Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Looking Away at Cosby's Rape Charges

An editorial from David Carr:

With public revulsion rising in response to snowballing accusations that Bill Cosby victimized women in serial fashion throughout his trailblazing career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long?

What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; that he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos.

Only the first of those things was actually true.

Those in the know included Mark Whitaker, who did not find room in his almost-500-page biography, “Cosby: His Life and Times,” to address the accusations that Mr. Cosby had assaulted numerous women, at least four of whom had spoken on the record and by name in the past about what they say Mr. Cosby did to them.

 

 

November 30, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

From Reason.com--UVA Rapists Shouldn't be Expelled

From the libertarian Reason.com

It’s difficult to imagine a more callous, wholly inadequate response to a culture of seemingly rampant sexual assault at the University of Virginia (UVA) than the one its administrators practiced year after year, according to a horrifying account finally publicized by Rolling Stone last week. But that’s precisely what happens when an entity equipped only to deal with academic misbehavior is instead pushed to do something about sexual assault: it finds itself putting the university’s brand name first and the victims second.

The lesson of the UVA assault, then, is that efforts undertaken by state governments and federal agencies to beef up university adjudication of sex crimes—including theincreasing popular “yes means yes” bills—are doomed to failure. Students will never see justice so long as colleges, rather than the police, are expected to intervene in rape cases.

November 30, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kristof on UVA, Cosby, Rape

From Nicholas Kristof of the NYT:

The world’s wrath and revulsion seem to be focused on Bill Cosby these days, as he goes in the public mind from “America’s Dad” to an unofficial serial rape suspect.

Yet that’s a cop-out for all of us. Whatever the truth of the accusations against Cosby — a wave of women have now stepped forward and said he drugged and raped them (mostly decades ago), but his lawyer denies the allegations — it’s too easy for us to see this narrowly as a Cosby scandal of celebrity, power and sex. The larger problem is a culture that enables rape. The larger problem is us.

November 30, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mississippi Court Rules for Marriage Equality

ICYMI during the Thanksgiving rush, a Mississippi court ruled in favor of marriage equality.  The opinion is Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, (S.D. Miss. Nov.25, 2014).

The majority of Mississippians disapprove of same-sex marriage. They have made that abundantly clear through every channel in which popular opinion can be voiced. This court does not believe that the 86% of Mississippians who voted against same-sex marriage in 2004 did so with malice, bigotry, or hatred in their hearts. Many were simply trying to preserve their view of what a marriage should be, whether by religion or tradition. They deserve an explanation as to why same-sex marriage is now sweeping the country.

 

It has become clear to the court that people marry for a number of reasons: marriage is a profound source of emotional support; marriage is a private and public expression of commitment; some marry in exercise of their religious beliefs; some do so because it opens the door to economic and government benefits; there are those who marry to present a certain status or image; and others do it for the noble purpose of legitimizing their children. In reviewing the arguments of the parties and conducting its own research, the court determined that an objective person must answer affirmatively to the following questions:

 

    Can gay and lesbian citizens love?

 

    Can gay and lesbian citizens have long-lasting and committed relationships?

 

    Can gay and lesbian citizens love and care for children?

 

    Can gay and lesbian citizens provide what is best for their children?

    Can gay and lesbian citizens help make their children good and productive citizens?

 

    Without the right to marry, are gay and lesbian citizens subjected to humiliation and indignity?

    

    Without the right to marry, are gay and lesbian citizens subjected to state-sanctionedprejudice?

 

Answering “Yes” to each of these questions leads the court to the inescapable conclusion that same-sex couples should be allowed to share in the benefits, and burdens, for better or for worse, of marriage. The court concludes that Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban deprives same-sex couples and their children of equal dignity under the law.

 

November 29, 2014 in Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)

Illinois Law to Require Pregnancy Accommodations

Nat'l Law Rev, Illinois Targest Mid-December for Issuing Required Employer Posting under Pregnancy Accommodations Law

Different and arguably greater obligations on businesses are imposed under the Illinois law than under federal laws, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), even after passage of the ADA Amendments Act (“ADAAA”).

 

The new law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees (and job applicants) for any medical or common condition related to pregnancy or childbirth and makes it unlawful to fail to hire or otherwise retaliate against an employee or applicant for requesting such accommodations. 

 

If an employer demonstrates the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the “ordinary operation of the business of the employer,” however, the employer need not provide the requested accommodation. “Undue hardship” is an action that is “prohibitively expensive or disruptive.” 

