Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

CFP Law & Society Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network

Call for Papers – Friday September 16th Deadline

The Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network

Seeks submissions for the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting

Mexico City, Mexico, at the Sheraton Maria Isabel, June 20 – 23, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,

We invite you to participate in the panels sponsored by the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Annual Meeting in 2017. The Feminist Legal Theory CRN seeks to bring together law and society scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. Information about the Law and Society meeting is available at http://www.lawandsociety.org.

This year’s meeting is unique in that it brings us to the Global South, and invites us to explore the theme Walls, Borders, and Bridges: Law and Society in an Inter-Connected World. We are especially interested in proposals that explore the application of feminist legal theory to this theme, broadly construed. This might include papers that explore feminist legal theory in comparative or transnational contexts, as well as in relation to the impacts of globalism and other intersections within particular locations, relationships, institutions, and identities. We are also interested in papers that will permit us to collaborate with other CRNs, such as the Critical Research on Race and the Law CRN, and welcome multidisciplinary proposals.

Our goal is to stimulate focused discussion of papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while you may submit papers that are closer to publication, we are particularly eager to receive proposals for works-in-progress that are at an earlier stage and will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide.

The Planning Committee will assign individual papers to panels based on subject. Panels will use the LSA format, which requires four papers. We will also assign a chair, and one or two commentators/discussants for each panel, to provide feedback on the papers and promote discussion. For panels with two commentators/discussants, one may be asked to also chair.

As a condition of participating as a panelist, you must also agree to serve as a chair and/or commentator/discussant for another panel or participant. We will of course take into account expertise and topic preferences to the degree possible.

The duties of chairs are to organize the panel logistically; including registering it online with the LSA, and moderating the panel. Chairs will develop a 100-250 word description for the session and submit the session proposal to LSA before their anticipated deadline of October 19. This will ensure that each panelist can submit their proposal, using the panel number assigned.

The duties of commentator/discussants are to read the papers assigned to them and to prepare a short commentary about the papers that discusses them individually and (to the extent relevant) collectively, identifying ways that they relate to one another.

If you would like to present a paper as part of a CRN panel, please email:

  • An 1000 word abstract or summary,
  • Your name and a title, and
  • A list of your areas of interest and expertise within feminist legal theory

to the CRN Planning Committee at 2017lsacrn@gmail.com. (Please do not send submissions to individual committee members.)

Note that LSA is imposing a requirement that your summary be at least 1,000 words long.  Although a shorter summary will suffice for our purposes, you will be required to upload a 1,000 word summary in advance of LSA’s anticipated deadline of October 19. If you are already planning a LSA session with at least four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please let the Committee know.

In addition to these panels, we may try to use some of the other formats that the LSA provides: the “author meets readers” format, salon, or roundtable discussion. If you have an idea that you think would work well in one of these formats, please let us know. Please note that for roundtables, organizers are now required to provide a 500-word summary of the topic and the contributions they expect the proposed participants to make. Please also note that LSA rules limit you to participating only once as a paper panelist or roundtable participant.

Please submit all proposals by Friday, September 16 to the email provided above. This will permit us to organize panels and submit them prior to the LSA’s anticipated deadline of October 19. In the past, we have accommodated as many panelists as possible, but have been unable to accept all proposals. If we are unable to accept your proposal for the CRN, we will notify you by early October so that you can submit an independent proposal to LSA.

We hope you’ll join us in Mexico City to share and discuss the scholarship in which we are all engaged and connect with others doing work on feminist legal theory.

Best,

2017 LSA Feminist Legal Theory CRN Planning Committee

Aziza Ahmed (co-chair)

Elizabeth MacDowell (co-chair)

Jamie Abrams

Srimati Basu

Cyra Akila Choudhury

Anibal Rosario-Lebron

August 22, 2016 in Call for Papers, Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Interview with Anita Hill: Sexual Harassment is "Now Part of the Public Conversation"

NPR, We've Come a Long Way Since Then

Nearly 25 years after Anita Hill accused her former boss Clarence Thomas — then a Supreme Court nominee — of making lewd advances, the fight against sexual harassment is again in the spotlight.

 

Women are pushing to change policies at colleges across the country. Bill Cosby — once a beloved figure of American culture — is now widely reviled because of accusations of rape and assault.

