Monday, June 20, 2022

Feminism's Problematic Connection with Celebrity Culture

Susan Faludi, Op-ed, NYT, Feminism Made a Faustian Bargain with Celebrity Culture. Now Its Paying the Price

 

The ruination of Roe and the humiliation of Ms. Heard have been cast as cosmic convergence, evidence of a larger forced retreat on women’s progress. “Johnny Depp’s legal victory and the death of Roe v. Wade are part of the same toxic cultural movement,” a Vox article asserted. “These examples may seem disparate, but there’s an important through line,” a USA Today reporter wrote, citing academics who linked the Alito draft opinion, the Depphead mobbing and, for good measure, the “public consumption” of cleavage at the Met Gala (held the same night the Supreme Court draft leaked): “This is backlash.”

 

Backlash it may be. Even so, putting the pillorying of Ms. Heard in the same backlash-deplorables basket as the death rattle of Roe is a mistake. Lost in the frenzy of amalgamation lies a crucial distinction. There’s a through line, all right. Both are verdicts on the recent fraught course of feminism. But one tells the story of how we got here; the other where we’re headed. How did modern feminism lose Roe v. Wade? An answer lies in Depp v. Heard.***

 

Using celebrity and hashtag feminism is a perilous way to pursue women’s advancement because it falls victim so easily to its own tools and methods. In Ms. Heard’s case, her ex-husband turned #MeToo’s strategy against itself. Mr. Depp claimed victimization because he’s a money-generating personality — he could be de-famed because he’s famous. And his massive (and vicious) fan mobilization on social media (nearly 20 billion views for #JusticeForJohnnyDepp on TikTok by June 2) was overwhelming, even by #MeToo standards. By contrast, #JusticeForAmberHeard had about 80 million views on TikTok in the same period.

 

Celebrity representation of feminism is a double-edged sword. If an individual embodies the principle, the principle can be disproved by dethroning the individual. In that way, Ms. Heard became both avatar and casualty of celebrity feminism. When she took the stand, she brought the modern incarnation of the women’s movement into the dock, too, and mobilized those who would see it brought down. If an ambassador for women’s rights wasn’t credible, Ms. Heard’s mob of haters was quick to conclude, then the movement wasn’t, either. No need to fret over those legions of unfamous women who may now think twice before reporting domestic violence.

Coupling the fortunes of feminism to celebrity might have been worth it if it had led to meaningful political victories. But such victories are hard to achieve through marketing campaigns alone, as the right wing understands.

June 20, 2022 in Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Controversial Origins of Father's Day and its Connection with Women's Child Custody Rights

Wash Post, Father's Day Once was Highly Political--and Could Become So Again

Sonora Smart Dodd, whose father raised her and her siblings after their mother died in childbirth, was inspired to propose the holiday in 1910 after attending a church service honoring mothers. Even so, while federal law enshrined the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914, it took another half-century for fathers to receive similar recognition, first with Lyndon B. Johnson issuing a presidential proclamation in 1966 and then with Congress enacting an official holiday in 1972.

 

For decades, there was less political will to honor fathers, especially because many men regarded the holiday as “silly.” Such thinking continues to this day, as some men celebrate being fathers by using the holiday as a ticket to spend a day at the golf course, enjoying hours on “their” day away from their children.

 

This understanding of Father’s Day, though, misses the ways in which Americans have used the holiday as a political vehicle. In the latter decades of the 20th century, Father’s Day was a key battleground regarding parental rights and responsibilities for activists radicalized by the nation’s rapidly shifting familial landscape. At the root of this politicization of Father’s Day — maybe surprisingly — was the history of divorce.***

 

Enter Father's Day.  As some feminists came to view child support enforcement as a key women’s issue, they turned to the new holiday as an opportunity to publicize their cause. In 1971, a group of women and children from the Association for Children Deprived of Support (ACDS) picketed the home of California assemblyman, and potential gubernatorial candidate, Robert Moretti on Father’s Day to press him to champion child-support reforms.

 

Several years later, in 1975, NOW chapters in Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Hartford, Conn., all participated in “Father’s Day Actions.” The Tulsa protesters promised, in a news release, that “Fathers who are not paying child support can expect that their names and the amounts they are in arrears will be announced” and publicly “displayed by mothers, children and concerned NOW members.” The Hartford women, for their part, laid a wreath at the door of the Superior Court of Connecticut to “mourn the loss of paternal responsibility by all the fathers involved in divorce, separation, and enforcement.”

 

Some divorced fathers, however, had their own political agenda for Father’s Day.

 

Fathers’ rights advocates objected to being used as “wallets” and claimed that their ex-wives purposely kept them from seeing their children in violation of visitation orders. In 1971, the National Council for Family Preservation — one of several failed attempts by fathers’ rights advocate Richard F. Doyle to form a robust national organization like NOW — urged its member groups to hold protests on the Saturday before Father’s Day, noting that fathers might “want to be elsewhere with their children on Sunday.” In a news release, Doyle called for the recognition of the “stupid and cruel divorce laws and practices that have made this holiday a mockery for countless fathers and children.”

