Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

A protest against rape in Columbia University

'No protection': Paul Nungesser is suing Columbia University for allowing Emma Sulkowicz to parade the school and take campus-provided transport with her mattress in protest against him, calling him a rapist 

The story from the Daily Mail (UK): 

A male student accused of raping his classmate has sued Columbia University for failing to protect him against backlash and harassment. 

Authorities rejected Emma Sulkowicz's case that Paul Nungesser, a German citizen, was a 'serial rapist' who assaulted her after class.

Nonetheless, the case gathered international attention as Sulkowicz, a senior majoring in visual arts, publicly paraded her mattress in protest, calling for his indictment. 

And according to Nungesser's lawsuit citing 'gender-based harassment and defamation', Columbia presented the allegations as fact on a university-owned website. 


April 27, 2015 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

An Alternative Boys' School

From HuffPost: 

As a senior administrator at an all-boys' school in suburban Philadelphia, I spend each day with 1,000 boys, many of whom, by virtue of their gender alone, occupy positions of privilege and power at least one step removed from the important issue of sexual assault. To state the obvious, while it is women who are overwhelmingly the victims of this crime, its prevention is not a women's problem -- and boys' schools have a unique opportunity and responsibility to be part of the solution.

The challenge has been well chronicled: from our earliest days, we boys bask in marinades of hyper-masculine stereotypes. From the sandbox to the locker room to the high school dance to the conference room, we are conditioned to compete: relationships, we learn, are zero sum games to be won. Of course, where there are winners, there are also losers, but it does not pay to consider their fate too carefully. Keep your eyes on the prize. Act hard, and tough; be logical and remote, witty and distant. And then become boyfriends and husbands and fathers... of sons.


But by placing relationships at the center of everything we do, we can break the cycle. Witness the first day of school here: a senior takes a new kindergartner by the hand and walks him to opening assembly. Without thinking, the young boy crawls into his lap, and the young man responds by instinctively wrapping a pair of gangly arms around him. "It's safe here," the arms say. "I've got your back." Or witness the last day of school, some twelve years from now, when that same kindergartner, now a grown man himself, will cry in the arms of a classmate, a teacher, or a coach.

April 22, 2015 in Education, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Middle-Schooler's "Feminist" T-Shirt Deemed Offensive

"Feminist" Shirt Censored in Middle-School Photo

A middle-school student at Clermont Northeastern Middle School in Ohio is fighting back after a T-shirt she wore for a class photo was censored. The offending word? Feminist.


Principal Kendra Young chose to black out the word from student Sophie's shirt after being alerted to it by the school's alarmist photographer. "Some people might find it offensive," Young said.


MSNBC reports that after discovering the doctoring of her image, Sophie took to Instagram to ask classmates to join her in a protest last Friday:


 After enough local-media scrutiny, Ms. Young reached out to Sophie's mother with an apology. She also apologized to Sophie herself, asking, "What do you want from this?"


Sophie, official new feminist teen idol, reportedly replied:


I want everyone to realize that we need feminism ... I want you to have someone come into the school and educate everyone about feminism. I want us to go to the news station together and show the people that we are working together to make this school and our community a better place for everyone. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

 We'll be eager to see whether the school does indeed "hold larger discussions with students regarding feminism.

April 21, 2015 in Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Toys and Gender

From the NYT: 

Walk into a toy store, and you are likely to see toys specifically designed and marketed for boys or girls — without very much overlap. With pink and blue color coding, and princess and action-hero designs, manufacturers seem to be using more and more gender messaging to sell their toys.

Should toys be more gender-neutral?

Room for Debate asked the question, “Why Should Toys Come in Pink and Blue?


April 15, 2015 in Education, Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Should Students Sit on Sexual Assault Panels?"

From the NYT

It was a bland bit of guidance from the Department of Education, cast in legal language and tucked into a footnote two-thirds of the way through a 46-pagedocument about how colleges and universities should address sexual assault on campus.

But it did not sit well with Celia Wright, president of the student body at Ohio State University. The footnote “discourages” having students sit on conduct boards in cases concerning sexual violence. Ohio State and many other campuses no longer let students serve.


Ms. Wright and student leaders from 75 other colleges and universities, representing 1.2 million students, have sent a letter to the department urging it to reconsider, citing “significant unintended consequences” and even discrimination against students who would sit on panels.


April 10, 2015 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 30, 2015

“You hold women in contempt”: Frat culture isn’t an aberration, it’s everything men learn about being a “real man”

...thus reads the headline from Salon

There are a lot of stories out there right now about frat culture, which is maybe why I find myself circling back to bigger questions about masculinity. Or at least the version of masculinity on display in some of these fraternities.

