Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: Justice Sotomayor's Beloved World


Rebecca Lee (Thomas Jefferson), has posted Book Review, Sonia Sotomayor: Role Model of Empathy and Purposeful Ambition, Minnesota Law Rev. Headnotes (2013).

In writing her memoir, My Beloved World, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressly acknowledges that she is a public role model and embraces this responsibility by making herself accessible to a broad audience. As a public figure, she sees an opportunity to connect with others through an account of her life journey, with details of initial challenges and lessons learned along the way, to show that one’s beginnings need not constrain one’s aspirations. Although her memoir ends at the point she begins her judicial career, twenty years ago, her experiences and reflections provide a sense of how she may approach her work on the Supreme Court, including the importance she attaches to perspective-taking — or empathy — in relating to others and viewing the larger world. Her empathic skill, as well as her understanding of public purpose as a Justice and role model, all serve to strengthen the judicial function and present a hopeful picture of further important contributions to come as she continues her work on the bench.

July 31, 2014 in Books, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cookbooks for Men


On cookbooks for men

Walk into a bookstore, browse Amazon cookbook category listings, and you’ll find various genres of cookbooks.....But absent is a category for women, revealing the assumption that unmarked cookbooks are for women.

There is a lot of gendered discourse we can examine in books like cookbooks for men. The titles themselves are loaded with stereotypes: “Man Meets Stove: A Cookbook for Men Who’ve Never Cooked Anything without a Microwave,” “Men’s Health Muscle Chow: More than 150 Meals to Feed Your Muscles and Fuel Your Workouts,” and “Eat like a Man: The Only Cookbook a Man will Ever Need.” 

July 27, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Books: Equality Deferred

From the Legal History blog: New Release: Clément on "Sex Discrimination and British Columbia's Human Rights State, 1953-84"

In Equality Deferred, Dominique Clément traces the history of sex discrimination in Canadian law and the origins of human rights legislation, demonstrating how governments inhibit the application of their own laws, and how it falls to social movements to create, promote, and enforce these laws. 

Focusing on British Columbia -- the first jurisdiction to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex -- Clément documents a variety of absurd, almost unbelievable, acts of discrimination. The province was at the forefront of the women's movement, which produced the country's first rape crisis centres, first feminist newspaper, and first battered women's shelters. And yet nowhere else in the country was human rights law more contested. For an entire generation, the province's two dominant political parties fought to impose their respective vision of the human rights state. This history of human rights law, based on previously undisclosed records of British Columbia's human rights commission, begins with the province’s first equal pay legislation in 1953 and ends with the collapse of the country's most progressive human rights legal regime in 1984. 

This book is not only a testament to the revolutionary impact of human rights on Canadian law but also a reminder that it takes more than laws to effect transformative social change.

June 26, 2014 in Books, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Books: The Good Lawyer

Naomi Cahn's book review for Concurring Opinions on The Good Lawyer by Doug Linder and Nancy Levit.  The "good lawyer" possesses certain qualities:

Those attributes are addressed in nine of the book’s ten chapters, and they range from empathy to moral courage, cognitive skills, willpower, civility, honesty, and open-mindedness. As they explore the good lawyers’ attributes, the authors draw on behavioral economics, Tonglen Buddhism, cognitive psychology, and the law to support and explain their point

June 19, 2014 in Books, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Books by Feminist Law Profs

A list of recent books from professor members of the Feminist Legal Theory Critical Research Network, recently gathered at Law & Society.

Angela Campbell, Sister Wives, Surrogates and Sex Workers: Outlaws by Choice (Ashgate 2013)

June Carbone & Naomi Cahn, Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family (Oxford University Press 2014). 

 Feminism, Law and Religion (Marie A. Failinger, Susan Stabile, & Elizabeth Schiltz eds., Ashgate 2013)  

 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America: Cases and Decisions (Cristina Motta & Macarena Saez eds., Springer 2013)

 Leslie Harris, June Carbone, & Lee Teitelbaum, Family Law (5th ed. Aspen 2014)

 Jill Elaine Hasday, Family Law Reimagined (Harvard University Press 2014)

 Clare Huntington, Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships (Oxford University Press 2014)

 Ummni Khan, Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary (University of Toronto Press 2014)

 Nina A. Kohn, Elder Law: Practice, Policy, & Problems (Aspen 2014)

 Douglas O. Linder & Nancy Levit, The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law (Oxford University Press 2014)

Elizabeth Palley & Corey Shdaimah, In Our Hands: The Struggle for U.S. Child Care Policy (New York University Press 2014)

 Kara W. Swanson, Banking on the Body: The Market in Blood, Milk and Sperm in Modern America (Harvard University Press 2014)


June 10, 2014 in Books, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cool Feminisms

Recommended reading by women's studies profs as excellent introduction to feminism and making it real for students.