June 20, 2022 in Family, Gender, Legal History, Masculinities, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 17, 2022

Fourth Circuit En Banc Holds Charter School's Dress Code of Skirts for Girls is Gender Discrimination under Equal Protection and Maybe Title IX

Peltier v. Charter Day School, No. 20-1001 (4th Cir. June 14, 2022)

Charter Day School (CDS),1 a public charter school in North Carolina, requires female students to wear skirts to school based on the view that girls are “fragile vessels” deserving of “gentle” treatment by boys (the skirts requirement). The plaintiffs argue that this sex-based classification grounded on gender stereotypes violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and subjects them to discrimination and denial of the full benefits of their education in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (Title IX).

 

In response, despite CDS’ status as a public school under North Carolina law, CDS and its management company disavow accountability under the Equal Protection Clause by maintaining that they are not state actors. These entities also assert that Title IX, the federal statute designed to root out gender discrimination in schools, categorially does not apply to dress codes.

 

Upon our review, we affirm the district court’s entry of summary judgment for the plaintiffs on their Equal Protection claim against CDS, and the court’s judgment in favor of the management company on that claim. We also vacate the court’s summary judgment award in favor of all defendants on the plaintiffs’ Title IX claim and remand for further proceedings on that claim.***

 

As part of this educational philosophy [traditional education as it was 50 years ago], CDS has implemented a dress code to “instill discipline and keep order” among students. Among other requirements, all students must wear a unisex polo shirt and closed-toe shoes; “[e]xcessive or radical haircuts and colors” are prohibited; and boys are forbidden from wearing jewelry. Female students are required to wear a “skirt,” “jumper,” or “skort.” In contrast, boys must wear shorts or pants. All students are required to comply with the dress code unless they have physical education class, when they wear unisex physical education uniforms, or an exception is made for a field trip or other special event. A student’s failure to comply with the dress code requirements may result in disciplinary action, including notification of the student’s parent, removal from class to comply with the dress code, or expulsion, though no student has been expelled for violating the dress code.

 

In 2015, plaintiff Bonnie Peltier, the mother of a female kindergarten student at CDS, informed Mitchell that she objected to the skirts requirement. Mitchell responded to Peltier in support of the policy, stating: "The Trustees, parents, and other community supporters were determined to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men in this school of choice. For example, young men were to hold the door open for the young  ladies and to carry an umbrella, should it be needed. Ma’am and sir were to be the preferred forms of address." There was felt to be a need to restore, and then preserve, traditional regard for peers. Mitchell later elaborated that chivalry is “a code of conduct where women are treated, they’re regarded as a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.” Mitchell further explained that, in implementing the skirts requirement, CDS sought to “treat[] [girls] courteously and more gently than boys.”

 

In support of their summary judgment motion, the plaintiffs submitted evidence of the tangible and intangible harms they suffer based on the skirts requirement. One plaintiff testified that the skirts requirement conveys the school’s view that girls “simply weren’t worth as much as boys,” and that “girls are not in fact equal to boys.” Another plaintiff stated that the skirts requirement “sends the message that girls should be less active than boys and that they are more delicate than boys,” with the result that boys “feel empowered” and “in a position of power over girls.”

 

The plaintiffs also described the impact of the skirts requirement on their ability to participate in school activities. On one occasion, when a first-grade female student wore shorts to school due to a misunderstanding of the dress code, she was removed from class and was required to spend the day in the school’s office. The plaintiffs also explained that they avoid numerous physical activities, including climbing, using the swings, and playing soccer, except for days on which they are permitted to wear their unisex physical education uniforms. The plaintiffs further testified that they cannot participate comfortably in school emergency drills that require students to crawl and kneel on the floor, fearing that boys will tease them or look up their skirts. Both parties presented evidence from expert witnesses regarding the effects that the skirts requirement and gender stereotypes have on female students.

See also In "Skirts Only" Case, 4th Circuit Says Innovation Great, Inequality Ain't, Reuters

Deep in the thicket of a new en banc decision from 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the constitutionality of a charter school’s “skirts-only” dress code for girls, there’s a nuanced legal debate about whether public charter schools can be sued under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

 

In a 10-6 decision in Peltier v. Charter Day School Inc, the 4th Circuit majority determined that under North Carolina’s statutory framework for public charter schools, the schools are state actors — and therefore bound by the Equal Protection Clause — when it comes to setting and enforcing educational policies. The judges in the majority found that Charter Day School’s dress code, which requires girls to wear skirts, skorts or dresses, is unconstitutional because it serves no educational purpose but was adopted, according to statements from school officials, to telegraph the message that girls are “fragile vessels” who require boys' protection, rather than equal treatment.

 

That message “blatantly perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes ... with potentially devastating consequences for young girls,” wrote Judge Barbara Keenan for the majority. “If CDS wishes to continue engaging in this discriminatory practice, CDS must do so as a private school without the sanction of the state or this court.”

