Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Women’s satisfaction with the treatment of their gender in the United States is at a record low, according to a Gallup poll. A majority of men, however, don’t see a problem.
The study, released last week, found that 53 percent of Americans are very or somewhat satisfied with the treatment of women in society — tying a record low that first hit when the #MeToo movement gained national attention in 2017. Since 2016, women’s satisfaction has dropped 17 points to 44 percent, while men’s fell by five points to 61 percent, according to Gallup’s findings.
The poll also found that 61 percent of men think men and women have equal job opportunities, while 33 percent of women agree. However, majorities of both genders, 72 percent of women and 61 percent of men — favored affirmative action programs for women.
Gallup’s findings underscore how men and women view gender equity issues differently in the United States, said Radhika Balakrishnan, a professor of women’s gender and sexuality studies at Rutgers University, adding that male privilege can often distort men’s perception of gender disparities.***
Gallup’s findings underscore how men and women view gender equity issues differently in the United States, said Radhika Balakrishnan, a professor of women’s gender and sexuality studies at Rutgers University, adding that male privilege can often distort men’s perception of gender disparities.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The press is under a growing and dangerous form of attack through identity-based online harassment of journalists. Armies of online abusers are strategically targeting non-white and non-male journalists to intimidate and silence their voices using a variety of rhetorical tools (including references to lynching, the Holocaust, rape and dismemberment). Such expressive violence is matched by the mounting physical dangers faced by reporters, both in the United States, as evidenced during Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020, and around the world. Unsurprisingly, identity-based online harassment of reporters has increased at the very moment that news organizations attempt to enhance the diversity of the professional press.
The ‘double whammy’ of online harassment and physical danger goes far beyond harming individual journalists, although those damages ought not be understated. The scale and intensity of these online identity-based attacks collectively undermine all journalists and the press as a whole. While prior accounts, especially by media studies scholars, have recognized the threat to the press writ large, this Article is the first to identify these attacks as one of three reinforcing tactics designed to hobble journalism at critical inflection points in its lifecycle. The refrain of ‘fake news’ is designed to undermine public faith in press output, critiques of libel law seek to roll back press-protective judicial outcomes, and identity-based verbal violence works to undercut and paralyze the journalistic process. Thus, racial and misogynistic vitriol, while generated ‘bottom up’ by members of the audience, is also an element of elite press-delegitimating strategies that presidential change has not derailed.
The Article analyzes the factors that most contribute to growing peril for our democracy, including the professional self-monitoring and self-censorship inevitable in conditions of harassment; the likely effects of reporter intimidation on news organization diversity; and the particularly ‘sticky’ character of identity-based vitriol for the audiences exposed to it.
Finding realistic ways to stem and counteract online identity-based abuse is an imperative next step if the press is to perform its constitutionally-recognized role under current conditions of existential threat. Traditional legal responses are insufficient for such non-traditional devices. The Article develops and advocates a variety of ameliorative moves directed to a spectrum of actors: news organizations, journalism schools, press-protective organizations, social media platforms, and social science researchers. Collective, rather than individual, solutions across a range of constituencies offer the only realistic hope of stemming this tide.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Many of us have seen the iconic photo of interracial sisterhood with Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes from 1971, now part of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. While we know a lot about Steinem from popular media, history books, autobiographies and even a Broadway play, most of us know very little about Pitman Hughes. But we should.
The recent publication of Pitman Hughes’s biography—With Her First Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism—by University of Massachusetts historian Laura Lovett shares this forgotten history. According to Lovett, her book offers “a history of the women’s movement with children, race and welfare rights at its core, a history of women’s politics grounded in community organizing and African American economic development.”...
Throughout her life, Pitman Hughes sought to make the lives of ordinary women better by working to empower communities to meet their needs—whether that was child care, recognition of Black women’s inherent beauty or access to economic resources or local healthy food. The book recounts her early experiences of racism, including “routine extralegal violence from the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Councils,” her work with the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), the Black Panthers and Malcolm X, and her friendships with people like Flo Kennedy and Ti-Grace Atkinson, as well as Steinem....
“Dorothy’s style was to call out the racism she saw in the white women’s movement. She frequently took to the stage to articulate the way in which white women’s privilege oppressed Black women but also offered her friendship with Gloria as proof this obstacle could be overcome,” said Lovett.