 What does it say about men and their relationships with other men that sexual aggression is often seen as a way to bond? What does it say about men’s desire to belong that so many guys don’t intervene even if they feel like what’s going on around them is totally wrong? Is the routine sexism we see coming out of many fraternities right now an aberration, or is it just a particularly grotesque expression of how men are taught to feel about and treat women? And if that’s the case, what are we supposed to do about it?
I reached out to Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology at Stonybrook University and one of the nation’s most influential researchers on men and masculinities, to get his perspective on fraternities, male friendship, cultural messaging about “real” men and what it might mean to remake masculinity into something healthier for men and women. Our conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Read the rest here

March 30, 2015 in Education, Manliness, Masculinities, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Political Lobby for Frats Wants to Make It Harder to Enforce Title IX"

From Slate: 

The political arm of the national fraternity system—known as the Fraternity & Sorority Political Action Committee (FratPAC)—is getting involved in the campus rape debate. Sadly, it seems it wants to make it as hard as possible for schools to discipline students who sexually abuse or harass each other. Bloomberg reports:

The groups' political arm plans to bring scores of students to Capitol Hill on April 29 to lobby for a requirement that the criminal justice system resolve cases before universities look into them or hand down punishments, according to an agenda reviewed by Bloomberg News.
"If people commit criminal acts, they should be prosecuted and they should go to jail,” said Michael Greenberg, leader of 241-chapter Sigma Chi, one of many fraternities participating in the legislative push.

The sentiment may sound fair-minded; it's anything but. FratPAC is singling out sexual assault as the only crime it wants universities to handle in this way. Underage drinking, drug dealing, burglary, assault—all of these actions break both school rules and the law, but FratPAC is not asking universities to wait for the criminal courts to adjudicate these crimes before punishing the students for breaking their corresponding school rules. In the situation it's proposing, a school could punish a student for stealing from another student without waiting for the courts to adjudicate the matter; but if a student rapes another student, the school couldn't act.

March 30, 2015 in Education, Manliness, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Guide to Feminist Pedagogy

Vanderbilt, A Guide to Feminist Pedagogy

Feminist pedagogy is not a toolbox, a collection of strategies, a list of practices, or a specific classroom arrangement.  It is an overarching philosophy—a theory of teaching and learning that integrates feminist values with related theories and research on teaching and learning.

It begins with our beliefs and motivations:  why do we teach? why do students learn? what are the goals of learning? We know that the consequences of our motives for teaching and learning are significant: Keith Trigwell and Mike Prosser have shown that the instructor’s intentions in teaching (“why the person adopts a particular strategy”) have a greater impact on student learning than the instructor’s actual strategies for teaching (“what the person does”) (78). Their research has shown that approaches to teaching that are purposefully focused on the students and aimed at changing conceptual frameworks lead to deeper learning practices than teacher-centered, information-driven approaches (Trigwell 98). The implications are that the instructor’s fundamental beliefs and values about teaching, learning, and knowledge-making matter.

In this guide, we explain some of the fundamental beliefs, values, and intentions behind feminist pedagogy to inform a deliberate application in specific classrooms–any and all classrooms, as feminist pedagogy can inform any disciplinary context. (For a more focused exploration of feminist pedagogy specifically within the women’s studies classroom, see Holly Hassel and Nerissa Nelson’s “A Signature Feminist Pedagogy: Connection and Transformation in Women’s Studies.”)

[H/t Kathy Feltey]

March 28, 2015 in Education, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Law faculty diversity: Successes and failures"

From a WaPo article by Jim Lundgren:

How diverse are tenured and tenure-track law faculties? Which ethnic and gender groups are now the most under- and over-represented in law teaching compared to a very broad measure of the pool: English-fluent, full-time working lawyers of a similar age?

In “Measuring Diversity: Law Faculties in 1997 and 2013,” which can be downloaded from SSRN, I explore tenure-track law school diversity in 1997 and 2013. For the gender and ethnicity of law professors in 2013, I use data released by the ABA, representing the 2013-2014 academic year. For the lawyer population, I use data from the government’s 2011-2013 American Communities Surveys.

This study finds that diversity hiring in law schools has been a great success, at least as to ethnicity and gender. All large traditional affirmative-action groups in law teaching are now at or above parity with full-time lawyers, and such groups as women, minorities, and minority women are significantly over-represented in law teaching compared to working lawyers. Indeed, the only ethnic and gender groups that are more than a half slot short of parity on a typical tenure-track faculty of about forty are non-Hispanic whites, males, and non-Hispanic white males, the groups typically thought of as over-represented.

