Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The concept of alimony, also referred to as “maintenance” in some countries, dates back thousands of years and was first referenced in texts in ancient Babylon. Though gender roles and traditional marriage definitions have evolved greatly since then, the traditional meaning of alimony has remained largely the same. A marriage ends and one party pays the less financially solvent party some sort of means of support. In ancient times when it was not feasible for women to obtain meaningful work or to remarry easily due to cultural norms, alimony served as an important form of security. But today, in an age in which women serve in the cabinet and are now obtaining college degrees at higher rates than men, the idea that women (who receive alimony at much higher rates than men) should be awarded a post-divorce allowance from a spouse strikes many as outdated and an embarrassment to feminist principles.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Chinese men in rural villages are paying $3200 to families (parents, usually) to sell their daughters in rural Vietnam for marriage.
Their marriages were arranged for cash, but some of the Vietnamese women who have found unlikely Prince Charmings in remote Chinese villages say they are living happily ever after.
"Economically, life is better here in China," said Nguyen Thi Hang, one of around two dozen women from Vietnam who have married men in Linqi.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
When they can't even wait until you are actually pregnantly disabled to fire you.
In Cadenas v. Butterfield Health Care II, Inc. (N.D. Ill. 7/15/14), a federal court asked the question of whether an employer could terminate a pregnant employee on the basis of its inability to accommodate her future pregnancy-related job restrictions. Even though the employee won this battle, the employer really won the war.
What can we learn from this case?
- It is okay not to accommodate a pregnant employees’ restrictions, as long as there is no evidence of providing accommodations to other employees with similarly debilitating medical conditions. Given the scope of the definition of “disability” under the ADA, coupled with the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirements, this might be a high hurdle to overcome, this case notwithstanding. Also, don't forget about the EEOC's recent sweeping Enforcement Guidance on this issue.
- If a pregnant employee tells you that she will be unable to perform at some point in the future, wait until that time to terminate her. This employer could have saved itself a headache of a lawsuit by waiting five weeks to fire Cadenas. Of course, winning a lawsuit is relative, and if you could made the argument that employer won this case because it limited its potential exposure for economic damages to five weeks' back pay, I would not disagree with you.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Kristin Collins (Boston U) has posted A Short History of Sex and Citizenship: The Historians' Amicus Brief in Flores-Villar v. US.
The historians’ amicus brief that accompanies this essay was submitted to the Supreme Court in Flores-Villar v. United States, an equal protection challenge to federal statutes that regulate the citizenship status of foreign-born children of American parents. When the parents of such children are unmarried, federal law encumbers the ability of American fathers to secure citizenship for their children, while providing American mothers with a nearly unfettered ability to do the same. The general question before the Court in Flores-Villar – and a question that the Court has addressed in sum and substance on two other occasions during the last thirteen years – was whether the gender asymmetry in this statutory scheme is consistent with constitutional sex-equality principles. The goal of the historians’ amicus brief in Flores-Villar was to explain to the Court how this ostensibly obscure citizenship law is part of a larger historical phenomenon: the persistence of gender-based sociolegal norms in determining citizenship. The introductory essay provides an overview of the account provided in the brief and discusses how generic conventions shaped the amicus brief’s presentation of the history of sex-based citizenship laws.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
[T]he task of feeding children on an inadequate budget falls primarily to women. That women still do the majority of household labor is well known, but usually it’s discussed in the context of middle-class obsessions like leaning in and the mommy wars, not in the context of growing poverty.
McMillan shows just how heavily domestic duties weigh on food-insecure women—both the practical and menial labor of getting dinner on the table, and also the emotional labor required to negotiate with hungry kids.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
At Jotwell, Ruthanann Robson's essay, Empiricism and Equality: Studying Fathers' Rights, reviews Kelly Behre's article Digging Beneath the Equality Language: The Influence of the Fathers' Rights Movement on Intimate Partner Violence Public Policy Debates and Family Law Reform, 21 W&M J. Women & L. (forthcoming). John previously noticed this article too. Robson concludes:
Behre’s article is worth reading for its “deep dig” into the reality, rhetoric, and social science of “fathers’ rights.” Gender equality in family law remains worthy of our attention. But Behre’s article is also worth reading for its applicability to issues involving “reverse discrimination,” “color-blindness,” or formal equality, in which similar empirical underpinnings promote continued subordination. Digging beneath the equality rhetoric does not only unearth profound differences in the meanings of equality, it may also surface a dirty study.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Most commentators . . . think that authorities went way too far in arresting Harrell. It angers me, as a citizen, to see the police overreach this way. How is it benefiting this child to be put in the custody of social services? And since I'm a parent, Harrell’s arrest scares me: How can I appropriately parent my child when doing something that seems relatively safe, if out of fashion, can get you arrested?
"We all parent our children different," she said. "That's our right. You're gonna choose something for your child that I'm not gonna choose for my child."
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The question presented is whether an employer must provide workplace accommodations to a pregnant employee similar to those it provides to temporarily disabled employees?
