Saturday, April 11, 2015
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
Friday, April 10, 2015
Francesca Hogi, 40, had settled into her aisle seat for the flight from New York to London when the man assigned to the adjoining window seat arrived and refused to sit down. He said his religion prevented him from sitting beside a woman who was not his wife. Irritated but eager to get underway, she eventually agreed to move.
A growing number of airline passengers, particularly on trips between the United States and Israel, are now sharing stories of conflicts between ultra-Orthodox Jewish men trying to follow their faith and women just hoping to sit down. Several flights from New York to Israel over the last year have been delayed or disrupted over the issue, and with social media spreading outrage and debate, the disputes have spawned a protest initiative, anonline petition and a spoof safety video from a Jewish magazine suggesting a full-body safety vest (“Yes, it’s kosher!”) to protect ultra-Orthodox men from women seated next to them on airplanes.
It was a bland bit of guidance from the Department of Education, cast in legal language and tucked into a footnote two-thirds of the way through a 46-pagedocument about how colleges and universities should address sexual assault on campus.
But it did not sit well with Celia Wright, president of the student body at Ohio State University. The footnote “discourages” having students sit on conduct boards in cases concerning sexual violence. Ohio State and many other campuses no longer let students serve.
Ms. Wright and student leaders from 75 other colleges and universities, representing 1.2 million students, have sent a letter to the department urging it to reconsider, citing “significant unintended consequences” and even discrimination against students who would sit on panels.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Legal History Blog, Katz on Judicial Patriarchy, Domestic Violence, and the Family Privacy Narrative
Elizabeth Katz, a doctoral candidate in History at Harvard University, with an JD and MA in history from the University of Virginia,has posted Judicial Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: A Challenge to the Conventional Family Privacy Narrative, which is forthcoming in the William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 21 (Winter 2015): 379-471. Ms. Katz received the Kathryn T. Preyer Award of the American Society for Legal History for an earlier version of this article.
According to the conventional domestic violence narrative, judges historically have ignored or even shielded “wife beaters” as a result of the patriarchal prioritization of privacy in the home. This Article directly challenges that account. In the early twentieth century, judges regularly and enthusiastically protected female victims of domestic violence in the divorce and criminal contexts. As legal and economic developments appeared to threaten American manhood and traditional family structures, judges intervened in domestic violence matters as substitute patriarchs. They harshly condemned male perpetrators — sentencing men to fines, prison, and even the whipping post — for failing to conform to appropriate husbandly behavior, while rewarding wives who exhibited the traditional female traits of vulnerability and dependence. Based on the same gendered reasoning, judges trivialized or even ridiculed victims of “husband beating.” Men who sought protection against physically abusive wives were deemed unmanly and undeserving of the legal remedies afforded to women.
Although judges routinely addressed wife beating in divorce and criminal cases, they balked when women pursued a third type of legal action: interspousal tort suits. The most prominent example of this response is Thompson v. Thompson, 218 U.S. 611 (1910), in which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to allow a wife to sue her husband in tort for assaulting her. Judges distinguished tort actions from divorce and criminal suits because tort’s assertive legal posture and empowering remedy seemingly subverted established gender roles. In a world in which women appeared to be radically advancing in work and politics, male judges used the moral theater of their courtrooms to strongly and publicly address domestic violence but only in ways that reinforced gender and marital hierarchies.
See also a previous post on related scholarship,A Surprising History of Domestic Violence Protection
And see also Elizabeth Pleck, Domestic Tyranny: The Making of American Social Policy Against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present (2004)
Police officers in Beijing have asked prosecutors to charge five women’s rights activists who have been detained for more than a month with organizing a crowd to disturb public order, lawyers for two of them said on Thursday.
The filing allows the police to detain the activists, all of them women whose plight has led to harsh criticism from abroad, for seven more days while prosecutors make a decision on whether to bring charges.
The police had originally investigated the women on suspicion of “picking quarrels” but have since changed the charges they want prosecutors to impose, said one of the lawyers, Wang Qiushi.
He said the charges of organizing crowds to disturb public order were tied to two actions: an attempt by the women to organize a nationwide campaign last month against sexual harassment on public transportation, as well as an earlier public campaign they had carried out against domestic violence in which they wore wedding dresses smeared with fake blood.
