Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, July 20, 2020

"Where is God When we Need Her?" Women's Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief as Key to Promoting Gender Equality

Cochav Elkayam-Levy, "Where Is God When We Need Her? Women’s Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief as Key to Promoting Gender Equality"  95, Tulane L. Rev. (forthcoming)


Belief is a fundamental right of every woman. It articulates women's freedom to follow their aims and beliefs and protects their personal autonomy to pursue their chosen faith (be it theistic, non-theistic or atheistic). It also guarantees that women would be able to freely express their diverse opinions, moral convictions and experiences without social or other constraints. Yet this article reveals that women’s belief liberties are a blind spot in human rights law. The right to freedom of religion or belief has thus far been widely viewed by the international community as an obstacle to women's advancement; Among many aspects of this problem, this article considers the implications of the omission of the right to freedom of religion or belief from the Women’s Convention. It shows that states receive little guidance on how to secure this right in ways that also respect the right to gender equality. It also identifies a conflict syndrome by which women are predominantly viewed through the lens of harmful practices. Lastly, it calls attention to the fact that, presently, no state is being systematically supervised for implementing this fundamental right of women. Examining possibilities for change, the article demonstrates that the right of women to gender equality and to freedom of religion or belief are inseparably linked and that international mechanisms protecting women’s belief liberties could tremendously contribute to advancing women’s equal status.

July 20, 2020 in Constitutional, International, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

SCOTUS Holds that Employer's Religious Liberty Trumps Women's Right to Healthcare and Birth Control

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania (July 8, 2020), in a split opinion, with the majority written by Justice Thomas.  Justices Kagan and Breyer concurred in the judgment.

Justice Ginsburg strongly dissented,. recognizing the threat to not just women's healthcare, but women's equality.

In accommodating claims of religious freedom, this Court has taken a balanced approach, one that does not allow the religious beliefs of some to overwhelm the rights and interests of others who do not share those beliefs. Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree. *** Destructive of the Women’s Health Amendment, this Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer’s insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets. The Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause, all agree, does not call for that imbalanced result. Nor does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U. S. C. §2000bb et seq., condone harm to third parties occasioned by entire disregard of their needs. I therefore dissent from the Court’s judgment, under which, as the Government estimates, between 70,500 and 126,400 women would immediately lose access to no-cost contraceptive services. 

July 8, 2020 in Healthcare, Religion, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

More Than the Vote: The 19th Amendment as Proxy for Systemic Gender Equality

I have just published my article, More Than the Vote: The Nineteenth Amendment as Proxy for Gender Equality, 15 Stanford J. Civil Rights & Civil Liberties 349 (2020).

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, pioneering leader of the women’s rights movement in the nineteenth century, famously declared the right of women to vote in 1848 at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York. She alone initially appreciated the importance of the vote both for women’s political power and participation in the governance of the country, as well as its symbolic meaning for women’s full citizenship. Her abolitionist and religious colleagues, however, were suspicious and a bit outraged by the suffrage demand, as these moralistic reformers were opposed to politics, which they viewed as fundamentally corrupt due to bribery, patronage, and abuse of power. Stanton’s friend and co-organizer Lucretia Mott was worried the demand would make the meeting “look ridiculous” and Stanton’s husband, Henry, dismissed the suffrage claim as a “farce.”

 

Nevertheless, they persisted. For seventy-two more years, women activists would fight for the right to vote by organizing annual conventions, creating associations, petitioning legislatures and constitutional conventions, writing editorials, delivering speeches, and campaigning door-to-door for what would become the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 

This nearly century-long movement for suffrage, however, was never just about the vote. It originated as part of a comprehensive plan for women’s equality as proclaimed at Seneca Falls in the women’s Declaration of Sentiments. Stanton, the intellectual driver of the first women’s rights movement, conceptualized the vote as only one of the needed rights of women to access the political process. The elective franchise was a key piece of reform to provide women access to the right to make the laws that governed them, but it was never the sole goal. Rather, Stanton’s first-wave movement envisioned a full-scale reform of law and society to bring about women’s freedom and equal opportunity. Change was needed, she argued, in four venues: the state, family, industry, and church. She described women’s oppression as “a fourfold bondage” with “many cords tightly twisted together, strong for one purpose” of woman’s subordination.