November 29, 2014 in Equal Employment, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Second Shift on Thanksgiving

Slate, Thanksgiving is Becoming Impossible for Low-wage Working Women

This is a deeply gendered issue, and not just because low-wage retail workers are disproportionately female. Holidays are a time when the domestic demands put on women escalate. While some families are more progressive, the fact remains that, in most families, women are expected to do almost all the cooking, cleaning, present-wrapping, decorating, and planning. ***

 

State Rep. Mike Foley is trying to attack this problem by pushing a bill in Ohio that would triple the minimum wage on Thanksgiving Day. It's a brilliant idea, and not just because it increases the compensation for people who are dragged into work that day. Since there's no increased profitability for being open on Thanksgiving, if employers have to pay more to make no more money, they might reconsider this ridiculous trend of forcing retail workers to work on what is supposed to be a national holiday.

November 28, 2014 in Equal Employment, Poverty, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Talking to your Relatives about Women's Issues at Thanksgiving

Slate, A Thanksgiving Guide to Talking to your Relatives About Women's Issues in the News

Affirmative consent, Bill Cosby, feminism—when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, women's-issues-in-the-news are bound to be on the table. Here's a guide to talking about some of the stickier gender issues that might come up this holiday season to help get you through.

November 28, 2014 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The UVA Rape Stories

The Rolling Stone story about rape at UVA has provoked much discussion. Here are some relevant links.

The story itself. 

The follow-up by RS.

A Salon article about RS.

A Slate article about RS.

 

 

November 26, 2014 in Education, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

US Man Denied British Visa Because of his Sexism

NYT, After Outcry, Britain Bars "Pick up Artist" from Entering

This week, Julien Blanc became possibly the first man ever denied a visa on grounds of sexism.

 

Mr. Blanc, a 25-year-old Californian, calls himself a “pickup artist.” His website promises men that he will “make girls beg to sleep with you,” and in expensive dating boot camps held around the world he shares tips about “gaming” and grabbing women, including casually pulling their heads toward the crotch.

 

The latter technique works particularly well in Japan, Mr. Blanc recently told an audience of men in Tokyo: “If you’re a white male, you can do what you want.”

 

Amid a public outcry over his abusive techniques, which some say verge on rape promotion, and an online petition with over 150,000 signatures, the British government on Wednesday barred Mr. Blanc from entering the country for a series of events scheduled here. Officials said people could be denied entry on the grounds that their presence was “not conducive to the public good,” a rare power usually reserved for far-right activists and terrorism suspects.***

 
The decision by the British Home Office came after the Australian government hastily withdrew Mr. Blanc’s visa last week and forced him to leave the country. Photos he had shared on social media showing him pretending to choke a series of women went viral on Twitter under the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld. Since then, women and men in several countries where he had scheduled events in the coming months, including Canada, have started campaigns to deny him entry.

November 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Constitutional Right (Not) to Procreate

Mary Ziegler, (Florida State), Abortion and the Constitutional Right (Not) to Procreate, 8 U. Richmond L. Rev. 1263 (2014). From the abstract:

With the growing use of assisted reproductive technology (“ART”), courts have to reconcile competing rights to seek and avoid procreation. Often, in imagining the boundaries of these rights, judges turn to abortion jurisprudence for guidance.
 
This move sparks controversy. On the one hand, abortion case law may provide the strongest constitutional foundation for scholars and advocates seeking rights to access ART or avoid unwanted parenthood. On the other hand, abortion jurisprudence carries normative and political baggage: a privacy framework that disadvantages poor women and a history of intense polarization.
 
This article uses the legal history of struggle over spousal consent abortion restrictions as a new way into the debate about the relationship between ART and existing reproductive rights. Such laws would require women to notify or obtain consent from their husbands before a doctor can perform an abortion. Scholars use spousal-consultation laws to illustrate the sex stereotypes supposedly underlying all abortion restrictions. This article tells a far more complex story. When feminists and pro-lifers battled about spousal consent in the 1970s, they wrestled with many of the questions motivating current battles about ART: Do women enjoy a unique role in child-rearing and childbearing? Does gestation, caretaking, or a genetic connection explain the decision-making power conferred on women in the context of reproduction? How could feminists reconcile demands that men perform a greater share of child-rearing with arguments that women should have the final decision on reproductive matters? By reexamining the history of the consent wars, we can gain valuable perspective on what can go right -- and wrong -- when we forge a jurisprudence based on the relationship between genetic, gestational, and functional parenthood.
 
