Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Women's Social Justice and the Lutheran Church

The ELCA, the mainstream Lutheran Church (remember Martin Luther and his 95 theses), is in the process of developing a social justice statement on women.  The national U.S. church, now headed by its first woman bishop, Elizabeth Eaton (from my neck of the woods) is a directing a study addressing sexism in the church, geared towards action on the issues of domestic violence, human sex trafficking, and women clergy.  A committee report is due out in the next few months for 
consideration by the individual churches. For now, it has created a study for people to work through.  Its part heavy feminist theology and part conscious raising.  Geared to individual reflection and corporate action

The first study begins with a focus on power.  It reframes interpretations of biblical text used to justify subordination. (Following in the footsteps of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her first feminist interpretation of biblical passages in The Woman's Bible.).  Mark 9:34 states that people must deny themselves and take up cross. This passage has and is used to justy women's subordination, for example counseling women to stay in marriages despite abuse and violence. The feminist study distinguishes human suffering from religious persecution. Human suffering is not a mandate, and instead all are called to heal and help end the suffering of others.  The passage has to be placed in the context of its time, when self did not mean our contemporary notion of individualism but rather the connection of the patriarchal kinship group.  Thus, and here's the big takeaway, the passage is instead a radical call to subvert basic social patterns by renouncing accepted social patterns, such as inequality in marriage or subordination workplace. 

September 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

One Woman's Response to Street Harassment

h/t Bridget Crawford at Faculty Lounge.  An apt response to that idiotic, desperately insecure male jerk whom we all have seen too often:

September 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gardens of Justice

Justice is often represented in visual form by the proverbial Scales of Justice.....What happens when it takes on an alternative, less intuitive guise?.....

call for papers, on the intriguing theme of "Gardens of Justice," by the Australian Feminist Law Journal.  Papers due Oct. 13, 2013. 

September 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bhattacharya on Female Empowerment and Health

Dhrubajyoti Bhattacharya, Loyola Univ. of Chicago, "Engaging Religion to Promote Female Empowerment and Health: Case Studies in Hinduism and Islam," 8 Women’s Policy Journal of Harvard 23 (2010).  Available here
In South Asia, numerous health-related issues, such as unsafe abortions, sex-selective abortions, lack of access to contraceptives, and domestic violence, continue unabated. Rather than recycle decades-old arguments citing "human rights" violations, this article examines motifs of autonomy, equality, and empowerment within the Indian and Pakistani cultures, focusing on Hinduism and Islam, respectively, to promote female empowerment. In doing so, the article highlights opportunities for cultural engagement -- rather than examples of legal derogation -- to support communities in a diaspora where the separation of church and state is hardly rigid and socioreligious dialogue can be utilized to enhance gender parity.

September 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Masculinities and Law Bibliography

Compiled in 2011 by the UNLV School of Law, this bibliography is a good starting point for scholars interested in masculinities and law. 

September 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fathers' Rights Movement

A recent article

September 20, 2013 in Family, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Scalia Forms Search Committee for New Pope.....

Apparently, the good justice is irate about Pope Francis's heretical remarks about gay marriage and abortion, and so has set up this committee to replace Pope Francis (or, as a law professor, I should say in deference to Justice Scalia, "Pope" Francis)...... (When asked about his membership in the committee, Justice Thomas remained silent.)

September 20, 2013 in LGBT, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Pope's Theology of Women

As John notes, the pope’s interview is drawing headlines. And rightly so, for its refreshing and powerful statement of a social gospel. What I’m not sure about yet is what this means for women.  In the interview, the pope criticizes the church’s obsession with doctrine and imposition of rules about divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. In a little-noticed part of the interview, he says the church needs a deeper “theology of women.”  The church, he says “needs the feminine genius” and the full participation of the women’s role.  He says that Mary is greater in the church than any bishop or apostle.  On the other hand he talks about the distinct feminine element, the caregiving function of  women and the bread winner role for men, and women's separate role in the church, sounding more like complimentarianism.  Actions though, speak louder than words.  Last spring, as Slate reported, the pope endorsed his predecessor’s crackdown on so-called radical feminist nuns (80% of American nuns) for their focus on economic justice and serving the poor rather than the anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage message.

