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.
Monday, June 20, 2022
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.”
Monday, April 11, 2022
Graham Ferris has published Law Students Wellbeing and Vulnerability in volume 56 of The Law Teacher. Here is the article abstract:
There is compelling evidence that law students in the UK, USA, and Australia are subject to low levels of wellbeing. * * * Low wellbeing is produced by difficulties responding to stressors and life events, or low resilience. Therefore, law students are a subgroup of a larger group of young people with low resilience, however, law students have lower self-reported wellbeing than the overall student group. The trend for student wellbeing is downwards. Vulnerability theory offers a theoretically coherent heuristic that can enable us to think constructively about the problems of law students and students generally and to generate ideas for potentially beneficial courses of action. With such widespread phenomena, for law students across three continents and over many years, it is unrealistic to posit individualistic explanations as causes. Resilience, and consequent wellbeing, is not best understood as a characteristic of individuals but as generated or degraded by life histories, family and community resources, institutional supports or stressors, and social factors. We need to look at institutional and cultural factors if our response is to be coherent and effective. We need to seek a responsive law school in a responsive university in a responsive state.
The article emphasizes the importance of a legal curriculum that recognizes vulnerability.
All of these suggestions share a common characteristic, they are reactions to assumptions in the curriculum about the characteristics of the ideal hyper-rational, masculine, autonomous, competitive, liberal subject. Being autonomous and competitive they neglect collective action. Being hyper-rational and autonomous they have no emotional needs and are happy if left at liberty to pursue their own pre-given ends. Being masculine they are primarily the recipients of care, not care givers. Neo-liberalism reduces all values to money and market choices. The law exists to sustain markets, not to impose collective values upon markets. Vulnerability theory rejects this world view and asserts the importance of social reproduction, of the vulnerable individual, and the need for collective responses to deficiencies in resilience. A legal curriculum that recognizes vulnerability as fundamental to law and justice would provide a counterbalance to the current pervasive drift towards neo-liberal paradigms.
Monday, March 14, 2022
Dara E. Purvis has published her article Frozen Embryos, Male Consent, and Masculinities in volume 97 of the Indiana Law Journal. The abstract previews:
Picture two men facing the possibility of unwanted fatherhood. One man agreed to go through in vitro fertilization (IVF) with his partner, but years later has changed his mind. Despite the fact that the embryos created through IVF are his partner’s last chance to be a genetic parent, a court allows him to block her use of the embryos.
By contrast, another couple’s sexual relationship broke the law. The woman was a legal adult, and her partner was a child under the age of eighteen. Their encounter was thus statutory rape. Her crime led to pregnancy, and after she gave birth, she sued the teenager for child support. Despite his protest that he did not consent to the sexual activity that led to the child’s birth, the court affirms the child support order.
As a practical matter, this inconsistency in treatment of unwanted fatherhood may instinctively make sense, applying two different rules for two very different contexts. A deeper examination of the cases, however, reveals much more going on. This Article uses the frame of masculinities theories to dive further into the inconsistency and uncovers two groundbreaking implications that stretch far beyond the specific circumstances. First, the varying treatment of embryo disposition disputes and the characterization of male victims of statutory rape have one constant: a dismissal and rejection of men’s emotions. Second, exploring the inconsistent treatment of men’s consent to become fathers in sexual reproduction versus stored embryos reveals a clear rejection by courts of the personhood concept that embryos are human life. These revelations inform not only how embryo disposition disputes should be resolved, but also fetal personhood and family law’s treatment of fathers.
The article concludes:
When frozen embryo disputes are viewed in isolation, they appear to be extremely specialized. Such disagreements only arise in a relatively specialized medical circumstance, and the raw numbers and reported cases are both quite small. It might be hard to imagine, at least on first exposure, that analysis of such litigation would generate conclusions beyond an opinion about how to solve the very particular problem of embryo disposition disputes.
Similarly, statutory rape of boys is a minority of statutory rape cases, and such assaults are under-reported and under-prosecuted. Only a fraction of such events will result in a pregnancy that is brought to term, and few challenges to paternity determinations make their way into court.
