Gerda Lerner, Pioneering Feminist and Historian, Dies at 92

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NYT obituary here.
From the National Women’s History Museum:

Gerda Lerner’s accomplishments and contributions to the field of women’s history have been fundamental to its development. Her many works include The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Women’s Rights and Abolition (1998), The Woman in American History (1971 textbook), The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (1979), Why History Matters (1997), and numerous other significant essays and texts that have helped direct the study of American, women’s and global history.

Lerner has offered scholars a guide to and definition of the field of women’s history. In her essay “Placing Women in History,” Lerner explains the evolution of the investigation of women’s pasts and how it has progressed from a focus on the historical narrative to one that concentrates on theory and interpretation. The “Compensatory Stage” in which notable women are identified acknowledges those ignored by scholars, but fails to reveal the role of women within the greater historical narrative. “Contribution History,” which acknowledges women’s roles in social development moves closer to a more complete historical analysis. In the third stage, scholars revisit the general history of a particular period or movement and examine the differing experiences of men and women. The fourth phase, she explains, is an examination of the process of interpretation that occurs in the third phase. Historians seek an understanding of how and why gender dictates meaning and experience for individuals and groups.

Gerda Lerner’s groundbreaking efforts and theories in the field of American history have helped to advance the study of history in the second half of the 20th century. By demanding that attention be paid to the study of women’s roles, contributions, and experiences in society, she has contributed to the successes of the feminist movement, the struggle for gender and racial equality in the United States, and the diversification and development of historical research.

Posted in Feminist Legal History, Feminists in Academia, Firsts | Comments Off

Think Pink

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The New York Times notes that the New Hampshire delegation has gone all female. Girls rule in Congress, in the Governor’s Mansion, as Speaker of the State House, and as Chief Justice. Truly, a woman’s place is in the House, and the Senate, and….

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Reddit, Rape and Rapists

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Jezebel has an article entitled: Rapists Explain Themselves on Reddit, and We Should Listen. You may find it interesting; it is also both alarming and sad.

Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off

How Advertisers Failed Women in 2012

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Irresistible Impulse: Supreme Court of Iowa Finds Employer Can Fire Employee He Deems an “Irresistible Attraction”

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The question is not before us of whether it would be sex discrimination if Tenge had been terminated because Lori perceived her as a threat to her marriage but there was no evidence that she had engaged in any sexually suggestive conduct. Tenge v. Phillips Modern Ag. Co., 446 F.3d 903 (8th Cir. 2006).

So the question we must answer is the one left open in Tenge— whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction. Nelson v. James H. Knight DDS, P.C. (Iowa 2012).

In Nelson, the Supreme Court of Iowa answered this question in the affirmative.

Continue reading

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Dating the State: The Moral Hazards of Winning Gay Rights

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What new politics and ethical imperatives emerge when the rights of lesbian and gay people begin to gain traction, and when the state becomes a partner in defending those newly-won rights?  In Dating the State: The Moral Hazards of Winning Gay Rights, just published by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, I offer a critical analysis of the complexities of having the state recognize and then take up gay rights as a cause of its own. I examine three principal contexts – the role of gay rights in the state of Israel’s re-branding campaign, the response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2007 speech at Columbia University in which he claimed that there were no homosexuals in Iran, and the role of gay rights in Romania’s effort to join the European Community – as examples of the moral hazards that a minority faces when the state takes up their interests and uses their rights for purposes that well-exceed the obvious interests of the new rights-bearing community. I conclude that critical awareness of the state’s role as fundamental partner in the recognition and protection of a form of sexual rights should push us to regard these “victories” as necessarily ethically compromised.

The essay turns to several diverse sites of global politics to illuminate the centrality and manipulation of sexuality and sexual rights in struggles for and against the civilizing mission that lies at the heart of key aspects of globalization. I began this essay with the discussion of Israel not to single it out, but to illustrate a larger, more widespread phenomenon. It is worth tracing why, how, and to what effect a state’s posture with respect to the rights of “its” homosexuals has become an effective foreign policy tool, often when negotiating things that have little or nothing to do with homosexuality.

I aim in this discussion to intervene in an ongoing conversation among scholars of international law and politics that has cleaved into two rather unfriendly camps. On the one side are human rights groups and activists who seek to secure human rights protections for subordinated, oppressed, tortured, and murdered sexual minorities around the globe. They have worked hard to bring lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people within the protective infrastructure of the well-organized human rights communities. On the other side is a group, perhaps most provocatively represented by Joseph Massad in Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World, that derides the work of LGBT human rights actors and organizations for a kind of missionary zeal to universalize Western, sexualized identities that have little or no fit with the ways in which sexuality—or, for that matter, identity—takes form in settings outside the West. “Following in the footsteps of the white Western women’s movement, which . . . sought to universalize its issues through imposing its own colonial feminism on . . . women’s movements in the non-Western world—a situation that led to major schisms from the outset—the gay movement has adopted a similar missionary role,” wrote Massad in Public Culture in 2002.  Not surprisingly, Massad received some pushback from the persons and entities he identified as imperialist missionaries who have sought to redeem their good names and good work.  In the middle of these two polarized perspectives lie a few activists and scholars who have charted a middle course, acknowledging the everpresent risk of imperial effects, if not aims, when undertaking rights work in an international milieu, while at the same time recognizing the important and positive work that rights-based advocacy can bring about.  For this last group, as for Gayatri Spivak, rights are something we “cannot not want,” yet we proceed with them cognizant of the complex effects their use entails.

The present essay carries a brief for neither side of this debate (though I will confess sentiments that strive toward the middle course). Rather, it seeks to introduce an analysis none of the disputants have acknowledged: To focus this discussion on the relationship between LGBT human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the metropole and the potentially colonial subjects they seek to aid misses a third and vastly important actor in this theater—the state. In hugely interesting ways, states have come to see that their political power, their legitimacy, indeed their standing as global citizens, are bound up with how they recognize and then treat “their” gay citizens. A careful analysis of the role of human rights mechanisms and institutions in the expansion of human sexual freedom requires that we recognize and account for the manner in seek to aid, often find their work and their interests taken up and deployed by state actors for purposes that well exceed the articulated aims of something called “human rights.” The Israeli example I opened with is but one of the ways in which sexuality bears a curious relationship to global citizenship, politics, and governance.

Illuminating this complex dynamic reveals some patterns: Modern states are expected to recognize a sexual minority within the national body and grant that minority rights-based protections. Premodern states do not. Once recognized as modern, the state’s treatment of homosexuals offers cover for other sorts of human rights shortcomings. So long as a state treats its homosexuals well, the international community will look the other way when it comes to a range of other human rights abuses.

Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School

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Most Women Don’t Want Power and Status, She Says

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Kay S. Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research writes in the City Journal about “The Plight of the Alpha Female.”  Here’s her explanation for the lack of gender parity in the highest ranks of business, government, academia:

[W]omen are less inclined than men to think that power and status are worth the sacrifice of a close relationship with their children. Academics and policymakers in what’s called the “work/family” field believe that things don’t have to be this way. But nothing in the array of work/family policy prescriptions—family leave, child care, antidiscrimination lawsuits, flextime, and getting men to cut their work hours—will lead women to infiltrate the occupational 1 percent. They simply don’t want to.

Read the full piece here.


-Bridget Crawford

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One Woman’s Message to a Harrasser

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Over at Role Reboot, writer Emily Heist Moss writes this “Letter to the Guy Who Harrassed Me Outside the Bar“:

So, to you, the man on the sidewalk, I’m quite sure you will never read this essay. You will never watch Ever Mainard’s comedy, or download Jailbreak the Patriarchy, or spend a minute imagining how those women that you harassed on Friday night actually felt. You probably don’t even remember Friday night, and if you do, your memory is the sound of your friends laughing.

But that is not all that happened. You were a harasser, the guy they make subway posters about, the guy who contributes to rape culture. Ask your female friends, if you have any, if they’ve ever walked home late at night with a key pushed through their knuckles, just in case, if they’ve ever crossed the street to avoid a stranger, just in case, if they’ve ever taken the long way home because of the weird guy on the corner, just in case. Ask them if they’ve ever made up a boyfriend to get a guy to leave them alone, if they’ve ever gotten off a train car and moved to the next because you just never know, if they’ve ever shelled out for a cab because men like you were at the bus stop. Do you really want to be that guy?

