Justices of the Supreme Court, Lego Style

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Via Maia Weinstock here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on Justices of the Supreme Court, Lego Style

Corbin on “Exploiting Mixed Speech”

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Caroline Mala Corbin (Miami) has posted to SSRN her essay, Exploiting Mixed Speech, 103 Cal. L. Rev. Circuit (forthcoming 2015).  Here is the abstract:

The Supreme Court has been taking advantage of mixed speech – that is, speech that is both private and governmental – to characterize challenged speech in the way that ultimately permits the government to sponsor Christian speech. In Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, a free speech case where the government accepted a Christian Ten Commandments monument but rejected a Summum Seven Aphorisms one, the Court held that privately donated monuments displayed in public parks were government speech as opposed to private speech and therefore not subject to free speech limits on viewpoint discrimination. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, an establishment case where the local government invited overwhelmingly Christian clergy to give a prayer before town meetings, the Court found no Establishment Clause violation in part because it attributed constitutionally troubling aspects of the speech to the private speakers rather than to the government.

The full essay is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

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The Battered Woman Syndrome In Canadian Criminal Law

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Elizabeth A. Sheehy, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, has published Defending Battered Women on Trial, at Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons From the Transcripts 1 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014). Here is the abstract.

In the landmark Lavallee decision of 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that evidence of “battered woman syndrome” was admissible in establishing self-defence for women accused of killing their abusive partners. This book looks at the legal response to battered women who killed their partners in the fifteen years since Lavallee.

Elizabeth Sheehy uses trial transcripts and a detailed case study approach to tell, for the first time, the stories of eleven women, ten of whom killed their partners and one who did not. She looks at the barriers women face to “just leaving,” how self-defence was argued in these cases, and which form of expert testimony was used to frame women’s experience of battering. Drawing upon a rich expanse of research from many disciplines, including law, psychology, history, sociology, women’s studies, and social work, she highlights the limitations of the law of self-defence, the successful strategies of defence lawyers, the costs to women undergoing a murder trial, and the serious difficulties of credibility that they face when testifying. In a final chapter, she proposes numerous reforms.

In Canada, a woman is killed every six days by her male partner, and about twelve women per year kill their male partners. By illuminating the cases of eleven women, this book highlights the barriers to leaving violent men and the practical and legal dilemmas that face battered women on trial for murder.


Download the essay from SSRN at the link. Link to the case R. v. Lavallee here.


Posted in Acts of Violence, Criminal Law, Feminism and Families, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Firsts, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off on The Battered Woman Syndrome In Canadian Criminal Law

Thirty Law Profs Sign On To Letter Analyzing Proposed Indiana Religious Liberty Law

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statehouseUpon the request of a member of the Indiana legislature, a letter signed by 30 law professors, many from Indiana University, was released today analyzing the proposed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” bills pending before the Indiana legislature.  The letter provided careful analysis of the bills in light of Indiana and federal religious liberty law.  The analysis stresses that:

  1. Religious freedom is a fundamental American value enshrined in the Indiana Constitution. But the proposed legislation could undermine those values and result in harmful consequences.
  2. The proposed Indiana RFRA would unsettle a well–reasoned harmony struck by Indian courts between rights to religious liberty and other fundamental rights – as such, this is not a modest proposal but instead could have radical consequences and will unleash a wave of litigation.
  3. Such harmful consequences could include employers, landlords, and corporations taking the law into their own hands and arguing that their religious beliefs allow them to avoid complying with laws that apply to everyone else.  This will likely result in a flood of lawsuits.
  4. The right to religious liberty, like most fundamental rights, is not absolute.  The law is very clear that religious liberty rights secured under state RFRAs or under the Indiana or U.S. Constitutions cannot be secured by shifting material costs to third party rights-holders.  The proposed legislation should not be enacted because it does not limit the scope of religious liberty rights in cases where they undermine other important rights to public health, equality, or security.
    • For instance, when a state police officer sought an exemption from working as a riverboat gaming agent because he had a religious objection to gambling, an Indiana court rejected this challenge, the Indiana Court of Appeals noted that, “law enforcement agencies need the cooperation of all members…Firefighters must extinguish all fires, even those in places of worship that the firefighter regards as heretical.”
    • In a Supreme Court case, an Amish employer challenged on religious grounds the requirement to pay Social Security taxes on behalf of his employees. The court rejected the exemption, noting the harm it would impose on others.
  5. Some supporters of the proposed RFRA have argued incorrectly that the language of the proposed Indiana RFRA is the same as the federal RFRA and as such the Indiana law should gain bipartisan support, just as the federal RFRA did in 1993.
  6. In fact, many original supporters of the federal RFRA, including members of Congress who voted for the law and advocates who supported it, have withdrawn their support for the federal RFRA because it has been interpreted and applied in ways they did not expect at the time they lent their endorsement to the law.

The letter is available here.

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How Much is Male Virginity Worth?

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More than $1,278, apparently.  According to the (UK) Mirror (here), a 24-year old Romanian man is offering to “sell” his virginity and has turned down an offer of 1,125 euros (approximately $1,278).

Sound familiar? A Russian man received $2,600 in 2013.  See here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Masculinity, Sex and Sexuality | Comments Off on How Much is Male Virginity Worth?

On Feminist Burnout in Cyberspace

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Michelle Goldberg, a contributing writer at the Nation, wrote in the Washington Post that, “Feminist Writers are so Besieged by Online Abuse that Some Have Begun to Retire.” Here is an excerpt:

This is a strange, contradictory moment for feminism. On one hand, there’s never been so much demand for feminist voices. Pop stars such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift proudly don the feminist mantle, cheered on by online fans….

On the other hand, while digital media has amplified feminist voices, it has also extracted a steep psychic price. Women, urged to tell their stories, are being ferociously punished when they do. Some — particularly women who have the audacity to criticize sexism in the video-game world — have been driven from their homes or forced to cancel public appearances. Fake ads soliciting rough sex have been placed in their names….

Feminists of the past faced angry critics, letters to the editor and even protests. But the incessant, violent, sneering, sexualized hatred their successors absorb is harder to escape. For women of color, racial abuse comes along with the sexism….

Uppity women, of course, have long been targets of rage and contempt. In 1969, when Marilyn Webb spoke about feminism at an antiwar demonstration in Washington, many of the men who were listening erupted, screaming at her to strip and demanding that she be pulled down and raped. Feminists of the second wave regularly contended with real-world hostility from left-wing men that would be inconceivable today. Nona Willis Aronowitz, features editor at Talking Points Memo, is the daughter of the revered late feminist writer Ellen Willis, who wrote for publications including the Village Voice and the New Yorker. “Forget random online commentators — people who were working at her same publications were total sexists,” Aronowitz says. Male Voice staffers, Willis once wrote, regularly referred to their female colleagues as the “Stalinist feminists.”

Read the full piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Technology, If you're a woman, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on On Feminist Burnout in Cyberspace

Where are the Women? Stetson Law Review “Inequality” Symposium Edition

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On March 6, 2015, the Stetson Law Review is holding a symposium on Inequality, Opportunity, and the Law of the WorkplaceHere are the 12 scheduled speakers:

Keynote Speaker:
Wilma Liebman
Adjunct Professor of Law at NYU
Former NLRB Chair

Featured Speaker:
Timothy Noah
Labor and Employment Editor for Politico
Former Writer for Slate and MSNBC

David Cay Johnston
Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Syracuse University College of Law
Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist

Distinguished Panelists: 
Samuel Bagenstos, University of Michigan Law School
Matthew Bodie, Saint Louis University School of Law
Charlotte Garden, Seattle University School of Law
Dr. Larry Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute
Paul Sonn, General Counsel and Program Director at the National Employment Law Project
Katherine Stone, UCLA Law
Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow at Cato Institute
Steven Willborn, Nebraska College of Law
Michael Zimmer, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Only 3 out of 12 speakers are female.  Perhaps the symposium will address the interrelationship between gender inequality and economic inequality, and what it means when the dialogue about inequality is dominated by men.

-Bridget Crawford

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Thomas Jefferson School of Law Announces 15th Annual Women In Law Conference

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Thomas Jefferson School of Law announces registration is open for its 15th annual Women and the Law Conference. The Conference will be held March 27, 2015. Well-known defense attorney Leslie Abramson will deliver the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture this year. More information at the TJSL website here.