When these two seemingly narrow corners of family law are set against each other, however, the inconsistency in how the law treats consent to become a father is striking. When that inconsistency is viewed through the lens of masculinities theories, the threads of commonality become even easier to identify. From seemingly discordant questions emerge far-reaching implications not only for how embryo disposition disputes should be resolved, but broader issues of reproductive rights, abortion, and the law’s conception of fatherhood.
Monday, February 28, 2022
Yvonne Lindgren has posted her forthcoming article The Fathers' Veto and Fatherhood as Property on SSRN. This article will be published in the North Carolina Law Review. The abstract states:
Over the last twenty-five years, state legislators have been quietly adding civil remedy provisions to antiabortion legislation to supplement, and in the case of Texas’ SB8, to completely replace the traditional criminal and administrative enforcement mechanisms of restrictive abortion legislation. Laws currently in effect in at least seven states permit putative fathers, regardless of their relationship to the pregnant woman, to sue abortion providers for civil damages for wrongful death and emotional distress for alleged harms that result from the abortion procedure. Several state legislatures have introduced laws—although to date all have been enjoined or are in the process of being challenged—that require women seeking an abortion to get signed consent of the father. As these laws gain traction, abortion opponents have advanced a new narrative of abortion: regret for lost fatherhood.
While civil remedy antiabortion provisions are an attempt to establish fetal personhood, what may be less obvious is their potential to shift the regulation of women’s reproductive autonomy from the state to private actors, specifically to fathers. This Article explores these previously unexamined civil remedy provisions to reveal the ways that they function as a veto over women’s reproductive decision-making and place women’s constitutional rights in the hands of private actors through the pretextual vehicle of parentage. Granting a putative father the right to sue in wrongful death recognizes him as having a parental interest that is compensable when lost, even when a pregnancy has been terminated through a consensual abortion procedure. While the nominal purpose of these laws is to compensate putative fathers in tort, these laws in fact have a much broader sweep: to recast abortion as an issue of parentage and to extend the power of fathers over their genetic offspring and, by extension, their pregnant sexual partners, both through monetary compensation and veto power over abortion. In short, antiabortion civil remedy laws forge a property interest in genetic fatherhood.
Monday, February 7, 2022
Jordan Blair Woods has published Destabilizing Policing’s Masculinity Project in volume 89 of the George Washington Law Review. The abstract summarizes:
In the wake of national calls for police reform and nationwide protests of police killings of unarmed people of color, and unarmed Black men in particular, there is a renewed focus on the relationship between masculinity and police violence. This Article, prepared for a symposium on “Addressing the Crisis in Policing Today: Race, Masculinity, and Police Use of Force in America,” evaluates how scholars inside and outside of law have approached issues of masculinity and police violence. The analysis places special emphasis on where these approaches leave us in terms of police reform. As discussed, how police-civilian encounters relate to the social construction of gender and the enactment of masculinity are major focal points of recent literature on masculinity and police violence. From this perspective, interventions are geared towards negating gender hierarchies through processes of professional resocialization and degendering that aim to replace dominant masculinist cultural norms with antimasculinist ones. When adopted for the specific purpose of changing masculinist police culture, antimasculinist officer training and enhanced diversity recruitment (especially aimed at enhancing gender diversity) are noteworthy examples of these professional re-socialization strategies.
This Article aims to incite a conversation about moving discussions of masculinity and policing to a different plane. It evaluates the limits of social constructionist views of masculinity in policing contexts, and more specifically, the types of police reforms that follow from those views. To accomplish these goals, this Article looks outside the field of law to the discipline of criminology. As discussed, criminology is a useful comparative space to consider masculinity issues because for over a century the field has been concerned with its own “sex question” about crime, which revolves around the acknowledgment that most known criminal offenders, especially violent offenders, are men. Looking to literature outside of law, this Article argues that critical theoretical frameworks that move beyond the sex/gender distinction, such as those in postmodern feminism and queer theory, offer promise to dismantle gender hierarchies in policing on a deeper level through discursive and political strategies that challenge basic assumptions about the existing order and structure of contemporary policing. Although this Article is exploratory and invites further reflection and development, its analysis reveals the value in continually scrutinizing and reevaluating the discursive and political strategies in policing’s masculinity project.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
By: Amanda M. Fisher
Published in: Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy, Volume 19:1
The modern woman lawyer faces many of the same challenges that women in law faced during their earliest entry into the profession. While circumstances have certainly improved for women in law, gendered stigma is still prevalent in the profession. In this article, “gendered stigma” refers to circumstances resulting from one’s gender as a salient feature of their work, serving to discredit one’s abilities and accomplishments. Women began to enter the legal profession in large numbers in the 1970s, gaining attention as they did so. Although early research on women in the law focused on blatant discrimination, that type of discrimination is fortunately less common now. Much of the modern research addressing women’s status in the legal profession, however, focuses on the quantitative evidence, like the number of women in the profession and their salaries as compared to men. Numerical evidence does show progress, but qualitative evidence reveals that the gender-driven experiences of women new to the profession are eerily similar to those of women who have long retired from the profession. This belies the assumption that simply improving numbers, e.g., having more women in the profession, would solve the disparities between men and women who practice law. This article relies on identity theory and stigma to inform the cycle of gendered stigma prevalent in the legal profession to critically examine basic tenets of the profession that must change for progress to flourish. This theoretical foundation can then inform practical solutions for mitigating the negative effects of gendered stigma on the profession and the individuals serving within it.
