Monday, April 4, 2016
Pok Yin Stephenson Chow (Nottingham), Has Intersectionality Reached its Limits? Intersectionality in the UN Human Rights-Treaty Body Practice and the Issue of Ambivalence, Human Rights Law Review, 2016 (Forthcoming)
Over the past two decades, ‘intersectionality’ has become one of the most celebrated notions in international human rights law and discourse. Outside of the US where the concept originated, the sweeping influence of intersectionality has extended to the UK and other members of the European Union where intersectionality has ‘become part of policy initiatives’. It was remarked that intersectionality ‘has acquired considerable conceptual purchase in international human rights law and activism’ and has become the standard multi-disciplinary approach ‘for analyzing subjects’ experiences of both identity and oppression’.
The recognition that intersectionality gained over the years was also evident in the express and implicit references across UN human rights treaty-bodies practice, where the concept was used to highlight how gender discrimination is often intertwined with discrimination on other grounds, such as race, ethnicity and socio-economic background, thus ‘complicating simplistic, singular understandings of the nature of women’s disadvantage.’ In particular, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (‘CEDAW’) acknowledged intersectionality as a ‘basic concept for understanding the scope of the general obligations of States parties [of the Convention]’. Nevertheless, despite such express acknowledgements, the effectiveness of the concept remained uncertain. In particular, it remained unclear whether the juridical understanding of ‘intersectionality’ could fully honor the complexity that intersectional analysis demands. Conaghan thus argues that although intersectionality has contributed tremendously to the feminist movement, the concept has ‘reached the limits of its theoretical potential’. She argues that inequality is a sophisticated and multi-dimensional phenomenon, and that intersectionality, having its roots in law, does not seem to fully address that complexity.
The limitation of intersectionality is exemplified in the works of the UN human rights treatybodies in the context of minority women. Many often cultural and religious practices are deemed ‘harmful’ and discriminatory, but the women who practice them may not agree that these practices are discriminatory. This raised difficult issues regarding whether human rights law could properly accommodate their multiple identities (both as women and as members of their cultural group). Moreover, it is increasingly recognized that the engagement of such practices is often characterised by a form of ‘ambivalence’, i.e. a feeling of ‘open-endedness, incompleteness [and] uncertainty’. Niec observed that while individuals may identify certain manifestations of their traditions as violations of their rights, they may at the same time seek to preserve the group’s culture and religion, because it is the latter that ‘shaped and defined [her] identity as a member of that collective’. Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, remarked that even in situations where women have migrated from the community of their birth, the vast majority continued to retain a deep emotional attachment to group identity, and in this respect, the advocacy of the prohibitionof certain practices might offend their sense of dignity and belonging. While it may be reasonably expected that intersectionality could play a greater role in resolving such conflicts – that the application of intersectionality would better address the multiple identities of minority women – the concept have only yielded partial solutions, as shall be demonstrated below.
This article examines the application of intersectionality across the practice of the UN human rights treaty-bodies. Echoing the concerns raised by Conaghan, it ponders the question: whether intersectionality has reached its limits? In particular, it seeks to examine whether intersectionality as applied by the UN treaty-bodies offer a satisfactory solution to situations of ‘ambivalence’.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Feminist Legal Theory
Susan Appleton and Susan Stiritz - Going Wild
Katharine Baker and Michelle Oberman - Women's Sexual Agency
Angela Harris - Care and Danger
Maxine Eichner - Market-Cautious Feminism
June Carbone and Naomi Cahn - Unequal Terms
Jennifer Hendricks - Schrodinger's Child
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Anita Bernstein (Brooklyn), The Feminist Jurisprudence of Jack B. Weinstein, 64 DePaul L Rev. 2015
Abstract:As this Symposium demonstrates, Jack B. Weinstein continues to write decisional law that has edified and stimulated expert readers for many decades. The Weinstein trove also contains feminist jurisprudence. Starting no later than 1974 and into the current millennium, Judge Weinstein has been ameliorating the burdens of gender-oppression. This Article groups decisions published by the Judge into six gender-related themes: women of low income, sentencing female offenders, women’s civil rights, “the woman’s Constitution,” women’s redress for personal injury, and feminism beyond women. It also identifies what is feminist about this extraordinary compendium.
h/t Larry Solum
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
National Women's Law Center, Let's Talk About Intersectional Feminism
Recently, the Ms. Foundation launched the #MyFeminismIs campaign “to paint a broad, inclusive and intersectional picture of Feminism as we continue to challenge and change the conversation around equal rights.” The campaign aims to start a dialogue about feminism as a movement for the equality of all genders and what feminism looks like for each of us.
If you’re new to the term, intersectionality is a word coined by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who defined it as “the view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.”
