Angelina Jolie On Preventive Mastectomy

Actress and activist Angelina Jolie writes about her decision to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Her op-ed, “My Medical Choice,” lays out her reasons, which include a discussion of the death of her mother from cancer, and her own decision to go public, and is published in the New York Times.

Posted in Feminism and Medicine | Comments Off

Student-Teacher Loses Her Job Over SlutWalk

From the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Sun News (here):

[Theresa] Illgen, 23, appeared in a front-page photograph in the Las Cruces Sun-News wearing a bra and appearing to motivate those who marched to educate students, and the public, about the issue of rape culture and victim blaming. The national march typically includes participants who dress in skimpy clothing who peacefully protest against excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance.

“I didn’t know the picture would be published,” Illgen said. “The next day, I started thinking that there was going to be something that will happen from this.”

During her lunch hour Thursday at Mayfield, Illgen met with a vice principal and counselor at the school who Illgen said, “Told me the best option was to consider my student teaching done.” Illgen was also told to gather her personal belongings and leave Mayfield quietly.

“I was told my actions interfered with student learning,” she said.

Illgen added she was led to believe the decision to cease her student teaching, inhistory and sociology, came from Las Cruces school district officials rather than school administrators.

The offending photo?

(image credit: Robin Zielinski/Sun-News, here)

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Primary and Secondary Education | Comments Off

Where are the Women? Stanford Law School “CodeX FutureLaw Conference” Edition

Check out the line-up for yourself, here. 26 speakers; 25 men.  One woman who is a student.

Conference organizer Tim Hwang said this in a article about the purpose of the conference. He said the inspiration behind the conference was “what awesome things are people working on [in legal services field] that should be shared more widely?”

He perhaps didn’t say that he only wanted to hear what men were doing, but the impact of the conference line-up is precisely that.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Where are the Women? | Comments Off

After More Than a Century, the Netherlands Gets a King

For the first time in 123 years, the Netherlands has a male sovereign. Queen Beatrix has abdicated, somewhat ironically on Queen’s Day, paving the way for her oldest son, Willem-Alexander, to become the nation’s king. Beatrix follows in the tradition of her mother, Juliana, who abdicated to make way for her in 1980, as did Juliana’s mother Wilhelmina, who left the throne in 1948 for Juliana. Male tenure in the House of Orange may be a blip: Willem-Alexander’s heir is his daughter Catherine-Amalia, now Princess of Orange. Lining up after her are her two sisters. Photos of female royals (with glittering headgear) celebrating the investiture here from the Daily Mail. In any case, the Dutch sovereign no longer gets a coronation. There’s just a secular ceremony, and a lot of celebration. More coverage from the CBC. the Guardian (with video), Le Monde.

Posted in Feminist Legal History | Comments Off

Defining Pregnancy In Law

Khiara M. Bridges, Boston University School of Law, has published When Pregnancy Is an Injury: Rape, Law  and Culture, at 65 Stanford Law Review 457 (2013). Here is the abstract.       

This Article examines criminal statutes that grade more severely sexual assaults that result in pregnancy. These laws, which define pregnancy as a “substantial bodily injury,” run directly counter to positive constructions of pregnancy within culture. The fact that the criminal law, in this instance, reflects this negative, subversive understanding of pregnancy creates the possibility that this idea may be received within culture as a construction of pregnancy that is as legitimate as positive understandings. In this way, these laws create possibilities for the reimagining of pregnancy within law and society. Moreover, these laws recall the argumentation that proponents of abortion rights once made – argumentation that one no longer hears and sees in the debates surrounding abortion. However, recent developments in antiabortion argumentation – namely the notion accepted in Carhart II that it is abortion that injures women – counsel the retrieval of the argument that unwanted pregnancies are injuries to women. Thus, the sexual assault laws are means to legitimatize a claim that may serve as an effective counterdiscourse to prevailing antiabortion argumentation.

The exploration proceeds in three Parts. Part I provides an overview of sexual assault statutes that punish more severely perpetrators who cause their victims to become pregnant and suggests that these laws are worthy of cultural analysis because they define pregnancy as an injury and, as such, are wholly at odds with positive constructions of pregnancy. Part II moves the discussion outside of the context of rape. It contends that the definition of pregnancy as an injury does not solely describe women’s experience of pregnancies that result from rape, but generally describes women’s experience of unwanted pregnancy. Indeed, it is the profound unwantedness of the pregnancy that results from rape that makes it an injury. Thus, the criminal law gives legitimacy to a subversive phenomenology of unwanted pregnancy, which may have repercussions for how pregnancy – and abortion – is understood within society. Part III looks at representations of pregnancy in other areas of the law, revealing that the law frequently embodies positive constructions of pregnancy even when negative constructions might be expected. The rare times that the law appears to represent pregnancy subversively are when laws index the social effects of pregnancies. Accordingly, while the law in these instances represents pregnancy as an injury, the injury is to the body politic. Thus, the subversive nature of the representation is mitigated, as it does not endeavor to describe a bodily experience of pregnancy. A brief conclusion follows.

Download the full text of the article from SSRN at the link.

Posted in Acts of Violence, Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Law, Women's Health | Comments Off

Of Husband Hunting and Diamond Mines

There has been a tremendous dust-up in response to Susan Patton’s (a member of the Princeton class of 1977) letter to the Daily Princetonian.  In her letter, Patton exhorts Princeton women to begin the task of husband hunting in their freshman year, warning them that “[f]or most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”

Below is my response, a version of which was also published in the Daily Princetonian:

I have to say that while I disagree with most of Patton’s assertions, I don’t find them especially offensive. After all, women can take Patton’s advice or leave it. While Patton’s tone does seem overwrought and off key in several respects, I don’t find her message much different from any other piece of alumni advice. In fact, I find myself uneasier with the assumption by some women that Patton’s point of view is one that should be suppressed. I don’t agree with much of what Patton says. But neither do I think that Patton’s view should be silenced. Haven’t men told women to shut up long enough without women telling each other (for it is mostly women doing the silencing) to shut up? I for one think Patton ought to speak louder and longer to her points. If she did, we might engender fuller and more constructive engagement on the issue of women’s family lives.

I am especially uneasy with the class and race privilege evidenced in the outraged responses to Patton’s letter. There seems to be at work here an implicit understanding that elite college women who look for early marriage with classmates (or perhaps for any marriage at all) are turning their backs on stellar opportunities or are being untrue to bedrock feminist principles such as autonomy or equality. This is problematic because although women come in all stripes, too often norms of feminism are shaped by the elite few. Feminism has been and continues to be the province of the wealthy, the white and the well-connected. Many of these women want to have it all or want a larger piece of the pie. Other women might be content to get any of it at all or might be content with some of the crumbs from the pie much less a piece of it. It is difficult to frame a broad-based emancipatory feminist program in the face of such starkly contrasting metaphors for female success.

continue reading the post here

-Lolita Buckner Inniss

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

Posted in Academia, Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Families, Race and Racism, Socioeconomic Class | Comments Off

All-woman team from Ethiopia looks to compete in Jessup moot competition

Here’s an excerpt from a message Diane Marie Amann has posted over  on IntLawGrrls:

“For the 1st time in history, a team made up solely of women will represent Ethiopia in the final rounds of the Jessup International Law Moot Court competition, which begin this Sunday, March 31, in Washington, D.C.

