What A Difference Three Days Make: The Hobby Lobby Fallout Arrives

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By: Kara Loewentheil

Kara Loewentheil is a research fellow and the director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project in the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. You can see her interview on Bloomberg News with more of her thoughts on the Hobby Lobby decision here.

The Supreme Court is supposed to be the final word on our legal questions, but apparently it reserves the right to change its mind at a moment’s notice. When the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores on Monday June 30th, holding that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act required the government to allow for-profit businesses with religious objections to contraceptives to opt out of complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement, the majority opinion stressed at length the idea that the law was not narrowly tailored because the government could have offered for-profit businesses the same accommodation available to non-profit religiously-affiliated organizations. Under the regulations implementing the ACA, religiously-affiliated non-profit organizations are allowed to certify that they object to providing insurance coverage for contraception. They send that form to the government and to their insurance company, at which point their insurance company is required to pay for the coverage out of its own funds. The majority opinion relied on the existence of this program as proof that the government had a better option available to achieve its goal of universal contraceptive coverage. As Justice Alito wrote, that accommodation “does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious belief that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion, and it serves [the government’s] stated interests equally well.”[1]

One might have thought this meant that the accommodation was, in fact, a legally acceptable system that would withstand a challenge under RFRA (given the lack of enforcement or monitoring in the regulation, it’s far from a morally acceptable system anyway). But only three days later the Supreme Court has issued an order enjoining the government from enforcing the requirement that a non-profit religiously-affiliated organization certify that it objects to coverage. There are almost 80 cases pending in the lower federal courts brought by non-profit organizations that claim that even signing the certification form is a substantial burden on their free exercise, because they believe that signing the form “triggers” the insurance company to provide the contraceptives and thereby makes them – the nonprofit organization – complicit. And not just complicit, but socomplicit it violates their religious freedom. Let me just be clear again, we’re talking about signing a form, the entire purpose of which is to excuse the organization from being required to pay for contraceptive coverage. The majority held that these organizations need not sign the form nor send the required notifications. Instead the majority arbitrarily rewrote the applicable regulations, making it the government’s responsibility to make sure that women receive seamless contraceptive coverage once they have received some kind of undefined written notice that an organization objects. (One presumes that a scrawled note on a cocktail napkin will suffice).

So why should we care? After all, what does it matter whether the organizations have to sign a form or send some other kind of written notice? It matters for a few reasons. First, it matters for the actual women employed by these religiously-affiliated organizations, which includes Catholic hospitals, religiously-affiliated universities, and other large complicated institutions that employ thousands and thousands of women. The accommodation already suffered from a lack of monitoring and enforcement mechanism, and now objecting institutions need not even sign a standard form, and the government is supposed to somehow ensure that all these women don’t fall through the cracks, if it chooses to do so – the order doesn’t require it to do so, and neither do the current regulations. We can hope for the best, but should be prepared for the worst on that front.

The dangers of this order go far beyond those women though. Misguided as the opinion in Hobby Lobby was – inaccurate and poorly-reasoned though it might have been – at least the objectors were arguably requesting relief from an actual legal requirement.[2] The objectors in these non-profit cases are already being given an accommodation. The idea that signing a form that allows one to get an exemption can itself be a substantial burden on one’s free exercise boggles the mind. It makes a mockery of the substantial burden standard – forget the word “substantial,” even of the word “burden.” It effectively deprives the test under RFRA of any real meaning, and hollows out the court’s evaluative role in adjudicating these claims. If signing a form that gives you access to an exemption is a substantial burden, then anything is a substantial burden, and there’s absolutely no check on what religious objectors can refuse to do.

The only silver lining is that these cases – and this result – make clear what we have long suspected: religious objectors to the contraceptive coverage requirement (and other equality measures) aren’t looking for a reasonable compromise. They are looking to reject secular governmental authority altogether in favor of obedience to a religious law, regardless of the fact that the vast majority of the actual individuals affected do not share their religion or their beliefs. It’s the tyranny of the minority, and it looks like it may be here to stay.


[1] Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, slip. op. at 34 (available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf)

[2] I say arguably because there was a strong argument in the case, first proposed by Marty Lederman but not accepted by the majority, that in fact there was no legal requirement to provide insurance coverage for contraception – rather there was a choice to provide comprehensive coverage or to provide no coverage and pay a tax to subsidize insurance on public exchanges instead. See e.g. Marty Lederman, http://balkin.blogspot.com/2013/12/hobby-lobby-part-iiitheres-no-employer.html.

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Krause, “Some Thoughts from a Health Lawyer on Hobby Lobby”

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Over at Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Joan Krause (UNC) has posted “Some Thoughts from a Health Lawyer on Hobby Lobby.”  Here is an excerpt:

As a health law professor who teaches a course on women’s health care issues, I have been following the ACA contraceptive mandate debate with great interest and more than a little trepidation. I admit to rather mixed feelings about the outcome: disappointment, relief that the decision wasn’t broader (at least on its face), concern for what comes next, and frustration regarding the choices that created this situation in the first place. With the benefit of hindsight, I can’t help wishing we’d found another way right from the start.

Many aspects of the contraceptive mandate debate have long struck me as curious. For one thing, it’s clear that the government does indeed have less restrictive alternatives to ensure broad access to low- or no-cost contraceptives. The Obama Administration could have extended to closely-held religious corporations the same accommodation it offered to religious non-profits, which essentially requires insurers to cover these costs. Whether the Administration should do so now, before the Court has squarely addressed the wide-open question of the sufficiency of that accommodation, is a different matter, however. Others have suggested alternative means to provide access to contraceptives, ranging from government-funded distribution to tax credits. Each has disadvantages, of course, and I can understand how the mandate would appear to be a more efficient option. But that choice relied heavily on the assumption that RFRA would not be applied to corporations – an assumption that, in a post-Citizens United world, was a risky proposition. * * *

Does Hobby Lobby spell the end of the ACA, or the end of contraceptive access for women? Clearly not. But with the benefit of hindsight, I can’t help wishing we’d found another way right from the start.

Read the full post here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Guttmacher Institute on Hobby Lobby Case: “After Supreme Court Ruling, Focus Shifts to How Obama Administration and Congress Will Ensure Contraceptive Coverage for Affected Employees”

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The Guttmacher Institute has issued a statement on the Hobby Lobby case.  Here is an excerpt:

[D]espite its potentially limited impact, the decision is very troubling for multiple reasons. Chief among them is the fact that five Supreme Court justices singled out contraception as a health service against which private companies may discriminate. More than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.

As far as finding a less restrictive means to ensuring coverage, the Court suggested that employees of companies that reject covering contraceptives could come under the umbrella of an existing accommodation for a broad range of nonprofit organizations (such as universities, hospitals or social relief agencies) that object to contraception on religious grounds. The Obama administration last year set up a mechanism so that employees of such organizations will have seamless coverage of contraceptive services without out-of-pocket costs. (A narrow group of religious employers closely tied to houses of worship are exempt entirely.)

Under this accommodation, coverage is arranged through a third-party insurer or administrator and, as the administration puts it, “an eligible organization need not contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage” to which they object on religious grounds. The Court’s majority opinion indicated that such a mechanism would not violate the beliefs expressed in these cases by the for-profit employers that challenged the requirement. However, this accommodation—as applied to nonprofits—is itself subject to numerous court challenges, one or more of which will likely be heard by the Court during its next term.

The Obama administration has not yet indicated what specific actions it might take in response to the Court’s ruling, but it has stated that it “will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else.” The administration could take the Court’s suggestion and expand the existing accommodation to closely held for-profit corporations that assert a religious objection to some or all contraceptive services and methods. Congress, too, could act through new legislation to protect employees and their family members from their employers’ objections.

It is noteworthy that, given the opportunity to do so, the Court’s conservative majority did not reject the premise that the government has a compelling interest to promote contraceptive access, instead stating that for purposes of argument, “we assume the HHS regulations satisfy this requirement.” Indeed, in an impassioned dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—citing the Guttmacher Institute’s amicus brief —made it clear that the government’s case for the contraceptive coverage policy is very strong. Decades of scientific evidence and the life experiences of millions of women show that contraception enables women to prevent unintended pregnancies and to plan and space wanted pregnancies. That, in turn, has numerous health benefits for mothers and babies and promotes women’s educational, economic and social advancement.

Read the full statement here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Guest Blogger Emily Gillingham, “This is Inconsistent with What She’s Been Telling Us”: Why the Criticism of Hillary’s Record on Women Matters

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There has been quite a hubbub lately over Hillary Clinton’s criminal defense of an alleged child rapist in 1975, when she was 27 years old and just starting out as a legal aid attorney. (See, e.g., here.) Her client was accused of sexually assaulting a 12 year old girl and beating her so severely that she spent five days in a coma. He was charged with Rape in the First Degree, but Clinton (then Rodham) successfully negotiated a deal in which her client pled guilty a lesser charge. A reporter found the victim in 2008, while she was serving a prison sentence. She had been in therapy for a decade following the attack, suffered fear of men, turned to drugs, and eventually landed in prison. At the time, she was quoted by Glenn Thrush (then of Newsday) as saying, “I’m sure Hillary was just doing her job,” although the victim now asserts that she was misquoted.