Read the full post here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Announcing Third Edition of “Introduction to Feminist Legal Theory”

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Martha Chamallas has updated her invaluable text Introduction to Feminist Legal Theory.  Here is the publisher’s description of the new edition:

Widely respected as a leading text in the field, Introduction to Feminist Legal Theory (3d ed. 2012) spans the range of legal issues relating to women and gender, including extensive new treatment of critical race theory and LGBT scholarship. Balancing contemporary topics with historical context, author Martha Chamallas presents an accessible and incisive survey of topics such as sex-based discrimination and sexual stereotyping, sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, abortion, Title IX, and more. The book thoroughly reviews the evolving paradigms of contemporary feminism from the 1970s through the present and examines backlash forces and major critiques of feminist legal theory.

Updated throughout, the Third Edition features a theory-based structure to include recent entries to the field, such as intersectional feminism, sex-positive feminism and masculinities theory. New applied areas are covered as well, with sections on reproductive justice, marriage equality, transgender legal issues and sex trafficking. While the book remains U.S.-focused, important new material on global and comparative feminism has been added.

Here’s an endorsement from Deborah Brake (Pittsburgh):

“No one better illuminates the richness and continuing relevance of feminist legal theory than Martha Chamallas. At a time when simplistic accounts of gender dominate conventional wisdom (think “the end of men” and the “op-out revolution” that wasn’t), Chamallas’ insight into the complex relationships of women, men, and gender, and the role of law in constructing and regulating them, is more pertinent than ever. The new edition of Introduction to Feminist Legal Theory is perfect for classroom use, providing solid grounding in the basics in a way that makes the concepts accessible and engaging to students. At the same time, it is foundational in the field, a must-read for legal scholars, whether they are visitors to the field of legal feminism or dwell in its domain.”

Time to update the bookshelf!

-Bridget Crawford

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Pages In Your Diary: Supreme Court of West Virginia Badly Errs in Deeming Diary Entries Admissible Despite Rape Shield Rule

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A defendant is charged with second-degree sexual assault and related crimes after another individual and he allegedly commit sexual crimes against a 13 year-old victim. After the alleged crimes, the alleged victim starts writing in a notebook and writes in that notebook that her only sexual encounters were with “Chris,” who was not either of the individuals involved with the alleged sexual assault. At the defendant’s trial, should he be allowed to admit the notebook? According to the recent opinion of the Supreme Court of West Virginia in State v. Jonathan B., 2012 WL 5898025 (W.Va. 2012), the answer is “yes.” I strongly disagree.

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CFP: Gendered Rites/Gendered Rights: Sex Segregation, Religious Practice, and Public Live

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From colleagues at Brandeis, this CFP:

Sex Segregation, Religious Practice, and Public Life

Call for Papers

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Project on Gender, Culture, Religion, and the Law seeks paper proposals for an international conference entitled Gendered Rites/Gendered Rights: Sex Segregation, Religious Practice, and Public Life. The Conference will be held at Brandeis University on April 14-15, 2013. Anat Hoffman, chairperson of Women of the Wall and Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center will open the conference, delivering the 5th Annual Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights.

Many religious traditions prescribe sexually differentiated roles in religious rites and in public life. Doctrines that deem women the repository of family or communal honor may be interpreted to require that women’s behavior be carefully monitored and controlled. Conceptions of women as vulnerable to temptation or as the embodiment of temptation for men may justify demands for the segregation of women during prayer and study. In both theocratic and secular states, attempts are being made to permit segregationist practices to migrate from the religious realm to the public sphere.

The challenge posed by the intersection of religious traditions that mandate these forms of sex segregation with civic norms of gender equality can be seen around the world and across religious traditions. Recent developments in Israel pose a particularly challenging example as women are subjected to demands for segregation on public buses, trains, supermarkets, doctor’s waiting rooms and merely walking in the street. This conference seeks to explore the historical and theoretical underpinnings of these developments and to identify effective and appropriate responses.

Submissions dealing with these issues in a range of religious traditions and national contexts are invited. The closing date for submission of proposals is December 31, 2012. Please include an abstract of 200 words accompanied by a brief biography. The Project on Gender, Culture, Religion, and the Law has limited funds to support travel and accommodation expenses but participants will be asked to explore funding from their own faculties. Please submit proposals and queries to Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and Law at

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Religion | Comments Off

“I Am the Woman in Your Department Who Does All the Committee Work.”

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… I know you won’t be able to attend the talk by the visiting scholar/groper/stalker you invited to campus, so I’ll happily shell out $60 for a sitter while I try to keep him from getting so drunk he makes slurs during the broadcast of his lecture on college radio.

I am grateful for your presence at our curriculum meeting. It was kind of you to make fifteen minutes in your busy schedule. I think we were all struck by your objections to the proposal we’ve spent two years crafting, and how you are convinced that the current program, designed by you and some venerable dead people in 1971, should stay in place. …

More here!

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Lesbian Herstory Archives Internships

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From the FLP mailbox:

The Lesbian Herstory Archives (located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NYC) is looking for graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in library and/or archives with a
demonstrated interest in Lesbian Studies, History and Activism.

We have a number of exciting projects going on throughout the year including the digitization of our newsprint collection, ongoing digitization of our audio collection, processing the video oral histories of the Daughter’s of Bilitis and The L.O.V.E. Collective, programing and planning for Black History and Women’s History months as well as providing reference services and research assistance to researchers and visitors.

- The opportunity for practical application of archives and library
– Course credit and letters of recommendation upon request.
– The opportunity for professional workshops and classes
–  Supervision and training by professional librarians and experienced
archives staff


- Available for a minimum of 10 hours per week.
– Experience working in a Library/Archive or completion of core M.L.S.
– Familiarity with cataloging and archival processing
– Skilled in the use of MS Office and/or Google Docs and regular office


*Periodicals – 2 Spaces*

Intern will process incoming newspapers, newsletters, journals and
magazines, update cataloging records and prepare collections for
digitization where necessary.

*Special Collections & Reference – 2 Spaces*

Interns will process collections and create electronic finding aids, staff
the reference desk and provide researcher assistance.

*Photographic Digital Imaging – 2 Spaces*

Interns will assist with the processing, digitization and cataloging of
photographs and graphics.

Special Preference: Proficiency with *Content DM* and/or *Photoshop*

*Video Working Group – 2 Spaces*

Interns will process and catalog film /videos including relabeling and
shifting collections.

*Audio Digitization – 2 Spaces*

Interns will assist with the cataloging, digitization, indexing and
re-housing of audio tapes.

*OPAC Working Group – 2 Spaces*

Interns will perform database cleanup in a variety of collections and
contribute to the design, testing and launch of the LHA’s new OPAC.

*Programming Non-Profit Management and Development – 2 Spaces*

Interns will have the opportunity to research and write grants, create
fundraising campaigns, write press releases, plan events and get first-hand
experience  in non=profit management in an LGBT organization.


*Applications accepted on a rolling basis.  Please read the instructions
below very carefully.*

Candidates must submit a *Cover Letter* (indicating skills, experience,
relevant interests/activities and availability) and *Resume* to Please include the word “Internship” and the area
in which you wish to work in the subject line.   All documents *must* be
attached as a* PDF.*

*NOTE:* LHA cannot provide housing for interns. LHA will provide
confirmation of internship acceptance for candidates who may need this
documentation to accompany a grant or fellowship application.
*LHEF, Inc, 484 14th Street, Brooklyn, 11215. Please, no phone calls*.

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Girls’ Soccer in the Shadow of Amelia Earhart

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Floyd Bennett Field, located in Brooklyn, New York, is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.  Floyd Bennett Field was established in 1931 as the first airport within New York City limits.  Lots of historic flights began there, including a few trips by Amelia Earhart.

One of the former airplane hangars at Floyd Bennett Field has been converted into a recreational facility, complete with two indoor turf soccer fields.  I was super-interested in the history of the place, but my middle-school aged daughter was too interested in the soccer tournament in which she was playing to tolerate much of a history lesson.  I still liked thinking about Amelia Earhart as the girls were playing soccer….

