Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, December 13, 2019

Weinstein Settlement Shows Not Much Has Changed

Meghan Twohey & Jodi Kantor, Weinstein and His Accusers Reach Tentative $25M Deal

After two years of legal wrangling, Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio have reached a tentative $25 million settlement agreement with dozens of his alleged sexual misconduct victims, a deal that would not require the Hollywood producer to admit wrongdoing or pay anything to his accusers himself, according to lawyers involved in the negotiations.

 

The proposed global legal settlement has gotten preliminary approval from the major parties involved, according to several of the lawyers. More than 30 actresses and former Weinstein employees, who in lawsuits have accused Mr. Weinstein of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape, would share in the payout — along with potential claimants who could join in coming months. The deal would bring to an end nearly every such lawsuit against him and his former company.

 

The settlement would require court approval and a final signoff by all parties. It would be paid by insurance companies representing the producer’s former studio, the Weinstein Company. Because the business is in bankruptcy proceedings, the women have had to make their claims along with its creditors. The payout to the accusers would be part of an overall $47 million settlement intended to close out the company’s obligations, according to a half-dozen lawyers, some of whom spoke about the proposed terms on the condition of anonymity.

Slate, The Weinstein Settlement Reveals Nothing Has Changed

The $25 million, down from a $90 million victims fund that was contemplated at one point, would be paid by an insurance company for the Weinstein Company, which is now in bankruptcy proceedings because of everything Weinstein did. The agreement further stipulates that another $12 million would go toward legal fees for Weinstein, his brother, and other board members. It would also protect Weinstein and the board from future suits. In short: Besides not having to pay a dime himself, or admit to any wrongdoing, the millions of dollars it cost for the legal jiujitsu that made this extraordinary outcome possible will also be covered—by the company Weinstein’s own actions helped bankrupt. The victims, 18 of whom can get a maximum of $500,000 under this agreement, will be among other creditors trying to collect from the embattled company.

December 13, 2019 in Equal Employment, Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 9, 2019

Holiday Card Features SCOTUS Women Justices

SCOTUS Ladies Holiday Card  (Really?  Ladies?!?)

 

December 9, 2019 in Pop Culture, SCOTUS, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

John Legend Rewrites Song "Baby It's Cold Outside" as a Song of Affirmative Consent

Why "Baby It's Cold Outside" Remains Controversial and Recently Got a Remake from John Legend [and Kelly Clarkson]

Every year, the anticipation of the holidays ushers in a return of winter classics on radios and streaming services across the United States, including the 1944 hit, "Baby It's Cold Outside."

 

The song continues to stir up controversy due to lyrics that some have considered questionable as they believe they advocate date rape.

 

Written by Frank Loesser, the 75-year-old song first became popular in 1949 as a twice-featured song in the MGM romantic comedy Neptune's Daughter.***

 

According to Rolling Stone, outrage over the song's lyrical content became prominent in 2007, following the emergence of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. However, the magazine also noted that frustration with the song had been brewing for a couple of years prior, with journalists and bloggers describing the depicted romantic encounter as "semi-consensual" or "a guy who hasn't taken 'no' for an answer."***

 

In 2014, a Washington Post opinion piece—drawing from a 2010 post from Persephone Magazine—noted in that the woman's lines in the song do not explicitly state her reluctance to leave for her own sake, but for the sakes of those who might worry about her or question her virtue.

 

The Post columnist, Marya Hannun, also mentioned that in 1944 the notion of an "unmarried woman staying the night at her beau's was cause for scandal," and that in the song, the woman lists her mother, father, sister and maiden aunt as the reasons for her departure.

 

"In this light, the song could be read as an advocacy for women's sexual liberation rather than a tune about date rape," Hannun wrote for the Post.

 

 Earlier this week, award-winning singers John Legend and Kelly Clarkson received both sharp criticism and high-praise from others for a revamped version of the song, which they performed Tuesday night on an episode of The Voice.

 

As Vanity Fair wrote last month, listeners can now hear Clarkson singing "What will my friends think?" and then Legend's reply: "I think they should rejoice." Clarkson continues by asking, "If I have one more drink?" Legend's answer: "It's your body, and your choice."

 

Legend chose to pen new lyrics to the song, sparking backlash from individuals who felt it shouldn't be changed.

