Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In West Hollywood, Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Gender neutral

From the LA Times: 

A West Hollywood law requiring all single-stall restrooms in businesses and public places to be gender-neutral will go into effect this week.

The law, which will have no impact on multiple-stall restrooms, mandates that any facility designed for use by no more than one person not be restricted to a specific sex or gender identity by signage, design or installation of fixtures.

January 14, 2015 in Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

McJunkin on "Rank Among Equals"

Ben A. McJunkin has recently uploaded on SSRN "Rank Among Equals," which is forthcoming from the Michigan Law Review.  The abstract reads:  

Dignity is on the march. As illustrated by Justice Kennedy’s recent majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, the concept — once seen as exclusive to moral philosophy — has taken on increasing importance in the legal realm, particularly in the recognition of individual human rights. Jeremy Waldron's recent book, Dignity, Rank, and Rights, offers a profound and provocative take on dignity's newfound centrality to law. Waldron contends that dignity currently operates as a universal legal status that entails individual rights. He suggests that this development reflects the gradual democratization of aristocratic privilege — a kind of "leveling up" of humanity.

This Review disentangles and separately examines the two core accounts of dignity in Waldron's work. The first, which purports to identify the nature of contemporary legal dignity as a form of status, appears to be promising step toward better understanding the role dignity plays in law. The second, Waldron's historical account of dignity's development that offers up something like an origin story for our contemporary conceptions, is more troubling. Borrowing from feminist theory and queer theory, as well as from the equality projects to which they are allied, I contend that Waldron's narratives of extending aristocratic privilege threaten to entrench inequality and injustice while limiting the potential for marginalized groups to employ dignity as a deeply remedial legal tool. I urge Waldron to revisit dignity's expressive connection to human worth, which has proven central to dignity-based antidiscrimination and antisubordination projects.

November 5, 2014 in Scholarship, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

14 Things Feminists Are Tired of Hearing


November 5, 2014 in Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Is Using "Woman" as an Adjective Demeaning?

From the New Republic....

Political-correctness 101 dictates that we should avoid gendered versions of job titles: We’re meant to use “server” instead of “waitress”, “actor” for women as well as men. (Thank God the nineteenth-century “doctoress” never caught on.) But sometimes, for valid and non-sexist reasons—like talking about the wage gap—writers need to identify a group of professionals by their gender. Writers who are keen not to offend face a conundrum. “Female” seems like a safe descriptor—“female boss,” “female lawyer,” etc.—but some complain it’s too “clinical.” “Lady” has made something of a come-back as a sort of retro descriptor—“Lady journo,” “lady blog”—but sounds condescending outside of a specific, ironic context. In The Guardian last week, sub-editor Maddie York points out that another word is catching on as an adjective: “woman.” According to York, “‘Woman’ and its plural seem to be taking over the role of modifier, so that now, there is no such thing, as far as much of the media is concerned, as a female doctor, a female MP or a female chef. Instead you hear or read about a woman doctor, a woman MP and so on.”


This is definitely an overstatement, but she has a point: When I started looking for it, I found that the opposite of “male boss” is often not “female boss” but “woman boss.” The BBC contrasts “women managers” with “male” ones.  And the Harvard Business Review says: “Only 16% of Republicans prefer a woman boss … young people (18 to 34) are more likely to want a male boss.”

October 31, 2014 in Theory, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sheley on "Condemned Woman as Historical Relic"

Erin Sheley, GW Law, has uploaded "Doubled Jeopardy: The Condemned Woman as Historical Relic."  It is forthcoming from Law and Literature and its abstract reads: 

This article explores how Sir Walter Scott's fictional condemned women serve as relics through which a history of evolving British legal authority becomes present and legible. It argues that Scott's treatment of gender aestheticizes a particular concept of and reaction to the condemned woman in the context of the common law tradition generally. Using the backdrop of eighteenth century penal practice, it also shows how Scott establishes the female condemned body as an object necessarily fixed in time in order to contemplate legal change through a historically controlled process. The first part of the article considers the late eighteenth century movement to abolish the punishment of burning at the stake for women convicted of treason, and the extent to which competing understandings of chivalry reified an entire history of penal practice into the body of the burned woman. The second part argues that the interrelations between archaic practice and evolved norm which characterize the precedent-based common law system are dramatized in the fixed, idealized bodies of Constance de Beverly and Rebecca of York through which Scott acknowledges the implicit need for legal change over time, while simultaneously legitimizing adherence to a chivalric tradition.

