realized. Rather than simply telling women to try harder, this book gives them grounding in the facts about discrimination and disparity. Here’s an excerpt from the paperback edition of the book, out this week. It addresses the media’s fixation on the “decline of men,” or the “end of men” — which the authors call a myth.
Monday, August 24, 2015
The book was published in 2013, but I recently discovered it, and read it.
Marc Maron--the guy who interviewed Obama from his garage in L.A.--is a comedian and actor. He is also a smart social critic, and his book Attempting Normal is terrific.
True, the book is often puerile, vulgar and some sections (like his somewhat pointless digression about trying to herd feral cats) don't work. But overall, the book contains nuggets of insight about manliness and, seldom found in academic writing, Maron renders his observations with poignant wit and unforgettable humor.
Manliness--at least Maron's manliness--is destructive and self-destructive; it aspires for nobility but is frequently crippled by paranoia; it yearns to be tough but always circles back to its vulnerabilities; it desires love from women but is consumed by a relentless narcissism. It is also highly self-conscious and acutely cognizant of its flaws, and is willing to share those flaws with the reader.
There's an interview with Maron on the Good Men Project today.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Given today's headlines about defunding Planned Parenthood, I am appreciating reading the following biography of PP's founder, Margaret Sanger which I've had on my shelf for awhile. Jean Baker, Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion. The book does a good job of providing historical and social context, legal nuance, as well as readable biography.
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, 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.