Tuesday, December 31, 2013

About 53% of all sexual assault victims in the military...

...are reportedly men:  

Although members of Congress have focused their outrage on abuse of women in uniform, the Pentagon reported in May that 53% of the estimated 26,000 troops who were raped or forced into sex last year were men.

More from the LA Times: 

Although women are proportionally more likely to be the victim of a sexual assault — the Defense Department estimates that 6.1% of women and 1.2% of men are victims of sexual assaults — the fact that men so vastly outnumber women in the military means that the problem affects more men than women.

The rest of the story here.  

December 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Year in Review: Favorite Feminist Quotes

Favorite Feminist Quotes of 2013

My personal favorite, Chelsea Clinton.  Q:  Are you a feminist.  A: "Of course. And everyone I know is a feminist."

December 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Year in Review: Feminist (S)heroes

Ms. magazine's Feminist Heroes of 2013.

December 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 30, 2013



As 2013 draws to a close, I think of movies that I've seen this year (probably no more than four; three of which I can't even remember what they were).  The one movie that I do is Prisoners.  It's an unsettling film.  In a sense, though, it's a familiar story:  a daughter is kidnapped and a furious father lights upon a path of violence to find her.  But unlike some movies, Prisoners does not vindicate the father's gung-ho masculinity; it both expresses sympathy for its impulse and contempt for its propensity for destruction and self-destruction.  

Hugh Jackman does a flawless job of suggesting that the only way for his character, the father, to make sense of his reality as a masculine protector is to hunt down and torture those whom he suspects; to do nothing, that is, to abide by the police, seems to him to be a betrayal of both his daughter and his own being.    Prisoners, indeed.  

December 30, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Brito on Matriarchy

Tanya Brito has uploaded "What We Talk About When We Talk About Matriarchy."   It's forthcoming in the Michigan State Law Review.  The abstract reads: 

Is post-recession America experiencing a shifting landscape between men and women? This question has been raised in recent research studies and books that compare labor market trends for men and women and, more specifically, gender differences apparent in the impact of the economic downturn. While in recent decades women have made significant advancements in a number of domains, including education and the labor market, the recession has ushered in a public debate about whether those trends have accelerated to the point that women are not just doing better but are surpassing and dominating men. The word matriarchy has been and remains a socially constructed term. Its use in public discourse reflects anxieties surrounding female independence and their transgression of conventional and gendered social roles. Looking back at previous "matriarchies," however, we see that the economic opportunity (or lack thereof) of men figures into patterns of family union and stability. Even today, as social mores have loosened and public acceptance of nontraditional family forms has increased, the tendency to see the gains of women as a net loss to men persists (and vice versa). Instead, more attention ought to be paid to how government rules and regulations unduly constrain the capacity of families to adapt flexibly to economic hardship, particularly families at the lower end of the income ladder. Lacking access to a fully adequate social welfare system, such families need at their disposal a full range of options when jobs are scarce, including the matriarchy option.


December 29, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Widiss on DOMA

Deborah Widiss has uploaded "Leveling Up after DOMA," forthcoming in the Indiana LJ.  The abstract reads:  

Even though the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act precluding federal recognition of same-sex marriages has been held unconstitutional, more than half of the nation’s same-sex couples remain ineligible for full federal marriage rights because they live in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. The common response to this problem is to urge Congress to enact a uniform “place of celebration” rule under which any lawful marriage would be recognized as valid for federal purposes, and many federal agencies have adopted this rule in implementing discrete statutes that reference marriage. This approach mitigates the inequity of current policy, but it has significant weaknesses that have not been adequately considered. It requires same-sex couples to travel out-of-state — and often very significant distances — to marry simply to claim federal benefits, imposing an unfair burden on same-sex couples and one which will likely further exacerbate class-based variation in marriage rates. And it increases the risk that some same-sex couples will become trapped in unwanted marriages, because jurisdictional rules typically require couples divorce in their home state and many states refuse to recognize same-sex marriages even to dissolve them. 

This invited essay challenges the underlying assumption that state-licensed marriages should continue to be the exclusive mechanism for accessing core federal rights. It advocates instead creation of a federal domestic partner or “marriage” registry available to (at least) same-sex couples wherever they live. This would effectively “level up” federal marriage policy to address the discrimination against same-sex couples left in DOMA’s wake. It also suggests that a federal domestic partner registry could be structured to make at least some federal marriage rights more generally available to unmarried same-sex and different-sex couples who meet specific criteria. Even if, at some point, same-sex couples are permitted to marry in all states and the problem of derivative federal discrimination disappears, broader trends suggest that cohabitation and non-marital childbearing rates will continue to rise. A domestic partner registry could be a vehicle for more fairly and effectively distributing government benefits, rights, and obligations among diverse family forms.