 

But six 4th Circuit judges said it's not at all clear that the Charter Day School is a state actor. In particular, wrote Judge Marvin Quattlebaum in the court's primary dissent, there's a strong argument that North Carolina did not compel Charter Day to adopt its dress code, so the policy cannot be considered a state action

 

June 17, 2022 in Constitutional, Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 13, 2022

California Corporate Gender Diversity Law Struck Down, But Other States and Countries Continue Trend of New Laws

Ms., Gender Diversity on on California's Corporate Boards was Too Good to Law

In 2018, California broke new ground for women when Governor Jerry Brown signed the first-in-the-nation requirement that publicly traded companies in the state have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019, and two or three (depending on company size) by the end of 2021. The bill’s co-sponsor state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson put it bluntly: “We are not going to ask any more.  We are tired of being nice. We’re tired of being polite. We are going to require this because it’s going to benefit the economy. It’s going to benefit each of these companies.”

 

Alas, it was too good to last. Last month, the law was deemed unconstitutional in a bench trial by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis because it wasn’t designed to remedy a “specific, purposeful, intentional and unlawful” instance of discrimination. She added that the state’s claims that diverse boards would directly boost California’s economy could not be proven.

 

It’s no surprise that Judicial Watch, the conservative group that prevailed in the litigation, trotted out the dreaded “Q Word” in opposing the measure: quotas. Legal precedent holds that quotas violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against people based on race, gender, religion, age and other protected identities, because they could lead companies or schools to discriminate against people outside the targeted groups.

 

Never mind that in this case the poor, underrepresented targeted group happened to be wealthy white men, who have dominated corporate boards since Queen Elizabeth I the granted the first corporate charter to the East India company in 1600.

 

The ruling is without question a legal and moral setback, but fortunately for the future of women on boards in corporate America, that particular train may have already left the station. In the short time the law was in force, the percentage of board seats held by women virtually doubled—from 15.5 percent to 31.9 percent. In raw numbers, that translates to 766 female board members when the law was passed to 2046 by the end of 2021. ***

 

It’s clear from the pitiful progress since California led the way that stronger action is needed. Cases in point: Washington state’s law requires boards to have at least 25 percent of their makeup be members who self-identify as women. But violators face no penalties. Three other states—Maryland, New York and Illinois—merely require boards to disclose their demographic makeup. Ohio “encourages,” but does not require, disclosure.

 

We should take a page from the European Union playbook, where 40 percent female board seats for publicly traded companies were required as of March of this year. Under the new rules by the Council of the E.U., listed companies must meet the mandate by 2027

June 13, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Gender, International, Legislation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

New Book Menstruation Matters--Challenging the Law's Silence on Periods

I enjoyed hearing a little bit about this book at today's Summer Feminist Theory Workshop, and the ways in which it can be incorporated into doctrinal classes like Con Law and others.

Bridget Crawford & Emily Waldman, Menstruation Matters: Challenging the Law's Silence on Periods (NYUP 2022)

Approximately half the population menstruates for a large portion of their lives, but the law is mostly silent about the topic. Until recently, most people would have said that periods are private matters not to be discussed in public. But the last few years have seen a new willingness among advocates and allies of all ages to speak openly about periods. Slowly around the globe, people are recognizing the basic fundamental human right to address menstruation in a safe and affordable way, free of stigma, shame, or barriers to access.

Menstruation Matters explores the role of law in this movement. It asks what the law currently says about menstruation (spoiler alert: not much) and provides a roadmap for legal reform that can move society closer to a world where no one is held back or disadvantaged by menstruation. Bridget J. Crawford and Emily Gold Waldman examine these issues in a wide range of contexts, from schools to workplaces to prisons to tax policies and more. Ultimately, they seek to transform both law and society so that menstruation is no longer an obstacle to full participation in all aspects of public and private life.

Menstruation Matters

June 8, 2022 in Books, Gender, Healthcare, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Study Finds that Women Lawyers Make Up Less than 10 Percent of Deal Leaders

Tracey E. George, Albert Yoon, Mitu Gulati, Gender, Credentials and M&A  

Since the 1990s, women have made up roughly half of law school classes. Attrition between entry to law firms and partnership results in women comprising 20 and 25 percent of partners. But who makes it to the top of the partnership? Is there yet more gendered attrition? Constructing a unique dataset of publicly-filed M&A deals and detailed biographical information of M&A lawyers, we find that women make up fewer than 10 percent of deal leaders. When we look at the factors that determine who becomes a deal leader we find that credentials – both educational and professional – matter. But they matter more for women. And one credential – attending a top law school – seems to matter a lot. Using conversations with senior lawyers, we try to get at some answers for why.

June 7, 2022 in Business, Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 6, 2022

STEM Gender Inequality Means that Women's Ideas are Less Likely to be Built Upon

Michael Bikard & Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, Standing on the Shoulders of (Male) Giants: Gender Inequality and the Technological Impact of Scientific Ideas" 

We argue that gender inequality in science and technology means that ideas are less likely to be built upon if their author is a woman versus a man. Testing this empirically is challenging because men and women tend to work on different ideas whose potential is largely unobservable. To address this challenge, we exploit the occurrence of simultaneous discoveries in science – i.e., instances when a man and a woman have published the same idea around the same time – and track the citations to their subsequent publications in patented inventions. We find that scientific publications receive fewer patent citations, that is, they have a lower technological impact, when their main author is a woman. This gap is not driven by women’s lower propensity to produce patented inventions based on their own ideas, but rather by other inventors’ lower likelihood to build on those ideas. Additional analysis suggests that supply-side factors alone, such as the greater saliency of men’s work, are unlikely to drive our results. Rather, inventors seem to pay more attention to men’s ideas. Our research highlights that gender inequality shapes more than individuals’ careers. It also shapes the extent to which their ideas are used to create new technologies.