The story recently resurfaced because of an article in The Washington Free Beacon, an online newspaper which posted an interview from the mid-1980s between reporter Roy Reed and Hillary Clinton that had been archived at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. In the interview, Clinton said that her client passed the polygraph test that was administered to him, and then she chuckled and said that she didn’t trust polygraph tests after that. She also discussed one of the pieces of physical evidence in the case, her client’s underwear. The blood on the underwear linked her client to the crime, but when she asked to see the underwear, she learned that the portion with the blood which was tested by the lab had been disposed of. The court file for the case, which is available online (here), includes Clinton’s affidavit for psychiatric evaluation of the victim in which she wrote, “I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fanaticizing. I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body. Also that she exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way.”

After the Reed interview tape was released, The Daily Beast reached out to the victim for a new interview. The victim expressed her anger with Clinton’s statements in the affidavit and in the Reed interview, saying (here) “I would say [to Clinton], ‘You took a case of mine in ’75, you lied on me… I realize the truth now, the heart of what you’ve done to me. And you are supposed to be for women? You call that [being] for women, what you done to me? And I hear you on tape laughing.”

Following The Daily Beast’s piece, several news outlets ran articles and discussions discussing Clinton’s legitimacy as an advocate for women and viability as a presidential candidate. Kimberly Guilfoyle of the Fox News debate program “The Five” said (transcript here), “I hope that women are going to be smarter and intelligent, and say ‘Listen, this is inconsistent with what she’s been telling us. Who would I believe? Which is the real Hillary Clinton? The one back then, taking cases on, voluntarily choosing to represent a child rapist?’ That’s a big choice.” Another speaker on “The Five” described Clinton’s representation of the client (here) as “declaring war on women when it’s politically convenient.” Washington Post reporter Melinda Henneberger characterized Clinton’s interview (here) as “not . . . typical talk for a lifelong defender of women and children,” and asked, “wouldn’t her apparent willingness to attack a sixth-grader compromise a presidential run?”

These criticisms of Clinton should matter to feminists and ethical members of the legal profession, regardless of political ideology. It is important not to discount the victim’s feelings about Clinton’s role in what she had experienced. However, what often gets lost in the discussion of Clinton’s role in this case is her ethical duty as an attorney to zealously advocate for her client. The issue of the conflicting moral obligations to a lawyer’s client and to the dignity of the opposing party, particularly in cases involving rape, has been written about at length. There is little debate about the role of a criminal defense attorney as a zealous advocate, regardless of what the client has been accused of, or how much evidence there is against him.

It was not Hillary Clinton’s job to unilaterally decide her client’s guilt or innocence and to temper the quality of her representation accordingly. An individual accused of rape is entitled to an attorney, and that attorney is bound to zealously advocate for his client. Being a steadfast advocate for a criminal defendant, no matter how reprehensible he might be, or how many prior convictions he has, is a feminist issue. If defense attorneys are expected to ignore missing evidence and allegations that the accuser is untruthful, no self-respecting advocate for women can trust that the system is convicting guilty individuals. In short, it is precisely our current system, wherein every ‘t’ must be crossed and every ‘i’ must be dotted in order to obtain a conviction, that lends legitimacy to rape convictions. Certainly, the way that the system operates is cruel and off-putting for victims of rape to go through, and the low conviction rate in rape cases points to other systemic problems. Yet it is patently unreasonable to fault Clinton for fulfilling her ethical and professional responsibilities in the system that exists, especially since she has advocated for victims of sexual violence in the decades that have followed.

An attorney has an ethical duty to listen to his client, to assess the client’s arguments in his own defense, and where there is a credible argument that makes strategic and legal sense, to pursue that argument. What Hillary Clinton wrote in the affidavit requesting the psychiatric evaluation reflects an assertion by her client, or someone else with knowledge about the victim, that the victim had fabricated her allegations and had made false accusations in the past. What she wrote in her affidavit is exactly what advocates for reform point to when they describe the revictimization of rape victims by the justice system. But the possibility that the victim was not being forthright warranted investigation. No competent criminal defense attorney in Clinton’s shoes would have acted differently. It unfortunately is a valuable way of mounting a defense to a charge like this, but the blame for that does not rest on the 27-year old shoulders of a new attorney in 1975. Henneberger, the Washington Post reporter, (here) described Clinton’s defense of her client as an attack on a sixth grade girl, but it was no more an attack on a sixth grade girl than defending an accused robber is an attack on the person who was robbed or defending a speeding ticket is an attack on Sunday drivers.

After accepting that our criminal justice system can only function when those accused of serious crimes are provided with competent, zealous representation, it is also hard to condemn Clinton’s investigation of the forensic evidence from the underwear. The justice system doesn’t allow the government to simply declare that forensic evidence indicated a certain conclusion, and then dispose of the evidence so that the defense cannot rebut it. Clinton was criticized for being boastful in her interview about her work on the missing evidence. But it’s hard to blame her for being boastful after her legwork helped to protect her client’s rights. It begs the question of whether such boasting would have been criticized if she were male, since it has been well-documented that while women are penalized in the workplace for aggression and self-promotion, men are rewarded for such characteristics.

Throwing away the sample that was tested is such an enormous error that it is hard to characterize her work on the missing evidence as an attack on the victim. Clinton’s critics seem to be confusing victim-blaming tactics with a legitimate investigation that a competent criminal defense attorney would undertake. If Clinton had not made the efforts that she had in the case, she would have been derided as unethical, someone who substituted her own judgment for that of the justice system. It would have been difficult to argue with that characterization.

Clinton was also criticized for helping to negotiate a plea deal for her client. It may seem seedy to someone outside of the legal profession, but around 90% of criminal cases end with a plea deal. Plea deals have special value in cases like this, where they can protect the victim (here, a 12-year old girl) from having to testify in front of strangers about the attack. Although this case involves an allegation of an extremely vicious sexual assault, it is worth noting that the cumulative year that Clinton’s client spent in jail is more than most rapists are sentenced to today. According to RAINN (here), including the estimated 60% of rapes that are never reported, only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in prison. It’s not as though Clinton’s client received an overly lenient deal that was outside of the normal range of outcomes for a case like this, whether or not the client’s attorney was aggressive.

Defense work has been political poison in recent years, but Clinton has suffered doubly because she has been characterized in the media as a hypocritical traitor to her gender and a woman who is not fulfilling her role by protecting children. Male candidates who have a background in criminal defense, even those who advocate for victims of sexual assault, have not endured the same treatment. They have not been criticized for the zealousness and aggressiveness that they put into their work, only on the outcomes they have produced. Perhaps this is reflective of Clinton’s higher profile as a potential presidential candidate, or the greater number of details available about this case, but it does smart of a double-bind that penalizes Clinton as a woman for the work that she did. What Clinton’s critics have failed to recognize is that there is no conflict between ensuring that criminal defendants are treated as the Constitution and the legal profession require that they be, and being a feminist and an advocate.

-Emily Gillingham

Emily Gillingham is a rising 3L at Michigan State University College of Law. She received her BS from Eastern Michigan University in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies in 2012. She is the incoming president of the MSU Law chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and volunteers at a local domestic violence shelter.

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Vasectomy as Part of Plea Agreement

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A 27-year old Virginia man has agreed to a vasectomy as part of a plea deal in Virginia.

“It’s a condition of his probation, and I’m sure he’ll have to provide documentation to his probation officer,” [prosecutor Ilonia L.] White said of the vasectomy.

White said her motivation in offering the vasectomy option to [the defendant] stemmed from concerns raised at sentencing hearings in earlier cases about how many children have been traced to him from different women.

“It was primarily due to the fact he had seven or eight children, all by different women, and we felt it might be in the commonwealth’s interest for that to be part of the plea agreement,” White said of the vasectomy provision.

But the defendant in this case, Jessie Lee Herald, was facing charges related to a car crash.  The charges included child endangerment, hit-and-run driving and driving with a suspended license.  Mr. Herald fled the scene of the accident with the child who had been traveling with him.

The Northern Virginia Daily has the story here.

It is difficult to read this report against Virginia’s history with forced sterilization, most notably the Buck v. Bell decision.

-Bridget Crawford

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Women’s Tennis and (Gratuitous) Grunting vs. Shrieking

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Writing (here) for the (UK) Telegraph, reporter Kathryn Dobson covering the Wimbledon beat asks, “Why do women grunt?”  The explanations proferred in the article include a tennis player’s desire to gain psychological advantage over one’s opponent, facilitate application of maximum force to a shot, enhance relaxation, and release tension. Some tennis insiders criticize the sounds as unsporting and distracting to other players.  Indeed even the casual fan can tell you that the sounds can be distracting enough to cause television viewers to reach for the mute button on their remote controls.

To be sure, the “grunting” phenomenon is not limited to the women’s game.  As quoted in the Telegraph article, Ivan Lendl said of Andre Agassi’s vocalizations that “when he goes for a big shot, his grunt is much harder, like he thinks he’s a winner. It throws off your timing.”  But the vocalizations from women seem to be more pronounced and louder than their male counterparts’.  To my ear, 104+ decibels from Maria Sharapova are more than “grunts.”  They are in a far higher register than her speaking voice, too.  As gendered as it sounds, I’d have to say that Maria Sharapova shrieks, whereas male tennis players grunt.  Her noises bother me in a way that Agassi’s never did.

Why is that?