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Report of “Best Practices” Panel on Changes LSAC Must Make

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Feminist Law Prof Ruth Colker (Ohio State) is part of the 5-person expert panel nominated pursuant to the consent decree settling the federal ADA action against the Law School Admission Council.  (For more info on that case, see here.)  The expert panel just issued its report proscribing practices that LSAC must implement.  LSAC has until February 26 to notify the court of any objections to the expert recommendations.

A full copy of the expert panel’s report is here.  Four of the five members of the committee have issued an “executive summary,” a copy of which is here.  The 1-person minority report is here.

Anyone wishing to urge LSAC to accept the recommendations instead of challenging them in court should feel free to email LSAC Executive Director Daniel Bernstine: dbernstine@lsac.org

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and the Workplace, Law Schools | Comments Off on Report of “Best Practices” Panel on Changes LSAC Must Make

Aloni on the Partisan Politics of Marriage

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Erez Aloni (Whittier) has an op-ed in the Guardian, Republicans Want ‘Stronger’ Marriages but are Fighting Equality Within ThemHere is an excerpt:

Even as social conservatives pontificate on preserving the sanctity of marriage and the importance of making divorce once again more difficult, other conservatives have launched a complementary crusade if ‘I do’ isn’t forever: hands off your ex’s money. * * * [C]onservatives around the country are fighting to make it easier for the wealthier partner or spouse to walk away with minimal financial obligations when marriage does end in divorce – which has the potential to disproportionately affect women.

That concurrent campaign, also led by conservatives, employs a very different tactic, and has largely evaded public scrutiny. In recent years, several states have passed or considered laws that would reduce alimony payment periods (Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut), make prenuptial agreements more difficult to invalidate (Colorado, Mississippi), and make it much harder for unmarried partners to claim support from their exes. * * * Taken together, these reforms to alimony, palimony and prenuptial law create significant freedom for the wealthier party to skirt any financial responsibility to support an ex-partner while limiting protections for the less-well-off partner. Paradoxically, these changes provide incentives both not to get married … and then to get divorced if you do.

These modifications have gradually seeped into the legal system, with alimony reform being perhaps the most familiar (and controversial) development. Legislation was enacted last September in New Jersey, which followed Massachusetts’s lead: most notably, for marriages that last fewer than 20 years in New Jersey, alimony payments can no longer exceed the length of the marriage. Two years earlier, New Jersey had amended its prenuptial agreements law: before the changes, the courts had discretion not to enforce prenuptial agreements if their terms were unfair at the time of divorce, recognising that engaged couples are often blind to the possibility of divorce and that circumstances and needs change over the course of a marriage. Since 2013, however, if couples follow certain procedural requirements when they sign their pre-marriage agreements, courts are legally bound to enforce their terms. * * *

Conservatives claim that they want to strengthen marriage in order to reduce poverty. But these simultaneous reforms to divorce law actually weaken marriage by giving the economically better-situated partner or spouse (usually the man) a legal escape hatch to dodge financial obligations, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty, particularly for women. If conservatives – or we as a society – are genuinely interested in strengthening families, it is time to rethink the legal system that makes it easy for one partner to walk away from a relationship with little or no responsibility for the life of the other.

Read the full piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Families, Women and Economics | Comments Off on Aloni on the Partisan Politics of Marriage

ABA Journal Coverage of “Feminist Judgments” Project

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The February 2015 print edition of the ABA Journal gives a nice shout-out to the forthcoming Feminist Judgments book in an article by Leslie A. Gordon, New Project Rewrites SCOTUS Opinions from a Feminist Perspective.  Here is an excerpt:

More than 50 law professors and lawyers are collaborating to analyze how U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence would look if seminal cases had been adjudicated from a feminist perspective. The book Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court will contain 24 rewritten decisions on topics such as reproductive rights and substantive due process to show how feminist legal reasoning might actually change the course of law.

Inspired by the 2010 publication of a similar study in Britain, Feminist Judgments pioneers a new form of critical socio-legal scholarship in the U.S. The rewritten decisions will use the same precedent that bound the Supreme Court at the time of each case but will incorporate a feminist perspective on the facts and the law. The book aims to prove that stare decisis can mask what is really a masculine viewpoint, and that hidden gender bias—not stare decisis—may be what drives the reasoning and results in much of the nation’s jurisprudence.

The article has a nice quote from my co-editor Kathryn Stanchi (Temple) explaining that the book will be a collaboration between master theorists and people firmly grounded in the practical.”

Read the full ABA Journal piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

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CFP: National Women’s Studies Association’s Lesbian Caucus, November 12-15, 2015

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From the Lesbian Caucus of the National Women’s Studies Association:

The Lesbian Caucus of the National Women’s Studies Association invites submissions for a sponsored session on “The Revolutionary Lesbians of the 1970s,” to be held at the annual conference in Milwaukee, WI on November 12-15, 2015.

Panel Title: The Revolutionary Lesbian 1970s

Conference Sub-Theme: Precarity, Distortion/Dispossession

The 1970s is well known as a particularly intense time for radical lesbian activism and new experimental lesbian sexualities, lifestyles, cultural production and living arrangements. The “Lesbian 70s” is now the object           of a growing scholarship which has generated panels at professional meetings as well as some conferences on their own. However, until now, specifically revolutionary lesbian-positioned analyses, activisms and practices of the 1970s, by lesbians of color and lesbians of all colors, have received less attention. And yet, to remember them and the solidarities they created could be very fruitful for our times. This panel engages with 1970s revolutionary lesbian analyses of how multiple relations of power such as gender, sexuality, capitalism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, genocide, racism, religion, ethnicity and specism, operate together, inseparably. It also addresses the revolutionary activisms and transnational solidarities in the 1970s of lesbians

– as individuals and in lesbian groups- within and allied with people’s liberation and anti-colonial movements in the U.S. and across the globe.

Some keyword topics might include:

*Historical erasures of revolutionary lesbians of color, and of all colors, of the 1970s

*race, class, colonial and sexual politics of (non)citational violence

*production of knowledge, concept-terms and re-languaging by revolutionary lesbians of the 1970s

*revolutionary lesbian 1970s modalities of transformative resistance

* 1970s revolutionary lesbians within, out of and allied with people’s movements for liberation in the U.S. and transnationally

*1970s revolutionary lesbians’ analytics of oppression, repression and the inseparability of multiple relations of power (gender, race, class, cpitalism, imperialiam, sexuality, colonialism, specism, etc)

*coalitions, collaborations, alliances, assemblages

*politics of alter-modalities of inter-subjectivity and community

*politics of 1970s revolutionary lesbians living together

*lesbian issues and actions of revolutionary lesbian 1970s

*1970s revolutionary lesbian re-inventions of sexualities and the erotic

*illegibilities of 1970s revolutionary lesbians today

*new epistemologies and methods for understanding 1970s revolutionary lesbians

*prior and current precarities of revolutionary lesbian theorists and activists of the 1970s

*1970s revolutionary lesbians and the State (State repressions, prison, exile, as well as lesbian analytical and activist responses)

*why remember the revolutionary 1970s today?

*the revolutionary lesbian 1970s and feminist, lesbian, queer and transgender inter-generational community and politics

To submit, please send a proposed title and an abstract of no more than 150 words, along with a current CV to the session organizer, Paola Bacchetta at pbacchetta@berkeley.edu and the Lesbian Caucus chair, Jaime Cantrell at jaimec@olemiss.edu no later than 5pm on February 18th, 2015.


See here for the link for the CFP for other proposals.

Posted in Academia, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Politics, LGBT Rights, Upcoming Conferences | Comments Off on CFP: National Women’s Studies Association’s Lesbian Caucus, November 12-15, 2015

On Libertarian Feminism

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Over at libertarianism.org, author Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes about “Carceral Feminism and the Libertarian Alternative.” Here is an excerpt:

[A]s ideologies and movements, libertarianism and feminism have a lot to offer one another. Not every libertarian matter is necessarily a feminist one, of course (and vice versa). Libertarianism can, however, provide a lens through which to view gender issues, and in doing so help counter the monopoly that a more coercive, carceral feminism has come to enjoy.