 

More recently, more than 20 women say media mogul Roger Ailes harassed them at work.

 

It's a familiar story now: accusations of powerful men using their positions of authority to take advantage of younger women.

 

Anita Hill was one of the first to capture that narrative in her testimony on Capitol Hill in 1991. She accused Thomas of sexual harassment. He denied all wrongdoing. She was ostracized.

"We've come a long way since then," Hill tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep. "It is now part of the public conversation."

 

Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, says that while women have fought sexual harassment cases in court and won, "even among women who seem very powerful in their jobs and in the public eye, these problems exist and they don't come forward necessarily.

August 22, 2016 in Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Justice Dept Files Suit Alleging Unequal Pay for Female Coach

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against New Mexico State University Alleging Discrimination

The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that New Mexico State University and its Board of Regents (NMSU) discriminated against a female former assistant track coach on the basis of sex by paying her less than similarly-situated men in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 

The Justice Department’s complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico and alleges that, over the relevant periods of time, NMSU paid Meaghan Harkins thousands of dollars less per year than it paid to two male assistant track coaches with similar responsibilities, in violation of Title VII.  Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination – including discrimination in compensation – on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

 

“Women deserve the same salary and the same respect as their male colleagues with similar job duties,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Lawsuits like this one demonstrate the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to enforcing federal law to close the wage gap.”

August 19, 2016 in Equal Employment, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Women Prosecutors File Discrimination Claims, But They are Hard to Win

ABA J, Female Former Prosecutor Files Pay Bias Suit

A former county prosecutor in Vermont has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was paid about $14,000 less per year than a male prosecutor in the same position.

 

Lawyer Jane O’Neill sued the Rutland County State’s Attorneys office in a suit filed last month, the Burlington Free Press reports.

 

O’Neill says she was told her salary was not negotiable when she was hired, and she got no answers when she asked about the pay of the male colleague who was hired in 2011. She also claims her boss assigned her lesser tasks and tried to marginalize her in retaliation for her questions.

 

The suit also claims O’Neill regularly worked 50 to 60 hours a week, but did not get compensation for the extra hours.

 

O’Neill says she resigned in mid-2014 because working conditions had become intolerable.

See also US Jury Rejects Discrimination Complaint Against Suffolk District Attorney

A federal jury . . .  rejected a former state prosecutor’s claims that she was paid less than her male counterparts in the Suffolk district attorney’s office because she is a woman.

 

In a unanimous decision, the jury of six women and two men also disagreed with Christina Corda’s claims that her termination from the office was based on her complaints of discrimination. Corda, 34, had filed a lawsuit against the Suffolk district attorney’s office in March 2015. But in a sweeping verdict Thursday, the jury rejected her claims of discrimination, of retaliation, and of violations of state and federal equal pay laws.

See also Ex-Federal Prosecutor Files Sex Bias Suit Against DOJ

A former deputy criminal chief for theU.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane, Washington, filed a scathing sex discrimination and equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, claiming she was treated differently by male colleagues and ultimately forced to resign.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Jill Bolton claims she was unfairly put on administrative leave by Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Washington, after he learned she obtained information showing a discrepancy in salaries between her and similarly situated male colleagues. Ormsby characterized Bolton’s actions as a “data breach” and made criminal allegations against her, but another U.S. attorney’s office declined to file charges, her complaint says.

August 18, 2016 in Equal Employment, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Universities Challenge Education Dept's Title IX Guidance

Chronicle, Oklahoma Wesleyan Joins Lawsuit Challenging Education Dept's Title IX Guidance

Oklahoma Wesleyan University is joining a former University of Virginia student’s lawsuit challenging the Title IX guidance of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, according to court documents filed Monday.

 

The university joins the plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe, who was found responsible for sexual misconduct. The lawsuit asserts that the student was found responsible only because the department’s standard of proof is so low.

 

The suit raises objections to the department’s “Dear Colleague” letter, which states that colleges should use a “preponderance of evidence” standard when reviewing sexual-violence complaints.

 

“A growing number of innocent students have been trampled in the wake of these new requirements, found responsible for serious charges based often on the flimsiest of evidence,” the suit reads.