Victoria Bromley, Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism (U. Toronto Press 2012)

 INTRODUCTION: As you sit on the bus, in the library, at home in the living room, or in a commons on campus, you might find people looking over your shoulder and asking you what you’re reading. When you respond, “I’m reading Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism,” they might ask you why. Why indeed? Perhaps it’s because you’re interested in feminisms or because the book has been assigned as part of a course you’re taking. The word on the street, on the other hand, is that feminism is dead, so what could possibly be important about feminism? The short answer is, “Everything!”...

When you hear the word “feminism” or “feminist,” you might find yourself in a quandary. You might be curious, furious, or you might just want to run for cover. Feminism is a word that is frequently used and often abused. Where you hear it, who says it, and the context in which it is used often influences your reaction. How can the “F-word” stir up such emotion?

We made it! We are equal. Feminism is no longer necessary. And, of course, feminism is dead. The struggle is over and we can put our concerns to rest. These are some of the tenets that we often hear. It makes us feel good to think that things are not as bad for women and other marginalized groups as they were in the past. Social commentary of this brand is often paired with the familiar preface for gender equality assertions: “I’m not a feminist but…” What follows is a laundry list of values or aspirations that most people can agree...

In the last chapter, we discussed the complex and interconnected histories of feminist and social justice movements. Feminism, however, is not simply a movement. It is also a theory. So, to understand feminisms more fully, we must also understand what theory is and why we need it. Yes, theory. OMG! Don’t run for cover just yet.

Intersectionality is a conceptual tool for analyzing differences. It allows us to think about multiple identities and how they may be interconnected in complex ways. It is also a tool for understanding how multiple systems of oppression may be interrelated. Feminists use the concept of intersectionality, a term coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, to consider how interlocking systems of oppressions, complex identities, and social inequalities affect people’s lives (Crenshaw 1989). The concept of intersectionality has long been used by black feminists to explore the lives of racialized women.

Thinking through the intersectionalities of identities, the complexities of people’s lives, and the very real struggles that people face every day is not simple. Nor is it easy to understand how people confront and resist oppressions, exploitations, and marginalization. Yet resistance on multiple fronts continues and theories help us to understand not only the struggles towards social justice but also the triumphs of achieving justice. Feminist theorizing, then, is an ongoing process. It does not assume that one theory can address all the complexities of women’s and men’s lives in vastly diverse social, political, economic, and geographic spaces or across...

In the previous chapter we noted an ongoing dialogue among feminist theorists and activists. The dialogue continues in this chapter with the exploration of postmodern, “Third World,” postcolonial, queer, and transnational feminist theories. The purpose here is to introduce some current feminist debates and discover some of the key questions and arguments being raised in these debates. We will also reflect on some of the limitations and critiques of these theories as a way for us to think about feminisms. We will question how different theories, feminist and otherwise, might influence the way we think, not only about theory but...

Theory is all very well, but what is the point in theorizing if we have nothing concrete about which to theorize? Where is the evidence? Where is the research? How do we collect it? Feminist research draws on insights from the struggles and lived experiences of women and marginalized people. Feminist perspectives, informed by theory and practice, encourage feminist researchers to ask different questions. It makes sense that the evidence to answer our questions must also come from different places. Feminist research is complex and sometimes, rather than just answering the research questions posed, it leads us to more and...

The link between feminist theory and women’s movement is not always immediately visible. Nonetheless, doing feminist theory means you have to be grounded in lived experiences. It is this connection to women’s lives that gives meaning to feminist theory. Feminist activists have long been struggling to increase the value of women’s experiences in order to achieve women’s equality and their inclusion at all levels. However, it is through the process of theorizing these activist practices and the lives of women that activism becomes more effective. This means that theory and practice must become praxis. 

As a feminist, I know it is important to think about men and masculinities. However, to write about them with a sense of authority is a challenge. This is not because I have no understanding of the issues, debates, and research—I do. Men are important in my life; they are my family members, my friends, and my colleagues. Still I struggle. Perhaps this struggle is related to my identity as a “woman” and all that it encompasses. 

