Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Sherry Colb, What Does #BelieveWomen Mean?, Verdict, Justia
As the #MeToo movement gathered steam, exposing many long-ignored instances of sexual misconduct, other hashtags followed in its wake. One of these is #BelieveWomen. In this column, I will analyze some ways of understanding #BelieveWomen and suggest that properly understood, it can provide us with a better way to approach not only women but anyone who brings disfavored messages to our doorstep.
What Does “Believe Women” Mean?
The #BelieveWomen hashtag responds to a very old and longstanding prejudice. The prejudice held (and, to some extent, still holds) that when women say that they were raped, there is a good chance that they are lying. Seventeenth century English jurist Lord Chief Justice Matthew Hale said “[rape] is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent.” Well into the second half of the twentieth century, Hale’s concern about women’s false rape accusations distorted the process of adjudicating rape claims in criminal courts.
Judges, for instance, gave juries special instructions cautioning them about the danger of lying rape victims and the need to be extra skeptical of their testimony. Courts often required corroborating evidence as well, even though witnesses who testified about other crimes required no similar corroboration. As Susan Estrich put it in her 1988 book, Real Rape, the law had difficulty believing women who came forward to complain of rape. The law accordingly placed stumbling blocks in the path of prosecution and conviction, including the special cautionary instruction and the need for corroboration.
. . .
So What Would It Mean to Believe All Women?
If we acknowledge that women sometimes bring false accusations, does that mean we should believe only some women but not all women? We can still believe all women, so long as we make sure to follow up with other potential evidence sources before convicting the defendant of rape.
Monday, November 5, 2018
If you walked past a craft beer store regularly, and subsequently received obscene messages on Facebook from the store account, what would you do?
Former Austrian Green party MP Sigrid Maurer wanted to sue a beer shop owner in Vienna after receiving a series of abusive online messages.
But Maurer wasn’t able to sue for public sexual assault, because the messages were private. Instead, she reposted the messages online, including the name of the store and its owner – who then sued her, successfully, for libel. She is now appealing against the ruling in Vienna that would mean her having to pay more than €4,000 in damages, because she couldn’t prove he personally posted the obscene messages. He argued that anyone in the store could have accessed his account and sent the message.
The case is just one example of the chilling impact of online abuse and sexual harassment of women, particularly those prominent in public life.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Brenda Cossman, #MeToo, Sex Wars 2.0 and the Power of Law, Asian Yearbook of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Forthcoming)
In this essay, I explore these contestations between and among feminists within the #MeToo movement. Some feminists have expressed discomfort and disagreement with elements of the #MeToo. This critique was quickly framed as a generational one, with media reports focusing on the conflict between millennials and second wave feminists. I argue that it is more productive to situation the disagreements and contestations of #MeToo within the context of what I refer to as Sex Wars 2.0 – that is, the return of the feminist sex wars of the 1970s and 1980s. I also explore the controversies around role of law in the #MeToo movement. #MeToo critiques, including some feminist voices, have denounced the absence of the rule of law, with individual men losing their livelihoods without the due process of law. I argue that this critique is itself symptomatic of the broader role of law in the legal regulation of sexual violence. Law has long been the arbiter of sexual violence, both defining and harms and deciding whether that harm has occurred. Even in its apparent absence, law is I argue deeply present. It is this power of law that casts a long shadow over #MeToo and helps explain the due process critiques and some of the feminist contestations around the overreach of law.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes.
Episode Four begins, as all episodes should: with Dolly Parton. Parton wrote a song for us (!) about the 19th Amendment and women (finally) getting the right to vote.
Also in this episode: Our siblings at Radiolab share a story with us that they did about how the 19th Amendment almost died on a hot summer night in Tennessee. The 19th Amendment was obviously a huge milestone for women in the United States. But it was pretty well-understood that this wasn’t a victory for all women; it was a victory for white women.
Read the lyrics to Dolly Parton's 19th Amendment song here.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
In the year since, the global conversation about sexual harassment — and worse — has shifted, but the lasting impact of the moment remains unclear.