Pitman Hughes also organized the first shelter for battered women in New York City, co-founded the New York City Agency for Child Development working to expand child care services in the city and was a co-founder of the National Black Feminist Organization.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
In the case of personal identity, I am drawn to default pronouns that don’t assume others’ gender. Instead of assuming someone’s gender identity based on how they look or dress or act, it is more appropriate to refer to them as “they” until I know better. And whenever possible, it is important to create early opportunities to learn their chosen pronouns, which has become standard practice in academic and other settings.
Starting with the inclusive default “they” is less likely to cause offense than using harmful stereotypes to guess at someone’s pronouns. In grade school, one of my children was advised to adopt a similar strategy to address female teachers as “Ms.” until the teacher said that they prefer “Miss” or “Mrs.” Non-identification is a much less costly default than misidentification.
Some people harp on how difficult it is to make this kind of linguistic change. But broadly adopting the singular “they” can actually reduce a speaker’s cognitive load. Years ago, my parents told me they liked “Ms.” because they no longer had to presume whether a woman was married or not. Calling people “they” by default similarly relieves the speaker of having to guess at someone’s gender. More importantly, it has the advantage of reducing gender-related assumptions that listeners might make. And it has the crucial benefit of more respectfully addressing people with nonbinary identities. Just as all-gender bathrooms make life easier for transgender people, using the singular “they” default, until told otherwise, affirms linguistic space in the classroom for people who do not exclusively identify as men or women.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
As Seen through the Eye of the Camera: A Portrayal of How Cultural Changes, Societal Shifts, and the Fight for Gender Equality Transformed the Law of Divorce
By: Taylor Simpson-Wood
Published in: 42 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 1 (2020).
This article explores how changing societal forces and cultural mores have configured to mold the law of divorce from the turn of the Twentieth Century though the rise of no-fault divorce in 1970. It highlights that, irrespective of the varying, contemporaneous views of divorce of different eras, there is one common theme which runs beneath and unites the six decades, gender inequality. To illustrate this premise, it employs representative films for each covered time period to paint a picture of the cultural influences and forces that gave rise to that era’s perspective about divorce as it strove to make a better society.
Specifically, the essay traces the key components of film censorship implemented via the Hays Code in the 1930s and explores how divorce was transformed post-Code from being an anathema to an accepted, if not expected, part of mainstream American life. It also confronts the continuing myth that the 1950s constituted the golden age of the American family. The “ideal” family portrayed each evening on the television was not a documentary and, despite cinematic representations of life during the 1950s, the era was a time of great stress for both spouses. Husbands faced the specter of becoming an “organization man,” while many homemakers were suffering from “the problem that has no name.” The rise of new social mores is often a counter-reaction to those of the immediately preceding time period. This was certainly the case in the 1960s, when the rejection of the values of the 1950s led to a psychological shift resulting in the birth of a new “divorce culture” premised on the idea that when a spouse is unfulfilled due to an unsatisfying the marital relationship, divorce is not only justified, but paves the road to self-realization.
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Natasha Bhatia, Sarah Moshary & Anna Tuchman, Investigating the Pink Tax: Evidence Against a Systematic Price Premium for Women in CPG
The pink tax refers to an alleged empirical regularity: that products targeted toward women are more expensive than similar products targeted toward men. This paper leverages a national dataset of grocery, convenience, and mass merchandiser sales, in combination with novel sources on product gender targeting, to provide systematic evidence on price disparities for personal care products targeted at different genders. The results are mixed: while women’s deodorant products are indeed more expensive, on the order of 6%, women’s disposable razors are about 8% less expensive. We then investigate potential drivers of differential pricing with a focus on deodorants. Analysis of wholesale prices indicates that differences in costs cannot fully explain the differences in deodorant retail prices that we document. Rather, our findings suggest that demand for women’s deodorant products is relatively inelastic. We also find a higher share of category TV advertising features women’s products. Finally, we consider the potential welfare effects of price parity regulations.
Legal Report Finds Systemic Gender Inequity at NCAA Against Women's Basketball and Recommends Organizational Reforms
A highly anticipated external review has found that the NCAA has treated women's games unfairly, both undervaluing and underfunding them for years.
Led by New York law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, the report recommends reforms to the NCAA's basketball programs. It calls for a combined Final Four tournament and changes to the organization's leadership structure, media contracts, and revenue calculations.
The review was prompted in March, when the NCAA came under fire after a video of the minimal equipment in the women's weight room at the organization's championships was posted by University of Oregon basketball player Sedona Prince. The video, which immediately gained traction on TikTok, showed that the NCAA did not provide the women's Division I basketball teams the lavish amenities that it did for the men's tournaments. The NCAA commissioned the review shortly afterward.