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Veterans Day from a Gender & Law Perspective: Equality, Discrimination, Preferences, Family, Health, Assault, and the Draft
Here is an overview of some of the scholarship and current legal movements regarding gender, veterans, and the miltiary:
The Supreme Court's classic case upholding veterans' preferences despite their disparate impact against women. Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256 (1979).
United States v. Virginia (VMI), 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (Ginsburg, J.) (requiring state male-only military college to admit women equally to VMI)
US v. Briggs, 592 U.S. ___ (Dec. 10, 2020) (holding that military rape cases have no statute of limitations)
Gender & the Law Prof Blog, SCOTUS Refuses to Hear Challenge to Male-Only Draft but 3 Justices Dissent (June 15, 2021)
Gender & the Law Prof Blog, Federal Judge Holds Male-Only Military Draft Violates Equal Protection (Feb. 26, 2019)
Gender & the Law Prof Blog, 9th Circuit Hears Challenge to Men Only Draft
Gender & the Law Prof Blog, Senate Overwhelming Votes to Require Women to Register for Draft (2016)
Gender & the Law Prof Blog, Justice Ginsburg's Legacy and the Draft Case
Jamie Abrams, editor at the Gender & Law Prof blog, Examining Entrenched Masculinities Within the Republican Government Tradition, 114 West Va. L. Rev. (2011).
Jamie Abrams & Nickole Durbin, Citizen Soldiers and the Foundational Fusion of Masculinity, Citizenship, and Military Service, 11 ConLawNOW 93 (2021).
Jill Hasday, Fighting Women: The Military, Sex, and Extrajudicial Constitutional Change, 93 Minnesota L.Rev. 1 (2008).
Melissa Murray, Made With Men in Mind: The GI Bill and the Reinforcement of Gendered Work After World War II, in Feminist Legal History (Tracy Thomas & Tracey Jean Boisseau eds. 2012).
Congress' Deborah Sampson Act Signed Into Law (2021): to improve the benefits and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to women veterans, and for other purposes.
H.R. 2982, Women Veterans Health Care Accountability Act: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study of the barriers for women veterans to health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Gender & the Law Prof Blog, How to Reduce Discrimination in Veterans' Preferences Laws, featuring Craig Westergard, Questioning the Sacrosanct: How to Reduce Discrimination and Inefficiency in Veterans' Preference Law, 19 Seattle Journal for Social Justice 39 (2020)
Gender & the Law Prof Blog, Parental Right Issues in Military Academies Disproportionately Harms Women
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
The boy, identified as A.C. in court documents, is one of seven students suing a Texas school district for what they call a discriminatory policy that requires boys to wear short hair. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed the federal lawsuit Thursday on the students’ behalf against the Magnolia Independent School District, which serves some 13,000 students about 40 miles northwest of Houston.
The students, aged 7 to 17, allege that the district’s policy prohibiting boys from wearing long hair is based on gender stereotypes that violate the Constitution. They say administrators apply it unevenly, allowing some boys to wear long hair that violates the district’s grooming standards while punishing others. Those suing the district said that punishment has caused them “immense and irreparable harm.”
