Thursday, March 10, 2016
Michelle Travis (San Francisco), Gendering Disability to Enable Disability Rights Law, Cal. L. Rev. (forthcoming)
Abstract:This Article expands the social model of disability by analyzing the interaction between disability and gender. The modern disability rights movement is built upon the social model, which understands disability not as an inherent personal deficiency but as the product of the environment with which an impairment interacts. The social model is reflected in the accommodation mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), which holds employers responsible for the limiting aspects of their workplace design. This Article shows that the limitations imposed upon impairments result not only from physical aspects of a workplace but also from other identity-based stereotypes, biases, and oppressions, which affect how disability is both experienced and perceived.
This Article advances the social model's aspirations by specifically challenging the existing gender-neutral view of the causes and consequences of disability. This analysis reveals how ignoring gender has enabled masculine norms to become embedded into the ADA's substantive and procedural approaches to defining and remedying disability discrimination in the workplace. This inattention to gender has not only imposed serious social and economic consequences on women with disabilities, but it has also rendered legally invisible many non-prototypic members of the disabled community. This analysis illustrates how attending to other social identities may advance the social model, deepen our understanding of disability discrimination, and empower disability rights law to serve a broader group of individuals within the disabled community.
Friday, February 19, 2016
We had this dilemma in captioning a class action lawsuit. Women Prisoners of the DC Dep't of Corrections v. District of Columbia (1993). And chose "women" for the exact reason discussed of the history of derogatory use of the term "female," even when correctly used as an adjective (rather than a noun).
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The New York Times set out to find out what makes for a smarter, more well-functioning team. They worked with M.I.T. to group nearly 700 volunteers into teams that had to work together to complete short tasks involving things like brainstorming, logical analysis, and planning.
Who works smartest? Surprisingly, the study found that smarter people do not make for smarter teams. Teams with high-IQ averages didn’t perform any better than lower-IQ average teams did. Nor did teams with extroverts. Instead, the study found three things made for smarter teams:
First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.
Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.
Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.
So there you have it. Let everyone talk, pay attention to people’s eyes, and have more women on your team.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
One critical part of improving LEAs’ response to allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence is identifying and preventing gender bias in policing practices. Gender bias in policing practices is a form of discrimination that may result in LEAs providing less protection to certain victims on the basis of gender, failing to respond to crimes that disproportionately harm people of a particular gender or offering reduced or less robust services due to a reliance on gender stereotypes. Gender bias, whether explicit or implicit, conscious or unconscious, may include police officers misclassifying or underreporting sexual assault or domestic violence cases, or inappropriately concluding that sexual assault cases are unfounded; failing to test sexual assault kits; interrogating rather than interviewing victims and witnesses; treating domestic violence as a family matter rather than a crime; failing to enforce protection orders; or failing to treat same-sex domestic violence as a crime. In the sexual assault and domestic violence context, if gender bias influences the initial response to or investigation of the alleged crime, it may compromise law enforcement’s ability to ascertain the facts, determine whether the incident is a crime, and develop a case that supports effective prosecution and holds the perpetrator accountable.
Four days after an Oklahoma police officer was found guilty of serial rape, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the Department of Justice’s new guidelines for authorities handling sexual assault cases in their communities and within their departments.
The report, released Tuesday, calls for law enforcement agencies to fight gender bias in their responses to sexual assault and domestic violence with clear policies and updated training.
Lynch said officers across the country too often make snap judgments about women who report rape: She’s drunk. She’s an unreliable narrator. She’s just embarrassed by her actions.
Women's Law Project, WLP on the DOJ's First-Ever Guidance on Gender Bias in Law Enforcement
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
National Women's Law Center, Let's Talk About Intersectional Feminism
Recently, the Ms. Foundation launched the #MyFeminismIs campaign “to paint a broad, inclusive and intersectional picture of Feminism as we continue to challenge and change the conversation around equal rights.” The campaign aims to start a dialogue about feminism as a movement for the equality of all genders and what feminism looks like for each of us.