August 17, 2016 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sexism at the Olympics

Literally Just a List of Sexist Things Which Have Happened at the Olympics for Far

Because there’s nothing like the Olympic Games to remind women that we are inferior by patronising female athletes for the world to see at every given opportunity. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the most sexist things that have happened thus far.

 

The commodification of the female body started before the athletes even arrived in Rio, with the host nation promising it to have the “sexiest ever” opening ceremony with “lots of nearly naked women doing the samba”, as opposed to celebrating the masses of world-class athletes that would be competing.

 

However, according to NBC’s chief marketing official John Miller, this is just catering to the games’ female audience who are “less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one”.

 

And NBC didn’t stop there. They’ve made demeaning comments about the USA women’s gymnastics team – after dominating the qualifications for the all round team medal, the ‘final five’ were discussing their performance, to which one commentator said “they might as well be standing in the middle of a mall”, attempting to take away the power of arguably the most formidable team in Olympic gymnastics history.

Olympic Men Stand Up to Sexism Too--Because That's Not Just Women's Work

Feminism! Fairness! Equality! These are not concepts that affect women alone. But boy, do we get tired of carrying the expectation that they are. So a big “Well done, gentlemen,” to Andy Murray and Adam van Koeverden, two male athletes who this week took a stand against sexist assumptions.

August 17, 2016 in Pop Culture, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: Women in Early America

Zoe Detsi, Review, European J. American Studies, Thomas A. Foster, ed. Women in Early America (NYU Press 2015)

Women in Early America is an intriguing collection of essays offering richly diverse readings of women’s lives and experiences in 17th- and 18th- century America. This volume is a significant contribution to the scholarship concerning the role of women in history and their participation in historical moments of political change and cultural negotiation. From Gerda Lerner’s seminal work on The Woman in American History (1971) to Linda Kerber’s enlightening book titled Women’s America: Refocusing the Past (6th ed., 2004), to Mary Beth Norton’s meticulous transatlantic study Separated by their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World (2011), scholarly efforts have been made to deepen our understanding of women’s history by initiating a shift of focus from their domestic role and dependent status to their active involvement in political, military, and economic affairs, as well as cultural production.

 

The scope of the volume’s methodological approach to the history of early women in America is very broad. The essays cover an impressive range of women’s experiences from the colonial period to the American revolutionary war offering a number of perspectives that embrace cultural history, gender theory, race studies, while resenting a multitude of women’s voices from different social, cultural, political, ethnic backgrounds, and geographical areas. All eleven essays provide scholars and researchers with a wealth of archival material – diaries, letters, narratives, documents – and with fresh insights into examining women in history as active agents in their own right challenging social conventions and political decisions. Either as aristocratic women in New Mexico or indentured servants in Virginia and Maryland, as slave owners in Jamaica or runaway slaves, as interpreters in Puritan Massachusetts or traders in  French America and Detroit, as Loyalist women during the revolution or proponents of female education in the new nation, early women in America were deeply involved in (inter)cultural practices and greatly affected by economic policies and social changes.

The Table of Contents is here.

August 12, 2016 in Books, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Reconstructing Pregnancy

Sarudzayi M. Matambanadzo,Reconstructing Pregnancy, 69 SMU L.Rev. (2016)

Abstract:     

Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 to amend Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. More than thirty-five years after the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, courts have failed to fulfill that act's promise. This failure lies, in part, in the law's tendency to reduce pregnancy, with all of its social and cultural meaning, to its "purely" biological elements. For the purposes of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, courts ground the legal conception of pregnancy in a form of biomedical essentialism that treats pregnancy as a universal given. Under the PDA, courts have reduced pregnancy discrimination only to the discrimination that occurs during gestation or because of gestation-related physiological conditions. This reductive definition of pregnancy is not only profoundly under-inclusive and unresponsive to the needs of workers but also contradictory and incoherent. In response, this article proposes that pregnancy should be reconstructed in law. Judges, administrative actors, and advocates should reject reductive forms of biomedical essentialism and embrace possibilities beyond biology. Pregnancy should not, and indeed cannot, be understood independent of the social, cultural, and relational interactions that give it meaning. Pregnancy is, in fact, pregnant with social and cultural meaning. Reconstructing pregnancy in this way has the potential to provide much needed clarity to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and to ensure that pregnancy discrimination is comprehensively prohibited -- whether it occurs before, during, or after conception.