To read more about Floyd Bennett Field, see here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Center for Gender & Sexuality Law Spring Symposium – Recognizing the Work of Patricia Williams

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The Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law Presents:

A Symposium Honoring the Contributions of Patricia Williams
to the Scholarship and Practice of Gender and Sexuality Law

Friday, March 1st, 2013, 9 am – 7 pm

Jerome Greene Hall, 435 W. 116th Street, rooms 104-106
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
(corner of 116th Street and Amsterdam Avenue)

Please RSVP to the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law,

New York State CLE credits will be provided.  Online CLE registration is now available here. Online registration will close February 22nd.
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome, Katherine Franke

9:30 – 11:00 Panel 1, Race, Gender and the Law – moderated by Olatunde Johnson

Gina Dent, University of California, Santa Cruz, Feminist Studies
Paula J. Giddings, Smith College, Afro-American Studies
Anita Hill, Brandeis University, Senior Advisor to the Provost: Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies

11:30 – 1:00 Panel 2, Ethics and the Body – moderated by Alondra Nelson

Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago, English Language and Literature
Evelynn M. Hammonds, Harvard University, Dean of the College
Robert Pollack, Columbia University, Biological Science

1:00 – 2:30 Lunch

2:30 – 4:00 Panel 3, Law As Interdisciplinary Enterprise – moderated by Kendall Thomas

Eduardo Cadava, Princeton University, English
Lani Guinier, Harvard Law School
Anna Deavere Smith, New York University, Performance Studies
4:30 – 6:00 Keynote by Patricia Williams

6:00 – 7:00 Reception

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Joslin on “Marriage, Biology and Federal Benefits”

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Courtney Joslin (Davis) has posted to SSRN her article Marriage, Biology, and Federal Benefits, Iowa Law Review (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

This Article approaches the topic of same-sex marriage from a novel perspective by scrutinizing the historical accuracy of primary defense proffered by same-sex marriage opponents – “responsible procreation.” In the context of challenges to Section 3 of DOMA, responsible procreation posits that the federal government’s historic purpose in extending marital benefits is to single out and specially support families with biologically-related children. Because same-sex couples cannot fulfill this long-standing purpose, it is permissible to deny them all federal marital rights and obligations. While advocates disagree about whether and to what extent DOMA furthers this alleged federal interest, to date, all sides have accepted this historical account.

This Article is the first to interrogate the accuracy of this account. To do so, the Article examines two of the largest and most important federal benefits programs – Social Security benefits and benefits for active and retired members of the U.S. military. This analysis demonstrates that Congress has not and does not condition the receipt of federal family-based benefits on biological parent-child relationships. To the contrary, Congress long has implicitly and explicitly extended such benefits to families with children known to be biologically unrelated to one or both of their parents. This Article thus reveals that responsible procreation is based on myth, not history and tradition.

The full piece is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Families, Feminist Legal Scholarship, LGBT Rights | Comments Off

There is something flawed about this pitch for mammography custom

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Posted in Bloggenpheffer, Feminism and Culture | Comments Off

“Not a single woman will lead any of the major House committees in the 113th Congress.”

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Details here.

Posted in The Overrepresentation of Men, The Underrepresentation of Women, Where are the Women? | Comments Off

Where are the Women? Another FSU Edition

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This time, a tax conference with 14 “featured participants.”  Number of women?  One.

Did noone at Florida State look at this list of speakers and think, “Gee, maybe such an imbalanced list doesn’t present the school in the best light?”  Probably not.  After all, the school used this marketing material advertising their Crim Law program last year.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Where are the Women? | Comments Off

A handy guide for discerning the gender of a toy!

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In Memory of Gary Munneke, 1947-2012

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My Pace Law School colleague Gary Munneke died unexpectedly over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Here is an excerpt from the Law School’s announcement:

Professor Munneke was a prolific speaker and writer, authoring law review and journal articles as well as chapters and entire books on professional identity and choices and the legal profession. His most recent works included The Essential Formbook: Comprehensive Management Tools for Lawyers, Volume IV (2004), Law Practice Management in a Nutshell (2d ed. 2003) and Nonlegal Careers: In the Private Sector, Fifth Edition, ABA Career Series (2007 edition with Willliam D. Henslee and Ellen Wayne).

“Gary was a mentor and an inspiration. He seemed to be involved in every aspect of the legal profession and legal education, touching so many lives professionally and personally,” recalls Rachel Littman, Pace Law School Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development who worked with Professor Munneke on the 2011 NYSBA Task Force on the Legal Profession. “He will really be missed.”

The full announcement is here.  A memorial page is here.

Gary was well known for his work on committees of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.  He also was a member of the Feminist Law Professors blogroll.  On at least two occasions, Gary fielded a less-than-happy phone call from a disgruntled bar colleague who didn’t like something on this blog…usually a post by me (such as this one) critical of some activity of the organized bar.  Gary’s reports of these phone calls were the starting points for some of the most wide-ranging, funny, realistic, engaged conversations I have had over the years with colleagues.  Gary truly believed that all work of the legal profession — from the organization of the ABA to the professional habits of the solo practitioner to the writing of the law professor blogger — could be improved through civil discourse.  He encouraged my blogging, and if he didn’t agree with some things I said, he wasn’t afraid to state his views.  He always did so in the kindest and most engaged way, though. In talking to Gary, I always felt he heard me, that he considered my views and that we walked away from any conversation better for having had it. That’s not to say Gary suffered fools; his polite remarks in faculty meetings sometimes were followed up with a good eye roll in private.

I will miss my colleague Gary Munneke very much.

May his memory be a blessing.

-Bridget Crawford

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Conference Announcement: 7th Annual Feminist Theory Workshop, Duke U. March 22-23, 2012

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From the FLP mailbox:

The Seventh Annual Feminist Theory Workshop
Duke University
Durham, NC
March 22/23rd 2013

The Seventh Annual Feminist Theory Workshop offers a unique opportunity for scholars to engage in sustained dialogue about feminist theory as a scholarly domain of inquiry. The “workshop” approach of this conference requires active participation of both presenters and attendees.

This year’s keynote speakers are:

  • Elizabeth Grosz, Jean Fox O’Barr Women’s Studies Professor in Trinity
    College of Arts and Sciencesat Duke University
  • Martin F. Manalansan IV, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian
    American Studies at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • José Esteban Muñoz, Professor of Performance Studies at Tisch School of the
    Arts, New York University
  • Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at
    Columbia University

Free registration is here.

-Bridget Crawford

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What Do Elmo and David Petraeus Have In Common? They’re Both Targets of a Sex Panic

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The guy who has been the voice and puppeteer for Elmo, Kevin Clash, resigned yesterday from Sesame Workshop on account of recent accusations that he had sex with under age boys.  Maybe he did it, maybe he didn’t – we don’t know yet.  But Sesame Workshop wanted him out as we head into the holiday shopping nightmare extravaganza.

The New York Times contacted me today for a comment in connection with Clash’s resignation and the lawsuit that was filed today by Cecil Singleton, a man who is now 24 years old claiming that Clash had sex with him when we was 15 years old, demanding $5 million in damages.

Here’s what I told the Times:

While I can’t speculate as to the merits of this new lawsuit, that will be left to the judicial process, I am concerned about Kevin Clash’s resignation today.  I assume that he stepped down in response to pressure from Sesame Workshop that felt that it could no longer tolerate the association of it’s corporate brand with notions of homosexuality, sexuality, or illegal sexuality.  I mention all three because I wonder if the “scandal” that threatened Clash’s employment would have been any less troubling for Sesame Workshop if the terms circulating onTwitter had been  “Elmo” and “sex,” or “Elmo” and “gay,” instead of “Elmo” and “under-age-sex”.

Just as I thought it shocking that David Petraeus was driven from public service on account of “marital infidelity” rather than the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the U.S. government in the Petraeus-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the expansion of the CIA’s Predator campaign in Yemen, or his role behind a recent push to expand the agency’s drone flee, (see my recent piece on this issue), so too I worry that Clash is the most recent victim of what we call in my world a “sex panic.”

At precisely the moment when gay people’s right to marry seems to be reaching a positive tipping point, sexuality is being driven back into the closet as something shameful and incompatible with honor (in the case of Petraeus) or decency (as in the case of Clash).  Clash has not been convicted of a crime, but merely accused of one in a completely unsubstantiated, vague complaint.  As you note below, this smacks of a shake down.  But what is telling is Sesame Workshop’s quick overreation, not waiting for any credible evidence of wrongdoing to be presented before making it clear to Clash that the voice of Elmo cannot be associated with sex, legal or otherwise.