From Al Brophy at The Faculty Lounge, Jones on Lynch Nomination
Martha Jones of the University of Michigan's history department and law school has an op-ed at Huffington Post on Loretta Lynch's nomination to be attorney general and the increasing political influence of African American women. Let me use this as an opportunity to mention, as well, the book that Martha has just co-edited, Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women. This obviously builds on Martha's pioneering book on African American women and political ideology in the nineteenth century, All Bound Up Together.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
From the Men's Style section of the NYT:
John McWhorter, a linguist who teaches at Columbia University, said that some men shy away from emoji because, as he put it, “Women use them more.” That may not continue to be the case, he added.
“Women tend to be more overtly expressive in language,” he said. “But something women start in language has a way of making it to men. Men would benefit from using emoji more.”
Emoji, he said, allow for an expressive, human way of translating the spoken word into text, with the goofy symbols providing a texter or tweeter with the means to convey tone. “There should be male ways to use emoji,” he added.
"Prison officials must treat an inmate's gender identity condition just as they would treat any other medical or mental health condition, the Justice Department said in a court filing Friday."
The news story continues:
"The Southern Poverty Law Center in February filed a lawsuit against Georgia Department of Corrections officials on behalf of Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman. The lawsuit says prison officials have failed to provide adequate treatment for Diamond's gender dysphoria, a condition that causes a person to experience extreme distress because of a disconnect between the birth sex and gender identity."
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
At USC School of Law, Reframing the Welfare Queen: Feminist and CRT Alternatives to Existing Poverty Discourse
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Moynihan Report, a Senate report issued in 1965 that pathologized the creation of black, female single-parent households with long- term dependence on state assistance programs, and in this way laid the political foundation for the political construct known as the "welfare queen." The "welfare queen construct" has played a key role in political debates and facilitated the transformation of public assistance programs. For the past fifty years it has played a prominent role in presidential politics, shaping discussions of poverty during the Reagan, Clinton and even Obama presidencies. Moreover, the construct led to a spate of concrete policy changes in 1996, ones that transformed older open-ended welfare programs into TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Many TANF features are direct responses to the threat of the welfare queen, including: family caps limiting benefit levels for families above a certain size; workfare programs requiring welfare recipients to work; and strict time limits that sunset welfare benefits after a set number of years.
Numerous scholars, activists and commentators have explored how the welfare queen construct is used to demonize poor women of color in need of state assistance programs. And while the critiques launched by these early conversations about the welfare queen have been important in opening a much-needed dialogue about the needs of the poor, this conference attempts to move us beyond discussions that isolate poor minority female welfare recipients as a special class. Instead the conference explores how the construct of the welfare queen imposes costs on us all, by revealing the hidden institutional norms naturalized by the construct and the cultural anxieties it creates that prevent people from seeking state assistance. Our project is to "reframe" the welfare queen - to challenge the ways in which claims of need are represented as pathological by the state; feminized and racialized in ways that marginalize and render invisible certain needy communities; and foreclose recognition of certain kinds of "need" and certain relationships of support between the individual and the State. By "reframing" the welfare queen have an opportunity to image new forms of governmental assistance that might better match up with the working poor's needs and lived experiences and with feminist values and anti-poverty advocates' goals and understandings.
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.
Four women who say they were victims of sexual abuse while on active military duty filed a federal lawsuit against the Pentagon alleging that the military created and condoned a sexually hostile environment. Speaking at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, one of the plaintiffs, her lawyer, and several sexual assault prevention advocates described obscene and violent songs, violent sexual assaults, verbal and physical attacks, and retaliation when trying to report crimes and harassment.
Jennifer Smith, one of the plaintiffs and a former Air Force technical sergeant, described being sexually assaulted while deployed in Iraq and subjected to crude songs and pornographic materials stored on government computers while she was stationed in South Carolina. She says she reported both the harassment and the assault but "waited for months and never heard back from anyone."
"All of the officers [in my case] received nothing more than a piece of paper reprimanding them. All were in command, or supervisory roles. All will still lead. They will oversee rape and sexual assault claims and make decisions on whether the case will be prosecuted," she added.
The plaintiffs charge that the military has failed to "prevent and punish widespread sexual harassment" while permitting "widespread retaliation" against victims, and has deprived victims of their constitutional right to a fair trial. They also argue that it's inappropriate for most military commanders to oversee sexual assault investigations since they often have no legal experience and must supervise both the victim and the perpetrator.