The knee-jerk analysis is that I am inappropriately criticizing a female athlete for doing what a male athlete does.  If a woman and a man engage the same biomechanics, then it would appear that I register a “shriek” from a woman and a “grunt” from a man.  The only physical difference is the register of the voice.  Thus it is my sexist cultural conditioning that makes me label the female athlete a “shrieker” (always negative) and the male athlete a “grunter” (could be positive if I think it is “manly;” neutral if I think that’s just what guys do or it is “athletic”; or negative if it reflects bad manners).

But is there more going on?  My suspicion is that female tennis players who vocalize to gain psychological advantage over one’s opponent, facilitate application of maximum force to a shot, enhance relaxation, or release tension could do so in a lower register.  In other words, female tennis players could grunt like the men if they wanted. But vocalizing in a higher — and perhaps the highest possible — register emphasizes and maintains gender distinctions.  In other words, even if the psychological/tactical/biomechanical motivations are the same for men and women, exaggerating pitch differences makes the female athletes as least like men as possible, under the circumstances.  The athlete may be sweating like a man and performing a traditionally male activity (hey, look at the history of sports), but she makes herself audibly recognizable as a female.

That being said, I don’t think that vocalizing in a higher register is a necessarily a gender-aware, deliberate choice.  News reports say that some of the female tennis players who are “noisy” in their 20’s were vocalizing even as youth players.  But to say that any of us has ever existed pre-gender is to suggest a utopia that does not exist.  Elite athletes certainly are not thinking about gender or sex while in a game situation.  But is it too far-fetched to suggest that to the extent that female tennis players vocalize, it sounds a teensy-weensy orgasmic?  Cultural tolerates certain sounds and not others from women.

-Bridget Crawford


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Huntington on “How Law Undermines Family Relationships”

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Clare Huntington (Fordham Law School) has published a new book, Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships (Oxford University Press 2014).  Here is Oxford’s description:

 Exploring the connection between families and inequality, Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships argues that the legal regulation of families stands fundamentally at odds with the needs of families. Strong, stable, positive relationships are essential for both individuals and society to flourish, but from transportation policy to the criminal justice system, and from divorce rules to the child welfare system, the legal system makes it harder for parents to provide children with these kinds of relationships, exacerbating the growing inequality in America.

Failure to Flourish contends that we must re-orient the legal system to help families avoid crises and, when conflicts arise, intervene in a manner that heals relationships. To understand how wrong our family law system has gone and what we need to repair it, Failure to Flourish takes us from ancient Greece to cutting-edge psychological research, and from the chaotic corridors of local family courts to a quiet revolution under way in how services are provided to families in need. Incorporating the latest insights of positive psychology and social science research, the book sets forth a new, more emotionally intelligent vision for a legal system that not only resolves conflict but actively encourages the healthy relationships that are at the core of a stable society.

Looks interesting!

-Bridget Crawford

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Lyme Disease as a Feminist Issue

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Over here at truthout.org, there is a write-up of radio host Dennis Bernstein’s interview with filmmaker Sini Anderson.  Anderson is the former director of the National Queer Arts Festival and the director of the documentary The Punk Singer about former Bikini Kill leader Kathleen Hanna.  During the course of filming, Anderson was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which Hanna also battled.  Here is a portion of the interview:

As you know, we’ve been doing this series on Lyme disease. We interviewed recently Dr. Richard Horowitz. We asked him why there seems to be a larger percentage of women with Lyme disease. He was explaining to us that Lyme can cause an autoimmune-type reaction and studies found that greater percentages of women have other autoimmune diseases, which seems to be related to hormonal reactions that can accelerate the autoimmune process. What are your thoughts about why so many women are being hit with such a crippling disease? Any thoughts on that?

Sure Dennis. I mean I think that we’re talking about a few different issues here. And Dr. Horowitz is one of my doctors. Another doctor of mine is Dr. Leo Galland who is in New York City. The two of them collaborated together to get me to a place of better health and I’m immensely grateful to both of them.

I think that the amount of women that are being diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease is . . . it’s infuriating. And I think that what is happening is that women are going to their doctors and are presenting with these symptoms and they are being brushed off by their doctors in a way that I don’t think men are experiencing at the same rates. So what ends up happening is they just say, “Oh, yeah, I must be making this up” or “I must be making this worse than it is. And I should suck it up.” And then they go a few more months and then something else happens. And, you know, often times by the time they end up getting so incredibly sick that their systems can’t take it anymore, we’re talking 10 years down the line, 15 years down the line. And they’re so sick at that point that it’s really hard to get them well.

As far as like the hormonal stuff and the autoimmune responses, yeah definitely. I mean, I’m not a scientist; I am just shocked at the lack of knowledge that we have around this. And I’m not entirely convinced that this is the only thing that we’re dealing with. I don’t know what to put behind that statement, but there is something very, very, very complex going on with peoples’ immune systems right now. I have Lyme disease, Babesia and Bartonella. And with whatever else is going on in my system, it is . . . it had created a crippling response where I was taken out so quickly.

And it’s completely terrifying, you know. I don’t know what’s going on. I cannot believe that we don’t know more about it. And I think it’s going to take a lot of enraged people in order to get to the bottom of this. And there are a lot of parallels between what’s going on right now and what was happening with the AIDS epidemic in the late ’80s. And I think that, as time goes on, more is going to be revealed. And I think there’s going to be a lot of people, especially from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the IDSA, which is the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

They’re going to have to be giving us some answers that they haven’t been forthcoming about up until now. I mean really the key part is, we’re ignoring the answer to the question, which is, “What happens if you don’t catch it?” How are a bunch of doctors telling people that, you get it, you take six weeks; you should be good on antibiotics; you’ll be fine. We’re ignoring everybody who doesn’t catch it. And are we just made to believe that it should just disappear? Or that six years down the line, we should take six weeks of antibiotics, and it’s going to disappear? That’s ridiculous.

So, you know, for me, I’m a feminist activist; I’m a part of this community. I am also a queer activist and I come from activism roots. And we have got to make noise. I lost many friends to HIV and AIDS in the ’90s and I watched as we struggled to fight the CDC and to fight the American Medical Association and demand answers, and demand treatment. But this is a little bit different. This is much quieter and people are so, so sick. Unfortunately the people that really are infuriated and wanting to protest are the ones that are sick and they are unable to get out there and have their voices heard.

Read the full interview here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Historic Preservation and LGBT History

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Last month, the National Park Service announced (here) a “theme study” focused on sites related to LGBT history.  The study’s aims (described here) are:

  • engaging scholars, preservationists and community members to identify, research, and tell the stories of LGBT associated properties;
  • encouraging national parks, national heritage areas, and other affiliated areas to interpret LGBT stories associated with them;
  • identifying, documenting, and nominating LGBT-associated sites as national historic landmarks;
  • increasing the number of listings of LGBT-associated properties in the National Register of Historic Places.

The public can nominate places for inclusion at the website parkplanning.nps.gov/lgbtlaunch or via email:lgbthistory@nps.gov

-Bridget Crawford

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Why Are (Almost All of) the Most-Cited Legal Academics White Men?

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On Wednesday, Brian Leiter posted a list of the ten most-cited legal scholars during the years 2009-2013 (really eleven, due to a tie for tenth place). All eleven are men, and to the best of my knowledge, 10/11 are white. Following in the footsteps of other contributors’ “Where are the Women” posts, I’ve written a post at my personal blog considering possible explanations for the disparity. I thought I’d link to it here in case it’s of interest to readers of this blog.

– Nancy Leong

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Bryan Adamson: Media Images of Michael Sam and Vito Cammisano Showed Us More Than We Thought

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From my in-box: published here with permission, Bryan Adamson’s essay on Michael Sam, the media, and why challenging norms is not comfortable (or, apparently, welcome).

The “Problem” With Michael Sam: It Wasn’t the Kiss

Bryan Adamson, Associate Professor, Seattle University School of Law

Through the ensuing furor over ESPN’s coverage and the NFL Network’s simulcast of Michael Sam’s draft selection to the St. Louis Rams, we have heard so many people—even well-meaning people—say that there is nothing wrong with Sam being gay, but that ESPN should not have aired the kiss and celebration between Sam and his partner Vito Cammisano. We can be quite certain that Sam’s draft (No. 249!) would be less than a non-story had he kissed a woman and smeared cake on her face. But because he didn’t, and Cammisano isn’t, we must now have a conversation about heteronormativity and heterosexual privilege.

Lately, there has been a good deal of talk about privilege in the news—of the white kind. Tal Fortgang’s adolescent tirade against the concept of white privilege—or rather, his rant against what he thinks it is…Donald Sterling’s bigoted babble about how he has done more for black folks than black folks have done for each other….Welfare Rancher Cliven Bundy’s far-reaching life experiences that apparently bestowed upon him the select ability to tell us “one more thing” he “knows about the Negro.” (On the last especially: I. Can’t. Even.). I submit that the vehement reactions of disgust to Sam’s televised lip-lock with Cammisano—occurring in the hyper masculine context of professional football, and captured by the most male-oriented networks on television—illuminate an odious variation on the privilege theme.

The outrage over Sam’s celebration wasn’t because he cried—we’ve long been good with seeing men shed tears. And, strictly speaking, the outrage wasn’t about the male-to-male affection demonstrated. Again, we’ve seen it before: fiction and non-fiction broadcast television history is rife with examples of men—as friends, brothers, fathers or sons—kissing each other. What caused not an insubstantial number of viewers fits had everything to do with the knowledge of Sam and Cammisano’s relationship, the setting, and that cake.