 

Despite these broad equality efforts targeting multiple systems, the vote emerged as the primary demand for women’s rights. The Civil War “effectively killed the initial collectivity behind the broadly based humanitarian goals of the Seneca Falls Convention.” After the war, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Amendments focused the national conversation on federal constitutional change, and particularly on the power of the vote prioritized in the Fifteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment also highlighted the issue of the vote for women by explicitly inserting gender into the Constitution for the first time, enforcing the right to vote guaranteed to “male inhabitants” and “male citizens.” Women’s rights advocates were drawn into this constitutional debate, forced to
narrow their focus and react to the national dialogue on suffrage.***

 

Pulled into this national constitutional movement, women’s rights activists utilized the demand for the vote as a proxy for a greater comprehensive agenda of both equality and emancipation from oppression. As Stanton later recalled, the vote was not the central idea of Seneca Falls, but rather “the social wrongs of my sex occupied altogether the larger place” in the early movement.  Her advocacy for the vote thus came to represent full citizenship rights, defined as full equality in civil rights and emancipation from oppressive social and religious norms.

 

This essay first details the origins of women’s political demand for the vote as part of a comprehensive social reform. It then discusses the four strands of the comprehensive early women’s rights agenda for gender equality focused on the political state, domestic family, economic industry, and religious church. Finally, it connects the suffrage activism with demands for an equal rights amendment to realize the full civil rights of equality envisioned by and for women. This long view of women’s rights shows it was never only about the
vote; rather, the vote stood as a shorthand for a complete revolution of the interlocking systems supporting women’s oppression and denying women equal rights. 

June 24, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Women of the Supreme Court are Sick of These Nonsense Objections to Birth Control

The Women of the Supreme Court are Sick of These Nonsense Objections to Birth Control

Conservatives have been trying to unwind the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for nearly a decade now, and the women justices on the U.S Supreme Court are over it.

 

That much was apparent during oral arguments Wednesday in Trump v. Pennsylvania and its companion case, Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania.

 

It’s the third time the Court has heard a challenge to the birth control benefit, which guarantees access to FDA-approved contraception methods at no additional cost or co-pay in most employer-sponsored health plans. But this case is the most absurd and dangerous challenge yet

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg drove that point home from the hospital, where she was recovering from a gallbladder procedure while defending the rights of hundreds of thousands of employees the Trump administration is trying to “toss to the winds entirely,” to use her words. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reminded Solicitor General Noel Francisco that should the Court side with the Trump administration, the benefits of around a hundred thousand employees (by even the most conservative estimate) would be in jeopardy. And Justice Elena Kagan appeared to be searching for a compromise she could get the chief justice to sign onto.

 

At its core is the same central question: Can your boss deny you health insurance coverage for contraception based on a religious objection? But these cases take that question and, like everything in the Trump years, extend it to absurd lengths by asking if your boss can deny you those same benefits based on a moral objection as well.

 

The moral exemption to the birth control benefit is a toxic addition inserted by the Trump administration three years ago after conservative efforts to upend the benefit in court fell flat. Trump announced the exemption in a Rose Garden ceremony flanked by the Little Sisters of the Poor, the nuns who would continue on as the face of the administration’s efforts to undermine the benefit. It was the kind of reality-TV spectacle that has come to define this administration—full of pomp, empty on substance, but with the potential to unleash an unfathomable amount of chaos in its wake.

 

And that’s precisely why the administration brought the nuns along. Someone has to sell this pile of garbage to the Roberts Court, and the nuns have proven more than willing to play along.

