Thursday, April 23, 2015
Why are biased acts against women — even religiously motivated ones — considered so much less toxic than biased acts of any other kind? Why do women often demur and accept humiliation rather than make a fuss? Why does respect even for admittedly extreme religious beliefs trump respect for half the human race?
My encounter came to mind again as I pondered recent stories of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refusing to take airline seats next to women. Several cases were reported in the New York Times this month. Others have appeared in the Israeli press as far back as 2012.On some flights women reportedly moved when asked. Some men switched places with women to eliminate the adjacency problem. Some flight attendants assisted the Orthodox men in relocating. Yet when others did not, some flights were delayed as men refused to be seated. The incidents have spawned lively discussions among Jews and non-Jews alike.
Yet I wonder: Why are we even discussing this?
Would such blatant behavior be treated merely as a social choice, a courtesy issue or an awkward airline customer-service problem if the targets were anyone other than women?
Let’s test it. What if we recast my encounter, giving me a different race and gender. How do I react now if someone says, “I don’t touch black men.” Do I quietly move on? How would this young man have reacted had the tables been turned? What if I had done something I could never imagine myself doing? Would he have treated it as a social issue if I had refused his hand, saying: “I don’t shake hands with Jews?”
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
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:
EVERYONE PARTICIPATING WILL BE WEARING A SHIRT WITH A PHRASE LIKE “I DESERVE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION” OR “FEMINISM ISN’T OFFENSIVE” OR ANYTHING THAT YOU BELIEVE FITS! PLEASE MAKE A SHIRT AND JOIN US AND HELP TAKE CARE OF THIS ISSUE.
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.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Over the past three decades, an increasing number of women have joined the legal profession. Since 1992, women’s representation in law school classes has approached 50%. Despite record numbers of female judicial nominees and confirmations, the percentage of female federal judges, however, is far lower. It is of critical importance to increase the representation of women on the federal bench.
When women are fairly represented on our federal courts, those courts are more reflective of the diverse population of this nation and women, and men, may have more confidence that the court understands the real-world implications of its rulings. The increased presence of women on the bench improves the quality of justice: women judges can bring an understanding of the impact of the law on the lives of women and girls to the bench, and enrich courts’ understanding of how best to realize the intended purpose and effect of the law that the courts are charged with applying. For example, one recent study demonstrated that male federal appellate court judges are less likely to rule against plaintiffs bringing claims of sex discrimination, if a female judge is on the panel.
President Obama has appointed 129 female judges – more than any President to date. But to obtain true gender diversity, the number of women in the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, must be increased.
- Upon the confirmation of Associate Justice Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court counts three women among its nine Justices for the first time in history, still only one-third of the members of that Court. Only four of the 112 Justices ever to serve on the highest court in the land have been women.
- Sixty of the 171 active judges currently sitting on the thirteen federal courts of appeal are female (almost 35%). When broken down by circuit, women’s representation on several of these individual courts is even lower than on the courts of appeals overall:
- In particular, women are underrepresented on the Third Circuit (where they make up about 23% of judges) and the Eighth Circuit (18%).
- Thirty-three percent of active United States district (or trial) court judges are women.
- But there are still 7 district courts around the country where there has never been a female judge.
- For women of color, the numbers are even smaller.
- There are 80 women of color serving as active federal judges across the country, including 42 African-American women, 25 Hispanic women, 10 Asian-American women, one Native American woman, one woman of Hispanic and Asian descent, and one women of Hispanic and African-American descent.
- There are only 11 women of color on the U.S. courts of appeals. Five of those women sit on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, two sit on the DC Circuit, and one woman of color sits on each of the First, Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Circuits. Therefore, there are seven federal courts of appeals without a single active minority woman judge.
Plenty of people say they believe in equal rights for women, but when you ask those same people if they're feminists, most of them will say no.
That's what we found in a new Vox poll, which explores the public's view on feminism, abortion, and the Affordable Care Act.
The poll, conducted by research and communications firm PerryUndem, shows that a strong majority of Americans agree on gender equality. Eighty-five percent, for example, say they believe in "equality for women."
But many fewer want to put the feminist label on their beliefs. Eighteen percent of poll respondents said they consider themselves feminist. Fifty-two percent said they were not feminist, 26 percent were not sure, and 4 percent refused to answer the question.
The findings suggest a divide in how Americans see their worldview, with many more supporting the idea of equality between genders than those who would describe that as a "feminist" viewpoint
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
In the Egalia, a preschool in Stockholm, there are no male or femalestudents. Instead, all children are referred to as 'hen' – a gender-neutral pronoun that has become so established in Sweden that it will be recognized next month in the newest edition of the country's official dictionary.