If you’re new to the term, intersectionality is a word coined by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who defined it as “the view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.”
In other words, the ways that people experience discrimination — based on sex, race, gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, size, religion, national origin, the list goes on — can’t be separated into categories because these systems of oppression are all connected. And because various forms of oppression are intertwined, an intersectional lens is fundamental to feminism as a movement for liberation and equality. We can’t work for gender equality without addressing other issues of inequality like police brutality against people of color, immigration reform, Islamophobia, or discrimination and violence against the LGBT community.
That’s why a campaign like #MyFeminismIs, which focuses on a broad, inclusive, and intersectional feminism, is so exciting. We come to our work, our activism, our feminist movement as our whole selves — so our work, our activism, and our movement should reflect that. What the #MyFeminismIs campaign is doing to continue the conversation about what inclusive, intersectional feminism like — in the media, in academia, in organizing and activism, and in the women’s advocacy world — will help shape and strengthen the future of feminism.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
A new survey finds that while most of the public knows society has a long way to go before women will be fully equal, people are poorly informed about feminism and key women’s issues.
The poll, conducted by Perry Undem Research/Communication for the Ms. Foundation for Women, surveyed a representative sampling of adults nationwide. The poll over-sampled people of color in order to get better data on certain demographic groups.
The survey has both good and bad news for feminists. It found that while respondents believe in equality for women, many have a negative view of the word “feminism,” are divided on whether women of color face more barriers to equality than white women, and have a narrow idea of what “women’s issues” means.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Melanie Randall (W. Ontario), Particularized Social Groups and Categorical Imperatives in Refugee Law: State Failures to Recognize Gender and the Legal Reception of Gender Persecution Claims in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, 23 American J. Gender, Social Policy & Law 529 (2015)
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
(Muller v. Oregon, 1908)
At the NE Ohio Faculty Colloquium last week, I presented on the topic derived from my forthcoming book chapter on the long history of the ERA.
For this presentation, I focused on the early history of ERA, introduced by Alice Paul in the midst of the Supreme Court's detour into Lochnerism. A close review of the Lochner cases on maximum hours law, shows how gendered these cases were. The Court struck down laws like that in Lochner limiting men's work, while easily upholding the same limitation for women. The advent of the Brandeis Brief (or more appropriately the Kelley Brief since it was mostly written by Florence Kelley) in Muller v. Oregon (1908) added sociological facts of women's weakness, primary material function, and need for protection research designed to justify the rationality of the state legislature's determination that women needed protection.
My takeaways on looking at Lochner through the gendered lends were:
1. It explains some of the flip-flops and seeming inconsistencies of Lochner to understand legalistic exceptions were made for women.
2. It shows how grounded Lochner was in masculinity: real mean don’t need “protection.” Men were tough, strong, and could withstand or counter the abuse of workplace. (Except maybe in the case of coal mining, see Holden v. Hardy, 1898)..
3. And perhaps most importantly, it reveals the historical depth of what Joan Williams calls the “ideal worker.” The ideal worker since industrialization was male, able to work unlimited hours at a moment's notice, needed the job as a family breadwinner, and never needs any accommodations like pregnancy leave, nursing breaks, or family leave. Women are defined as "other" than the ideal, or even regular work. Women themselves defined female workers this way, attuned to the realities of women's working class experience.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
A Navy veteran from Colorado who identifies as neither male nor female has sued the U.S. Department of State after being denied a passport for refusing to select a gender on the application, court documents showed on Monday.
Dana Zzyym claimed in a federal discrimination lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Denver that it was a constitutional violation to force an “intersex” person to pick either a male or female when seeking to travel abroad.
“I am not male, I am not female, I am intersex, and I shouldn’t have to choose a gender marker for my official U.S. identity document that isn’t me,” Zzyym said in a statement.
The lawsuit names U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the director of the Colorado passport agency as defendants.
