Friday, January 31, 2014

Exploiting Feminine Stereotypes to Gain Power?

Tracy has already discussed Joan Williams's WaPo essay.  But I thought I might add my two cents (or one cent, whatever).  First, an excerpt from said WaPo essay:  

When asked at a September fundraiser in San Francisco how she manages as a woman in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand explained that most senators are older men, so they see her as a daughter. Rather than dismissing her, they have been helpful and protective, especially when she was pregnant while serving in the House. In this way, the New York Democrat is able to translate something relatively unfamiliar and potentially threatening — a female senator — into something comfortable and familiar. That comfort level allows her to build relationships and get other senators’ support for legislation.

And this: 

Powerful women often take feminine stereotypes that can hold women back — the selfless mother and the dutiful daughter, for example — and use those stereotypes to propel themselves forward. I call it gender judo. The martial art of judo, which means “gentle way” in Japanese, focuses on using your opponent’s momentum to overpower him.

I quite understand and respect Tracy's dissatisfaction with this view.  At the same time, from the perspective of a social scientist (yeah, "scientist,"....), I am intrigued by what "power" means in such contexts.  I mean, sure, there is the surface familiarity of traditional gender hierarchy.  Yet, on closer examination, who is exerting power on whom?  Or, is even asking such a question too simplistic?  

Judo (as in what Williams calls "Gender Judo"), after all, is different from other martial arts or boxing; it relies principally on redistributing the opponent's weight against her in lieu of direct assault.  And like all martial arts, victory is whenever you have subdued your opponent, however that's done.  Sounds kinda.....masculine.  

January 31, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Movement to Shared Parenting

More and more states are passing laws (or thinking about so passing) that would give divorced couples equal custodial rights.  Of course, not everyone is pleased by this, as a " 50-50 split[] mandated by law would promote conflict between divorced parents, because some would use a 'stopwatch' to make sure custody was equal."

January 31, 2014 in Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Latest issue of Harvard JLG

Here's the table of contents for the winter issue of the Harvard J of Law and Gender: 

Winter Issue  
Congressional Power to Effect Sex Equality 
Patricia A. Seith
The Dignity of Equality Legislation
Olatunde C. A. Johnson
Creating International Law: Gender as Leading Edge
Catharine A. MacKinnon
Aborting Dignity: The Abortion Doctrine After Gonzales v. Carhart
Victoria Baranetsky
Contractual Duress and Relations of Power
Orit Gan
Twelve Years Post Morrison: State Civil Remedies and a Proposed Government Subsidy to Incentivize Claims by Rape Survivors
Krista M. Anderson

January 31, 2014 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What We're Reading: Ballots, Babies and Peace

This is why I love women's history - there is just always more to the story.  The Untold Story of Jewish Feminist Pioneers provides a Q&A with Historian Melissa R. Klapper who recently won a National Jewish Book Award for Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: American Jewish Women’s Activism, 1890-1940.    Klapper's book discusses the birth control battles of the 1870s, the Jewish push for suffrage, and why peace was once considered a women's issue.



January 30, 2014 in Books, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Notre Dame Renews Hobby Lobby Claim

The University of Notre Dame really, really, really wants in on the Hobby Lobby action to block its health insurance company from covering employees' and students' "immoral" contraception.  WSJ, Notre Dame Revives Bid for Injunction over Contraception.

January 30, 2014 in Religion, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Girls Court

From the NYT: A Court's All-Hands Approach Aids Girls Most At Risk

Girls Court brings an all-hands-on-deck approach to the lives of vulnerable girls, linking them to social service agencies, providing informal Saturday sessions on everything from body image to legal jargon, and offering a team of adults in whom they can develop trust. And while still in its early years, the system is showing promise.


Founded two and a half years ago and carved out of the existing juvenile court, the Girls Court is for young women considered most at risk, especially those forced into prostitution. 


“It’s a unique alignment between adversaries,” Laurel Bellows, a Chicago lawyer and co-chairwoman of the American Bar Association’s anti-trafficking task force, said of the court’s collaborative approach. “These are not easy victims to deal with.”