October 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sexual Violence During War and Peace

Jelke Boesten, University of Leeds, UK, has recently published Sexual Violence During War and Peace (Palgrave Macmillan).  The abstract reads: 

The idea that rape is widely used as a weapon of war has taken root in international institutions, influencing how post-conflict justice and transitional justice are perceived and pursued. Despite this global attention, there has been no progress eradicating or even mitigating sexual violence in war or in peace and very little progress prosecuting crimes of sexual violence. With particular reference to post-conflict justice, this book asks what sexual violence means from a socio-political perspective and in what ways contemporary "peacetime" violence is linked to wartime rape. Evidence from Peru and the internal armed conflict of 1980-2000 shows that acts of wartime rape are deeply embedded in existing configurations of gender and power and that sexual violence serves not only wartime terror but also peacetime hierarchies.

October 6, 2014 in Scholarship, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Susan Ayres on Dramatic Narratives

Susan Ayres, Texas A & M Law, has uploaded to SSRN "Using Dramatic Narratives to Teach Domestic Violence."  The abstract reads: 

The 2003 call of the ABA for teachers to incorporate domestic violence into the law school curricula remains gravely important today. Domestic violence intersects many areas — from family law, to torts, to criminal law. Along with sexual assault, it is one of the most difficult subjects to teach. Students, like the general public, find it hard to comprehend why a person batters, or why a victim stays with the batterer. While students may learn about domestic violence from case law and scholarly excerpts, the best lessons may be learned through narratives, which provide a window into the reasons for battering and the multi-faceted reasons a victim stays with a batterer. In this article, I describe a teaching approach that incorporates narratives by the award-winning, multi-racial writer, Ai (1947-2010). This valuable approach offers a picture of domestic violence that is more compelling than that of casebooks or statistics, and provides students — as future lawyers — with the ability to respond to clients experiencing domestic violence with greater empathy and understanding.

October 3, 2014 in Scholarship, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Misogyny at Fox News

From the Guardian UK

Presenters on US cable channel Fox News cracked a series of sexist jokes after reporting that a female pilot from the UAE had taken part in a bombing mission of Isis targets in Syria, describing her as “boobs on the ground”.

One presenter, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tried to pay tribute to Major Mariam al-Mansouri, 35, one of four UAE fighter pilots to take part in the operation. “Hey, Isis, you were bombed by a woman,” she said. “Very exciting, a woman doing this … I hope that hurt extra bad because in some Arab countries women can’t even drive.”

She continued: “Major Mariam al-Mansouri is who did this. Remarkable, very excited. I wish it was an American pilot. I’ll take a woman doing this any day to them.”


But after the segment, co-host Greg Gutfeld interrupted Guilfoyle, mocking the pilot. “The problem is after she bombed it she couldn’t park it,” he said. Another presenter, Eric Bolling, joined in, asking: “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?” The conversation between panellists, which was broadcast on Wednesday, was part of discussion show The Five on Fox News.

September 25, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Theory, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Emma Watson Speaks to UN on Feminism

Emma Watson quote

 Speaking before the United Nations on feminism, Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) launched the HeforShe campaign encouraging men to support equal gender rights.  Read the full speech to the UN. Some excerpts:


This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.


I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. 


For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”   


I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.  When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.  When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”  When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.   


I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.  Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.  


Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?


The video is Emma Watson at the UN.


 The backlash was swift, as she was threatened with the release of nude photos for speaking out. More here. 

September 23, 2014 in Gender, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book Review: Feminism Unfinished

From WaPo, Feminism Unfinished

“Feminism Unfinished"... argues that the “wave” metaphor obscures the history of a continuous American women’s movement sustained by labor activists, civil rights advocates and social-reform campaigners, who may have looked placid on the surface but were paddling like hell underneath. Each of the three authors contributes a chapter to their history of American feminism, and they declare together in their prologue that “there was no period in the last century in which women were not campaigning for greater equality and freedom.” They hope that uncovering the “multiple and unfinished feminisms of the twentieth century can inspire” the women’s movements of the 21st. That’s the surprise signaled in the teasing subtitle.