"With respect to women's basketball, the NCAA has not lived up to its stated commitment to 'diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators,' " the report states.
The report describes the undervaluing of women's teams as "perpetuating a mistaken narrative that women's basketball is destined to be a 'money loser' year after year. Nothing could be further from the truth."
It notes increasing television audiences and female players' "huge followings on social media," and says the NCAA could negotiate far higher fees for coverage of the women's games.
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.
Monday, July 12, 2021
Nancy Chi Cantalupo, The Title IX Movement Against Campus Sexual Harassment: How a Civil Rights Law and a Feminist Movement Inspired Each Other, Chapter 15 in Deborah Brake, Martha Chamalls & Verna Williams, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States, Forthcoming
If the inauguration of our first Black president made 2009 a “big” (if complicated) year for progress on racial equality, 2009 also witnessed a significant marker for gender equality, as hundreds of thousands of students and their allies began to mobilize against campus sexual assault, organizing around the groundbreaking civil rights statute, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Moving from the Title IX movement’s genesis during the Obama administration to the movement’s direct-action protests and litigation challenging regulations issued in May 2020 by then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, this chapter tells the story of how Title IX and the student movement interacted from 2009 to 2020. During these years, the movement not only weathered backlash against it but also influenced both later feminist movements such as #MeToo and non-feminists’ understandings of sexual harassment, demonstrating the continued power and promise of both feminist law and feminist organizing.
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
NYT, Book Review, Why "Unwell Women" Have Gone Misdiagnosed for Centuries
Reviewing: Elinor Cleghorn, UNWELL WOMEN: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World
In order to recognize illness, you have to know what health looks like — what’s normal, and what’s not. Until recently, medical research generally calibrated “normal” on a trim white male. Such a patient, arriving in an emergency room clutching his chest as they do in the movies — and in the textbooks — would be immediately evaluated for a heart attack. But heart disease in women, inconveniently, doesn’t always come with chest pain. A woman reporting dizziness, nausea and heart-pounding breathlessness in that same E.R. might be sent home with instructions to relax, her distress dismissed as emotional rather than cardiac.
Heart disease has clear markers and proven diagnostic tools. When a woman’s symptoms are less legible or quantifiable — fatigue, vertigo, chronic pain — the tendency to be dismissive grows. In “Unwell Women,” the British scholar Elinor Cleghorn makes the insidious impact of gender bias on women’s health starkly and appallingly explicit: “Medicine has insisted on pathologizing ‘femaleness,’ and by extension womanhood.”
A woman’s purpose was to procreate; if she wasn’t well, it was probably her womb that was to blame. One Roman writer described the uterus as “an animal within an animal,” with its own appetites and the capacity to wander through the body in search of satisfaction. Most female afflictions could be reduced to “hysteria,” from the Greek word for womb. “The theory that out-of-work wombs made women mad and sad was as old as medicine itself,” Cleghorn notes. The standard cure was marriage and motherhood. As Hippocratic medicine was refracted through the lens of Christianity, the female anatomy was additionally burdened with the weight of original sin.
Moving steadily through the centuries, Cleghorn lays out the vicious circles of women’s health. Taught that their anatomy was a source of shame, women remained in ignorance of their own bodies, unable to identify or articulate their symptoms and therefore powerless to contradict a male medical establishment that wasn’t listening anyway. Menstruation and menopause were — and often still are — understood as illness rather than aspects of health; a woman’s constitution, thus compromised, could hardly sustain the effort required for scholarship or professional life.
The intersection of class and race complicates things further. As early as 1847, the Scottish physician James Young Simpson argued in favor of anesthesia during labor and delivery, contradicting the age-old belief that the pain of birth was part of God’s judgment. (To this day, women who opt for an epidural instead of “natural childbirth” can feel a nagging sense of failure.) But even liberal-minded men like Simpson believed that what he called the “civilized female” needed his revolutionary innovation more than her less privileged sisters. Black women were thought to be less sensitive to pain and working-class women were considered hardier in general; certainly no one worried about whether these women could work while menstruating.
Each scientific advance came with its own shadow. Margaret Sanger may have campaigned for contraception “as a way for women to reclaim their bodies and lives from medical and social control” — but for women of color, birth control was presented more as a duty than a right, a weapon against overpopulation and poverty requiring the policing of women.