“Carceral feminism” is a term that’s gaining popularity, and it’s in many ways synonymous with progressive feminism these days. Progressive feminists will identify gender-based concerns, then immediately look to the state for solutions—via strict regulation, at least, or criminalization and jail in many instances. Carceral feminism is the relatively small but incredibly vocal voice within millennial feminism that says due process can be sacrificed if it means catching a few more rapists, hate speech should come with a jail sentence, and images promoting “unrealistic” female body standards should be banned by the government, among other things. * * *

Libertarian feminism seeks to provide an alternative way of viewing these issues, one that emphasizes the negative, unintended consequences of increased government intervention and policing power. It can provide a jumping-off point for considering less coercive, less reactionary, and less rights-infringing solutions; be a third-way between patriarchy-preserving social conservatism and the intolerant, illiberal feminists sometimes referred to as “social justice warriors” these days.

And for libertarians, a feminist perspective can enrich the scope of our battle to lessen government coercion and maximize liberty. Libertarian feminists bring overlooked or under-emphasized issues into the liberty movement, such as reproductive freedom (not just abortion but things like making birth control available over-the-counter, state coercion of pregnant women, surrogacy law, and the emerging legal issues surrounding things like IVF and artificial wombs), state overreach into parenting, the over-regulation of female-heavy occupations, how decriminalizing sex work fits into overall criminal-justice reform efforts, and the growth of women as a percentage of millennial libertarians. * * *

Feminism is, essentially, concerned with ensuring that neither biological sex nor gender should be destiny. Releasing everyone from strongly gendered expectations—and the policy they spawn—is a good way to maximize liberty, happiness, and human flourishing.

To me, claiming the feminist label is no different than calling myself a libertarian. They both inform my beliefs, but neither has primacy and neither requires strict allegiance. I don’t “belong” to or consider myself a “member” of either, as people often do with major political parties. They are guiding principles, microscopes, ways of being curious, not dogma nor identities.

The full post is available here.

This column caught my eye for many reasons, including its use of the phrase “carceral feminism,” which hasn’t gained much of a foothold in the legal academy (many critics preferring Janet Halley’s term “governance feminism,” which is not quite the same thing). I will be interested to watch whether it gains more traction among legal scholars critical of so-called “mainstream” feminist theory.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Sociolinguistics | Comments Off on On Libertarian Feminism

“Bitch in Business”

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From a group of students at Columbia Business School, this parody video riffing on Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass”:

It includes a shout-out to women in law schools and med schools, too.  Very funny.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Academia, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and Culture | Comments Off on “Bitch in Business”

National Association of Women Lawyers 2015 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition Now Open

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National Association of Women Lawyers®
2015 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition


The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)® is a national voluntary legal professional organization whose mission is the advancement of women in the legal profession and women’s rights. Since 1899, NAWL has served as an educational forum and active voice for the concerns of women lawyers in this country and abroad.  NAWL continues to support and advance the interests of women in and under the law, and in so doing, supports and advances the social, political, and professional empowerment of women. Through its programs and networks, NAWL provides the tools for women in the profession to advance, prosper, and enrich the profession.  NAWL has established the annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition to encourage and reward original law student writing on issues concerning women and the law. The rules for the competition are as follows:


Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning women’s rights or the status of women in the law.   The most recent winning paper was “The Decriminalization of Rape on America’s College Campuses: How Federal Sex Discrimination Policy Has Diminished the Role of the Criminal Justice System in Combatting Sexual Violence” written by Danielle Elizabeth DeBold, New York University School of Law.  Please view paper at  http://www.nawl.org/p/cm/ld/fid=83.


Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at any law school during the 2014-15 school year. The essays must be the law student author’s own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere.  Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the summer, fall, or spring semesters are eligible for submission.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.


FORMAT:  Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point, Times New Roman font. All margins must be  one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook – A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than 15 pages of text, excluding notes, or which are not in the required format may not be read.


JUDGING:  NAWL Women Lawyers Journal® designees will judge the competition. Essays will be judged based upon content, exhaustiveness of research, originality, writing style, and timeliness.


QUESTIONS:  Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to the chair of the Writing Competition, Professor Jennifer Martin at jmartin@stu.edu.


SUBMISSION AND DEADLINE:  Entries must be received by May 1, 2015. Entries received after the deadline will be considered only at the discretion of NAWL. Entries must provide a cover letter providing the title of your essay, school affiliation, email address, phone number, and mailing address.  Entries must be submitted in the following format: email an electronic version (in Microsoft Word) to jmartin@stu.edu.


AWARD:  The author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in the NAWL Women Lawyers Journal.

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Law Schools | Comments Off on National Association of Women Lawyers 2015 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition Now Open

Sabbatical Visitorship: Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law

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CGSL LogoThe Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School invites applications for a sabbatical visitor for the 2015-2016 academic year to undertake research, writing and collaboration with Center faculty and students in ways that span traditional academic disciplines. The CGSL welcomes applications from faculty from any field who are interested in spending a semester or the academic year in residence at Columbia Law School working on scholarly projects relating to Gender and/or Sexuality Law.

Sabbatical Visitors will receive an office with phone and computer, secretarial support and full access to university libraries, computer systems and recreational facilities. In addition, Sabbatical Visitors will be expected to participate in CGSL activities and present a paper at the Center’s Colloquium Series.  Application deadline is April 15, 2015.

For more information: https://web.law.columbia.edu/gender-sexuality/visiting-scholars-research-fellows/sabbatical-visitor-program

Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School

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Reimagining VAWA in Service of Progressive Reform

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The year 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  That milestone presented an opportunity to critically reflect on current gender-violence policy, and to build on shared critiques to flesh out an alternative agenda.  In that spirit, two new resources offer inspiration for mobilization and advocacy.  First, the City University of New York (CUNY) Law Review’s Footnote Forum has published an online collection of 15 short essays “re-imagining” VAWA in service of progressive reform.  The essays are based in an intersectional understanding of the ways in which various forms of inequality create and sustain violence.  They draw on critiques grounded in the movement against mass criminalization and intrusive state intervention in the lives of poor people, as well as in work for immigrant rights, economic rights, LGBTQ equality, disability rights, racial justice, and human rights.  The multi-disciplinary essays, plus an introduction that summarizes the works and draws out themes, can be found here: http://www.cunylawreview.org/category/vawa/.

Similarly, the conversation held at CUNY Law School on November 13, 2014, “VAWA@20:  Reflecting, Re-imagining & Looking Forward,” with Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, Sharon Stapel and Sujata Warrier, and moderated by Professor Julie Goldscheid, is now available on line for those who missed the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ60BSodHaA.  The conversation explored similar themes to those elaborated in the essay collection.  Speakers reflected on how lessons from the last 20 years can inform policies and programs that promote gender, racial and other forms of equality, while working to end intimate partner and other forms of violence.

-Donna Coker

Posted in Acts of Violence, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Reimagining VAWA in Service of Progressive Reform

Courtney Joslin, “Leaving No (Nonmarital) Child Behind”

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Courtney Joslin (UC Davis) has posted to SSRN her article, Leaving No (Nonmarital) Child Behind, 48 Fam. L. Q. 495 (2014).  Here is the abstract:

Almost ten years, in 2005, I wrote a piece for the Family Law Quarterly describing the legal status of children born to same-sex couples. This Essay explores the some of the positive and some of the worrisome developments in the law since that time. On the positive side, today many more states extend some level of protection to the relationships between nonbiological same-sex parents and their children. Moreover, in many of these states, lesbian nonbiological parents are now treated as full, equal legal parents, even in the absence of an adoption.

There are other recent developments, however, that should be cause for concern. Specifically, this Essay considers recent legislative proposals that contract (rather than expand) existing protections for functional, nonmarital parents. I conclude by arguing that while advocates should celebrate the growing availability of marriage for same-sex couples, they must also be careful not to push legislative efforts that inadequately protect the large and growing numbers of families that exist outside of marriage.

The full article is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Jamie Abrams, “The Illusion of Autonomy in Women’s Medical Decision-Making”

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Jamie R. Abrams (Louisville) has posted to SSRN her article, The Illusion of Autonomy in Women’s Medical Decision-Making, 42 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 1 (2015).  Here is the abstract:

This article considers why there is not more conflict between women and their doctors in obstetric decision-making. While patients in every other medical context have complete autonomy to refuse treatment against medical advice, elect high-risk courses of action, and prioritize their own interests above any other decision-making metric, childbirth is viewed anomalously because of the duty to the fetus that the state and the doctor owe at birth. Many feminist scholars have analyzed the complex resolution of these conflicts when they arise, particularly when the state threatens to intervene to override the birthing woman’s autonomy. This article instead considers the far more common scenario when women and their doctors align in the face of great decision-making complexity and uncertainty. What decision-making framework normalizes this doctor-patient alignment and how does this decision-making framework complicate the actualization of autonomy for the women who do not elect this framework? This article concludes that many, if not most, of the four million women who birth in hospital settings attended by physicians align with their doctors by applying a shared decision-making framework that presumptively elects the outcome that minimizes any, even minor, risks to the fetus. While individual patients can certainly elect this approach autonomously, when understood in the context of tort law — in which the actions of “most women” and “most doctors” can become the standard of care itself — this framework is deeply concerning.

