Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Zealand Second Country to Enact Paid Leave for Domestic Violence Victims

NYT, New Zealand Grants Domestic Violence Victims Paid Leave

New Zealand will grant victims of domestic violence paid leave from work, in a move that activists say will give people the time to move out and seek shelter for themselves and their children without losing their jobs.

Members of Parliament approved a bill allowing the change by a vote of 63 to 57 on Wednesday night, giving domestic abuse survivors, as well as those caring for young victims, 10 days off from work in addition to their regular paid vacations.

The measure, known as the domestic violence victims’ protection bill, will take effect next April, making New Zealand the second country in the world to pass such legislation, after the Philippines. * * * 

New Zealand gave all women the right to vote in 1893, the first self-governing country in the world to do so, and its prime minister, Jacinda Ardern — currently on parental leave — is the third woman to hold the job. But its domestic and sexual violence rates are among the highest in the world.

A 2011 United Nations report said that 30 percent of women in New Zealand had suffered domestic abuse in the previous decade, with 14 percent experiencing sexual violence. A 2017 report in The New Zealand Herald said that the country had “the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world,” estimating that 525,000 New Zealanders were harmed every year.

Guardian, A Huge Win: New Zealand Brings in Paid Domestic Violence Leave

New Zealand has passed legislation granting victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave to allow them to leave their partners, find new homes and protect themselves and their children.

MPs clapped and cheered as bill passed on Wednesday night with 63 votes to 57. It is the result of seven years of work by Green MP Jan Logie, who worked in a women’s refuge before she became a politician. 

July 31, 2018 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Massachusetts NASTY Women Act Repeals Old Anti-Abortion Law

The NASTY Women Act: Massachusetts Repeals a 173-Year-Old Anti-Abortion Law in Case of a Roe v. Wade Reversal

Massachusetts wants to ensure that abortion continues to be officially legal in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court after President Trump names a new justice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

And so, while the procedure is already legal under state and federal law, Massachusetts moved to abolish a 173-year-old law that banned “procuring a miscarriage.”

The bill, called the Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women, or NASTY Women Act, passed in a landslide in the state legislature, gaining unanimous approval from the Senate in January, and passing by 138-9 in the House. It is now expected to be signed by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Massachusetts State Senate President Harriette Chandler explained to Timethat the retirement of Justice Kennedy spurred the drive to abolish the law, as “these are strange times we live in.”

July 31, 2018 in Abortion, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Podcast: Catharine MacKinnon on Sexual Harassment in the Age of MeToo

Podcast: Signs, Ask a Feminist: Catharine MacKinnon and Durba Mitra Discuss Sexual Harassment in the Age of #MeToo

Durba Mitra (DM): Today as part of Signs’ Ask a Feminist series, I have the opportunity to speak about sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement with feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon, a lawyer, writer, teacher, and activist who is Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School and the James Barr Ames Visiting Scholar of Law at Harvard Law School since 2009, and one of the most cited legal scholars in the English language. MacKinnon is the author of numerous books, including the groundbreaking work Sexual Harassment of Working Women: A Case of Sex Discrimination, published in 1979 by Yale University Press, when Professor MacKinnon was completing her PhD at Yale. MacKinnon went on to write the brief and win, as cocounsel, the landmark Supreme Court case Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, which established sexual harassment as discrimination. MacKinnon has authored numerous books on critical issues, including Feminism UnmodifiedToward a Feminist Theory of the State, and Are Women Human? I had the opportunity before this interview to read some of Professor MacKinnon’s research related to her landmark first book in an extraordinary resource, her own papers, acquired by the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. Her study, published almost forty years ago, became the basis of transformations not only in sexual harassment law but in wider discourses that shaped the public perception of the very idea of sexual harassment. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cites MacKinnon’s Sexual Harassment as the landmark study, the foundation for legal debates and social understanding on discrimination on the basis of sex.

July 31, 2018 in Equal Employment, Theory, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

CFP New Book Collection -- Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World 

Believe Me: A call for submissions

Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti — the editors who brought you the groundbreaking anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape — are seeking submissions for a new book.

Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World will ask and answer a question that will change the way we think about sexual violence: What if we believed women?

We are close to a tipping point on trusting women: the explosion of activism inspired by #metoo is just the latest evidence. What Americans need now is to be pushed over the edge.