Two deputy district attorneys for Los Angeles County are suing their former supervisor, saying he sexually harassed them and gave out “stale” cases when they rejected him.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tannaz Mokayef and Beth Silverman’s lawsuit says profanity and sexual favors are commonplace in the major crimes division of the DA’s office, which handles some of the highest-profile crimes in the county.
The accusations are against Gary Hearnsberger, then head deputy of the major crimes division. The lawsuit says he repeatedly subjected the two women to unwanted touching, graphic sexual comments and sexual gestures. Silverman alleged Hearnsberger touched her buttocks at least twice, and followed it up once by saying “You know you like it.” Mokayef says Hearnsberger compared her vibrating phone to a sex toy and repeatedly told her she “smells good.”
The women say that when they rejected his advances, they were penalized—not only with “stale cases” given to Mokayef, but also with profanity and screaming directed at her and humiliating public criticism of Silverman. By contrast, they said female attorneys who cooperated were given opportunities for career advancement.
They also accuse Hearnsberger of other crude behavior at work, including jokes about a transgender attorney’s genitals and showing up to a 2012 costume party for those working in the hardcore gangs division wearing a stuffed sheep stapled to the crotch of his overalls. Photos of this costume were Exhibit 3 to the complaint.
Monday, April 6, 2015
The Indiana law that ostensibly protects religious rights--while effectually permitting discrimination against gays--has provoked companies like Angie's List to pull out of Indiana.
But you know that the law isn't popular when NASCAR--the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing--is against it, too. Here's the statement by NASCAR:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 31, 2015) -- "NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race." -- NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes
Whither the Indy 500?
The administrator at our children's school recently called our house and asked if she could speak with "Mrs. Diamond." I understood instantly -- she wanted to speak to the mom. But my kids don't have a mom. They have two dads. To her surprise I replied, "This is Mrs. Diamond."
The administrator apologized, explaining that she had recently returned from a leave of absence. But my mind was racing: Why do schools and so many aspects of childcare -- from diaper commercials to changing stations in public restrooms -- focus on moms and exclude dads, gay or not? Even when coordinating things from school parties to carpools, the moms always make the assumption that everyone on the list is a mom. The email chain often begins with "Dear Ladies". When we travel with our kids on a trip, frequently we get asked if we gave the moms a weekend off. Even as women have rapidly moved out of the home and into the workplace, even as our society has increasingly accepted diverse family structures (including two-dad families), and even as more dads are staying home with their children, the perception of mom as sole caregiver has persisted.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is challenging this notion. In recent years, she has pushed to increase women's power in the workplace with her "lean in" mantra. Now she's asking men to join that effort, in a new "Lean in Together" campaign that encourages men not only to advocate for women in the office, but also take on more responsibility at home. I am thrilled that men have been invited to the "lean in" conversation and I share Sandberg's gender equality goal. Her noble aspiration to broaden society's perceptions of what women can accomplish in the workplace is matched by my hope to broaden perceptions of what men do at home. In a Yahoo News interview, Sandberg got it right when she said, "We also haven't supported men as caregivers. ... Women get discriminated against in the office; men get discriminated against when it comes to care."
Rolling Stone had reported about a rape that had occurred at frat house in UVA. After much criticism of its reporting, RS asked the Columbia Journalism School to assess its article. Columbia subsequently delivered a fatal critique of general incompetence. RS was never serious journalism on par with the WaPo, the WSJ and the NYT, but it is a very sad day for victims of rape whose stories are likely to be doubted because of RS's shoddy standards.
Saturday, April 4, 2015
For more information about each panel, go to Law and Society Association Annual Meeting and search the online program. (Seattle, May 28) The titles though provide a good overview of what issues academics are grappling with these days.