To my mind, of equal concern is the other aspect of this issue that stems from a moral sense that sexuality of any kind poses a threat to childhood (in the form of Elmo and other Sesame Workshop characters).  Recall the panic when it was implied years ago that Bert and Ernie were gay, or that the Teletubbies were as well.  Any implication that children or child-like characters had a sexuality was to be immediately disavowed.  It does children a disservice to construe sexuality as something that can only hurt them and from which they must be protected, rather than acknowledging that children are sexual beings whether we like it or not, as sexuality is a natural part of human and child development.  In the name of protecting them from adult predators, so many children, particularly gay children, learn almost nothing about healthy sexuality and are left to figure it out on their own – a predicament that often exposes them to additional risks they could have avoided had they received adequate and age-appropriate sexual education as children.

Here’s what they published:

Elmo Puppeteer Resigns After Fresh Allegation


5:11 p.m. | Updated Kevin Clash, the longtime voice and puppeteer behind “Sesame Street’s” Elmo character, resigned on Tuesday after a new allegation was made that he had underage sexual relationships.

Announcing the decision with what he called a “very heavy heart,” Mr. Clash said in a statement, “Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

His statement came at around the same time that a lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York accusing him of “sexual activity” with a 15-year-old. The accuser, Cecil Singleton, is now 24. The suit said that Mr. Singleton “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.” It sought $5 million in damages.

Mr. Clash had no comment on the lawsuit. He was first accused last week of sexual improprieties by a man who later recanted and said they had an “adult consensual relationship.” That man has remained anonymous and has not filed a suit.

While Mr. Clash’s departure on Tuesday put some distance between the sex allegations and the iconic children’s character, the claims may affect the “Sesame Street” brand in ways that remain to be seen.

Hasbro, the main toy licensee for “Sesame Street” products, said in a statement Tuesday, “We are confident that Elmo will remain an integral part of ‘Sesame Street’ and that ‘Sesame Street’ toys will continue to delight children for years to come.” Macy’s, in a statement, said the episode would have no bearing on “Sesame Street’s” presence in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade later in the week.

Jim Silver, editor in chief of Time to Play, a Web site that follows the toy and licensing business, estimated Hasbro’s wholesale sales of “Sesame Street” branded toys to be about $75 million annually. Elmo-related products account for 50 to 75 percent of that figure, he said, depending on the year.

Before Mr. Clash resigned, Mr. Silver said he was estimating that Elmo-related toy sales would be down perhaps 10 percent because of the stories about Mr. Clash’s personal life. But with the resignation, he said, the total impact will probably be less than that. This fall, Hasbro’s Playskool brand introduced “Playskool Sesame Street LOL Elmo,” a new version of 1996’s “Tickle Me Elmo,” with a suggested $40 retail price tag.

“People are making the separation that this is about Kevin Clash, this is not about Elmo,” he said. “The more people make the separation, the less effect on sales.”

Mr. Clash took a leave of absence last week to defend himself when the first accuser received attention from the gossip Web site TMZ. Production of “Sesame Street” will be unaffected by his absence, in part because Mr. Clash had been helping to identify other puppeteers who could play Elmo.

Still, his name has been synonymous with Elmo for more than 20 years, and especially so since his star turn in a documentary, “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” last year. The complaints this month contributed to what Sesame Workshop, the producer of “Sesame Street,” on Tuesday called a distraction.

“None of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization,” the organization said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from ‘Sesame Street.’”

The statement concluded, “This is a sad day for ‘Sesame Street.’ ” The organization declined interview requests.

After the resignation announcement, there were unanswered questions about whether Mr. Clash was forced out by the organization (whose publicists announced his departure an hour before his own personal publicist did).

Katherine Franke, a professor of law and the director of the center for gender and sexuality law at Columbia University, said she worried that Mr. Clash was “the most recent victim of what we call in my world a ‘sex panic.’ ” She named a second recent example, David Petraeus, who admitted having an extramarital affair and resigned as the C.I.A. director earlier this month.

“At precisely the moment when gay people’s right to marry seems to be reaching a positive tipping point, sexuality is being driven back into the closet as something shameful and incompatible with honor (in the case of Petraeus) or decency (as in the case of Clash),” Ms. Franke said in an e-mail message. Mr. Clash, she added, “has not been convicted of a crime, but merely accused of one in a completely unsubstantiated, vague complaint.”

I’m already getting really ugly hate mail.  Used to be that when I wrote about gay rights the hate mail swamped my Inbox.  Now it happens when I write about sex.  Many of the critics say I’m defending the likes of Jerry Sandusky (Ann Althouse reposted my Elmo quote on her blog and that’s been the spirit of many of the hostile comments).  Seems it’s too hard for many readers to see a difference between a defense of sex and a defense of sexual exploitation.

Sex is getting such a bad rap these days.  Just as feminists have found it challenging to Theorize Yes to sex, seems the larger public has as well.  Sure, there is dangerous, exploitative, predatory, violent sex.  But not all of it is.  When someone is accused of having (or liking) non-normative sex, let’s wait a moment before we conclude that the moment calls for pitchforks and stockades.  Sex, and life, are so much more complicated.

Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School

Cross-posted from the Gender & Sexuality Law Blog

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According to the Inside the Law School Scam blog, “Clearly, the fact that law schools have produced an enormous oversupply of people with law degrees over the course of the last generation has an extremely significant gender component.”

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And the alleged oversupply of law students is totally the fault of us dumb broads. NB: If you decide to read the post, it is probably best to avoid the comments, in case that needs pointing out.

Posted in Academia, Feminists in Academia, The Overrepresentation of Men, The Overrepresentation of Women, The Underrepresentation of Women | Comments Off

“When Men Are Too Emotional To Have A Rational Argument”

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This essay is really good! Below is an excerpt.

Women’s Emotions are “Emotions,” Men’s Emotions are “How People Talk”

A long time ago, in Bullish: What Egg Donation Taught Me About Being a Dude, I quoted Ben Barres, Chair of the Neurobiology department at Stanford, and also a transsexual man:

“It is just patently absurd to say women are more emotional than men. Men commit 25 times the murders; it’s shocking what the numbers are. And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal.”

What I want to talk about is how emotional outbursts typically more associated with men (shouting, expressing anger openly) are given a pass in public discourse in a way that emotional outbursts typically more associated with women (crying, “getting upset”) are stigmatized.

I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else.

This is incorrect. Anger? EMOTION. Hate? EMOTION. Resorting to violence? EMOTIONAL OUTBURST. An irrational need to be correct when all the evidence is against you? Pretty sure that’s an emotion. Resorting to shouting really loudly when you don’t like the other person’s point of view? That’s called “being too emotional to engage in a rational discussion.”

Not only do I think men are at least as emotional as women, I think that these stereotypically male emotions are more damaging to rational dialogue than are stereotypically female emotions. A hurt, crying person can still listen, think, and speak. A shouting, angry person? That person is crapping all over meaningful discourse. …

Posted in Feminism and Politics, Feminists in Academia, Women's Health | 2 Comments

Lance MacMillian, “Adultery as Tort”

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Commenting on the Petraeus case, Katherine Franke posted here about the status of adultery as a crime in 27 jurisdictions.  Today I stumbled across an article by Lance McMillian (Atlanta’s John Marshall), Adultery as Tort, 95 N.C. L. Rev. 1987 (2012).  Here is the abstract:

 North Carolina is one of the last remaining states to recognize tort claims arising from adultery. Ignoring criticism of this position, the appellate courts of the state have consistently and steadfastly refused to abandon adultery-based actions, despite many high-profile opportunities to do so. Traditional torts such as alienation of affections and criminal conversation thus retain their viability. Not everyone is pleased with North Carolina’s isolation in this regard. Attempts in the North Carolina legislature to repeal these perceived legal relics have increasingly gained traction in recent years. With the future of these torts in North Carolina in doubt, the time is ripe to assess whether any compelling reasons exist to preserve them.