CHAPTER TEN: THE STRATEGIES THAT EMPOWER US: FEMINIST ACTIVISM            Feminists today have entered a new era of thinking about and doing feminism. We continue to struggle and succeed, but we are still committed to ending oppression and advancing social justice. As feminists, we need to continue to ask new questions and develop new strategies to meet our goals. We must learn from our past, rethinking past actions and strategies, so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time a new challenge emerges. Re-examining what we think and how we know about our world is critical. These are not easy tasks. 

Just when we thought we had equality, reality sets in. While feminism has been struggling for equality for well over a century, we have yet to meet this goal. When we look at the world in which we live, we know that we cannot abandon our struggles. We must continue to fight for social change to end exploitation and oppression in all its various forms. In this chapter, we will look at some of the ongoing struggles in which feminists are engaged. We will explore what is at stake in the struggle for equality and social justice in the area

June 5, 2014 in Books, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jill Hasday's New Book "Family Law Reimagined"

Cover: Family Law Reimagined in HARDCOVER

Looking forward to reading this.  Jill Elaine Hasday (Minnesota), has just published, Family Law Reimagined (Harvard University Press 2014).

From the book jacket: 

 One of the law’s most important and far-reaching roles is to govern family life and family members.  Family law decides who counts as kin, how family relationships are created and dissolved, and what legal rights and responsibilities come with marriage, parenthood, sibling ties, and other family bonds.  Yet despite its significance, the field remains remarkably understudied and poorly understood both within and outside the legal community.


Family Law Reimagined is the first book to explore the canonical narratives, stories, examples, and ideas that legal decisionmakers repeatedly invoke to explain family law and its governing principles.  These stories contend that family law is exclusively local, that it repudiates market principles, that it has eradicated the imprint of common law doctrines which subordinated married women, that it is dominated by contract rules permitting individuals to structure their relationships as they choose, and that it consistently prioritizes children’s interests over parents’ rights.


In this book, Jill Elaine Hasday reveals how family law’s canon misdescribes the reality of family law, misdirects attention away from the actual problems that family law confronts, and misshapes the policies that legal authorities pursue.  She demonstrates how much of the “common sense” that decisionmakers expound about family law actually makes little sense.

Family Law Reimagined uncovers and critiques the family law canon and outlines a path to reform.  The book challenges conventional answers and asks questions that judges and lawmakers routinely overlook.  It calls on us to reimagine family law.

June 3, 2014 in Books, Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Books: Becoming Sexual

Next week, a book group from the feminist legal theory collaborative network meeting at Law & Society will discuss Danielle Egan's, Becoming Sexual: A Critical Appraisal of the Sexualization of Girls.

The sexualization of girls has captured the attention of the media, advocacy groups and politicians in recent years. This prolific discourse sets alarm bells ringing: sexualization is said to lead to depression, promiscuity and compassion deficit disorder, and rob young girls of their childhood. However, measuring such claims against a wide range of data sources reveals a far more complicated picture.


Becoming Sexual begins with a simple question: why does this discourse feel so natural? Analyzing potent cultural and historical assumptions, and subjecting them to measured investigation, R. Danielle Egan illuminates the implications of dominant thinking on sexualization. The sexualized girl functions as a metaphor for cultural decay and as a common enemy through which adult rage, discontent and anxiety regarding class, gender, sexuality, race and the future can be expressed. Egan argues that, ultimately, the popular literature on sexualization is more reflective of adult disquiet than it is about the lives and practices of girls

May 24, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Manliness and Memorial Day

With Memorial Day coming up,  I wanted to list some books about manliness that are particularly good.  

Front Cover

Karl Marlantes What It Is Like to Go to War bravely expels a lot of tiresome myths about combat, and also does a fine job of illuminating PTSD.  Marlantes was a decorated war veteran in Vietnam as well as a Rhodes Scholar, and the book sketches with honesty the madness of hypermasculinity and the sort of manliness that is required to survive as a soldier, and afterwards, come to terms with war in morally acceptable ways.  

Front Cover

 More recently, there is Sebastian Junger's War.  Junger is a reporter and he was embedded with Marines in Afghanistan.  Like Marlantes, Junger is a deft writer who captures well the paradoxical nature of manliness in war--its destructive, and self-destructive propensities--along with its capacity for intense friendship and sacrifice.  