The State Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Kathleen Darcy (Michigan State), Medicalizing Gender: How the Legal and Medical Professions Shaped Women's Experience as Lawyers, 4 Tennessee J. Race, Gender & Social Justice 31 (2015)
Abstract:Despite significant progress, women in the legal profession still have not advanced into positions of power at near the rate in which they saturate the legal market. Scholars agree that simply waiting for parity is not sufficient, and, thus, they have identified many of the barriers that contribute to women’s difficulties. To date, however, the role that scientific and medical understandings play on the evolution of law, and on women as lawyers, has not received examination until now. To this end, I posit that medicine played a significant role in shaping societal expectations and assumptions about gender, and was similarly influenced by already-existing societal assumptions about gender. This created a complex and substantial barrier that kept women from exploring options outside the “spheres” of society they traditionally occupied. This article explores how medically-supported gender theories, in practice, have actually operated to limit women’s professional progress, relegating them to traditional gender roles and halting their ascension in the ranks of the legal profession. I examine how this barrier operates in three ways: how early women lawyers adopted these medical theories into views about their own gender; how society and those around these early women lawyers adopted these views to shape expectations about women as lawyers; and how the court explicitly and implicitly relied on these assumptions about gender to keep women out of the legal profession. An examination of how these medical and scientific theories about gender have shaped the ways society views gender, and vice versa, can help illuminate the discussion on the barriers that impede modern women lawyers.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Robin West (Georgetown),Hobby Lobby, Birth Control and Our Ongoing Cultural Wars: Pleasure and Desire in the Crossfires
From the Abstract:
Both sides of the birth control debate agree that birth control artificially prevents or interrupts conception, allowing women to control their own fertility and allowing heterosexual men and women to enjoy unconstrained sexual liberty. However, the decision in Hobby Lobby omitted all discussion of this central function of birth control, and contained no mention of arguments for or against birth control that assume it.
This piece examines and criticizes the two major arguments opposing and supporting birth control on this understanding of its function and core social meaning: first the neo-natural lawyers’ argument against birth control advanced in a papal encyclical in the 1930’s and in contemporary law review articles by John Finnis, George Bradley, and Robert George, and second, the “sexual-libertarian” argument supporting the use of birth control, culled from Griswold, Eisenstadt, Lawrence and their advocates and supporters in the academy.
The focus of the piece is on the competing conceptions of heterosexual morality that underlie these two arguments. My central claim is that both sides fail to address women’s actual felt desires either for sex or pregnancy. Natural law advocates generally celebrate all non-contracepted marital sex regardless of women’s desires for either the sex or the pregnancy that is its foreseeable consequence. Likewise, sexual libertarians celebrate all consensual sex regardless of women’s desires.
This erasure of the relevance of women’s desire, or lack of desire, to the morality of heterosexual intercourse and pregnancy causes women harm, and is a condition of women’s subordination. The current legal clashes over birth control have marginalized the harms. This piece seeks to re-center them.
Monday, August 17, 2015
Seattle follows Philly in making public restrooms gender neutral.
No matter how you identify, you’ll now be able to use a single-stall bathroom in the city of Seattle.
The Seattle City Council passed a law on Monday that requires all public spaces–both those controlled by the city and those of private businesses–to designate any existing and future single-stall restrooms as all-gender, reported local news outlet Seattle Pi.
This goes for all local businesses, including coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and stores. The law prevents business owners from labeling any restroom as gender exclusive.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
During their nearly 30 combined years at the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Law School, the two lawyers have helped exonerate more than two dozen people once found guilty of horrendous crimes. Most of the people they have freed are men; just four are women. And for a long time, Daniel and Royal thought that disparity made perfect sense. Men are convicted of crimes, especially violent crimes, at much higher rates than are women. So it follows that most people exonerated of crimes are also men: The National Registry of Exonerations, a University of Michigan Law School database that has cataloged information on more than 1,600 exonerations nationwide since 1989, includes just 148 women.
About three years ago, however, Daniel and Royal began to question whether that number was too low. Women make up about 11 percent of the people convicted of violent crimes, but just 6 percent of those exonerated of violent crimes. At the urging of a former client, Julie Rea Harper—who spent four years in prison for the murder of her son before a serial killer confessed to the crime—Daniel and Royal decided to try to figure out if there was anything that set exonerated women apart.