In other words, the ways that people experience discrimination — based on sex, race, gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, size, religion, national origin, the list goes on — can’t be separated into categories because these systems of oppression are all connected. And because various forms of oppression are intertwined, an intersectional lens is fundamental to feminism as a movement for liberation and equality. We can’t work for gender equality without addressing other issues of inequality like police brutality against people of color, immigration reform, Islamophobia, or discrimination and violence against the LGBT community.
That’s why a campaign like #MyFeminismIs, which focuses on a broad, inclusive, and intersectional feminism, is so exciting. We come to our work, our activism, our feminist movement as our whole selves — so our work, our activism, and our movement should reflect that. What the #MyFeminismIs campaign is doing to continue the conversation about what inclusive, intersectional feminism like — in the media, in academia, in organizing and activism, and in the women’s advocacy world — will help shape and strengthen the future of feminism.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Claire Bond Potter, Is the Internet the Final Bohemia?. Chronicle.
Yet flexible, voluntary networks in virtual space offer other political and intellectual possibilities, and we should imagine them before it is too late. Jacoby has said that even though he was wrong about a few things, he was right about most things. I’m glad he did. We may disagree about the importance of intellectual movements anchored principally by women, people of color, and queers, but we don’t disagree about how quickly these movements have been sucked into the academy — the barbarians at the gates becoming gatekeepers in turn. Internet bohemia, with its disdain for credentialing, and its networks that form, dissolve and form again according to new needs and desires, could, in fact, be different.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
National Women's Law Center, My Feminism Is: Justice Everywhere. Advice to high school seniors, and women, on embracing feminism.
Feminism isn’t always an easy road, but you are going to be so glad you pulled out of the metaphorical driveway.
To me and you, feminism is justice – people are being mistreated and oppressed and kept down, in direct and institutionalized ways. There has to be something we can do has always been our refrain. In feminism, we’ve found tools to make the world fair, and friends and colleagues to work with through it.
There is so much inside of you right now, Sam. Your strength is in correcting injustice and the determination your legacy offers....
So stop being afraid of saying you’re a feminist. You know who you are.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The second part of the chapter proceeds to articulate a relational approach to children’s subjectivity. Building on the work of Martha Minow, this approach highlights children’s experiences as active participants in multiple relationships directly and indirectly mediated by law. Children’s relationships are not confined to the family, nor do they solely involve hierarchal dynamics of development and control. Children instead experience a broad range of interactions as children, separate from or in addition to their interests in becoming adults, even as they remain dependent on adults for many aspects of their lives. Children’s relationships therefore blur the traditional distinction between subjects and objects, providing a foundation for law to acknowledge and foster children’s intrinsic interests as children.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Kathleen Darcy (Michigan State), Medicalizing Gender: How the Legal and Medical Professions Shaped Women's Experience as Lawyers, 4 Tennessee J. Race, Gender & Social Justice 31 (2015)
Abstract:Despite significant progress, women in the legal profession still have not advanced into positions of power at near the rate in which they saturate the legal market. Scholars agree that simply waiting for parity is not sufficient, and, thus, they have identified many of the barriers that contribute to women’s difficulties. To date, however, the role that scientific and medical understandings play on the evolution of law, and on women as lawyers, has not received examination until now. To this end, I posit that medicine played a significant role in shaping societal expectations and assumptions about gender, and was similarly influenced by already-existing societal assumptions about gender. This created a complex and substantial barrier that kept women from exploring options outside the “spheres” of society they traditionally occupied. This article explores how medically-supported gender theories, in practice, have actually operated to limit women’s professional progress, relegating them to traditional gender roles and halting their ascension in the ranks of the legal profession. I examine how this barrier operates in three ways: how early women lawyers adopted these medical theories into views about their own gender; how society and those around these early women lawyers adopted these views to shape expectations about women as lawyers; and how the court explicitly and implicitly relied on these assumptions about gender to keep women out of the legal profession. An examination of how these medical and scientific theories about gender have shaped the ways society views gender, and vice versa, can help illuminate the discussion on the barriers that impede modern women lawyers.
Monday, September 28, 2015
When the novelist Jennifer Weiner watched the second Republican presidential debate with her two daughters on Sept. 16, she felt a sense of pride at seeing the lone woman on stage,Carly Fiorina, hold her own against Donald J. Trump.
Then Mrs. Fiorina denounced abortion and Planned Parenthood in a graphic monologue that thrilled many conservative Republican voters but left Ms. Weiner appalled.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Here in America, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, sexism is very much on the wane, but misogyny is not. Sexism—the conviction that women don’t deserve equal pay, political rights, or access to education—can be combatted by argument, by anti-discrimination laws, and by giving women the opportunity to prove their ability. Misogyny is not amenable to such advances; they can in some circumstances exacerbate it, though they may drive it underground. An example of misogyny is when someone online threatens to rape and mutilate a woman whose opinions that person does not like. Another is when a Presidential candidate says of a female journalist whose questions he finds impertinent, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her—wherever.”
