Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Strategies for Sex Equality: Points Taken and Missed in Postwar Legal Feminism"

Smita Ghosh: It was my pleasure to spend the early hours of Friday morning in a panel called "Strategies for Sex Equality: Points Taken and Missed in Postwar Legal Feminism," with Katherine Turk, Leandra Zarnow and Mary Ziegler, and Serena Mayeri as the commentator. Live-blogging a panel is not as easy as the experts make it look, so I may have missed something, hopefully others will feel free to correct/comment/commence a firing squad.

In “Gendered Skill, Labor Politics, and Legal Politics in the New York Hotel Industry,” Katherine Turk took the history of labor feminism into the 1980s.

Leandra Zarnow‘s presentation--“A Lawyerly Congresswoman: Bella Abzug and the ‘Deliberate’ Legal Feminist Edge of 1970s Congressional Reform”-- focused on Abzug’s time in congress. 

In the final paper, “From Choice to Constraint: Reproductive Liberty Organizing in the Shadow of Roe”, Mary Ziegler challenged that traditional story that feminists, clinging to the language of Roe, developed a myopic view of abortion as a negative right, ignoring issues like access to health care and sterilization abuse. 

This effect of neoliberalism was the main jist of Mayeri’s comments, too.  All three panelists, she noted, deal with the ironic convergence of feminism and the rise of the New Right and neoliberal economics. Their papers coincide to tell the history of the 1970s: the demise of postwar prosperity, the retrenchment of liberal courts and the growth of single-issue politics that put feminist groups on the defensive.

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