 

There is no world in which the nuns would have to provide contraception coverage for their employees. None. Not a single one. They are covered by exemptions, court orders, and a provision of employee benefits law that guarantees the federal government mostly stay out of their business. So when Paul Clement, the attorney representing the Little Sisters, suggested that the nuns would stop providing care to the elderly and poor should they have to simply fill out a form noting their objection to the benefit, I was glad to be covering the arguments from home. Had I been at the Court, I definitely would have been ejected for the spontaneous, “OH COME THE FUCK ON, PAUL” that response requires.

 

Turns out, I’m as fed up with these cases as the women justices of the Court.

May 11, 2020 in Constitutional, Religion, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | 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)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Book Review Sex and Secularism, Challenging the Idea that Secularism is Synonymous with Gender Equality

Carol Coburn, Sex and Secularism, reviewing Joan Wollach Scott, Sex and Secularism (Princeton U Press 2017),  in 105 Journal of American History (March 2019).

In Sex and Secularism Joan Wallach Scott challenges the pervasive idea that secularism has always been synonymous with gender equality, entrenching and codifying the “historical triumph of enlightenment over religion” (p. 1)***

Like many feminist historians educated in the late twentieth century, I studied and absorbed Scott's seminal article, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis” published in 1986 in the American Historical Review. It became part of the canon of second-wave feminist theory for scholars in a variety of disciplines. Scott's clear and pervasive analysis demanded that feminist historians understand and dive deeply into dimensions of social and political power that emanated from perceived notions of sexual difference, both historic and contemporary. ***

Utilizing a wide variety of literature written by second-wave feminists and historians of race, colonialism, and religion from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, Scott provides a plethora of examples from gender and secular discourse on religion, reproduction, and politics—ending with the most recent “clash of civilization” discourse that transcends the “Cold War” rhetoric and supports and justifies Islamaphobia in a post-9/11 world. She effectively argues, first, that gender equality is not inherent in secularism (nor ever has been) and, second, that gender equality has not been ameliorated by white, Christian racial and religious discourse or practices in either public or private spheres of a gendered world. It is her third argument about secularism that provides intriguing food for thought. Scott posits that the discourse of secularism has also “functioned to distract attention from a persistent set of difficulties related to differences of sex” regardless of the nation, government, or period (p. 4). Inequality is ingrained and has been, and continues to be, a moving target in the discourse of secularism that allows Western nations to effectively ignore, if not “hide,” the inherent core of gender inequality under the guise of focusing on the “other”—the latest threat to the “civilized” world.

April 26, 2019 in Books, Gender, Religion, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Witchcraft Related Violence: Human Rights Violations Against Women Labeled "Witches"

The UN Will Hold Its First Meeting to Discuss Witchcraft-Related Violence (Sept. 2017)

Every year, thousands of people are accused of witchcraft and face persecution, abuse, and even death. Now the United Nations is organizing to defend victims of witch hunts.

 

According to the UN, reports of witch hunts are on the rise, and cases are becoming more violent and prevalent across the globe. Experts and academics hope that the conference will raise awareness of the phenomenon so that it can be better understood as a human rights problem and integrated into the UN's approach to humanitarian issues.

 

"Witchcraft beliefs are encountered on virtually all continents," explains Dr. Charlotte Baker, who launched the upcoming meeting with funding from Lancaster University. "Globally, witchcraft accusations and persecution have resulted in serious violations of human rights including beatings, banishment, cutting of body parts, amputation of limbs, torture and murder."

 

The UN has identified women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities as those most at risk of witch-related abuse. Foxcroft says that the violence can look different from country to country, from "elderly women being beaten, tortured, and killed in places like Kenya, Papua New Guinea, and India" to abuse in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it is "mainly children who are targeted." According to the WHRN, those with albinism, autism and Down's syndrome have been targeted by such accusations, while a claim against an older woman is often used as an excuse to acquire her land and property.