December 29, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reading Women, Feminists, and Law...for Fun

It's Winter Break, and what that means to me is ... it's time to READ.  For Fun.  

Top of the stack from Santa is Lisa Scottoline's, Accused, reviving the all-female law firm as they battle crime and the law.  Though my all-time Scottoline favorite is Daddy's Girl (terrible title) which beautifully captures the experience of a first-year female law professor.  Next in line is law professor Alafair Burke's (Hofstra), Never Tell though her If You Were Here is a Amazon top mystery book of the year.  

For some other ideas, see Feminist Reads for the Holidays and Beyond

December 28, 2013 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tweeting Feminism

Can Feminist Hashtags Dismantle the State?

“Twitter has hands down been one of the most dynamic, vital spaces for feminists in conversation in 2013.”

If the notion that a slew of 140-character utterances could be “vital” to feminism gives you pause, you’re not alone.

December 27, 2013 in Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boys Who Wear Dresses

Thanks to my friend Nancy for this from the LA Times, "Men are Stuck" in Gender Roles, Data Suggests.  "Even as society encourages women into typically male roles, research shows it holds rigid gender stereotypes for men — probably to everyone's detriment."

December 27, 2013 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Underestimating Justice Sotomayor

MSNBC explores How Sotomayor Undermined Obama's NSA as the lone dissent that understood the changing dynamics of privacy in this day and age.  But the greater message is more profound: that her gravitas was underestimated because of her gender and race.

Adam Winkler (UCLA) says, “Justice Sotomayor has been underestimated at every stage of her life.” “Sotomayor was underestimated in part because she was the first Latina, it was easy to say she didn’t have the skills and she was an affirmative action baby, but it was an absurd claim then and it’s now being shown to be absurd.”

Larry Tribe (Harvard) says, “I greatly underestimated how powerful a jurist Justice Sotomayor would be. From the start, she has been an enormously impressive justice, making a major impact in cases like Jones, among many others,” Tribe wrote in an email. “I now regard her as a major force on the Court – someone who is likely to make a historic contribution – and I have no doubt that I was totally wrong in my initial expressions of doubt.”

December 26, 2013 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pajama Boy

From a recent article in the New Republic

The part of this week's conservative straw man is being played, appropriately enough, by a stock photo. "Pajama boy," as the young bespectacled man the Obama administration chose for its latest health care PSA has come to be known, has swiftly become a figure of delighted outrage on the right. He has been the subject of no fewer than three articles in the National Review, plus an essay in Politico Magazine by the National Review's Rich Lowry.

From the aforementioned Rich Lowry (As someone who voted twice for Obama, I have to admit, though, Lowry's words did make me laugh):

Pajama Boy is about as threatening as Michael Cera and so nerdy he could guest-host on an unwatched MSNBC show. He is probably reading The Bell Jar and looking forward to a hearty Christmas meal of stuffed tofurkey. If he has anything to say about it, Obamacare enrollments will spike in the next few weeks in Williamsburg and Ann Arbor.

Perhaps the goal of OFA was to create a readily mockable image to draw attention to its message, in which case Pajama Boy was a brilliantly successful troll. The right immediately Photoshopped him into the Mandela funeral selfie and emblazoned his photo with derisive lines like, “Hey girl, I live with my parents,” and, “How did you know I went to Oberlin?”

December 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Samuels on "Surrender and Subordination"

Elizabeth Samuels at the U of Baltimore has published "Surrender and Subordination: Birth Mothers and Adoption Law Reform" in 20 Mich. J. of Gender & L. 33 (2013).  The abstract reads:

For more than 30 years adoption law reform advocates have been seeking to restore for adult adoptees the right to access their original birth certificates, a right that was lost in all but two states between the late 1930s and 1990. The advocates have faced strong opposition and have succeeded only in recent years and only in eight states. Among the most vigorous advocates for access are “birth mothers” who surrendered their children during a time it was believed that adoption would relieve unmarried women of shame and restore them to a respectable life. The birth mother advocates say that when they surrendered their children, their wishes were subordinated and their voices silenced. They say they want to be heard now as they raise their voices in support of adult adoptees’ rights to information in government records about the adoptees' original identities. Opponents of restoring access, in “women-protective rhetoric” reminiscent of recent anti-abortion efforts, argue that access would harm birth mothers, violating their rights and bringing shame anew through unwanted exposure of out-of-wedlock births. Opponents say they must speak for birth mothers who cannot come forward to speak for themselves.