This fetal-focused decision-making framework perpetuates an illusion of autonomy because doctors can apply the framework independently. This decision-making model problematically resurrects the ghost of Roe v. Wade’s medical model in which doctors effectuate decision-making autonomy for women. Understood in a tort lens, while this illusion of autonomy might not seem problematic to the individual women who elect this framework, it risks imputing a distorted standard of care to all obstetric cases by creating a primacy that always prioritizes fetal risks over maternal risks, a primacy that explicitly contravenes existing tort standards. Tort law ordinarily governs “unreasonable risks,” whereas this framework elevates any fetal risk to an unreasonable risk and reduces any maternal risk short of death to reasonable. It risks imputing to all women a standard requiring the complete acceptance of medical guidance.

This article concludes that tort law standards should explicitly govern not just the “what” of childbirth outcomes, but the “how” of childbirth decision-making by using decision-making aids to ensure that women’s autonomy is actual and not illusory. Incorporating decision-making aids in the standard of care would remedy the illusion of autonomy by ensuring that “most women’s” decision-making frameworks are not presumptively applied to all women so as to distort tort law and undermine patient autonomy.

The full article is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Haverford College VAP in Peace, Justice and Human Rights Program

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From the FLP mailbox:

Haverford College invites applications for a three-year visiting Assistant Professor (with possibility of renewal) in its Peace, Justice and Human Rights Program. The position is open to scholars at all pre-tenure levels with training in the humanities or social sciences who focus in their work on questions of justice, peace and conflict, human rights and related fields, with special attention to ethics or ethical leadership.

Candidates should be able to teach an applied ethics course in issues of global justice and/or an introductory course on peace, justice and human rights, as well as offer more specialized courses. The teaching load is five courses per year. Successful candidates will be given resources to plan and host a symposium oriented around themes of ethics and justice in the second year of the appointment, during which the teaching load will be reduced to four courses to accommodate the responsibilities of preparing and hosting the symposium.

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications. Research and travel money is also available. Faculty housing on campus may be available.

Haverford College is a leading liberal arts college serving highly motivated students on a nationally recognized arboretum in suburban Haverford, just outside Philadelphia. The program in Peace, Justice and Human Rights is an interdisciplinary concentration that students may add on to any major. Its goal is to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and creative new perspectives on entrenched problems. For more information, see http://www.haverford.edu/pjhr/.


Candidates for the position should have a Ph.D and demonstrated evidence of strong teaching at all levels of the curriculum to a diverse student body. ABD candidates may apply but must also provide assurance of completion of the degree by September 1, 2015 and evidence of relevant teaching experience.

Application Instructions

Please submit a cover letter addressing your fitness for the position, curriculum vitae, a sample course syllabus for “Introduction to Peace, Justice and Human Rights” or “Applied Ethics of Peace, Justice and Human Rights,” a short teaching statement and evaluations, and a writing sample of no more than 25 pages to (interfolio). In order to receive full consideration, all materials must be uploaded to Interfolio (http://apply.interfolio.com/27643) by February 6, 2015.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Chutes and Ladders | Comments Off on Haverford College VAP in Peace, Justice and Human Rights Program

Heen, “Nondiscrimination in Insurance: The Next Chapter”

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Mary Heen (Richmond) has posted to SSRN her article, Nondiscrimination in Insurance:  The Next Chapter,  49 Georgia L. Rev. 1 (2014).  Here is the abstract:

For nearly 150 years, American insurance companies have engaged in race and gender pricing practices that would be illegal if followed today by any other major commercial enterprise. The insurance industry has defended its long-standing practices, first for race and now for gender, based on ideas about insurance “equity” developed in the nineteenth century. The continued application of these ideas, and the practices that have resulted from them, conflict with fundamental civil rights principles and should not be tolerated as exceptions to our national civil rights laws. As that history shows, classifications used by insurers to determine rates and benefits raise complex distributional, financial, and political issues that cannot be resolved simply as technical questions of actuarial risk or economics. This Article proposes comprehensive federal civil rights legislation to ban discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex in insurance coverage, rates, and benefits. It explains why previous reform efforts have failed and why recent developments, including the adoption of unisex insurance rates in Europe, could make consideration of such legislation in the United States timely once again.

The full article is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Student Opportunity: Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights

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From the FLP mailbox, this notice of a student writing competition:

Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) in collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Rights, is pleased to announce the Call for Submission for the tenth annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights.

This year, the Sarah Weddington prize will have no specific theme, but will be open to fresh student scholarship exploring a wide range of issues that affect reproductive health, rights, and justice in the U.S. For more information, please download the 2015 Call for Submissions: http://lsrj.org/documents/awardsgrants/15_LSRJ_CRR_Writing_Prize.pdf

The deadline for submission is January 15, 2015.

Winning authors will receive cash prizes: $750 (1st place), $500 (2nd place), or $250 (3rd place). The first place winner will also have a chance at publication with the NYU Review of Law and Social Change.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Law Teaching, Reproductive Rights | Comments Off on Student Opportunity: Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights

Drummond and Cohen: Enforcement and Prosecutorial Restraint in the Transnational Trade in Human Eggs

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Susan G. Drummond (Osgoode Yall) and Sara R. Cohen (D2 Law LLP) have published Eloquent (In)action: Enforcement and Prosecutorial Restraint in the Transnational Trade in Human Eggs As Deep Ambivalence about the Law, 26 Can. J. of Women & the Law 206 (2014).  Here is the abstract:

This article approaches a piece of Canadian criminal legislation by analyzing the law’s extraterritorial effect and putting the law’s practical import within a mobile and global context—and from that perspective concludes that the domestic law is practically and morally impoverished. The law in question is section 7 of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA), which criminally prohibits the purchase, offer to purchase, and advertising for purchase of gametes from a donor or from a person acting on behalf of a donor. While large swathes of the AHRA were held to violate the division of powers in a 2010 Supreme Court reference, section 7 remains standing as valid federal legislation, though effectively almost never enforced. Some scholars, notably Francoise Baylis and Jocelyn Downie, urge more rigorous enforcement both within Canada and extraterritorially, drawing on common law principles that stretch the long law of Canadian penal statutes across national borders. Sara Cohen and Susan Drummond argue that not only is the extraterritorial reach of the Canadian executive drastically shorter than Baylis and Downie might wish, a growing and elite transnational reproductive traffic has outpaced and undermined the moral legitimacy of the law domestically. They argue that any well-founded policy aspirations behind section 7 are far more likely to be met with the repeal of section 7 in favour of an administrative regime for the regulation of reproductive technologies. The result would be less hypocritical and more democratic.

The full paper is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Criminal Law, Reproductive Rights | Comments Off on Drummond and Cohen: Enforcement and Prosecutorial Restraint in the Transnational Trade in Human Eggs

In Memoriam Pamela Bridgewater, 1969-2014

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Feminist Law Prof Pamela Bridgewater has died after a long illness.  Al Brophy has some details here, and there is a lovely remembrance here.

May her memory be a blessing.

-Bridget Crawford

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CFP: Kent Summer School in Critical Theory

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…in Paris!

From the FLP mailbox, this announcement:

We are excited to announce the new Kent Summer School in Critical Theory, which will run for the first time in Paris next July. Our website has just gone live, and we invite you pay us a visit: www.kssct.org.

This new summer school for early career researchers and doctoral students aims to create a unique pedagogical experience, enabling leading critical thinkers to conduct an intensive 2-week seminar with members of a new generation of critical scholars.

Applications are now open to attend the summer school, and you will find application instructions on the website.

The inaugural teachers of the intensive seminars will be Professor Peter Goodrich, and Professor Davide Tarizzo. In addition, we will also hear lectures by Goodrich, Tarizzo, and Professors Geoffrey Bennington, Davina Cooper, and Roberto Esposito. The website also contains information about the seminars and the school’s other events.