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Martha Chamallas (Ohio State), Theorizing Damage Through Reproductive Torts, Jotwell.
Of the five basic elements of the negligence cause of action (duty, breach, cause-in-fact, proximate cause, damage), the concept of “damage” (sometimes referred to as “injury” or “harm”) has probably received the least attention from torts scholars and certainly commands less time in the classroom. Indeed, the comparative lack of discussion likely exacerbates the common tendency to confuse the concept of actionable damage with the related topic of recoverable damages, i.e., those specific items of loss (such as medical expenses or sums paid for pain and suffering) that are a consequence of an actionable injury. In the U.S., controversial claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress and for reproductive injuries, especially wrongful conception and wrongful birth claims, have triggered debates under the headings of duty, proximate cause, or recoverable damages. Recently, however, Gregory Keating has argued that the concept of harm “can do more work than it is presently being made to do,” inviting more theorizing about what lies beneath the largely intuitive concept of harm or damage.
This ambitious article by British tort theorist Nicky Priaulx aims to fill the void by theorizing about the normative dimensions of the concept of damage. Although she doesn’t use the f-word (feminism) until the end of the piece when she discusses just whose injuries tend to be addressed by tort law, her approach is clearly informed by feminist scholarship, as is evident by her starting point that the concept of damage is “imbued with ideals of social justice and equality [and] directed towards treating like cases alike.” (P. 2.) But Priaulx’s legal feminism is of a newer stripe: it is as much about harm to men as it is about harm to women and is interwoven into a universal theory about how to shape tort law to fit the social experience of injury.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Hillary Clinton was asked during an interview to respond to Mitch McConnell's charge that she plays the "gender card." Her response was apt, it seemed to me:
Clinton’s response — a riposte that the gender card is being played “every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception” — was a forthright appeal for women’s votes — and the latest signal that, yes, Clinton’s gender will be front and center in her campaign this time around.
Eight years ago, her first presidential campaign downplayed any focus on running as a woman. But Democrats say gender is not only a plus this time, but also crucial to Clinton’s strategy for winning a general election where she will need to boost the turnout of female voters, who are more likely to vote Democratic.
The campaign followed up on on the Facebook chat Tuesday, releasing a slick video replaying McConnell’s remark and then featuring the records of some of the GOP candidates when it comes to issues that affect women: Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz voted against paid sick leave; Gov. Scott Walker repealed an equal pay law in his state; and Jeb Bush made a comment offensive to poor women back in 1994, saying, “women on welfare should get their life together and find a husband.”
“There she goes again with the women’s issues,” Clinton says in a clip featured in the video, pulled from an appearance in Iowa last week. “Well, I’m not going to stop, so get ready for a long campaign.”
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Both are delicious. And good for you.
But the moment I recognized the excellence of Brussels Sprouts represented a twofold cause for celebration. Not only was I set up for a lifetime of consuming a nutritious vegetable, but I suddenly had the discernment to enjoy said vegetable. . . . Just so with feminism. Mainstream culture has finally figured out that feminism is delicious, and we should rejoice rather than squint doubtfully into the glorious, gender-equal sunrise.
Friday, June 19, 2015
Nearly a century after gaining national suffrage rights, American women represent a majority of voters, yet women represent less than a quarter of state legislators, a fifth of members of Congress, and an eighth of governors.
A careful examination of the trends at the local and state level reveals that unequal representation is even worse than it looks. My group Representation 2020 seeks parity for women in elected office—meaning that at any given moment a woman would be just as likely as a man to hold elected office—in our lifetimes. Yet, as to be reported in our State of Women’s Representation 2015-2016 report, women in fact are not on the road to achieving that goal.
A report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research suggested achieving parity would take several generations. But it’s too simplistic to map out trends from the past 20 years in anticipation of steady growth to parity. In the real world, representation of women typically stalls or regresses once it surpasses about a third of seats in a state. Unless both major parties show equal readiness to move to parity—and at this point, the Republican Party shows no such trend—the bottom line is stark: Absent new intervention by our political parties and our lawmakers, we simply won’t achieve gender parity nationally nor in most states. Not in our lifetime. Not in our children’s lifetime. Not ever.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
The Feminist Legal Theory CRN group at the upcoming Law & Society is reading Roxane Gay's, Bad Feminist (http://www.roxanegay.com/bad-feminist/).
I just finished reading the book myself. I had read excerpts and reviews, but not the book until now. Really great. She's a professor, a writer, and a "bad" feminist - defined as a real, human, imperfect person who nevertheless believes in core principles of gender equality and the identification of such as "feminist." Refreshing, irreverent. Just keeping it real.
Monday, May 4, 2015
From the WSJ:
Men and women have different experiences when it comes to Wall Street careers. And those differences fascinate Lily Fang.