From Stockholm to Seoul, from Toronto to Tokyo, a torrent of accusations has poured forth. Survivors spoke out, and many were taken seriously. Powerful men lost their jobs. A few went to prison. How diverse societies — some liberal, others conservative — saw sexual harassment seemed to be changing.
On Friday, a year after the New York Times and the New Yorker published their stories about Weinstein, two activists who have sought to end sexual violence in conflict zones — Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege and Yazidi assault survivor Nadia Murad — were awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.
But for all the early anticipation that things had changed forever, in many countries the #MeToo movement either fizzled or never took flight.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace, after the New York Times published a bombshell investigative article about a lifetime of egregious sexual misdeeds. One year later, the #MeToo movement came into sharp contrast with the GOP-controlled Senate, which voted to elevate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct. But while we ponder questions big and small about the problem of sexual misconduct and how to deal with it, courts continue the everyday work of hearing sexual harassment cases. In a recent case, EEOC v. Favorite Farms, Inc., a federal district court in Florida did exactly that, refusing to grant an employer’s motion for summary judgment in a workplace rape case that deserves a full trial on the merits.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced how the #MeToo movement has impacted its enforcement efforts, which has implications across the country and particularly in corporate America.
Not surprisingly, the heightened awareness about sexual harassment-including what constitutes harassment and the harm it inflicts-generated by the #MeToo campaign has resulted in the EEOC filing "a 50% increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over FY 2017." More broadly, the total number of EEOC Charges of Discrimination alleging sexual harassment increased by about 12% from last year, and the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe discrimination had occurred in nearly 20% more charges in 2018 than in 2017.
Allyson Hobbs, One Year of #MeToo: The Legacy of Black Women's Testimonies, New Yorker
We can create a more inclusive narrative. As the legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw recently argued, “black feminist frameworks have been doing the hard work of building the social justice movements that race-only or gender-only frames cannot.” To do better by all women, we must listen and recognize the historical and contemporary circumstances that shape their experiences and have real consequences on their lives. The historian Elsa Barkley Brown has written, “We have still to recognize that being a woman is, in fact, not extractable from the context in which one is a woman—that is, race, class, time, and place.”
The House and the Senate passed two different bills earlier this year—but months after those votes, lawmakers are doubtful that they can reconcile the two pieces of legislation before the midterm elections.
“Here on Thursday, there is this very high-profile hearing and questions of sexual harassment, and yet Congress is allowing this bill to deal with sexual harassment in Congress [to languish],” said Meredith McGehee, the executive director at Issue One, a government watchdog group that advocates for stronger ethics laws.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is overseeing the process of reconciling the House and Senate versions, predicted that the effort would not be completed before the midterm elections.
“[The] discussion continues to be active,” he told The Daily Beast. “I think we’ll get this done, but I do not think we’ll get it done before the election.”
Monday, August 27, 2018
Joni Hersch & Beverly Moran, He Said, She Said, Let's Hear What the Data Say: Sexual Harassment in the Media, Courts, EEOC, and Social Science, 101 Kentucky L.J. 753 (2013)
In this article, we examine whether two national newspapers (the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal) provide a realistic representation of sexual harassment in the workplace. Whether intentional or inadvertent, the national media influences attitudes and subsequent behavior. Victims of sexual harassment who encounter such accounts may find comfort and validation in learning that others have had similar experiences, and that may lead to greater willingness to report their own harassment. It is only through exposing illegal behavior that such workplace practices can be eradicated.
We expected the news articles to provide more information about age, marital status, and race of the parties. These facts are almost never given in the newspaper accounts. Nevertheless, the demographics of the victims
covered in the newspaper articles we surveyed are largely reflective of the victims of sexual harassment reported in the three data sources we analyze. We also find that there is fairly limited information provided about the
specific nature of the harassment.
We expected a more even distribution of attention between the accuser and the accused in all accounts. In fact, the accused is almost always the focus where the incident only generates one news story. On the other hand,
where the incident generates several reports, the articles tend to become more even-handed in their coverage of the accused and the accuser. We also expected that the parties would speak for themselves. In fact, a large
part of the communication with the press is through attorneys. We found that there is virtually no coverage of events taking place before litigation.... [T]he articles on sexual harassment tend to wait for litigation, despite studies showing that the majority of incidents are not reported, much less litigated. Although understandable from the press' point of view, the focus on litigation gives the impression that most sexual harassment is handled in the courts....