-Bridget Crawford

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Cost of Child Care is a Feminist Issue

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Writing for the Berkeley alumni magazine, author Tamara Straus asks, “What Stalled the Gender Revolution? Child Care That Costs More Than College Tuition.” Here is an excerpt:

Vox reported in August that child care costs are growing at nearly twice the rate of prices economywide. A 2013 report from Child Care Aware noted that as of 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, day care is more expensive than one year of public college tuition—and that was among a cohort of faculty, people with the highest levels of education.

For people with less education and lower incomes, the news is much worse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that only one in six federally eligible children received child care assistance in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available. In the Golden State, according to a June 2014 study from the California Budget Project, funding for child care and preschool was cut by roughly 40 percent (after adjusting for inflation) compared to 2007–08. The result? Approximately 110,000 child care and preschool slots disappeared—a decline of nearly one-quarter since the Great Recession. There are just too many studies to cite here showing that when parents can’t find affordable child care, they give up working or looking for work.

Even at Berkeley, mecca of progressive politics, full-time day care for infants is $2,060 a month, $1,846 for toddlers, and $1,528 for Pre-K. * * *

If we are stuck with a system that privileges small government (except for military expenses) and low taxes (particularly for the rich), we certainly will never be able to afford subsidized childcare. And if we continue to uphold a corporate culture that pushes workers to sacrifice family time for continued employment and/or higher earnings, care for children will remain in a vise. This vise, as Hochschild points out, devalues human connection and care. It also ignores the vast demographic changes in employment and American families over the last 40 years, and can be used by conservatives and traditionalists to blame women and poor people for society’s failings.

Feminism isn’t a prominent social movement in this country anymore. And one reason for this is blazingly clear: We don’t have an affordable, taxpayer-subsidized system of infant-to-12 child care that levels the playing field for all women, their partners, and their children. What we have is elite women (and men) blathering on about choice, and billionaire executives passing themselves off as role models for working women, while refusing to acknowledge, let alone celebrate the women who help raise their children and manage their homes.

Read the full post here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Economics, Feminism and Families, Feminism and Law | Comments Off on Cost of Child Care is a Feminist Issue

Baldy Fellowships in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies 2015-16

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From the FLP mailbox, this notice of fellowships at the Baldy Center at SUNY Buffalo.  The deadline is February 2, 2015.

Baldy Fellowships in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies 2015-16

The Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy at the State University of New York at Buffalo plans to award several fellowships for 2015-16 to scholars pursuing important topics in law, legal institutions, and social policy. Applications are invited from junior and senior scholars from law, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Fellows are expected to participate regularly in Baldy Center events, but otherwise have no obligations beyond vigorously pursuing their research. Fellows receive standard university research privileges (access to university libraries, high-speed Internet, office space, computer equipment, phone, website space, working paper series, etc.) and are encouraged to develop collaborative research projects with SUNY Buffalo faculty members where appropriate. Those who wish to teach a course to aid their research or gain teaching experience can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

Post-Doctoral Fellowships are available to individuals who have completed the PhD or JD but have not yet begun a tenure track appointment. Post-Doctoral Fellows will receive a stipend of $40,000 and may apply for up to $2000 in professional travel support. For 2015-16 the Baldy Center also plans to co-sponsor one post-doctoral fellowship focused on the Transnational Business Interactions Framework with York University. Further information on this fellowship is available on the Baldy Center website and below.

Mid-Career and Senior Fellowships are available to established scholars who wish to work at the Center, typically during a sabbatical or research leave. Awardees will receive a living expense allowance of $1,500 per month during the period of their residence.

Application materials include:
(1) a description of the planned research (question, conceptual framework, method, possible findings, importance to the field),
(2) a complete academic and professional resume,
(3) an academic writing sample,
(4) the names and contact information of three academic references (no letters yet), and
(5) if a mid-career or senior applicant, the time period during which the applicant would work at the Center. Completed applications are due no later than February 2, 2015. (Apply by clicking the button below). For further information, see our answers to frequently asked questions. Additional questions about the Baldy Fellows Program should be addressed to Assistant Director Laura Wirth, baldyassistantdirector@gmail.com or (716) 645-2581.

Primary criteria for selection include intellectual strength of the proposal, demonstrated academic achievement, and promise of future success. Additional considerations include the overall mix of topics, disciplines, and backgrounds of the selected group of fellows.

For information on current and past Baldy Fellows, see the Baldy Center website.

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Where are the Women? Illinois College of Law “Significant Lectures” Edition

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The University of Illinois College of Law posts its Annual Report here, listing many good things happening at that school.  The online materials include a two-page spread, with photos, touting the school’s “Significant Lectures” in 2012-2013.  Notice anything?

Illinois1 Illinois2

Apparently the organizers of the lecture series and the marketing folks at Illinois did not notice the lack of diversity among its lecturers OR they think it is worth advertising that the school’s “Significant Lectures” are delivered by white men.  Did any of the speakers think to ask about the diversity of those delivering a “Significant Lecture” at the school, either?

How about the “Significant Lectures” at Illinois more recently?  Here’s what I found in the “News” section of the College of Law’s website:

Chai Feldbaum (EEOC Commissioner) delivered the Vacketta-DLA Piper Lecture on the Role of Government and the Law on October 29, 2014.

Daniel J. Solove (George Washington University Law School) delivered the David C. Baum Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights on October 14, 2014.

Kenneth Mack (Harvard) delivered the David C. Baum Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights on March 28, 2014.

Lawrence Gostin (Georgetown) delivered the Ann F. Baum Memorial Elder Law Lecture on March 3, 2014.

Tom Daschle (Senator, South Dakota) delivered the Vacketta-DLA Piper Lecture on the Role of Government and the Law on October 25, 2013.

That adds one white woman and one African-American man to the list of eleven who delivered a “Significant Lecture” at Illinois College of Law in two academic years.  If there were others, the lectures aren’t publicized in the “News” section of the school’s website.  Corrections and additions welcome.

-Bridget Crawford

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Who Can Consent to Use of Dead Teenager’s Frozen Sperm?

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I have so many basic factual questions about this story concerning the frozen sperm of an Auckland, New Zealand teenager:

Promising young film-maker Cameron Duncan banked sperm at age 15 before starting chemotherapy in 2002 for bone cancer in his left femur. Knowing the chemotherapy might destroy his fertility, he wanted to preserve the chance of having children in the future. * * *

Tragically, Cameron was only 17 when he died in November 2003 – but in his will, he preserved his sperm, and it has remained frozen ever since.

The Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act, passed shortly after, imposed a 10-year limit on storage of frozen sperm, embryos and eggs plus testicular and ovarian tissue.

There is an additional one-year window, though, to argue the case that sperm could be used to create a baby, rather than be destroyed.

Under the act, nobody had the right to use sperm stored by a minor aged under 16 years, except the person himself. An applicant would have to show that Cameron did grant his consent for the use of the sperm, before he died.

The Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology said it would be necessary to prove how the law could allow using a minor’s sperm without his consent.

Read the full story here.

Is there someone who is seeking to use the decedent’s sperm?  What evidence is there that the decedent consented to posthumous reproduction?  What is the legal significance of the fact that the decedent was a minor at the time the sperm was frozen and at the time of his death? Does New Zealand’s Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act apply retroactively?  If any children were born of this decedent’s sperm, would the offspring be entitled to state support or other survivor’s benefits, as was sought in the Massachusetts case of Woodward v. Commissioner of Social Security, 70 N.E.2d 257 (Mass. 2002)? Any thoughts or recommendations for further study from New Zealand readers would be much appreciated.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Reproductive Rights, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off on Who Can Consent to Use of Dead Teenager’s Frozen Sperm?

Anti-Woman Suffrage Cartoons

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OOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAver at MessyNessyChic, a post (here) features some vintage anti-woman suffrage posters.  Here’s one, at left.

View the full collection here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminist Legal History | Comments Off on Anti-Woman Suffrage Cartoons

Penny Venetis Named EVP and Director of Legal Momentum

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Penny M. Venetis (Rutgers) has been named as Executive Vice President and Legal Director of Legal Momentum, effective January, 2015. Here is an excerpt from the organization’s press release:

Professor Venetis will lead Legal Momentum’s litigation, policy and other advocacy efforts to protect women’s rights. As Executive Vice President and Legal Director, she will work closely with Legal Momentum’s programs that address fairness in the courts, violence against women, employment equity, and economic security. She will also work on developing ways to fight human trafficking, and preventing and punishing sexual assaults on campuses. Professor Venetis is taking a leave of absence from Rutgers School of Law–Newark, where she has taught since 1994. At Rutgers, she specializes in civil rights and international human rights impact litigation. She instituted women’s rights projects in the Rutgers Law School clinics, developed human trafficking advocacy projects, and recruited and supervised pro bono attorneys from major law firms to work on the Clinic’s landmark cases.