Dr. Fang, an associate professor of finance on the Singapore campus of the business school Insead, has spent the past five years or so delving into how gender affects the career-development paths of stock-research analysts on Wall Street. What she and co-author Sterling Huang of Singapore Management University found was that the networking and personal connections that male analysts rely on so heavily to get ahead are much less useful for women in similar jobs.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Melvin Konner, The End of Male Supremacy, Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Women are not equal to men; they are superior in many ways, and in most ways that will count in the future. It is not just a matter of culture or upbringing. It is a matter of chromosomes, genes, hormones, and nerve circuits. It is not mainly because of how experience shapes women, but because of intrinsic differences in the body and the brain.
Do these differences account for all the ways women and men differ? No. Are all men one way and all women another? Also no. But none of those considerations seriously impede my argument or deflect its key conclusion: Women are superior in most ways that matter now.
And no, I do not mean what was meant by patronizing men who said this in the past — that women are lofty, tender, spiritual creatures. I mean something like the opposite of that. I mean that women are fundamentally pragmatic as well as caring, cooperative as well as competitive, skilled in getting their own egos out of the way, deft in managing people without putting them on the defensive, builders not destroyers. Above all, I mean that women can carry on the business of a complex world in ways that are more focused, efficient, deliberate, and constructive than men’s because women are not frequently distracted by impulses and moods that, sometimes indirectly, lead to sex and violence. Women are more reluctant participants in both. And if they are drawn into wars, these will be wars of necessity, not of choice, founded on rational considerations, not on a clash of egos escalating out of control.
Interesting use of Elizabeth Cady Stanton here too.
This is not a new idea. Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave an address to the National Woman Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 1869. She said, "The same arguments made in this country for extending suffrage … to white men, native born citizens, without property and education, and to foreigners … and the same used by the great Republican party to enfranchise a million black men in the South, all these arguments we have to-day to offer for woman, and one, in addition, stronger than all besides, the difference in man and woman. Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman’s thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government."
She also said, "When the highest offices in the gift of the people are bought and sold in Wall Street, it is a mere chance who will be our rulers. Whither is a nation tending when brains count for less than bullion, and clowns make laws for queens?" Almost 150 years later, the highest offices are still bought and sold on Wall Street, and clowns make laws for queens. But the latter, at least, is coming to an end.
Yet notice: What additional argument for women’s equality is "stronger than all besides"? "The difference in man and woman." Men and women complement each other. After a century and a half of research, Stanton’s argument from difference is stronger than ever, grounded in evolution, brain science, child psychology, and anthropology. And we can take it a step further
I discuss Stanton's feminist theory of difference in the context of parenting and property rights in my forthcoming book. But her feminism was more complex than this one speech suggests. She believed in equality, difference, as well as radical feminism, as all were part of the web of women's oppression.
Monday, March 30, 2015
“You hold women in contempt”: Frat culture isn’t an aberration, it’s everything men learn about being a “real man”
...thus reads the headline from Salon:
There are a lot of stories out there right now about frat culture, which is maybe why I find myself circling back to bigger questions about masculinity. Or at least the version of masculinity on display in some of these fraternities.
Read the rest here.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Vanderbilt, A Guide to Feminist Pedagogy
Feminist pedagogy is not a toolbox, a collection of strategies, a list of practices, or a specific classroom arrangement. It is an overarching philosophy—a theory of teaching and learning that integrates feminist values with related theories and research on teaching and learning.
It begins with our beliefs and motivations: why do we teach? why do students learn? what are the goals of learning? We know that the consequences of our motives for teaching and learning are significant: Keith Trigwell and Mike Prosser have shown that the instructor’s intentions in teaching (“why the person adopts a particular strategy”) have a greater impact on student learning than the instructor’s actual strategies for teaching (“what the person does”) (78). Their research has shown that approaches to teaching that are purposefully focused on the students and aimed at changing conceptual frameworks lead to deeper learning practices than teacher-centered, information-driven approaches (Trigwell 98). The implications are that the instructor’s fundamental beliefs and values about teaching, learning, and knowledge-making matter.
In this guide, we explain some of the fundamental beliefs, values, and intentions behind feminist pedagogy to inform a deliberate application in specific classrooms–any and all classrooms, as feminist pedagogy can inform any disciplinary context. (For a more focused exploration of feminist pedagogy specifically within the women’s studies classroom, see Holly Hassel and Nerissa Nelson’s “A Signature Feminist Pedagogy: Connection and Transformation in Women’s Studies.”)
[H/t Kathy Feltey]
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced.
“Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL.
The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because it is unknown, because the person is transgender, or the speaker or writer deems the gender to be superfluous information.
“For those who use the pronoun, it’s obviously a strength that it is now in the dictionary,” one of the editors, Sture Berg, told AFP on Tuesday.