Our main focus is on identifying whether the media's portrayal of sexual harassment accurately reflects the reality of sexual harassment as indicated in surveys, charge filings with the EEOC, and in complaints filed in district court. We provide and compare empirical evidence from these four different sources, and conclude with
an assessment of whether the media does accurately characterize sexual harassment.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Absolutely cannot wait for this. (Coming in December). So cool that the costumes (at least in the trailer) closely align with the archival photos.
Jones plays the iconic Supreme Court justice in the upcoming film based on RBG’s life, “On the Basis of Sex.” A new trailer for the film follows a young Ginsburg as she starts law school at Harvard, where she was only one of nine other female students in her class.
“Protests are important, but changing the culture means nothing if the law doesn’t change,” Ginsburg says to political activist and fellow lawyer Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates) in the trailer.
"On the Basis of Sex" Trailer: Can Felicity Jones Handle Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Accent?" [sic the NYT's headline snark]
A biopic of the Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could hardly seem timelier, given the current headlines about President Donald J. Trump’s new nominee for the high court, Brett Kavanaugh, as well as the surprise box-office success of the recent documentary “RBG.” But based on the first trailer for “On the Basis of Sex,” fictionalization may prove stranger than truth in this case.
For two years, Natalie Portman was slated to play Justice Ginsburg, but dropped out in 2017, only to be replaced by Felicity Jones. Ms. Jones was born in Birmingham, England, and initial impressions indicate she may not have nailed Ms. Ginsberg’s distinctive Brooklyn accent.
Monday, June 11, 2018
Call for Papers
Conference: “The Uses and Abuses of History in the Trump Era”
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
March 28-29, 2019
“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” –George Orwell
Scholars, artists, and writers are invited to submit proposals for presentations at this interdisciplinary conference.
The past is infinitely productive as a deep well of symbolic persuasion. Political actors dip into the well for inspirational tales of heroes and cautionary tales of reprobates and failed experiments. Evocations of the past insinuate messages of belonging, the contours of the polity, values, and leadership.
During the 2016 US presidential campaign, the candidates harnessed public memory to gain support. While Hillary Clinton aligned herself with the suffragists as she aimed to become the country’s first female president nearly a century after women gained the right to vote, Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” stirred up nostalgic visions of hope for white, working-class male prosperity and pride.
Since the election, the historical imagination has been pushed into overdrive, as a highly polarized electorate aims to promote its vision of the nation’s future, often by asserting certain narratives about the past. Examples can be seen in debates about the racism of famous suffragists, the statues of confederate soldiers, a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, “Pocahontas” as a slur, Harriett Tubman’s image on the $20 bill, the flag as a symbol of “our heritage,” “chain migration” and “anchor babies,” whether the country is a “nation of immigrants,” and whether it was “founded on Judeo-Christian principles.”
This conference celebrates the publication of and features work by contributors to the interdisciplinary volume, Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 US Presidential Election (Christine A. Kray, Tamar W. Carroll, and Hinda Mandell, eds., University of Rochester Press, forthcoming October 2018). While the book sits at the heart of the conference, we also call upon scholars, artists and writers to present new works related to the conference themes.
We seek presentations that: analyze recent evocations of the past in national political discourse, offer correctives of such representations, and/or situate contemporary developments in historical context.
Possible areas of investigation include (but are not limited to):
- Critical analyses of heritage, tradition, nostalgia, commemoration, and politics
- “Alternative facts” and alternative histories
- The historical role of news media in U.S. politics and charges of “fake news”
- Social media, popular media, and national politics
- Stephen Bannon’s historical vision
- History and nationalism, including the global resurgence of nationalism and the history and contemporary expressions of White nationalism in the U.S.