The Swedish Academy's SAOL dictionary, which is updated every 10 years and will be republished April 15, will feature 'hen' as an alternative to the male pronoun 'han' and the female 'hon.' The revised edition will also include thousands of other new words.
According to linguistic expert Sofia Malmgård, the gender-neutral term can be used in two ways. "First, if the gender is unknown or not relevant (as in: "If anyone needs to smoke, 'hen' may do so outside"). Second, it can be used as a pronoun for inter-gender people (as in: "Kim is neither boy or girl, 'hen' is inter-gender")," she explained.
To many Swedes, the decision of the Swedish Academy reflects how quickly their society has embraced gender-neutral language. "Over the last few years, the word 'hen' has more and more found its way into the Swedish language," Malmgård told The Washington Post.
Five years ago, barely anyone in Sweden was aware of the word. The decision to now include 'hen' in the authoritative SAOL dictionary is expected to facilitate an even more frequent use of it in everyday conversations. Set up in 1785, the academy was established with the aim to adapt the Swedish languages to changing cultural and societal influences – a role the institution still feels committed to.
According to experts, the 'hen'-revolution in Sweden has two primary origins: LGBT groups have promoted the pronoun as a way to raise awareness for their cause. However, support for the idea has also come from a more unexpected side: Nurseries, kindergartens and preschools such as Egalia increasingly argue that the pronoun's usage allows children to grow up without feeling the impact of gender biases. "The public debate over the pronoun actually only started after the publication of the country's first gender-neutral children's book", Lann Hornscheidt, an professor of Scandinavian languages and gender studies at Berlin's Humboldt University explained.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Julie Greenberg (Thomas Jefferson), Interacting in the Workplace with Individuals Who Have an Intersex Condition, Bloomberg BNA
This chapter explores societal assumptions about sex and gender. It begins with an introduction to intersexuality and compares intersexuality to transgenderism and sexual orientation. It then discusses the most pressing issues facing the intersex community and compares them to the concerns of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). It next examines how the law affects people in the intersex community. Finally, it concludes with advice for employment lawyers and human resource managers about how to address issues that may arise in the workplace involving people with an intersex condition.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Facebook users who don't fit any of the 58 gender identity options offered by the social media giant are now being given a rather big 59th option: fill in the blank.
"Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own," said a Facebook announcement published online Thursday morning and shared in advance with The Associated Press.
Facebook software engineer Ari Chivukula, who identifies as transgender and was part of the team that made the free-form option, thinks the change will lead to more widespread acceptance of people who don't identify themselves as a man or woman.
"We're hoping this will open up the dialogue," Chivukula said.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Scholars in several countries working on rewriting key legal decisions as if they had been informed by feminist theory.
Northern/ Ireland http://www.feministjudging.ie/
UK (link to book) http://www.hartpub.co.uk/books/details.asp?isbn=9781849460538
International (link to invitation) http://ilg2.org/2014/01/16/invitation-to-participate-in-the-feminist-international-judgments-project/
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
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.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Susan Azyndar (Ohio State) reviews Ruthann Robson's (CUNY) book, Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes, in 106 Law Library J. 3 (2014).
In Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes, Robson explores these concepts through a variety of intersections between law and clothing. Her central thesis is twofold: “the Constitution cabins, channels, and constrains” our sartorial choices, even as our “attire reflects the Constitution” (p.7). Hierarchy, sexuality, and democracy underlie this relationship and our thinking about it. The book aims to elucidate the “doctrinal incoherence” and “interpretive slovenliness” underlying judicial reasoning (p.3). ¶88 Each chapter examines a constellation of legal concerns, including professional dress, undress, and the labor and economics of clothing production. The first chapter, “Dressing Historically,” traces the relationship between clothing and the law through history, beginning with Tudor sumptuary laws. The remaining chapters present a wide range of legal topics. For example, in the chapter entitled “Dressing Barely,” Robson addresses strip searches, indecent exposure, obscenity, and nudism. Legal concepts addressed include separation of powers, federalism, First Amendment rights, the Slavery Clauses, due process, equal protection, the Commerce Claus
Questions of gender identity are nothing new. Way before Transparent and Chaz Bonoand countless other popular culture stepping stones to where we are now regarding gender identity, there were accounts of "female husbands."
Stories of women dressing and posing as men dot the journalistic landscape of 19th century America — and Great Britain — according to Sarah Nicolazzo, who teaches literary history at the University of California, San Diego.