Listen to it here.

December 9, 2019 in Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How a Credit Card Can be Sexist

Can a Credit Card be Sexist?

The Apple Card controversy illustrates how a history of bias in credit lending, coupled with discriminatory AI algorithms, hurt women

{T]he New York Department of Financial Services, prompted by Hansson’s tweets, announced it would open an investigation into whether Goldman Sachs discriminates on the basis of sex in the way it sets its credit limits. “Any algorithm that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class violates New York law,” a spokeswoman for the agency said in a statement Saturday.

 

Apple has deferred to Goldman Sachs for requests for comment. Andrew Williams, a spokesperson for the bank, said in a statement that Apple Card applications are “evaluated independently.” The company evaluates an individual’s income and an individual’s creditworthiness, which “includes factors like personal credit scores, how much personal debt you have, and how that debt is managed.”

 

“We have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender,” Williams said. He added that the company is looking to enable joint family accounts in the future.***

 

The story illustrates how potential biases in credit lending manifest: On the one hand, women have long lacked credit parity with men — women only received legal protection from credit discrimination in the 1970s. But today, with the rise of AI algorithms determining everything from credit lending to hiring to advertising, women face another potential source of discrimination.

 

“These algorithms are trained on data that are a reflection of the world we live in or the world we lived in in the past,” says Meredith Whittaker, a research scientist at New York University and co-founder of the university’s AI Now Institute. “This data irreducibly imprints these histories of discrimination, these patterns of bias.”

 

That discrimination is “intersectional,” Whittaker says, and disproportionately hurts women of color.

***

 

Well into the 20th century, women struggled to get approved for credit cards. As the Smithsonian reports, any woman looking to open a card was subject to discriminatory questions — whether she was married, if she planned to have children. Many banks required single, divorced or widowed women to bring a man along with them to cosign for a card.

 

It wasn’t until 1974 that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act made it illegal for any creditor to take gender, race, religion or national origin into account. But discrepancies still exist today. An analysis from the Federal Reserve found that single women under 40 had lower credit scores than comparable single men, which reflected that single women had “more intensive use of credit” — an outcome, the study author notes, that may reflect economic circumstances, employment and “men and women being potentially treated differently by the credit market and institutions.” As many note, women’s lower credit is also tied to the gender pay gap.

November 27, 2019 in Business, Gender, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Pink Tax: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer

The Pink Tax: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer

The pink tax refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services. Things like dry cleaning, personal care products, and vehicle maintenance. So not only do women make less but they pay more. Women also live longer so they actually need more money for retirement. It’s a load of crap. 

There has been a lot of research on the pink tax that found that overall, women were paying more than men 42% of the time. How much more?  About $1,351 more a year in extra costs. Yup – that’s $1,351 that can’t go into her retirement fund. ***

 

Did you know, tampons and pads are charged sales tax because they are considered “luxury” items. Periods are certainly not a luxury and I’m sure every woman on the planet would agree.***

 

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs released a study comparing the prices of over 800 products. The goal of the study was to estimate the price differences male and female shoppers face when buying the same types of items.

The results: Products for women or girls cost 7% more than comparable products for men and boys.

  • 7% more for toys and accessories
  • 4% more for children’s clothing
  • 8% more for adult clothing
  • 13% more for personal care products
  • 8% more for senior/home health care products

WBUR, Here and Now, Is Sales Tax on Tampons and Pad Unconstitutional?

Menstrual products like tampons and pads are subject to sales tax in 34 states.

On average, women and people who menstruate spend an estimated $150 million a year just on the sales tax for these items. One in four women struggle to afford period products, according to the nonprofit PERIOD.

Now, there’s a push to outlaw the so-called “tampon tax” across the country.

Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, an activist and co-founder of Period Equity, says she got together with a group of lawyers to make the case that taxing menstrual products is “sex-based discrimination and therefore unconstitutional and therefore illegal.”

“It's not really just a matter now of asking legislators to do the right thing,” she says, “but it's bringing the force of the law to let them know that they must cease this practice.”

In June, California put a pause on the taxation of menstrual products — but only for a two-year period. But Weiss-Wolf is arguing for a permanent solution by mobilizing to get all 50 states to permanently end sales tax on menstrual products.

