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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Posted in Feminism and Families, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Balkinization Roundtable on Clare Huntington’s “Failure to Flourish: How Family Law Undermines Family Relationships””

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

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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

Posted in Fellowships and Funding Opportunities | Comments Off on Research Grants at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University

“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

A Feminist Reflects on Yom Kippur

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From author Elana Maryles Sztokman over at The Jewish Week:

Yom Kippur asks us to forgive, but this a challenge for me because I think forgiving can be much harder than asking for forgiveness — especially if we are expected to forgive without having our pain acknowledged. Women are often expected to just let it all go, to accept the hurtful and abusive practices of the community without their pain ever properly acknowledged and validated. We are sometimes told that our outcry is too provocative, or that it threatens the “unity” of the congregation, or that women’s assertiveness makes people uncomfortable. So many people prefer a self-effacing woman to a woman who values her own dignity. Women’s outcries are too odd, too destabilizing, too unfamiliar, too confronting. So women are sent back to their silent corners behind their curtains, and silently search within their hearts for the ability to forgive.

And so, I will stand before my Creator, along with all the women of Israel, and try to forgive the sins against women. I will ask God to forgive the abusers even though the abusers have not asked me for forgiveness. And I will continue to pray for a better world, in which women are truly valued as equals.

May the year 5775 be a year in which we all feel and appreciate one another’s pain, and we all open our hearts with empathy and compassion.

Read the full piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Religion | Comments Off on A Feminist Reflects on Yom Kippur

UMKC Seeks to Hire Two Faculty Members

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From the FLP mailbox:

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law anticipates hiring two entry level or early career tenured or tenure-track faculty members with a strong commitment to educating lawyers for the twenty-first century, a lifetime of scholarship, and being part of a collegial, collaborative community. We are particularly interested in candidates with research and teaching interests in the following areas: property, environmental law, real estate, land use, contracts, business and entrepreneurship. Additional areas of interest may include professional responsibility, criminal law, and civil litigation.

UMKC is the urban law school of the University of Missouri System and is located on a beautiful landscaped campus in the Country Club Plaza area of Kansas City, Missouri.  It is the only law school in a diverse and vibrant metropolitan area of more than two million people and offers courses leading to J.D. or LL.M. degrees for approximately 500 students.  It benefits from its metropolitan location, a large and academically talented pool of student applicants, a strong university with opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, a dedicated faculty and staff, and strong community and alumni support.

UMKC is an equal access, equal opportunity, affirmative action employer that is fully committed to achieving a diverse faculty and staff. The university will recruit and employ qualified personnel and will provide equal opportunities during employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, status as a protected veteran or status as a qualified individual with a disability. To request ADA accommodations, please call the Director of Affirmative Action at 816-235-1323.

Application Process: The School of Law will review the Faculty Appointments Registry maintained by the AALS. In addition letters of inquiry and resumes may be sent to:

Nancy Levit, Chair

Faculty Appointments Committee

UMKC School of Law

500 E. 52nd St.

Kansas City, MO 64110


Applications for the position go through the University at https://myhr.umsystem.edu/psp/tamext/KCITY/HRMS/c/HRS_HRAM.HRS_CE.GBL?SiteId=8

Posted in Law Teaching | Comments Off on UMKC Seeks to Hire Two Faculty Members

Soccer Stars Sue FIFA

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A group that includes some of the world’s best female soccer players has sued FIFA alleging gender discrimination on account of FIFA’s stated plans to have the Women’s World Cup played on turf instead of grass fields.  The NYT has coverage here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Sports | Comments Off on Soccer Stars Sue FIFA

Justice Ginsburg Intervew with Professor Marina Angel

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently spoke with Professor Marina Angel (Temple).  You can watch the full 50+-minute interview here.