Birth mother advocates respond that the impetus historically for closing records was to protect adoptive families from public scrutiny and from interference by birth parents, rather than to protect birth mothers from being identified in the future by their children. They maintain that birth mothers did not choose and were not legally guaranteed lifelong anonymity. They point out that when laws that have restored access have been challenged, courts have found neither statutory guarantees of nor constitutional rights to anonymity. They also offer evidence that an overwhelming majority of birth mothers are open to contact with their now grown children.

As a means of assessing these competing claims, this article analyzes the provisions in a collection of birth mother surrender documents assembled by the author — seventy-five mid-twentieth century documents executed in twenty-six different states. In order to establish the significance of the provisions with respect to these claims, the article first relates depictions by birth mothers of a journey from silence to legislative advocacy. The article then examines the conflicting claims about birth mothers that pervade legislative contests over adult adoptee access to original birth certificates. Finally, the article analyzes the provisions of the surrender documents. The analysis of the provisions definitively supports birth mother advocates’ reports that women were neither offered a choice of nor guaranteed lifelong anonymity. Their opponents’ contentions to the contrary, whether motivated by concern for birth mothers or other interests, reinscribe an earlier culture of shame and secrecy, subordinating women’s own wishes and silencing their newly raised voices.

December 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rotundo's American Manhood

Front Cover


The year 2014 will  mark the twentieth anniversary of Anthony Rotundo's terrific book American Manhood:  Transformations In Masculinity From The Revolution To The Modern Era.  Unless I'm mistaken its explicit meditation on manhood as subject of history was, I believe, the first of its kind. The book's abstract reads:

In the first comprehensive history of American manhood, E. Anthony Rotundo sweeps away the groundless assumptions and myths that inform the current fascination with men’s lives. Opposing the views of men’s movement leaders and best-selling authors who maintain that manliness is eternal and unchanging, Rotundo stresses that our concept of manhood is man-made and that, like any human invention, it has a history. American Manhood is a fascinating account of how our understanding of what it means to be a man has changed over time.

December 23, 2013 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

SSRN Top Posts on Women, Gender & Law

Michal Gilad (U Penn), In God's Shadow: Unveiling the Hidden World of Domestic Violence Victims in Religious Communities  

Judith D. Fischer (Louisville), The Supreme Court and Gender-Neutral Language: Splitting La Difference, 33 Women's Rgts. Reporter 218 (2012)

Susan B. Boyd (British Columbia), Marriage is More Than Just a Piece of Paper: Feminist Critiques of Same Sex Marriage, 8:2 Nat'l Taiwan U. Law Rev. 263 (2013)

Laura Rosenbury (Washington U), Work Wives, 36 Harv. J. Law & Gender 345 (2013) 

Thomas Schmid & Daniel Urban (Technische Universität München), Does It Matter Where You Work? International Evidence on Female Board Representation

December 21, 2013 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Obama Weighs in on Military Sexual Assault Law

See President Orders Review of Sexual Assault in the Military

President Obama has ordered a one-year review of the military's response to sexual assault within the ranks, saying his administration has "an urgent obligation" to respond to the problem.


"If I do not see the kind of progress I expect, then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks."

December 21, 2013 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Canada Strikes Down Anti-Prostitution Laws Citing Sex Worker Safety

The New York Times reports that the Canadian highest court struck down the country's anti-prostitution laws.

The court, ruling in a case brought by three women in the sex trade, struck down all three of Canada's prostitution-related laws: bans on keeping a brothel, making a living from prostitution, and street soliciting. The ruling won't take effect immediately, however, because the court gave Parliament a year to respond with new legislation, and said the existing laws would remain in place until then.

Law professor Robert Leckey (McGill) said "the court found that the law did nothing to increase safety, but suggested in its ruling that more finely tailored rules might pass constitutional scrutiny in the future."