 

 

August 11, 2016 in Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Criminalizing Pregnancy

Cortney Lollar, Criminalizing Pregnancy, Indiana L.J.

Abstract:     

The state of Tennessee arrested a woman two days after she gave birth and charged her with assault of her newborn child based on her use of narcotics during her pregnancy. Tennessee’s 2014 assault statute was the first to explicitly criminalize the use of drugs by a pregnant woman. But this law, along with others like it being considered by legislatures across the country, is only the most recent manifestation of a long history of using criminal law to punish poor mothers and mothers of color for their behavior while pregnant. The purported motivation for such laws is the harm to the child from prenatal exposure to illegal drugs. But recent scientific studies undermine the harm narrative.

This Article is the first to take a close look at the science behind these laws. Recent longitudinal studies confirm that the use of illegal drugs while pregnant, in and of itself, rarely results in long-term adverse consequences to the fetus and subsequent child. Meanwhile, the negative consequences of ingesting licit substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and other lawfully-prescribed medications, often are much greater than the potential undesirable effects of drug use. Poverty, domestic violence, and a father’s behavior prior to conception also have been shown to have significant harmful impacts on fetal development. Although the criminalization of drug use by pregnant women does not prevent impairment of the fetus and subsequent child, it often leads to additional detrimental consequences. The state regularly steps in and removes children born to women using illicit drugs while pregnant, even when there is no evidence of harm to the child and despite the documented harms to newborns from placement in the foster care system. Additionally, as every major medical organization has publicly indicated, pregnant women are less likely to seek prenatal care if they fear arrest for using drugs, creating damaging effects greater than any potential harms from the drug use.

Legislatures’ unwillingness to acknowledge the empirical evidence contradicting the rationales for this latest batch of criminal laws might cause one to wonder whether the harm to the child is truly the motivating impetus behind these laws. The existing statutes have a disproportionate impact on poor mothers and mothers of color. In fact, class and race-based constructions of motherhood go a significant distance toward explaining the presence of these laws. This Article analyzes how our current approach to the use of drugs by pregnant women relies on these troubling economic- and race-based social constructions, rather than on any scientific and empirical evidence. By challenging the erroneous presumptions motivating these laws, this Article hopes to move legislatures toward effectively addressing the more substantial risks to developing fetuses.

 

 

August 10, 2016 in Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Expanding the Concept of Pregnancy Discrimination

Joanna L. Grossman, Expanding the Core: Pregnancy Discrimination Law as it Approaches Full Term, 52 Idaho L.Rev. (2016)

Abstract:     

The advocates behind the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 had one very specific mission: to override the Supreme Court’s 1976 decision in General Electric v. Gilbert, in which it had curiously held that pregnancy discrimination had nothing to do with gender and was thus not a form of actionable sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court was not acting on a blank slate; it had used the same reasoning two years earlier to hold, in Geduldig v. Aiello, that pregnancy discrimination was not sex discrimination for equal protection purposes and therefore was not a classification that merited heightened judicial scrutiny. But the ruling in Gilbert was more than insult to injury. It was both surprising — ignoring a contrary interpretation by the EEOC, as well as rulings of several federal appellate courts that had agreed with the EEOC — and devastating — leaving in place the widespread employer policies that kept pregnant women out of some jobs altogether, and out of continuous employment at almost every job.

The response to Gilbert was swift and effective. The Campaign to End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers mobilized support for a new law that would amend Title VII, expressly prohibiting pregnancy discrimination. But the specific mission to obtain a legislative override of the Gilbert decision was animated by a more general goal — to ensure pregnant women were not left behind as the tide of employee benefits and accommodations was rising. The fear of being left behind was firmly rooted in reality — workers across the country were benefiting from a rising tide of benefits, while pregnancy was being routinely omitted from comprehensive benefit plans, and pregnant workers found themselves singled out for adverse treatment. Employers refused to hire pregnant women; forced pregnant employees to stop work at a certain point in pregnancy and prevented them from returning to work until a certain point after childbirth; and expressly excluded pregnancy from otherwise comprehensive insurance, disability and leave policies. All told, this meant that pregnant women had little hope of reasonable access to the workforce, and no hope of full integration into it.