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What Does It Mean to Design a Car “Specifically for Women”?

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According to this story about Tesla Motors, it means doors that are “perfect for tight parking spots at the mall” and seats placed to make it easier to climb over the baby seats. In terms of appearance, says Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen, “Women don’t want an overly feminine vehicle — they want to feel secure. But it has to be aggressive enough for a guy to feel confident as well. We didn’t want to make a Hello Kitty edition.”

— Jennifer Hendricks

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How Not To Review Women’s Writing

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Over at The Toast, Mallory Ortberg writes:

I have gone back and forth several times over the last few days on whether or not it would be worth addressing Adam Plunkett’s New Yorker.com review of poet Patricia Lockwood’s latest book here. I don’t write much on topical issues to begin with, there have been plenty of more noteworthy stories about women’s issues in the public eye over the last week or so, and it’s not exactly hurting her career any.

Also, if I am being perfectly honest, I didn’t want to seem mean by criticizing a man twice in public. I have since overcome this reluctance.

And yet! It is such a perfect illustration of Joanna Russ’ How To Suppress Women’s Writing that I think it merits mentioning, if only as a cautionary example for all you future New Yorker (dot com) reviewers out there. (Have you forgotten her main points? Let us revisit them briefly here. How many points do you think Plunkett’s review scores? By my count, he nets at least six out of eleven, but I’m open to a recount.)

Prohibitions Prevent women from access to the basic tools for writing.

Bad Faith Unconsciously create social systems that ignore or devalue women’s writing.

Denial of Agency Deny that a woman wrote it.

Pollution of Agency Show that their art is immodest, not actually art, or shouldn’t have been written about.

The Double Standard of Content Claim that one set of experiences is considered more valuable than another.

False Categorizing Incorrectly categorize women artists as the wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, or lovers of male artists.

Isolation Create a myth of isolated achievement that claims that only one work or short series of poems is considered great.

Anomalousness Assert that the woman in question is eccentric or atypical.

Lack of Models Reinforce a male author dominance in literary canons in order to cut off women writers’ inspiration and role models.

Responses Force women to deny their female identity in order to be taken seriously.

Aesthetics Popularize aesthetic works that contain demeaning roles and characterizations of women.

Find the complete essay, with plenty of supporting links, here.

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New Book Announcement: Jill Elaine Hasday, “Family Law Reimagined”

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Jill Elaine Hasday (Minnesota) has published a new book, Family Law Reimagined (Harvard U. Press, 2014).  Here is the publisher’s description:

One of the law’s most important and far-reaching roles is to govern family life and family members.  Family law decides who counts as kin, how family relationships are created and dissolved, and what legal rights and responsibilities come with marriage, parenthood, sibling ties, and other family bonds.  Yet despite its significance, the field remains remarkably understudied and poorly understood both within and outside the legal community.

Family Law Reimagined is the first book to explore the canonical narratives, stories, examples, and ideas that legal decisionmakers repeatedly invoke to explain family law and its governing principles.  These stories contend that family law is exclusively local, that it repudiates market principles, that it has eradicated the imprint of common law doctrines which subordinated married women, that it is dominated by contract rules permitting individuals to structure their relationships as they choose, and that it consistently prioritizes children’s interests over parents’ rights.

In this book, Jill Elaine Hasday reveals how family law’s canon misdescribes the reality of family law, misdirects attention away from the actual problems that family law confronts, and misshapes the policies that legal authorities pursue.  She demonstrates how much of the “common sense” that decisionmakers expound about family law actually makes little sense.

Family Law Reimagined uncovers and critiques the family law canon and outlines a path to reform.  The book challenges conventional answers and asks questions that judges and lawmakers routinely overlook.  It calls on us to reimagine family law.

-Bridget Crawford

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Death of Maya Angelou

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image source: biography.com

Maya Angelou died today.  Here is an excerpt from her obituary in the New York Times.

Maya Angelou, the memoirist and poet whose landmark book of 1969, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — which describes in lyrical, unsparing prose her childhood in the Jim Crow South — was among the first autobiographies by a 20th-century black woman to reach a wide general readership, died on Wednesday in her home. She was 86 and lived in Winston-Salem, N.C.

* * * Throughout her writing, Ms. Angelou explored the concepts of personal identity and resilience through the multifaceted lens of race, sex, family, community and the collective past. As a whole, her work offered a cleareyed examination of the ways in which the socially marginalizing forces of racism and sexism played out at the level of the individual.

Read the full obituary here.

May her memory be a blessing.

-Bridget Crawford

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In Honor of Memorial Day

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A crowd of African American Women’s Army Corps members waving at the camera, Staten Island Terminal, New York Port of Embarkation, March 13, 1946. Image source: NY Public Library.

And check out the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation’s web site here.

-Bridget Crawford

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A Feminist Theoretical Take on Virginity Auctions

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Various press outlets (not linked here) have reported that a medical school student planned to auction her virginity and then cancelled that plan.  Over at Feminist Current, Elisa Haf writes thoughtfully about the situtation in “Student Virginity Auctions and Sexual Economics.” Here is an excerpt:

There is a lot to analyze here….I’m more interested in the context of such choices (so how free they really are) as well as in why they are women’s to make in the first place. Why do women go there? Why do we consider sex work?

Student virginity auctions are particularly telling on this point. Because both men and women have to pay for higher education, yet the only student virginity auctions I’ve heard of have been flogging a woman’s first time. This could be about heightened scrutiny of women’s sexual choices, but I actually think (though I can’t think of a way of proving this) that a story about the auction of a man’s virginity would attract more page views and scandal. It would at least be novel. So in this case, at least on the most basic level, if we ill-advisedly forget about women being more likely than men to have dependents and probably getting paid less for doing the same work if they have a job alongside their studies and so on and so fourth — if we basically pretend for a minute that men and women are on an economically equal playing field when it comes to higher education and paying for it, and if we factor in that most people in higher education — including, apparently, the woman of the latest virginity auction story — probably have more economic options than your standard issue young person, then why do female students sell their virginities (and enter sex work in other ways)? Why are they seemingly more likely to do so than their male counterparts? On the admittedly flawed terms we’ve set up, it isn’t economic necessity driving them to it.

Does this mean that “transactional” is just the way women’s sexuality is — meant for commodification somehow?

The theory of sexual economics, widely unpopular among feminists, has been interpreted to claim so. But an insight of the theory which is often overlooked is its emphasis on the role of equality in shaping socio-sexual norms. Basically, the idea is that sex is something women have and men want (a “female resource”) which women exchange with men for access to some of the resources men have that women don’t to the same degree — wealth, status, earning power. Women police each other’s sexualities in order to keep sex in low supply for men, enabling women as a class to demand a higher price for it. However, when women have greater access of their own to resources like wealth, status and earning power, women are less bothered about the price they can get for sex. Conversely, a woman in particularly dire straits — with little to no access to such resources — is more likely to take whatever she can get for sex. So really well off and really badly off women are more likely to have sex in exchange for less, but better off women’s choice to do so is freer.

Read the full post here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Emory Hiring Announcement

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From the FLP mailbox:

Good news for those interested in the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative! One of Emory Law’s hiring priorities for Fall 2015 is Vulnerability and Law.

Emory Law is doing a search for a scholar interested in vulnerability theory, structural disadvantage and inequality, and social justice generally.  The scholar’s “traditional” subject matter can be anything – health, corporations, family, education, employment, human rights, etc.- the point is that they are using a theoretical approach that considers the implications of human vulnerability and the need to structure a more responsive state through law and regulation. This is an exciting development for the vulnerability approach, which grew out of the work on dependency, care, and social justice undertaken by the Feminism and Legal Theory Project and other feminist organizations and is now embodied in the Vulnerability and Human Condition Initiative at Emory.

Anyone interested should send a CV and email inquiry to Martha Fineman –  mlfinem@emory.edu (chair of the Vulnerability and Law sub-committee).

-Bridget Crawford

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“Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit

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Soraya Chemaly published an interview with Rebecca Solnit here. Below is an excerpt:

You know, I had a wonderful conversation about a month ago with a young Ph.D. candidate at U.C. Berkeley. I’ve been a little bit squeamish about the word “mansplaining,” because it can seem to imply that men are inherently flawed, rather than that some guys are a little over-privileged, arrogant and clueless. This young academic said to me, “No, you don’t understand! You need to recognize that until we had the word ‘mainsplained,’ so many women had this awful experience and we didn’t even have a language for it. Until we can name something, we can’t share the experience, we can’t describe it, we can’t respond to it. I think that word has been extraordinarily valuable in helping women and men describe something that goes on all the time.” She really changed my opinion. It’s really useful. I’ve always been interested in how much our problems come from not having the language, not having the framework to think and talk about and address the phenomenon around us.

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CFP: Lavender Law Junior Scholars Forum

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From the FLP mailbox:

This year the Lavender Law® Conference & Career Fair will be held August 21-23, 2014 at the Sheraton New York in New York City. Lavender Law brings together the best and brightest legal minds in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

To celebrate our community of scholars, Lavender Law® is hosting a Junior Scholars Forum again this year. This year, the forum will be devoted to individuals who intend to participate in the AALS annual entry-level hiring conference in Washington, D.C. If you are planning to participate in the entry-level hiring process this year, and your work focuses on the nexus between the law, gender, and sexuality, we encourage you to apply.