- Men’s movements and the alt-right
- S.-Russia relations
- Policymaking, including environmental, industrial, and trade; “Bring back coal”; “Bring back manufacturing”
- Religious histories and histories of religion in U.S. politics
- Contemporary social movements, including #BlackLivesMatter, #NoDAPL, #MeToo, #NeverAgain, and the Women’s Marches
- Histories of resistance and history-within-resistance; creativity and history in art, craft, dance, and song
- Suffragist history and “pro-life feminism”
- The occupation at Standing Rock and symbols of sovereignty; Right by prior occupation: indigenous sovereignty and Zionism, compared
- Immigration policy and race relations; “genealogical activism” and #ResistanceGenealogy; Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “We cannot restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
- Post-election memoirs and public memory of the 2016 presidential election
- The historical significance of women running for election in the 2018 midterms
- The right, the left, and the FBI
- Kanye West on Harriet Tubman and slavery as a “choice”
- Public anthropology, public history, and national politics
Abstracts of 300-500 words should be sent to Christine Kray: email@example.com.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: Sept. 1, 2018
Accepted presenters will be notified by Sept. 15, 2018
Questions? Contact the conference organizers:
Christine A. Kray, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Rochester Institute of Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamar W. Carroll, Department of History, Rochester Institute of Technology, email@example.com
Conference participants will have the option of participating in a tour of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House and a trip to the Mount Hope Cemetery to visit the graves of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. The conference will also feature a showing of “Election Day 2016,” a documentary film about the convergence on Susan B. Anthony’s grave in 2016.
A nominal registration fee for conference presenters will cover all meals. Information about hotel group rates, directions, parking, and tours is forthcoming. All conference rooms will be equipped with projector, screen, Internet connection, and microphone. Sign-language interpreters are available upon request, subject to availability.
Conference website: https://www.rit.edu/cla/socanthro/conference-uses-and-abuses-history-trump-era
Thursday, May 10, 2018
The Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary, RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, is probably not what you think it is, or even what, given the partisan hoopla in which we attempt to live our lives, you’d be forgiven for thinking it might be: a fawning polemic detailing a liberal justice battling the court’s right wing. There is fawning, though a fair amount is done by conservatives, including soon-to-retire Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Antonin Scalia, the conservative justice and, until his death in 2016, the BFF of RBG. But the film is a deftly crafted portrait of a refreshingly wildly mild-mannered legal mind who was a powerful force in American life long before she donned the black robes and her trademark collars (one for dissenting opinions, one when she is siding with the majority, a fashion touch she developed with her female justice predecessor, Sandra Day O’Connor). What’s surprising to a casual follower of the judicial branch is that you’ll be reaching not for your legal pad while watching the film, but the tissues, given that what actually underpins RBG is a love story.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Film: I Am Evidence
I AM EVIDENCE exposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States through a character–driven narrative, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors.
Why is there a rape kit backlog? What can we do to fix the problem? This film explores these questions through survivors’ experiences as they trace the fates of their kits and re-engage in the criminal justice process. I AM EVIDENCE illuminates how the system has impeded justice while also highlighting those who are leading the charge to work through the backlog and pursue long-awaited justice in these cases.
In this film, we seek to send a clear message to survivors that they matter, that we as a nation will do everything possible to bring them a path to healing and justice, and that their perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes.
Friday, April 6, 2018
Kayla Louis, Pornography and Gender Inequality: Using Copyright Law as a Step Forward, 24 William & Mary J. L. 267 (2018)
The pornography industry generates billions of dollars of revenue annually. The industry relies heavily on protection from copyright law in order to distribute its materials without them being freely taken by others. In other words, copyright law currently operates as an economic incentive to pornographers. Unfortunately, this lucrative industry has negative effects on gender equality. Pornography promotes harmful gender roles for both women and men. Women are portrayed as merely sexual objects who enjoy any type of penetration imaginable, even if it is rape. They are objectified and dehumanized. Men are shown as animalistic, performance-based, and without morals. As a whole, pornography can lead to behavioral, psychological, and social problems. Beyond the social harms to both men and women, the performers themselves suffer physical harms. As a form of prostitution, filmed pornography contributes to the demand for trafficking, and many women are coerced into the industry.
The government’s denial of copyright protection to speech based on content would potentially violate the First Amendment. However, the Supreme Court has made clear that not all content deserves free speech protections. Rather, “obscene” materials, as described in Miller v. California, are not protected under the First Amendment.