“Competing for Ethiopia will be 5 women, Adiam Zemenfes, Aklile Solomon, Liilnna Kifle, Maya Fresenay, Mintwab Afework, all of whom are students at the Addis Ababa University School of Law. They’re coached by a 6th woman, Blen Sahilu. The team is described in an ASIL Cable by New York Law School student Kienan D. Christianson, as follows:

 These women are exceptional students and are ranked at the top of their class. Moreover, they are dedicated leaders and volunteers for the campaign ‘To End violence against Women’ known as the ‘Yellow Movement.’

“But there’s a hitch: The Jessup does not fund competitors, so the team has been fund-raising to assure its way to D.C. These women are still $4,000 short of their goal. If you’d like to support their efforts, please donate here, typing “Ethiopian Moot Court team” in the “on behalf of” box. I did.”




Posted in Academia, Law Schools, Sisters In Other Nations | Tagged | Comments Off

Parade of Male Dean Candidates

As a soon-to-be-tenured female faculty member, I have been watching the news of recent law school dean appointments at Connecticut, UNLV, IU-Indy, and Northern Kentucky with interest. Three points stand out among all the announcements. First, these candidates are all distinguished and deserving candidates. [My own institution, IU-Indy, is fortunate to have Andy Klein at the helm to make some difficult decisions that lie ahead.] Second, one must have a certain degree of courage to agree to guide legal education in this time of change and challenge. Finally, one cannot help but notice that all of the appointments are male.

I cannot help but wonder if the source of this gender disparity  is the fact that women are relucant to take the helm of institutions where there may be inadequate resources or a faculty culture that is resistant to change. Or is the problem that the key decision-makers don’t believe that women have the leadership credentials to manage schools in difficult times? I do find it difficult to believe that in 2013, women are still regularly excluded from the leadership ranks of law schools. Of course, the empiricists will point out that there is a problem with a sample size of only four. But my problem with this particular sample size is that it conveys the impression that women are continuing to be shut out at the top ranks of legal academia.

Because of issues of confidentiality, we will never know whether any of the female candidates brought back for campus interviews for these positions selected to make the process look fair on the surface or whether they were “real” candidates that were the subject of true deliberation. It would be helpful to know how many women applied for each of these jobs and how much consideration did they receive. Finally, if experience as an associate dean is the required gateway to a deanship, do certain law schools stand out in terms of the number of women they have appointed to associate dean positions. Do others lag behind?

-Shawn Marie Boyne

Posted in Law Schools | Comments Off

Colorado Civil Unions: Marriage Minus

Did anyone notice that Colorado’s new civil union law purports to create a status that is the legal equivalent of marriage–except that parties to a civil union are prohibited from filing a joint state income tax return? (See § 14-15-117.) The purported reason for this is that couples who are not “married” for federal tax purposes cannot file a joint federal income tax return and the Colorado state income tax piggybacks on the federal income tax. But other states that have civil unions or same-sex marriage don’t seem to have a problem with requiring joint filing by same-sex couples (however much in the way of extra administrative burdens and extra costs it might add). (See Carlton Smith & Edward Stein, Dealing with DOMA: Federal Non-recognition Complicates State Income Taxation of Same-Sex Relationships, 24 Colum. J. Gender & L. 29, 33 (2012).) This also ignores the fact that different-sex couples (who are eligible to enter into a Colorado civil union) are apparently (at least according to the IRS) eligible to file joint federal income tax returns so long as their relationship is the legal equivalent of marriage. But will different-sex parties to a Colorado civil union now be allowed to file a joint federal return if their relationship is something less than a marriage? What about same-sex parties to a Colorado civil union if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to strike down section 3 of DOMA?

-Anthony Infanti

Posted in LGBT Rights | Comments Off

Marc Stein’s “Sexual Injustice” Available in Paperback

Marc Stein’s Sexual Injustice: Supreme Court Decisions From Griswold To Roe is now available in paperback from the University of North Carolina Press.

The publisher gives the following infor for professors interested in course adoption:

To order a print exam copy,   email me the name, enrollment, and semester of your course. Then go to the   book’s page, click ADD   PAPER, and enter 01EXAM at   checkout. To order by mail, use our exam copy order   form. Print exam copies are $6.00. 

To order an   electronic exam copy, visit our electronic exam   copy request page, fill out the form, and submit it. If it is available,   a book previewer widget will be sent to you.


You may also purchase   this book at 20% off by entering 01ENEW at checkout.

Posted in Academia, Feminism and Law, Sex and Sexuality | Comments Off

On the Importance of Recognizing Women’s Role in Parenting

I read with interest the post Why we should be careful about taking the ‘maternity’ out of ‘parental leave’ over at Blue Milk.  I think the piece nicely summarizes some of the conservative undercurrents in the arguments surrounding gender-neutral parental leave policies and other parenting conversations:

It presents care as a transferable and marketable commodity, further marginalising questions about the impact different forms may have on those who depend on care the most (in this case, babies). It also fails to challenge work-practices that demand impossibly long working hours, and measurements of performance that ultimately devalue children and caring responsibilities.

Moreover, as an example of a dominant strand of feminism in Australia, the gender-equity paradigm is paradoxically de-gendered. Indeed, Cannold argues for ‘the parenthood conundrum’ to be ‘articulated in gender-neutral ways’. This, however, taps into a productivist ethos entirely consistent with the demands of the neoliberal marketplace, with caregivers replaceable or interchangeable in much the same way as employees in workplaces. In addition, a feminism promoting gender neutrality (in the name of equality) denies the bodily experience of women after they have given birth. Though a boon to the productive workplace, the breast pump may not necessarily protect the emotional needs of women and babies. To deny that baby leave is a women’s issue, to decouple ‘maternity’ from ‘leave’, is also to conceal human vulnerability and dependence. It reproduces what Iris Young has called ‘the normalising but impossible ideal’ that we are autonomous, unencumbered self-sufficient individuals, somehow beyond human dependency.

Emphasis in the original.

I’m all in favor of getting more men involved in caregiving, and recognizing men’s contributions as caregivers, but we also need to be conscious of what gets left out of the conversation when parenting or even mothering is constructed as gender-neutral by some scholars.

The full post (here) is worth a read.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Families | Comments Off

Student Reflection: Obstacles to Gender Equality at Work and Home, in Reaction to Rosenblum

The following is a guest post by Margaret Serrano, a student at Pace University School of Law (JD expected 2013).

Pace Law School Professor Darren Rosenblum posted yesterday to his Huffington Post Blog (here) to criticize Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In for failing to recognize the “central role played by public policy” in to increasing gender equality in the work place. “Reversing centuries of corporate sexism will not happen just because women wish it,” he explains. Private sector focused efforts such as those advanced by Sandberg “are doomed to fail,” he predicts, “because they ignore how our legal system establishes rules to stack men into high-power jobs and women onto the ‘mommy track’…only if the state ‘leans in’ to shift public policy and expectations will people be permitted to contribute to work and family, without regard to one’s sex.”

I reacted strongly to this post (not to mention Rosenblum’s 2010 Unsex Mothering Article) because it stirred up so many of the stereotypes that have been affecting my own life in the five years since I became a parent. In my family, beyond the breastfeeding, which, of course I do, my husband is the one who spends more hours of the day with our children, while I take on more professional and financial activities and responsibility.