To submit a proposal for consideration, please email (1) a 5-10 page overview of your job talk; and (2) a copy of your cv to Courtney Joslin (cgjoslin@ucdavis.edu) and Joseph Landau (jlandau4@law.fordham.edu).

The deadline for submissions is Friday, June 13, 2014.

If you are selected to participate, a complete draft of your job talk will be due by August 1, 2014.

-Bridget Crawford

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Mae Quinn on “Policing Puberty, Purity and Sex Positivity”

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Mae Quinn (Washington University in St. Louis) has posted to SSRN her article From Turkey Trot to Twitter: Policing Puberty, Purity, and Sex Positivity, 38 NYU J. L. & Social Change 51 (2014).  Here is the abstract:

From outward appearance, to physical presence, to intimate communications and engagements, young people have continually faced familial, community-based, and state-sponsored management of their most basic day-to-day actions and interactions. This obsession with policing puberty has, at times, reached the level of panic. This article seeks to examine this recurring phenomenon and suggests that adults find more productive ways to grapple with the teen identity formation process in this country.

It focuses on one particularly powerful panic-producing intersection of adolescence with American life – young girls and the big city. It describes reform efforts that took place in emerging urban centers at the turn of the last century, comparing them to the policing strategies that are taking place in our newest metropolis – the internet.

In doing so this article analyzes how the state has repeatedly worked to proscribe and prosecute a wide range of popular adolescent activities in the name of protecting youth from the dangers of modern life. It further argues that instead of providing a sense of security for young girls, such punitive actions often have sent mixed messages about intimacy and sexuality, discounted youthful and female agency, and unnecessarily attempted to prevent social change. In the end this article argues we should take some lessons from the failed efforts of the Progressive Era and respond differently to adolescent girls’ identity exploration in the 21st century.

The full article is available here.

A worthwhile read!

-Bridget Crawford

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#BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls

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#BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls

The kidnapped girls of Chibok are on my mind. On April 15, 2014, armed men kidnapped well over two hundred Nigerian schoolgirls (estimates range up 276) from their school. The kidnapping occurred at the Government Girls Secondary School, in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. Chibok is a rural village in the northeastern portion of Nigeria near the borders of Chad and Cameroon. The kidnapped girls were in the midst of taking examinations. While some of the kidnapped girls have escaped, the majority of the girls remain either in the hands of the captors or in parts unknown. As horrifying as the kidnappings are, perhaps more distressing is the fact that to date there is apparently no official, state-based or international effort to recover the girls. Instead, parents and concerned citizens have formed groups to attempt the rescue of the girls.

#BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls

The kidnappings are a reminder that despite the freedoms that some women enjoy today, there is an ever-present fact that shadows the scene: women’s bodies are often the field on which political, social and legal battles are fought. These battles are seen in the continuing threat of sexual assault and gender-based violence; these battles are also seen in efforts to control reproductive freedom and access to education, and in proliferating pornographic norms that elide art, aesthetics, commerce and political speech and in the process demean and diminish women. While in some ways some women gain power, at the same time many women’s rights are reduced, and their voices are frequently silenced. Women too often find themselves not only muted but transmuted from members of the body politic to principal objects in the politics of the body.

#BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls

The politics of the body put the human body, and especially women’s bodies, at the center of political engagements and manipulations. The kidnapping of the girls of Chibok, in order, say some, to make then “wives,” not only terrorizes the girls and their families, but also serves as a means of relegating girls and women to civic outsiders, mere pawns in a cynical game of political brinksmanship. And the tepid response of the international community makes it difficult to distinguish condemnation from condonation.

#BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls

So please join me in moving this matter to the center of public consciousness. Don’t be saddened. Be outraged. Command, demand. Speak, write, march to bring our daughters, our girls, home.

-Lolita Buckner Inniss

cross-post from Ain’t I a Feminist Legal Scholar, Too?

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Faith Stevelman on the Credibility Gap for Women in Teaching Business Law

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The following was posted by Faith Stevelman (NYLS, Visiting Professor at University of Washington) to the Section on Women in Legal Education’s listserv and is reprinted with permission:

Yes indeed, as the enrollment and jobs crises roll along, there will be more and more pressure for faculty to obtain favorable evaluations. Favorable evaluations are all about the match between students’ expectations and whatever the reality is in the classroom (ie, not necessarily an objective measure of quality of instruction by any means, we know this, right?). If we find latent expectations in the objective features of the classroom, what does that say about the rest of the classroom experience in terms of gender, stereotypes and failed conformity?

My impression, along with constant media reports about women and glass ceilings in technical fields, is that there is still a credibility gap for some students with women teaching corporate finance, as well as business law subjects, and indeed all other subjects where expectations of power, mastery and hierarchy linger. Consider, as I read in the NYT this weekend (on the subject of the relative paucity of women in senior media positions): “The closer you get to money and power the more the people talking about the subject are expected to look like the people being covered.” … What does that say for women  law professors?

You can flip this of course: what does this ‘matching’ assumption mean for women faculty being ‘validated’ in our teaching of family law or poverty law or ADR … ? How to avoid implicitly validating stereotypes of concern for families/children, poor people and reducing contentiousness being marginal/outsiders’ concerns?

Again,  I teach business law classes, usually in very large rooms. If I set myself back to the podiums, I will not see or hear my students. I usually move a stool and often a low desk closer to the students. I also use slides and set all that up, along with a remote and microphone, etc. I have to spend fifteen minutes, at least, readying the classroom. As I putter around doing this, to different students I simultaneously look very organized or very disorganized, depending on their frame of reference.  Also, I cannot always access my classroom with all the time required to make all the technology and furniture adjustments prior to the exact starting moment of the class – disorganized? Can I tell you how silly I feel dragging a desk or stool into the well of the room? (No one ever offers to help … fear of looking like teacher’s pet?)

Also,  I walk around the room to see and hear the students better. I had a senior male colleague tell me that perhaps I lose authority in doing that. What’s clear is that perhaps I aggravate the students in doing that, because they cannot be safely away from my seeing their laptops and speaking with them about the day’s topics. I go with the option of shaking them out of their comfort zone in the hope that they are stimulated to pay attention and be present, but it doesn’t necessarily help me garner favor with students.

So here is the final, extremely painful thing I will share: I recently was asked to watch and critique tapes of my teaching. I had never done this before. Although nothing is more important to me than the quality of my teaching, I was concerned that watching myself on tape would result in my being self-conscious later on, in real time, in the classroom  … So guess what? It was awful and it did.

As I watched myself, I had the twin experience of being both “excessively” female (hair, breasts, hips, feet not in wingtips, ugh!) and insufficiently attractive as a female (bags under my eyes… wow, when did I get ‘old’?). I could not turn off the experience of myself as being vulnerable and disappointing as a WOMAN professor and being vulnerably and disappointing as less than perfectly groomed and fit as a female leader. This is one of the most embarrassing things I have ever felt; I was horrified at myself. Here is the point:  If I myself – a committed feminist —  cannot really displace this experience of my gender, how can the students be free of this experience? And if they are not free of the gendered view of my teaching, can their evaluations be free of material bias?

We will need to be protective of our hardworking sisters in these perilous times!

-Faith Stevelman

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Should Connecticut’s New Campus Sexual Assault Legislation Be a National Model?

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Yesterday, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy “signed legislation into law that will strengthen sexual assault prevention and response procedures at institutions of higher learning in Connecticut.” Today, an editorial in The Courant asserted that the legislation should be a national model. So, what exactly does the legislation accomplish?

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What to Buy at a Certain Big-Box Store

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According to the venerable Consumer Reports (here), consumers are making a mistake in stocking up at Costco on bathroom tissue or dishwashing detergent.  What’s cheap and great quality there, according to CR?

-Bridget Crawford

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Case Western Law School retaliation law suit update

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Here. Oy.

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“As Dartmouth makes efforts to combat sexual assault, posts on an anonymous online forum have students terrified.”

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Below is an excerpt from “How Cyberbullying Is Making Sexual Assault on College Campuses Even Worse” by Katie Van Syckle:

Less than two months ago, a commenter on an anonymous online forum threatened to gang-bang me at a fraternity house. “Is the Cosmo writer actually coming to Dartmouth?” the poster wrote on BoredatBaker.com, a forum open to anyone with a Dartmouth.edu email address. “We should invite her to AD and run train on her. Take pics. Publish it in the next Cosmo issue.” Two commenters supported the plan. One suggested peeing on me too.

AD, or Alpha Delta, is Dartmouth’s rowdy cool-boys frat, the inspiration for Animal House and where current college president Phil Hanlon (Dartmouth ’77) pledged. I had contacted Hanlon — a 60-something mathematician — for an article on the new sexual assault policy at Dartmouth. I hadn’t heard back from him, but I’d spoken to enough people on campus to make my presence known.

I found the post while sitting on my couch in Brooklyn in late March, four days after it was posted. I called the college’s campus police, Safety and Security, and they offered to send an S&S officer. I told them I was off campus. They took my class year — I graduated from Dartmouth in 2005 — my birthday, and asked for a screenshot. Two hours later, the Hanover Police called.

“Do you know who would have written it?” the officer asked. I told him I didn’t. He wasn’t optimistic that he could find the author or hold anyone responsible. He said the Hanover Police get calls like mine about Bored at Baker once a month. …

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Sir Young and the “Typical Sex Offender”

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A sexual assault case out of Texas is making national headlines based upon the comments and sentence imposed by the judge. From the CNN article on the case:

She could have sentenced him to 20 years in prison after he admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl in her high school.