Sounds like other problem-solving courts with women.  See Mae Quinn (Wash U), Feminizing Courts in Feminist Legal History (Tracy Thomas & TJ Boisseau, eds. NYU Press 2011) and more generally, Christine Stansell (Princeton), City of Women (1987).

January 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yuvraj Joshi on Inclusion

Yuvraj Joshi has an article--"The Trouble with Inclusion"--forthcoming from the Virginia Journal of Social Policy and Law.  The abstract reads: 

Attempts are being made to include members of excluded groups in societal institutions. Inclusion has been proposed as the solution to the injustice caused by exclusion. Yet, inclusion does not always achieve justice and might sometimes perpetuate injustice. This Article provides a framework for understanding inclusion that may fail to achieve social justice and uses this framework to assess the inclusion of lesbians and gays within marriage (marriage equality) and of women and minorities within organizations (organizational diversity). The former case study examines the legal and social movement for recognizing same-sex marriage while the latter engages a range of contemporary debates, including workplace diversity, gays in the military, women in armed combat and gender mainstreaming at the UN. Each shows that inclusion is less likely to achieve social justice where it misconstrues injustice, maintains the status quo, decouples from justice, legitimizes the institution or rationalizes injustice.

January 28, 2014 in International, LGBT, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Children can choose gender in Germany....

Thus begins the story

If the newborn's external genitals look ambiguous - if the penis is too small or the clitoris too large, the medical community calls this condition DSD - Disorders or Differences of Sexual Development, or simply "intersex."


But it's only recently that the legal community has recognized the condition too.

It's a year since Germany passed legislation to recognize intersex people. And the law came into effect late last year. It gives parents the option to leave the gender of their child blank on the birth certificate and other official documents.

And more: 

What might appear to be a small bureaucratic detail means that intersex children in Germany can now choose their own gender later in life.


January 28, 2014 in Family, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Unintended Consequences of Victim Impact Statements

Karen-Lee Miller (Toronto, School of Public Health) has posted Relational Caring, Harm Peddling, and Penitential Receipt: Unique Uses and Consequences of the Victim Impact Statement in the Context of Sexual Assault Victimization. 

 The victim impact statement (VIS) informs a sentencing judge of crime-related physical, psychological and financial harms. While often advocated by justice personnel and feminist counselors, rarely examined are its specific uses by, and effects on, sexually assaulted women. 


The results of her qualitative interviews revealed that VISs were often written, used, and experienced in ways not envisioned by legislators or proponents. At sentencing, victims often used the VIS to express “relational caring” which prioritized others through privileging others’ harms, protecting future victims, and promoting intimate partner offenders. After sentencing, several VISs were “harm peddled” by victims and offenders in non-sentencing arenas such as provincial human rights boards, civil court, and family court. In contrast to advocates and staff’s experiences with male offenders, sexual assault victims who later committed crimes were reported as experiencing severe distress upon hearing the VISs written by those they had harmed. This “penitential receipt” of the VIS was believed associated with victims’ self-blame for the sexual assaults committed against them, and resulted in their failure to pursue all legal remedies available to them once they became in conflict with the law. 

January 28, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Counts as Academic Publishing?

Some interesting thoughts from outside of law, but so very familiar as to what type of writing "counts" particularly with the debate over the value of blogs. See What's the Point of Academic Publishing?  And some words of wisdom.

Making your work “count” on its own intellectual merit helps rescue you from the sense of personal failure that accompanies loss on the job market. When you orient your scholarship toward a future that never comes, it can start to feel like you have no future. When you orient your scholarship toward its obvious yet overlooked purpose—furthering human knowledge—its value does not need to be determined by others, because the value lies in the work itself. This is what counts.

January 28, 2014 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Williams on Playing the Femininity Card at Work

Joan Williams (Hastings) previews her new book, What Works for Women at Work in the Washington Post.

I'm always a big fan of Williams' work.  But I'm not thrilled with what she finds here.  Frankly, it's a pretty depressing view of the work world.  She finds that women still have to play the femininity card in order to be successful in the work place.  Her research suggest that women need to soft sell their ideas and leadership in a "feminine" nurturing kind of gentle way rather than be critical or assertive.   Or in another post, the suggestion is that women need to strike a power pose like Beyonce or Wonder Woman (seriously ? with or withou bustier?).  When can women just be normal?  That would be a revolution. 