As such, we have endured years of comments from friends, relatives, and passers-by to the effect that my husband must be some kind of a lazy bum for wanting to spend so much time in the home. Then there are those like Hanna Rosin who feel a need to point out how undesirable and sexually unappealing men who care for children are, despite advocating that more of them should take on this role (see her 2012 book The End of Men and the Rise of Women, especially the chapter “The Seesaw Marriage: True Love (Just for Elites),” replete with anecdotes of men who feel emasculated by their role in the home sphere, and women who look down on them in various different ways because of it). Also, pretty much every time my husband comes home from taking our children somewhere, he tells stories of nosy strangers who feel entitled to ask him if he has thought of whether our not our crying baby is hungry (would that not obviously be anyone’s first thought?!), and who always want to know where the baby’s mother his (because, of course, I am really the one whose responsibility this really is if our child is crying).

On the flip side of this same coin, I have had it suggested many times that I am an irresponsible woman, or at best silly and naive, for not having had the good sense to have married a wealthy man who can take care of me while I can stay home with my children. Further, I have received much purportedly well-meaning advice to the affect that my children will necessarily turn out stupider or emotionally scarred because I have periodically sent them to daycare settings. These are all very typical experiences in the mommy wars; I know I haven’t been a particular target of abuse.

Until I became pregnant with my daughter Jasmine in 2007, I more or less unexaminedly believed that today’s world was free of gender discrimination, because everyone seemed to express feelings that it should be and, well, hadn’t we all come a long way? Then, of course, I became a parent and I quickly learned, even before I gave birth, that the world may claim to be ready to treat women as equals to men, but not if children are involved. I have been on about 14 job interviews while visibly pregnant (thankfully each string of interviews did eventually lead to a job, both in 2007 and in 2012). It was interesting to observe each of the interviewers squirm around the fact that he (yes, actually all but two were men!) was dying to ask me how in God’s name I planned to do good work for him once I had the baby. Many of them even went ahead and asked, or had their secretaries ask me, purportedly outside of the interview. Then, I had to wonder if those who didn’t ask were worse, because that probably meant they were writing me off without the chance to explain how I planned to do it.

Around this same time I started to notice that most women who do make it to elevated professional positions, let’s say Supreme Court justices or corporate board members, don’t have children. Things like this made me begin to wonder why there aren’t quotas, not for women, but rather in favor of people who are caregivers for children? Wouldn’t that be what would really show that society is really supporting families and the best interest of children? If that can’t happen in our society, aren’t we then setting a clear expectation that all people choose between having families and fully participating in the professional world? Are we OK with that as a society? Isn’t there a valuable perspective that people who know what it’s like to care for children bring? Isn’t it unacceptably sad that those who run our world are denied the opportunity to be close to their family (don’t we all know a rich and powerful older man who regrets all the time he never could spend with his family, or his children who are still in therapy over it)? We really need to think hard about what this all means and make sure that we, as a people, can live with our the consequences of our actions in this regard.

I also had one last thought regarding policies to advance gender equality in the work place. I agree that it would be much, much better for our country to have a leave policy, like that of Sweden (as Rosenblum details in both pieces of writing cited here), which comes much closer to supporting all parents in childcare roles. If that cannot and will not be in our society for now, however, I wonder if it wouldn’t be more honest for all jobs to be openly, explicitly designated as jobs for primary caregivers and jobs not for primary caregivers.

I know this is a very problematic proposal, and not at all practical, but the fact that it would be more honest says something important. That way, at least, employers could stop pretending that they are not having to gain information through backdoor methods about who they want to hire, or simply avoid hiring or promoting women in general. Additionally, applicants, men or women, could have a clear idea about what jobs they can or should apply for, and perhaps there would be jobs more clearly available for those who wanted to ramp down but still remain in the work force for some years. I am not sure how to express what I am getting at with this idea yet, but I guess I would like to find a way to shed some light on the suppressed dishonesty of workforce discrimination today, if we can’t get a leave policy like Sweden’s at this point in time. Or maybe I am seeking a way to articulate a remedy for discrimination centered around on disclosure about employer’s true requirements. I will keep pondering this idea.

-Margaret Serrano

title of post updated 3/17/13 – ed.

Posted in Feminism and Families, Guest Blogger | Comments Off

Emens on “Compulsory Sexuality”

Elizabeth Emens (Columbia) has posted to SSRN her article Compulsory Sexuality, 66 Stan. L. Rev. (forthcoming). Here is the abstract:

Asexuality is an emerging identity category that challenges the common assumption that everyone is defined by some type of sexual attraction. Asexuals — those who feel no sexual attraction to others — constitute one percent of the population, according to a prominent study. In recent years, some individuals have begun to identify as asexual and to connect around their experiences interacting with a sexual society. Asexuality has also become a protected classification under one state’s antidiscrimination law, but legal scholarship has thus far neglected the subject.

This article introduces asexuality as a category of analysis, an object of empirical study, and a phenomenon of medical science. It then offers a close examination of the growing community of self-identified asexuals. Asexual identity has revealing intersections with the more familiar categories of gender, sexual orientation, and disability, and inspires new models for understanding sexuality.

Thinking about asexuality also sheds light on our legal system. Ours is arguably a sexual law, organized around the assumption that sex is important. The article traces several ways that our sexual law burdens, and occasionally benefits, asexuals. These indirect legal burdens combine with recent research on bias against asexuals to suggest a plausible case for legally protecting asexuals from discrimination. New York has included asexuality in its antidiscrimination law, and the article uses original research to tell the story of that legal innovation. The article concludes by exploring the common intuition that asexuality is a poor fit with existing antidiscrimination law. A close study of protected classifications identifies the core criteria that track the degrees of protection achieved by different identity categories, few of which are currently met by asexuality, though this could change with time. In so doing, the article provides a novel approach for understanding the landscape of antidiscrimination law.

The full piece is available here.  This is a great piece, and one I recommend.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off

For International Women’s Day, a Google Doodle

It’s International Women’s Day. Google heralds the event with a special Doodle from Google.





Posted in Academia, Feminism and Technology | Tagged | Comments Off

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

869c1f8711eb01b6c673e7134dd39635_biggerThe Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School invites applications for a sabbatical visitor for the 2013-2014 academic year to undertake research, writing and collaboration with Center faculty and students in ways that span traditional academic disciplines. The CGSL welcomes applications from faculty from any field who are interested in spending a semester or the academic year in residence at Columbia Law School working on scholarly projects relating to Gender and/or Sexuality Law.

Sabbatical Visitors will receive an office with phone and computer, secretarial support and full access to university libraries, computer systems and recreational facilities. In addition, Sabbatical Visitors will be expected to participate in CGSL activities and present a paper at the Center’s Colloquium Series.  Application deadline is April 15, 2013.

For more information:

Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School

Posted in Academia, Fellowships and Funding Opportunities | Comments Off

What Continues to Motivate the Anti-Abortion-Rights Movement 40 Years After Roe?

The Washington Post (op-ed): Why pro-lifers keep fighting abortion, by Helen Alvaré & Meg T. McDonnell:

Pro-choice Americans must wonder from time to time what keeps pro-lifers going. Why don’t we lay down our signs, cease our marching and admit that we’ve been good and beaten for these 40 years since Roe v. Wade? One of us is a baby boomer, the other a millennial; our views may help others understand these things and, along the way, think about some rarely considered aspects of the U.S. experience with legal abortion. . . .