Separate Spheres? Church, State, Market, and Family
A Critical Look at How American Universities Handle Sexual Assault
Making Meaning, Making Change?: Visual Cultures of Trafficking and the Sex Trade
Gender and Judging
Gender, Law, and Empowerment
Islam and Legal History: New Research on Reform, Women, and Property
Law & Society Perspectives on Sex Work
Women/Gender in the Legal Profession
Gender, Race, Emotion, and the Processes of Criminalization in US History
Sex, Sexual Violence, and Consent
Women of Color in Legal Education
Birth, Abortion, and Law
New Forms of Intimate Ordering
Reproduction in the 21st Century: ART, Contraception, & Abortion
Reproduction in the 21st Century: ART, Contraception, and Abortion II
Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare in International Courts and Tribunals
Public Secrets of Law – Gender, Courts & Sexual Violence
AMR Salon: Ummni Khan - "Vicarious Kinks: SM in the Socio-Legal Imaginary"
Regulating Sex; Designating Victims and Offenders
Choice and Constraint: Changing Conceptions of Parenthood
Feminist Judgments: United States Supreme Court Cases Rewritten
Legal Responses to Domestic Violence
Reproduction in the 21st Century: Race, Religion, and Rights
Sexuality in the 21st Century: Law and Gender Equality Norms
International, Socio-legal Feminisms: Perspectives on Taxation Law
International Socio-legal Feminisms - Theorising Violence, Vulnerability and Autonomy
International Socio-legal Feminisms - Narratives in the Public and Private Spheres: Property, Personhood, Autonomy and Time
Policy, Police Work and Prosecution: The Promise and Peril of Investigating and Prosecuting Sexual Violence
Masculinity, Sexuality & Law
Comparative Perspectives on the Regulation of Gender: States, Families, and Legal Change
Friday, April 3, 2015
The Justice Department filed suit on Monday against an Oklahoma university alleging the school discriminated against a transgender professor. “Rachel Tudor was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in the English department at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2004, after applying as a man with a traditionally male name, according to the lawsuit filed Monday,” the Washington Post reports. “Then in 2007, Tudor told school officials that he would become a woman during that academic year, took the name Rachel, and began wearing women’s clothes and a traditionally female hairstyle.”
“The complaint said Tudor taught in the English department and was terminatedfrom the university in 2011 after the school denied her tenure,” Reuters reports. “A lawyer for Tudor said it was the first time the university had denied an English professor's application for tenure and promotion after a favorable tenure recommendation from a promotion committee and the department chair.” The DOJ suit alleges that someone in the university’s human resources department told Tudor that the school’s vice president for academic affairs had inquired about whether Tudor could be fired because her gender transition offended his religious beliefs.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University said in a statement: “The University is confident in its legal position and its adherence to all applicable employment laws."
It seems absurd for a man to be writing on the issue of women and self-esteem, yet the reality is, men do and will continue to play a role in how women see themselves—especially fathers. How we treat our daughters and our partners sets an example for how young ladies grow up thinking it is okay to be treated. As the father of three young women, I think this issue needs to be discussed.
The "Mask You Live In". From HuffPost:
This week I had the great privilege of attending a screening of Jennifer Siebel Newsom's latest film, The Mask You Live In, which embarks on a powerful exploration of the truth and consequences associated with modern masculinity in America. If you are unaware of this remarkable filmmaker, make note, as she is on course to becoming one of the great filmmakers of our time. This film is the second in a trilogy series that Siebel Newsom and her team have embarked upon. Her first film the groundbreaking Missrepresentation, widely acclaimed at Sundance, sparked a global education and empowerment conversation on the impact of pervasive media stereotypes and distorted messaging that negatively impacts the development of girls and young women. Both films are harrowing documentaries that artfully intertwine expert commentary layered with thoughtful images and deeply personal narratives, in what is becoming Siebel Newsom's signature style.
On 23 March, while arguing the case on these pages for a Minister for Men, Tim Samuels apologised for trespassing on feminism’s most hallowed ground and said: “We men have not had to fight tooth and nail for our votes”.
No doubt, everybody would go along with that. Everybody in this country is taught from infancy that the Suffragettes had to wrest votes for women from a brutal male establishment that was protecting the monopoly exercised by all men. My daughters learned that lesson at primary school before they had even been introduced to the cardinal beliefs of the world’s leading religions.
As is so often the case with the feminist catechism however, everybody - including Mr Samuels - is looking at history with one eye. As a matter of fact, men did have to fight before all men could get the vote. And men’s fight was not conducted in debating halls, demonstrations and salons, nor even from the relative safety of the prison cell. Before all British men were allowed to vote, poor young men had to be wounded in millions and to die in hundreds of thousands in a war from which all women were exempted solely by reason of their gender.
Mr Samuels was writing almost exactly on the 99th anniversary of the Military Service Act, under which every British man 18-41 was subject to conscription for the First World War. The actual wording of the Act was that every man of that age was “deemed to have enlisted”.