In this vein, this Article offers a countercultural defense of North Carolina’s continuing embrace of adultery as tort. First, as the ongoing debate over gay marriage demonstrates, citizens of all political stripes look to government to validate marriage as an institution. Gay marriage advocates see state licensing as an essential step in elevating the status of same-sex couples. Gay marriage opponents, on the other hand, look to the state as the decisive authority for protecting the traditional view of marriage as being between one man and one woman. But if the state is the proper vehicle for legitimizing the marriage bond, as all sides seem to agree, then it follows that the state should have a prominent role in protecting that bond. Second, the tort system presently offers robust protection to victims injured when their business or contractual relationships suffer sabotage from third-party tortious interference. Marriage, as a relationship of demonstrably greater importance, deserves the same level of legal respect. Third, through loss of consortium claims, the law already offers strong protection of the marital bed against intrusions by third-party tortfeasors. The ubiquity of loss of consortium claims shows both tort law’s desire to protect marriage from the actions of third parties and its willingness to intrude into the most private of personal details to effectuate this desire.

By contrasting adultery as tort with these other areas of legal interest, I hope to demonstrate that adultery-based torts are not as far out of the legal mainstream as is commonly assumed, perhaps paving the way for a wider acceptance of claims such as alienation of affections once again.

The full article is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Families | 2 Comments

Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, “Black Bodies and the Black Church: A Blues Slant”

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From Palgrave, this new book by Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas (Religion, Goucher College): Black Bodies and the Black Church: A Blues Slant.  Here’s is the publisher’s description:

There is a problem in the black church. It is a problem with black bodies and a blues problem. This book addresses these problems head-on. It proclaims that as long as the black church cannot be a home for certain bodies, such as LGBT bodies, then it has forsaken its very black faith identity. The black church must find a way back to itself. Kelly Brown Douglas argues that the way back is through the blues.

A sample chapter is available for download here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Religion, LGBT Rights, Race and Racism | Comments Off

CFP: The Influence and Legacy of Barbara Grier

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From the FLP mailbox, this CFP:

To reflect on the influence and legacy of Barbara Grier (1933-2011), The Journal of Lesbian Studies will be devoting a thematic journal issue to the topic.

2011 witnessed the passing of Barbara Grier, an icon in lesbian literary history and feminist publishing.  From her “Lesbiana” column in Daughters of Bilitis’ magazine The Ladder, to three editions of The Lesbian in Literature (1967, 1975, 1985), to her role as publisher of the Naiad Press
from 1973-2003, Barbara Grier introduced hundreds of new lesbian books to readers and kept several lesbian classics on the literary horizon.

The Journal of Lesbian Studies is an interdisciplinary journal, thus, multi and interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. We welcome proposals on the intersections of lesbian literary history, the lesbian feminist movement, feminist presses, and/or lesbian feminist publishing, including the work of Naiad Press authors.  Proposals that discuss or contextualize the significance of Grier’s work or influence are especially welcome.

Please direct inquiries or submit a proposal of no more than 500 words with
a brief CV to guest editor Danielle DeMuth at by December
20, 2012. Please put “JLS Special Issue” in the subject line.

Authors will be contacted in early January regarding their proposals. Final
essays of approximately 5000-7500 words will be due April 1, 2013.

-Bridget Crawford

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CFP: Gender Matters – Women, Social Policy and the 2012 Election

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From the FLP mailbox:

Call for Symposium Papers

Gender Matters: Women, Social Policy and the 2012 Election 

April 2, 2013 at American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC

The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law and Women and the Law Program invite papers for a symposium on gender, social policy and the election of 2012. The organizers welcome papers that explore how current or proposed social polices affect the lives of women and their families, and/or that analyze what role, if any, rhetoric about those polices may have played in the recent election. Abstracts from professors or practitioners (sorry, no student pieces) addressing gender and health care, labor and employment, taxation, fiscal policy and social welfare or other relevant social policy are due by midnight January 7, 2013.  Papers selected will be presented at a symposium on April 2, 2013 at American University Washington College of Law, and strongly considered for publication.  To read the full Call for Papers and to submit an abstract online, please visit the symposium website. Please contact the organizers at with any questions.


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Getting (Back) into the Writing Groove: Inspiration from Georgia NeSmith

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Georgia NeSmith is an independent writer and editor who has a great website over at Matrix Editorial Services (here).  In revving up to return to writing after a few weeks off, I stumbled upon upon her advice for “Writing the Introduction.”  Her advice is specifically geared toward dissertation writers, but I found much that is applicable to writers of law review articles, too.  Here is an excerpt from her post:

The first draft of most dissertations seems to be very similar: the student is trying to demonstrate competence in all the major literature in any way remotely connected to his or her study. This is not only unnecessary, it is annoying for the average reader.

The Introduction or introductory chapter is often rambling and extensive, leaving the reader who is interested in the actual subject of the research feeling very frustrated. Get to the point! one wants to shout.  * * *

The introduction to a dissertation must do the following, and the following ALONE:

  1. It identifies, locates, and justifies your study within your field. It demonstrates that your study attends to something entirely new, never examined before in the field.
  2. It states the specific problem that your study is to address, a problem not heretofore addressed by previous studies
  3. It states the research questions to be addressed by your specific study
  4.  It states the methods to be used
  5. And finally, it outlines the chapters to come.

The introduction answers the following questions:

  • What is the problem? Why do I study this issue? Why should it be solved?
  • Who will benefit the most from this piece of writing? What is the contribution?
  • What is my purpose?
  • What are my methods?
  • What can the reader expect in the subsequent chapters? * * *

The introductory chapter of a dissertation is much like that first paragraph in the old “five paragraph theme”: essentially, you tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. The big difference is that you must also demonstrate that the study about to be read is unique and makes a major contribution to the field in which it is located.

The full post is here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Academia, Feminists in Academia | 1 Comment

All In: Marriage, Rights and Hypocrisy, The Case of David Petraeus

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As many now know, CIA Director and retired four-star Army General David Petraeus has resigned his post at the CIA on account of newly emerging information that he had what the media calls an “extra-marital” affair with Paula Broadwell, who is also married.  Broadwell is the author of the flattering Petraeus biography All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.

Others have pointed out the irony that Petraeus’ career ended in humiliation on account of adultery, not the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the U.S. government in the Petraeus-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the expansion of the CIA’s Predator campaign in Yemen, or his role behind a recent push to expand the agency’s drone fleet. He played a key role in decisions to carry out controversial strikes, including the Predator attacks last year that killed two U.S. citizens: the alleged al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son.  The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit charging senior CIA and military officials, including Petraeus, with violating the Constitution and international law when they authorized and directed drone strikes that resulted in these deaths as part of a broader practice of extrajudicial “targeted killing” by the United States outside the context of armed conflict.

But no, it was adultery that brought down Petraeus.  Other facts will no doubt emerge in the coming days that may implicate additional c0mplications connected to his affair with Paula Broadwell, and/or with Broadwell’s behavior toward others, but the official story of his resignation, acknowledged by the Obama administration, was that his “marital infidelity” was what rendered him no longer fit to serve as the country’s top spy.

Gay men and lesbians were vulnerable to this kind of take down from public service until recently on the theory that illegal and shameful behavior such as being gay or having an extra marital affair could render you susceptible to blackmail, thus jeopardizing national security.

What a moment this is that on the heels of having won enormous victories in electing openly gay candidates such as Tammy Baldwin and securing marriage rights for same sex couples in four more states, marriage remains an institution whose mores, morals, and social standing can bring down someone as powerful as David Petraeus when he violates them.  It seems that we live in a time when it’s safer to be gay than to be an adulterer.

Yet gay people continue to clamor to be included in the venerated institution of marriage so that we, just like straight people, can get in trouble, lose our jobs and be publicly ridiculed when we have sex with someone who isn’t our spouse.

Oh, and just as a reminder, adultery remains a crime in 27 states including the states that Petreaus claims as his residence: New Hampshire and Virginia.  And of perhaps greater importance, the Uniform Code of Military Justice treats adultery very seriously:  Adultery is punishable under Article 134, with a maximum punishment of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

And lest we forget, the military is an institution gay people have been clamoring to get into as well, rendering us subject to its morality code a few short years after we escaped the surveillance of civilian sodomy laws in the Lawrence v. Texas case.

All In.

Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School

Cross-posted from the Gender & Sexuality Law Blog

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Today Frank Bruni Sounds Like a Feminist!