 

November 1, 2019 in Gender, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Women and the Law, Halloween Edition. (Hint: It's About Witches)

Image result for salem witch trials

 

It's Halloween... which for law and gender means time to remember the Salem Witch Trials. 

Most of the victims of the trials were women.  And most of the accusers.  Scholars have talked about the trials as misogyny and at the same time as women's assertion of agency and power.  They also suggested the lax evidentiary standards allowed social judgments about women to be determinative of legal guilt.

Stacy Schiff, The Witches: Salem, 1692 (2015)

Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman (1998)

Jane Moriarty, Wonders of the Invisible World: Prosecutorial Syndrome and Profile Evidence in the Salem Witchcraft Trials, 26 Vermont L. Rev. 43 (2001)

Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (2003)

Peter Hoffer, The Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History (1997)

See also Gender Law Prof Blog, Witchcraft Related Violence: Human Rights Violations Against Women Labeled "Witches"

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October 31, 2019 in Legal History, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Melinda Gates Commits $1 Billion to Gender Equality

Melinda Gates, Here's Why I'm Committing $1 Billion to Gender Equality

Here’s what keeps me up at night: I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on. That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities. That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing. That all of this energy and attention has amounted to a temporary swell instead of a sea change.

 

There is too much at stake to allow that to happen. Too many people—women and men—have worked too hard to get us this far. And there are too many possible solutions we haven’t tried yet.

 

That’s why, over the next ten years, I am committing $1 billion to expanding women’s power and influence in the United States.

 

I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives. I believe that women’s potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.

 

Gender equality in the U.S. has been chronically underfunded. Data from Candid’s Foundation Directory Online suggests that private donors give $9.27 to higher education and $4.85 to the arts for every $1 they give to women’s issues. What’s more, 90 cents of each dollar donors spend on women is going to reproductive health. As absolutely essential as reproductive health is, we also need to fund other unmet needs.

October 8, 2019 in Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

New Books: The Preacher's Wife on Women's Search for Spiritual Authority

Kate Bowler, The Preacher's Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities

Whether standing alone or next to their husbands, the leading women of megaministry play many parts: the preacher, the homemaker, the talent, the counselor, and the beauty. Boxed in by the high expectations of modern Christian womanhood, they follow and occasionally subvert the visible and invisible rules that govern the lives of evangelical women, earning handsome rewards or incurring harsh penalties. They must be pretty, but not immodest; exemplary, but not fake; vulnerable to sin, but not deviant. And black celebrity preachers' wives carry a special burden of respectability. But despite their influence and wealth, these women are denied the most important symbol of spiritual power―the pulpit.

The story of women who most often started off as somebody's wife and ended up as everyone's almost-pastor, The Preacher's Wife is a compelling account of women's search for spiritual authority in the age of celebrity. 

October 2, 2019 in Books, Family, Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Exploring the Similarities and Differences Between the Black Lives Matter and MeToo Movements

Linda Greene, Lolita Buckner Inniss, Bridget Crawford, Mehrsa Baradaran, Noa Ben-Asher, I. Bennett Capers, Osamudia James & Keisha Lindsay Talking About Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, Wisconsin Women's Law Journal, Forthcoming

This essay explores the apparent differences and similarities between the Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movements. In April 2019, the Wisconsin Journal of Gender, Law and Society hosted a symposium entitled “Race-Ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Black Lives Matter and the Role of Intersectional Legal Analysis in the Twenty-First Century.” That program facilitated examination of the historical antecedents, cultural contexts, methods, and goals of these linked equality movements. Conversations continued among the symposium participants long after the end of the official program. In this essay, the symposium’s speakers memorialize their robust conversations and also dive more deeply into the phenomena, implications, and future of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.