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
Friday, April 2, 2021
March Madness Could Spark a Title IX Reckoning, The Atlantic
The gender inequality in college sports runs far deeper than a few social-media posts can reveal. As Cheryl Cooky, a professor studying sport sociology at Purdue University, told me in a recent phone conversation: “The problem is not the weight room itself, but what kind of groundwork has been laid that produced this moment where the weight-room controversy occurred. Nobody looked at that space and said, ‘Something’s not right here.’ It took someone posting on social media to bring attention to the issue.”
Although the NCAA is a nonprofit that organizes athletic tournaments for college athletes, it acts more like a professional-sports organization. And the deeply entrenched sexism in intercollegiate sports means that male athletes are treated with red-carpet fanfare, and women are treated as second-class citizens. That swag-bag gear, forinstance? The women’s paraphernalia doesn’t say march madness, because the NCAA refuses to use the name of its highly marketable men’s tournament to refer to the parallel women’s tournament, which is held at the same time. If you download the NCAA March Madness Live app, you might be under the impression that the women’s tournament doesn’t exist at all—no women’s schedule, bracket, or game highlights are available. This is the first year in which the entirety of the women’s tournament will be shown on national television, whereas the men’s tournament has been taking over airwaves for decades. And still, Sunday’s women’s championship game will be available only on ESPN, while the men’s championship game will air on CBS, a national broadcast network, making their game more widely available.
Broadcast and advertising deals are private-market decisions. But these issues involve student athletes, who are playing for schools beholden to Title IX—the statute that prohibits gender inequality at any educational institution receiving federal financial assistance (basically every school in the NCAA, via student financial aid). So is it legal that the NCAA calls its women’s tournament by a different (and far less marketable) name? Or that the broadcast deals it strikes for the men’s tournament are so much larger than those for the women’s? According to the Supreme Court’s decision in NCAA v. Smith, it is.
In 1999, the Court ruled that, although the NCAA runs sports tournaments for schools—and collects money from those schools—the league itself does not receive direct funds from the federal government. But Neena Chaudhry, the general counsel and senior adviser for education at the National Women’s Law Center, says a legal argument could be made that the NCAA should be held to Title IX when it comes to these tournaments. Chaudhry, who worked on NCAA v. Smith, has successfully argued at the state level that high schools have essentially given sports leagues controlling authority over their federally funded athletic programs.
. . . .
Friday, March 19, 2021
Lisa Levenstein, They Didn't See Us Coming: The Hidden History of Feminism in the Nineties (2020)
From the declaration of the "Year of the Woman" to the televising of Anita Hill's testimony, from Bitch magazine to SisterSong's demands for reproductive justice: the 90s saw the birth of some of the most lasting aspects of contemporary feminism. Historian Lisa Levenstein tracks this time of intense and international coalition building, one that centered on the growing influence of lesbians, women of color, and activists from the global South. Their work laid the foundation for the feminist energy seen in today's movements, including the 2017 Women's March and #MeToo campaigns.
A revisionist history of the origins of contemporary feminism, They Didn't See Us Coming shows how women on the margins built a movement at the dawn of the Digital Age.
Hat tip Lisa Tetrault
Friday, March 5, 2021
the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration for 1978.
The week March 8th, International Women’s Day, was chosen as the focal point of the observance....
In 1979, Molly Murphy MacGregor, a member of our group, was invited to participate in The Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, which was chaired by noted historian, Gerda Lerner and attended by the national leaders of organizations for women and girls. When the participants learned about the success of the Sonoma County’s Women’s History Week celebration, they decided to initiate similar celebrations within their own organizations, communities, and school districts. They also agreed to support an effort to secure a “National Women’s History Week.
The first steps toward success came in February 1980 when President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week. In the same year, Representative Barbara Mikulski, who at the time was in the House of Representatives, and Senator Orrin Hatch co-sponsored a Congressional Resolution for National Women’s History Week 1981...
By 1986, 14 states had already declared March as Women’s History Month. This momentum and state-by-state action was used as the rational to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March 1987 as National Women’s History Month. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Why It Remains So Difficult for Employers to Prevent and Respond Effectively to Workplace Harassment
This article asks why it remains so difficult for employers to prevent and respond effectively to harassment, especially sexual harassment, and identifies promising points for legal intervention. It is sobering to consider social-science evidence of the myriad barriers to reporting sexual harassment—from the individual-level and interpersonal to those rooted in society at large. Most of these are out of reach for an employer but workplace culture stands out as a significant arena where employers have influence on whether harassment and other discriminatory behaviors are likely to thrive. Yet employers typically make choices in this area with attention to legal accountability rather than cultural contribution. My central claim is that these judgment calls—about policy, procedures, training, and operations—shape workplace culture and that it is a mistake to view them only through a compliance lens. With this insight, it becomes clear that each of these will be more effective in shaping culture when the employee user-experience is a focal point, and this article suggests many ways to achieve this result.