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Seriously, check out his column The Siren and The Spook (below is an excerpt):

… Broadwell has just 13 percent body fat, according to a recent measurement. Did you know that? Did you need to? It came up nonetheless. And like so much else about her — her long-ago coronation as homecoming queen, her six-minute mile — it was presented not merely as a matter of accomplishment, but as something a bit titillating, perhaps a part of the trap she laid.

There are bigger issues here. There are questions of real consequence, such as why the F.B.I. got so thoroughly involved in what has been vaguely described as a case of e-mail harassment, whether the bureau waited too long to tell lawmakers and White House officials about the investigation, and how much classified information Broadwell, by dint of her relationship with Petraeus, was privy to. The answers matter.

Her “expressive green eyes” (The Daily Beast) and “tight shirts” and “form-fitting clothes” (The Washington Post) don’t. And the anecdotes and chatter that implicitly or explicitly wonder at the spidery wiles she must have used to throw the mighty man off his path are laughably ignorant of history, which suggests that mighty men are all too ready to tumble, loins first. Wiles factor less into the equation than proximity. …

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Politics | Comments Off

“On Having Fun & Raising Hell” – Symposium honoring the work of Professor Ann Scales on Saturday, March 30, 2013 at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law

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“On Having Fun & Raising Hell” *
Symposium honoring the work of Professor Ann Scales
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Join the University of Denver Sturm College of Law to honor the life and work of Professor Ann Scales (1952-2012), author of many influential works including “Towards a Feminist Jurisprudence,” “The Emergence of Feminist Jurisprudence” and Legal Feminism: Activism, Lawyering and Legal Theory.

Keynote Speakers: Kathryn Abrams, UC Berkeley Law School & Katherine Franke, Columbia School of Law

For more information, please contact Stefanie Carroll at or 303.871.6076. Registration information coming in December.

* “Have fun.  Raise hell.  Question everything.  Celebrate difference.”  – Ann Scales

Posted in Academia, Call for Papers or Participation, Feminist Legal History, From the FLP mailbox | Comments Off

“Why it is important to integrate human rights into international policy-making”

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From Equality Now:

The Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has just returned from a business trip to Britain, where she met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.  In Liberia, more than 58% of women have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), where the Sande secret society promotes and carries it out without hindrance.  This is in spite of President Sirleaf’s pledge to make women’s rights a national priority.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, although FGM was banned in 2006, 2010 legislation [No. 1636/MENKES/PER /XI/2010 regarding “Female Circumcision”] has taken a huge step backwards by permitting it, as long as it is performed by medical professionals.  According to a 2003 study surveying girls aged 15-18 in six provinces in Indonesia, 86-100% had been subjected to some form of FGM, which commonly involved cutting into or injuring the clitoris.

The World Health Organisation, of which Indonesia is a member, has stated that FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and that “under no circumstances should FGM be performed by health professionals or in health establishments”.  Some proponents argue that the forms of FGM which are carried out in Indonesia are less invasive than in parts of Africa.  However, irrespective of the extent of the procedure, FGM reflects a deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination and violence against women and girls.  Moreover, it promotes the stereotype that there is something inherently wrong with the female body, which needs to be altered.

Further evidence is also emerging in post-Mubarack Egypt, where a new draft constitution has been heavily criticised for failing to protect women’s rights, that some social conservatives are considering a similar approach to Indonesia.  In a recent F1000 research publication, Dr. Mohamed Kandil from Egypt suggests that “the procedure [clitoridectomy] should be offered to parents who insist on it; otherwise, they will do it illegally”.  This absolutely ignores current knowledge of the reproductive, sexual and psychological health risks and complications associated with FGM.  Dr. Kandil also conveniently disregards the Hippocratic Oath, which he has taken as a trained medical doctor and which specifically requires him to keep his patients safe from harm and injustice.  Furthermore, he omits any reference to the fact that the previous ban on medicalised FGM in Egypt was due in most part to the death of a twelve year old girl in 2007, following an FGM procedure performed by a trained medical professional.  The medicalisation of FGM does not work on any level – apart from providing financial benefit to those who perform this dangerous and unnecessary procedure.

Some of those in favour of FGM argue too that it is a cultural or religious requirement, although no reference to this can be found in any major religious text.  Any attempts by politicians to gain votes from religious and cultural traditionalists by turning a blind eye to FGM are unacceptable.  Similarly, medical professionals who encourage this form of child abuse directly contradict their core responsibility to protect rather than harm their patients and should be struck off the medical register.  As minors, those who undergo FGM should not be expected to defend themselves, particularly as some, including Indonesian girls, are less than six weeks old when the procedure is carried out.  Like all victims of child abuse, they look towards both political leaders and medical professionals for help and support, as opposed to putting them at further risk of harm.

However, moves are being made in the right direction in some African countries.  Encouraged by UK and international support, the new Somali constitution includes a ban on all forms of “female circumcision”.  The global effort to stop FGM has also taken a critical step forward at this year’s United Nations General Assembly with the official presentation by the Group of African States of a draft resolution to intensify global efforts to eliminate the practice.  This significant development has created a scenario whereby the human rights of women and girls are being brought centre-stage at last and African governments should be commended for their leadership on this issue at the UN. …

Posted in Acts of Violence, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Medicine, Feminism and Politics, Feminism and Religion, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off

The South Carolina State Senate is going to have a woman member. Only one, but at least one.

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See this, excerpt below:

Katrina Shealy upended Lexington County politics Tuesday, ousting legendary state Sen. Jake Knotts to become the only woman in the state Senate.

Shealy’s win was remarkable in that she beat Knotts in a district that the Republican incumbent drew for himself. Shealy also won despite getting tossed off the Republican primary ballot, along with about 200 other candidates, for not filing the proper paperwork.

But Shealy fought her way back into the general election as a petition candidate. Still, her victory was a long shot, given that she had to overcome the deluge of straight-Republican Party ticket voting that occurs in each presidential election year.

The state Republican Party suspended its rules so it could endorse Shealy – an unprecedented move, especially against a sitting Republican. And a political action committee affiliated with GOP Gov. Nikki Haley poured money into the race for Shealy to defeat Knotts, a Haley critic and opponent.

Knotts, while beloved by many for his constituent services, was unable to overcome several high-profile stumbles, including a fine by the Senate Ethics Commission for violating state ethics laws and referring to Haley, then a candidate for governor, as a “rag head.”

Attempts to reach Knotts and Shealy were unsuccessful Tuesday night. However, Knotts was the only incumbent state senator who appeared headed to defeat.

Posted in Feminism and Politics, South Carolina, The Overrepresentation of Men, The Underrepresentation of Women | Comments Off

“War on Women, Waged in Postcards: Memes From the Suffragist Era”

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Here. Below is one of the featured postcards.

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Politics, Feminist Legal History | Comments Off

Surely there is a better way to describe swing states than “It’s like being the prettiest girl at the dance.”

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See e.g. this (title) and this (within text) and all the places these are linked, such as here, here, here and here.

Posted in Feminism and Politics, Sexism in the Media | Comments Off

Research Fellowships at The Mary Baker Eddy Library

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From the FLP mailbox:

Applications are now available for Summer 2013 Research Fellowships at The Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston.  Fellowships are open to academic scholars, independent researchers, and graduate students.  The Library’s collections, centered on the papers of Mary Baker Eddy and records documenting the history of Christian Science, offer scholars countless opportunities for original research.  A select list of such resources includes:  Mary Baker Eddy’s scrapbooks and copybooks; household account ledgers and receipts; a fully-indexed file of newspapers clippings that date to the late nineteenth century; Eddy’s sermons and lectures; an extensive historic photograph collection; architectural records; early histories of branch Churches of Christ, Scientist; and Eddy’s voluminous correspondence and manuscript material, which offer opportunities for new analyses of her life and ideas.  Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) authored a groundbreaking book on science, theology, and healing titled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, a publishing society, and The Christian Science Monitor.  Previous fellowship topics have included:  Mary Baker Eddy and Bronson Alcott; demographic survey of early Christian Science church members; military ministry; material culture and memory; church architecture and feminine sacred space; Christian Science and divine healing.  Stipend provided. Application and supporting materials must be postmarked by February 4, 2013.  For further information about the Library’s holdings and the fellowship program, including the application and instructions, please go to or contact 617-450-7316,

-Bridget Crawford

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You won’t see Glamour linked to on this blog very often…

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But this short feature about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is very nice.