Two points in particular jumped out at me upon reading this op-ed. First, Alvaré and McDonnell describe abortion as “the destruction of a human life, at its most vulnerable stage, with the consent of the mother.” Seeing the pregnant woman as complicit in “the destruction of human life” (although it is interesting that they shy from the word “murder”) is certainly consistent with seeing a fertilized human egg as morally equivalent to a fully developed person. However, the anti-choice movement typically disavows any desire to punish women for abortions, despite this complicity, preferring to cast women as helpless victims of predatory abortion doctors. This undermines any claim that embryos are persons, for it is highly doubtful that they would view with compassion mothers who “consent” to the “destruction” of their children once they are born. It would be enlightening to know how Alvaré and McDonnell feel about this issue.

Second, Alvaré and McDonnell rightly point out that “poor and minority women and girls get the short end of the stick” when it comes to governmental support for child-rearing. To their credit, the authors blame Republicans as well as Democrats for this. But the fact is, Republican policies are particularly hostile to mothers who struggle financially. Yet the anti-choice movement chooses to direct its fervor toward preventing abortion rather than promoting policies to help low-income mothers. Indeed, the states that enforce the most vehemently anti-abortion policies spend the least to educate children, facilitate adoption, and provide assistance to poor children.

For more on the inconsistencies between the anti-abortion-rights movement’s rhetoric and its positions, see my article, The Meaning of ‘Life': Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate. For my assessment of the anti-abortion-rights movement forty years after Roe, see Roe v. Wade’s 40th Anniversary: A Moment of Truth for the Anti-Abortion-Rights Movement?

-Caitlin Borgmann (cross-posted at Reproductive Rights Prof Blog)

Posted in Reproductive Rights | Comments Off

Male Fragility and Law

Mary Anne Franks collects examples of the male fragility narrative in law and in society. It’s a fascinating observation, reminiscent of a recent discussion at Slate: Societal constructions of masculine identity are actually quite fragile, and as a result society regularly establishes social structures (such as no-gays-in-the-military) to protect the fragile identities of straight men.

Posted in Masculinity | Comments Off

Lean In (Toward the Everlasting Glass)

I think about all the moments I just didn’t believe in myself. Every test I was sure I was about to fail, every job I wasn’t sure I could do,” she says. “It was after watching so many women quietly lean back, after watching myself quietly lean back and miss opportunities, that I started to see the pattern and started to talk about it.

–Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, has caused a national discussion of women’s success (and failure) in the workplace with her assertion that women often lose ground because they “lean back,” that is, they choose to forego opportunities. In her upcoming book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sandberg details how women can overcome what could, I suppose, be called a pathological unwillingness to power. Women need, per Sandberg, a Nietzschean kick in the butt to get out of their career torpor.

I am, in general, a strong believer in the value and importance of hard work. I know, however, that no amount of hard work and determination can overcome certain types of workplace barriers for some women. The historical and current states of gender, class and racial inequality make leaning in futile in some cases. This is chiefly because Sandberg’s lean in notion relies upon the primacy of ideas such as formal equality and rationality. Lean in ignores the extent to which women have been excluded in shaping the substantive content of equality norms. As to rationality, it has long been clear that many employers will persist in gender or other types of discrimination even where they cause harm to their own interests. In short, employers can and frequently do cut off their own noses to spite their faces.

So, for the Sheryl Sandberg’s of the world I offer this paean to leaning in:

“Lean In Toward the Everlasting Glass” (Sung to the Tune of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”)

If you seek a job advance or want your career enhanced then

Lean in toward the everlasting glass

The glass is oh so thick

Work, wheedle, politick and

Lean in toward the everlasting glass

                        continue reading here at Ain’t I a Feminist Legal Scholar, Too?

Posted in Race and Racism, Sex and Sexuality, Socioeconomic Class | Comments Off

Internship for Law Students: Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

From colleagues at Brandeis:

HBI Summer Internship Program Seeks Graduate Student Intern for Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law – June 10 – August 2, 2013

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University has an opening for a graduate student with a background in law for their eight-week summer internship program.  An intern is needed to assist Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Director of the HBI’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, in writing a chapter for her upcoming book, “Gender, Justice and Dialogue:  Women’s Rights and Jewish Law.”  The chapter will deal with the status of sex segregation practices under international human rights law.

The HBI Internship Program is an eight-week program for both undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in Jewish gender studies.  Graduate students receive a weekly stipend, housing on the Brandeis campus, and the opportunity to work with senior scholars in the field.  Interns divide their time between providing research assistance and carrying out their own research.

For further details:

Application deadline: March 28, 2013

The mission of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute is to develop fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide by producing and promoting scholarly research, artistic projects and public engagement.

Posted in Academia | Comments Off

CFP: Beyond Roe: Reproductive Justice in a Changing World

Beyond Roe: Reproductive Justice in a Changing World

Throughout 2013, five law schools in the Delaware Valley will hold events exploring various aspects of reproductive justice in the 40 years post-Roe v. Wade. The final event in this series is a conference sponsored by the Rutgers School of Law – Camden that will take place on Friday, October 11 on the Rutgers campus in Camden, New Jersey.* You can find more information about the conference here.

We are now pleased to invite proposals for papers and panels. The conference theme is Beyond Roe: Reproductive Justice in a Changing World. We welcome submissions on any topic related to the law, policy and reproduction, including avoiding reproduction, public policy related to reproduction, and reproductive regulation post-Roe.

Paper abstracts should be no more than 500 words, accompanied by a descriptive title for the paper proposed. Proposed panels should include a description of the overall topic, as well as a panel title and the titles of all the papers and panelists to be included in the panel.  Panels should include no less than 4 proposed panelists. Panel proposals should also be no more than 500 words. All submissions must include the names, e-mail addresses, and full affiliations of all authors.  In the case of panels and co-authored papers, please identify a corresponding author and provide sufficient detail in your abstract or proposal so that reviewers can fully assess your proposal and determine how it will fit with other proposals being reviewed.

There will be two plenary sessions at the conference and some submitted papers might be selected for plenary presentations. If you wish for us to consider your paper for a plenary session, please indicate that desire on your submission.

Please e-mail submissions (in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format) to by April 1, 2013. If you have any questions about the conference, please direct them to Kimberly Mutcherson at

Though the conference will have a primary focus on law, we also invite submissions from other disciplines including philosophy, the social sciences, critical cultural studies (gender and sexuality studies, disability studies, critical race studies, etc.), public health, and others.