This Article argues that pornography is an actual problem that warrants denial of copyright protection as a method to disincentivize pornographers.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Few people watching Sunday night’s Oscar awards knew what Frances McDormand was talking about as she ended her Best Actress acceptance speech with an obscure bit of legalese: “inclusion rider.”
One exception was Kalpana Kotagal, a civil rights lawyer in Washington who has spent the last year or so crafting the concept with colleagues, but had no idea the novel method for increasing diversity in Hollywood would get such a high-profile shout-out.
The gist is this: powerful actors and film makers could use their star power to get a studio to hire more women, gay people, disabled people and people from racial minorities to the cast and crew by stipulating it as a rider in their contract.***
“I just found out about this last week,” McDormand, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a mother searching for her daughter’s killer in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” told reporters backstage during a ceremony notable for its activism.
Kotagal said she worked on creating model language for the rider with Stacy Smith, a communications professor at the University of Southern California who mentioned the “inclusion rider” idea in a 2016 talk on the lack of diversity in the film industry.
“The objective is to have the films that we see every day be a better reflection of the world that we live in,” Kotagal said, suggesting that casting directors look at a more diverse array of people when filling smaller speaking roles and background parts. “That means, for example, 50 percent women.
"I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider."
Two simple words they may be, but when Frances McDormand closed her acceptance speech with them at the Academy Awards, not a whole lot of people had heard those terms paired that way. The big spike in Google searches for the phrase Sunday night reflects the frantic clatter of people across the world summoning those key words.
So, what is an inclusion rider, exactly?
Simply put: It's a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask (or demand) to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain level of diversity among a film's cast and crew.
For instance, an A-list actor negotiating to join a film could use the inclusion rider to insist that "tertiary speaking characters should match the gender distribution of the setting for the film, as long as it's sensible for the plot," Stacy L. Smith explained in a 2014 column that introduced the idea in The Hollywood Reporter.
Smith, who directs the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly she had "absolutely no idea" McDormand would bring up the concept at the Oscars. "But," Smith added, "talk about being elated and thrilled to hear those two words broadcast around the world."
Smith has pushed for years for more diverse representation in film — delivering a TED Talk on the topic while she was at it — and the inclusion rider has been a crucial arrow in her quiver.
"The goal really is to figure out: How do we move from all the lip service in Hollywood to actually see the numbers that we study every year move?" Smith said.
Thursday, February 1, 2018
Danielle Keats Citron, A Poor Mother's Right to Privacy: A Review, 98 Boston J. L. Rev. (forthcoming)
Collecting personal data is a feature of daily life. Businesses, advertisers, agencies, and law enforcement amass massive reservoirs of our personal data. This state of affairs—what I am calling the “collection imperative”—is justified in the name of efficiency, convenience, and security. The unbridled collection of personal data, meanwhile, leads to abuses. Public and private entities have disproportionate power over individuals and groups whose information they have amassed. Nowhere is that power disparity more evident than for the state’s surveillance of the indigent. Poor mothers, in particular, have vanishingly little privacy. Whether or not poor mothers receive subsidized prenatal care, the existential state of poor mothers is persistent and indiscriminate state surveillance.
Professor Khiara Bridges’s book, The Poverty of Privacy Rights, advances the project of securing privacy for the most vulnerable among us. It shows how the moral construction of poverty animates the state’s surveillance of poor mothers, rather than legitimate concerns about prenatal care. It argues that poor mothers have a constitutional right not to be known if the state’s data collection efforts demean and humiliate them for no good reason. The Poverty of Privacy Rights provides an important lens for rethinking the data collection imperative more generally. It supplies a theory not only on which a constitutional right to information privacy can be built but also on which positive law and norms can develop. Concepts of reciprocity may provide another analytical tool to understand a potential right to be as unknown to government as it is to us.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The feud between Barbie and Bratz occupies the narrow space between thin lines: between fashion and porn, between originals and copies, and between toys for girls and rights for women. In 2010, Alex Kozinski, then the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who presided over Mattel v. MGA, wrote in his opinion that most of what makes a fashion doll desirable is not protectable intellectual property, because there are only so many ways to make a female body attractive. “Little girls buy fashion dolls with idealized proportions which means slightly larger heads, eyes and lips; slightly smaller noses and waists; and slightly longer limbs than those that appear routinely in nature,” Kozinski wrote, giving “slightly” a meaning I never knew it had. But only so much exaggeration is possible, he went on. “Make the head too large or the waist too small and the doll becomes freakish.” I’d explain how it is that anyone could look at either a Barbie or a Bratz doll and not find it freakish, except that such an explanation is beyond me. As a pull-string Barbie knockoff once told Lisa Simpson, “Don’t ask me! I’m just a girl!”