The PDA was immediately effective in eliminating most formal employer policies that singled out pregnancy for different (and typically worse) treatment. Congress gave pregnant women the right to be treated like everyone else — allowed to work if they were fully able to work and allowed to take leave if it was otherwise available.8 But these core rights, while important, even essential, are not enough to bring about true equality for women. Thus, as the PDA approaches forty, we see a sustained effort to expand on those core rights. In some cases, the “expansion” is simply a matter of pushing courts to give the PDA its due, reading in a way that furthers Congress’s intent rather than undermines it. In others, the expansion would go beyond the existing statutory rights, as necessary to bring about not only women’s access to the workplace, but their integration into it. After setting out the core of pregnancy discrimination law, this essay will develop four expansion themes: (1) from pregnancy alone to the whole reproductive process, including the “maternal wall”; (2) from overt to implicit bias; (3) from status to effects (and thus access to accommodation); and (4) from federal to state and local protections.

 

August 9, 2016 in Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Book: Irish Feminist Judgments Project

Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project: Judges' Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity (forthcoming 2017)

The Irish project Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges' Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity builds upon the work of the feminist judgment project completed at Durham and Kent and which integrated feminist theory and judicial method, re-writing influential judgments from feminist perspectives. The project will produce an anthology of re-written judgments from Northern/Ireland as well as innovative web resources with materials of use to both academics and civil society. Bringing together academic partners at institutions across the UK and Ireland including the Law Schools at Kent, LSE, UCD, UCC, Queen's Belfast, and the University of Ulster, with solicitors, barristers and civil society groups, the project creates a broad new community of Irish feminist scholars around an ambitious Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. The project will create tangible resources which can be used to engender a societal dialogue about legal decision-making and social change, developing dynamic resources for future research and teaching in judicial studies. The project focuses on the gendered political roles of judges in contexts of transition from conflict, colonialism and religious patriarchy.

August 8, 2016 in Books, Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sexual Advance Directives

Alexander Boni-Saez, Sexual Advance Directives, 68 Alabama L.Rev. (forthcoming 2016)

Abstract:     

Can one consent to sex in advance? Scholars have neglected the temporal dimension of sexual consent, and this theoretical gap has significant practical implications. With the aging of the population, more and more people will be living for extended periods of time with cognitive impairments that deprive them of the legal capacity to consent to sex. However, they may still manifest sexual desire, so consenting prospectively to sex in this context serves several purposes. These include protecting long-term sexual partners from prosecution by the state, ensuring sexually fulfilled lives for their future disabled selves, or preserving important sexual identities or relationships. The law currently provides a device for prospective decision-making in the face of incapacity: the advance directive. The central claim of this article is that the law should recognize sexual advance directives. In other words, people facing both chronic conditions that threaten their legal capacity to make decisions and institutional care that threatens sexual self-determination should be able to consent prospectively to sex or empower an agent to make decisions about sex on their behalf. To justify this claim, the Article introduces a novel theory of sexual consent — the consensus of consents — that diffuses the longstanding philosophical debates over whether advance directives should be legally enforceable. With this normative foundation, the Article then draws on insights from criminal law, fiduciary law, and the law of wills to fashion a workable regime of sexual advance directives that adequately protects individuals from the risk of sexual abuse.

 

August 8, 2016 in Healthcare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Women's Olympics

The Forgotten History of Female Athletes Who Organized Their Own Olympics

The Olympics is a not a neutral event. Although Olympic organizers like to present the Games as an apolitical celebration, the way the Olympics are structured reflect the ideals of the elites who are most involved with organizing the event. As we approach the kickoff of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, it’s worth examining gender dynamics in the Games’ history—particularly looking at how female athletes were largely excluded from the Olympics for years as well as the often-overlooked activism of women who fought to compete internationally.

 

In the early 1900s, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only allowed women to compete in a handful of events. Only 22 women took part in the games held in 1900. But in the early 1900s a worldwide women’s movement was demanding political inclusion, with some success. As women gained the right to vote in Europe, Russia, and the United States, behind the scenes, some IOC members were quietly moving to expand women’s participation. But IOC President Baron Pierre de Coubertin was implacable, angling for the continued marginalization of women’s sports. After the 1912 Stockholm Games, he and many of his IOC colleagues believed “an Olympiad with females would be impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and improper.”