-Bridget Crawford


Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on Justice Ginsburg Intervew with Professor Marina Angel

Men, Do You Consider Yourself a Feminist? An Infographic

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Source: Here, at Maclean’s.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Culture | Comments Off on Men, Do You Consider Yourself a Feminist? An Infographic

Ninth Circuit says “Failure to Warn” Action Against Website that Allegedly Faciliated Rape Not Barred By Section 230 of the CDA

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From the opinion:

“Model Mayhem is a networking website, found at modelmayhem.com, for people in the modeling industry. Plaintiff Jane Doe, an aspiring model who posted information about herself on the website, alleges that two rapists used the website to lure her to a fake audition, where they drugged her, raped her, and recorded her for a pornographic video. She also alleges that Defendant Internet Brands, the company that owns the website, knew about the rapists but did not warn her or the website’s other users. She filed an action against Internet Brands alleging liability for negligence under California law based on that failure to warn. The district court dismissed the action on the ground that her claim was barred by the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), 47 U.S.C. § 230(c) (2012). We conclude that the CDA does not bar the claim. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.”

Read the full opinion here.

One press account notes:

…Summarizing that history for a three-judge appellate panel Wednesday, Judge Richard Clifton noted that the law generally “protects websites from liability for material posted on the website by someone else,” In reviving the case of an aspiring model named in the court record only as Jane Doe, however, Clifton noted that her “claim is different.”

Doe sued Internet Brands Inc. dba ModelMayhem.com in Los Angeles for negligent failure to warn.

She said the company knew but failed to warn users that two men, Lavont Flanders and Emerson Callum, would scan the website to lure victims to the Miami area for bogus modeling auditions, then drug them, rape them and film it to make a porno.

The 9th Circuit found Section 230(c)1 inapplicable Wednesday because Doe does not seek to hold Internet Brands liable as the publisher “of content someone posted on the Model Mayhem website, or for internet Brands’ failure to remove content posted on the website.”

“Flanders and Callum are not alleged to have posted on the website,” the decision continues. Doe instead alleges only that her attackers contacted her through the site by using a fake identity. She seeks to hold the company liable for failing to warn her about how the men used the website to lure in rape victims.

“The duty to warn allegedly imposed by California law would not require Internet Brands to remove any user content or otherwise affect how it publishes such content,” Clifton wrote. “Any obligation to work could have been satisfied without changes to the content posted by the website’s users.”

The company “would simply have been required to give a warning to Model Mayhem users, perhaps by posting a notice on the website or by informing users by email what it knew about the activities of Flanders and Callum,” he added.

“Barring Jane Doe’s failure to warn claim would stretch the CDA beyond its narrow language and its purpose,” the 13-page ruling continues. “To be sure, Internet Bands acted as the ‘publisher or speaker’ of user content.”

The judges also emphasized that the company has “specifically denied substantially all of the allegations, including that the assailants contacted plaintiffs through the website.” …

Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Feminism and Law | Comments Off on Ninth Circuit says “Failure to Warn” Action Against Website that Allegedly Faciliated Rape Not Barred By Section 230 of the CDA

Congratulations to Sarah Deer, MacArthur Fellow

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Feminist Law Prof Sarah Deer (William Mitchell) has been named as one of this year’s MacArthur Fellows.  Congratulations, Professor Deer!

William Mitchell’s press release is here.  The folks at Feministing have a great profile of Professor Deer here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Chutes and Ladders | Comments Off on Congratulations to Sarah Deer, MacArthur Fellow

“Sexism is a Sin. Happy New Year 5764”

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Over at Jewish Women Watching:

In these days of repentance, ask yourself:

Is the leader of my organization a man?

Is the board of my organization more than 50% men?

Is my rabbi a man?


Plus feminist Rosh Hashana e-cards!