 

November 25, 2014 in Abortion, Legal History, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Shows Persistent Discrimination for Women Law Faculty of Color

Meera Deo (Thomas Jefferson), The Ugly Truth About Legal Academia, 80 Brooklyn L. Rev. (2015).

The Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project is the first formal, comprehensive, mixed-method empirical examination of the law faculty experience, utilizing an intersectional lens to investigate the personal and professional lives of legal academics. This Article reports on the first set of findings from that study, which I personally designed and implemented. DLA data reveal that ongoing privilege and institutional discrimination based on racism and sexism create distinct challenges for particular law faculty. Interactions between women of color law faculty and both their faculty colleagues and their students indicate persisting racial and gender privilege, resulting in ongoing bias. These findings cry out for law schools to intensify efforts at strengthening rather than de-emphasizing diversity, as many may be tempted to do during this period of great turmoil in legal education. In fact, law schools should provide greater institutional support to faculty, which will help not only those who are underrepresented, marginalized, and vulnerable, but all law faculty, law students, and the legal profession overall. This Article draws from both quantitative and qualitative data gathered from this national sample of law faculty to focus on the ways in which race, gender, and the combination of the two affect law faculty interactions with colleagues and students. It also proposes individual strategies and structural solutions that can be utilized in order for legal academia to live up to its full potential.

November 25, 2014 in Education, Gender, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gender and Silicon Valley

From the New Yorker:

This summer, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and other Silicon Valley superpowers released demographic reports on their workforces. The reports confirmed what everyone already knew: tech is a man’s world. Men make up sixty to seventy per cent of employees at these companies, and, notwithstanding rock stars like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, senior leadership is even more overwhelmingly male. A recent study by the law firm Fenwick & West found that forty-five per cent of tech companies there didn’t have a single female executive. (The picture is also bleak when it comes to ethnic diversity.) The Valley seems to take the problem seriously—Apple’s Tim Cook recently stated his commitment to “advancing diversity”—but there’s a long way to go.

A familiar explanation for tech’s gender disparity is the so-called pipeline problem: the percentage of female computer-science graduates has almost halved since the nineteen-eighties. But this doesn’t fully explain why there are so few women in senior management or on company boards (where skills other than programming matter). Nor can it explain the high rate of attrition among women in tech. A 2008 study found that more than half of women working in the industry ended up leaving the field. The pipeline isn’t just narrow; it’s tapering.

 

November 24, 2014 in Technology, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Women Who Lean In Are More Depressed Than Those Who Don't"

From the New Republic:

Conventional wisdom suggests that people with greater authority at work should be mentally and physically healthier than those without it. They can afford to take care of themselves and aren’t tied to the daily (unhealthy) grind. But a new study, to be published in the December issue of Journal of Health and Social Behavior, suggests that men and women react differently to the pressures of a high-powered career.

The study examined 1,300 middle-aged men and 1,500 middle-aged women from Wisconsin over a period of several decades, looking at responses to a survey gathered when the respondents were 54 and 65 years old. Women with higher levels of job authority (defined as control over one’s work, the ability to hire and fire others, and control their pay) showed more depressive symptoms than women without job authority. With men, the opposite was true: Lower levels of authority correlated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. 

 

 

November 24, 2014 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Sex Exception for Vicarious Liability in Torts

John Goldberg (Harvard), Jotwell, When is Sexual Abuse Within the Scope of Employment?, reviewing Martha Chamallas (Ohio State), Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception, 48 Val. U. L. Rev. 133 (2013), available at SSRN.

Martha Chamallas’s Monsanto Lecture, Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception, is timely and important, inviting renewed scholarly attention to the oft-neglected topic of vicarious liability.

 

Since the 1990s, courts have faced a steady stream of suits brought against schools, hospitals, religious institutions, and other entities for sexual abuse committed by employees. In addressing these suits, Chamallas argues, courts have adopted an unjustifiably narrow approach to vicarious liability.

 

Modern doctrine maintains that an employee’s on-the-job wrong will be imputed to her employer when the wrong is foreseeable, or involves the realization of risks characteristic of the employer’s enterprise. Under these tests, vicarious liability has at times extended to employees’ intentional acts of physical violence, as well as to negligence perpetrated by drunken, off-duty employees.