January 28, 2014 in Books, Business, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Huckabee, and his critics and his supporters

Yeah, everyone knows now about what Governor Huckabee said at the GOP meeting.  But in case you missed out, here it is: 

[The Republican Party] stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them, it’s a war for them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it. Let’s take that discussion all across America, because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say, ‘Enough of that nonsense.’”

Liberals have ridiculed it.  But I was curious read what the conservatives thought.  So I turned to National Review.  And I was surprised.  NR, or at least one of its writers, didn't exactly defend what the governor said.  Rather, he said that: 1/ Huckabee shouldn't have said it because it wasn't politically shrewd  2/ liberals took Huckabee's comments out of context. 

To me, that was a suggestive response because it seems like NR Republicans are becoming, in their way, closer to the Dems, or at least that the former aren't really trying to distinguish themselves from the Dems.  This new generation--this generation in their 30s and late 20s--seem to share a lot more in common than their grandparents of the 1970s and 1980s when the culture wars were insanely bitter and unbridgeable.  Hence, my (untested) view:  we are all liberals, now....

January 26, 2014 in Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hong Kong billionaire dad offers $1 billion to any man.....

....who will marry his lesbian daughter.  It looks more like a bid to rebuke the daughter, not a serious endeavor to get her hitched.  (it takes two to tango, doesn't it?  And the glorious cosmopolitan place that is Hong Kong--where English (along with Chinese) is the official language--isn't exactly breeding ground for arranged marriages.)

(Gigi Chao, with unnamed dogs)

The daughter in question, Gigi Chao, seemed calmly defiant:  

"Respectfully, we can only be true to ourselves, communicate bravely and directly, and be patient. I am confident that we are on the right side of history, so, as they say, it gets better," she said.

"Honestly, I think recognising same-sex relationships is a good start for the lawmakers, instead of sweeping the issue under the carpet and pretending it doesn't exist, which is degrading."

Presently, Hong Kong does have a law banning gender discrimination, but it's not comprehensive: 

The Sex Discrimination Ordinance, enacted in 1995, offers protection in seven areas, including employment, education, housing and participation in government activities. However, while it covers discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status and pregnancy, it does not cover sexual preference.

January 26, 2014 in International, LGBT, Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Remembering Roe v. Wade

From the Founding Feminist daily herstory column on women's history.

January 25, 2014 in Abortion, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Guns and Domestic Violence

In Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Petitioner in US v. Castleman, the authors including professors at Albany law school, argue against a narrow conceptuatlization of domestic violence.

Violence between intimate partners is not exclusively exhibited as physical force or dominance. To permit Congress to address only domestic violence that presents itself as physical abuse alone is at best inept, and at worst, a fatal miscalculation. The Sixth Circuit’s holding on appeal unduly restricts the enforceability of the Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. § 922) and the Lautenberg Amendment (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)) by limiting the definition of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to assault and battery offenses requiring strong and violent physical force. This limitation permits domestic abusers to possess weapons and endangers the safety of victims, members of law enforcement, and the general public.

An informed, evidence-based understanding of domestic violence encompasses the exertion of power and control, including but not limited to physical violence. For example, the Johns Hopkins University’s “Danger Assessment,” a scientifically tested fatality predictor for women experiencing domestic violence, illustrates that violence between intimate partners appears as dominance and control through various means, such as economic, emotional and psychological abuse. Of its twenty questions, only a few of the assessment’s questions reference physical force.

The Gun Control Act embraces this modern understanding of the crime of domestic violence, acknowledging that the crime is not limited to violent physical force. The plain meaning of the Act and its legislative history fully support a more inclusive application of the firearms restriction – one of the few tools that police and prosecutors have to prevent officer and victim fatalities.

Here are the basic facts of Castleman from Oyez.