Orly Lobel, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, has recently published “You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side” (Norton). For the book, a hair-raising account of a Barbie Dreamhouse-size Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Lobel interviewed Judge Kozinski over lunch and happened to mention that, when she was a girl, her mother, a psychologist, told her that Barbie dolls were bad for girls’ body image. Kozinski professed astonishment. “The only thing wrong that I saw when I held Barbie,” he said, joking, “is when I lift her skirt there is nothing underneath.” Last month, Kozinski resigned from the federal judiciary after more than a dozen women, including two of his own former law clerks, accused him of inappropriate behavior. Justice is hard! ***
Once told to be hotties, girls were next told to empower themselves by being hot employees, as both the culture and corporations set aside long-standing concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace—abandoning possible societal, industry-wide, or even governmental remedies—in favor of sex-positive corporate feminism. The 2013 publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” marked a steepening in the decline of structural efforts to reform workplaces. Instead of fighting for equal pay, equal work, and family leave, women were told that they needed to empower themselves, one by one, through power dressing and personal exertion. Unsurprisingly, Barbie and Bratz leaned in, too. MGA relaunched Bratz with the latest mindless lingo of corporate-friendly girl power in a box. “We have doctors, lawyers, journalists,” MGA’s C.E.O., Isaac Larian, told Forbes. “Now more than ever before, Bratz empowers girls.” The rebranded dolls, though, had no discernible interests in such careers. Instead, the Bratz, who, like Barbie, started out as teen-agers, now came with hobbies, including yoga and running, and wardrobes newly inspired by study-abroad travel. Mattel ran its own Sandbergian campaign—“When a Girl Plays with Barbie, She Imagines Everything She Can Become”—and promoted Doctor Barbie, who, with her stethoscope, wears stilettos, a miniskirt, and a white lab coat embroidered, in pink thread, “Barbie.”
Empowerment feminism is a cynical sham. As Margaret Talbot once noted in these pages, “To change a Bratz doll’s shoes, you have to snap off its feet at the ankles.” That is pretty much what girlhood feels like. In a 2014 study, girls between four and seven were asked about possible careers for boys and girls after playing with either Fashion Barbie, Doctor Barbie, or, as a control, Mrs. Potato Head. The girls who had played with Mrs. Potato Head were significantly more likely to answer yes to the question “Could you do this job when you grow up?” when shown a picture of the workplaces of a construction worker, a firefighter, a pilot, a doctor, and a police officer. The study had a tiny sample size, and, like most slightly nutty research in the field of social psychology, has never been replicated, or scaled up, except that, since nearly all American girls own a Barbie, the population of American girls has been the subject of the scaled-up version of that experiment for nearly six decades.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Some of Hollywood's most powerful women have teamed up to launch an initiative aimed at combating sexual harassment inside and outside their industry after an avalanche of allegations set in motion by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
In a full-page open letter published in Monday's New York Times, 300 prominent actresses, female agents, writers, directors, producers and entertainment executives announced the campaign called "Time's Up."
The Time's Up initiative includes:
- A $13 million legal defense fund to help women in blue-collar jobs and farm work
- Drafting of legislation to punish companies that tolerate sexual harassment and to discourage nondisclosure agreements in such cases.
- A push to reach gender parity in Hollywood studios and talent agencies; and a call for women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes to wear black as a sign of protest and solidarity.
A commission headed by Anita Hill and composed of and funded by some of the most powerful names in Hollywood has been created to tackle widespread sexual abuse and harassment in the media and entertainment industries.