May 23, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Terry Crews on Manhood... vocation and partly because I have so little time for leisure reading, I usually stick to academic titles.  But this book by Terry Crews, the former NLF player and now comedian-actor, sounds fun and maybe good.  

In an interview with NPR, Crews said: "The book should've been called, Terry Crews Is an Idiot and This Is How I Survived. I'm serious! There was so much astounding immaturity in this book."  Idiot.  That's probably 50 percent of manliness in one word.  

And there was also this spot-on comment during the NPR interview:   

Manhood used to be the Marlboro Man — my way, the highway, I walk alone! And the Marlboro Man is always by himself. Family, kids? Can't hang with him. They don't understand him. What happens is, that guy in his 60s, he's back there in his shed and he's crying his eyes out. He's alone. No one wants to be with him. And I averted that future.

May 21, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Elmore Leonard on Manliness



If there's one thing that Manliness insists upon, it is that you must put up or shut up.

So put up, I shall, or endeavor to do so, anyway.  The below blog post had implied that there may exist a better reading list for manliness.  There is a book that I think belongs at the top of that shelf--Elmore Leonard's The Complete Western Stories.  Readers will be familiar with Leonard's fun reads on low-life criminals in contemporary America but his cowboy stories, written many years prior, are fabulous too.  

There's no real attempt by Leonard to proffer advice about how to prop up your manly self-esteem.  All he does is what any greater writer should do:  sketch in lucid detail what his subject is.  And manliness, we find, is diverse:  it's noble, brave, generous, heroic, but also sadistic, vindictive, impulsive, and more often than not, kinda stupid, and best of all--sometimes it is all of these things at the same time.  So too Leonard shows us how, frankly, women in the prairie can be a lot more manly than men.  Great stuff.  

May 19, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Manliness Reading List

The Art of Manliness Blog lists several "must reads" for men.  Sadly, the first book on that list is the absurd, cryptic, and melodramatic headcase that is Robert Bly's Iron John, a book about which I've blogged before.  For those unfamiliar with Bly's work, it is a male self-help book about emancipating the Wild Man in You so that he can find that perfect Wild Woman out there in society and make crazy (yip, Wild) sex and feel what it means to live (that Wild) life.  

Pretty much everything else in the Art of Manliness list is a self-help book, usually about self-esteem and its surrounding issues.  And that makes me wonder:   Is the list an unintended parody?  A reading list for self-help books.......about.....manliness?  

I'm not trying to suggest that manliness is obvious and it's definitely not straightforward.  But perhaps the best that can be said about manliness is that it's paradoxical, vexed, strange, and always will be, no matter what a bookshelf of self-help books will say to the contrary.  

May 19, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Books: Reading Books on Law

Ken Kersch and Linda McClain have published the Annual Book Review Issue in the Tulsa Law Review.  Here's the menu:

The Political Virtue, Russell Muirhead

Marriage in America, Mark E. Brandon

The Fourth Problem, I. Bennett Capers

May 17, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

McCune on "Down-Low"

A new book from Jeffrey McCune titled Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing from the U of Chicago Press.  The description from the Press: 

African American men who have sex with men while maintaining a heterosexual lifestyle in public are attracting increasing interest from both the general media and scholars. Commonly referred to as “down-low” or “DL” men, many continue to have relationships with girlfriends and wives who remain unaware of their same-sex desires, and in much of the media, DL men have been portrayed as carriers of HIV who spread the virus to black women. Sexual Discretion explores the DL phenomenon, offering refreshingly innovative analysis of the significance of media, space, and ideals of black masculinity in understanding down low.

May 14, 2014 in Books, LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Book Ideas: The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women

Nichola Gutgold, The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women (2012).  From the jacket:

The Supreme Court is one of the most traditional institutions in America that has been an exclusively male domain for almost two hundred years. From 1981 to 2010, four women were appointed to the Supreme Court for the first time in U.S. history. The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women: From Obstacles to Options, by Nichola D. Gutgold, analyzes the rhetoric of the first four women elected to the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Gutgold’s thorough exploration of these pioneering women’s rhetorical strategies includes confirmation hearings, primary scripts of their written opinions, invited public lectures, speeches, and personal interviews with Justices O’Connor, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. These illuminating documents and interviews form rhetorical biographies of the first four women of the Supreme Court, shedding new light on the rise of political women in the American judiciary and the efficacy of their rhetoric in a historically male-dominated political system. Gutgold’s The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women provides valuable insight into political communication and the changing gender zeitgeist in American politics.