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Study Shows Restricting Prosecutorial Discretion on Racial and Gender Disparities Reduced Gender Gap of Men Being More Likely than Women to Receive Sentence Enhancements
Andy Yuan & Spencer Cooper, Racial, Gender Disparities and Prosecutorial Discretion: Evidence from Blakely v. Washington
We investigate the causal effects of restricting prosecutorial discretion on racial and gender disparities. Blakely v.Washington 542 U.S.296 (2004) exogenously introduced a significant constraint on North Carolina state prosecutors' discretion in seeking sentence enhancements by raising their burdens of proof from "preponderance of evidence" to "beyond a reasonable doubt." Through a regression discontinuity design, we find striking evidence that restricting prosecutorial discretion eliminated the entire preexisting gender gap of men being 28% more likely to receive sentence enhancements than women. However, we find no evidence suggesting a racial gap of sentence enhancements both pre and post Blakely.
Monday, October 4, 2021
A class of Black female police officers in Washington, D.C. has sued the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) alleging an "enterprise-wide culture of race and sex discrimination and intense pervasive retaliation against those who dared to complaint about, report, or oppose unlawful discrimination." Every woman in the class has worked for MPD for years and has previously complained multiple times about race and sex discrimination. The complaint alleges that:
There are four fundamental characteristics of the MPD that this class action lawsuit seeks to change: 1) MPD has a male-dominated culture that accepts and perpetuates the most demeaning, degrading and disrespectful discourse and actions by and between officers; 2) MPD has a culture that nurtures and encourages supervisory and management officers to abuse their power to exact petty vengeance on subordinates and make their lives miserable; 3) MPD has a profoundly dysfunctional and corrupt EEO Office run by a man who has repeatedly expressed hostility to women officers, and who colludes with management to crush Black women who complain about race and gender discrimination and sexual harassment; and 4) MPD, with the full participation and/or approval of the Chiefs of Police, engages in repeated, coordinated and relentless retaliation campaigns against Black women officers who complain about or oppose discrimination, or other police misconduct. In combination, these four MPD characteristics create a profoundly toxic work environment for Black woman officers.
The 209-page complaint chronicles extensively the allegations against MPD and MPD's retaliatory responses. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, health care related to physical and emotional harms, reinstatement of terminated or retired officers, applicable back pay, revised performance records, reimbursement for leave associated with the discrimination, future damages, attorneys fees, and appropriate injunctive relief.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
American colleges and universities now enroll roughly six women for every four men. This is the largest female-male gender gap in the history of higher education, and it’s getting wider. Last year, U.S. colleges enrolled 1.5 million fewer students than five years ago, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Men accounted for more than 70 percent of the decline.
The statistics are stunning. But education experts and historians aren’t remotely surprised. Women in the United States have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men every year since the mid-1980s—every year, in other words, that I’ve been alive. This particular gender gap hasn’t been breaking news for about 40 years. But the imbalance reveals a genuine shift in how men participate in education, the economy, and society. The world has changed dramatically, but the ideology of masculinity isn’t changing fast enough to keep up.
For decades, American women have been told that the path to independence and empowerment flows through school. Although they are still playing catch-up in the labor force, and leadership positions such as chief executive and senator are still dominated by men, women have barnstormed into colleges. That is the very definition of progress. In poorer countries, where women are broadly subjugated or otherwise lack access to regular schooling, girls enjoy no educational advantage whatsoever.
Friday, July 30, 2021
The author lets the research speak for itself as she explores the modern cultural manifestations of patriarchy, militant masculinity, and the church's role in sexism.
As journalists and academics tried to explain how evangelicals could bring themselves to vote for Trump, Du Mez argued that evangelical support was not a shocking aberration from their views but a culmination of evangelicals’ long-standing embrace of militant masculinity, presenting the man as protector and warrior.
“In 2016, many observers were stunned at evangelicals’ apparent betrayal of their own values,” Du Mez wrote. “In reality, evangelicals did not cast their vote despite their beliefs, but because of them.”***
Du Mez, who teaches at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., wrote that mainstream evangelical leaders such as John Piper, James Dobson and John Eldredge, preached a “mutually reinforcing vision of Christian masculinity — of patriarchy and submission, sex and power.”