For a fictionalized history of cross-dresser Jenny Bonnet, read Frog Music.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
The 114th Congress, which gets to "work" on Tuesday, is one of the most diverse in American history, comprised of nearly 20 percent women and just over 17 percent of which is non-white. Which means, of course, that four out of five members of Congress are white and four out of five are men.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Affirmative consent, Bill Cosby, feminism—when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, women's-issues-in-the-news are bound to be on the table. Here's a guide to talking about some of the stickier gender issues that might come up this holiday season to help get you through.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Meera Deo (Thomas Jefferson), The Ugly Truth About Legal Academia, 80 Brooklyn L. Rev. (2015).
The Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project is the first formal, comprehensive, mixed-method empirical examination of the law faculty experience, utilizing an intersectional lens to investigate the personal and professional lives of legal academics. This Article reports on the first set of findings from that study, which I personally designed and implemented. DLA data reveal that ongoing privilege and institutional discrimination based on racism and sexism create distinct challenges for particular law faculty. Interactions between women of color law faculty and both their faculty colleagues and their students indicate persisting racial and gender privilege, resulting in ongoing bias. These findings cry out for law schools to intensify efforts at strengthening rather than de-emphasizing diversity, as many may be tempted to do during this period of great turmoil in legal education. In fact, law schools should provide greater institutional support to faculty, which will help not only those who are underrepresented, marginalized, and vulnerable, but all law faculty, law students, and the legal profession overall. This Article draws from both quantitative and qualitative data gathered from this national sample of law faculty to focus on the ways in which race, gender, and the combination of the two affect law faculty interactions with colleagues and students. It also proposes individual strategies and structural solutions that can be utilized in order for legal academia to live up to its full potential.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
In the aftermath of Veterans' Day, some thinking about women in the military.
- On the draft: Lawmaker Wants Selective Service to Include Women
- On combat: Marine Corps Study May Help Shape Future for Women in Combat Roles
From disposable razors to chocolate, French women are being charged more than men for near-identical products, according to the French rights group Georgette Sand. The group has taken photographs at a variety of stores that appear to show different prices for similar types of products depending on the gender they are being marketed to.
The group calls it a secret "tax" on women. For example, according to photos posted by the group, women pay more for disposable razors sold in separately branded packaging.***
In response to the public outcry, some French media outlets are pointing at the United States as a role model. In 1995, California signed a bill that banned gender discrimination in pricing, and many states have since followed suit. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times from back then, analysts were optimistically expecting to save women $1,350 a year per person but warned that the law could theoretically also force some merchants to raise prices to ensure equality. However, a 2010 study conducted by Consumer Reports magazine showed that gendered pricing persisted in many other parts of the United States.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Is Anna Kendrick an actress or an actor? Is it ever okay to refer to her as a comedienne?
These days, gender-specific nouns are often considered inappropriate. Our waiters and waitresses are now servers, our stewards and stewardesses are now flight attendants, and our policemen and policewomen are now just officers. All the major style guides recommend avoiding gender-biased language.
Are there exceptions? Not many.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
With progress towards improved judicial diversity moving at snail’s pace, ‘the time has now come for quotas’ according to a Report, Judicial Diversity: Accelerating Change, commissioned by the shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan, published last week. This is not a surprise. Back in April 2014 when announcing the appointment of the Report’s authors, Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC and Karon Monaghan QC, the press reported that “Nothing is off the table”:
“A Labour government would be prepared to introduce the “nuclear option” of quotas for female and black and ethnic minority judges to avoid a 100-year wait to achieve a judiciary reflecting the composition of the population. “
More recently, Lord Neuberger has stated that the absence of judicial diversity, especially in senior posts, is a major concern for the judiciary. Emphasizing that we must not assume that the problem will resolve itself, he continued
“I am not one of those people who optimistically thinks that if we just sit back it will all sort itself out and the judiciary will eventually include many more women and ethnic minorities.”
[h/t Sonia Lawrence]
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
TBT from last year's post:
Veteran's Day raises conflicting responses from feminists. While it is a day to honor lives given in service, it is also a day that reminds us of women’s historical exclusion from power, opportunities and benefits. Women’s exclusion from the military and advantageous combat positions has had the trickle-down effect of denying them the ancillary veterans’ benefits of GI-bill education, family support, small business loans, and healthcare. Veterans’ preferences in employment, home loans, problem-solving courts, and treatment programs disparately advantage men to significant economic benefit. Even now as women seek these military opportunities, they are only tokenly being “tested” for combat roles, reminded that there "will be no lowering of standards." As if that's required. And as if the standard itself is not male defined.
For reading on gendered implications of veterans, see:
Personnel Administration v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256 (1979).
Thursday, November 6, 2014