September 20, 2013 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ann McGinley on Hanna Rosin's "The End of Men" 93 Boston University Law Review 795 (2013), available here

September 19, 2013 in Manliness, Masculinities, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender at an Elite Boarding School


I just finished, last night, reading Shamus Rahman Khan's The Privilege.  Khan is an alumnus, and was a teacher at St. Paul's School, in New Hampshire, one of the most well-regarded boarding schools in the nation; Robert Mueller and John Kerry both played on the school's hockey team.  One of the sections in the book, the one that was most surprising to me, harped on how girls at the school deliberately mobilized their sex appeal. 

They did so to contest the school’s administration and to assert their power as students; they did so both to please and to intimidate boys; and to experience the pleasures of self-definition and because they had caved-in to social pressure.  Sexuality, then, was a most barbed thing at St. Paul’s (and presumably, similar boarding schools).  It was gratifying to read such a wonderfully rich and paradoxical explanation of sexuality. 

I wondered, though, what happened to these girls.  The girls at St. Paul’s (many of them, I would think) would become lawyers, doctors, professors, business executives, and influential government officials.  How were these early, adolescent experiences impacting how they would view gender relations, and politically ancillary ideals of justice and opportunity?  That would make for an arresting book in its own right. . . ..

September 19, 2013 in Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pope Francis on Gays and Abortion.....

As one who teaches at a Catholic law school, this story was rather riveting. 

September 19, 2013 in LGBT, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Miss America, and the Persistence of Race

As Tracy noted, the French are grappling with the sexual politics of beauty pageants.  Back here in the states, the new Miss America (who is of Asian Indian ancestry) faces problems and issues of her own, based on race

September 19, 2013 in International, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Toddlers, Tiaras, and French Gender Equality

The New York Times reports on France’s proposed ban on child beauty pageants.  Fearing the “hypersexualization” of young girls, the law penalizes anyone who “helps, encourages or tolerates” children’s participation in pageants.  The main sponsor of the ban says the pageants teach girls it is about beauty rather than that “what counts is what they have in their brains.”  Certainly we have seen feminist challenges to women’s beauty obsession before from the protest of the Miss America Pageant in 1968 (at which no actual bras were burned) to The Beauty Myth and Cinderella Ate My Daughter.   Beauty pageants raise other issues as well, like the recent racially vitriolic reactions to the crowning of a Miss America of Indian descent. Feminists, though, have also challenged the broader concept of fearing women’s sexuality, and have often opposed attempts to regulate and criminalize sexual behavior as in bans on birth control and reproductive rights.

It’s telling that the headline is the Toddlers and Tiaras amendment rather than the heart of the gender equality bill.  The main French law proposes a “sweeping gender equality overhaul” of equal pay, domestic violence, paternity obligations, sexism in the media, and participation of women in business and government.  Significantly it includes tangible remedies and penalties for violations of the new laws.   But that apparently is not front-page news.      

September 19, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Transgendered Navy SEAL

This is the sort of story that, to me, would seem intellectually vexing in the most rewarding of ways.  It raises, I'm sure, many questions.  Perhaps one such question is:  Can your "manliness" (if that is what it should be called) remain unimpeachable even after you become a woman because you had proved your guts (or some appropriately named male anatomy) as a Navy SEAL?  And, indeed,  what takes more courage, that prime male virtue--being a Navy SEAL who endures stunning risk, or being a SEAL who comes out as a woman, a form of stunning risk in its own right?   Which is the more "manly" decision?

September 18, 2013 in LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Germany Recognizes "Third" Gender at Birth

The story is a bit dated (it was reported about three weeks ago) but was news to me, and perhaps might be to readers.

September 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Herzog's Household Politics

Were it so that all law professors could write with Don Herzog's humor and wit....  He has a new (or, rather, newish) book about the surprisingly resourceful ways in which women in early modern England asserted control over gender issues.  You can buy it here or download it for free (yep, free) here

September 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Does Manly Courage Exist?

So I ponder here in a recent article. 

September 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law & Society Seeking Feminist Papers

h/t Katharine Van Tassel (Health Law Blog): here

September 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gay Marriage and the Knotty Issues of State Taxes


September 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hawaiian Filipinos and Gay Marriage

A side of the gay marriage discussion in Hawaii that receives less attention.  Here

September 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)