“The militant Christian masculinity they practiced and preached did indelibly shape both family and nation,” Du Mez wrote.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
[M]ale violence against women....is a tool designed, as Jacqueline Rose writes in her new book, On Violence and On Violence Against Women, “to remind the girl or woman of what she is”—to gender her as female. For Rose ..., gender-based violence is not caused by sexual difference—neither attributes aggression to, for example, an excess of testosterone—rather it establishes the hierarchy of sexual difference.
Rose would ... add that ... violence is not the expression of a power they have, but of power they lack. ... As Rose would put it, he hits her to shore up his “fraudulent authority.”
Psychoanalysis has a word for this behavior, and it is “narcissism.” “Narcissism starts with the belief that the whole world is at your feet, there solely for you to manipulate,” explains Rose.
What is “fraudulent” about the authority of Stanleys everywhere is that it is rooted in denial. Women can and do commit acts of violence. But male violence interests Rose because it expresses the fundamental psychoanalytic mechanism of shame, projection, and denial. Boys and men are taught that masculinity means an absurd omnipotence, mastery, comfort, and prowess. They fail—how could they not?—to live up to that ideal. Many cannot tolerate their own vulnerability, which is coded as weakness, so they project vulnerability onto others, usually women; having disowned and disavowed it, they then try to destroy the woman who has come to represent (or embody) that vulnerability, through harassment, abuse, assault, rape, bullying, blows. The state colludes with this psychological and social project in policies that limit reproductive freedom, cruelly degrade asylum-seekers, and refuse trans people self-determination, to name only a few examples.
Harassment and sexual abuse are not, therefore, “the unadulterated expression of male power and authority”; quite the opposite. Violence against women has a frantic quality; it is something that one can only resort to; it protests too much. Which is not to say that it doesn’t hurt to be hit. Fraudulent authority is often deadly.
Those who have read Rose’s previous books will be somewhat familiar with the contours of this analysis. On Violence and On Violence Against Women takes up a subject she has not covered before—the dynamic that has lately been termed “toxic masculinity”—but it does so according to a conceptual approach she has been refining for decades.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.
Statement of JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAVANAUGH join, respecting the denial of certiorari.
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the Federal Government from discriminating on the basis of sex absent an “‘exceedingly persuasive justification.’” Sessions v. Morales-Santana (quoting United States v. Virginia); see Califano v. Westcott; Califano v. Goldfarb; Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld; Frontiero v. Richardson. Cf. Bolling v. Sharpe. The Military Selective Service Act requires men, and only men, however, to register for the draft upon turning 18. See 85 Stat. 353, 50 U. S. C. §3802(a). In Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U. S. 57 (1981), this Court upheld the Act’s gender-based registration requirement against an equal protection challenge, citing the fact that women were “excluded from combat” roles and hence “would not be needed in the event of a draft.”
The role of women in the military has changed dramatically since then. Beginning in 1991, thousands of women have served with distinction in a wide range of combat roles, from operating military aircraft and naval vessels to participating in boots-on-the-ground infantry missions. Women have passed the military’s demanding tests to become U. S. Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and Green Berets. As of 2015, there are no longer any positions in the United States Armed Forces closed to women. Petitioners ask the Court to overrule Rostker in light of these developments.
Petitioners, however, are not the only ones asking whether a male-only registration requirement can be reconciled with the role women can, and already do, play in the modern military. In 2016, Congress created the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS) and tasked it with studying whether Selective Service registration should be conducted “regardless of sex.”
On March 25, 2020, the Commission released its final report, in which it recommended “eliminat[ing] male-only
registration.” Inspired to Serve: The Final Report of the [NCMNPS] 111. Among other things, the Commission
found that “[m]ale-only registration sends a message to women not only that they are not vital to the defense of the country but also that they are not expected to participate in defending it.” Just a few months ago, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the report, where Chairman Jack Reed expressed his “hope” that
a gender-neutral registration requirement will be “incorporated into the next national defense bill.”
It remains to be seen, of course, whether Congress will end gender-based registration under the Military SelectiveService Act. But at least for now, the Court’s longstanding deference to Congress on matters of national defense and military affairs cautions against granting review while Congress actively weighs the issue. I agree with the Court’s decision to deny the petition for a writ of certiorari.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh just handed down a subtle but potentially very significant signal that he will protect at least some of the feminist victories won by Ruth Bader Ginsburg two decades before she joined the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh’s move does not mean that he is likely to tack left on questions like abortion, but it does suggest there are some limits to this Court’s willingness to toss out earlier victories by liberals.***
On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it will not hear National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System, a lawsuit challenging a federal law that requires men — and not women — to register for the draft when they turn 18.