We urge you to interpret the conference theme broadly. While this conference emerges from the Roe anniversary, we seek to initiate and support discussion across a wide range of reproductive justice topics and want to build a conference program that looks forward to the world created in the wake of Roe rather than focusing narrowly on the Roe decision itself or on issues related to abortion. Possible topics for inclusion on the program include:

– Burgeoning markets in reproduction fueled by assisted reproductive technology (“ART”), including cross border fertility care (“reproductive tourism”), the market in gametes, creating of kinship ties without biological or genetic links, and informed consent in the fertility industry;

– Public health approaches to abortion, contraception, assisted reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth;

– Race, class, sexual orientation and access to childbearing and the economics of reproduction;

– The medical market and insurance issues related to abortion/contraception, prenatal care, childbirth and fertility services;

– Reproductive justice in the courts, including the future of the Supreme Court’s evolution on abortion access, treatment of pregnant prisoners, access to contraception, reproductive health services for undocumented immigrants, prenatal testing, etc.;

– Issues of abortion access, including training for a new generation of abortion providers, harassment of providers, and TRAP laws;

– Racialized and woman protective arguments against abortion and their impact on abortion access and reproductive health;

–  Familial privacy and the state, including the relationship between access to reproduction and parenting and the power wielded by child protective services;

– Intimate partner violence and reproduction;

– Affordable Care Act implications for reproductive health services;

– Pregnancy and the workplace; and

– Human rights discourse and access to reproductive health services.

There may be a publishing opportunity for interested conference participants. We will share more information about that possibility with panelists whose work is selected for inclusion in the conference program.

* For those unfamiliar with our campus, we are located a few short minutes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Amtrak’s 30th street station is a 10-minute cab ride from campus and the Philadelphia International Airport is approximately 20 minutes from campus by cab. Philadelphia offers a wealth of cultural opportunities, including world-class museums, fine dining, theater, and an extensive public park system that can be enjoyed while away from the conference (


Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Reproductive Rights | Comments Off

University of Baltimore School of Law’s Sixth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference

The sixth annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference will be hosted by the University of Baltimore School of Law on Thursday and Friday, March 7-8, at the school. Featuring a series of workshops and a keynote address, this year’s conference will focus on “Applied Feminism and Families.” Both family law specialists and experts from other areas of the law will present papers, join in discussions, and consider a host of questions related to the important issue of applied feminism’s impact on families in the United States and in other countries. The event is free and open to the public; attendance details are listed below.

Papers presented during the conference are expected to address questions such as:

What have been the accomplishments or shortcomings of feminist legal theory for families?
How might feminist legal theory respond to the challenges facing families?
What sort of support should society and law provide to families?
Does feminist legal theory support state interventions into family life? In what circumstances?
How do law and feminist legal theory conceptualize the roles of family members, including mothers, fathers, caretakers, children, and others?
How does feminist legal theory help us understand changes in the institution of marriage and family structure?
How do the needs of families vary across cultural, economic, religious, and other differences?
Are theories of essentialism and intersectionality necessary or helpful in shaping laws that impact families?
In what areas outside of family law could or should feminist legal theory be applied to assist families?
This year’s conference will attempt to address these and other questions from the perspectives of activists, practitioners and scholars. The conference will provide an opportunity for participants and audience members to exchange ideas about the current state of feminist legal theories. Conference organizers say they hope to deepen the understanding of how feminist legal theory relates to families and to move new insights into practice. In addition, the conference is designed to provide presenters with the opportunity to gain feedback on their papers.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. The first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the Senate in 2006 and a strong advocate for middle-class families on a range of critical issues including economic growth, job creation and fiscal responsibility and accountability in government, Klobuchar will speak on Friday, March 8 beginning at 2 p.m. in the Venable Baetjer Howard Moot Court Room in the School of Law.

There is no charge to attend the conference, but pre-registration is requested as seating is limited. RSVP at

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Qualifications of a Supermodel

Model Cameron Russell gives a remarkably candid and articulate explanation:

I am not a uniquely accomplished 25-year-old. I’ve modeled for 10 years and I took six years to finish my undergraduate degree part-time, graduating this past June with honors from Columbia University. If I ever had needed to put together a CV it would be quite short. Like many young people I’d highlight my desire to work hard. But hard work is not why I have been successful as a model. I’m not saying I’m lazy. But the most important part of my job is to show up with a 23-inch waist, looking young, feminine and white.

Posted in Sexism in the Media | Comments Off

In Defense of Law Review Affirmative Action

As you may have seen, the new Scholastica submission service allows law reviews to collect demographic information from authors. A flurry of blog posts has recently cropped up in response; as far as I can tell, they range from negative to negative to kinda-maybe-negative to negative to still negative. The most positive post I’ve seen comes from Michelle Meyer at the Faculty Lounge, who discusses whether Scholastica’s norms are like symposium selection norms, and in the process implies that Scholastica’s model might be okay. Michael Mannheimer at Prawfs also makes a sort of lukewarm defense that editors were probably doing this anyway.

But is it really the case that law review affirmative action would be a bad thing? Continue reading

Posted in Feminists in Academia, Race and Racism, The Overrepresentation of Men, The Underrepresentation of Women, Where are the Women? | Comments Off

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg headlines Thomas Jefferson Law School Women and Law Conference

Last Friday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at the 13th Annual Women and Law Conference at Thomas Jefferson Law School. A packed house listened as panelists discussed a variety of issues relating to women in the judiciary, and the highlight of the day was an extended and candid Q&A with Justice Ginsburg herself.

Justice Ginsburg spoke at moderate length on the unfortunate politicization of the confirmation process. She noted that, “I hope for the day that we can get back to where the system was when I was nominated in 1993. There was a true bi-partisan spirit prevailing in our Congress. We are heading in the wrong direction. We need to reverse gears and go back to the time when there was bi-partisan support for the president’s nominees. I wonder if the president would even nominate me now with my longtime affiliation with the ACLU. During my confirmation, not one Senator asked me about it.”

Justice Ginsburg was also very clear about the need for women on the bench, emphasizing that women judges bring perspective that the court otherwise lacks, and that a commitment to equality requires more than just tokenism. She spoke of how, during her first year on the bench, lawyers would refer to her as Justice O’Connor, although they look nothing alike. But in recent years, the confirmation of additional women Justices has changed the dynamic of the Court.

Justice Ginsburg also gave background on a fascinating case from her days at the ACLU, ultimately involving a woman’s right not to have an abortion. A military servicewoman became pregnant, and the military ordered her to terminate the pregnancy or leave the base. The ACLU took her case, and was successful in defending the woman’s choice. Afterwards, Justice Ginsburg asked the woman if there was anything else that she wanted, and she replied, “I’d love to do flight training.” And they both just laughed at the impossibility of such an idea. But today, women can receive flight training; and in fact the female TJSL student on the Q&A panel was a military pilot prior to law school. My, how times have changed.

The rest of the conference was also fantastic. Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Law Schools, Sisters In Other Nations, Upcoming Conferences | Comments Off

Where are the Women? Florida Law Review Edition

Here’s the TOC for Volume 64, Number 6 of the Florida Law Review:

Martin H. Redish & Matthew B. Arnould, Judicial Review, Constitutional Interpretation, and the Democratic Dilemma: Proposing a “Controlled Activism” Alternative

Erwin Chemerinsky, The Elusive Quest for Value Neutral Judging: A Response to Redish and Arnould

Gary Lawson, No History, No Certainty, No Legitimacy . . . No Problem: Originalism and the Limits of Legal Theory

Sergio J. Campos, Erie as a Choice of Enforcement Defaults

George W. Dent, Jr., Corporate Governance: The Sweedish Solution

Ben Trachtenberg, Confronting Coventurers: Coconspirator Hearsay, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause

Derek W. Black, Civil Rights, Charter Schools, and Lessons to be Learned

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Where are the Women? | Comments Off

Gilman on “The Class Differential in Privacy Law” and “The Poverty Defense”

Michele Gilman (Baltimore) has posted two articles to SSRN. 

