Tuesday, August 3, 2021
While the details Spears divulged shocked many and raised questions about the legality of her conservatorship, the issue of her IUD raised a broader conversation about reproductive justice—one that’s familiar for the disabled community. For decades, the medical community, the government, and even our own families have legally been able to do heinous things to us simply because of our disabilities. Atrocities such as forced sterilization and abortion have been done solely to prevent disabled people from reproducing and spreading our “afflictions” to new generations. Countries have built immigration law around forced sterilization, and fascists have enacted policy based on destroying the disabled. Disabled people—most of whom are poor women, and many of whom are Black, Latine, or Indigenous—have been victimized by a system designed to strip us of our humanity. The reproductive coercion that Spears is experiencing now is part of the same misogynistic and ableist system that’s been used against disabled people for decades.
The history of forced sterilization of disabled communities has been hidden for too long, but stories like Britney Spears’ allow us the opportunity to educate and liberate. In the early 2000s, a disability justice framework was created by queer disabled activists of color—namely Patricia Berne, Mia Mingus, and Stacey Milbern—when they addressed ableism in their social justice communities. In confronting ableism, reproductive freedom became an obvious concern for the disabled community. Knowing the painful history of sterilization without consent, eugenics, and reproductive coercion within our community, disabled activists paired this issue with accessibility to emphasize its importance in our activism. Working to educate others about disability issues and stressing the importance of equity over equality, disability activism is first and foremost about autonomy.
In the 1927 Buck v. Bell case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state of Virginia’s right to forcibly sterilize anyone labeled “unfit” to reproduce. Though the case was initially introduced to prevent doctors who performed forced sterilizations from being sued for medical malpractice, the decision was seen as a win for the American eugenics movement. At the time, the eugenics movement was actively attempting to breed out “undesirable” characteristics often attributed to non-white, disabled, and mentally-impaired subjects. Labeled as “feeble-minded,” a broad term that encompassed ailments ranging from vision and hearing impairment to “the inability to ‘appreciate moral ideals,’” as many as 70,000 people—who were overwhelmingly Black, Latine, and Indigenous, disabled, and poor—were forcibly sterilized as a result of the Buck v. Bell ruling. Additionally, women who were labeled “promiscuous”—a “condition” that was considered a mental illness in the early 20th century—were disproportionately impacted by the misogynistic decision. To this day, the Supreme Court hasn’t overturned Buck v. Bell.
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.
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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.”
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
“Hey, guys!” It’s the greeting that launched a thousand meetings and Zoom calls.
Etymologists trace the term “guys” to the historical figure Guy Fawkes. It’s evolved from the name of one man who attempted to assassinate King James I in 1605 to an informal address for a group of people in contemporary American English.
But when used to address your colleagues, it’s a gendered greeting that could be sending signals about who is ― and isn’t ― included in your workplace.
The Case Against Using “Hey, Guys”
The problem with “guys” is that it is a “masculine word,” according to Amy Jeffers, an organizational development specialist in diversity, equity and inclusion. There are better alternatives, such as “Hey, everyone” or “Hey, folks” that are not gender-assuming, Jeffers added.
Sociologist Sherryl Kleinman wrote an essay in the journal Qualitative Sociology against terms such as “you guys” in 2002, pointing out that they reinforce a language that already privileges men. Kleinman cited words such as chairman, postman and freshman as other examples.
”‘Get over it,’ some people say,” she wrote. “Those words are generic. They apply to everyone. But then how come so-called generics are always male?”
GLSEN, an education organization that advocates for policies designed to protect LGBTQ students and students of marginalized identities, advised defaulting to gender-neutral language such as “friends,” “folks,” “all” or “y’all” rather than “brothers and sisters” or “guys,” “ladies,” “ma’am” or “sir.”
Monday, July 20, 2020
Melissa Weresh, Gauzy Allegory and the Construction of Gender, 25 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 7 (2018)
In August 2017, violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia when white nationalists arrived to protest the removal of a statue memorializing Confederacy General Robert E. Lee. Commenting on the controversy associated with the removal of Confederate monuments, the American Historical Association noted that the removal of a monument was intended "not to erase history, but rather to alter or call attention to a previous interpretation of history." In another effort to call attention to a silenced past, in April 20 18, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration opened in Montgomery, Alabama. Recognizing that "[t]he United States has done very little to acknowledge the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation," the Legacy Museum was a countermemorial effort designed to operate as "an engine for education about the legacy of racial inequality and for the truth and reconciliation that leads to real solutions to contemporary problems." More recently, the New York Times explored the issue of under· representation of women in American iconography in two articles titled, "Honor, at Last, for Ida B. Wells, 'a Sword Among Lions,' " and "These Women Deserve Statues in New York."
These changes to the landscape of American iconography underscore the powerful connection between history, commemoration, and public memory. This is true because "[a] monument is not history itself; a monument commemorates an aspect of history, representing a moment in the past when a public or private decision defined who would be honored in a community's public spaces."
Notwithstanding this recent attention, women remain underrepresented in all forms of American iconography, resulting in a deficiency in commemorative memory. When they are represented, they tend to be featured allegorically rather than historically, exacerbating the quantitative under-representation in a qualitative manner. Explanations for and implications of this quantitative and qualitative under-representation are largely unexplored in legal scholarship. This Article is therefore about the twofold erasure of women from the iconography that makes up our national memory: first, women are rarely represented at all, and second, when they are, they are represented as symbols, rather than as actual human beings. This is a troubling form of gender marginalization, or sidelining.
