Today the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law hosts its symposium, “From the Courtroom to the Mother’s Womb: Protecting Women’s Privacy in the Most Important Places.” Here’s the run-down from the morning’s program:
Ann Bartow (South Carolina) began the day talking about privacy themes in the contexts of prostitution and pornography. She addressed the double-sidedness of “privacy” claims. Privacy in the prostitution context makes (overwhelmingly female) prostitutes more likely to be abused; lack of privacy for the (overwhelmingly male) johns — and as Ann points out, they’re “johns,” not “janes” in popular parlance — would be more protective of women. That is, it would be more difficult for a john to abuse with impunity, if his identity were known. In the case of pornography, the privacy protections afforded to pornographers contrast with the visual and informational privacy that performers in pornography lack.
Richard Storrow (CUNY) presented next. His work on “Infertility, Privacy and Bioethics” addressed threats to women’s reproductive autonomy arising out of deference doctors’ judgments.
Rebecca Hulse (William & Mary) currently is discussing the public vs. private distinction in domestic violence courts. Openness is traditionally favored in court proceedings, but in domestic violence cases there may be particular concerns about releasing identifying information about the victim.
Afternoon speakers include Caitlin Borgmann (CUNY) and Danielle Citron (Maryland).
So far I’m very interested to see how privacy problems thread themselves through so many aspects of law, especially law as it effects women. I’m having trouble drawing out arguments in favor of a consistent approach to privacy issues. But, as Rebecca Hulse just commented, we’re in good company with our puzzlement — Artistotle, Hannah Arendt, Habermas, and Locke devote lots of page-time to the issues, too.