The Class Differential in Privacy Law, 77 Brooklyn L. Rev. 1389 (2012)

This article analyzes how privacy law fails the poor. Due to advanced technologies, all Americans are facing corporate and governmental surveillance. However, privacy law is focused on middle-class concerns about limiting the disclosure of personal data so that it is not misused. By contrast, along the welfare-to-work continuum, poor people face privacy intrusions at the time that the state or their employers gather data. This data collection tends to be stigmatizing and humiliating, and it thus not only compounds the harmful effects of living in poverty, but also dampens democratic participation by the poor. The poor interact with the government and low-wage employers in ways that are on-going and interpersonal, and as a result, the “right to be left alone” embodied in current privacy law does not protect their interests in dignity and autonomy. This article argues that poor Americans experience privacy differently than persons with greater economic resources and that the law, in its constitutional, statutory and common law dimensions, reinforces this differential. This class differential in privacy law has costs not only for the poor, but for all citizens.

The Poverty Defense, 47 Univ. of Richmond L. Rev. 495 (2013)

Poverty is correlated with crime, but it is widely assumed that it should not be a defense. In the 1970s, Judge David Bazelon challenged this assumption, proposing a rotten social background defense, that is, how growing up under circumstances of severe deprivation can subsequently impact a criminal defendant’s mental state and actions. Relatedly, other theorists have posited that poverty should be a defense to crime based on poverty’s coercive aspects or because society forfeits its right to condemn when it tolerates significant economic inequality. Critics counter that a poverty defense should not be adopted because it is not only inconsistent with American norms of individual responsibility, but also practically impossible. This vigorous debate has been deemed an ivory tower exercise. Yet scholars have entirely overlooked that a poverty defense is utilized in thousands of cases a year. In both civil and criminal child neglect cases, various states excuse conduct that would otherwise be neglect on account of a parent’s poverty. In short, a poverty defense is not hypothetical. Courts’ interpretations of the poverty defense in child neglect cases reflect the various theoretical strands posited by scholars. The case law reveals that a poverty defense is workable, but that its potential to help poor defendants is limited unless courts have a rich, multi-dimensional understanding of the causes and effects of poverty. This article explains how the poverty defense works in practice in child welfare cases, and can guide scholars, and more importantly, lawmakers and courts, in considering whether to extend a poverty defense to other areas of the law.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Economics, Feminism and Law, Invasion of Privacy, Women and Economics | Comments Off

Bernette Johnson Becomes Louisiana’s First African American Supreme Court Chief Justice

Bernette Johnson has been sworn in as Louisiana’s first African American Supreme Court Chief Justice, succeeding Catherine (Kitty) Kimball. Chief Justice Johnson filed a federal lawsuit last year after Justice Jeffrey Victory claimed that he had more seniority than she did and should assume the position of Chief Justice. The dispute arose because CJ Johnson had served as an appointed justice of the Court as well as an elected Justice, and Justice Victory argued that the years for which she had been appointed should not count toward her years of seniority on the Court. The remaining Justices finally decided that total years of service, not merely elected years, should count toward seniority.

Posted in Academia, Feminism and Law, Feminist Legal History, Firsts, Legal Profession | Comments Off

All the “Ladies” in the House? Women, Put Your Hands Up (Gloves Off)

Author Ann Friedman writes in the New Republic “Hey ‘Ladies': The Unlikely Revival of a Fusty Old Label.”  Here is an excerpt:

With its slippery meaning—associations range from grandma’s lavender-scented powder to the raunchiest of rap lyrics—it encapsulates the fundamental mutability of modern feminism….“Lady” has come to occupy the middle ground.

This is new territory for an old and loaded term. “Lady” once implied a proper woman who is not to be disrespected, crosses her legs at the ankle, and never talks out of turn. She doesn’t work; she lunches. Later, of course, it was adopted as a catcall (and cattle call) in the style of the late-’80s Beastie Boys….

Sarah Nicole Prickett over at responds:

There are girls, of course. There was, in 2012, a whole candystorm of girl-titled sitcoms, girl-themed VICE columns, girl-powered rainbow-pop singles. Do all these things exist ’cause, like, revolution? Or does the market research say, gentlemen of the board, it appears we have more girls than ever before in the history of human civilization? Let’s take a census….

Girls are forever. Women, I know, are for life.

For now I often, and not incorrectly, self-identify as a bitch. How you grow up to be a bitch is: You hit puberty, take one look at girl world, and hitch a ride the fuck out of there on your brother’s friend’s motorcycle. Bitches start early, and they don’t quit. As someone who’s been at one time or another enamoured with every Bad Feminist, from Ayn Rand (I was a baby!) to Camille Paglia to Elizabeth Wurtzel to Kara Walker, I do think ’90s bitches are my tribe….

And there are other ways to be female, and will be more still. In my feminist dreamworld, gender is never abolished, only multiplied and made even more fluid. Even then, all possibilities equal, I would still want to be a woman, always a woman, not ever the liberal, pale kind of lady that is feminism’s new white-gloved wave.

Read Prickett’s full response here.  You can follow her work on Twitter @snpsnpsnp

-Bridget Crawford


Posted in Feminism and Culture | Comments Off

Death of Cardiss Collins, 1931-2012, Illinois Congressional Representative

The New York Times reports (here) today on the death of Cardiss Collins, “who reluctantly ran for a Chicago Congressional seat left vacant when her husband died in a plane crash and went on to become Illinois’s first black congresswoman, serving for nearly 25 years as a voice for racial and gender equality and expanded health care for the poor.”  Here is an excerpt:

Mrs. Collins’s husband, George W. Collins, had served two years when he was among 45 people killed in the crash of United Airlines Flight 553 near Midway Airport in Chicago on Dec. 8, 1972. Local Democrats, led by Mayor Richard J. Daley, quickly endorsed Mrs. Collins to succeed him. Mrs. Collins, then 41 and an auditor for the Illinois Revenue Department who was worried about the couple’s 13-year-old son, Kevin, was wary of running but eventually agreed to do so.

She campaigned little but easily won the primary in April and cruised through the general election in June with 92 percent of the vote. Six years later, and after some early struggles in office — she had never considered a political career before she was thrust into one — she became chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. For much of the 1980s, she was the only black woman in Congress. * * *

Mrs. Collins, who rose to leading roles on a range of Congressional committees, was also a steady supporter of equity in college athletics, pressing the N.C.A.A. to honor the requirements of Title IX and requiring colleges to disclose more details about how they spent federal money.

She was particularly assertive on affirmative action and minority employment issues, criticizing various agencies and industries for what she called their poor records of hiring minorities. The Smithsonian Institution and the airline industry were among her targets.

She pushed through legislation in 1990 expanding Medicare coverage for mammography screening for older and disabled women and introduced resolutions designating October National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She wrote laws increasing safety labeling on toys, setting safety standards for bicycle helmets and expanding child care services for federal workers nationwide. She also sponsored several measures to make air travel safer.

May her memory be a blessing.

-Bridget Crawford

image source:

Posted in Deaths, Feminism and Politics, Firsts | Comments Off


Because sometimes, no other description will do.