This Article begins with an empirical examination of the manner in which women have been commemorated in American iconography. It then turns to a framework of gender that incorporates features of gendered relationships and gendered significations of power, using that framework as a lens for evaluating the lack of female commemoration in American iconography. This lens also provides useful categories for evaluating the impact of allegorical as opposed to historical commemoration.
Against this backdrop, the Article explores potential explanations for both the lack of historical representation as well as the tendency to feature women allegorically in iconography, seeking interdisciplinary answers in fields such as classical history, art history, theology, linguistics, and commemoration studies. Noting possible explanations for both the quantitative and qualitative under-representation, the Article explores the implications of allegorical representation, emphasizing that it is important to consider not only the lack of historical representation, both quantitatively and, by virtue of allegorical representation, qualitatively, but also how that absence created and maintained hierarchies and contributed to the sidelining of women in commemorative spaces. Disconcerting consequences of allegorical representation include the objectification of the female form, and the irony of featuring idealized, allegorical images of women in areas of society and culture from which they have been historically excluded. Upon initiating this important conversation, it then turns to potential cultural, societal, and legal strategies to address this inequity.
h/t Ederlina Co
Feminism is sometimes referred to as the other "f" word, a term so loaded its meaning is often obscured by the intense emotions around it.
This was reflected in a Pew Research Center survey released this month, which found that although nearly 80% of Americans support gender equality – and feminism is defined as "the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes" by Merriam-Webster – only 61% of women and 40% of men say "feminist" describes them very or somewhat well.
“I think ‘identify as feminist’ has morphed into ‘identify with a wide breadth of social, political issues that align with contemporary politics of equity and reparative justice,’ ” says Karla Holloway, who has taught African American studies, women's studies and law at Duke University. “Feminism is taken to mean a shared perspective on these issues, but because the issues divide constituencies, it turns into pushing aside the label rather than understanding it as a category that can, and does, contain complexity."
Three-quarters of self-identified feminists say the country hasn’t gone far enough in giving women equal rights with men, and only 39% of nonfeminists say the same, according to the survey, which found divisions along gender, racial and political lines, as well
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Deborah Rhode, #MeToo: Why Now? What Next?, Duke L. J. (2019)
This Essay explores the evolution, implications, and potential of #MeToo. It begins by reviewing the inadequacies of sexual harassment law and policies that have permitted continuing abuse and that prompted the outrage that erupted in 2017. Discussion then turns to the origins of the #MeToo movement and assesses the changes that it has propelled. Analysis centers on which changes are likely to last and the concerns of fairness and inclusion that they raise. A final section considers strategies for sustaining the positive momentum of the movement and directing its efforts toward fundamental reform.
In late August and early September, Korp’s project, “Look Up to Her,” will become one of a number of ways the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission will mark the anniversary, along with a commemorative coin and medal produced by the U.S. Mint and a virtual event at the Kennedy Center. She’ll project the images of 14 female leaders of the suffrage and civil rights movements on Mount Rushmore, including women who never themselves got the right to vote.For two weeks, Abigail Adams, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Alice Paul, Jeannette Rankin, Gladys Pyle, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, Zitkala-Sa, Nellie Tayloe Ross and Rosa Parks will be projected in pairs flanking Mount Rushmore’s four presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt — in several-minute increments.
When the 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, it granted American women the right to vote after nearly a century of protest. But black women still faced significant barriers to casting ballots. Native American women were still not considered U.S. citizens. The Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens until 1943.
Korp says she intentionally chose to include women such as Truth, who was born a slave and died before she had the right to vote; Zitkala-Sa, a Native American who at the time was not a citizen under U.S. law; and Lee, a Chinese immigrant who fought for suffrage knowing it would not apply to her.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Carrie Baker, Ms., Reports of the ERA's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
This is the final installment in a six-part series examining the half-century fight to add women to the U.S. Constitution—and a game plan on where we go from here.
Get caught up:
- Part 1: “We Want In!,”
- Part 2: A Long History of Obstruction, Delay and Trickery
- Part 3: A Patchwork of Laws, Statutes and Court Rulings
- Part 4: From Addressing the Wage Gap to Combatting Violence Against Women, We Still Need an Equal Rights Amendment
- Part 5: Where We Go From Here
But today, despite resistance from Republicans in Congress and from the Trump administration, public support for the ERA is currently sky-high: The American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2020 Survey of Civic Literacy showed that a wide majority of respondents—83 percent—believe the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) should be ratified and incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. Only 8 percent opposed.
“That’s a powerful statement about what the public believes in,” said ABA president Judy Perry Martinez, for it “tells us is that Americans believe in equal rights for women and they know that until those words are in our Constitution, those equal rights will not in fact be believed and achieved by all.”
But, just like in the initial push for the ERA in the 1970s, opposition from business interests, especially the insurance industry, are ERA enemy number one.
“‘Women’s equality’ is not just words,” Smeal says. “It means real things, especially in the area of money. It means you have to stop discriminating against women in employment and in annuities, life insurance and health insurance. It involves billions and billions of dollars.”
Of course, earlier this year, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House of Representatives voted to remove the arbitrary time line for the ERA with a bipartisan 232–183 vote.
“With this resolution, we take a giant step toward equality for women, progress for families and a stronger America—because we know when women succeed, America succeeds,” Pelosi said at a press conference ahead of the vote.
Meaning this fall, all eyes will be on the Senate.