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Religion | Comments Off on “Sexism is a Sin. Happy New Year 5764”

Law and Film Events At the AALS Annual Meeting, January 2-5, 2015

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If you are planning to attend the AALS Annual Meeting in January 2015 you may be interested in two law and film AALS Film Committee-sponsored events taking place during the conference. The first, on January 2, at 7:30 p.m. (the first night of the conference), will be a screening of the classic Judgment at Nuremberg, directed by Stanley Kramer, written by Abby Mann, and starring a whole host of great actors, including the very strong female characters Mrs. Bertholt, played by Marlene Dietrich, and Irene Hoffman, played by Judy Garland. The two female characters represent different ways of coming to terms with the events discussed in the film. Mrs. Bertholt is loyal both to her husband and to the narrative maintained by many Germans. She assures Judge Haywood, the head of the international tribunal (played by Spencer Tracy),  that she and others like her “did not know” about the atrocities committed by the Nazis. But she also says, “We must forget if we want to go on living.” For her, and others like her, the way forward must include a kind of amnesia. In contrast, Irene Hoffman  cannot forget. As someone who suffered under the regime, she has finally has the chance to tell her story and to tell it to someone who will believe her. More here about the background of the film from Professor Douglas Linder’s excellent law and film website (page created by Sean Bradley).

To introduce our film, we are honored to have Professor Harold Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School. Professor Koh served as Legal Adviser for the Department of State from 2009 to 2013, service for which he received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award. Professor Koh is an expert in the area of national security, international human rights, and foreign relations, areas in which he has written extensively. I will be moderating a discussion afterward of the film for those interested.

On Sunday, January 4th, at 8 p.m. the Committee will sponsor a showing of the 2011 film Hot Coffee, directed by Susan Saladoff. The film recounts the famous lawsuit Stella Liebeck brought against McDonald’s when she accidentally spilled some of its excessively hot beverage on herself. Hot Coffee is not just a movie about the torts regime. It’s also a film about public relations and the rhetoric that lawyers use in telling stories. Dennis Greene, Professor of Law, University of Dayton School of Law, will moderate the discussion about this provocative and interesting film.

Finally, on Monday, January 5th at 2 p.m. AALS will present a very special event, a Cross-Cutting program, due in great part to the efforts of members of the Law and Film Committee. Professor Michael Olivas, former President of AALS, and current Chair of the Committee, will moderate a panel on the topic Anita F. Hill,  Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, and a Screening of the Film Anita. Speakers include Professors Taunya Lovell Banks of the University of Maryland School of Law, Jessica Silbey, Suffolk University Law School, and special guest Anita Hill, Senior Advisor to the Provost and Professor Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies, Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management. This program also includes a special screening of the film Anita: Speaking Truth To Power (2014).

Professor Hill will also be a special guest at the Section on Minority Groups Luncheon, January 5, 2015, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Hope to see you at one or more of these very exciting events!

Posted in Academia, Feminism and the Arts | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Law and Film Events At the AALS Annual Meeting, January 2-5, 2015

CFP: U.S. Feminist Judgments Project

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Bumping to front, because 9/15 deadline rapidly approaching.

The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of revised opinions and commentary for an edited collection entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court. This edited volume is a collaborative project among feminist law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key Supreme Court decisions relevant to gender issues. Editors Kathy Stanchi, Linda Berger and Bridget Crawford seek prospective authors for 20 to 25 rewritten Supreme Court opinions covering a range of topics including reproductive rights, equal protection, the state’s use of criminal power, privacy, the family, women’s political participation, Title IX, employment discrimination and substantive due process. The editors also seek authors for commentaries of 1,500 to 2,500 words to put into context each of the rewritten cases.

The U.S. Feminist Judgments project was inspired by the successful collection and publication in Britain of Feminist Judgments:From Theory to Practice, edited by Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn, and Erika Rackley. This volume, which included feminist versions of twenty-three key British decisions from the Court of Appeal and House of Lords, was published in 2010 and has been very well received. Like the sister project in Britain, the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project endeavors to pioneer “a new form of critical socio-legal scholarship” that illustrates how cases could have been decided differently had a feminist method been employed. We believe that U.S. Supreme Court law is ripe for this kind of scholarly treatment.

Those who are interested in rewriting an opinion or providing the commentary on one of the rewritten opinions should fill out an application here.

Applications are due by September 15, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. eastern. Editors will notify accepted authors and commentators by October 7, 2014. First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on February 1, 2015. First drafts of comments on the rewritten opinions will be due on March 15, 2015. The editors are in the process of identifying a publisher; publication of the final volume is anticipated for late 2015.