June 6, 2022 in Business, Gender, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2022

Using Private Law of Contract as a Vehicle for Social Change for Gender Equality

Susan Chesler, Using Private Law as a Vehicle for Social Change: A Feminist Approach.

 Even though contracts are so embedded in individuals’ personal and professional lives, rarely (if ever) do we think of contracts as being a vehicle for social change. To effect legal change that addresses societal injustices, we generally rely on our legislative bodies and common law system. In this essay, I argue that private law – by way of contract drafting – should be considered an additional vehicle for seeking and obtaining social change. While it’s easy to envision how contract drafting can be effectively used to create immediate, positive impacts on the transacting parties themselves, contract drafting can also be used as a vehicle for broader societal change. Since performance of the legal obligations of a private contract often affects other individuals who are not parties to the agreement, it follows that the way those private contracts are drafted may improve their circumstances as well. Additionally, while a single individual may lack bargaining power to negotiate the most favorable of contract terms for themselves, groups of individuals – such as labor unions -- may yield great power. And some individuals by virtue of their resources or position can yield substantial power in contracting favorable contract terms, even with more powerful entities. Contract drafting choices also have a direct impact on the way the common law is created in the judicial arena and thus its reach extends beyond the transacting parties. In this essay, I argue that the use of the same or similar contract drafting language in numerous unrelated contracts can have a significant impact and can effectively be used to address societal injustices.

As an illustration of the powers of contract drafting, this essay provides concrete examples of how a feminist approach to contract drafting can be used to eliminate, or at least limit, gender inequality. By applying a feminist perspective to the drafting of employment and premarital agreements, I demonstrate how contract drafting choices can not only lead to positive changes for the contracting parties, but can also lead to broader social change. While advocating for change through legislative and judicial pathways will likely remain the primary avenues for challenging societal injustices, this essay aims to show why contract drafting can also be used as a vehicle for change.

June 3, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Family, Gender, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Study of Gender-Based Judging on Swedish Supreme Court Shows Little Effect of Gender

Johan Lindholm, Mattias Derlen & Daniel Naurin, 'Nevertheless, She Persisted': Gender and Dissent on the Swedish Supreme Court 

From the abstract:

In line with gender-based stereotypes and ideals of female agreeability and cooperativeness, research has shown that women tend to cooperate more and compete less than men (the competitiveness theory). The article empirically studies whether Swedish Supreme Court Justices practice of writing dissenting opinions follows the gender-based patterns that can be expected from the competitiveness theory. Issuing dissenting opinions is a well-established practice on the Supreme Court, but it is also a public form of collegial disagreement that is potentially especially socially costly for female Justices. We therefore hypothesize that female Justices avoid writing dissenting opinions, particularly alone, and help foster agreement on panels compared to male Justices. These hypotheses are not supported by the data and the behavior of Swedish Supreme Court Justices thus does not follow the competitiveness theory. We propose some explanations for this result, which runs counter to previous research, and point to possible future research.

The conclusion from the introduction:

Generally speaking, however, empirical evidence of an effect of gender on merit-based voting in previous research must be characterized as relatively weak. As observed by Leonard and Ross (2020, 278), “anyone hoping to find convincing evidence of consistent gender differences in decisions across a broad range of issues would be sorely disappointed by the extant literature”. The lack of more clear and strong empirical evidence of gender-based differences in judicial behavior is commonly explained by what is often characterized as the organizational theory. According to this theory, gender-based differences in judicial behavior are tempered by professional and organizational factors. While there is room for different legal reasoning, judges are restricted by the relatively narrow scope of what, in the mind of judges and other lawyers, constitutes acceptable legal reasoning and interpretations of the law, and individuals that fail to show an ability to act in accordance with and within these limits will have a difficult time becoming judges. In this way, the characteristics of the law in combination with the process involved in becoming a judge – a process that starts with an individual graduating from law school and ends with a judicial appointment – will both select individuals that behave in a particular way and shape those individuals’ behavior to conform with what the profession considers acceptable and appropriate behavior. Moreover, an argument can be made that the pressure to conform to existing (male-based) norms and to prove their competence is particularly strong on women who come in as ‘outsiders’ to judicial institutions that have traditionally been a male dominated environment (Davis, Haire, and Songer 1993, 133; see also Boyd, Epstein, and Martin 2010, 392; Boyd 2016, 790; Sisk, Heise, and Morriss 1998, 1453–1454). If
correct, the organizational theory could explain why previous research has not been able to show a strong and consistent effect of gender on merits voting.

June 2, 2022 in Courts, Gender, International, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Anti-Subordination Torts -- A Festschrift of Martha Chamallas's Groundbreaking Work

Scott Skinner-Thompson, Anti-Subordination Torts, 83 Ohio State L.J. (2022)  

In law school curriculum, the first-year tort law course is often caricatured as the class with the funky, sometimes amusing, fact patterns where people get injured—occasionally in bizarre ways—and attempt to recover from the party purportedly responsible. In legal scholarship, tort law has historically been dominated by two approaches: the law and economic approach focused on efficiently distributing the costs of injuries and on preventing/deterring them, and the civil recourse or corrective justice approach that underscores tort law’s role in providing individual redress for victims who have been injured by a wrongdoer.