 

What these cases share in common, however, is the startling lack of response from local judicial systems and the resulting impunity for the perpetrators. Branding someone a witch has historically been used to justify abuse, particularly by patriarchal religious leaders (see: the infamous Salem witch trials of the 1690s), and experts like Foxcroft believe that the spread of witchcraft-related human rights abuses is exacerbated once more by faith leaders who spread malevolent beliefs in witchcraft to exploit people or extract money from the fearful public.

Sara Dehm & Jenni Millbank, Witchcraft Accusations as Gendered Persecution in Refugee Law, Social & Legal Studies (2018)

Witchcraft-related violence (WRV), in particular directed towards women and children, has become a source of increasing concern for human rights organisations in the current century. Yet for those fleeing WRV this heightened attention has not translated across into refugee status. This research examines how claims of WRV were addressed in all available asylum decisions in English, drawn from five jurisdictions. We argue that WRV is a manifestation of gender-related harm; one which exposes major failings in the application of refugee jurisprudence. Inattention to the religious and organisational elements of witchcraft practices, combined with gender insensitivity in analysis, meant that claims were frequently re-configured by decision-makers as personal grudges, or family or community disputes, such that they were not cognisable harms within the terms of the Refugee Convention; or they were simply disbelieved as far-fetched. The success rate of claims was low, compared to available averages, and, when successful, claims were universally accepted on some basis other than the witchcraft element of the case. This article focuses in particular upon cases where the applicant feared harm as an accused witch, while a second related article addresses those fearing persecution from witches or through the medium of witchcraft

Jenni Milbank & Anthea Vogl, Adjudicating Fear of Witchcraft Claims in Refugee Law, J of Law & Society (2018)

This research examines claims of witchcraft related violence (WRV) in asylum decisions. In refugee applications involving WRV those accused of witchcraft are largely women, and those fearing witchcraft are more often men. This is one of two interrelated articles reporting on cases where claimants feared harm from witchcraft or occult practices. We argue that WRV is a manifestation of gender-related harm, one which exposes major failings in the application of refugee jurisprudence. Systemic inattention to the meaning and application of the Convention ground of Religion, combined with gender insensitivity in analysis, meant that claims were frequently re-configured by decision-makers as personal grudges. The fear of witchcraft cases pose an acute ontological challenge to refugee status determination, as the claimed harm falls outside of what is understood to be objective, verifiable, or Convention-related. Male applicants struggled to make their claims comprehensible as a result of the feminised and ‘irrational’ characterization of witchcraft fears and beliefs.

August 29, 2018 in Gender, International, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Deja Vu and the Gendered Origins of the Practice of Immigration Law

Felice Batlan, Deja Vu and the Gendered Origins of the Practice of Immigration Law: The Immigrants’ Protective League, 1907-1940, Law & History Rev. (2018)

This essay from Felice Batlan was written after she spent days protesting at Chicago's O'Hare airport in response to Trump's "Muslim Ban." The article is posted on Law and History Review's multi-media digital platform which provides hyperlinks to both primary and secondary sources making it freely accessible and ideal for classroom use.

Abstract:

Donald Trump’s administration has provoked crisis after crisis regarding the United States’ immigration policy, laws, and their enforcement. This has drastically affected millions of immigrants in the U.S. and those hoping to immigrate. Stemming from this, immigration lawyers and immigrant advocacy organizations are challenging such policies and providing an extraordinary amount of direct pro bono legal services to immigrants in need. Yet the history of the practice of immigration law has been largely understudied. This article addresses this history by closely examining Chicago’s Immigrants’ Protective League between 1910 and 1940. The League provided free counsel to tens of thousands of poor immigrants facing a multitude of immigration-related legal issues during a time when Congress passed increasingly strict immigration laws often spawned by xenophobia and racism. The League, always headed by women social workers, created a robust model of immigration advocacy at a time when only a handful of women were professionally trained lawyers. A close and thick reading of the League’s archival documents, manifests how the events of Trump’s immigration policies have a long and painful history. U.S. immigration law and its enforcement have consistently been cruel, inhumane, arbitrary, and capricious. Told from the ground up and focusing upon the day-to-day problems that immigrants brought to the League, one dramatically sees how immigration laws and practices were like quicksand, thwarting the legitimate expectations of migrants, and, at times, leaving people in an endless legal limbo. The League, in response, participated in creating what would become the practice of immigration law, engaging, and quickly responding to changing laws, rules, policies, and the needs of migrants.