Posted in Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Law | Comments Off

African Probate & Prolicy Initiative at U Miami School of Law

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The ABA Journal reported here on the University of Miami School of Law’s new African Probate & Policy Initiative.  Here’s an excerpt:

If a Tanzanian man dies without a will, his property goes to his family of origin. If he was married, his widow often receives nothing from the estate. In fact, a Tanzanian woman is more likely to receive property if she divorces than if her husband dies intestate.

Gretchen Bellamy, director of international public interest programs at the University of Miami School of Law, saw this disparity as a profound human rights problem. So the former Peace Corps volunteer launched the African Probate & Policy Initiative and took four law students to Tanzania this summer to draft wills for marginalized populations there.

Bellamy and her crew partnered with the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association to help navigate the country’s highly complex legal system, which combines elements of common law, customary law and Shariah. Not surprisingly, they encountered skepticism from many Tanzanians because some in that culture believe that writing a will is “calling your death.” Since even well-educated Tanzanian women often aren’t listed on car leases or property deeds, Bellamy quickly determined that both men and women needed educating about the importance of wills.

After three weeks of class time in Miami, Bellamy and the students made their way through the cities of Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha and Zanzibar over a four-week period during which they educated couples and wrote wills. Her initial goal was to have each student draft a will, but together they logged more than 300 pro bono hours drafting 103 wills. “It’s a wonderful success story,” Bellamy says. “I realized I’m on to something.”

The full story is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Economics, Feminism and Families, Sisters In Other Nations, Women and Economics | Comments Off

Susan Currier Visiting Professorship at California Polytechnic State University

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From the FLP mailbox:

COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS – SUSAN CURRIER VISITING PROFESSORSHIP – Full-time, non-renewable, one-quarter appointment as a visiting Associate or Full Professor (Lecturer classification) at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California. Position will have an official start date of September 16, 2013, will conclude on December 14, 2013, and can accommodate applicants on semester or quarter schedules.

The Susan Currier Visiting Professorship for Teaching Excellence is a residential teaching professorship that recognizes superior teaching in the liberal arts, emphasizing (where possible) the intersection between gender/women’s issues and global justice/humanitarian concerns. The goal of the Susan Currier Visiting Professorship is to bring an associate or full professor with a distinguished record of teaching excellence to Cal Poly to share her/his expertise and passion for teaching, social justice, and the liberal arts.

The Currier Visiting Professorship entails a two-course teaching assignment, as well as assigned time for service to the university.

Service includes presentation of the annual Susan Currier Memorial Lecture (a major university-wide presentation on a topic appropriate to the visitor’s field) and other to-be-determined activities promoting excellence in teaching (e.g., participation in the Cal Poly Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology). The professorship also provides a residential stipend of up to $10,000, and funds for reimbursed travel expenses for one trip to and from the location of the home institution in accordance with university travel reimbursement guidelines. Salary is commensurate with qualifications, expertise and experience.

The Currier Professorship will be housed in one of the following departments: Art and Design, Communication Studies, English, Ethnic Studies, History, Modern Languages and Literatures, Music, Philosophy, Theatre and Dance, or Women’s and Gender Studies. Ph.D. or other appropriate terminal degree is required in one of the fields of study traditionally associated with the liberal arts. Distinguished record of teaching excellence in a disciplinary or interdisciplinary field related to one or more of the departments listed above.

To apply, please visit WWW.CALPOLYJOBS.ORG, complete a required online faculty application, and apply to Requisition #102688. Attach to the online application a letter of interest, curriculum vita, teaching philosophy (1 page maximum), and a brief descriptive listing of possible courses (2 page maximum). Please see online instructions for where to mail official transcripts of highest degree earned and three current letters of recommendation that address your achievements in teaching as well as your work in an (inter) disciplinary field related to one or more of the departments above.

Questions may be directed to the Cal Poly Women’s and Gender Studies Department (805) 756-1525. REVIEW BEGIN DATE: January 6, 2013. Cal Poly is strongly committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and nominations of all qualified individuals. EEO.

-Bridget Crawford

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“A Cultural History of Mansplaining”

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Here at The Atlantic.

Posted in Feminism and Culture, If you're a woman | Comments Off

Report from Social Justice Feminism Conference

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I just attended the Social Justice Feminism conference sponsored by the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law and inspired by Verna Williams’s and Kristen Kalsem’s Social Justice Feminism, which appeared in 2010 in the UCLA Women’s Law Journal.  Hearty thanks to the conference sponsors for putting together such an inspiring program, continuing the conversation begun as part of the New Women’s Movement Initiative.

The conference was terrific—thought-provoking, energizing—but also unsettling.  As after any good conference, I left with more questions than answers. From Patricia Hill Collins asking what it means to really study and promote intersectionality, to Dorothy Q. Thomas questioning whether one can be both a feminist and a patriot, to Linda Burnham and Barbara Phillips wondering how we as social justice feminists might make our projects relevant to the real people whose interests we hope to serve, a theme throughout the three days was how difficult it is to bridge the divide between the “academy” and the “community.”

The conference did offer inspiration in this regard.  Tracy Thomas’s identification of conservatives’ historical revision of the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ann Cammett’s  re-imagination of criminal and family law outside the paradigms of Welfare Queen and Deadbeat Dad, and Johanna Bond’s challenging of the “false promise” of gender mainstreaming all suggest that a tentative first step toward praxis might be reclaiming jurisdiction over powerful ideals like justice, patriotism, and truth.

My own presentation, with criminologist Tyler Wall from Eastern Kentucky University, suggested we might use Avery Gordon’s approach and explore the raced, classed, and gendered assumptions inherent in dominant narratives as hauntings—ghostly matters—which are deliberately or tacitly obscured in and by the dominant discourse.

The most valuable aspect of the conference was beginning to tap into the wealth of ideas that can emerge when we take time to explore interconnections among feminists from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds, and perspectives.  Now, to put those ideas into practice….

-Francine Banner

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The 2012 Global Gender Report

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(The text and links below are from here)

The Global Gender Gap Report, introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006, provides a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities around the world. The index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparison across regions and income groups and over time.

The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them. The methodology and quantitative analysis behind the rankings are intended to serve as a basis for designing effective measures for reducing gender gaps.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2012 emphasizes persisting gender gap divides across and within regions. Based on the seven years of data available for the 111 countries that have been part of the report since its inception, it finds that the majority of countries covered have made slow progress on closing gender gaps.

This year’s findings show that Iceland tops the overall rankings in The Global Gender Gap Index for the fourth consecutive year. Finland ranks in second position, overtaking Norway (third). Sweden remains in fourth position. Northern European countries dominate the top 10 with Ireland in the fifth position, Denmark (seventh) and Switzerland (10th). New Zealand (sixth), Philippines (eighth) and Nicaragua (ninth) complete the top 10.

The index continues to track the strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women.

Download full report (PDF)
Country Highlights (PDF)
Global Gender Gap Index Data Analyser
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Posted in Feminism and Politics, If you're a woman | Comments Off

Judge as Judicial Midwife?: Justice on Botswana’s High Court Strikes Down Customary Law Rule Banning Female Inheritance

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Recently, a justice on Botswana’s high court struck down a Ngwaketse Customary Law rule precluding women from inheriting family homes, finding that it contravened the right to equality principle enshrined in Botswana’s constitution. Perhaps as interesting as the justice’s conclusion is the language that he used. According to Justice Dingake,  “it is time for Botswana judges to assume the role of the ‘judicial midwives’ to assist in the birth of a new world struggling to be born – a world of equality between men and women as envisioned by the Botswana Constitution.”

“This court believes that it is its function to treat the Constitution as a living organism and to constantly sharpen it to address contemporary challenges,” said Dingake. He is of the view that it is the function of judges to keep the law alive and to make it progressive without being inhibited by those aspects of culture that are no longer relevant, to find every conceivable way of avoiding narrowness that would spell injustice.

Justice Dingake’s idea of judge as “judicial midwife” is an interesting spin on the traditional concept of judge as “judicial activist.” Advocates of strict constructionism or judicial passivism, of course, use the term judicial activist derisively to criticize judges acting as legislators. But the term judicial midwife seems to convey that the judge is instead giving life to something nascent in the Constitution but not fully expressed. The United States analogue is Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), with the Supreme Court famously finding “that the right of marital privacy is protected, as being within the protected penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights….”