September 6, 2014 in Books, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Unequal Protection

Russell Robinson (Berkeley) has posted Unequal Protection, 67 Stanford L. Rev. (2015)

During the last 30 years, the Supreme Court has steadily diminished the vigor of the Equal Protection Clause. It has turned away people of color who protest systems such as racialized mass incarceration because their oppression does not take the form of a “racial classification.” It has diluted the protections of intermediate scrutiny in gender discrimination and abortion cases. And it has turned its back on groups who once benefited from “animus” review, including people with disabilities and poor people. Meanwhile, the only site of vitality in equal protection jurisprudence is LGBT claims. Yet the Court, writing opinions that are rarely in conversation with one another, has made no effort to justify this growing divide. I call attention to this re-ordered equal protection landscape, which contrasts sharply with the conventional understanding of equal protection tiers of scrutiny. 

Specifically, I identify three advantages that LGBT people enjoy compared to virtually every other civil rights constituency: (1) the Court has rigidly used the concept of a “classification” as a gate keeping device, but it has ignored this requirement in sexual orientation cases; (2) LGBT people can invoke animus, a standard that emerged from cases brought by people of color, poor people, and people with disabilities but that the Court no longer recognizes in such cases; and (3) LGBT cases leave open important questions, including the legal standard that would apply to remedial policies based on sexual orientation — quite unlike the Court’s adverse resolution of these questions in race cases.


These findings demand that law professors and legal scholars reconsider how they teach and write about equal protection.

September 6, 2014 in Gender, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Ban Bossy" and Its Critic

Sheryl Sandberg has championed the Ban Bossy campaign, and at least one feminist has criticized both her for doing so and the campaign itself.  

September 3, 2014 in Theory, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

LAT CRIT and SALT Conference

I received a request from Prof. Charlotte Garden at Seattle to post about the upcoming Lat Crit-SALT conference, which I am happy to do.  

Twelfth Annual LatCrit-SALT
Call for ParticipationJunior Faculty Development WorkshopOctober 9, 2014University of Nevada-Las VegasLas Vegas, NV 

LatCrit, Inc. and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) are pleased to invite interested participants to the Twelfth Annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop (FDW), immediately preceding the SALT Teaching Conference.  This annual workshop is designed for critical, progressive, and social justice oriented pre-tenure professors, including clinicians and legal writing professors, as well as those who may be contemplating a teaching career.  However, we also encourage more senior members of the profession to attend, share their experience, and serve as resources and mentors.

The FDW is designed to familiarize critical, progressive, and social justice oriented junior faculty with LatCrit and SALT principles and values and support them in the scholarship, teaching, and service aspects of professional success.  In addition, the FDW seeks to foster scholarship in progressive, social justice, and critical outsider jurisprudence, including LatCrit theory, among new and junior faculty, students, and practitioners.  Finally, the FDW aims to cultivate a community of scholars interested in the continuation of this and similar projects over the years.

To facilitate community building through shared experiences and the exchange of ideas, we strongly encourage all participants to attend the entire workshop.

If you have questions about the workshop or would like to attend, please email  Although we will make efforts to accommodate all interested participants, RSVPs are strongly suggested by September 30, 2014. 

Registration for the SALT Biennial Teaching Conference is available at


August 31, 2014 in Call for Papers, Conferences, Poverty, Race, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Books: Bad Feminist

From Slate, It is Good to be a "Bad" Feminist

I bristled a little at the title of Roxane Gay’s new collection of essays: Bad Feminist. Was that “bad” a backhanded boast, a Cool Girl’s rejection of all the supposedly militant and humorless “good” feminists out there?


Then I started reading the book, and I realized the professor cum novelist cum voice-on-the-Internet isn’t proclaiming herself a chiller, smarter, funnier feminist than anyone else. She is exploring imperfection: the power we (we people, and especially we women) wield in spite and because of it. Her essays, which are arresting and sensitive but rarely conclusive, don’t care much for unbroken skin. They are about flaws, sometimes scratches and sometimes deep wounds. Gay studies the cracks and what fills them.

August 9, 2014 in Books, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Women in the Military

Cara Hoffman has a recent Op-Ed in Truth Out.  It follows her earlier piece in the NYT, where she observed: many as a third of all women serving in the military are raped by fellow soldiers during their tours of duty, compounding whatever traumas they may have experienced in combat.