Instead, a Texas judge gave the defendant a 45-day sentence and probation after implying that the victim was promiscuous. next in Texas rape case?

Judge Jeanine Howard told The Dallas Morning News that she based the sentence, in part, on medical records indicating that the girl had had three sexual partners and had given birth.

She told the newspaper that the victim “wasn’t the victim she claimed to be” and said the defendant, 20-year-old Sir Young, “is not your typical sex offender.”

This, of course, begs the question: What is the typical sex offender?

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Where are the Women? U of Illinois Law Review Edition

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Illinois Law Review, Issue 2014:2

University of Illinois Law Review Logo

University of Illinois Law Review, Issue 2014:2

4 articles; no female faculty authors. 3 student notes; 1 female student author.

-Bridget Crawford

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Judith Butler’s Interview with TransAdvocate

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Cristan Williams of The TransAdvocate interviews Judith Butler here.  Here is an excerpt:

nothing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world. This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship. – See more at: http://www.transadvocate.com/gender-performance-the-transadvocate-interviews-judith-butler_n_13652.htm#sthash.VYAmJwTN.dpuf


nothing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world. This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship. – See more at: http://www.transadvocate.com/gender-performance-the-transadvocate-interviews-judith-butler_n_13652.htm#sthash.VYAmJwTN.dpuf


nothing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world. This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship

othing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world. This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship

[N]othing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world. This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship.

Read the full interview here.

-Bridget Crawford

nothing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world. This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship. – See more at: http://www.transadvocate.com/gender-performance-the-transadvocate-interviews-judith-butler_n_13652.htm#sthash.VYAmJwTN.dpuf
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End Sexist Citation

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Others on this blog have noted, with some shocking numbers, how leadership posts and article slots in top journals exclude women.  It appears they also may be missing “below the line.” This article “Are You Reading Enough Academic Women” asserts that being a woman substantially lowers one’s potential for having one’s work cited.

The article does not just decry the practice but shares concrete suggestions, many of which are sourced from a study by B.F. Walter and others.  My favorite: women are less likely to cite to themselves (hint, hint, sisters!) and we (I include myself here) should send our pieces out just using an initial in lieu of our first name.  It may not entirely shield the reader from the author’s sex but may prevent sex from shaping first reactions to women’s pieces.

The article concludes with an exhortation that we make sure there’s parity in our syllabi and cites, and especially that we try to read more women this year.  Let’s do it!

Speaking of citation, thanks to Imani Perry for sharing.

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Harvard Law School is on a list of 55 schools under Title IX investigation related to sexual assaults.

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Story here.

Facing mounting pressure from lawmakers, sexual assault survivors and activists, the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday released for the first time a comprehensive list of colleges and universities under Title IX investigation.

Fifty-five higher education institutions are currently under review by the department’s Office for Civil Rights for allegedly mishandling sexual assault and harassment on campus in violation of the gender equity law Title IX.

UPDATE: The NYT take is here.

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For the Judith Butler Fans

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An interview entitled “A Very Carefully Crafted F**k You” from 2010. Below is an excerpt:

Guernica: The hawkish wing in the “war on terror” has quite effectively claimed the banner of feminism. Is feminism as it has been articulated in part to blame for this?

Judith Butler: No, I think that we have seen quite cynical uses of feminism for the waging of war. The vast majority of feminists oppose these contemporary wars, and object to the false construction of Muslim women “in need of being saved” as a cynical use of feminist concerns with equality. There are some very strong and interesting Muslim feminist movements, and casting Islam as anti-feminist not only disregards those movements, but displaces many of the persisting inequalities in the first world onto an imaginary elsewhere.

Posted in Acts of Violence, Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Politics, Feminists in Academia | Comments Off on For the Judith Butler Fans

Call For Papers: Audre Rapoport Prize For Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights

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From Karen Engle, Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law, Co-Director and Founder, Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, University of Texas School of Law

Call for Papers:

Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship

on Gender and Human Rights

Deadline: July 1, 2014

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at The University of Texas School of Law extends a call for papers for the Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights.  The $1,000 prize will be awarded to the winner of an interdisciplinary writing competition on international human rights and women.  The prize is made possible by a donation from University of Texas linguistics professor Robert King in honor of the work of Audre Rapoport, who has spent many hours dedicated to the advancement of women in the United States and internationally, particularly on issues of reproductive health.  It is also meant to further the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center’s mission to serve as a focal point for critical, interdisciplinary analysis and practice of human rights and social justice.  Previous winning papers can be viewed below.


TOPIC:  The scope of the topic is broad.  We welcome papers, from any discipline, that address gender and human rights from an international, transnational, or comparative perspective.  The selection committee will be multidisciplinary and international, comprising faculty from areas such as law, anthropology, literature, and government.


ELIGIBILITY:  To be eligible, an author must either be an enrolled student or have graduated from a university within the past year.


FORMAT:  Papers should be between 8,000 and 15,000 words and must be in English.  The word limit includes footnotes, endnotes, and appendices.  The submission must consist of original work, and authors must have rights to the content and be willing to publish the paper on the Center’s website. If the paper has not been published elsewhere, the paper may also be considered for publication in the Rapoport Center’s Working Paper Series.  All submissions must be accompanied by an abstract of 100 to 250 words and must be submitted in .doc or .docx format.


JUDGMENT CRITERIA:  A panel of multidisciplinary and international faculty and professionals from fields such as law, government, anthropology, and literature will judge the papers anonymously.  Previous committee members have included Helena Alviar (Associate Professor & Director of the Doctorate and Master’s in Law Programs, Universidad de Los Andes), Hilary Charlesworth (Professor & Director of the Centre for International Governance and Justice, Australian National University), and Cecilia Medina (Professor & Director of the Human Rights Center, Universidad de Chile, and immediate past President, Inter-American Court of Human Rights).  Relevant judgment factors include the strength and logic of the argument, depth of the analysis, originality and importance of intervention in the field, thoroughness and soundness of the research, quality of writing (clarity and organization), and formatting and citations.


PRIZE:  The winner will receive a $1,000 prize.  The winning paper will be published on the Center’s website.  If the winning paper has not been published elsewhere, it will also be published in the Rapoport Center’s Working Paper Series.  The second-place paper may receive a prize and may be considered for publication in the Working Paper Series.


DEADLINE:  Submissions should be sent via email to HumanRights@law.utexas.edu by July 1, 2014.  Please submit paper (without any identifying information), abstract, and full contact details (including university, degree, and anticipated/actual graduation date) in three separate documents, and include “Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights” in the subject line.  The winner(s) will be notified by early September.


QUESTIONS?  Please contact us at HumanRights@law.utexas.edu.



Past Prize Winners


Heidi Matthews (2013): “Redeeming Rape: Berlin 1945 and the Making of Modern International Criminal Law”


Kali Yuan (2012): “Translating Rights into Agency: Advocacy, Aid and the Domestic Workers Convention”


Genevieve Painter (2011): “Thinking Past Rights: Towards Feminist Theories of Reparations”


Maggie Corser (2010): “Enhancing Women’s Rights and Capabilities: An Intersectional Approach to Gender-Based Violence Prevention”


Sherief Gaber (2009): “Verbal Abuse: Anti-Trafficking Rhetoric and Violence against Women”


Alice Edwards (2008): “Violence against Women as Sex Discrimination: Evaluating the Policy and Practice of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies”


Patricia Palacios Zuloaga (2007): “The Path to Gender Justice in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights”


Susan Harris Rimmer (2006): “Orphans’ or Veterans? Justice for Children Born of War in East Timor”


Fleming Terrell (2005): “Unofficial Accountability: A Proposal for the Permanent Women’s Tribunal on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict”

Posted in Academia, Call for Papers or Participation, Fellowships and Funding Opportunities, Feminism and Law | Comments Off on Call For Papers: Audre Rapoport Prize For Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights

For Those Who Cringe at the Word “Seminal” When Used in Academic Discourse

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Jenny Davis (Sociology, James Madison University) writes what she calls a “public service announcement” over at Cyborgology.  “Dont Say Seminal, It’s Sexist,” Professor Davis explains:

Yes, “seminal” refers simultaneously to groundbreaking intellectual work and male bodily fluids expelled at the peak of sexual excitement.  First, the metaphor doesn’t even entirely make sense. although the work, like the fluid, is a seed, to earn the seminal descriptor, a work has to have grown into something rich and complex.  It cannot, as semen is wont to do, shoot into an unreceptive environment where it is wiped away, left to quickly die, and ultimately forgotten. Moreover, the metaphor is downright vulgar.  It evokes (at least for me) the image of some dude splooging his ideas all over everything. Finally, and most importantly, the metaphor is blatantly sexist.

To refer to something as “seminal” is equivalent to the compulsory use of the masculine pronoun “he” when one really means “person.” The compulsory “he” has long fallen out of favor (though what “he” should be replaced with is a debate in itself, but I digress), and yet “seminal” persists as an integral part of speech and writing.

Read her full post here.