Posted in Masculinity | 1 Comment

Where are the Women? Yale Law Journal Editorial Board Edition

The Yale Law Journal has announced its new editorial board here.

For the 6th year in a row, the EIC is a man. The six officers are all men.

Out of 22 content committee editors for the print journal (Articles, Essays, Notes, and Comments), only 5 are women.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Law Schools, Where are the Women? | Comments Off

Manian on “Abortion Restrictions and Side Effects on Women’s Health”

Maya Manian (USF) has posted to SSRN her article Lessons from Personhood’s Defeat: Abortion Restrictions and Side Effects on Women’s Health, Ohio State L.J. (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

State personhood laws pose a puzzle. These laws would establish fertilized eggs as persons and, by doing so, would ban all abortions. Many states have consistently supported laws restricting abortion care. Yet, thus far no personhood laws have passed. Why? This Article offers a possible explanation and draws lessons from that explanation for understanding and resisting abortion restrictions more broadly. I suggest that voters’ recognition of the implications of personhood legislation for health issues other than abortion may have led to personhood’s defeat. In other words, opponents of personhood proposals appear to have successfully reconnected abortion to pregnancy care, contraception, fertility, and women’s health in general. Public concern over the “side effects” of personhood laws seems to have persuaded even those opposed to abortion to reject personhood legislation. If this is so, personhood opponents may have struck on a strategy that could apply more broadly. As this Article explains, various anti-abortion regulations — not just personhood laws — have deleterious “side effects” on women’s health. Focusing the public’s attention on these side effects could not only create stronger support for access to abortion care but could also better promote the full spectrum of women’s healthcare needs.

The full article is available here.

Professor Manian blogs more on the topic here.

-Bridget Crawford


Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Reproductive Rights, Women's Health | Comments Off

Claudine V. Pease-Wingenter, “Halting the Profession’s Female Brain Drain While Increasing the Provision of Legal Services to the Poor: A Proposal to Revamp and Expand Emeritus Attorney Programs”

Claudine V. Pease-Wingenter (Phoenix) has posted to SSRN her article, “Halting the Profession’s Female Brain Drain While Increasing the Provision of Legal Services to the Poor: A Proposal to Revamp and Expand Emeritus Attorney Programs,” 37 Oklahoma City Law Review 433 (2012).  Here is the abstract:

The article begins by describing the current female brain drain in the legal profession. Despite years of gender parity in law school, women currently comprise only about a third of practitioners. A number of factors lead to this situation, but a significant cause is the frequent “perfect storm” of simultaneously establishing oneself in a demanding new profession while also meeting significant caregiving responsibilities at home. Women often take time-off from paid employment for family reasons, but find it difficult to return to the legal profession after the isolation of such a hiatus.

The article advocates reforms to the licensure rules to empower lawyers on such a hiatus to do pro bono work. The provision of such pro bono services could make a huge dent in the devastating “justice gap” that currently plagues our society and undermines our legal system. Moreover, such reforms could also alleviate the trend of women who drift away from the legal profession permanently.

The full article is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Legal Profession | Comments Off

CFP: Feminisms and Rhetorics

From the FLP mailbox, this CFP:

The 2013 Feminisms & Rhetorics Conference is now accepting proposals. Submissions are due February 1. Please note that the word limit for individual proposal submissions is 250, and the word limit for panel proposals is 750. You may submit the proposal to . In the email you send with your submission, please include contact information and whether or not you are a graduate student or professional.

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric and the Hume Writing Center invite proposals for the Ninth Biennial Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, to be held at Stanford University September 25-28, 2013 . Our emphasis this year is on links, the connections between people, between places, between times, between movements. The conference theme—Linked: Rhetorics, Feminisms, and Global Communities—reflects Stanford’s setting in the heart of the Silicon Valley, a real as well as virtual space with links to every corner of the globe. We aim for a conference that will be multivocal, multimodal, multilingual, and interdisciplinary, one in which we will work together to articulate the contours of feminist rhetorics.

Building on the 2011 conference, with its focus on the challenges and opportunities of feminism, the 2013 conference will seek to explore links between and among local and global, academic and nonacademic, past and present, public and private, and online and offline communities. In particular, we invite conversations about cross-cultural and global rhetorics, science and technology, entrepreneurship, outreach, or intersections among these.

With the overarching goal of facilitating and complicating links, we invite proposals (panels or individual submissions) that explore a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:

• Historical investigations of feminism
• Feminist Rhetoricians
• Rhetorics of the body
• Disability and the (medical) body
• Rhetorics of race and feminism
• Queer Studies and feminism
• Sexual and gender identification rhetorics
• Feminist models of mentoring
• Political rhetoric and feminism
• Feminist pedagogy
• WPA work and women
• Feminist critiques of power structures
• Feminist critiques/uses of the rhetoric of science

The following list of questions demonstrate some possible links to consider:

* What links do we make or fail/neglect to make in the work we do (in communities, in our field(s), in the classroom setting, across cultures)?
* How are cross-cultural rhetorics embodied?
* How do feminist rhetorics intersect with/operate in global, social, financial, activist, and communication networks? How can we use these links for productive outreach?
* How does or can writing link multimedia worlds?
* What are the specific spaces (geographical, virtual, etc.) where solidarities (strategic, impermanent, etc.) are formed? How do new audiences, contexts, ideas, movements emerge in these spaces? How are the feminisms of the 21 st century “linked in”?
* What kind of genderings/racings/classings happen in the rhetorical situations of internet-based social networks?
* What kind of genderings/racings/classings happen in the rhetorical situations of classrooms, departments, working groups?
* How does the link between feminism and rhetoric help us interrogate nationalism, fundamentalism, violence, and/or war?
* How does the link between feminism and rhetoric help us interrogate composition, writing program administration, departmental debates?
* How does the link between feminism and rhetoric help us interrogate productive links between disciplines?
* What can feminist theory/ies bring to cross/intercultural communication? How can entrepreneurial or social-entrepreneurial efforts help us redefine or improve cross/intercultural communication and outreach?
* How might the study of intercultural rhetorics enrich and complicate accepted narratives of feminisms, western rhetoric and science?

Deadline for submission: February 1, 2013.  250 word limit for individual proposals and 750 for panel proposals. .  Please submit proposals or send questions and comments to:

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off

CFP: Controversies in Tax Law: A Matter of Perspective

Call for contributions to Controversies in Tax Law: A Matter of Perspective (Anthony C. Infanti, editor):

The Series

The Centre for American Legal Studies at Birmingham City University School of Law in Birmingham, England, has established a “Controversies in …” series of volumes with Ashgate Publishing. The series currently has five books in the pipeline—on equal protection, innocence, the death penalty, health care, and the environment. The newest addition to this series is a volume on controversies in tax law. The proposal for this volume has been accepted by Ashgate, and the book is currently under contract to be delivered in September 2014.

Description of Volume

Despite beginning with the word “controversy,” the title of this volume should itself be without any controversy whatsoever. After all, taxation has been a perennial source of debate and unrest in the United States—and it remains none the less so today.

Historical examples are easily enumerated and include such pivotal events in American history as the Boston Tea Party, Shays’s Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, and the woman suffrage movement. Though less momentous, today’s debates are no less consequential, implicating such important questions as who should pay tax (think of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s remarks about the “47 percent” who pay no income tax) and how much (think of President Obama’s insistence during the 2012 campaign that the Bush tax cuts for those with more than $250,000 of income should expire).