A list of cases tentatively scheduled for rewriting is available here.

Applicants may indicate their preferences among the list of cases. Applicants also may suggest other cases for rewriting. The tentative cases were chosen with the input and advice of an Advisory Panel of distinguished U.S. scholars including Kathryn Abrams, Katharine Bartlett, Devon Carbado, Mary Anne Case, Erwin Chemerinsky, April Cherry, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Martha Fineman, Margaret Johnson, Sonia Katyal, Nancy Leong, Catharine MacKinnon, Rachel Moran, Melissa Murray, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Nancy Polikoff, Dorothy Roberts, Dan Rodriguez, Susan Ross, Vicki Schultz, Dean Spade, Robin West, and Verna Williams.


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The Federalism In Family Law

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Courtney G. Joslin, University of California, Davis, School of Law, is publishing Windsor, Federalism, and Family Equality in the Indiana Law Journal. It is also available as UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 394. Here is the abstract.

The myth of family law’s inherent localism is sticky. In the past, it was common to hear sweeping claims about the exclusively local nature of all family matters. In response to persuasive critiques, a narrower iteration of family law localism emerged. The new, refined version acknowledges the existence of some federal family law but contends that certain “core” family law matters — specifically, family status determinations — are inherently local. I call this family status localism. Proponents of family status localism rely on history, asserting that the federal government has always deferred to state family status determinations. Family status localism made its most recent appearance (although surely not its last) in the litigation challenging Section 3 of DOMA.

This Article accomplishes two mains goals. The first goal is doctrinal. This Article undermines the resilient myth of family law localism by uncovering a long history of federal family status determinations. Although the federal government often defers to state family status determinations, this Article shows that there are many circumstances in which the federal government instead relies on its own family status definitions.

The second goal of this Article is normative. Having shown that Congress does not categorically lack power over family status determinations, this Article begins a long overdue conversation about whether the federal government should make such determinations. Here, the Article brings family law into the rich, ongoing federalism debate — a debate that, until now, has largely ignored family law matters. In so doing, this Article seeks to break down the deeply-rooted perception that family law is a doctrine unto itself, unaffected by developments in other areas, and unworthy of serious consideration by others.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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Request for Input about Torts Casebook Selection

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From Jessica Litman, John F. Nickoll Professor of Law and Professor of Information
University of Michigan:

I’ve decided to pick up Torts again after ten years away from it.  I took a quick look through the Casebooks that would be obvious choices because they are current editions of Casebooks I used when I taught the course in the past, and came away unhappy, not least because the decade’s progress in gender issues does not seem to be reflected in any of them.  I’m trolling for recommendations of Casebooks I should consider adopting instead.  Any suggestions?

Please contact Professor Litman directly with suggestions: jdlitman (at) umich.edu

-Bridget Crawford

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Canadian Journal of Women and the Law Welcomes a New English Language Editor

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From the mailbox:

Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes et Droit welcomes a new English language editor, Natasha Bakht.Co-editorship of the CJWL is currently shared by Associate Professor Natasha Bakht from the Faculty of Law at University of Ottawa and by Professor Annie Rochette from the Département des sciences juridiques, Université du Québec à Montréal.

Natasha Bakht is an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa. She served as a law clerk to Justice Louise Arbour at the Supreme Court of Canada and was called to the bar of Ontario in 2003. She teaches Criminal Law and Procedure, Family Law and Multicultural Rights in Liberal Democracies. Professor Bakht’s research interests are generally in the area of law, culture and minority rights and specifically in the intersecting area of religious freedom and women’s equality. She has written extensively in the area of religious arbitration and assisted in Canadian judicial education on issues of religion, culture and diversity.  Prof Bakht was an active member of the Law Program Committee of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) from 2005-2009.  Her most recent writings on the rights of niqab-wearing women were cited by the Supreme Court in the case of R v NS, 2012 SCC 72.  She is the current English Language Editor of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law (CJWL). She is also an Indian contemporary dancer and choreographer.

Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes et Droit is available online at:

CJWL Onlinehttp://bit.ly/cjwlonline

Project MUSEhttp://bit.ly/cjwl_pm

Submission Information – http://bit.ly/cjwlsubmissions

The CJWL/RFD is Canada’s oldest feminist legal periodical. Since it began in 1985, the journal has provided a forum in which feminist writers from diverse backgrounds, speaking from a wide range of experience, can exchange ideas and information about legal issues that affect women. We are looking to build on this tradition and remain committed to reflecting a diversity of political, social, cultural, and economic thinking, unified by a shared interest in law reform.

We invite submissions from people who are engaged in feminist analysis of socio-legal issues that reflect a range of approaches, including multidisciplinary, action-focused, theoretical, and historical, and that reflect linguistic and regional differences in Canada. We particularly encourage submissions authored by women from different backgrounds, disciplines and jurisdictions who are doing new feminist work. The CJWL/RFD is seeking papers for publication in the following sections of the CJWL/RFD: articles, review essays, commentaries, case comments, research notes, book reviews, and notes on Canadian and International events of interest to our readers. Comments on previously published materials are also welcome. The journal is a refereed publication.

Canadian Journal of Women and the Lawcjwl-rfd@uottawa.ca


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Huntington, “Help Families from Day 1”

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Clare Huntington (Fordham) has published an op-ed, Help Families from Day 1, in the New York Times, tied to the opening of universal pre-kindergarten in New York City.  Here is an excerpt:

In my research, I have cataloged government policies that undermine parent-child relationships during early childhood. Our legal system, for example, destabilizes low-income, unmarried families, distracting them from parenting. Forty-one percent of children are born to unmarried parents. These parents are usually romantically involved when the child is born, but these relationships often end. Rather than help these ex-partners make the transition into co-parenting relationships, the legal system exacerbates acrimony between them. States impose child support orders that many low-income fathers are unable to pay, creating tremendous resentment for both parents. And courts are not a realistic resource for many unmarried parents, leaving them to work out problems on their own.

Our workplace protection laws likewise do too little to address the needs of families. The dearth of paid parental leave means that many parents have to choose between their job and bonding with their newborn.

Read the full op-ed here.

-Bridget Crawford


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From the FLP mailbox:

Call for Papers

Special Issue of Gender & History:

Marriage’s Global Past


Sara McDougall, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)

Sarah Pearsall, Cambridge University

This special issue of Gender & History explores marriage’s global past from the medieval to the modern era. We solicit contributions that examine aspects of the history of marriage in societies and cultures throughout the world, with special attention to ideas and practices of monogamy and polygamy. Of particular interest is the role of gender in the construction and reconstruction of marriage. We also solicit papers that interrogate the relationship of marriage to various forms of power, including those of state, religious, and colonial institutions as well as the complicated dynamics of authority within households. We welcome both broad, comparative studies and more narrowly-focused ones.

Many imagine marriage as a timeless institution. In fact, as William Alexander wrote in 1779, in his History of Women, From the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time, “Marriage is so far from having been an institution, fixed by permanent and unalterable laws, that it has been continually varying in every period, and in every country.” This historian thus acknowledged both the shifting nature of marriage as an institution in a global context, as well as the ways that marriage profoundly shapes, and is shaped by, the role and status of women and men. This special issue similarly assumes varieties of marriages, in terms of both chronology and geography.

This special issue will also interrogate the profound interconnection of gender and marriage, especially with reference to issues of rank, race, age, nationality, culture, religion, and sexuality. Indeed, what might constitute “traditional” marriage in one context might appear radical in another. Indeed, while many contemporary scholars and advocates have called for a redefinition of what is termed “traditional marriage,” recent scholarship has also emphasized how very little is traditional about what is currently described in the Oxford English Dictionary as: “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.”