That might seem like bad news to anyone hoping the court would apply gender nondiscrimination precedents to a new area. But the good news comes in a brief opinion that Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote.
In it, she suggests that she believes that gender discrimination in the selective service program is unconstitutional — the main reason she’s not interested in taking up the case, she seems to say, is that Congress is considering legislation that could expand selective service registration to women.
Kavanaugh joined the opinion in full. And that opinion begins with a quote summarizing many of the Court’s gender equality decisions — the Constitution “prohibits the Federal Government from discriminating on the basis of sex absent an ‘exceedingly persuasive justification,’” Justice Sotomayor wrote in her opinion — followed by a long list of citations to the Court’s gender equality decisions.
So, in joining this opinion, Kavanaugh signaled that he agrees with Sotomayor, and with the gender equality decisions that Sotomayor cites.
That does not mean that these decisions are completely safe — on a 6-3 Court, Kavanaugh could be outvoted by the other five Republican appointees — but it is a hopeful sign for feminism. Kavanaugh is the Court’s median vote in most contentious cases, so it is unlikely that the Court will overrule a major line of precedents without his approval.
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Ronald Levant & Shana Pryor, The Tough Standard: The Hard Truth about Masculinity and Violence
Men are commonly expected to act “masculine” (e.g., unemotional, self-reliant, tough, dominant, and fixated on sex) while avoiding stereotypically “feminine” traits (e.g., emotional expressivity, empathy, compassion, and nurturance). Few, however, realize that these qualities—when taken to the extreme—can cause emotional constriction, substance abuse, depression, poor physical health, aggression, and violence in men. Further, even though most men are not violent, decades of research have shown that masculinity is directly and indirectly related to sexual and gun violence and men’s poorer health. Considering how girls and women have benefitted from conversations on how to navigate their gender in a changing world, similar processes are urgently needed for boys and men. The Tough Standard connects the dots between masculinity and the present moment in American culture (defined by high-profile movements such as #MeToo, #MarchForOurLives, and #BlackLivesMatter), synthesizes over four decades of research in the psychology of men and masculinities, and proposes solutions to corresponding social problems.
Table of Context
- Masculinity and the Present Cultural Moment
- Theories of Gender and How Masculinity Is Measured
- Consequences of Masculinity
- Summaries of Research on Masculinity’s Harmful Linkages
- Masculinity’s Role in Gun and Other Physical Violence
- Masculinity’s Role in Sexual Violence
- Men’s Health and Experiences of Trauma
- Many Masculinities
- What Can Be Done?
Thursday, May 6, 2021
Jamie Abrams & Nickole Durbin, Citizen Soldiers and the Foundational Fusion of Masculinity, Citizenship, and Military Service, 11 ConLaw NOW 73 (2020)
Sarah Livingston Jay famously toasted revelers in 1783: “May all our citizens be soldiers, and all our soldiers citizens.” This toast conveyed “a foundational fusion” within our republican government tradition―coupling military service, citizenship, and masculinities. The Akron Law School’s conference on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment offered the chance to fight the eulogization of the Nineteenth Amendment and explore its modern relevance. This paper concludes that the Nineteenth Amendment cannot be understood without connecting it to broader conceptions of citizenship, masculinities, and military service, thus revealing its ongoing relevance to military inclusion and integration. In Professor Abrams’ prior article published in the West Virginia Law Review, the foundational fusion of military service, citizenship, and masculinities was presented and explored. We highlight the framework ofthat argument in the next section and invite readers to explore the full prior article.
Monday, April 12, 2021
Ann McGinley, Masculinities Theory as Impetus for Change in Feminism and Law, THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF FEMINISM AND LAW IN THE UNITED STATES (Deborah L. Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna L. Williams, eds.).