They started by looking at the few women whose cases they had worked on themselves. "I haven't had any men's cases that looked like these four cases," Daniel recalls thinking. "Could that really be a coincidence?"
After three years of pursuing that question, Daniel and Royal have concluded that most innocence projects—including their own legal clinic—are failing to bring justice to wrongly convicted women. They have identified factors that make female clients more difficult to exonerate, and uncovered startling facts that distinguish the cases of wrongly convicted women from those of men. And they have launched a project that could change how the American innocence movement helps these women get justice.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The AALS Section on Trusts and Estates and AALS Section on Women in Legal Education will hold a joint program, Sex and Death: Gender and Sexuality Matters in Trusts and Estates, during the AALS 2016 Annual Meeting in New York City. They are soliciting proposals for presentations between now and August 21. From the CFP:
Submissions should be of an abstract of scholarship relating to the overlap between sex, gender, or sexuality and trusts and estates. Potential topics include implications of same-sex marriage, assisted reproduction and property rights, feminist legal theory applied to property transmission or tax, or any other matter examining the intersection between sex and death. Abstracts should be between 750 and 2000 words, inclusive of any footnotes. Scholarship may be at any stage of the publication process from work-in-progress to completed article, but if already published, scholarship may not be published any earlier than 2014. Each professor may submit only one abstract for consideration.
Full-time faculty members of AALS member and fee-paid law schools are eligible to submit proposals. Foreign, visiting (and not full-time on a different faculty) and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, and fellows are not eligible. The deadline for submission is Friday, August 21, 2015.
To be considered, abstracts must be submitted electronically to Professor Wendy Greene, Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> and Professor Alyssa DiRusso, Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, at firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>. The deadline for submission is Friday, August 21, 2015. Authors of selected papers will be notified by September 25, 2015. Call for Paper participants will also be responsible for paying their annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.
Presenters will be selected after review by the Program Chairs of both sections. Additional presenters may be solicited by the Program Chairs to insure a diverse panel. Any inquiries about the Call for Papers should be submitted to: the Chair for the Section on Women in Legal Education, Professor Wendy Greene, Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, 205.726.2419 or firstname.lastname@example.org and/or the Program Chair for the Section on Trusts and Estates, Professor Alyssa DiRusso, Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, 205.726.4325 or email@example.com.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Ronald Collins, Concurring Opinions, More on the Roberts Court & the First Amendment--the Women Justices
How is First Amendment freedom of expression law being shaped by the current Court? One way to answer that question is to focus on the Justices themselves and on their assignments, voting records, and voting alignments. Mindful of such concerns, I plan to do a series of posts on the Roberts Court. When complete, I hope to prepare a summary and analysis of the Roberts Court and its record in this area of the law.
In this second installment, and following my profile of Chief Justice John Roberts, I continue by way of some facts and figures about the contributions of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Here are a few for starters:
- Though the Roberts Court has handed down 39 First Amendment free expression opinions, it has rendered only 17 during the tenure of all three of the Court’s female Justices.
- Justice Sotomayor took her seat in August of 2009, and the first First Amendment free expression case she voted on was Citizens United v. FEC (2010) (5-4, joined dissent). Since her time on the Court the Justices have rendered 23 First Amendment free expression opinions.
- Justice Kagan took her seat in August of 2010, and the first First Amendment free expression case she voted on was Snyder v. Phelps (2011) (8-1, joined majority). Since her time on the Court the Justices have rendered 17 First Amendment free expression opinions (she did not participate in 2 of those cases).
Rebecca Gill, Michael Kagan, & Fatma Marouf (UNLV), Chivalry, Masculinity, and the Importance of Maleness to Judicial Decision Making.