One of the goals of this special issue is to explore how the idea of so-called “traditional marriage” took root and spread in many cultures. Often, of course, it did so even as local social practices deviated, sometimes notably, from this norm. Christian teachings beginning in the first millennium endorsed a particular model of marriage that became not only a centerpiece of Christian faith but also a potent political and social force across the world. In this model, marriage had to be exclusive and indissoluble, a monogamous and enduring commitment between one man and one woman. At that time and in subsequent centuries, as Christian teachings spread throughout the world, this model of marriage came into contact with cultures that had a variety of different ideas about the best ways to marry, and the purpose of marriage. Clashes between different practices of marriage lay at the heart of many early modern and modern encounters.  This special issue of Gender & History hopes to offer new interpretations of this complex and fascinating history.

The volume will begin with a colloquium to be held 18-20 March 2016 at Cambridge University. Paper proposals (750 words maximum) are to be submitted by 15 January 2015. Invitations to present at the colloquium will be issued in February 2015. All those presenting must submit articles for pre-circulation by 15 January 2016. Participants will also be expected to read all the other articles and to participate fully in the two-day colloquium. This participation will include commenting on the paper of another participant, as well as more general discussions.  After the colloquium, participants will be invited to submit their revised papers for publication. Those accepted by the editors for publication will be expected to submit their manuscripts by 1 September 2016. This timeframe will allow the editors to work with authors to produce the final text of the issue for publication in 2017.

Please send paper proposals to smcdougall@jjay.cuny.edu andsmsp100@cam.ac.uk by 15 January 2015, with “Marriage’s Global Past” in the subject heading.

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TED Talk by Karima Bennoune Nearing One Million Views

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Photo credit: TED.com

Professor Karima Bennoune’s powerful and inspiring TED Talk® When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism, posted online this summer, is already nearing one million views.  From the TED site (emphasis added):

Karima Bennoune shares four powerful stories of real people fighting against fundamentalism in their own communities — refusing to allow the faith they love to become a tool for crime, attacks and murder. These personal stories humanize one of the most overlooked human-rights struggles in the world.

 It must have been a daunting task, to distill into a short talk the essence of the 286 interviews of incredibly brave people she conducted for her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism (W.W. Norton 2013).  Yet she succeeds brilliantly.  Her talk can be viewed here.

Praise for the book behind the talk includes these ringing words from Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka:YourFatwaDoesNotApplyHere

This work redefines courage in a humbling dimension. Bennoune’s meticulous testament serves as a warning to the complacent and rebukes ‘politically correct’ posturing that makes excuses for the inexcusable and canvasses tolerance for the intolerable.

 Additional features on Karima’s TED Talk page include:

  • Take Action — which links to Women Living Under Muslim Laws, the NGO that grew from an action committee formed in 1984 by women from Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, Mauritius, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  •  Karima recommends – a terrific compilation of resources, with links to interviews and NGOs.

Hold the press!    

As I was preparing to post this blog, I saw in a press release issued today that Karima’s book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here is a finalist for the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, this prize is “the first and only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace.”

Heartfelt congratulations, Karima!

Cross-posted on IntLawGrrls
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Herma Hill Kay Receives AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015

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From the mailbox:

The AALS Section on Women in Legal Education is delighted to announce that Professor Herma Hill Kay, the Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law, is the 2015 recipient of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award.  Professor Kay is the third recipient of this award; the first award went to Justice Ginsburg in 2013, and the second was given to Professor Catharine MacKinnon in 2014.

Professor Kay’s nominators described her this way:

In her fifty-plus years at Berkeley, Herma has been an award-winning teacher, a productive scholar, a generous colleague, and an inspiring leader.  . . . Appointed dean of the law school in 1992, she was the first woman in the school’s history to serve in this capacity.  She has served on boards and committees for almost every significant legal academic institution in the country, including the AALS, which she served as President in 1989.  . . . Beyond her excellent teaching and support of students, Herma is currently finishing a book on the first fourteen women law professors in the United States.  She also continues as a principal author on two casebooks: Text, Cases and Materials on Sex-Based Discrimination (Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of her original co-authors) and Conflict of Laws: Cases-Comments-Questions.  . . . Herma was an active participant in the women’s rights movement.  As a member of Governor Edmund Brown’s Commission on the Family, she paved the way for California’s adoption of a no-fault divorce statute in 1969, and later served as co-reporter of the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act.  Herma was also active in the passage of California’s therapeutic abortion statute and testified in favor of California’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.   Herma has generated opportunities for generations of Berkeley Law graduates, men as well as women, to engage in legal activism on behalf of women and other underrepresented groups.  Indeed, to honor Herma’s legacy at Berkeley and in the profession, in 1999 the Boalt Hall Women’s Association established the Herma Hill Kay Fellowships.  For over ten years, the fellowships have been used to encourage and support public interest work benefitting women. . . .  Throughout her career, Herma has been a pioneer, blazing a trail for all women in the legal academy.