Facts of the Case 

In 2001, James Alvin Castleman was charged and pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic assault under the relevant Tennessee statute, which dealt with knowingly or intentionally causing bodily harm to the mother of the defendant’s child. Seven years later, federal agents discovered that Castleman and his wife were buying firearms from dealers and selling them on the black market. Because Castleman’s domestic assault conviction prohibited him from purchasing firearms, Castleman’s wife bought the weapons in her own name. Castleman was indicted in federal district court and charged with two counts of possessing a firearm after being convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. The district court dismissed the charges and held that Castleman’s misdemeanor domestic assault conviction under Tennessee law did not constitute the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as required by the federal statute. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed.


Does Castleman’s conviction of misdemeanor domestic assault under Tennessee law constitute a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence under the relevant federal statute?



January 25, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

We are Never, Ever, Ever, Getting Back Together

Taking a line from Taylor Swift, Jessica Smith (Seton Hall), has posted her paper We are Never Ever Getting Back Together: Domestic Violence Victims, Defendants and Due Process, 35 Cardozo L.Rev. (2013).

This Article proposes an intermediate solution which requires neither ignoring nor absolutely prioritizing the interests of nonresident defendants while still offering some protection to victims. Specifically, it recommends that courts employ a status determination to enter a temporary, renewable civil protection order providing limited relief consistent with that available in other status exception cases. By respecting the rights of both victims and defendants, this solution offers the best opportunity to achieve greater clarity in the law and promote some protection for victims without trampling the rights of defendants.

January 25, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pope Calls for Expanding Role of Women in Church

The Pope "expressed a desire for women to become more involved in the Catholic Church. Recalling the 'indispensable role' of women in society, Francis said he has been pleased to see women sharing pastoral responsibilities with priests and families, adding he wants women to take on a role that is 'more capillary and incisive' in the Church. In the address, Francis praised women for their "gifts of delicacy,' including a 'special sensitivity and tenderness.'" 

"Capillary"?  women should be more like small vessels connecthing the ateries and veins of the church??

January 25, 2014 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 24, 2014

"wives (voluntarily) submit to your husbands"....

Or, something like that, according to Rep. Steve Pearce (R--N.M.).  Rep. Pearce appears to be a fringe member of the GOP and I have little interest in his views.  But rummaging about the archives of the Times, I did find this 1998 statement of beliefs by the Southern Baptist Convention--an organization had almost 16 million members then and counted Bill Clinton and Al Gore among them.  

1998.  That wasn't too long ago.  The statement, paraphrased by the Times, says that the wife ''submit herself graciously'' to her husband's leadership and that a husband should ''provide for, protect and lead his family.''

By contrast: 

Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, in a pastoral message on family life four years ago, said marital roles, although different, should be characterized by ''mutual submission'' of a husband and wife to each other.

January 24, 2014 in Family, Religion | Permalink | Comments (1)

Prostitution as violation of human rights.....

The European Parliament, one of the legislative bodies of the European Union, will decide soon whether prostitution is a violation of a women's human rights.  

From the Telegraph (UK): 

A ground-breaking report has today been accepted by one of the Parliament’s more influential bodies. Just a few hours ago, the committee on women’s rights and gender equality voted through a report arguing that prostitution is a fundamental violation of women’s rights. This means it will go to a full Parliament vote in Feburary.


The report is couched in the formal language used by legislators, but what it is proposing is a massive cultural change.  For centuries, supporters of prostitution have argued that it’s the oldest profession and has to be tolerated, if not legalised. 

Still more: 

Verbal and physical abuse isn’t confined to street prostitution, with one academic study concluding that women who work indoors still face ‘physical, economic and sexual violence from their clients, including serious assaults’. That’s not surprising, given that research on men who pay for sex show that they tend to have a ‘degrading image’ of women.

January 24, 2014 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Comatose woman kept on life support, till fetus becomes viable

News from Texas

Marlise Munoz, 33, suffered a pulmonary embolism in late November and doctors say she has no brain activity. Although Erick Munoz says his wife wanted to be pulled from life support in the event of brain death, doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital in Forth Worth refused to do so after finding out that the unconscious woman was 14 weeks pregnant. Doctors cited a Texas law mandating pregnant women stay on life support until their fetus is viable, typically at 24 to 26 weeks.

Ms. Munoz's husband is challenging the law.  


January 24, 2014 in Family, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)