 

It is thus surprising, Chamallas argues, to find prominent cases in which courts decline to impose vicarious liability for sexual abuse. For example, the California Supreme Court refused to hold a hospital liable for its medical technician’s molestation of a young woman during the performance of an ultrasound, and also declined to hold a school district liable for a teacher’s abuse of a student during a school-sanctioned extra-curricular activity. According to Chamallas, modern legal tests for “scope of employment” are capacious enough to permit liability in cases such as these. Moreover, standard instrumental rationales for respondeat superior (“let the master answer”)—that it incentivizes appropriate precaution-taking by employers, better ensures compensation of victims, and fairly comports with the risks characteristic of the employer’s enterprise—arguably also favor liability. So why would courts decline to hold employers liable under the circumstances?

November 22, 2014 in Business, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Heartbeat Abortion Bill Again in Ohio

Ohio Lawmakers Advance "Heartbeat" Abortion Ban

An Ohio House committee on Thursday voted 11-6 along party lines to advance a bill (HB 248) that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

 

The measure would not apply when a woman's life is in danger, but it would not allow exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest (Siegel/Candisky, Columbus Dispatch, 11/21). Under the bill, performing an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detectable would be a fifth-degree felony (Bassett, Huffington Post, 11/20).

November 22, 2014 in Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 21, 2014

"How much does sexual assault cost college students every year?"

Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale Law student, wrote an editorial in WaPo:

In 2008, Wagatwe Wanjuki reported to her school, Tufts, that her boyfriend had repeatedly assaulted her. But the college refused to investigate the claim. The stress of the abuse and institutional betrayal took a toll on her grades, but without the school’s support she could not afford the tutoring she needed. Tufts then expelled Wanjuki for her substandard academic performance in 2009. (Tufts declined to comment on Wanjuki’s experience, citing confidentiality laws.) No longer enrolled as a student, Wanjuki’s student debt continued to accrue. Years later, she transferred to Rutgers University. Now a prominent anti-violence activist (and friend of mine), she graduated in August with a degree in sociology. But she also has more than $100,000 in debt from two schools.

And: 

Under Title IX, schools must ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities regardless of gender. According to courts and the Department of Education, this requirement includes an affirmative duty for colleges and universities to help survivors of gender-based violence continue their educations. That means schools must provide services such as tutors, dorm changes that allow victims to avoid their abusers, and mental health support to survivors who report harassment or abuse – even if they do not pursue disciplinary charges against the offender.

Yet stories from students across the country show that colleges and universities often shirk their responsibilities to support survivors. Students are then left to fend for themselves (with the help of their families, if they are lucky) as they try to stay in school. Thousands of dollars can disappear into rent for a new apartment off campus, away from an abusive ex, or into bills for hours of much-needed counseling. When a school denies survivors the services and support they need to recover, students may be forced to take out additional loans — or even to leave school, a semester’s tuition down the drain.

 

 

November 21, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gay Couples Banned from Homeless Shelter

From the Washington Times

Leaders of a nonprofit homeless shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, have decided not to allow legally married gay couples to stay overnight as they say it violates the group’s Christian principles.

City Union Mission debated the decision for several years but ultimately decided it must adhere to the Bible, Executive Director Dan Doty told The Kansas City Star.

“We are a Christian, faith-based organization that really does adhere to biblical standards. Our view is that it (same-sex marriage) is inappropriate,” he said.



November 21, 2014 in LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From Working Class to Academia

From one our past guest bloggers, Susan Apel, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School, a personal memoir about moving from the working class to academia.

November 20, 2014 in Law schools, Poverty, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

After Veterans' Day More on Women in the Military

In the aftermath of Veterans' Day, some thinking about women in the military.

November 20, 2014 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender Discrimination in Product Pricing

WaPao, France Investigates a Secret "Tax" that Targets Women

From disposable razors to chocolate, French women are being charged more than men for near-identical products, according to the French rights group Georgette Sand. The group has taken photographs at a variety of stores that appear to show different prices for similar types of products depending on the gender they are being marketed to.

 

The group calls it a secret "tax" on women. For example, according to photos posted by the group, women pay more for disposable razors sold in separately branded packaging.***

 

In response to the public outcry, some French media outlets are pointing at the United States as a role model. In 1995, California signed a bill that banned gender discrimination in pricing, and many states have since followed suit. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times from back then, analysts were optimistically expecting to save women $1,350 a year per person but warned that the law could theoretically also force some merchants to raise prices to ensure equality. However, a 2010 study conducted by Consumer Reports magazine showed that gendered pricing persisted in many other parts of the United States.

 

November 20, 2014 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)