The Section will present Professor Kay with her award at the Annual Meeting Section Luncheon in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 3, 2015, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. at the Marriott Park Wardman Hotel.   We are happy to note that Justice Ginsburg is also scheduled to be at the luncheon to formally accept the award she received in 2013.  We hope that you will be able to attend.

Thank you to all who nominated individuals for the award.  We had a large number of wonderful nominations; it was a pleasure to read about the many valuable contributions of Section members.

Congratulations again to Professor Kay!

The AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Executive Committee

Kirsten Davis, Chair

Wendy Greene, Chair-Elect

Bridget Crawford, Immediate Past-Chair

Rebecca Zietlow, Secretary

Kerri Stone, Treasurer

Cindy Fountaine, Member-At-Large

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Save the Date: Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference, June 22, 2015

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From the FLP mailbox:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We would like to invite you to a working-paper conference that we are planning to hold in the days before the AALS mid-year family law conference in Orlando next summer. Our group, the Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference, has been known in the past as the Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference (EFLS). That group held an annual conference for the past eight years, but until now has been limited to junior scholars. This year we are opening the conference to scholars at all levels of seniority, and are hoping that many of you can join us.

            The conference will take place on Monday, June 22, 2015, in Orlando, Florida—the day of the AALS workshop’s opening reception. Since our conference will be held earlier that day, these two events will not conflict. We will be hosted for the day by Florida A&M University College of Law, which is just a few minutes’ drive from the Doubletree Hotel that hosts the AALS workshop.

            For those of you who are not familiar with the EFLS conference, the main purpose of the meeting is to allow family law scholars to receive detailed, constructive feedback on their work in a supportive, collegial environment. In addition, the meeting is a forum to meet others in the field and talk about teaching, service, developments in the law, and other relevant themes raised by participants. Scholars present their work—either in its very initial form (an incubator session) or in its more developed form (a work-in-progress session)—in intimate groups. We have a very strong norm that participants carefully read drafts of the papers in advance of the sessions, and there are no formal presentations. Many of us feel that this has been a very meaningful conference that significantly contributed to our development as scholars and teachers.

            Although we have decided to open up the conference to scholars at all levels, we are still committed to preserving the conference’s intimate and supportive character. Therefore, we can accommodate only 45 participants, selected on a first-come-first-served basis. Additionally, although we will try to fulfill all requests for an incubator or work-in-progress session, if space is limited, we will give some preference to junior scholars. As always, there is no registration fee, and people only need to pay for their meals and accommodation. The Doubletree Hotel will give the discounted rate for rooms a couple of days prior to the conference.

            We will open up the registration and submission, via TWEN, in February 2015. For now, if you would like to receive announcements about the conference, please sign in on our TWEN page. To do that, go to “Add Courses” and select “Family Law Scholars and Teachers 2015 Conference.” If you have already selected the course in 2014, we will migrate your e-mail automatically and you do not need to register again. You should expect to receive an e-mail with further information about submissions and registration in February 2015.

            If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact co-chairs Erez Aloni (ealoni@law.whittier.edu) or Jessica Dixon Weaver (jdweaver@smu.edu).

Best wishes,

FLST Planning Committee,

Erez Aloni

Anibal Rosario Lebron

Dara Purvis

Sarah Swan

Bela Walker

Jessica Dixon Weaver

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