August 27, 2018 in Courts, International, Legal History, Religion, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Autonomy Hierarchy

Meghan Boone, The Autonomy Hierarchy, 22 Tex. J. Civ. Liberties & Civ. Rgts 1 (2016)

The Supreme Court decided two cases in Spring 2015 – Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. and EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. – under Title VII. The plaintiffs in both cases believed that they had been discriminated against by their employers because they were members of a protected class – pregnant women in the former and religious believers in the latter. Both plaintiffs were seeking minor modifications to workplace policies as an accommodation. And in both opinions, handed down within a few months of each other, the Court used the language of favoritism to discuss whether the plaintiffs should prevail and what analysis should be employed. The manner in which the Court used the language of favoritism, however, could not have been more different. In the case of pregnancy, the Court soundly rejected that pregnant employees were entitled to any favored treatment, bending over backwards to avoid a ruling that pregnant employees were part of a “most favored” class. In the case of religion, the Court took the exact opposite approach, declaring that religious plaintiffs enjoyed “favored treatment.” This is despite the fact that Title VII provides no explicit textual support for such a distinction. In the absence of such a statutory explanation, what is really behind this difference in approach? This paper explores one potential answer to this question – that these decisions reflect the Court’s underlying belief in the paramount importance of the right to spiritual autonomy over and above the importance of a right to physical autonomy. Further, it explores how allowing such a hierarchy between a right to spiritual autonomy on the one hand and a right to physical autonomy on the other, to animate judicial decisions is both inherently gendered and has the effect of disproportionately harming women. It concludes by analyzing whether such a hierarchy of rights is reflective of lived experience and discussing possible alternative frameworks for analyzing such claims.

September 1, 2017 in Constitutional, Equal Employment, Pregnancy, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Review: The 1977 National Women's Rights Conference as the Start of the Political Divide

Gillian Thomas, NYT, "Four Days That Changed the World": Unintended Consequences of a Woman's Rights Conference, reviewing:

Marjorie Spruill, Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values

To answer these riddles requires understanding how we got here, and Marjorie J. Spruill’s “Divided We Stand” offers a detailed if sometimes dense primer. Spruill, a professor of women’s, Southern and modern American history at the University of South Carolina, convincingly traces today’s schisms to events surrounding the National Women’s Conference, a four-day gathering in Houston in November 1977. At the time, Ms. magazine called the event — a federally funded initiative to identify a national women’s rights agenda — “Four Days That Changed the World.” So why is it that today, as Gloria Steinem recently observed, the conference “may take the prize as the most important event nobody knows about”?

 

In Spruill’s telling, the Houston conference was world-changing, but not entirely for the reasons the organizers had hoped. The event drew an estimated 20,000 activists, celebrities and other luminaries for a raucous political-convention-cum-consciousness-raising session. The delegates enacted 26 policy resolutions calling not just for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (then just three states shy of the 38 needed) but a wide range of measures including accessible child care, elimination of discriminatory insurance and credit practices, reform of divorce and rape laws, federal funding for abortion and — most controversially — civil rights for lesbians. Those “planks” later were bundled as a National Plan of Action and presented to President Jimmy Carter, amid much fanfare, in a report entitled “The Spirit of Houston.”