March 27, 2015 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Male Law Students Participate a Lot More Than Female Law Students

The research was done at Harvard Law School.   It's available here.  

March 27, 2015 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Gender Defender Day" in a Washington Middle School


A Battle Ground Middle School hosted "gender defender" day, but a school district spokesman said the name was misleading. March 19, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

The story: 

A Battle Ground Middle School hosted "gender defender" day, but a school district spokesman said the name was misleading. March 19, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

BATTLE GROUND, Wash. (KOIN 6) — Thursday was “gender defender” day at a Battle Ground middle school, and some parents weren’t happy about it.

Lorelei Hunsaker, 11, showed up at Chief Umtuch Middle School dressed in protest of gender defender day. She said the day was designated for girls to wear pink and boys to wear blue —  and she believes that reinforces outdated stereotypes of what boys and girls should aspire to be when they are older.

“It’s a gender neutral school and it’s pretty good about these things,” Lorelei told KOIN 6 News. “It’s just that this day is sexist and I’m not okay with sexism.”

Lorelei decided against wearing pink or blue, instead she wore dark clothing in protest.

For the 11-year-old’s mother, it goes beyond pink and blue clothes. She is part of a nontraditional family in which she is the main bread winner. Her husband cares for their kids, and gender identification may not fall along traditional lines in their household.

“Why would you even have a gender-oriented event to show school spirit?” Lorelei’s mother, Andrea Isom, asked. “Why does gender matter when it comes to being a good student?”

March 23, 2015 in Education, LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Single-Gender Schools Considered in Virginia

The story:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is considering offering single-gender schools as a magnet program parents could apply for. The concept is one of several new themes the school district is exploring as CMS turns its eye on its magnet programs. 

Single-gender classrooms have grown in popularity over the past 15 years as federal rule changes have made them easier to execute. Supporters point to numerous studies showing that girls and boys learn in different ways, and that teachers respond to them differently.

But the evidence is not concrete on whether single-gender education offers a measurable benefit, according to research highlighted by the National Education Association.

March 11, 2015 in Education, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Another Anti-LGBT Bill Introduced in Utah Legislature"

Thus runs the headline from a post by the HRC:

Today, Utah legislature introduced yet another anti-LGBT bill, this time targeting school discussions around sexuality.

The “Protections on Parental Guidance in Public Schools” bill would require a school to obtain written consent from a student’s parents before exposing students to “any course material” or “discussing” a number of topics, including “sexuality,” “marriage,” “pregnancy,” and “child birth.”

HB 447 comes on the heels of the dangerous SB 297, a poison pill targeting religious minorities, racial minorities and LGBT people introduced just four days ago.  

HRC is proud to stand in support of Equality Utah and the ACLU of Utah in opposition to these bills.



March 11, 2015 in Education, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

SUNY Stony Brook has a Center for Men's Studies

The website is here. Here are the Center's Mission Statement and Vision Statement: 


The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, established at Stony Brook University (SUNY) in 2013, is dedicated to engaged interdisciplinary research on boys, men, masculinities, and gender. Our mission is to bring together researchers, practitioners, and activists in conversation and collaboration to develop and enhance projects focusing on boys and men. This collaboration will generate and disseminate research that redefines gender relations to foster greater social justice.


The Center is committed to fostering a world in which everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, reach their full potential as human beings. We support and promote research that furthers the development of boys and men in the service of healthy masculinities and greater gender equality. We seek to build bridges among a new generation of researchers, practitioners, and activists who work toward these ends. This unique collaboration will enhance the quality and impact of research, and enable a more informed policy and practice.

And some editorial comments about the Center is here on the website of the American Men's Studies Association.  

March 9, 2015 in Education, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 2, 2015


Wesleyan University has created a special dorm that is meant to house the LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM crowd. From the school website:

     Photo of Open House

Open House is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities. The goals of Open House include generating interest in a celebration of queer life from the social to the political to the academic. Open House works to create a Wesleyan community that appreciates the variety and vivacity of gender, sex and sexuality.

 I must say that I am ambivalent about this.  Is this a good thing for the students in the dorm?  To segregate themselves so completely like this from the rest of the school?  So too I find disturbing the notion that all these quite different groups would naturally share a desire to live together, simply because they are sexually marginalized in society.....

March 2, 2015 in Education, LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

New Senate Bill to Address Campus Sexual Assault

Senate's Revamped Sexual Assault Bill Puts More Pressure on Colleges

A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday that is aimed at curbing sexual violence on campuses in ways that protect both victims and accused students. The changes reflect heightened attention over the past six months to the due-process rights of accused students.