This essay organizes around internal and external spatial metaphors and makes five schematic moves. First, internal considerations ground comparisons of the definitions, goals, and ideas of success employed by or applied to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. Second, external concerns inspire questions about whether both movements may be better understood through the lens of intersectionality, and relatedly, what challenges these movements pose for an intersectional analysis. Third, a meta-internal framework invites inquiry into how the movements shape the daily work of scholars, teachers, lawyers, and community activists. Fourth, a dialectical external-internal frame drives questions about the movements’ effects on law and popular culture, and the reciprocal effects between those external influences and the movements themselves. Returning to an external, even forward-looking, approach, we ask what the next steps are for both movements. This five-part taxonomy frames the inquiry into where the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements are located individually, but also where they are co-located, and, perhaps most importantly, where they are going

September 3, 2019 in Pop Culture, Race, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Most States Prohibit Blending Surnames at Marriage

Hannah Haksgaard, Blending Surnames at Marriage, 30 Stanford L. & Policy Rev. 307 (2019)

In most states, marrying couples are severely limited in their surname choices at the time of marriage. While recent scholarship has focused on men’s limited surname choices, other important problems with the marital surname process exist. For example, the increasingly popular decision to blend surnames — taking parts of both current surnames to create an entirely new surname — is generally not allowed. Four states explicitly allow for surname blending on the marriage license, and three more allow for any surname to be adopted. This article argues the remaining states should follow suit by allowing surname blending and other surname options. In addition to providing too few surname options, in most states the current system creates ambiguities and problems because marriage licenses fail to reflect the married surname of either spouse. This article argues that states should update marriage licenses to include the surname a marrying couple chooses to adopt as the marital name.

Listen to Hannah discuss her work on the Ipse Dixit Podcast

August 15, 2019 in Family, Gender, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Central Park's First Statute of Real (rather than Fictional) Women Redesigned to Include Sojourner Truth with Women's Suffrage Leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

From Press Release:

Today, Monumental Women’s Statue Fund announced a redesigned statue that will honor pioneering women’s rights advocates and will be the first statue depicting real women in the 165-year history of New York City’s Central Park.

The amended design includes Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth.  All three are remarkable and monumental women’s rights pioneers who were New Yorkers and contemporaries. In the amended design, nationally-recognized sculptor Meredith Bergmann shows Anthony, Stanton, and Truth working together in Stanton's home, where it is historically documented they met and spent time together.

The NYC Public Design Commission must review the amended design of the statue, which will be unveiled on The Mall in Central Park on August 26, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, when women constitutionally won the right to vote. Next year is also the 200th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth.

“Our goal has always been to honor the diverse women in history who fought for equality and justice and who dedicated their lives to the fight for Women's Rights. We want to tell their stories and help create a full and fair historical record of their vast and varied contributions. When the Public Design Commission unanimously approved our previous design with Anthony and Stanton, but required that a scroll with names and quotes of 22 diverse women’s suffrage leaders be removed, we knew we needed to go back to the drawing board and create a new design.  It is fitting that Anthony, Stanton, and Truth stand together in this statue as they often did in life.” said Pam Elam, President of Monumental Women.

Central Park's First Statute of Real Women Redesigned to Include Sojourner Truth

Last year’s unveiling of designs for the first statue in Central Park’s 165-year history that depicts real historic women–a sculpture of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony–was met with mixed reviews: Why didn’t the statue, set to be dedicated in August of 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of nationwide women’s suffrage, include any of the many African-American women who aided in the cause? Today it was announced that a redesigned statue honoring pioneering women’s rights advocates will include Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth, an escaped slave and abolitionist who joined the fight for women’s rights.

August 13, 2019 in Legal History, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

How Candidate "Likeability" is Gendered

Vox, "Likeability" Ratings in Recent New Hampshire Poll Show Just How Tough Female Candidates Have It

New Hampshire voters approve of the job Sen. Elizabeth Warren is doing; they just don’t like her all that much. Same goes for Sen. Kamala Harris.

 

Despite Harris’s recent bump in New Hampshire following her performance at the first Democratic debate, data in a recently released CNN/UNH Survey Center poll of likely New Hampshire voters found good favorability numbers for both Warren and Harris (67 percent for Warren, 54 percent for Harris). But when pollsters asked, “Which Democratic candidate do you think is most likable?” the numbers for both women were bleak.

 

Just 4 percent of likely voters polled said they found Warren “likable,” and 5 percent said the same about Harris. The candidates they liked better were all men: 20 percent found both Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders likable, while 18 percent found South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg likable. (Warren’s favorability rating was the same as Sanders’s and higher than either Biden’s or Buttigieg’s.)