In Brief: Peggy Young "is a driver for United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS). She had asked UPS for a 'light duty' assignment after her doctor recommended that she not lift more than twenty pounds while pregnant. UPS denied her request, even though it had a practice of giving light duty assignments to other employees who were temporarily unable to perform their jobs. As a result of UPS’s denial, Young was forced to take unpaid leave and lost her medical coverage for the period during which she gave birth, until she was able to return to work at UPS two months later."
The Fourth Circuit CoA affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the employer holding that neither the Pregnancy Disrimination Act nor the Americans with Disabilities Act requires an employer to provide accomodations.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Bill Would Help Rape Survivors Terminate Rapists' Parental Rights. A few years ago, one of my students proposed this topic for his thesis paper. I didn't believe that this was a real issue. I asked him to document the existence of the problem he was purporting to solve in the paper by finding me the exact laws he had seen referenced in the media. And sure enough, he was right. Given the state of the law on unwed fathers that require more than biology for a legally-enforced social relationship, other than child support, it seem farfetched that the law would support criminal parents but not other unwed fathers.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
From the WSJ, Obama Calls for Family-Friendly Workplace Policies
President Barack Obama on Monday called for paid parental leave and other family-friendly policies, part of a broader effort to win more flexibility for workers.
"There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave," Mr. Obama told a summit on working families hosted by the White House. "And that is us. And that is not the list you want to be on by your lonesome."
Mr. Obama stopped short of offering a federal plan that would grant paid leave, instead offering modest steps such as directing federal agencies to implement existing flexible workplace policies, urging Congress to enact a law mandating "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant women and releasing funds to help workers access child care while in training.
Monday, June 23, 2014
From the New Republic:
he Swedes get up to 16 months of paid leave after the birth of a newborn, extra tax credits to defray the cost of child-rearing, plus access to regulated, subsidized day care facilities that stay open from 6:30 in the morning until 6:30 at night. TheDanes and French benefit from similar arrangements. These programs are available to everybody, regardless of income, and the vast majority of working parents take advantage of them.
Here in the U.S., most of us can only dream of such programs. And it’s probably going to stay that way for a while. Local and state governments have introduced some initiatives of their own, but it’s taking a lot of time and confined to limited parts of the country. On Monday, the White House is co-hosting a meeting of academics, advocates, and business leaders to talk about work and family.
The Europeans pay much higher taxes than we do—in Scandinavia, for example, the tax burden approaches or even exceed 50 percent of national income. Governments across the ocean also have more control over business, particularly when it comes to the treatment of employees. This doesn’t seem to faze the European public. “We don’t mind paying high taxes as we and our children benefit,” oneStockholm parent told researchers a few years ago, expressing the prevailing sentiment. “We would not want to live a country where taxes may be lower but the benefits are less and you don’t get to spend time with your children when they are young.” You don’t hear such argument in the U.S. The prevailing assumptions (even among some liberals, I’m sure) is that the taxes and regulation to support such generous work-family policies would spoil the business environment and cripple the economy—creating a gentler society, perhaps, but also a less prosperous one.
Actually, I don't think that the chief objection by Americans pertains to the latter. I think that Americans (of either gender) simply don't like the idea of the government taking their money, even for good reasons. The mindset bespeaks a deep distrust of government (and correspondingly, an intense love for a certain kind of political freedom) and probably goes all the way back to the country's origins.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy headlined a White House discussion on working fathers today, nine weeks after an uproar over his decision to miss the first two games of the season for the birth of his first child.
Daniel Murphy, the Mets second baseman who was slammed by some boneheaded sports radio guys for taking his contractually obligated paternity leave, was at the White House on Monday speaking at a forum on working fathers. He offered rousing support for family leave. "When [my son] Noah asks me one day, 'What happened? What was it like when I was born?' I could have answered, 'Well, Stephen Strasburg hung me a breaking ball that day, son. I slammed it into the right field corner,” Murphy told the audience. But instead, he continued, he can tell his son, “I am the one who cut his umbilical cord.”
In Tragedy Highlights Holes in Supervised Visits System, Prof. Jamie Abrams (Louisville), last month's guest blogger, applies masculinity theory to the context of a father's supervised visits in a child custody in Kentucky.
Other states wrestle with it, too, said Jamie Abrams, an assistant professor of law at the University of Louisville, who thinks this case could be a prime example in an emerging school of thought — that actions by the court can play a part in an individual's lashing out in what is known as a "hypermasculine" act of violence.
"Courts are good at assessing risk of child abuse or domestic abuse, but these types of incidents are different: They are retaliatory of the loss of their parenting rights," she said. "The more rights that are taken away from (noncustodial parents), the more intense and angered they are. It's a very dangerous situation.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
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.
Monday, June 2, 2014
Barnali Choudhury, Queen Mary University, London, has uploded Gender Diversity on Boards: Beyond Quotas. The abstract reads:
Worldwide there is a growing interest in increasing the number of women on boards. While quotas have been proposed in many countries as a way to address this problem, several countries, including, Germany have rejected this approach. Nevertheless, it is apparent that change is needed as women continue to represent minorities on boards of some of the largest companies.