December 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Raigrodski's "What Can Comparative Legal Studies Learn from Feminist Legal Theories in the Era of Globalization"

Dana Raidgroski has a new article available for download, "What Can Comparative Legal Studies Learn from Feminist Legal Theories in the Era of Globalization."  It's forthcoming in the U of Baltimore Law Review.  And the abstract reads:

This article re-examines the field of comparative law and comparative legal studies through the lens of feminist legal theories/studies (FLT). It suggests that lessons learned from the development of FLT and insights from shared epistemology and methodology within FLT can inform the ongoing controversies within comparative legal studies and provide comparative legal scholars and practitioners with the tools to maximize the benefits of comparative legal studies in the era of increasing global interdependence.

December 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kramer on the "new sex discrimination"

Zachary Kramer has a new article available for download, "The New Sex Discrimination," forthcoming from Duke LJ.  The abstract reads:

Sex discrimination law has not kept pace with the lived experience of discrimination. In the early years of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, courts settled on idea of what sex discrimination looks like — formal practices that exclude employees based on their group membership. The problem is that sex discrimination has become highly individualized. Modern sex discrimination does not target all men or all women, nor does it target subgroups of men or women. The victims of modern sex discrimination are particular men and women who face discrimination because they do not or cannot conform to the norms of the workplace. These employees have been shut out of a sex discrimination regime that still expects employees to anchor their claims to a narrative of group subordination.

This paper proposes a new regime for sex discrimination law. The model for the new sex discrimination regime is religious discrimination law. Unlike other areas of employment discrimination law, religious discrimination law offers a dynamic conception of identity and a greater array of different theories of discrimination. Sex discrimination law can and should work this way, too. On a broader level, the paper recalibrates sex discrimination law’s vision of equality. Difference is universal; no two people are the same, and this is a good thing. Thus the central task of sex discrimination law should be to better recognize — and in turn protect — the distinctive ways in which employees express their maleness and femaleness. It is these differences, after all, that shape the way employees experience modern sex discrimination.

December 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Proposed Defense Bill for Military Sexual Assaults Guarantees Victims a Lawyer

NPR had a detailed story today on the proposed congressional bill for prosecution of military assaults outside the usual military command.  See Defense Bill Addresses Sexual Assaults in Military.

Senator Claire McCaskill notes: "This will be the most victim-friendly organization in the world. There is no system - the civil criminal justice system or any other system in the world - that gives every victim their own lawyer."  Though the new system helps only the small percentage of victims (3,000 of 24,000) who report.

Interestingly, data suggests the majority of military victims are men. "But the women of the Senate took ownership over this problem from the very start as anger mounted this year." Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York offers this explanation of women's leadership on this issue.

Because as women, not only can we understand and be very empathetic when we talk to a man or a woman who's been brutally raped, but we are often able to internalize it and actually imagine what that would be like if that happened to my son or to my daughter, or to myself.

December 19, 2013 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gay Marriage Now Legal in New Mexico

The New Mexico Supreme Court today struck down bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in the case, Griego v. Oliver.  Seventeen states plus D.C. now recognize gay marriage as legal. 

The Griego Court first applied intermediate scrutiny to analyze the state marriage statutes. 

Because same-gender couples (whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, hereinafter “LGBT”) are a discrete group which has been subjected to a history of discrimination and violence, and which has inadequate political power to protect itself from such treatment, the classification at issue must withstand intermediate scrutiny to be constitutional.

It then rejected the purported government interests supporting discriminatory treatment of gay couples.    

The opponents of same-gender marriage assert that defining marriage to prohibit same-gender marriages is related to the important, overriding governmental interests of “responsible procreation and childrearing” and preventing the deinstitutionalization of marriage. However, the purported governmental interest of “responsible procreation and childrearing” is not reflected in the history of the development of New Mexico’s marriage laws. Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law, as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying. In addition, New Mexico law recognizes the right of same-gender couples to raise children. . . . 

And then it rejected the common tautological argument that denial of marriage was to protect marriage itself.

Finally, legislation must advance a state interest that is separate and apart fromthe classification itself. It is inappropriate to define the governmental interest as maintaining only opposite-gender marriages, just as it was inappropriate to define the governmental interest as maintaining same-race marriages in Loving. Therefore, the purported governmental interest of preventing the deinstitutionalization of marriage, which is nothing more than an argument to maintain only opposite-gender marriages, cannot be an important governmental interest under the Constitution.



December 19, 2013 in Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)