The need has never been more urgent. In part because of the progress women 

have made and are poised to make, we’re living in an age of profound backlash. An unrepentant misogynist, accused many times over of sexual harassment and assault, is our president. The Department of Education is consulting “men’s rights” groups, once rightly seen as the dangerous fringe, as they form education policy around rape. Online harassment is a scourge; misogynists are more emboldened than ever.

While Believe Me will be focused primarily on sexual assault, we are also looking for essays that take the premise and apply it broadly, including (but not at all limited to):

  • How race, gender identity, and class impact what kinds of women are believed and how they’re treated.
  • How conservative women have co-opted feminism and its tenant to ‘believe women’ in order to roll back women’s rights
  • How believing women about their own experience of themselves could transform the fight for trans rights and specifically reduce violence against trans women.
  • A vision of masculinity that isn’t defined by power over women.
  • How white women’s “believability” has harmed communities of color — in particular men of color accused of violence against white women
  • The inherent misogyny of white supremacists and the inherent white supremacy of misogynists.
  • What it’s like to not believe yourself about your own experience of sexual violence, and how we can help survivors overcome that internalized disbelief.
  • How male victims of sexual violence deal with additional stigmas, including the fear of being feminized
  • The link between the rise of marginalized voices on social media and online harassment, and the disinformation campaigns that have radically undermined democracy here in the U.S.
  • The many connections between violence against women and our inhumane immigration policies
  • How listening to women could change the way we think about justice and consequences for rapists

Essays will be between 2000 and 3000 words.

To submit, please email a short pitch (NOT a complete essay) about what you’d like to write, along with two clips of previous pieces (they don’t have to be published, we’d just like a sense of your writing) to believeme2019 at gmail dot com. All contributors will be paid. The deadline for submissions is September 1.

July 26, 2018 in Books, Call for Papers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 411 on the Second New Ruth Bader Ginsburg Movie "On the Basis of Sex"

Absolutely cannot wait for this.  (Coming in December).  So cool that the costumes (at least in the trailer) closely align with the archival photos.

On the Basis of Sex Official Movie Site

Felicity Jones is Ruth Bader Ginsburg in New Trailer for "On the Basis of Sex"

Felicity Jones makes a damn good Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Jones plays the iconic Supreme Court justice in the upcoming film based on RBG’s life, “On the Basis of Sex.” A new trailer for the film follows a young Ginsburg as she starts law school at Harvard, where she was only one of nine other female students in her class.

“Protests are important, but changing the culture means nothing if the law doesn’t change,” Ginsburg says to political activist and fellow lawyer Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates) in the trailer. 

"On the Basis of Sex" Trailer: Can Felicity Jones Handle Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Accent?" [sic the NYT's headline snark]

A biopic of the Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could hardly seem timelier, given the current headlines about President Donald J. Trump’s new nominee for the high court, Brett Kavanaugh, as well as the surprise box-office success of the recent documentary “RBG.” But based on the first trailer for “On the Basis of Sex,” fictionalization may prove stranger than truth in this case.

For two years, Natalie Portman was slated to play Justice Ginsburg, but dropped out in 2017, only to be replaced by Felicity Jones. Ms. Jones was born in Birmingham, England, and initial impressions indicate she may not have nailed Ms. Ginsberg’s distinctive Brooklyn accent.

Felicity Jones is Ruth Bader Ginsburg in First Trailer for "On the Basis of Sex"

Felicity Jones Transforms into Young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Trailer

July 26, 2018 in Judges, Legal History, Media, Pop Culture, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP Public Feminisms

CFP Public Feminisms, Signs

Special Issue: Public Feminisms

Even as antifeminist and right-wing forces have gained footholds worldwide, feminists have forcefully asserted themselves in the public sphere as key voices of resistance. From the Women’s Marches around the world that took place the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, to the 2012 protests in Delhi, to a new resurgence of writers proudly adopting the moniker, feminists have organized to claim public space and a public voice. It is no overstatement to claim that “the resistance” is being led by women, with intersectional feminism at its core.

Meanwhile, a shifting media landscape has enabled contradictory dynamics: feminists—through innovative uses of social media and online media outlets, as well as mainstream media—have found (and created) platforms to amplify their public voices, yet the pool of public intellectuals and the punditry continues to be largely dominated by white men.