Feminist legal scholars have found much in the field of masculinities to enrich the feminist analysis of law. In drawing on and incorporating masculinities theories into legal feminism, feminist scholars have added their own insight into the meaning of “masculinities.” As Nancy Dowd, Nancy Levit, and Ann McGinley explain: “Masculinities” has multiple meanings. First, it is a structure that gives men as a group power over women as a group. Second it is a set of practices, designed to maintain group power, that are considered “masculine.” Third, it is the engagement in or “doing” of these masculine practices by men or women. Finally, the term refers to a body of theory and scholarship by gender experts in various fields of social science.
Although masculinities originated in fields outside of law, legal scholars have adopted insights raised by masculinities scholars, combined with those of feminist theory, queer theory, and critical race theory, to develop a legal theory of masculinities that proposes new legal interpretations and policies that better correspond to the lived experiences of persons of different genders, races, and classes. This chapter explores how masculinities research has influenced legal feminism in the U.S.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
I had always hated Hemingway. He was, after all, the classic misogynist.
It seemed I was forced to read Hemingway every year in school. Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Old Man and the Sea. I read them all, against my will. To me they were boring stories about men. The words were short, cold, and devoid of beauty or lyricism. The topics were harsh and violent -- masculine topics of war, bullfighting, and big game hunting. Moreover, the works were filled with hateful depictions of women. Women were crazy harpies, tempting devils, or dead mothers. In Hemingway’s semi-autobiographical accounts, women were merely the women objects of antipathy, perhaps like the many wives that he continually traded in like cars.
So when I heard that PBS was featuring a new documentary series on Hemingway, I rolled my eyes and thought, “how tone deaf.” How misguided to hear yet again about a privileged white man, and one who had already received his acclaim. In this time of intense public debate of race and gender, in this time when so many women and people of color have not yet been recovered, why return to the same old story. For indeed, I had not encountered even famous writers like Zora Huston Neale or Daphne du Maurier until my own independent reading, long after school. But, like so many things that one dismisses, I discovered more complexity and nuance in Hemingway’s story, particular in the realm of gender.
The film reveals Hemingway not as a model of masculinity, but as a man battling with his own masculinity. Understanding this as toxic masculinity, changed the narrative for me. We learn of Hemingway’s Freudian early years with a mother who wrote him a rejection letter, and dressed him like a twin to his sister. We then understand his early attraction to two older woman, maternal figures, one of whom becomes his first wife. We see the author constrained by family demands--fighting for the time to write and feed his creative muse, diverted by screaming babies, marital demands, and unpaid bills until he can get alone, on the road or with his thoughts. This is all juxtaposed against the raucous pull of the popular writing crowd, with their carousing and attention-seeking affairs.
The film also shows us a broader range of topics that occupied Hemingway’s mind beyond bulls, bullets, and booze. One of his earliest stories, Up in Michigan, was about date rape. A shocking story that barely saw the publishing light, writer Edna O’Brien explains as actually told from the woman’s perspective, which is why it was so powerful. He wrote about abortion, suicide, STDs, childbirth, Caesarean sections, and death in childbirth – grim accounts of women (and men’s) reality. A later work, published posthumously, engages with transgender and same-sex attraction.
The short words took on new meaning for me as well. Rather than just a mimic of his journalism years, the short words were explained as a revolution in writing that left behind conventional indicators of writing prowess. I discovered the beauty of the short form, in the repetition of the same words that function as the action itself, as when repeating words form the march of the soldiers. Right, left, right, left, right, left. Like lawyers learning the impact of plain, unaffected writing, I could now appreciate the power of the staccato, and what the film describes as musical. The film reveals these words slowly on the screen, literally showing us the beauty of the typed word as Jeff Daniels' voice-over reads aloud.
This all came together for me in the discussion of the short story, Hills Like White Elephants. In this story, a man pressures his lover, “the girl,” to get an abortion. Most of the story is the man controlling the conversation, working through various points to win the argument, eventually gaslighting his partner, claiming, “I only want what you want.” He is dismissive of the way in which the young woman sees the world, whether its her vision of the looming white elephants overshadowing their lives or the personal and relational consequences of the abortion. Eventually, the young woman demands: "Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?"
PBS, Video, Hemingway, Gender and Identity
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Anietie Akpan, Examining the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to Include Women's Moral Experience and Feminist Ethics, 28 American J. Gender, Social Policy & Law 29 (2019)
[F]eminism is often dismissed, its core values minimized, and its unique interconnectedness to matters such as socioeconomics, education, and health policy fall on deaf ears.