Prior to joining Rutgers, Professor Venetis clerked for Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. She also practiced law with the firm O’Melveny & Myers. Professor Venetis is the author of numerous articles on the topic of enforcing human rights in the United States. She received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, her master’s degrees from Columbia University and her J.D. (cum laude) from Boston College. She is a member of the bar for New Jersey, New York, and other courts including the U.S. Supreme Court. She has a lifelong passion for using the law as a tool for social change. “I’m excited to continue using the law to advance women’s rights and all human rights as a member of the Legal Momentum team,” Ms. Venetis said.

The full press release should appear on the organization’s website later today.

-Bridget Crawford

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Gender Bias in Student Evaluations of Professors: Yeah, We Knew That

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From Inside Higher Ed, this report about a new study involving gender bias in student evaluations of their professors:

College students’ assessments of their instructors’ teaching ability is linked to whether they think those instructors are male or female, according to new research from North Carolina State University.

In the study, students in an online course gave better evaluations to the instructors they thought were male, even though the two instructors – one male and one female – had switched their identities. The research is based on a small pilot study of one class.

Read the full article here.

H/T Becky Jacobs.

-Bridget Crawford

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Citation Rates For Male and Female Law Profs in Legal Scholarship: Different From What We Thought?

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Highlighted in the National Law Journal:

Christopher Anthony Cotropia, University of Richmond School of Law, and Lee Petherbridge, Loyola Law School (Los Angeles), have published Gender Disparity in Law Review Citation Rates.  Here is the abstract.

Gender disparity in scholarly influence – measured in terms of differential citation to academic work – has been widely documented. The weight of the evidence is that, in many fields of academic inquiry, papers authored by women receive fewer citations than papers authored by men. To investigate whether a similar gender disparity in scholarly influence exists in legal studies we analyze the impact of gender on citation to articles published in top 100 law reviews between 1990 and 2010. We find evidence of gender disparity in citation rates, but in surprising contrast to observations made in other disciplines, we observe that articles authored by women receive significantly more citations than articles authored by men.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

Should occasion a certain amount of discussion.

Posted in Academia, Law Schools, The Overrepresentation of Men, The Overrepresentation of Women, The Underrepresentation of Women, Where are the Women? | Comments Off on Citation Rates For Male and Female Law Profs in Legal Scholarship: Different From What We Thought?

Int’l J. of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics Issue on “Transnational Reproductive Travel”

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The International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics has a new issue devoted to “Transnational Reproductive Travel”.   Here is the TOC (links require JSTOR or other log in — check with your University librarian; sorry no known open source):


Françoise Baylis, Jocelyn Downie
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72intro


National self-sufficiency in reproductive resources: An innovative response to transnational reproductive travel
Dominique Martin, Stefan Kane
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M1

At the intersections of emotional and biological labor: Understanding transnational commercial surrogacy as social reproduction
G. K. D. Crozier, Jennifer L. Johnson, Christopher Hajzler
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M2

Exploitation in cross-border reproductive care
Angela Ballantyne
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M3

Merit and Money: The situated ethics of transnational commercial surrogacy in Thailand
Andrea Whittaker
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M4

Feminist issues in domestic and transnational surrogacy: The case of Japan
Jennifer Parks
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M5

Eggs and euros: A feminist perspective on reproductive travel from Denmark to Spain
Charlotte Kroløkke
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M6

Achieving national altruistic self-sufficiency in human eggs for third-party reproduction in Canada
Françoise Baylis, Jocelyn Downie
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M7

Cross-border sex selection: Ethical challenges posed by a globalizing practice
Rajani Bhatia
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M8


A Hague convention on contract pregnancy (or “surrogacy”): Avoiding ethical inconsistencies with the Convention on Adoption
Carolyn McLeod, Andrew Botterell
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M9

Breaking the ice: Young feminist scholars of reproductive politics reflect on egg freezing
Alana Cattapan, Kathleen Hammond, Jennie Haw, Lesley A. Tarasoff
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M10


Breeders: A Subclass of Women? Directed by Jennifer Lahl and Matthew Eppinette (review)
L. Syd M Johnson
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M11

Conscientious Objection in Health Care: An Ethical Analysis by Mark Wicclair (review)
Lori Kantymir
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M12

Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka (review)
David Speetzen, Patrick Clipsham
>> http://bit.ly/IJFAB72M13

 -Bridget Crawford

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Fischer and McAuliffe, “Irish Feminisms, Past Present and Future”

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From the FLP mailbox, this announcement of a new book edited by Clara Fischer (Newton International Fellow, London School of Economics) and Mary McAuliffe (University College Dublin, Women’s Studies):

Irish Feminisms: Past, Present and Future is a collection of multi-disciplinary essays from leading academics and activists that interrogates the various waves of Irish feminist activism over the last one hundred years. Emanating from a conference held in 2012, this collection offers snapshots of the many feminist issues, ideas and campaigns that have invigorated, enlivened and challenged Irish society since the early twentieth century. From the first wave suffrage women who fought for an Ireland in which women were to be full and equal citizens, to the third and even fourth wave feminists who campaign for full reproductive rights, this collection provides insightful analyses, from the centre and the margins, of the various feminist battles and backlashes modern Irish society has experienced. This book is essential reading for all those interested in Irish feminist identities, histories, and activism. It includes contributions by the editors, Clara Fischer and Mary McAuliffe, as well as by Margaret Ward, Grainne Healy, Ivana Bacik, Anthea McTeirnan, Ailbhe Smyth, Salome Mbugua, Susan McKay, Claire McGing, Kellie Turtle, and Leslie Sherlock.

The volume is published by Arlen House/Syracuse University Press.

-Bridget Crawford

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The Next Frontier in Marriage Equality: Religious Exemptions for Magistrates, Justices of the Peace etc Who Don’t Want to Issue Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

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marriage-licenseIn recent months litigation in federal courts has resulted in the lifting of a ban on same-sex couples access to civil marriage in 33 states. (This number is changing almost every day as new jurisdictions are ordered to lift the ban on marriage for same-sex couples.)   In the wake of this wave of successes for the marriage equality movement, some policy-makers have proposed that public officials responsible for officiating over civil marriages and/or issuing marriage licenses be granted an exemption from presiding over the marriages of same-sex couples if doing so would offend their conscience or sincerely held religious beliefs.  Some of these proposals suggest that officials who have religious or conscience-based objections to issuing a marriage license could lawfully delegate responsibility for issuing that license to deputies or assistants who do not have the same objections. These advocates assert that these proposals lawfully balance the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to marry with the religious liberty rights of public officials.  While there are a number of such proposals being put forward in jurisdictions across the country, we will refer to them collectively in this memorandum as “marriage license exemption proposals.”

This legal memorandum analyzes the legality of these “marriage license exemption proposals” under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  (The memorandum does not examine their legality under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, as RFRA does not apply to state or local employees. )  The memorandum concludes that nothing in the Constitution or in Title VII requires such exemptions.  Instead, adopting such exemptions by statute or policy would violate fundamental constitutional rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection clause and the First Amendment’s prohibition against the establishment of religion.

The legal memorandum is available here.

(cross-posted from the Gender & Sexuality Law Blog here

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Balkinization Roundtable on Clare Huntington’s “Failure to Flourish: How Family Law Undermines Family Relationships””

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There’s been a symposium over at Balkinization about Clare Huntington’s book, Failure to Flourish: How Family Law Undermines Family Relationships.  A round-up of all the posts is here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Where are the Women? Vanderbilt En Banc Roundtable Edition

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You can’t make this stuff up.

From the Vanderbilt Law Review’s website,

Roundtable: Comptroller v. Wynne

Our current Roundtable considers Maryland State Comptroller of the Treasury v. Wynne, to be argued before the Supreme Court on November 12, 2014. In Wynne, the Court considers whether the Constitution bans a state from taxing its residents’ income, wherever earned, by requiring a credit for taxes paid on income taxed in other states. The Court could answer many questions: How far is the reach of the dormant Commerce Clause in the context of income taxation? What is the extent of a state’s power to enforce personal income taxes on its residents? What kinds of residents are subject to double taxation and why? Professors Edward Zelinsky, Dan Coenen, Brannon Denning, Norman Williams, Michael Greve, and Adam Thimmesch tackle these questions and more in their contributions.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Where are the Women? | Comments Off on Where are the Women? Vanderbilt En Banc Roundtable Edition

In Memory of Jo Ann Harris, 1933-2014

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Jo Ann Harris, the first woman to head the DOJ’s criminal division, died yesterday of lung cancer.  Ms. Harris was a visiting scholar at Pace Law School and the architect of our school’s Federal Judicial Honors Program.  Ms. Harris also was the author of a special counsel report critical of the federal handling of the investigation into Monica Lewinsky’s claims of an affair with President Clinton.