But thanks to innovative scholars attentive to power disparities in the law and society, an ever-growing body of scholarship analyzes, critiques, and suggests reforms to tort law based on the racial, gender, ableist, socio-economic, and sexuality-based disparities or stereotyping assumptions that exist within the doctrine and its application. Professor Martha Chamallas’s scholarship has been at the vanguard of this important trend and it’s a joy to celebrate her ground-breaking work in this Festschrift, although a tall order to do it justice.

Her intellectual and moral leadership have helped us realize that tort law—no less than constitutional law, civil rights, or criminal law—is a context where power and identities play a critical role in determining whose lives will be valued, whose injuries will be remedied, and what injustices will be rectified. Or not. This work has implications not just for how tort law is interpreted and applied in courts, but also how it is taught in school. In fact, several of Professor Chamallas’s scholarly endeavors focus specifically on bringing these insights to bear on law school curriculum.

As detailed herein, her substantive contributions to tort scholarship and theory are manifold but include at the top of the list (my list, anyway): (1) critiquing the degree to which harms often (but not exclusively) associated with women are unrecognized or devalued in tort law, (2) unearthing the ways in which the injuries of racism have been ignored, and (3) articulating how constitutional equality principles might be used to reform some of the discriminatory practices of tort law.

All told, I suggest that Professor Chamallas has helped engender an anti-subordination approach to tort law. As characterized here, this anti-subordination approach to tort law does not just simply attempt to redress formal inequalities in doctrine or its application, putting people on formally equal footing in the eyes of the law. Rather, this approach moves the law in favor of prioritizing (with special solicitude) the injuries disproportionately inflicted on marginalized communities and, potentially, being mindful of (instead of ignoring) identity differences to create contextually sensitive rules that may level up those that have historically been subjugated or ignored.

May 31, 2022 in Gender, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Study Shows Prosecutors Favor Defendants of their Own Gender

Stephanie Holmes Didwania, Gender Favoritism Among Criminal Prosecutors, Journal of Law and Economics (Forthcoming)

Prosecutors enjoy wide discretion in the decisions they make but are largely unstudied by quantitative empirical scholars. This paper explores gender bias in prosecutorial decision-making. I find that male and female prosecutors exhibit small and statistically insignificant differences in their treatment of defendants overall but demonstrate relative leniency towards defendants of their own gender. Such favoritism at charging translates into a sentencing gap of roughly five months of incarceration for defendants who are paired with an own-gender prosecutor versus an opposite-gender prosecutor, which represents a roughly eight percent reduction in sentence length at the mean. The estimates do not appear to be driven by differences in case assignments for male and female prosecutors. 

May 25, 2022 in Courts, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Republicans Introduce "Women's Bill of Rights" to "Protect" Biological Sex Differences in Law

Republicans Introduce Women's Bill of Rights to Protect Accomplishments, Ensure Safety of Biological Females

Republicans are introducing a "Women's Bill of Rights" in order to enshrine into law protections for females based on their biological sex.

 

Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., is leading lawmakers on the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest group of conservative lawmakers on the Hill, in formally introducing the legislation Thursday morning. 

 

"I am proud to introduce the Women’s Bill of Rights to affirm the importance of acknowledging women and their unique and distinguishing characteristics and contributions to our nation. As the Left continues to erase women, we must fight for women and their place in our society. Whether it’s keeping the word "mother" in written law, or ensuring women’s domestic violence shelters do not have to accept biological men, we must stand up for women," Lesko told Fox News Digital.

 

The bill states that the Women's Bill of Rights is necessary to establish in order to "reaffirm legal protections afforded to women under Federal law" due to that face that males and females have unique biological differences, which increases as they age.

 

The lawmakers' bill says that due to biological differences, only females are able to "get pregnant, give birth, breastfeed children." In addition, males are larger and possess greater strength than females due to biology. The text also states that females are subjected to more specific forms of violence, including sexual violence....

 

"This common-sense document will help codify our common understanding and the reality we all know of the words ‘female,’ ‘woman,’ and ‘sex’, and I am proud to support it," Rep. Miller added.

 

The legislation clarifies, "for purposes of Federal law, a person’s ‘sex’ means his or her biological sex (either male or female) at birth" and the term "mother" means "parents of female sex and ‘father’ is defined as parent of the male sex." It continues: "there are important reasons to distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons, domestic violence shelters, restrooms, and other areas, particularly where biology, safety, and privacy are implicated."

May 19, 2022 in Gender, Legislation, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Italy's Highest Court Rules Children to be Given Surnames of Both Mother and Father

NYT, Italy's Highest Court Rules Children to be Given Mother's and Father's Surnames

The ruling overturns decades of patriarchal family legacy, which largely left women out of the decision-making process.

Italy’s top court ruled on Wednesday that children born in the country will be given their mother’s and father’s surnames at birth, declaring the automatic practice of only giving children their father’s surname “constitutionally illegitimate.”