Called the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, the initiative was spearheaded by Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm; Maria Eitel, the co-chair of the Nike Foundation; the powerhouse attorney Nina Shaw; and Freada Kapor Klein, the venture capitalist who helped pioneer surveys on sexual harassment decades ago.
The commission’s mission, according to a news release, is to “tackle the broad culture of abuse and power disparity.”
“The commission will lead the entertainment industry toward alignment in achieving safer, fairer, more equitable and accountable workplaces —particularly for women and marginalized people,” according to a statement released Friday evening.
Employers can hit sexual harassers hard—in the pocketbook. There are a variety of channels by which to claw back compensation and benefits from bad-acting employees. The smartest employers have for years aimed those threats at employees who violate noncompete and trade secret protections. Now, they may want to toughen up their benefit plans and stock awards, because routine harassment training may not have the in terrorem effect that could come through broad-based forfeitures and clawback.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. announced an initiative Sunday to ensure there are proper procedures in place to protect law clerks and other court employees from sexual harassment, saying it is clear that the federal judiciary “is not immune” from a widespread problem.
The statement, in Roberts’s 2017 State of the Judiciary Report , follows the retirement last month of Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover—Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift and Isabel Pascual—along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s. Social media acted as a powerful accelerant; the hashtag #MeToo has now been used millions of times in at least 85 countries. “I woke up and there were 32,000 replies in 24 hours,” says actor Alyssa Milano, who, after the first Weinstein story broke, helped popularize the phrase coined years before by Tarana Burke. “And I thought, My God, what just happened? I think it’s opening the floodgates.” To imagine Rosa Parks with a Twitter account is to wonder how much faster civil rights might have progressed. * * *
This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.
But on the lower right-hand corner of the cover, there’s simply an arm, cropped at the shoulder. It belongs to an anonymous young hospital worker from Texas — a sexual harassment victim who fears that disclosing her identity would negatively impact her family.
She is faceless on the cover and remains nameless inside TIME’s red borders, but her appearance is an act of solidarity, representing all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Julia Carpenter, CNN Money, Sexual Harassment Tipping Point: Why Now?
It's been called the Weinstein effect.
Following the bombshell investigations into Harvey Weinstein's conduct, more people began to speak out about sexual harassment, leading to a string of allegations against other prominent men like Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Al Franken and others. Many of the accused have paid a steep price for their behavior.But why now?America has had its share of news-making scandals before. Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas in 1991, and Thomas still sits on the Supreme Court today.
Decades of assault accusations followed former television star Bill Cosby even as his star was rising. And in 2016, the "Access Hollywood" tape depicting then-candidate Donald Trump boasting of sexual assault did not stop his ultimate presidential victory.
So what's different in the moment we're experiencing now?
We know their names
Many of the women who spoke out against Weinstein -- Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan -- are famous names. In previous high-profile sexual harassment cases, it's usually the men who are more well-known (see: Bill O'Reilly, Clarence Thomas). Experts say that the previous power dynamic -- the famous man accused by the less-famous woman -- only bolstered a false narrative, one that discredited women's stories.
In Weinstein's case, however, as more women added their own allegations to a growing list, people paid attention.
"What do we focus on in our society? Movies and social media and People magazine," says Tracy Thomas, law professor at the University of Akron. "So those are the voices that finally ... make a difference."
And to people watching around the world, the women's fame cemented the credibility of their stories.
"Class and race and stature play into whether someone is believed," says Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center. "The nature of who is telling the story mattered here."
Other women are sharing their stories
Since Hill testified in 1991, the way in which people show support for survivors has changed, says Renee Knake, professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
Case in point: the words we use.
"When Anita testified, women supported her, but they said, 'I believe Anita,'" Knake says. "And the reason why they believed her is because it was happening to them, but no one wanted to face what she endured. Now, women are saying, 'Me, too,' which is more tangible and more concrete."
The advent of social media, and the way women now turn to it to share their own stories, on their own terms, has created "a critical mass" of testimonials, Knake says.
"Suddenly, when you have more people speaking, that always creates a tipping point," Thomas says. It's harder for critics to say, "'They can't all be overly sensitive. They can't all be lying,'" she added.