Moreover, increasing the number of women on boards can be beneficial to firms. While it is not clear whether there is a positive relationship between increasing the number of women on boards and firm profitability, it is clearer that women make positive contributions to the board decision-making process. As a result, increasing the number of women on boards improves the quality of decisions made by the board.
Given the benefits increased numbers of women on boards can produce for companies and countries’ lacklustre interest in quotas, this article canvasses methods by which boards can increase female representation without relying on quotas. As such, it looks to practices adopted by American football teams, Australian mentoring programs, and U.K. disclosure rules. It also examines existing workplace norms and practices which inhibit female labour participation. In doing so, it proposes alternative approaches by which Germany, and other countries can increase gender diversity on boards.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
2013 Legis. Bill Hist. CA A.B. 2350 (May 14, 2014)
This bill prohibits postsecondary education institutions from requiring a graduate student to take a leave of absence, withdraw from a graduate program, or limit his or her studies due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related issues. Specifically, this bill:
1) Requires institutions to reasonably accommodate pregnant graduate students so they may complete their graduate education programs.
2) Stipulates that an enrolled graduate student in good academic standing who chooses a leave of absence due to pregnancy, or who has recently given birth, shall return to her program in good academic standing following a leave period determined by the institution of up to two academic semesters, whichever is longer. A longer absence may be authorized for medical reasons.
3) Stipulates that a graduate student per (2) shall be allowed a period consistent with the institution's policies or 12 additional months, whichever is longer, to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations, and a 12-month extension toward the normative time to degree, unless a longer extension is medically necessary.
4) Requires every institution to have a written policy on pregnancy discrimination and procedures for Title IX pregnancy discrimination complaints and the name and contact information of the institution's Title IX compliance officer, and requires the policy to be made available to all students attending orientation sessions.
Basis for the proposed law?
1. Because Title IX says so.
2. To help get more women in STEM careers.
According to the University of California at Berkeley Law Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy (Institute), in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), preventing pregnancy discrimination is of utmost importance because women are not advancing in the field at the same rates as men, largely because of pregnancy and family concerns. The Institute finds that women now represent a large part of the talent pool for research science, but many data sources indicate that they are more likely than men to "leak" out of the pipeline in the sciences before obtaining tenure at a college or university. The Institute opines that Title IX protection is particularly vital for working students because Title IX also requires pregnancy leave for educational programs as well as the workplace.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
From Rosin's Slate article:
It used to be that women had to worry about men disappearing after they got pregnant or divorced. Now, some women have the opposite problem. A growing fathers’ rights movement is aggressively challenging what it sees as the courts’ assumption that the mother is the only real parent. Men’s rights activists air their grievances about unfair child custody laws on sites such as A Voice for Men and on subreddits like Men’s Rights and The Red Pill.
One recent study showed that people are generally in favor of joint custody, but they believe that divorce courts are seriously slanted toward mothers.
And, this too:
But is this actually true? “There’s a real perception—even women share it—that courts are unfair to fathers,” says Ira Ellman, a custody expert at Arizona State University. But in fact the great revolution in family court over the past 40 years or so has been the movement away from the presumption that mothers should be the main, or even sole, caretakers for their children. Individual cases like Patric’s may raise novel legal issues, but on the whole, courts are fair to men, particularly men who can afford a decent lawyer.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Millennial Moms Put their Unique Imprint on Parenting. Moms age 18 to 34 "embrace their momness," live close to family, describe mothering as "fun," and rely on peers and their own judgment rather than the experts.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Mother's Day. The feminist's friend or foe?
- Mother's Day's Dark History
- Why the Founder of Mother's Day Turned Against It
- Mother's Day is Steeped in Radical, Religious Feminism
- Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis
- The Mother's Day Myth: How we "Thank" Mothers for their Free Labor
- Mother's Day: The Creation, Promotion and Meaning of a New Holiday in the Progressive Era
Thursday, May 1, 2014
A former history professor at the University of Pennsylvania is suing the school, claiming she was denied tenure because she took time off to have and care for her children.
Kristen Stromberg Childers, who taught at the Ivy League college from 2002 until 2010, contends in the federal discrimination lawsuit that her family-leave periods were the "determinative and motivating factors in the decision to deny tenure."
Childers took maternity leave during the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 academic years for the births of her two children; she also took half-time, half-pay family leave in the 2008-2009 school year due to medical and educational issues her older child was having, the suit says.
She was denied tenure in February 2008 and again after submitting a new application in 2010.
Childers filed a grievance, and a panel in May 2011 found that the review process unfairly considered statements about the assistant professor's child-care leave in making its decision.
According to the lawsuit, the grievance panel found that the chairwoman of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences' personnel committee "inappropriately" wrote to the school's dean that "committee members found it especially hard to judge productivity in light of Dr. Stromberg Childers' family leave time and her junior leave." The dean later said in a letter that it was "difficult to give a balanced assessment" of the professor's productivity "because of the amount of family leave she has had."