 

The 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam was the first time that doubled the number of female participants: almost 300 women took part in the Games, thanks largely to the inclusion of a small slate of women’s track and field events. However, citing medical “evidence,” the IOC ruled after the Amsterdam Games that the 800-meter run was too dangerous. In Amsterdam, after completing the race, a number of competitors fell to the turf to regain their strength. Anti-feminists pounced at the opportunity, arguing that women were too frail to run such distances, and quite remarkably their views won out. Women were not allowed to compete in the 800-meter run until the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Still, in 1928 women comprised about 10 percent of all Olympic athletes.

 

The Olympics echoed the gender and class structures of the time, but marginalization sparked an innovative response. In the 1920s, dissident athletes teamed up in solidarity with sympathetic supporters to organize alternative athletic competitions rooted in principles of equality. To challenge IOC sexism, women and their allies organized alternative games, a vital yet largely forgotten act of political dissent. Everywhere women looked, the Olympic cards were stacked against them. The IOC, as led by Coubertin, opposed women’s full participation, as the minutes of the 1914 IOC general session made clear: “No women to participate in track and field, but as before—allowed to participate in fencing and swimming.”  Discrimination was baked into the master plans.

 

Enter Alice Milliat, a French athlete and activist whose bold actions scythed a path for women’s participation in the Games. After the exclusion of women from track and field in Antwerp, Milliat founded the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) on October 31, 1921. At its first meeting, the group voted to establish a Women’s Olympics as an alternative to the male-centric Games. In total four Women’s Games were staged, in 1922 (Paris), 1926 (Gothenburg, Sweden), 1930 (Prague), and 1934 (London), with participants coming mostly from North America, Western Europe, and Japan.

August 5, 2016 in Pop Culture, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Obama on Feminism, Gender Roles and Being a Feminist Father

Glamour, President Obama Says, "This is What a Feminist Looks Like"

So we shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world. And while I’ll keep working on good policies—from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights—there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws. In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all—and that’s changing ourselves.

 

So I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty aware of the unique challenges women face—it’s what has shaped my own feminism. But I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.

 

And those same stereotypes affected my own consciousness as a young man. Growing up without a dad, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was, how the world perceived me, and what kind of man I wanted to be. It’s easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a man. But as I got older, I realized that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren’t me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.

 

So we need to break through these limitations. We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.

 

We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women.

 

We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace—unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the very qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back.

 

We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color. Michelle has often spoken about this. Even after achieving success in her own right, she still held doubts; she had to worry about whether she looked the right way or was acting the right way—whether she was being too assertive or too “angry.”

 

As a parent, helping your kids to rise above these constraints is a constant learning process. Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged based on their gender or race—or when they notice that happening to someone else. It’s important for them to see role models out in the world who climb to the highest levels of whatever field they choose. And yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.

 

August 5, 2016 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

New in Books: A Feminist Proposal for Using ADR to Address Marital Problems and Violence in India

Srimati Basu, The Trouble with Marriage: Feminists Confront Law and Violence in India (U. Cal. Press 2015) (with podcast):

Are solutions to marital problems always best solved through legal means? Should alternative dispute resolutions be celebrated? In her latest book The Trouble with Marriage: Feminists Confront Law and Violence in India (University of California Press, 2015) Srimati Basu answers such questions and many more through explorations of "lawyer free" courts and questions surrounding understandings of domestic violence, analyses of the way rape intersects with marriage and how kinship systems change with legal disputes and by delineating the most important acts that frame marriage law in India. Theoretically and politically astute the book offers an ethnographic insight into legal sites of marriage trouble in India.

August 5, 2016 in Books, Family, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Public Health Approach to Rape and Sexual Culture

Angela Harris, American Sexual Culture as Public Health Crisis, JOTWELL

Reviewing:  Margo Kaplan, Rape Beyond Crime, 66 Duke L.J. (forthcoming 2017), available at SSRN. 