Parents will be able to choose the order of surnames or decide to use only one, a statement on the ruling from Italy’s Constitutional Court read, citing principles of equality and the children’s interest. Except in certain circumstances, Italian families have been unable to give their children their mother’s surname alone.

“Both parents should be able to share the choice of a surname, which is a fundamental element for one’s personal identity,” the court wrote.

Compared with other European countries where both surnames can be used for children, like France, Germany and Spain, Italy has been slow in embracing the recognition of the mother’s family name.

“The Constitutional Court canceled the last patriarchal legacy in family law,” Cecilia D’Elia, a member of Parliament and a leader on women’s issues in the Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter. “The mother’s name will have the same dignity as the father’s, a sign of civilization.”***

In Italy, wives used to take their husbands’ names and be solely responsible for children before the law. Though norms have since changed, the law automatically giving children their father’s surname has stayed, causing the European Court of Human Rights to rebuke Italy for discrimination.

April 28, 2022 in Family, Gender, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Gendered Judging and Benevolent Sexism

Jeffrey Rachlinski and Andrew Wistrich begin their article, Benevolent Sexism in Judges, with an epigraph that, in its pithiness, cannot be improved upon: “The pedestal upon which women have been placed has all too often, upon closer inspection, been revealed as a cage.” Perhaps the most infamous proof of this claim can be found in Justice Joseph Bradley’s concurring opinion in Bradwell v. Illinois, which points to “the natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex,” as well as her “paramount destiny . . . to fulfil the noble and benign offices of wife and mother,” as reasons to deny Myra Bradwell a license to practice law in Illinois. The stereotypes that women are natural caregivers, more nurturing and attentive to their children than men, persist to this day, undergirding unequal treatment in the workplace, burdening nonconforming individuals, and discounting efforts of men who are excellent parents.

In some instances, however, these same stereotypes may favor women. Rachlinski and Wistrich set out to test this phenomenon, which they term “benevolent sexism.” They study whether judges are affected by gender bias in two contexts where women regularly experience better outcomes than men: child custody disputes and criminal sentencing. Judges are supposed to be impartial in their decisions and are typically forbidden from relying on gender when determining outcomes. The confirmation of gender bias would therefore be an important (albeit unsurprising) finding.2

As the authors note, the mere fact that women experience systematically better outcomes in some contexts, like custody disputes, cannot prove the existence of gender bias among judges, as other factors unique to those individual cases might influence outcomes.

April 27, 2022 in Courts, Gender, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Normative Question of Whether the Law Should be Sex Neutral

Doriane Lambelet Coleman, Sex Neutrality, 85 Law & Contemporary Problems (2022)

 This article closes out the volume on Sex in Law in which it appears with reflections on the normative question whether it would be best on balance if the law were to evolve to be sex neutral. Specifically, it considers whether—as some observers and policymakers have suggested—we would be better off if law could not see or act on the basis of sex, and if it prohibited regulated institutions from doing the same. Arguably, this move is the next logical step in the evolution of law’s treatment of sex from its historical use as a basis for ordering society according to the state’s general police powers to its increasingly limited modern use by both the states and the federal government as a basis for addressing discrimination and the differences that continue to stand in the way of sex equality.

The question whether—the biology and ubiquity of the taxonomy notwithstanding—the law should be sex neutral is both current and recurring. That is, we are pressed to consider it today by some of the same groups that have posed it in the past, including those that take one or more of these positions: Law that demands equality should express equality. The best way for the law to contribute to the dismantling of structural “isms”—including sexism—is by forcing neutrality. All forms of group-based affirmative action are inherently unjust. Gender minorities but also females are likely to fare better in the long run if sex is removed from any calculus that yields social goods. Unusual political bedfellows are the norm here, even as related questions about how sex is defined and what sexism is still fair game are front and center in the culture wars. As a result, the debates are more significant and disruptive than they were in earlier periods, an indicator of the kind of great social upheaval that tends to make for the development of new law in the Anglo-American tradition.

This article briefly summarizes the history of sex in law (Structural Sexism) and the reforms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Sex Skepticism) before turning to the current moment in which these debates are taking place (Sex Neutrality). In this context, it describes and then counters the arguments in favor of sex neutrality on the grounds that sex is real, it is significant for individuals and the society in ways that matter to good governance, and it is precisely the law’s role to take such taxonomies into account in the fulfillment of its institutional mission. The article concludes with an effort to settle the terms on which disparately motivated groups might agree to pursue commonly held objectives.

April 20, 2022 in Gender, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

New Book on French Feminism, the Legacy of the Witch Hunts, and the Continuation of Misogyny Today

Book Review, NYT, A French Feminist Tells Us to Embrace Our Inner Hag, reviewing, Mona Chollet, In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women are Still on Trial 

Catalonia’s left-leaning Parliament recently passed a resolution pardoning the hundreds of women executed as witches between the 15th and 18th centuries. A similar bill is making its way through the Scottish Parliament. Both were inspired by growing outrage about historical — and contemporary — femicide and by a post-MeToo impulse to honor women who were burned, hanged or drowned as heretics.