May 10, 2014 in Books, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves

From the Advocate:  

A new book, five years in the making, hopes to provide one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource on the complex and often misunderstood issues affecting trans individuals.


Due out later this year from Oxford University Press, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves looks to be the most comprehensive trans resource ever published. The book features more than 200 contributors, and covers topics like the gender spectrum, trans history, health, cultural and social topics, and gender theory.


Weighing in at 672-pages, the Associated Press describes the book as, "Encyclopedic in scope, conversational in tone, and candid about complex sexual issues." After nearly five years in the making, the text hopes to impact a much-maligned and misunderstood community at a critical point in its history.

May 5, 2014 in Books, LGBT, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Generation Kill by Evan Wright

I am only about half through with Evan Wright's fantastic book.  (Alas, I am six years late in reading it, and having never known that there was an HBO series based on it.)  Wright was a reporter for Rolling Stone and he was embedded with a Marine Recon unit (the Marine version of the Navy SEALS).  The somewhat poorly titled Generation Kill (the book contains poignant episodes of humanity and moving affect) is Wright's account of that time. 

The writing, plain and unpretentious, reminds me of Tim O'Brien's fine work, but it seems, in places, even more prescient and subtlely interesting than O'Brien's much lauded books.  Wright captures well the paradoxes, contradictions and deeply tender moments of male bonding and manliness, as forged in the harshest of circumstances.  

May 2, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Presumed Incompetent

Maria Lopez (Loyola, New Orleans) and Kevin Johnson (Davis) have posted Presumed Incompetent: Important Lessons for University Leaders on the Professional Lives of Women Faculty of Color, Berkeley J. Gender, Law & Justice (forthcoming).

Academics have long known that the experiences of women faculty members of color differ in important respects from those of any other faculty members. Adding significantly to that body of knowledge, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia edited by Professors Angela P. Harris and Carmen Gonzalez in a collection of essays of different voices offers important lessons for scholars, university administrators and leaders, faculty members, and, for that matter, students interested in the experiences of women of color in academia. People of good faith who want to “do the right thing” may find it difficult to read the unsettling stories and pleas for empathy, internalize the lessons as based on common occurrences rather than outlier experiences, and consider how to address and redress the issues. Still, we as a collective have the obligation and responsibility to think about what might be done to improve the day-to-day lives of the next generation of women faculty of color.


To that end, this review essay directs attention at one chapter of the volume, which offers invaluable commentary and perspective on the other chapters and provides many lessons for university leaders hoping to make a positive difference. This is terrain where one might expect two minority law school deans (and faculty members) to feel most comfortable. In addition, as people of color with real life experience with these issues, we hope to provide insights that help university leaders to better appreciate, grapple with, and attempt to effectively address the concerns of women faculty of color

April 29, 2014 in Books, Law schools, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

gender stereotypes persist in children's books

View image on Twitter


Here's a terrific article (anyone who is dubious of its claims is welcome to visit their nearest Barnes and Noble this weekend and to peruse the children's section).  It begins:  

The Let Toys Be Toys campaign, which last year persuaded 13 retailers to remove “Boys” and “Girls” signs from stores, is working with Letterbox LibraryInclusive Minds and For Books’ Sake to persuade the publishing industry to drop these labels from books. The Let Books Be Books petition launched for World Book Day, 6 March, asks children’s publishers Usborne, Buster Books, Igloo Books and others to stop labelling children’s activity, story and colouring books as for boys or for girls.


Typical themes for boys include robots, dinosaurs, astronauts, vehicles, football and pirates; while girls are allowed princesses, fairies, make-up, flowers, butterflies, fashion and cute animals. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but it is wrong when they are repeatedly presented as only for one gender. Girls can like pirates and adventure, boys can like magic and dressing up. Why tell them otherwise? Why tell them that boys and girls should like different things, that their interests never overlap, that there are greater differences between genders than between individuals? 

View image on Twitter

April 23, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

book reviews are usually written

The story in the NYT, now a tad old in blogsphere terms, starts:

Reading a book review in a well-known periodical? Chances are, the byline belongs to a man.

In its annual count of male and female bylines in book reviews, magazines and literary journals, VIDA, a women’s literary organization, revealed that in 2013, the publications still largely favored men over women.


At The New York Review of Books, there were 212 male book reviewers and 52 female; at The Atlantic, there were 14 male book reviewers and three female; at Harper’s, there were 24 male book reviewers and 10 female.


April 23, 2014 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)