 

The conference had an unintended, equally revolutionary consequence, though: the unleashing of a women-led “family values” coalition that cast feminism not just as erroneous policy but as moral transgression. Led by Phyllis Schlafly, a small but savvy coalition of foot soldiers mobilized against the conference’s aims. These activists found common cause in their deep religiosity and opposition to feminism’s perceived diminishment of “real” womanhood. And although their leadership denied it, the group also had ties to white supremacists. “Divided We Stand” argues that the potency of these advocates and their successors reshaped not just the nation’s gender politics, but the politics of the Democratic and Republican Parties as well.

March 7, 2017 in Books, Legal History, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 21, 2016

SCOTUS Coming Up: Little Sisters Case Goes Too Far

Doug Laycock, Wash Post, How the Little Sisters of the Poor Puts Religious Liberty at Risk

Zubik v. Burwell is the Supreme Court’s name for the set of cases more often identified with the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order that is also a party to the case. I filed an amicus brief in Zubik on behalf of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. I had never before filed a brief in support of the government in a case about the free exercise of religion. ****

The second, and even more dangerous argument: These organizations say that because the government exempted the insurers of churches and their integrated auxiliaries, it is required to exempt the insurers of all other conscientious objectors as well. Otherwise, it discriminates between two groups of religious organizations.

This argument is a mortal threat to an essential and widespread source of protection for religious liberty. There are thousands of specific religious exemptions in U.S. law. If legislators and administrative agencies cannot enact a narrow religious exemption without it being expanded to become all-inclusive, many of them will not enact any religious exemptions at all. And they will start repealing the exemptions they have already enacted.

 

March 21, 2016 in Religion, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Religious Exemptions to Title IX

Kif Augustine-Adams (BYU), Religious Exemptions to Title IX

Abstract:     

Forty years into the Title IX game, the score is 253 to 0, religious exemptions recognized versus those denied. Almost no one knows the overall score of the game, who has made points, or who is playing. Prior to the Human Rights Campaign’s release of a report in December 2015, relatively few beyond the participants themselves even knew the game was played. Documented religious exemptions to Title IX largely take place in the dark, in private administrative processes rarely made public, under obscure agency standards and policies. The parameters of religious exemptions to Title IX have never been litigated in court or subjected to judicial review. Virtually no scholarship exists on the subject. Religious exemptions to Title IX pose a particularly urgent question given the flood of new exemptions claims focusing on transgender and homosexuality. This analysis is a first, foundational step in evaluating religious exemptions to Title IX.

On its face, a score of 253 and counting, suggests complete and overwhelming victory for one side, the educational institutions claiming religious exemption to Title IX. In reality, however, the lopsided score hides another story, one much more complex and nuanced than the score reflects. Over time, the government agency charged with Title IX enforcement subtly arrogated to itself power and authority to regulate religious exemption to Title IX. As much as victory, the score reveals a subtle erosion of autonomy as religious educational institutions acquiesce to the administrative state by requesting exemption under regulatory procedures rather than claiming inherent exemption under the Title IX statute itself and the Constitution. I conclude that the administrative regulatory procedures for religious exemption to Title IX have largely failed to accomplish the non-discrimination goals of Title IX, to respect religious liberties, or to facilitate a sustainable engagement between these potentially competing values.

 

March 4, 2016 in Education, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Accommodating Motherhood in the Workplace to Include Women's Unique Skills

Elizabeth Rose Schlitz (St. Thomas), Motherhood: Benefit or Burden to Business,  International Study Seminar on “Women and Work”, Pontifical Council for the Laity, Rome, Italy (2015)

Abstract:     

This essay is a contribution to an International Study Seminar on the topic of “Women and Work”, convened by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome, Italy, on December 4-5, 2015, to be published with the complete proceedings of the conference.