By seeing harassment prevention and response as an opportunity for culture creation in addition to being a compliance obligation, it also becomes clear that harassing behavior may negatively affect the targeted employee and the broader workplace even when there is no risk of liability. This includes “lowgrade harassment,” a category I use to describe behaviors that are intentionally harassing but not severe or pervasive enough to meet doctrinal thresholds. Also relevant are microaggressions and interactions that reflect implicit bias, as these are unlikely to expose a firm to liability because they lack the discriminatory intent required by legal doctrine but nonetheless can create significant challenges for employees and organizations. This is not to suggest that employers should respond in an identical way to all of these occurrences. Rather, the point is that inattention to experiences that go beyond legal-accountability requirements is likely to spill over into the broader workplace culture and diminish the effectiveness of other harassment prevention and response efforts.
The good news is that there are specific steps an employer can take to have harassment prevention and response become part of the workplace culture rather than being sidelined as compliance. Thoughtfully crafted legislative and policy interventions, along with litigation settlements, also can bridge this gap and create a more seamless set of cultural expectations for how employees interact with each other at work and what they can expect from their employer when challenges arise.
Monday, November 30, 2020
Lesley Wexler, #MeToo and Law Talk, 29 Univ. Chicago Legal F (2019)
How Americans talk when they talk about #MeToo is often deeply rooted in the law—even in non-legal settings, participants in the #Me-Too conversation often deploy legal definitions of victims and perpetrators, reference legal standards of proof and the role of legal forums, draw explicit or implicit comparisons to legal punishments, and derive meaning from legal metaphors and legal myths. In this essay, I identify and assess the deployment of such law talk to help understand both how legal rhetoric may facilitate the national #MeToo conversation and related legal reforms, but may also simultaneously limit and obscure some of the #MeToo’s more transformative possibilities. Such critical engagement seeks to open space for selective pushback, including initial thoughts on the possibilities of reclaiming colloquial law talk to better match the interests at stake in non-legal settings as well as bringing to the forefront the therapeutic, informative, and structural issues law talk might crowd out.
Monday, November 23, 2020
Despite the knowledge we might gain about COVID-19 and other infectious diseases from research on women, most medical research focuses on men.
- A study of heart disease—the leading cause of death among women—was undertaken on 22,000 men and no women.
- A federal study on health and aging proceeded for twenty years with only male subjects.
- Absurdly, even though women account for 80 percent of autoimmune disorder patients, the main research subjects are—you guessed it—men.
- Even basic biological research is done mainly with male mice!
Male-Centered Research is Killing Us
The dangers from male-centered research are profound. Even though women consume 80 percent of medications in the U.S., drug research is still predominantly conducted on men and fails to consider how drugs act over the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Consequently, drugs can reach the market that are actually harmful to women. In fact, eight of the ten dangerous drugs removed from the market between 1997 and 2000 caused greater harm and fatalities for women.
A wide range of medications, including some antihistamines, gastrointestinal drugs, antibiotics and antipsychotics trigger potentially fatal heart arrhythmias more often in women than men.
In 1993, Congress adopted a law designed to ensure that women were allowed to participate in medical research.
When discrimination persisted, the National Institutes of Health in 2016 announced guidelines requiring federally-funded scientists to enroll women in studies, to disaggregate medical research data by sex, and to study female animals and female cells as well.
Then along came COVID-19, with its tsunami of scientific articles. By May 13, 2020, there were more than 23,000 papers published on COVID-19 with the number of articles doubling every twenty days.
When I analyzed the burgeoning medical research literature about COVID-19 along with my team at the Institute for Science, Law and Technology at Chicago-Kent College of Law, we found that the historical discrimination against women in medical research still exists.
Only a few scientific articles about COVID-19 analyze the difference in symptoms between men and women. Most not only fail to break down the symptoms by sex, but also erroneously assume that the death rate of men and women is the same—ignoring the numerous studies that already demonstrated that men with COVID-19 die at a higher rate than women.
The fact that, in 2020, researchers would blindly assume women’s bodies behave like men’s is troubling.