July 31, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Do the Justices Vote Their Gender?

Some interesting discussion here.  It is telling that no newspaper headline focuses on how the male justices "vote their gender."  

July 13, 2014 in Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

High School Boys Talk About Why They're Feminists

The video is here: High School Boys Talk About Why They're Feminists.  Some of their thoughts: Because its about more than equal rights for women.  Because its humanistic.  Because of intersectionality - no one is one dimensional.  Because of misogynist song lyrics and behaviors.

June 14, 2014 in Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hillary Clinton's Book Reviewed

In the Guardian UK

Sure, Clinton jokes in the book about scrunchies and outfits and nail polish to make her point that woman in public life are forced under a microscope. "There is a persistent double standard applied to women in politics," she writes, "regarding clothes, body types, and of course hairstyles."

But Clinton is still not ready to talk – at least not in a substantive way – about what it meant to be the first woman to go so far, yet still fall short, in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination. And she is certainly not saying, in Hard Choices or in the rounds of interviews and appearances surrounding its release, how she would overcome biases on women seeking power when and if she decides to run in 2016.

It's about time she did.

June 13, 2014 in Theory, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cool Feminisms

Recommended reading by women's studies profs as excellent introduction to feminism and making it real for students.

Victoria Bromley, Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism (U. Toronto Press 2012)

 INTRODUCTION: As you sit on the bus, in the library, at home in the living room, or in a commons on campus, you might find people looking over your shoulder and asking you what you’re reading. When you respond, “I’m reading Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism,” they might ask you why. Why indeed? Perhaps it’s because you’re interested in feminisms or because the book has been assigned as part of a course you’re taking. The word on the street, on the other hand, is that feminism is dead, so what could possibly be important about feminism? The short answer is, “Everything!”...

When you hear the word “feminism” or “feminist,” you might find yourself in a quandary. You might be curious, furious, or you might just want to run for cover. Feminism is a word that is frequently used and often abused. Where you hear it, who says it, and the context in which it is used often influences your reaction. How can the “F-word” stir up such emotion?

We made it! We are equal. Feminism is no longer necessary. And, of course, feminism is dead. The struggle is over and we can put our concerns to rest. These are some of the tenets that we often hear. It makes us feel good to think that things are not as bad for women and other marginalized groups as they were in the past. Social commentary of this brand is often paired with the familiar preface for gender equality assertions: “I’m not a feminist but…” What follows is a laundry list of values or aspirations that most people can agree...

In the last chapter, we discussed the complex and interconnected histories of feminist and social justice movements. Feminism, however, is not simply a movement. It is also a theory. So, to understand feminisms more fully, we must also understand what theory is and why we need it. Yes, theory. OMG! Don’t run for cover just yet.

Intersectionality is a conceptual tool for analyzing differences. It allows us to think about multiple identities and how they may be interconnected in complex ways. It is also a tool for understanding how multiple systems of oppression may be interrelated. Feminists use the concept of intersectionality, a term coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, to consider how interlocking systems of oppressions, complex identities, and social inequalities affect people’s lives (Crenshaw 1989). The concept of intersectionality has long been used by black feminists to explore the lives of racialized women.

Thinking through the intersectionalities of identities, the complexities of people’s lives, and the very real struggles that people face every day is not simple. Nor is it easy to understand how people confront and resist oppressions, exploitations, and marginalization. Yet resistance on multiple fronts continues and theories help us to understand not only the struggles towards social justice but also the triumphs of achieving justice. Feminist theorizing, then, is an ongoing process. It does not assume that one theory can address all the complexities of women’s and men’s lives in vastly diverse social, political, economic, and geographic spaces or across...

In the previous chapter we noted an ongoing dialogue among feminist theorists and activists. The dialogue continues in this chapter with the exploration of postmodern, “Third World,” postcolonial, queer, and transnational feminist theories. The purpose here is to introduce some current feminist debates and discover some of the key questions and arguments being raised in these debates. We will also reflect on some of the limitations and critiques of these theories as a way for us to think about feminisms. We will question how different theories, feminist and otherwise, might influence the way we think, not only about theory but...