Professor Davis responds in a subsequent post (here) to what she identifies as four “thematic critiques,” namely:

  • Critique one:  seminal comes from the Latin word “semen” which means “seed” (not sperm) and therefore does not maintain inherent masculine connotations.
  • Critique two: sperm and eggs are both human seeds. Sperm are active and eggs are passive, so it is logical, not sexist, to equate foundational ideas with the active variant.
  • Critique three: “ovulary” as an alternate term is equally sexist.
  • Critique four: I don’t think of sperm when I use the word seminal, therefore my use of the term is not sexist. The author’s interpretation is idiosyncratic and therefore invalid.

Professor Davis effectively each critique, calling out faulty logic, biased premises and incomplete reasoning.  Her full response is worth reading.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Academia, Sociolinguistics | 1 Comment

New Book Announcement: “Gender and Violence in Haiti”

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Rutgers University Press has published a new book by Benedetta Faedi Duramy (Golden Gate).  Here is the publisher’s description of Gender and Violence in Haiti: Women’s Path from Victims to Agents:

Women in Haiti are frequent victims of sexual violence and armed assault. Yet an astonishing proportion of these victims also act as perpetrators of violent crime, often as part of armed groups. Award-winning legal scholar Benedetta Faedi Duramy visited Haiti to discover what causes these women to act in such destructive ways and what might be done to stop this tragic cycle of violence.

Gender and Violence in Haiti is the product of more than a year of extensive firsthand observations and interviews with the women who have been caught up in the widespread violence plaguing Haiti. Drawing from the experiences of a diverse group of Haitian women, Faedi Duramy finds that both the victims and perpetrators of violence share a common sense of anger and desperation. Untangling the many factors that cause these women to commit violence, from self-defense to revenge, she identifies concrete measures that can lead them to feel vindicated and protected by their communities.

Faedi Duramy vividly conveys the horrifying conditions pervading Haiti, even before the 2010 earthquake. But Gender and Violence in Haiti also carries a message of hope—and shows what local authorities and international relief agencies can do to help the women of Haiti.

Traditional print and e-book editions are available.

-Bridget Crawford

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I am the girl who ratted.

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Girl who ratted

From this article:

What is it like to come out as a survivor of sexual assault? For a student at Vanderbilt University, it’s meant being called a “crazy bitch,” “psycho,” “NASTY AS SHIT,” and a “no-good cunt.”

In February, Jane Doe filed charges against AEPi, a Jewish fraternity at the Nashville school’s campus. As reported by the Hustler, Vanderbilt’s student newspaper, an Internet thread emerged this month to shame, mock, and discredit her.

The above comments were posted to CollegiateACB, a website that allows college students around the country an open forum to discuss issues relevant to their university. …

… In a culture that continues to make survivors feel unsafe, many who experience sexual assault never speak out. According to statistics from the Department of Justice, 95 percent of rapes that occur on a college campus will never be reported to the campus police.

There’s a reason why: a 2011 survey in the Chicago Tribune found that over the past six years, less than 3 percent of those allegations ended in a conviction, meaning that few campus rapists will ever see jail time. …

However, what makes the Vanderbilt Jane Doe case unique is that the campus didn’t leave the case solely to administration to handle. Allies at the university have rallied behind the campus, defending her from the climate of bullying that sets to make an example out of her. To show their support, students have been changing their Facebook profile picture to a graphic that reads “I Am the Girl Who Ratted,” in order to raise awareness and hold the university accountable to action.

Posted in Academia, Coerced Sex, If you're a woman, Sexual Harassment, Women's Health | Comments Off on I am the girl who ratted.

CFP: Legal Scholarship We Like, and Why It Matters

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From the FLP mailbox, this CFP:

Legal Scholarship We Like and Why It Matters

University of Miami School of Law

November 7-8, 2014

JOTWELL, the Journal of Things We Like (Lots), is an online journal dedicated to celebrating and sharing the best scholarship relating to the law. To celebrate Jotwell’s 5th Birthday, we invite you to join us for conversations about what makes legal scholarship great and why it matters.

In the United States, the role of scholarship is under assault in contemporary conversations about law schools; meanwhile in many other countries legal scholars are routinely pressed to value their work according to metrics or with reference to fixed conceptions of the role of legal scholarship. We hope this conference will serve as an answer to those challenges, both in content and by example.

We invite pithy abstracts of proposed contributions, relating to one or more of the conference themes. Each of these themes provides an occasion for the discussion (and, as appropriate, defense) of the scholarly enterprise in the modern law school–not for taking the importance of scholarship for granted, but showing, with specificity, as we hope Jotwell itself does, what good work looks like and why it matters.

I. Improving the Craft: Writing Legal Scholarship

We invite discussion relating to the writing of legal scholarship.

1. What makes great legal scholarship? Contributions on this theme could either address the issue at a general level, or anchor their discussion by an analysis of a single exemplary work of legal scholarship. We are open to discussions of both content and craft.

2. Inevitably, not all books and articles will be “great”. What makes “good” legal scholarship? How do we achieve it?

II. Improving the Reach: Communicating and Sharing

Legal publishing is changing quickly, and the way that people both produce and consume legal scholarship seems likely to continue to evolve.

3. Who is (are) the audience(s) for legal scholarship?

4. How does legal scholarship find its audience(s)? Is there anything we as legal academics can or should do to help disseminate great and good scholarship? To what extent will the shift to online publication change how people edit, consume, and share scholarship, and how should we as authors and editors react?

III. Improving the World: Legal Scholarship and its Influence

Most broadly, we invite discussion of when and how legal scholarship matters.

5. What makes legal scholarship influential? Note that influence is not necessarily the same as “greatness”. Also, influence has many possible meanings, encompassing influence within or outside the academy.

6. Finally, we invite personal essays about influence: what scholarship, legal or otherwise, has been most influential for you as a legal scholar? What if anything can we as future authors learn from this?


Jotwell publishes short reviews of recent scholarship relevant to the law, and we usually require brevity and a very contemporary focus. For this event, however, contributions may range over the past, the present, or the future, and proposed contributions can be as short as five pages, or as long as thirty.

We invite the submission of abstracts for proposed papers fitting one or more of the topics above. Your abstract should lay out your central idea, and state the anticipated length of the finished product.

Abstracts due by: May 20, 2014. Send your paper proposals (abstracts) via the JOTCONF 2014 EasyChair page, https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=jotconf2014.

If you do not have an EasyChair account you will need to register first – just click at the “sign up for an account” link at the login page and fill in the form. The system will send you an e-mail with the instructions how to finish the registration.

Responses by: June 13, 2014

Accepted Papers due: Oct 6, 2014

Conference: Nov. 7-8, 2014
University of Miami School of Law
Coral Gables, FL

Symposium contributions will be published on a special page at Jotwell.com. Authors will retain copyright. In keeping with Jotwell’s relentlessly low-budget methods, this will be a self-funding event. Your contributions are welcome even if you cannot attend in person.

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on CFP: Legal Scholarship We Like, and Why It Matters

Call for Abstracts: Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship

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2014 Environmental ColloquiumFifth Annual Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship
at Vermont Law School
October 4, 2014

Deadline for submitting abstracts: June 1, 2014

Vermont Law School will host the Fifth Annual Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship on October 4, 2014. This event offers environmental law scholars the opportunity to present their works-in-progress, get feedback from their colleagues, and meet and interact with those who are also teaching and researching in the areas of environmental and natural resources law and related specialty areas.

If you are interested in presenting a paper at the Colloquium, please submit a working title and short abstractusing the online form here, no later than June 1, 2014. For an abstract to be eligible for submission, the author must anticipate that the paper will still be at a revisable stage (neither published nor so close to publication that significant changes are not feasible) by the date of the Colloquium. We will do our best to include all interested presenters, and will notify authors about acceptances no later than July 1, 2014.

All selected participants must submit a draft paper no later than September 20, 2014, and all participants will be asked to provide commentary on another participant’s paper draft at the Colloquium. Final papers will also be eligible for publication in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.

VLS in autumnThe Colloquium panels will take place on Saturday, October 4.  Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center and its faculty will host a cocktail reception the night before in the Hanover area, and a dinner on Saturday evening at Vermont Law School.  Further Colloquium details regarding the schedule, events, lodging, and transportation will be posted here as they become available.  For more information on the Colloquium, or if you need assistance uploading your abstract, please contact Courtney Collins at ccollins@vermontlaw.edu or at (802) 831-1371.

Posted in Academia | Comments Off on Call for Abstracts: Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship

Hiring Announcement: VAP Position in Environmental Law

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Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) in Environmental Law at Pace Law School

Pace Law School seeks applicants for a new Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) in Environmental Law. The VAP in Environmental Law will hold a one-year appointment, renewable for a second one-year term. The appointment is designed to mentor and train future environmental law professors.

The VAP will have a reduced teaching load of one course per semester, the opportunity to focus on scholarly research and writing, and the expectation that s/he will enter the law school teaching market. The VAP will receive the same office and administrative support as other faculty members, is invited to participate fully in faculty activities, and will receive a small travel and research fund. Additionally, the VAP will present a work in progress at Pace Law School’s Future Environmental Law Professors Workshop, receive feedback and mentoring from other scholars, and present a finished manuscript to the faculty at our weekly scholarly colloquium.

The salary for the VAP in Environmental Law is $55,000 per year plus benefits, including health and dental insurance. The VAP will not be eligible for a full-time tenure-track or tenured faculty appointment at Pace Law School until after six years following the completion of his/her term in residence.