 

Likability is a tricky, highly subjective political term. Pollsters used to get at the same question by asking, “Who is the candidate you’d rather grab a beer with?” But the question of who voters think is the most likable is difficult to pin down because different people have vastly different ideas of what it means, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

“The construct is an unclear construct,” she told Vox. “We are making it relevant without asking why should it be. We don’t know what it is, anyway.”

 

One thing is clear: Likability applies differently to male and female candidates. But female candidates need to be liked in order to be elected, research has found.

 

“This likability dimension is a real barrier for women,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told Vox. “Voters are perfectly willing to vote for a man for executive office that they think is qualified that they don’t like, but they are not willing to vote for a woman they think is qualified that they don’t like.”

July 23, 2019 in Gender, Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Catharine MacKinnon on What MeToo Has Changed

Catharine MacKinnon, What #MeToo Has Changed

But #MeToo has been driven not by litigation but by mainstream and social media, bringing down men (and some women) as women (and some men) have risen up. The movement is surpassing the law in changing norms and providing relief that the law did not. Sexual-harassment law prepared the ground, but #MeToo, Time’s Up, and similar mobilizations around the world—including #NiUnaMenos in Argentina, #BalanceTonPorc in France, #TheFirstTimeIGotHarassed in Egypt, #WithYou in Japan, and #PremeiroAssedio in Brazil among them—are shifting gender hierarchy’s tectonic plates.

 

Until #MeToo, perpetrators could reasonably count on their denials being credited and their accusers being devalued to shield their actions. Many survivors realistically judged reporting to be pointless or worse, predictably producing retaliation. Complaints were routinely passed off with some version of “She isn’t credible” or “She wanted it” or “It was trivial.” A social burden of proof effectively presumed that if anything sexual happened, the woman involved desired it and probably telegraphed wanting it. She was legally and socially required to prove the contrary. In campus settings, in my observation, it typically took three to four women testifying that they had been violated by the same man in the same way to even begin to make a dent in his denial. That made a woman, for credibility purposes, one quarter of a person.***

 

The #MeToo movement is finally breaking this paralyzing logjam. Structural misogyny, with sexualized racism and class inequalities, is being challenged by women’s voices. No longer liars, no longer worthless, today’s survivors are initiating consequences few could have gotten through any lawsuit—in part because the laws do not permit relief against individual perpetrators, more because the survivors are being believed and valued as the law seldom has.***

 

The #MeToo mobilization, this uprising of the formerly disregarded, has made increasingly untenable the assumption that the one who reports sexual abuse is a lying slut. That is already changing everything. A lot of the sexual harassment that has been a constant condition of women’s lives is probably not being inflicted at this moment.

April 4, 2019 in Equal Employment, Gender, Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Understanding the Origins, Use, and Misuse of the Term "Toxic Masculinity"

The Problem With the Term "Toxic Masculinity"

Over the past several years, toxic masculinity has become a catchall explanation for male violence and sexism. The appeal of the term, which distinguishes “toxic” traits such aggression and self-entitlement from “healthy” masculinity, has grown to the point where Gillette invoked it last month in a viral advertisement against bullying and sexual harassment. Around the same time, the American Psychological Association introduced new guidelines for therapists working with boys and men, warning that extreme forms of certain “traditional” masculine traits are linked to aggression, misogyny, and negative health outcomes.***

 

Masculinity can indeed be destructive. But both conservative and liberal stances on this issue commonly misunderstand how the term toxic masculinity functions. When people use it, they tend to diagnose the problem of masculine aggression and entitlement as a cultural or spiritual illness—something that has infected today’s men and leads them to reproachable acts. But toxic masculinity itself is not a cause. Over the past 30 years, as the concept has morphed and changed, it has served more as a barometer for the gender politics of its day—and as an arrow toward the subtler, shifting causes of violence and sexism.