In recent decades, the Catholic Church has come to share the widespread social consensus about the urgent need for the insights of the feminine genius in all sectors of society – in the home as well as the halls of government, schools and universities, and businesses. However, an argument for women in the workplace does not, in itself, furnish a compelling business case for mothers in the workplace. Is there something unique about the gifts, talents, and perspectives of women who are mothers, or something unique about what women who are mothers add to the dynamic of men and women working together?

This essay argues that persuasive arguments for accommodating mothers in workplace are crucial for two reasons: First, to ensure that employers who want to achieve gender balance do not follow the lead of companies such as Facebook and Apple, offering incentives for women to remain childless during their most productive years as ‘ideal workers’ rather than accommodating parenting. Second, to ensure the continued presence in workplaces and national and international governing bodies of people with personal stakes in advocating for policies to enable parents to balance their work and their caregiving responsibilities, and in reminding their nations and the world of the reality that the overwhelming proportion of the world’s poverty population is composed of women and children – across the globe, in countries of all stages of development.

The essay offers four arguments for the value of mother in the workplace: (1) businesses want women workers, and most women workers want to be mothers; (2) businesses benefit long term from the caregiving work of mothers, and should thus shoulder some of its cost; (3) accommodating motherhood is not, in fact, as much of a burden on businesses as is commonly thought; and (4) mothers offer some unique and valuable skills to the workplace.

 

January 27, 2016 in Equal Employment, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Pope Francis' Visit With a Transgender Man Deserves the Same Media Coverage Given Kim Davis"

From HuffPost: 

Since the American press largely ignored or downplayed the Pope's January 2015 Vatican visit with a transgender man from Spain, many Americans have nothing to counterbalance off the Pope's Kim Davis visit to understand that the pontiff's visit is not meant to signal he has taken Davis' side, or joins in condemning gay culture. Rather it is the Pope's demonstration of compassion for all people.

And: 

While those eager to criticize and even hate the Pope for his visit with Davis, those with open minds can consider the Vatican visit with Diego Neria Lejarraga and his fiancee as a refutation of the hatred that the Davis camp is spreading. The public following the Pope is due more comprehensive exposure to Pope Francis' inclusion of the different voices and lifestyles he embraces in his spiritual vision of the Church in the future, and the vist with Neira represents the Pope's boldest departure from Catholic doctrine to date.

October 2, 2015 in LGBT, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Banned from driving, Saudi women flock to ride-share apps"

From the LA Times, in a story that implies the acute connection between gender autonomy and physical movement: 

When Hala Radwan returned to Saudi Arabia after obtaining a business degree in France, she was eager to put her new skills to use.

She found a job in the marketing department of a big international company. There was just one problem: How would she get to and from work in the only country that does not allow women to drive?

 

May 7, 2015 in International, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“Effeminate” liberals are sexually attracted to “masculine brutality of Islam".....

From Salon:

Brian Tashman of “Right Wing Watch” reports that on a recent episode of the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch,” conservative Rabbi Daniel Lapin claimed that the problem with effeminate liberals is that an excess of estrogen in their systems causes them to fall in love with “the masculine strength and brutality of Islam.”

Host Tony Perkins asked him why liberals “favors Islam and actually promotes it, even to their own demise,” and Rabbi Lapin responded with what he characterized as a “zinger” of an answer — there’s a “sexual dimension” in which, much like feminized hostages suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, liberals are attracted to the masculinity of the Islamic extremists.

 

 

April 29, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why is Sex Discrimination for Religious Reasons OK

WashPost, Why Is It OK to Discriminate Against Women for Religious Reasons?

Why are biased acts against women — even religiously motivated ones — considered so much less toxic than biased acts of any other kind? Why do women often demur and accept humiliation rather than make a fuss? Why does respect even for admittedly extreme religious beliefs trump respect for half the human race?

 

My encounter came to mind again as I pondered recent stories of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refusing to take airline seats next to women. Several cases were reported in the New York Times this month. Others have appeared in the Israeli press as far back as 2012.