Candidates will be selected based on their prior work and educational experience, and teaching and scholarly potential. Pace is committed to achieving equal opportunity in all aspects of University life.  Applications are encouraged from people of color, individuals of varied sexual and affectional orientations, individuals who are differently-abled, veterans of the armed forces or national service, and anyone whose background and experience will contribute to the diversity of the law school.  Pace is committed to achieving completely equal opportunity in all aspects of University life.

Applicants should submit:

  • Curriculum Vitae (that lists three references and law school courses the candidate would be interested in teaching)
  • If possible, one published scholarly article or unpublished paper draft that reflects the candidate’s scholarly interests and potential

The application deadline is May 1, 2014.

If you would like to be considered for a Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Law appointment beginning in the Fall of 2014, please send your application materials via email to Professor Jason J. Czarnezki at jczarnezki@law.pace.edu. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Law Teaching | Comments Off on Hiring Announcement: VAP Position in Environmental Law

What’s Wrong with Men’s Studies

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The Chronicle has some convoluted, and perhaps confused, thoughts here (pay site; sorry).

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Academia, Masculinity | Comments Off on What’s Wrong with Men’s Studies

Ensuring Access to Justice for Transgender People

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In October, 2013, the New York State Judicial Institute sponsored a 3-day training program for judges and court personnel on “Transgender Litigants in the Courtroom: Providing Equal Access and Impartial Justice.” Transcripts of the program are available here, as is a list of program material. Some highlights include:

The organizer of the program was Judge Peter Moulton, a supervising judge of the New York County Civil Court.  In his opening remarks, Judge Moulton said:

We’re here today to discuss how to make the Court system a safe place for transgender people. Court personnel, judicial and nonjudicial, whether straight, gay and
lesbian, transgender, or questioning, need to ensure that transgender people in our courts have the same access to justice as anyone else. That does not mean that we, as court personnel must shed the neutrality that’s the hallmark of any well-ordered court system. It does mean that we need to create a court environment that is respectful of transgender people and cognizant of the special challenges they face in our court system.

Source here. H/T DS.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, LGBT Rights | Comments Off on Ensuring Access to Justice for Transgender People

Off is On!

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Two Recent Works by Michele Gilman

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Michele Gilman (Baltimore) has published two recent pieces that may be of interest to blog readers:

Michele Gilman, Feminism, Democracy, and the “War on Women,” 32 J. of Law & Inequality 1 (2014).

This article analyzes the social conservative attacks on women preceding the 2012 election cycle, known as the War on Women, and the ensuing feminist response. Combat was waged on many fronts, including abortion restrictions, access to contraception, funding for Planned Parenthood, welfare programs, and workplace fairness. The article discusses what this “war” means for the complex relationship between feminism and democracy. American democracy has had both liberating and oppressive effects for women, while feminism has sometimes struggled internally to appropriate the values of democracy and externally to harness its potential. Accordingly, the article explains the major political theories regarding feminism and democracy and reflects on how the War on Women and its after effects impact those theories. The Article concludes that the War on Women reconfigured the relationship between feminism and democracy by reinvigorating the feminist political movement, redefining the scope of women’s issues, realigning women voters across interest groups, and spurring a surge of women into office. Still, the War on Women kept feminism on the defensive, thereby draining the movement of the ability to fashion a feminist offensive. Thus, the feminist movement needs to generate an agenda that will wage a war for women.

Michele Gilman, The Return of the Welfare Queen, 22 J. of Gender, Social Policy, & the Law 247 (2014) (symposium).

After welfare reform was passed in 1996, there was every reason to hope that the welfare queen was dead. The “welfare queen” was shorthand for a lazy woman of color, with numerous children she cannot support, who is cheating taxpayers by abusing the system to collect government assistance. For years, this long-standing racist and gendered stereotype was used to attack the poor and the cash assistance programs that support them. In 1996, TANF capped welfare receipt to five years and required work as a condition of eligibility, thus stripping the welfare queen of her throne of dependency. Nevertheless, during the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney resurrected the welfare queen. In a barrage of television campaign ads, Romney inaccurately accused President Obama of gutting TANF work requirements, while President Obama responded by touting his own tough-on-welfare credentials. In the subsequent battle over which candidate was toughest on the poor, there was no mention that TANF is largely a failure. While TANF enrollment has plunged since 1996, it has not reduced poverty. Instead, it pushed many poor mothers into the low-wage workforce, where they struggle to survive on meager wages. In addition, many families have slipped out of the safety net altogether, sanctioned by TANF caseworkers or discouraged by TANF’s onerous application requirements, privacy-stripping processes, and stingy grants. As a result, only 4.5 million people receive cash assistance through TANF, amounting to 0.47% of the federal 2012 budget. In other words, the political salience of the welfare queen far outstrips her numbers. The good news is that Romney’s dependency rhetoric did not work and may have backfired. The bad news is that the welfare queen still lurks behind repeated calls to cut government benefits and to criminalize poverty. This article explores the legacy of the welfare queen, her return in the 2012 presidential campaign, and the current inadequacies of TANF. The article concludes with suggestions to reform TANF in the hopes of burying the welfare queen once and for all.

Worth a read!

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Politics, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Women and Economics | Comments Off on Two Recent Works by Michele Gilman

CFP: Teaching Through the Digital Divide

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From the FLP mailbox:

Professing Feminism: Teaching Through the Digital Divide
Deadline: Dec. 15, 2014
Page limit 15-25 pages
Format: Email articles in MLA style. Double spaced. MSWord attachments only.

Contact: professingfeminism@hotmail.com

Professing Feminism,inspired by our own online teaching experiences in for-profit and not-for-profit higher education, will be a path-breaking anthology exploring feminist pedagogy and feminist content in online courses. Have you had experience teaching feminism online? How can your shared experience help facilitate the inclusion of feminist pedagogy and feminist content in the growth of online teaching thatis rapidly mushrooming?

We are open to essays that both critique and positively evaluate the potential for professing feminism in online work, in a variety of contexts. Submissions can cover any aspect of the experience of feminism, feminist pedagogy, online teaching and online learning.

We are especially interested in articles that address the following topics:

  • Enacting a feminist pedagogy in online courses
  • Feminism and for-profit schools
  • Teaching other people’s feminism (teaching from prewritten courses in for-profit or not-for-profit online programs).
  • Providing feminist context in classes that include women’s literature, but provide no feminist context to the works.
  • Men and feminism in online classes.
  • Encouraging feminism in composition classes (or any classes where feminist content is rarely found or emphasized).
  • Academic hierarchy and feminism in online schools.
  • Feminist collaboration:issues of isolation, networking and publishing as an online adjunct
  • Addressing the stigma of teaching online and the divide between online and on ground schools and instructors.
  • Addressing the negative perceptions of online teaching.
  • The role of feminism in the new model of online teaching and for-profit schools
  • Feminism’s role within the job preparation emphasis in online schools

About the Editors:

Melissa Rigney has over 10 years online teaching and course development experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit higher education. In addition to a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska, she also has an M.S in Educational Technology from Texas A&M.

Batya Weinbaum holds a doctorate in English from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She has been teaching feminism online since 2007, and has been editing the journal Femspec since1997. Her scholarship, including writings on feminist pedagogy, has appeared in numerous venues, including Transformations, a journal of inclusive teaching practices. She has published three scholarly books, including a book with University of Texas Press, and has been included in numerous scholarly anthologies.

-Bridget Crawford

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Patricia Hill Collins, “Lessons from Black Feminism”

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Earlier this year, Patricia Hill Collins spoke at Grand Valley State University (Michigan).  Her talk, “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest: Lessons from Black Feminism,” was sponsored by the University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Women’s Center and LGBT Resource Center.  Here’s a video of her talk:

-Bridget Crawford

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Reclaiming “ladylike”?

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That’s the topic of this NYT op-ed. Here is an excerpt:

Recently, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, trained her sights on a single word — “ladylike.” “Ladylike,” Ms. McCaskill told an audience at Iowa State University last month, means, “Speak out, be strong, take charge, change the world” — all traits she thinks female leaders, or even the first female president, should have, and characteristics she believes are “very, very ladylike.” The term had a very different meaning when, during her 2012 re-election campaign, her opponent, Todd Akin, then a representative, described her performance during a debate as not particularly “ladylike,” and “very aggressive.”

And here’s a song this reminded me of:

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“Recently Kim, whose company helps users change and personalize their Android smartphone homescreens, contacted a male developer about whether he’d be interested in joining Locket. He responded, “Hey Yunha, I’m pretty happy with my current job, but if you’re single I’d like to date you. Perhaps there are some unconventional ways to lure me away from my company (besides stock options) if you know what I mean. ;)” “

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That’s a paragraph from this discouraging article.

Posted in Feminism and Economics, Feminism and the Workplace, If you're a woman | Comments Off on “Recently Kim, whose company helps users change and personalize their Android smartphone homescreens, contacted a male developer about whether he’d be interested in joining Locket. He responded, “Hey Yunha, I’m pretty happy with my current job, but if you’re single I’d like to date you. Perhaps there are some unconventional ways to lure me away from my company (besides stock options) if you know what I mean. ;)” “

Death of Karyn Washington

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Karyn Washington, founder of the “For Brown Girls” website, has died at age 22.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, the purpose of the website is “to celebrate the beauty of dark skin while combating colorism and promoting self love.”

Reporters at The Root (here) and Madame Noire (here) are describing Ms. Washington’s death as an alleged suicide.

May her memory be a blessing.

-Bridget Crawford

image source here

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