 

Despite the term’s recent popularity among feminists, toxic masculinity did not originate with the women’s movement. It was coined in the mythopoetic men’s movement of the 1980s and ’90s, motivated in part as a reaction to second-wave feminism. Through male-only workshops, wilderness retreats, and drumming circles, this movement promoted a masculine spirituality to rescue what it referred to as the “deep masculine”— a protective, “warrior” masculinity—from toxic masculinity. Men’s aggression and frustration was, according to the movement, the result of a society that feminized boys by denying them the necessary rites and rituals to realize their true selves as men.***

 

The question is: Where do these sexist attitudes come from? Are men and boys just the victims of cultural brainwashing into misogyny and aggression, requiring reeducation into the “right” beliefs? Or are these problems more deep-seated, and created by the myriad insecurities and contradictions of men’s lives under gender inequality? The problem with a crusade against toxic masculinity is that in targeting culture as the enemy, it risks overlooking the real-life conditions and forces that sustain culture

April 4, 2019 in Gender, Manliness, Masculinities, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Informal (yet Effective) Process of MeToo

Jessica Clarke, The Rules of #MeToo, Univ. Chicago Legal Forum (forthcoming)

Two revelations are central to the meaning of the #MeToo movement. First, sexual harassment and assault are ubiquitous. And second, traditional legal procedures have failed to redress these problems. In the absence of effective formal legal procedures, a set of ad hoc processes have emerged for managing claims of sexual harassment and assault against persons in high-level positions in business, media, and government. This Article sketches out the features of this informal process, in which journalists expose misconduct and employers, voters, audiences, consumers, or professional organizations are called upon to remove the accused from a position of power. Although this process exists largely in the shadow of the law, it has attracted criticisms in a legal register. President Trump tapped into a vein of popular backlash against the #MeToo movement in arguing that it is “a very scary time for young men in America” because “somebody could accuse you of something and you’re automatically guilty.” Yet this is not an apt characterization of #MeToo’s paradigm cases. In these cases, investigative journalists have carefully vetted allegations; the accused have had opportunities to comment and respond; further investigation occurred when necessary; and the consequences, if there were any at all, were proportional to the severity of the misconduct. This Article offers a partial defense of the #MeToo movement against the argument that it offends procedural justice. Rather than flouting due process values, #MeToo’s informal procedures have a number of advantages in addressing sexual misconduct while providing fair process when the accused person is a prominent figure.

April 3, 2019 in Courts, Equal Employment, Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

This is How March Became Women's History Month

Time, This is How March Became Women's History Month

Before women had the whole month, the U.S. recognized Women’s History Week; before that, a single International Women’s Day. Dedicating the whole month of March in honor of women’s achievements may seem irrelevant today. But at the time of the conception of Women’s History Week, activists saw the designation as a way to revise a written and social American history that had largely ignored women’s contributions.

The celebratory month has its roots in the socialist and labor movements — the first Women’s Day took place on Feb. 28, 1909, in New York City, as a national observance organized by the Socialist Party. It honored the one-year anniversary of the garment worker’s strikes in New York that had taken place a year earlier, when thousands of women marched for economic rights through lower Manhattan to Union Square. (That strike in turn honored an earlier 1857 march, when garment workers rallied for equal rights and a 10-hour day.) Within two years, Women’s Day had grown into an international observance that spread through Europe on the heels of socialism.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., feminist activists took issue with how the history books largely left out the story or contributions of women in America. In light of that imbalance, one group during the 1970s set about revising the school curriculum in Sonoma County, Calif., according to the National Women’s History Project. Their idea was to create a “Women’s History Week” in 1978, timed around International Women’s Day, which the U.N. had begun officially marking in 1975.

In 1979, Molly Murphy MacGregor, one of the week’s organizers, traveled to Sarah Lawrence College in New York for a conference with the Women’s History Institute. The participants heard about the week in Sonoma County, and the celebration soon spread across the country.

Gerda Lerner chaired the Institute at the time of the conference, and backed the movement to garner national recognition. As the week picked up steam, organizers lobbied Congress and President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first national Women’s History Week for March 2-8, 1980.

March 5, 2019 in Legal History, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Do We Still Need the Equal Rights Amendment?

NYT, Do American Women Still Need the an Equal Rights Amendment?

When Phyllis Schlafly crusaded against the Equal Rights Amendmentin the 1970s as a threat to all-American motherhood, she handed out freshly baked bread and apple pie to state legislators. She warned of a dystopian post-E.R.A. future of women forced to enlist in the military, gay marriage, unisex toilets everywhere and homemakers driven into the workplace by husbands free to abandon them.