The Washington Post obituary is here.

Jo Ann Harris was a path-breaking attorney and role model for many young women and men.  She will be missed.

-Bridget Crawford

image credit: Washington Post, here
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Research Grants at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University

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From the FLP mailbox:

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, announces the availability of Mary Lily Research Grants for research travel to our collections.

The Sallie Bingham Center documents the public and private lives of women through a wide variety of published and unpublished sources. Collections of personal papers, family papers, and organizational records complement print sources such as books and periodicals. Particular strengths of the Sallie Bingham Center are feminism in the U.S., women’s prescriptive literature from the 19th & 20th centuries, girls’ literature, zines, artist’s books by women, gender & sexuality, and the history and culture of women in the South. Guides to selected collecting areas:

Mary Lily Research grants are available to any faculty member, graduate or undergraduate student, or independent scholar with a research project requiring the use of women’s history materials held by the Sallie Bingham Center. Grant money may be used for travel and living expenses while pursuing research at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Applicants must live outside of a 100-mile radius from Durham, NC. The maximum award per applicant is $1,000.

The deadline for application is January 30, 2015 by 5:00 PM EST. Recipients will be announced in March 2015. Grants must be used between April 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

Please note that the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library will be closed to the public from July 1, 2015 to August 23, 2015 while we move into our newly renovated space. These dates are subject to change.

For more information and to apply for a grant, please visit: http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/bingham/grants/

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Kelly Wooten, the Bingham Center’s research services librarian, before submitting their application.

-Bridget Crawford

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“Even Walmart stocks French Maid costumes for dogs.”

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This may make you hate life for a few minutes. It chronicles the popularity of “sexy” Halloween costumes for … dogs. Walmart has apparently sold out of this costume:

But other vendors are making good money selling costumes like this:

I guess it is supposed to be amusing, but it looks a lot like the pornification of pets to me.

Posted in Feminism and Culture | Comments Off on “Even Walmart stocks French Maid costumes for dogs.”

Why Is Kim Kardashian At A Tech Conference? “Because she is co-creator of one of the most popular apps of 2014. Because she is poised to make $200 million in cold hard cash from a mobile app this year. Because at $700K a day in earnings just from the app, she is still more successful than most startup founders, at least from a revenue standpoint.”

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Read more here, including an unsurprising account of the disgusting “portal to hell” comments a reference to Kardashian draws.

Posted in Feminism and Technology, If you're a woman | Comments Off on Why Is Kim Kardashian At A Tech Conference? “Because she is co-creator of one of the most popular apps of 2014. Because she is poised to make $200 million in cold hard cash from a mobile app this year. Because at $700K a day in earnings just from the app, she is still more successful than most startup founders, at least from a revenue standpoint.”

A Swedish Perspective on Surrogacy and Commerce in Women’s Bodies

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The Swedish Women’s Lobby makes its views on surrogacy known in Surrogacy: A Global Trade in Women’s Bodies, over at mercatonet.com.  Here is an excerpt:

The Swedish Women’s Lobby strongly opposes surrogate motherhood. Our position is that surrogacy is a trade with women’s bodies and children, as well as a threat to women’s basic human rights and bodily integrity.

Surrogacy is presently not legal in Sweden. However there is no legislation that regulates the fact that Swedish citizens use surrogate mothers abroad, and that their children have been brought to Sweden. In the last couple of years the issue has been up for debate and the Swedish government is examining whether surrogacy should be legalised. The results of its investigation will be presented in a few months.

Last year, the Swedish Medical-Ethical Council commented on the proposal. A majority of its members declared that they were positive towards legal altruistic surrogate motherhood in Sweden.

The Swedish Women’s Lobby has reacted to this position. We have expressed concern about an unproblematic understanding of altruistic surrogacy, as well as the fact that the Ministry of Justice is handling the investigation. There is a lack of a women’s human rights perspective. The Swedish Women’s Lobby has been active in the public debate around the issue and has written several letters to the Ministry of Justice as well as the Social Ministry and the Medical-Ethical Council.

Read the full post here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Reproductive Rights, Sisters In Other Nations, Women and Economics | Comments Off on A Swedish Perspective on Surrogacy and Commerce in Women’s Bodies

Nursing Mothers on the Academic Job Market

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The October 22, 2014 edition of the Chronicle ran an “Advice” column, Breastfeeding on the Job Market, by a pseudonymous professor in the humanities.  The professor describes her experiences as a job candidate and bringing her nursing infant with her to an on-campus interview:

I let the chair know I would be bringing my daughter and someone to take care of her, whose ticket I would of course cover. I asked for nursing breaks in the two-day schedule of talks, interviews, lunches, and dinners. The chair obliged in a professional manner. The administrative assistant who drew up my schedule slotted in half-hour blocks of discreetly named “free time” and found me a suitable vacant office in which to feed my daughter. * * *

When I arrived on the campus, no one seemed to know I had brought my daughter. People expressed surprise about the extra breaks padding my interview schedule. At first, I appreciated that my personal circumstances had remained undisclosed, but it soon caused confusion and even resentment. One dean hadn’t been told that dinner would be later than usual and seemed irritated with me about it, as if I had delayed the dinner just to go relax and powder my nose rather than feed my child. * * *

I did not get the job.

I can’t say how much or whether the presence of my daughter, and reactions to the impression of a laid-back interview schedule, contributed to the variety of factors behind that decision.

In one of the comments to the Chron article, a reader suggested that the job-seeker’s mistake was not the bringing of her baby, but rather failure to disclose (or to permit disclosure — I’m unclear on what the applicant asked of the department chair) the reasons for the break in the applicant’s schedule.

At least at my own school, my sense is that faculty would be understanding of the need for breaks in the schedule of a nursing mother.  Any deviation from the standard interviewing format — regardless of the reason — tends to raise questions, though, so from my perspective, there’s nothing to be gained from keeping nursing a “secret.” Plus, nursing should never have to be a secret!

For those who were nursing while doing call-backs at law schools or folks who have experience on the hiring side with candidates who need to breastfeed their infants, are there any words of advice that one can offer?  Every school is different and every candidate is different, so it is difficult to generalize, but are there best practices?

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Academia, Feminism and Families | Comments Off on Nursing Mothers on the Academic Job Market


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Posted in Acts of Violence, Deaths, Feminism and Politics | Comments Off on STAY STRONG

60+ Law Professors Submit Comments On ACA Contraception Accommodation

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Reposted from The Public Rights / Private Conscience Project Blog

Back in August the Obama Administration responded to the Supreme Court’s opinion inHobby Lobby and its order in Wheaton College by issuing two new sets of regulations to govern the accommodation process for employers with religious objections to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement. One was an interim final regulation, promulgated by the Department of Labor, that responded to the Wheaton College order by allowing objecting non-profit organizations that believed notifying their insurance company or third-party administrator (TPA) of their objection was also a violation of their RFRA rights to simply notify the government directly, after which DOL and HHS would work together to notify the insurance company or TPA. (I’ve written elsewhere about why this is, not to put too fine a point on it, a somewhat pointless exercise). The other was a proposed regulation that would define what kinds of for-profit entities could seek an accommodation under RFRA based on the Hobby Lobby ruling.

These regulations were open for public comments, and the Public Rights / Private Conscience Project at Columbia Law School drafted comments on both rules that were signed by more than  60 prominent legal academics. Along with more than 40 corporate law scholars, we argued that “[t]he Supreme Court’s approach to corporate religious rights in Hobby Lobby was associational in nature: for-profit entities have religious rights because they are a collection of individuals with religious rights. In that sense the entity is merely the vehicle through which a group of individuals with religious rights exercises those rights in a collective manner.” Given that, we urged the Department to only allow for-profit entities that (1) were privately-held and limited to a certain size, (2) could produce evidence of their religious operating mission, and (3)produced evidence of a unanimous owner agreement to seek the accommodation annually.