This special issue seeks to address these dynamics through a multifaceted and interdisciplinary discussion of “Public Feminisms.” Signs has sought—through the creation of the Feminist Public Intellectuals Project—to actively advocate for feminist voices in both the scholarly and the public sphere, building a critical mass of public intellectuals who speak with a feminist voice to audiences outside of academia. These multipronged efforts have engaged feminist theorizing and historicizing with the pressing political and social problems across the globe. This special issue seeks to further extend the discourse of public feminisms.

 

Possible areas of focus might include:

  • How have new forms of media enabled new public forms of feminism (or antifeminism)? How does changing media create new risks for feminist discourse or feminist individuals?
  • How are feminist publics and public feminisms represented in literature, film, television, theater, dance, or other cultural forms today and in prior moments of resistance? How can these forms of expression be put to feminist use?
  • How has feminism either challenged or contributed to the concept of publicness itself? What historical models of publicness has feminism adopted or transformed?
  • How has claiming public space related to claiming discursive space, or vice versa? How have feminisms conjured new publics or counterpublics?
  • How do race, nation, religion, class, sexuality, and caste structure where and which feminisms tend to become public? How have feminists across time challenged these dynamics?
  • How do nonfeminist forces shape what circulates in the name of feminism, and how can feminists combat it?
  • What can comparisons among different historical eras, geographical areas, or political climates tell us about the conditions under which public feminisms can emerge?
  • To what extent are new languages necessary to shifting public discourses about feminism? How are new conceptual languages or vocabularies adopted as part of public discourse?

Signs particularly encourages transdisciplinary and transnational essays that address substantive feminist questions, debates, and controversies without employing disciplinary or academic jargon. We welcome essays that make a forceful case for why public feminism demands a specific and thoughtfully formulated interdisciplinary feminist analysis and why it demands our attention now. We seek essays that are passionate, strongly argued, and willing to take risks.

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2018.

Please submit full manuscripts electronically through Signs’ Editorial Manager system at http://signs.edmgr.com. Manuscripts must conform to the guidelines for submission available at http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/journals/signs/instruct.

July 26, 2018 in Call for Papers, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Profs Speak Out on Attorney General Decision to Deny Asylum for Domestic Violence

Nermeen Arastu, Janet Calvo, and Julie Goldscheid, What Jeff Sessions' Efforts to Deny Asylum to Domestic Violence Victims Look Like, Slate

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released a policy memorandum providing guidance on how United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officers should implement Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision last month to do away with asylum for most domestic violence survivors. Sessions’ decision in Matter of A–B–, a case involving a domestic violence survivor’s application for asylum, overturned a prior ruling that explicitly recognized that those fleeing domestic violence may qualify for asylum. With the A–B– decision and accompanying guidance, the administration aims to reject decades of reform by flatly stating that these claims “in general” will not be grounds for asylum relief. These steps confirm the administration’s efforts to thwart our country’s prior commitments to end gender violence and support survivors, and to place the United States outside the global consensus, flouting international law.

Caroline Bettinger-López and Rachel Vogelstein, Sessions' Draconian Asylum Decision, Foreign Affairs Mag.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a radical decision that will undoubtedly result in death or significant harm to some of the world’s most vulnerable women: victims of domestic violence who live in countries that do not, or cannot, protect them from their abusive partners. Over the past two decades, the United States has provided a safe haven to many of these women through its asylum laws. In a heartless move that flouts established U.S. law and international human rights standards, Sessions found that a domestic violence victim from El Salvador—perhaps the most dangerous country on earth in which to be a woman—would not qualify for asylum, even though her own country had utterly failed to protect her.

In previous years, whether the United States was under a Republican or Democratic president, such a decision would have been unthinkable. The State Department’s human rights reports routinely criticize other countries for their lack of protections for domestic violence survivors, and U.S. asylum laws have evolved over the years to account for the multiple forms of persecution that victims may suffer—including persecution at the hands of a private actor—when their governments fail to provide protection. 

Asylum protections for victims of gender-based violence have been well established for decades—not only in the United States but also under the international human rights system. The United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention established the right to claim asylum on the basis of gender-based persecution and crimes. Historically, nations treated domestic violence as a private matter to be resolved between partners and families. But in modern times, violence against women has come to be understood as a human rights violation—a form of gender-based discrimination that subordinates and oppresses women. 

July 26, 2018 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)