Theory is all very well, but what is the point in theorizing if we have nothing concrete about which to theorize? Where is the evidence? Where is the research? How do we collect it? Feminist research draws on insights from the struggles and lived experiences of women and marginalized people. Feminist perspectives, informed by theory and practice, encourage feminist researchers to ask different questions. It makes sense that the evidence to answer our questions must also come from different places. Feminist research is complex and sometimes, rather than just answering the research questions posed, it leads us to more and...

The link between feminist theory and women’s movement is not always immediately visible. Nonetheless, doing feminist theory means you have to be grounded in lived experiences. It is this connection to women’s lives that gives meaning to feminist theory. Feminist activists have long been struggling to increase the value of women’s experiences in order to achieve women’s equality and their inclusion at all levels. However, it is through the process of theorizing these activist practices and the lives of women that activism becomes more effective. This means that theory and practice must become praxis. 

As a feminist, I know it is important to think about men and masculinities. However, to write about them with a sense of authority is a challenge. This is not because I have no understanding of the issues, debates, and research—I do. Men are important in my life; they are my family members, my friends, and my colleagues. Still I struggle. Perhaps this struggle is related to my identity as a “woman” and all that it encompasses. 

CHAPTER TEN: THE STRATEGIES THAT EMPOWER US: FEMINIST ACTIVISM            Feminists today have entered a new era of thinking about and doing feminism. We continue to struggle and succeed, but we are still committed to ending oppression and advancing social justice. As feminists, we need to continue to ask new questions and develop new strategies to meet our goals. We must learn from our past, rethinking past actions and strategies, so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time a new challenge emerges. Re-examining what we think and how we know about our world is critical. These are not easy tasks. 

Just when we thought we had equality, reality sets in. While feminism has been struggling for equality for well over a century, we have yet to meet this goal. When we look at the world in which we live, we know that we cannot abandon our struggles. We must continue to fight for social change to end exploitation and oppression in all its various forms. In this chapter, we will look at some of the ongoing struggles in which feminists are engaged. We will explore what is at stake in the struggle for equality and social justice in the area

June 5, 2014 in Books, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Dish on Celebrities and Feminism

Jamie R. Abrams's picture

More from this month's guest blogger, Professor Jamie Abrams from the University of Louisville School of Law. Her scholarly interests include integrating masculinities theory in feminist law reforms such as military integration and domestic violence; examining the tort complexities governing standards of care in childbirth; gendered conceptualizations of citizenship; and legal education pedagogy.

Perhaps this post is just legitimizing my excessive consumption of media coverage of celebrity scuttlebutt, but I am at least thinly veiling it under my attempt to consider the longevity and adaptability of feminism.  The NYT covered the question of “Who is a Feminist Now” describing yet another celebrity who distanced herself from feminism.  Most recently, Shailene Woodley said she was not feminist “Because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need some balance.”  Putting aside the obvious logical flags in her suggestion that women and men in positions of power is not “balance,” the larger point of the article is the trend of young celebrities distancing themselves from feminism. 

The undercurrent of this article, and so many others like it, reveals a troubling disconnect in the definition of feminism’s goals and its application as a movement.  Part of the issue is the framing of the question “are you a feminist?”  The article ends with an interesting profile of students at the University of North Carolina who conducted a successful public relations campaign for feminism in which individuals needed to complete the sentence “I need feminism because . . .”  By reframing the question, the UNC project then concluded that “rather than claiming it as an identity, young people were able to say this is a toolkit I can use without making it ‘this is who I am and this is only who I am.’”

This connects to a broader point about the education of young people about women and feminism.  Youth are taught about events in women’s history, such as the Seneca Falls Convention and the ratification of the 19th Amendment.  They are taught about people in women’s history, such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Are they, however, taught about feminism as a tool for achieving historical and modern social and legal change?  If not explicitly taught, from what sources are women framing their definitions?  

I certainly am not overly alarmist regarding the longevity of feminism based on the views of a handful of celebrities, but the question remains, how did they develop their definition of feminism that frames the need for distancing?  In thinking about the sustainability of feminism, we must think about how, when, and why young people are introduced to feminism itself, if at all.  Just as the UNC project revealed, it needs to be presented as an adaptive tool to achieve a specific result that can address individual needs and achieve change that benefits all.  Such an approach reveals that historical celebration of the who and what of women’s history is insufficient without the why and how, which feminism addresses much more directly. 

May 29, 2014 in Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)