 
On some flights women reportedly moved when asked. Some men switched places with women to eliminate the adjacency problem. Some flight attendants assisted the Orthodox men in relocating. Yet when others did not, some flights were delayed as men refused to be seated. The incidents have spawned lively discussions among Jews and non-Jews alike.

 

Yet I wonder: Why are we even discussing this?

 

Would such blatant behavior be treated merely as a social choice, a courtesy issue or an awkward airline customer-service problem if the targets were anyone other than women?

 

Let’s test it. What if we recast my encounter, giving me a different race and gender. How do I react now if someone says, “I don’t touch black men.” Do I quietly move on? How would this young man have reacted had the tables been turned? What if I had done something I could never imagine myself doing? Would he have treated it as a social issue if I had refused his hand, saying: “I don’t shake hands with Jews?”

April 23, 2015 in Gender, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 10, 2015

"When a Plane Seat Next to a Woman Is Against Orthodox Faith"

From the NYT: 

Francesca Hogi, 40, had settled into her aisle seat for the flight from New York to London when the man assigned to the adjoining window seat arrived and refused to sit down. He said his religion prevented him from sitting beside a woman who was not his wife. Irritated but eager to get underway, she eventually agreed to move.

And: 

A growing number of airline passengers, particularly on trips between the United States and Israel, are now sharing stories of conflicts between ultra-Orthodox Jewish men trying to follow their faith and women just hoping to sit down. Several flights from New York to Israel over the last year have been delayed or disrupted over the issue, and with social media spreading outrage and debate, the disputes have spawned a protest initiative, anonline petition and a spoof safety video from a Jewish magazine suggesting a full-body safety vest (“Yes, it’s kosher!”) to protect ultra-Orthodox men from women seated next to them on airplanes.

April 10, 2015 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Religious Freedom Laws and Gay Rights

Indiana recently passed a law that ostensibly promotes religious freedom but arguably also promotes the right of businesses to discriminate against gays.  Arkansas has followed suit with a legislative bill that does something similar.  

For discussion by the NYT, see here.  

And for a conservative defense of the Indiana law--which is interestingly couched in the technical formalities of law, rather than the cultural ideology of heterosexuality (a tacit homage to liberalism?)--check out the arguments in the National Review.  

And, for a typically droll commentary by Andy Borowitz at the New Yorker, check out this spoof (it's quite absent any snark and it's a telling commentary about the ubiquity these days of straight people having friends, colleagues, and, indeed, family members, who are gay).  

 

April 1, 2015 in LGBT, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pope Condemns Gender Theory as Attack on Family

The story: 

NAPLES, Italy, March 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- For at least the third time in his pontificate Pope Francis has used very strong language to condemn the gender theory, one of the intellectual underpinnings of the ‘LGBT’ agenda. Speaking Sunday with young people on his voyage to Naples, Italy, Pope Francis spoke of the “ideological colonization” of families seen throughout Europe and the West.

“Gender theory is an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion," he said. “So the family is under attack.” As to how to deal with the “secularization” or the “ideological colonization,” the pope said he does not have the answer. He pointed however to the Synod on the Family, which he called inspired by the Lord.

And: 

The comments echo those made in an in-flight interview Pope Francis gave while returning from Manila in the Philippines on January 19, 2015. Francis lamented the Western practice of imposing a homosexual agenda on other nations through foreign aid, which he called a form of “ideological colonization” and compared it to the Nazi propaganda machine.

Asked by a reporter to explain the phrase “ideological colonization,” the pope gave an example from 1995 when, he says, a minister of education in a poor area was told she could have a loan for building schools so long as the schools used a book that taught “gender theory.”

And: 

"This is ideological colonization,” he said. “It colonizes the people with an idea that wants to change a mentality or a structure." This ideological colonization, he added, “is not new, the dictators of the last century did the same.”  "They came with their own doctrine. Think of the BalilLa (The Fascist Youth under Mussolini), think of the Hitler youth."

March 25, 2015 in International, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)