Abstract:Social science research on gender in the legal system has largely focused on the woman as the "other." This research has looked for ways in which women judge or are judged differently from the norm. The results of this line of research have been mixed. Male-centered theories of masculinity and chivalry provide promising tools to help researchers understand the contribution that maleness has on outcomes in the legal system. Immigration appeals provide an ideal test of these theories, which predict that male judges will be harder on male immigrants and easier on female litigants than will female judges. In this paper, we implement a research design that takes seriously both female-centric and male-centric explanations of decision outcomes. Using an original database of immigration appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeal, we find evidence to support the research of maleness on its own terms. We find that elements of chivalry and masculinity theory both operate to frame the decisions made by male judges. The introduction of women on the panel of judges is associated with significant changes in the relative success of male and female petitioners, but not in a way that is consistent with theories of women judges as representatives. In addition to providing support for masculinity theory to explain the behavior of male judges, our data raise new questions about how females temper the reaction of mixed-gender panels toward male and female parties in court.
Monday, June 8, 2015
Do women and men have different brains?
Back when Lawrence H. Summers was president of Harvard and suggested that they did, the reaction was swift and merciless. Pundits branded him sexist. Faculty members deemed him a troglodyte. Alumni withheld donations.
But when Bruce Jenner said much the same thing in an April interview with Diane Sawyer, he was lionized for his bravery, even for his progressivism.
“My brain is much more female than it is male,” he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
The new issue of the Hastings Women's Law Journal, summer 2015.
Holistic Pregnancy: Rejecting the Theory of the Adversarial Mother by Rona Kaufman Kitchen
Medicaid as Coverture by Thomas E. Simmons
Mitigating the Employer's Exposure to Third-Party Claims of a Hostile Work Environment by John A. Pearce II and Ilya A. Lipin
Monday, June 1, 2015
On SSRN, Stuart Chinn has uploaded "Situating 'Groups' in Constitutional Argument: Interrogating Judicial Arguments on Economic Rights, Gender Equality, and Gay Equality." The abstract reads:
The New Deal transformation in Commerce Clause and Due Process jurisprudence marked, among other things, a shift in judicial attention from groups defined by economic relationships to groups defined by social status. Hence, one might plausibly see judicial activism in defense of freedom of contract during the Lochner era subsequently giving way, in part, to the judicial protection of racial minorities, women, and gay persons in the decades after Brown v. Board of Education.
In this paper, I attempt to illuminate this shift in judicial attention by examining the Supreme Court's rhetoric surrounding groups in the context of the Lochner era cases on wages and hours regulations and the post-Brown v. Board of Education era cases on gender and gay equality. I situate my inquiry in the context of broader themes in American political thought, with particular attention to the core concepts and principles of American liberalism. In examining the recurrent modes of argument surrounding groups in these Supreme Court cases, I discuss how the Court's concept of groups — and how its views of American society more broadly — has varied in different constitutional doctrinal contexts.
My examination of these cases yields two key findings. The first finding speaks to a similarity across these contexts of Supreme Court jurisprudence: when confronted by reforms calling for special or different legal treatment of specific groups, both pro-reform and anti-reform Supreme Court justices in these three doctrinal contexts put forth arguments about group-sameness and group-difference. That is, group-sameness and group-difference arguments were deployed by Justices on both sides of the various legal controversies in these doctrinal areas. The second finding speaks to a difference between these doctrinal contexts: while arguments in defense of special legal treatment for groups in the Lochner era cases on wages and hours regulations were linked to larger, broader, more systemic goals, no such sensibility informs the judicial protection of groups in the post-Brown cases on gender and gay equality. Rather, in more recent years, the judicial defense of groups largely proceeds from a judicial concern for only the groups in question. Thus, we see in the more contemporary cases examples of judicial arguments about “societal segmentation” — a significant mode of legal and political argument that, I assert, has appeared episodically throughout American history. In the final Part, I set forth a more general definition of societal segmentation arguments, and I discuss how notions of segmentation may be situated in relation to the principles of American liberalism.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
It may be possible to reduce biases regarding race and gender while a person sleeps, according to a new study published in the journal Science.
Prior research has shown that biases can be reduced with a technique called counter-stereotype training. Neuroscientists at Northwestern University wondered whether sleep might bolster the effect.