This same spirit of exoneration runs through “In Defense of Witches,” a thought-provoking, discursive survey by Mona Chollet, a bright light of Francophone feminism. Chollet celebrates not only the witches of the past, but also the so-called “witches” of today: independent women who have chosen not to have children, aren’t always coupled, often defy traditional beauty norms (letting their hair go gray), and thus operate outside the established social order. That’s especially true in France, which may celebrate the femme libre, but which, from its tax laws to its robust public day care, is built to promote the family and motherhood. It is also, not incidentally, a country where a certain vision of femininity supports the economy through the biggest beauty industry in the world.

Clearly, Chollet has struck a nerve. “In Defense of Witches,” her first book to appear in English, was a best seller when it came out in France in 2018. A Swiss-born journalist and an editor at Le Monde Diplomatique, she has grown a following with work that calls attention to sexism, the gender gap in salaries and the societal pressures placed on French women in a culture with clear ideas about how women are expected to look and act — and of course to make it all look effortless. Anglo-American women have long been obsessed by clichés of French femininity. (Today that’s perhaps best exemplified by the series “Emily in Paris,” in which a naïve American is inducted into the worldly ways of the French.) But in today’s real France, Chollet has emerged as a quiet revolutionary, pushing back against the clichés and the patriarchy that shapes them.***

“In Defense of Witches” explores how women who assert their powers are too often seen as a threat to men and society, how those who don’t bear children are too often seen as a disturbing anomaly and how women at middle age too often disappear. These days they’re not burned at the stake but sidelined at work by the insidious invisible hand of midcareer misogyny, or by standards of beauty that place a higher premium on youth, with women’s “expiry date” tied to their fertility. Sometimes, by choice or by circumstance, a woman becomes what Chollet calls a “femme fondue,” or dissolving woman, who becomes overwhelmed by “the service reflex” and disappears into motherhood or child care, losing her grip on the first person.

April 14, 2022 in Gender, International, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Evaluating the Pink Tax and Other Tropes as Strategies for Law Reform and Policy Making

Bridget J. Crawford, Pink Tax and Other Tropes, Yale J. Law & Feminism (forthcoming)

Law reform advocates should be strategic in deploying tax tropes. Through an examination of five common tax phrases—the “nanny tax,” “death tax,” “soda tax,” “Black tax,” and “pink tax”—this Article demonstrates that tax rhetoric is more likely to influence law when used to describe specific economic injustices resulting from actual government duties, as opposed to figurative "taxes" in the form of other real-life burdens or differences. Slogans describing figurative taxes are less likely to influence law and human behavior, even if they have descriptive force in both popular and academic literature as a short-hand for group-based disparities. This Article catalogues and evaluates what makes for effective tax talk, in terms of impact on both the law and day-to-day actions on the ground. With this roadmap, lawyers, policy makers and others will be able make more forceful and precise tax-based arguments aimed at reforming the law and changing human behavior.

This Article makes three principal claims—one descriptive, one empirical, and one normative.

The Article first develops a taxonomy of tax phrases, based on the object of critique. The classification distinguishes between criticisms of compulsory formal levies, on the one hand, and burdens or oppressions that are akin to taxes, on the other. The taxonomy also notes some differences among tax tropes based on their linguistic form. Some phrases deploy a single word modifier for “tax” (like “nanny,” “death,” or “soda”) to signify a larger relationship, event, or transaction that is subject to taxation. Other phrases use a single-word modifier for “tax” (like “Black” or “pink”) that is strongly associated with the persons subject to taxation.

The Article next engages in a content analysis of multiple data sets of printed popular and scholarly literature to compare the relative “success” of the phrases “nanny tax,” “death tax,” “soda tax,” “Black tax,” and “pink tax” in terms of frequency of use, links to legal reform, and impacts on taxpayer behavior. The resulting preliminary hypothesis is that tax tropes that deploy suggestive modifiers to describe literal taxes are more effective than those that allude to identity axes associated with figurative taxes.

Given the particular variability of the “pink tax” trope, the Article turns to normative recommendations for how gender equality advocates might rethink use of that phrase in particular. The “pink tax” is useful as an overarching description of related manifestations of gender inequality: the gender wage gap, gender-based pricing differences in consumer goods or services, disproportionate expenses incurred by a large portion of the population for safe travel or to maintain stereotypically “feminine” appearances, and unequal time burdens experienced by those responsible for households or caregiving. But only one manifestation of the “pink tax,” as a description for the state sales tax on menstrual products, has been well served by a tax shorthand phrase. “Tampon tax” talk has fueled litigation and advocacy efforts; it has led to sales tax reform in least ten jurisdictions, with more states expected to follow. Indeed, “pink tax” rhetoric describing figurative taxes might not, on its own, lead directly to legal change. For that reason, at least when arguing for law reform, gender equality advocates should not over-rely on “pink tax” talk and figurative tax tropes.

April 13, 2022 in Business, Gender, Legislation, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Solution for "Toxic" Policing -- Hiring More Women Officers

This Police Chief is Hiring Female Officers to Fix "Toxic" Policing

*** [Karen] Wrigley, 35, is one of a slew of female officers hired over the past year and a half in this suburb south of Omaha, part of a deliberate strategy by Police Chief Ken Clary to reduce the likelihood of misconduct and excess violence on the force.