 

The E.R.A., which had been sailing to ratification, failed. Yet gay marriage is now the law. Women in the military see combat, although women are not required to register for the draft. Six women — so far — are running for president. A record-shattering number of women have claimed seats in Congress. And the percentage of prime-working-age women participating in the labor force has soared from 51 percent in 1972, when Congress passed the E.R.A., to more than 75 percent last year.***

 

Mrs. Schlafly may not have been able to prevent social changes that transformed the lives of American women, but she did drive a wedge between conservatives and liberals that remains today. “She was one of the early architects of class conflict as expressed through culture wars, as a way to stop the progress of the equality ideals of the professional management elite,” said Joan C. Williams, a feminist legal scholar skeptical about the usefulness of the Equal Rights Amendment. “One of the ironic messages of the E.R.A. is not to underestimate the power of ‘bathroom anxiety’ in pushing the country to the right.”

February 21, 2019 in Constitutional, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The History of Galentine's Day and Women's Political Friendships

Kimberly Hamlin, Wash. Post, Galentine's Day and the Political Power of Women's Friendships

Oprah and Gayle, Mary and Rhoda, Tina and Amy. To update a popular aphorism, behind every successful woman are other successful women. But female friendships are not just good for one’s health and career, they are also good for politics. And now we have a holiday that, among other things, highlights the political power of female friendship: Galentine’s Day.

 

In February 2010, NBC inaugurated the holiday on its sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” starring Amy Poehler’s iconic character Leslie Knope, civic crusader and friend extraordinaire. As Knope described, each year on Feb. 13, she gathers together her best female friends, including her mom, to celebrate what she loves about them over waffles.

 

Nine years later, Galentine’s Day has become a nationaltradition, a day for, as Knope put it, “ladies celebrating ladies.”

 

Galentine’s Day is not just a pop-culture celebration, however. It is a political statement. Sure, Leslie and her pals swapped stories over waffles and crafts, but Galentine’s Day is about something more. From her office tributes to Madeleine Albright to her group activism disguised as social outings, Knope promoted civic engagement grounded in female friendship. Knope convinced new generations that, like gathering for dinner or splurging at the spa, engaging in politics is something worthwhile that women should do together. And savvy viewers could not help but link Knope’s political engagement to that of Poehler and her real-life friend Tina Fey, such as their 2008 endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president during “Saturday Night Live.”

 

In doing this, Knope built on an important tradition: women engaging with local, state and federal government and supporting one another while doing it. For the past two centuries, female activists have sought out friendships with other women to fortify themselves and their causes against a world that was hostile to women and women’s leadership.

February 14, 2019 in Legal History, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Law's Expressive Role in Empowering Women and Victims of Online Abuse to Remain Online

Jon Penney & Danielle Keats Citron, When Law Frees Us to Speak, Fordham Law Review (forthcoming)

A central aim of online abuse is to silence victims. That effort is as regrettable as it is successful. In the face of cyber harassment and sexual privacy invasions, women and marginalized groups retreat from online engagement. These documented chilling effects, however, are not inevitable. Beyond its deterrent function, law has an equally important expressive role. In this article, we highlight law’s capacity to shape social norms and behavior through education. We focus on a neglected dimension of law’s expressive role—its capacity to empower victims to express their truths and engage with others. Our argument is theoretical and empirical. We present new empirical research showing cyber harassment law’s salutary effects on women’s online expression. We consider the implication of those findings for victims of sexual privacy invasions.

January 18, 2019 in Pop Culture, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Harvard Study Shows Bias Drops Dramatically for Sexual Orientation and Race Since 2007

Study: Bias Drops Dramatically for Sexual Orientation and Race since 2007

New research from Harvard University finds that Americans' unconscious bias on the basis of sexual orientation and race dropped dramatically over a decade.

 

The study in the journal Psychological Science looks at more than 4 million online tests for implicit bias — bias people aren't aware of — taken from 2007 to the end of 2016.

 
It finds that attitudes about sexual orientation changed the fastest, says lead author Tessa Charlesworth: "The most striking finding is that sexuality attitudes have changed toward neutrality, toward less bias, by as much as 33 percent on implicit measures," and by 49 percent on explicit measures — people's reports about their own attitudes.

The study also found a big drop in racial bias — but a rise in bias against people based on body weight.

And it showed that implicit biases, initially thought to be so deep-seated that they were immutable, can change over time, and toward multiple groups of people.

 

January 14, 2019 in Gender, LGBT, Pop Culture, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)