And more importantly, these testimonials made an issue that was otherwise removed from many lives into something personal.
And when it's personal, Thomas says, you're encouraged to share your story, too -- whether on Facebook, with your friends or in an HR office making a formal complaint. ***
Men are paying attention
Thomas says the recent outpouring of support for harassment survivors has also engaged a critical population: men.
At previous sexual harassment flashpoints throughout American history, men were listening, but they weren't engaged.
But in the last month, the #metoo campaign and barrage of accusations has made the issue personal for millions of women -- and men -- as they shared their own harassment stories or realized this issue had touched every woman they knew.
Thomas points to the important role men have played in previous women's rights milestones. Just a century ago, in the fight for suffrage, women relied on male supporters to add their voices to the conversation. In harnessing such widespread support and demonstrating in numbers before the White House, advocates won women the right to vote in 1920.
"Just like any movement when we're talking about women, bringing men into that dialogue is so critical and must really be taken seriously," Thomas says.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Armie Hammer will start opposite Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex, the biopic of renowned Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Participant Media is behind the drama, which will be directed by Mimi Leder from a script by Daniel Stiepleman, who is also Ginsburg’s nephew.Sex focuses on Ginsburg, played by Jones, as she teams up with her husband, Marty Ginsburg (Hammer) to bring the first landmark gender discrimination case before the Supreme Court.
The movie is eyeing a fall shoot in Montreal.
The feature is slated for release in 2018, in line with Ginsburg's 25th anniversary as a Supreme Court Justice. Focus Features is distributing domestically.
Felicity Jones is set to star as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a biopic about the Supreme Court justice's life.
On the Basis of Sex will be directed by Mimi Leder (The Leftovers, Shameless) and follows Ginsburg as she fights for equal rights throughout her entire law career, which began at Harvard University and Columbia Law School and led to Washington.
At one time, Natalie Portman was considered to play Ginsburg in the feature, which was written by Daniel Stiepleman and was placed on the 2014 Black List.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid & Amy Mittelman, Gender Biases in Cyberspace: A Two-Stage Model, the New Arena of Wikipedia and Other Websites, 26 Fordham IP, Media & Entertainment LJ (2016)
Increasingly, there has been a focus on creating democratic standards and norms in order to best facilitate open exchange of information and communication online―a goal that fits neatly within the feminist aim to democratize content creation and community. Collaborative websites, such as blogs, social networks, and, as focused on in this Article, Wikipedia, represent both a cyberspace community entirely outside the strictures of the traditional (intellectual) proprietary paradigm and one that professes to truly embody the philosophy of a completely open, free, and democratic resource for all. In theory, collaborative websites are the solution for which social activists, intellectual property opponents, and feminist theorists have been waiting. Unfortunately, we are now realizing that this utopian dream does not exist as anticipated: the Internet is neither neutral nor open to everyone. More importantly, these websites are not egalitarian; rather, they facilitate new ways to exclude and subordinate women. This Article innovatively argues that the virtual world excludes women in two stages: first, by controlling websites and filtering out women; and second, by exposing women who survived the first stage to a hostile environment. Wikipedia, as well as other cyber-space environments, demonstrates the execution of the model, which results in the exclusion of women from the virtual sphere with all the implications thereof.
Monday, May 9, 2016
- The results show that a majority, 51 percent, of women have personally experienced discrimination based on their gender, and 35 percent said they have not experienced gender-based discrimination. A majority of women, 51 percent, also said society has not yet reached the point where women and men have equal opportunities for achievement
- The data also show some interesting splits when examined in detail by partisanship. The percentage of Democratic women who said they've experienced discrimination on the basis of their race was 23 points higher than the percentage of Republican women who said so - 62 percent to 39 percent. Among Independent women, 46 percent said they've personally experienced gender-based discrimination.
- Just under half, 49 percent, of Republican women said society has reached the point where women and men have equal opportunities for achievement. Among Independent women, 36 percent said women and men have equal opportunities. In contrast, a little over a quarter, 27 percent, of Democratic women agreed that society allows for equal opportunity for both genders. These findings show that Republican and Democratic women have starkly different experiences and perspectives on where society stands on the matter of gender equality.