The relationship between the female experience and the law is perhaps even more complex: for decades, men have comprised the majority of state and federal lawmakers, resulting in past legislation being completely uninformed of the complex and intersectional social, political, and economic needs of women.
Feminist jurisprudence, the nexus of feminism and the law, is a philosophy of law based on the equality of the sexes, beginning as a field of legal scholarship in the 1960s. The premise of this legal theory is that patriarchy infuses the legal system and all its workings, making the legal system inadequate in identifying gendered components of seemingly neutral laws and practices. Such practices affect for example, employment, reproductive rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment.
This article purports that existing jurisprudence is "masculine" because it reflects the connection between patriarchal laws and humanity. Masculine jurisprudence not only perpetuates the methods of lawmaking, but it infiltrates the mode of construction for the codes of professional conduct. Feminist jurisprudence seeks to remedy this matter by recognizing male power, calling for substantive changes necessary to bring gender equality, and encouraging consciousness-raising in the practice of law.
As with most "doctrines" governing behavior, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct are constructed with a male-oriented convention, rooted in "traditional" ethics completely uninformed of women's moral experience. The construction of traditional ethics is based on our social system being male-centered and therefore, not only have men devised all philosophical and moral thought,' but such thought is universally codified. Feminist
critique on traditional ethics examines components of moral conduct that male philosophers praise (i.e., rationality, partiality, universality) with components of moral conduct that are disparaged (i.e., community,
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Rape Without Women - The Legal History of Public Rape Narratives and the Reinforcement of Masculinity
Sharon Block, Rape Without Women: Print Culture and the Politicization of Rape, 1765-1815, 89 J. American History 849 (2002) [also available on JStor]
The first section of this article shows how Americans made the very personal sexual interaction of rape publicly palatable by removing women from its retelling. Stories of rape, then, could accomplish what the newly popularized stories of seduction could not: by emphasizing men's interactions with one another, rape stories could provide an unequivocal assignment of right and wrong, unencumbered by concern over women's sexual desires and acts. Focusing attention on men's protection of women's virtue allowed authors to minimize the thorny issue of women's role in promoting their own morality. The absence of women allowed narratives of rape to categorize competing visions of masculinity. Through this masculinized transformation, rape could be deployed in political battles.
In the second section, I examine the politicization of rape in revolutionary rhetoric. Rather than invoking rape as a symbol of general savagery or as simply the marker dividing honorable from dishonorable masculinities, revolutionary-era narratives increasingly presented rape as an explicitly political trope. By replacing women's experiences of their own bodies with men's experiences of witnessing the victimization of women, rape-related stories opposed upstanding American male citizenry to corrupt British rule. ***
In stories such as this, rape reiterated a transhistoric aspect of patriarchy that attached importance to rape as an assault against men. Feminists have often argued that women have been denied subjectivity in many historical discourses. And we might not be surprised by the elision of women in print; after all, women were rarely a common feature in public life, and scholars have begun to trace the specific problematics of women's public speech. By the second quarter of the eighteenth century, women had seen their often vocal roles in public court sessions decrease with the increasing formalization of the legal system. But unlike most topics, rape necessarily involved women, its very existence hinging on what the historian Cornelia Hughes Dayton has rightly called "woman's word"-her ability to put forward a believable accusation.
Yet even though women were necessarily present in the act of rape, printed stories eclipsed women's retellings of sexual attacks by suggesting that the ultimate victims were men. Instead of making men the physical victims (which might risk an unacceptable feminization of their bodies), stories of rape made men the emotional, economic, and social victims of the rape of their female dependents. Thus, the offense of rape was more than an attack on a man's property, as it had been conceptualized in early modern prosecutions for forcible marriage or heiress stealing. For eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Americans, the offense of rape was an attack on a man's patriarchal identity as the protector of his dependent women.
Sharon Block is the author of Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and Rape and Sexual Power in Early America (University of North Carolina Press, 2006). Her latest essay "Erasure, Misrepresentation and Confusion: Investigating JSTOR Topics on Women’s and Race Histories," Digital Humanities Quarterly (2020) exposes racism and sexism in a popular academic scholarly database.
h/t from Kimberly Hamlin's (Miami U) #MeToo Course