The Campus Safety and Accountability Act, sponsored by six Democrats and six Republicans, builds on legislation that was introduced over the summer but never came to a vote. The new version was strengthened with additional input from sexual-assault survivors, students, colleges, law enforcement, and advocacy groups, according to one of its main sponsors, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. A companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the House of Representatives.


The revised proposal comes at a time when the Department of Education is investigating nearly 100 colleges and universities for possible violations of the federal civil-rights law known as Title IX. Colleges have increasingly been held responsible under that law to investigate and resolve alleged assaults promptly and fairly, whether or not the police are involved.


February 28, 2015 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Challenging Coed Fraternities

NYT, Fraternity Sues Wesleyan University Over Order to Admit Women

Almost five months after fraternities at Wesleyan University in Connecticut wereordered to admit women as both members and residents, one organization announced on Thursday that it was suing the university, saying the policy put in place in the name of equality was, in fact, discriminatory.


The fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, along with its alumni organization, Kent Literary Club, filed the lawsuit seeking a temporary injunction in Superior Court in Middletown.


While there are only two fraternities on campus, with about 50 members, the order by the university — which has long had a reputation as one of the nation’s most liberal institutions of higher learning — came as many schools were struggling with issues related to heavy drinking, dangerous behavior and sexual assault at fraternities and sororities.


February 26, 2015 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

U of Missouri to Introduce Gender-Neutral Dorms

The story:

COLUMBIA, Mo. —The University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia is testing out a new gender-neutral housing option starting this fall.

The 16-bed space in College Avenue Hall will be open to students of any gender, The Columbia Daily Tribune reports. The goal is to create a safe, secure housing option for those students who are transgender or gender nonconforming.


Frankie Minor, director of Residential Life at MU, and his team heard from students that there is interest and need for such a space. He said creating it was made easier when the Board of Curators added gender expression and gender identity to the UM System's nondiscrimination policy last year.

"When we say that this is important to our institutions, it's great, but it makes it clear when we're following through with programs and resources that promote inclusiveness and a welcoming environment," Minor said.




February 18, 2015 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Underrepresentation of Women of Color in Law Review Leadership Positions

In The Underrepresentation of Women of Color in Law Review Leadership Positions, Berkeley La Raza Law Journal (2015), A recent law grad analyzes that lack of opportunities available to women law students of color and proposes some affirmative solutions.

In the history of the UCLA Law Review, there has been only one black woman to serve as EIC (there have been no black men). This fact, combined with what I witnessed at the selection meeting, made me very concerned that the opportunities available to women of color law students were being unduly and unfairly limited. The unfortunate fact remains that in competing for law review leadership positions, women of color are significantly disadvantaged.


This Article explores the potential causes, challenges, and remedies surrounding this inequitable playing field. As Clare Dalton put it in describing the importance of investigating women’s issues in law school, “Exposing the sites of legal education and practice as important creators and sustainers of the culture of gender, as well as the culture of law, we can assert the importance of studying the treatment of women, women’s realities and women’s concerns in legal education and the legal profession.”5 The pipeline for women of color making the law review and into law review leadership positions, such as EIC, is one such site of legal education worth exposing.


Part I introduces the problem by examining the limited research that shows a significant underrepresentation of women and people of color in law review leadership positions, and explains the significance of such research. Part II explores the possible causes of this unfortunate phenomenon by uncovering the challenges that women of color face in obtaining law review leadership positions. Finally, Part III offers potential solutions for increasing opportunities for women of color in obtaining law review leadership positions.


Her proposed solutions include: creating a welcoming environment; structural remedies of diversity outreach committees, board quotas, mentorship programs, and transcripts and transparency of the board decisionmaking process.

February 12, 2015 in Education, Law schools, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

University of Vermont Recognizes Third Gender

NYT, A University Recognizes a Third Gender

While colleges across the country have been grappling with concerns related to students transitioning from one gender to another, Vermont is at the forefront in recognizing the next step in identity politics: the validation of a third gender.


The university allows students like Gieselman to select their own identity — a new first name, regardless of whether they’ve legally changed it, as well as a chosen pronoun — and records these details in the campuswide information system so that professors have the correct terminology at their fingertips.


For years, writers and academics have argued that gender identity is not a male/female binary but a continuum along which any individual may fall, depending on a variety of factors, including anatomy, chromosomes, hormones and feelings. But the dichotomy is so deeply embedded in our culture that even the most radical activists had been focused mainly on expanding the definitions of the two pre-existing categories.

February 10, 2015 in Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)