 

[Police Chief Ken] Clary, a former Iowa state trooper, believes the research and his own experience, both of which tell him diversity makes for better policing and decreases the use of force against civilians, especially those who are Black. He’s rewritten the department’s rule book and promoted an officer to become head of recruiting, with an eye toward adding more women and police officers of color and making sure they stick around.

 

It’s too early to see significant changes in data generated by the 103-officer department. But officers say the personnel efforts have helped usher in a culture shift, which experts say is the key to long-lasting change.***

 

Bellevue, the third-largest city in Nebraska, is experiencing “the complete opposite of what everybody else is dealing with,” Maguire said. “I don’t know exactly how Chief Clary is doing it. But whatever magic wand he’s been able to use down there, I would suspect that a bunch of other departments are going to try.”***

 

As a captain for the Iowa State Patrol seven years ago, Clary hadn’t given much thought to the dearth of women in policing (nationwide, about 7 percent of state troopers are female). He did notice that the two women under his command drew citizen complaints far less than many of their male peers.***

 

Clary struck up friendships with Ivonne Roman, a Newark police officer who would go on to be a finalist for New York City police chief earlier this year, and Maureen McGough, an attorney who is chief of staff for the Policing Project at the New York University School of Law. Roman shared with Clary many of the obstacles she faced rising through the ranks in Newark. In a later conversation over lunch, Clary shared with McGough a dawning realization.

 

“He looked at me and, out of nowhere, he said, ‘Mo', we have got to figure out how to get the toxic masculinity out of policing,’ ” she recalled. “And it was just like this moment of, ‘who are you and how do I support you?’ ”

 

Clary was the first police chief to join the 30x30 Initiative, launched by McGough, Roman and others a year ago to push police departments to make their rosters at least 30 percent female by 2030. To date, about 150 jurisdictions have signed on, including New York City and, this month, D.C.

April 6, 2022 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 1, 2022

A Legal History of Women's Prosecutions in Pennsylvania as Common Scolds for Their Unruly Speech

Richard Kielbowicz, Women as Common Scolds in Law and Popular Culture: Pennsylvania 1824 to 1872, Gender & History (Mar. 2022)

Women faced prosecution as common scolds for their unruly speech in US jurisdictions until 1972, with Pennsylvania playing an outsized role in this history. Pennsylvania's treatment of common scolds reveals how the interplay of the law and the press perpetuated a construct of women's speech as gossipy, quarrelsome and disruptive of social order. Prosecutions occurred so frequently and continued for so long in Pennsylvania because of English common law's grip on the state's jurisprudence, reinforced by popular culture representations that stigmatised women's speech. Common law furnished formal legal precedents, while the press, driven by its own imperatives, readily propagated, amplified and validated the law's characterisation of scolds. Reports about scold cases, which fit easily into journalistic and cultural frames, often appeared as humorous vignettes that served as illustrations – if not warnings – about women's transgressive speech. Judges wondering about the continued legitimacy of this gender-specific offense could take comfort from stories about prosecutions of scolds across the state and around the nation. The ordinariness of common scold cases also sheds light on community rules that regulated women's everyday speech – evidence about a fleeting activity nearly invisible to scholars before the digitisation of newspapers and obscure legal texts.

April 1, 2022 in Gender, Legal History, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Women are Calling Out Medical Gaslighting

NYT, Women are Calling Out "Medical Gaslighting"

Patients who have felt that their symptoms were inappropriately dismissed as minor or primarily psychological by doctors are using the term “medical gaslighting” to describe their experiences and sharing their stories on sites like Instagram. The term derives from a play called “Gaslight” about a husband’s attempt to drive his wife insane. And many patients, particularly women and people of color, describe the search for accurate diagnosis and treatment as maddening.

“We know that women, and especially women of color, are often diagnosed and treated differently by doctors than men are, even when they have the same health conditions,” said Karen Lutfey Spencer, a researcher who studies medical decision-making at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Studies have shown that compared with men, women face longer waits to be diagnosed with cancer and heart disease, are treated less aggressively for traumatic brain injury, and are less likely to be offered pain medications. People of color often receive poorer quality care, too; and doctors are more likely to describe Black patients as uncooperative or non-compliant, which research suggests can affect treatment quality.***

Women say doctors frequently blame their health problems on their mental health, weight or a lack of self-care, which can delay effective treatment. For instance, Dr. Spencer’s research suggests that women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a mental illness when their symptoms are consistent with heart disease.***

Women may be misdiagnosed more often than men, in part, because scientists know far less about the female body than they do about the male body, even though “there are biological differences that go down to the cellular level,” said Chloe Bird, a senior sociologist at Pardee RAND Graduate School who studies women’s health.

In 1977, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began recommending that scientists exclude women of childbearing years from early clinical drug trials, fearing that if enrolled women became pregnant, the research could potentially harm their fetuses. Researchers were also concerned that hormonal fluctuations could muddle study results.

Today — thanks in large part to a law passed in 1993 that mandated that women and minorities be included in medical research funded by the National Institutes of Health — women are more systematically included in studies, yet there are still huge knowledge gaps.

March 31, 2022 in Gender, Healthcare, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)