David S. Cohen is an Associate Professor of Law at the College of Law at Drexel University. In a recent interview with FeministLawProfs, Professor Cohen discussed his educational and professional background and how feminism affects the way he teaches.
FLP: What is your educational and professional background?
DC: I graduated from Dartmouth College, majoring in philosophy with a minor in women’s studies. I went to Columbia for law school and followed that with two years of clerking – one year for Justice Alan Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court and then for Judge Warren Ferguson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After that, I spent seven years as a staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project, a small women’s rights legal organization in Philadelphia. At the Law Project, I worked on cases touching on a large variety of feminist issues. In particular, I focused on cases involving abortion rights, Title IX, and drugs and pregnancy. For four years while at the Law Project, I also adjuncted at Penn – in the Law School, teaching sex discrimination and the law (four years) and the undergraduate school teaching the same course but geared toward undergrads (two years). I was hired in 2005 as an associate professor to be a part of Drexel University College of Law’s inaugural faculty.
FLP: What courses do you teach?
DC: I currently teach Constitutional Law I and II. As Drexel grows, my course load will expand as well.
FLP: How does feminism influence your teaching/scholarship/service?
DC: It influences everything I do as a professor. It guides most of my research agenda (so far about Title IX but broadening in the future); it affects what examples I use in class and how I interact with students; and it influences which organizations I am faculty adviser for (Drexel Choice, Drexel NLG).
FLP: When did you first make a connection between feminism and the law?
DC: In a philosophy of feminism class I took as an undergrad. We read plenty of feminist legal scholars, including Patricia Williams, Kimberle Crenshaw, Catharine MacKinnon, and others. Those authors plus Backlash by Susan Faludi inspired me to go to law school.
FLP: What are you working on now?
DC: I’m working on a project that will investigate the way that conceptions of masculinity helped to shape last year’s change in Title IX that now allows greater opportunities for single-sex education. The narrative was one of a very dominant, essentialized, and heterosexual masculinity. I plan on showing how this narrative is problematic compared to other threads of Title IX’s jurisprudence and general constitutional norms against sex stereotyping as well as inconsistent with a feminist view of gender/masculinity.
FLP: Could you recommend at least one book/article/theorist to law students who are interested in feminism’s relationship to the law?
DC: I’ll go back to Backlash by Susan Faludi. It’s dated, but it gives the essential tools on how to critically consume media and popular claims about women, feminism, and social movements more generally.
-Bridget Crawford and Amanda Kissel