In addition, along with more than 20 important scholars of law and religion, we submitted comments urging both HHS and DOL to create stringent monitoring and enforcement standards in order to avoid Establishment Clause violations. As we explained in ourcomments, “[s]tatutes like RFRA may exempt religious actors beyond what is constitutionally required, but only if they do not offend superior rights found in the Constitution. The Establishment Clause can be violated when . . . accommodations shift the burden of a religious observance from those who practice the religion to those who do not.” Because the accommodation process has the potential to impose burdens on affected employees – like delays or gaps in coverage – it is essential that the accommodation process truly be seamless. Otherwise there will only be more lawsuits ahead.

Kara Loewentheil is the Director of the Public Rights / Private Conscience Project and a Research Fellow at Columbia Law School.


Posted in Academia | Comments Off on 60+ Law Professors Submit Comments On ACA Contraception Accommodation

Carol Rosetti’s “Women” Series

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Brazilian visual artist Carol Rosetti talks about O Projeto Mulheres/The Women Project at her website hereHere‘s an excerpt:

The Women Project began in a very spontaneous and unpretentious way. My initial goal was just to practice my technique with colored pencils while saying something nice to my friends who already followed my work.

When looking for a theme, I opted for intersectionality for being something that I acknowledge as a personal issue. It always bothered me the world’s constant attempts to control women’s bodies, behaviors and identities. This control is such a deep part of our culture that we hardly ever realize how cruel it is and how it restricts our personal choices. However, I don’t believe it’s enough to discuss exclusively the issues that affect a specific group of women. We also need to talk about racism, homophobia, transphobia, classicism, xenophobia and ableism. The fight for equality and respect is very wide and should be inclusive.

You can also see the images on Carol Rosetti’s Tumblr and Facebook page.

The images are thought-provoking, inspirational, and definitely worth a look.  At left is one example.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and the Arts | Comments Off on Carol Rosetti’s “Women” Series

Martha Nussbaum on Aging and Self-Loathing

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Martha Nussbaum writes here in the New Republic, “It’s Time to Take Back Our Aging, Smelly Bodies: Why it’s Important to Resist Shame and Disgust.”  Here is an excerpt:

In the 1970s, we women used to talk about loving our own bodies. Inspired by the generation-defining tome Our Bodies, Ourselves, we trained for childbirth without anesthesia, we looked at our cervixes using a speculum, and in general cultivated in ourselves the thought that our own bodies were not sticky, disgusting, and shameful, but dynamic, marvelous, and, more important, just us ourselves. Today, as we boomers age, male and female, what has happened to that love and excitement? I fear that my generation is letting disgust and shame sweep over us again, as a new set of bodily challenges beckons.

In conversations, in the ways people I know meet medical challenges (routine and not-so-routine), I’ve noticed not just a discomfort with the unpopular aspects of aging (sagging skin, brown spots, loss of muscle tone), but something more general: a shrinking from the body itself, a desire to deny that this body is who we are. * * *

What has become of that youthful surge of profound self-love? As we age, we are yielding to all the forces we tried, back then, to combat: not only the forces of external medical control, but the more insidious force of self-loathing.

Read the full piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Women's Health | Comments Off on Martha Nussbaum on Aging and Self-Loathing

Margo Kaplan, “Taking Pedophilia Seriously,” Washington & Lee L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015).

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Margo Kaplan recently published this Op-Ed in the NYT entitled “Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime”, in which she asserts:

A pedophile should be held responsible for his conduct — but not for the underlying attraction. Arguing for the rights of scorned and misunderstood groups is never popular, particularly when they are associated with real harm. But the fact that pedophilia is so despised is precisely why our responses to it, in criminal justice and mental health, have been so inconsistent and counterproductive. Acknowledging that pedophiles have a mental disorder, and removing the obstacles to their coming forward and seeking help, is not only the right thing to do, but it would also advance efforts to protect children from harm.

Today she presented the law review article this is drawn from, “Taking Pedophilia Seriously” (forthcoming in the Washington & Lee Law Review) at Pace Law School. Had she not been a Pace Law colloquium speaker, I probably would not have read either the Op-Ed or the article, based on incorrect assumptions about the arguments she is making. I am very glad I did, though. She has convinced me that society is going to be a lot better off if pedophiles can self identify and seek treatment for what she characterizes as a mental disorder. Right now, because pedophilia is so stigmatized, pedophiles are understandably afraid to disclose their illegal attractions to children, leaving them without support or access to medical and psychiatric treatment that they may want and benefit from. Pedophiles are understandably and appropriately unable to legally have sex with the children they desire. But leaving a group of people in a situation where they can’t legally have sex, ever, or even look at child porn (which is illegal, as it should be) for sexual release and then leaving them in the shadows to deal with this situation themselves, is just wrong. Pedophiles who fight their urges and do not act on them are not hurting anyone, but they may me treated like criminals nonetheless. Maybe some readers can’t actually feel sorry for pedophiles, but surely the benefits for potential victims of sexual predation by pedophiles that treatment might bring make Margo Kaplan’s work worth considering.

I must also applaud her bravery. An interview with Philadelphia Magazine just after publication of the Op-Ed makes it clear that many people are condemning her work without reading and understanding it. Don’t make that mistake! She has undertaken something important in the very best tradition of legal scholarship.

–Ann Bartow

Posted in Activism, Sex and Sexuality | Comments Off on Margo Kaplan, “Taking Pedophilia Seriously,” Washington & Lee L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015).


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This essay, published at The Verge, tells the troubling story of the harassment of Kathy Sierra, the incident that drove her away from particiapting in the tech Internet for years, and how the man who perpetrated this incident is being lionized and help up as a hero by cyber civil liberties organizations like EFF. Below are a couple of excerpts:

… In March of [2007], some visitors to Sierra’s blog called “open season” on the now 57-year-old. Hundreds of commenters on her blog made rape and death threats. “I hope someone slits your throat,” wrote one person. People posted photoshopped images of her with a pair of panties choking her, or a noose near her head. She had enraged scores of men for supporting a call to moderate reader comments, which is of course common practice now. Sierra went public about the threats, writing on her blog, “It’s better to talk about it than to just disappear.”

But disappear is exactly what she did next. Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, a well-known provocateur, hacker, and anti-Semite, circulated her home address and Social Security number online. He also made false statements about her being a battered wife and a former prostitute. Not only did Sierra find herself a target for identity theft, but all the people who had threatened to brutally rape and kill her now knew where she lived. So, she logged off and didn’t return to the web until two months ago. She gave up the book deals, speaking engagements, and even fled her home. An anonymous internet group had chased her off the web and out of tech, and it finally managed to hijack her offline life. ….

…Auernheimer is in jail now. In March, he was sentenced to spend 41 months in prison for releasing the email addresses of 114,000 AT&T customers. He says that all he did was expose a security flaw and that forced the company to secure its systems. According to him, he was doing society a favor. The FBI saw it differently. They called it “identity fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization.”

Immediately, there was a call in the tech sector to rally around Auernheimer. Tech pundits predicted that his prosecution would prevent security analysts from exposing vulnerabilities. Lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the group that advocates for internet users and tech companies, jumped in to help with his defense.

“I have this beef with a lot of organizations, including EFF,” Aurora said. “This is another case where they’re saying, ‘The cases we care about are the ones white men are interested in. We’re less interested in protecting women on the web.’” …

… There were plenty of techies who criticized Auernheimer and said he was getting his due. But the debate over his case was larger than anything that has ever occurred regarding internet harassment. That wasn’t lost on the women who have been threatened with rape and death while online. What it came down to for them was that a man who threatens women can generate more concern within the tech industry than female victims of abuse.

“His rise as a folk hero is a sign of how desensitized to the abuse of women online people have become,” Sierra said. “I get so angry at the tech press, the way they try to spin him as a trickster, a prankster. It’s like they feel they have to at least say he’s a jerk. Openly admitting you enjoy ‘ruining lives for lulz’ is way past being a ‘jerk’. And it wasn’t just my life. He included my kids in his work. I think he does belong in prison for crimes he has committed, but what he’s in for now is not one of those crimes. I hate supporting the Free Weev movement, but I do.” …”

–Ann Bartow

Posted in Activism, Feminism and Technology, If you're a woman, Invasion of Privacy, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on “THE END OF KINDNESS: WEEV AND THE CULT OF THE ANGRY YOUNG MAN” by Greg Sandoval