The term “judicial midwife” was actually specifically used by David J. Garrow in  tribute  to Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., in which he referred to him “as the essential judicial midwife for what became the Southern black freedom struggle’s most famous protest.” It was also used by Justice Scalia in Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165 (1989), in criticizing the majority’s conclusion that a “district court can use its compulsory process to assist counsel for the plaintiff in locating nonparties to the litigation who may have similar claims, and in obtaining their consent to his prosecution of those claims.” Scalia did not see in any law any “implied authorization for courts to undertake the unheard-of role of midwifing those actions.”

-Colin Miller

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U Chicago Bio Prof Demonstrates Evolutionary Theory

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From Inside Higher Ed (here), this article about a U Chicago professor who took to Facebook to diss the appearances of his female colleagues:

Pity the attendees at last week’s annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience who thought they needed to focus on their papers and the research breakthroughs being discussed. It turns out they were also being judged — at least by one prominent scientist — on their looks. At least the female attendees were.

The scientist was Dario Maestripieri, a professor of comparative human development, evolutionary biology and neurobiology at the University of Chicago. He posted the following reflection about the meeting on his Facebook page:

“My impression of the Conference of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans. There are thousands of people at the conference and an unusually high concentration of unattractive women. The super model types are completely absent. What is going on? Are unattractive women particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are beautiful women particularly uninterested in the brain? No offense to anyone..”

Maestripieri posted the comment on what he may have presumed was a somewhat private portion of his Facebook page. But at least one of his Facebook friends didn’t see the humor, and the post spread on Twitter and elsewhere. And the “no offense to anyone” conclusion of the post doesn’t seem to have prevented considerable offense.

The reaction has been intense online, with people tweeting comments like “Looks like Dario Maestripieri thought the #SFN conference was Paris Fashion Week” and others posting his e-mail account and or critiquing his looks.

Within the women-in-science blogosphere, many have been writing that Maestripieri’s Facebook post provides evidence of the kinds of attitudes they have long experienced, but that many men doubt.


The more things change…

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Science | 1 Comment

According to CNN “New research suggests that hormones may influence female voting choices differently, depending on whether a woman is single or in a committed relationship.”

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Below is a sample paragraph to warn you what you are in for if you decide to read this article. No, as far as I can tell it is not intentionally satirical, which is what I was initially hoping,

The researchers found that during the fertile time of the month, when levels of the hormone estrogen are high, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney, by a margin of at least 20%, Durante said. This seems to be the driver behind the researchers’ overall observation that single women were inclined toward Obama and committed women leaned toward Romney.

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“Scholarly Publishing’s Gender Gap: Women cluster in certain fields, according to a study of millions of journal articles, while men get more credit”

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From the Chron, an account of “the largest analysis ever done of academic articles by gender, reaching across hundreds of years and hundreds of fields.”:

… First they created an algorithm to label the millions of JSTOR papers by field and subfield. Then the trick was to figure out whether an author was male or female. The lab consulted data on birth names collected by the Social Security Administration. If a name was used at least 95 percent of the time for a female, they coded it female, and the same for a male. If use of the name was more ambiguous, they threw the paper out.

Of the eight million articles the group started with, it ended up analyzing two million—written by 2.7 million scholars—whose author composition was similar to the whole. Roughly half were published between 1665 and 1989, and the other half between 1990 and 2010. Included in the database are papers in the hard sciences, the social sciences, law, history, philosophy, and education. Missing from the JSTOR data are articles in engineering, English, foreign languages, and physics.

The data show that over the entire 345 years, 22 percent of all authors were female. (Even though few papers in the JSTOR archive originated in the first 100 years, the researchers still felt that examining the entire data set was worthwhile.) The data also show that women were slightly less likely than that to be first author: About 19 percent of first authors in the study were female. Women were more likely to appear as third, fourth, or fifth authors.

According to the data in just the most recent time period, it is clear that the proportion of female authors over all is rising. From 1990 to 2010, the percentage of female authors went up to 27 percent. In 2010 alone, the last year for which full figures are available, the proportion had inched up to 30 percent. “The results show us what a lot of people have been saying and many of my female colleagues have been feeling,” says Ms. Jacquet. “Things are getting better for women in academia.”

Women still are not publishing, though, in the same proportion as they are present in academe as professors. The same year that the share of female authors in the study reached 30 percent, women made up 42 percent of all full-time professors in academe and about 34 percent of all those at the most senior levels of associate and full professor, according to the American Association of University Professors.

As the proportion of female authors over all has grown, the biologists’ study found, so has the percentage of women as first authors. In fact, by 2010 about the same proportion of women were first authors as were authors in general—about 30 percent.

But those gains have not been mirrored in the last-author position, which is of particular importance in the biological sciences. According to the data, in 2010 only about 23 percent of last authors over all were female. In molecular and cell biology, women represented almost 30 percent of authorships from 1990 to 2010, but only 16.5 percent of last authors. And over that same time period in ecology and evolution, women represented nearly 23 percent of authors but only 18.5 percent of last authors. …

See also.

Posted in Academia, Feminism and the Workplace, The Overrepresentation of Men, The Overrepresentation of Women | Comments Off

“A school reveals it has a “Fantasy Slut League””

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An excerpt just won’t do this article justice. Read the entire piece here.

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Pornography's Harms, Sex and Sexuality, Sexism in the Media, Sociolinguistics | Comments Off

“The War on Twelve Year Old Girls”

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Subtitled: “An epidemic of high-profile trolling is a testament to how pathological misogyny is — and how early it begins,” you can read the entire piece by Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon.

…. And if you require any further proof, read Soraya Chemaly’s nausea-inducing Huffington Post piece on “The 12-Year-Old Slut Meme and Facebook’s Misogyny Problem.” In it, she takes on Facebook’s famously blind eye to pages that intimidate and exploit underage girls, notably the “12-Year-Old Slut Memes” page that’s so chock-full of hilarity about pubes and virginity that it gives new meaning to the word “gag.” It’s the brainchild of two self-described 19-year-old males, and to get a sense of the tone, consider a post from last month declaring “Fuck all you people that had a cry and reported us because we put your slutty fucking photos up, got fucking banned from facebook for a while you cunts, had to make a new account. If you post slutty fucking shit on facebook expect your photo to end up on here, then tagged in, then ripped to shreds by 120 thousand people. Chaos will continue. Go die.” There you go, girls. Doesn’t get clearer than “go die.”

What is it about young girls that’s so incendiary? That could make “Jailbait” for a time the second most popular search on Reddit, that would ever put the words “12-year-old” and “slut” together? This BS – this dehumanizing crap – can’t just be chalked up to the inherent budding attractiveness of youth and freshness. This goes way, way beyond that particular can of worms. I think it has a whole lot to do with just how deeply engrained the hatred of women is in our culture.

It’s not a coincidence that it’s right around the age of 12 that a girl begins to come to an understanding of her potential for power. Not just her sexual power. But her intellectual and physical mettle as well. She’s still very much a child – a child in need of support and protection – but early adolescence is the beginning of a girl coming into her own as an independent person. With a brain and a body she’s going to control. How terrifying that is for the hateful, misogynistic jerks of the world. (And I’m not letting sabotaging, self-hating females off the hook here for their bullying and divisiveness either; they’re a huge part of the problem too.) They pick on girls because it’s easier than dealing with adult women; that’s how weak they are.

I look at my own 12-year-old daughter and I see so much possibility in her. So much strength and wisdom and beauty. And some days, I feel like apologizing to her for everything on the Internet that doesn’t involve tiny pigs. I wish I could write off the likes of Michael Brutsch as one isolated, disturbed individual. And he’s exceptional; a king among trolls, to be sure. But he exists because there is a strong and vocal community of little creeps who are simultaneously aroused and hateful and scared to death of everything that a young girl represents. Who look at her and feel so bad about their own pathetic selves they want nothing more than to tear her down and make her feel ever worse about herself. My dear daughter, I am so sorry these morons are out there, and that you and your friends are in their cross hairs. That they don’t see you as a person but a threat. …

Posted in Acts of Violence, Feminism and Culture, If you're a woman, Masculinity, Pornography's Harms, Sexism in the Media, Sexual Harassment, The Overrepresentation of Women | Comments Off