Not long ago, I was indulging in one of my favorite lazy-day pastimes – standing in my local bookstore, reading. The book was Girls and Sex, Peggy Orenstein’s latest, and I left the bookstore considerably more unsettled than when I walked in. Suddenly it seemed like a good idea, if not to forbid her to go to college altogether, at least to walk my 18-year-old daughter to the nearest feminist sex-toy store first. Now comes Margo Kaplan to offer a legal perspective on American “rape culture,” and a new plan for furthering the feminist project of healthy, happy sex lives for       everyone.* * * 

Kaplan concludes that “absent a broader change in this culture, criminal law faces a double bind: rape laws can be either ineffective or unjust.” Because there is such a mismatch between the world sexual equality feminists, at least, would like to live in and the world we actually do live in, scholars and actors in the criminal justice system struggling to apply statutory terms like “force” and “consent” find themselves either confirming social norms that preserve men’s sexual access to women (ignoring the needs of male and female victims), or promoting idealistic norms that feel alien and unreasonable to the ordinary person.

 

The answer, Kaplan proposes, is to supplement the criminal law of sexual assault with a public health approach to sexual culture. As she notes, “public health law” is a grab bag of doctrines and policies including educational initiatives, data collection, and public-private partnerships among government, nonprofit organizations, media outlets, and advocates, all underwritten by the police power of the states and the federal power of the purse. The cornerstone of a public health approach, according to Kaplan, is its focus on “populations and prevention” – the exact opposite of the criminal justice system, which focuses on individuals and, despite its aspirations to deterrence, requires a violation as a trigger.

 

Kaplan’s proposed public health approach to rape has two main prongs. First, government agencies would amass detailed data on sexual violence (and where possible, presumably, sexual encounters that are unwanted regardless of whether they are understood as “violent”). Second, government agencies would promote new cultural norms for sexual behavior, challenging the norm of male aggression/female passivity and promoting in its stead an ideal of “good sex—sex that involves communication, mutual respect, and mutual pleasure.” (On the model of Michelle Obama’s work on obesity, I imagine First Husband Bill Clinton traveling the country promoting good sex for all.) In addition, Kaplan would encourage rape prevention campaigns to look “upstream” at structural determinants of victimization, such as poverty.

August 2, 2016 in Healthcare, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cause-Lawyering, Gender and Transitional Justice

Anna Bryson & Kieran McEvoy, Women Lawyers and the Struggle for Change in Conflict and Transition, 42 Australian Fem. L.J. (2016)

Abstract:     

This article examines the particular experiences of female "cause lawyers" in conflicted and transitional societies. Drawn from an ongoing comparative project which involved fieldwork in Cambodia, Chile, Israel, Palestine, Tunisia and South Africa, the paper looks at opportunities, obstacles and the obduracy required from such lawyers to "make a difference" in these challenging contexts. Drawing upon the theoretical literature on the sociology of the legal profession, cause-lawyers, gender and transitional justice, and the structure/agency nexus, the article considers in turn the conflict\cause-lawyering intersection and the work of cause-lawyers in transitional contexts. It concludes by arguing that the case-study of cause-lawyers offers a rebuttal to the charge that transitional justice is just like ‘ordinary justice’. It also contends that, notwithstanding the durability of patriarchal power in transitional contexts, law remains a site of struggle, not acquiescence, and many of these cause-lawyers have and continue to exercise both agency and responsibility in ‘taking on’ that power.

 

August 2, 2016 in International, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 1, 2016

More on Manciting

I previously posted about a study on "manciting," men's greater likellihood of self-promoting by citing their own work.  Study Finds Men More Likely to Cite Their Own Science Papers

The Washington Post picked up the study as well, here below.  .  

Wash Post, New Study Finds Men are Often Their Own Favorite Experts on Any Given Subject

And in recent decades, men have stepped up their self-citation game relative to women: "In the last two decades of our data, men self-cite 70 percent more than women.

 

This self-citation gap held true across every major academic field the authors studied, including biology, sociology, philosophy and law. In a footnote, the paper's authors — three women and two men — dryly note that the pattern holds among themselves as well: "The men authors of this paper cite themselves at nearly three times the average rate of the women authors."

 

King and her colleagues offer a number of hypotheses for why men may be more likely to cite themselves. For starters, studies have shown that mengenerally have a higher opinion of their own abilities than women do. And they typically face fewer social penalties for self-promotion. "Gendered perceptions of self-promotion likely influence perceptions of self-citation, which could be viewed as a form of self-promotion in the academic workplace," King and her colleagues write.

The authors suggest it may also be the impact of maternity leave early in academic women's careers.  Maybe... but only about 40% of women academics have children.  