Friday, October 2, 2020
Chan Tov McNamarah, Misgendering, 109 California L. Rev. (forthcoming)
Pronouns are en vogue. Not long ago, introductions were limited exchanges of names. Today, however, they are increasingly enhanced with a recitation of the speaker’s appropriate gendered forms of address: he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, or perhaps even less common neopronouns like zie/zir/zirs, xe/xem/xir, or sie/hir/hirs. This development — like every other dimension of progress for LGBTQ+ people — has been met with fierce resistance. In particular, three prominent objections have surfaced:
(1) calls for pronoun respect are a fraught demand for “special rights” from a vocal queer minority;
(2) semantically, gendered pronouns, honorifics, and titles cannot constitute slurs or epithets; and
(3) that these gendered labels are “just words,” and the consequences of their misuse, if any, are trivial and legally in-cognizable.
This Article explains why these arguments fail without exception. The first two, it counters by placing mis-gendering in its historical context. Recovering the history of verbal practices meant to express social inferiority, exclusion, and caste, this Article demonstrates that mis-gendering is simply the latest link in a concatenation of disparaging modes of reference and address. From addressing Black persons by only their first names, the intentional omission of women’s professional titles, and the deliberate butchering of the ethnically-marked names of minorities, these verbal slights have long been used to symbolize the subordination of societally disfavored groups.
Next, the Article articulates the injuries of mis-gendering to the legal academy, the judiciary and, ultimately, to the law. Until now, scholarship has largely overlooked mis-gendering as a pernicious socio-linguistic practice. To fill this gap, the Article identifies and examines the injuries of mis-gendering by looking to the stories of those who experience it. Drawing on a range of sources, including first-hand accounts, the Article presents, for the first time, a layered account of the harms caused by the mis-attribution of gender. It then closes by exploring the implications of these harms for law and legal practice, and laying the groundwork for potential reforms.
All told, the Article makes at least four contributions. First, contextually, it places mis-gendering in its historical milieu; along a continuum of verbal practices designed and deployed to harm the socially subordinated. Second, descriptively, by consulting original interviews, collected accounts, case law, philosophical scholarship, medical literature, and social science research, the Article offers a sustained discussion of mis-gendering’s injuries to gender minorities’ autonomy, dignity, privacy, and self-identity. Even while making the latter two contributions, the Article makes a third, corrective one, as well: It takes up the necessary work of challenging and dispelling mistaken narratives on the wrongfulness and harmfulness of gender mis-attributions, and replaces them with ones that center the lived realities of gender diverse persons. Fourth, prescriptively, the Article ends by outlining concrete illustrations of how the law must adapt to respond to and recognize the discriminatory harms it identifies.
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
A new Pew Research study shows a clear majority of women, across all ages and education levels, identify as feminists. Overall, 61 percent of female respondents said “feminist” describes them “very” or “somewhat well.”
The group most likely to identify as feminist was among women ages 18-29, at 68 percent. The 50-64 cohort was least likely to, at 57 percent—nevertheless, still a healthy majority.
In terms of education, having a bachelor’s degree or higher drove higher feminist self-identification—72 percent, versus high school-educated at 54 percent.
Additionally, feminist identification plays a role in political party affiliation: Women who are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic party are significantly more likely to identify as feminists than their Republican or Republican-leaning counterparts—75 percent, compared to 42 percent.
In addition, a majority of Americans (64 percent) say feminism is empowering, and 42 percent see it as inclusive. Nevertheless, although a majority of both men and women consider feminism to be “empowering,” a majority of men (52 percent) consider it to also be “polarizing.”
A legal fight against Walmart Inc. that became the largest employment class-action lawsuit in history will become a series at Netflix Inc. from actress Amy Adams and “The Big Short” director Adam McKay.
“Kings of America” will follow three women involved in the lawsuit, which went to the Supreme Court in 2011: a Walmart heiress, an executive and a saleswoman at the retail chain. Adams stars as one of the women, and McKay will direct the first episode of the series.
The case involved female employees suing Walmart for alleged gender discrimination -- including pay disparities and favoring male workers -- on behalf of potentially more than a million employees. That made it the largest lawsuit of its kind. Walmart is the biggest private employer in the U.S. and the world’s largest company based on revenue.
With billions of dollars at stake for Walmart, the Supreme Court blocked the suit from proceeding as a class action in a 5-4 vote in June 2011. The late Justice Antonin Scalia argued there was no “convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy.”