Nor do I think it is that easy to game the system by citing one's self. My own school has not relied heavily on citation counts for promotion decisions, but where it has made use of those numbers, it has omitted counts for self-citation.

August 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Appellate Court Rules that Male Student Suspended for Alleged Campus Assault may go Forward with Title IX Claim for Anti-Male Bias

Wash Post, Former Ivy League Athlete Suspended for Alleged Sexual Assault Wins Important --and Surprising--Court Victory

Can a male student held responsible by a university for an alleged sexual assault successfully make the case that his fate was the result of sex discrimination against him?

 

Many have tried and many have failed. Indeed, some have been all but laughed out of court.

 

But now the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has opened the door to just such a scenario. Reversing a U.S. District Court decision, the panel ruled Friday that a former athlete’s suit against Columbia University, which suspended him for a year for “sexual assault: non-consensual sexual intercourse,” may go forward based on his claim that university officials acted with anti-male bias, in violation of Title IX, the federal education law that bars discrimination by schools receiving federal funds.

***

 

But the ruling is likely to be a source of great concern among women’s rights activists, who have spent years trying to get universities to act more aggressively in sexual assault cases.

 

“The idea that vigilance to victims is a ‘pro woman bias’ potentially amounting to discrimination is a concerning perspective,” said Jamie Abrams, of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. “Any defendants should be entitled to due process, without question. It is important that universities continue to recognize their obligations to investigate and act fairly such that this decision will not temper or stagnate the critical cultural and institutional changes that were underway.”

Professor Abrams wrote more about this in a prior post here Critiquing "Crisis" In Sexual Assault Responses

August 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senior Women Lawyers Leave Big Law Because of Unequal Pay and Bias, Not Kids

Why Are Older Women Leaving Big Law?

Recent research by ALM Intelligence seems to confirm my hunch. Besides the usual dreadful news about how women make up only 18 percent of equity partners and only 8 percent of lawyers earning more than $500,000 (yes, that’s not a typo), the research shows that women are steadily leaving firms, including those who are past their child-bearing years. As Nicholas Bruch, senior analyst at ALM Legal Intelligence, writes:

 

“What is known is that women do not leave the law disproportionately at a specific time in their lives or careers. The analysis of ALM’s Rival Edge database below reveals that women trickle out of Big Law by a few percentage points per year of age. The analysis shows that among 30-year-old lawyers at Big Law firms, women comprise 45 percent. Among lawyers who are 40 years old, however, women only comprise 41 percent, a decrease of 4 percentage points. By age 50, women only make up 27 percent of the lawyers, a change of 14 percentage points.”

 

This is stunning: By age 50, women only make up 27 percent of lawyers in big firms. That means a stampede of women are leaving in their menopausal years. So much for the cozy myth that women are dropping out to pop out babies and drive the carpool.

 

That also means that, while their male counterparts are at the top of their game and raking in big bucks, many women are quietly throwing in the towel. I say “quietly” because you don’t hear about these women who stick it out at firms, only to leave when they should be enjoying the fruits of their labor.

 

I find this shocking, but Hastings Law School professor Joan Williams says she is not surprised. “Women lawyers in their 50s are really upset about compensation. They have the sense that men and women are not treated fairly,” she says.

 

The inequity in pay between male and female partners is a huge sore point for women, explains Williams, who says her preliminary study about pay gaps in law firms and corporations confirms a troubling, continuing trend. (Williams’ study is being done in conjunction with the ABA Commission on Women, Minority Corporate Counsel Association and WorkLife Law.) Indeed, the pay gap is well-documented; according to National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), female partners make only 80 percent of what men do. (Bruch says ALM’s finding that only 8 percent female lawyers earn more than $500,000 fit with NAWL’s finding; both indicate “that very few women are at the very top of the earning pyramid.”)

 

Another reason older women are leaving is that they are fed up with the game. “They get weary of decades and decades of proving themselves and being service partners, getting penalized being for that role, then getting penalized more if they protest,” Williams says.

 

“They just get worn down faster than men,” says Paula Monopoli, a law professor at the University of Maryland whose scholarship focuses on gender issues. A former law firm associate herself, Monopoli adds, “It’s not like making partner solves all the implicit bias. It can actually become more pronounced when you have fewer women in your cohort.”

August 1, 2016 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)