This volume will approach today’s tax controversies in a unique fashion. The subtitle of the volume—“A Matter of Perspective”—reflects the fact that today’s tax debates often turn on the differing Weltanschauungen of the participants in these debates. For instance, a central tension in the academic tax literature—which is filtering into everyday discussions of tax law—exists between “mainstream” and “critical” tax theorists. This tension results from a clash of perspectives: Is taxation primarily a matter of social science or a matter of social justice? In other words, should tax policy debates be grounded in economics or in critical race, feminist, queer, and other outsider perspectives?

Too often the two sides of these academic debates simply talk “at” or “past” each other rather than engage in a dialogue with each other. To capture and interrogate—and perhaps even to begin to bridge—what often seems like a chasm between these two sides of academic (and, increasingly, everyday) tax debates, this volume will comprise a number of pairs of essays. Each pair of essays will approach an area of controversy in the tax laws from two different perspectives. One essay will approach the topic from a “mainstream” perspective while the other will approach the same topic from a “critical” perspective. The authors of each of the essays in a given pair will be afforded the opportunity to read and incorporate reactions to each other’s essays in the writing of their own. In the writing and rewriting of their essays, authors will be asked to pay specific attention to the influence of perspective both on the issue that they are addressing and on the writing of their own contributions to the debate.


Those interested in contributing an essay to this volume should send a proposed title and abstract of no more than 500 words (per individual contribution) to Preference will be given to proposals by pairs of contributors on a predetermined topic (one writing from a critical perspective and the other from a “mainstream” perspective); however, all proposals will be considered and the pairing up of individual proposals will be done wherever possible. The target length for final contributions is 7,500 to 10,000 words. The volume will contain a maximum of eight chapters (and, therefore, eight pairs of essays).

The deadline for proposals is March 15, 2013.

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Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands To Abdicate

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who has reigned since 1980, when her mother, Queen Juliana stepped down from the throne, is expected to announced her abdication in favor of her oldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, today. According to the BBC, the Queen will set April 30 of this year as the date for the transition of power. Queen Beatrix is the third female to head the nation, and the third monarch in her family to step down; her grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, who became queen in 1890, abdicated in 1948  to be succeeded by Beatrix’s mother Juliana.

Wilhelmina was the first female sovereign of the Netherlands, becoming queen after the country changed its succession laws in the wake of the deaths of her half-brothers in order that she might succeed her father, William III. Thus, for the past 123 years, a woman has been head of the Dutch royal house.

The Netherlands now recognizes cognatic succession, giving equal rights to males and females. The eldest child of the monarch, whether male or female, inherits the throne. Willem-Alexander and his wife, Maxima, have three daughters, making it likely that after Willem’s reign another woman will take the throne.

Posted in Feminist Legal History | Comments Off

Join us at Pace Law for “Comparative Sex Regimes and Corporate Governance”

Please join us for this symposium at Pace Law School – a series of conversations about the wave of corporate board quotas.  Our discussions will take place at the intersection of feminist theory, corporate governance and democratic legitimacy, informed by social science and critical theory.

Posted in Academia | Comments Off

Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roe

[A version of this essay was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on January 20, 2013]

January 22, 2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since the decision was announced Roe has become synonymous with deeply polarized political conflict. Justice Byron White, in his dissent in Roe, may have foreseen this. It is for this reason perhaps that White opined that the issue of abortion should be left with the people of each state and the political processes they devised to govern their affairs. There is nothing particularly untoward about such an assertion: localized communal concerns have long served as the foundation of criminal prohibitions and this has often inhered to the benefit of the many.

However, there is a danger when either provincial concerns or resistance to social change undergirds legal norms. This is the case with abortion. Abortion became, and continues to be, a battleground in the cultural wars over matters such as sex and sexuality, over continually shifting and increasingly accessible medical innovations that alter when and if a pregnancy begins or ends, and over an atmosphere of pervasive social and cultural change that threatens to permanently redefine established hierarchies. In short, Roe v. Wade, along with other aspects of  reproductive rights discourse, forms a part of a broader contemporary cultural battle that could be summarized as the fight over sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Sex, drugs and rock and roll is a motto that elicits images of free sex, widespread illicit drug use and a new, outsider-created music that upended not only conventional ideals of music and musicianship but also of society. Sex, drugs and rock and roll has, however, been rehabilitated as a general notion. We have come to understand that the phrase conjures not only dystopic images of single-minded excess and anarchy but may also offer the utopian vision of  a broader world of responsibly managed autonomy. The scourge of sex, drugs and rock and roll lay not only (or at all) in the actions themselves but also in the reactionary delimiting responses that fear of the actions engenders.

In discussing the history of abortion the Roe Court noted that abortion laws were a relatively recent development in the United States. Both church and state had either been silent on or offered little sanction for abortion over much of Anglo-American religious and legal history. The Court cited what has been called the first United States law to explicitly bar abortion, an 1821 Connecticut statute. This is a particularly useful example of how efforts to contain the cultural confluence summarized in the expression sex, drugs and rock and roll became the source of abortion law. According to some, the Connecticut statute was adopted in almost direct response to an alleged sexual scandal that took place in Connecticut in 1818 involving a minister named Ammi Rogers who was accused of impregnating a young woman to whom he was not married and then giving her an abortion-inducing substance.

Rogers was a charismatic figure who had a substantial following and who was said to have been especially popular among women. Though ordained in New York, he was barred from the ministry in Connecticut. Rogers was accused of impregnating Asenath Smith, a young single woman. Rogers, in response to the claims against him, alleged that Smith had given false testimony as part of a political and religious plot to discredit him. Roger’s claim merited at least some attention given that Smith and some other witnesses were said to have later recanted much of their testimony. Rogers was by all accounts a thorn in the side of the powerful Episcopalian establishment. Though he had been officially barred from the ministry in Connecticut, he persisted in preaching and representing himself as a clergyman, and his popularity showed no signs of abating even in the face of his official religious unwelcome. Rogers was a rock and roll minister of his times.

Despite his protests of innocence, Rogers was convicted of sexually assaulting Smith and was jailed for two years. Though the most lurid aspects of the testimony against Rogers alleged that he had forced Smith to consume a poisonous substance to induce miscarriage, there was no clear proof that Smith had been pregnant or that she had miscarried.  Moreover, even if Rogers had given Smith some substance that caused miscarriage, were no laws at the time that explicitly forbade such conduct. Acting from outrage over Rogers’ relatively mild censure and the difficulties of prosecuting him, the Connecticut legislature enacted the now oft-cited 1821 law on abortion. The statute criminalized the actions of those who provided “deadly poison” or “noxious substances” to cause a pregnant woman’s post-quickening miscarriage and hence targeted the precise means alleged in Rogers’ case.

In the decades subsequent to Rogers’ case, legal barriers to abortion grew. These laws were often framed as public health or moral imperatives. In many cases, however, the laws seemed to be responses to the way that growing numbers of people could exercise sexual autonomy via access to and knowledge of abortion services, thereby controlling their own lives and potentially imposing changes in the fabric of larger culture. In short, it was fear of sex, drugs and rock and roll that often fueled legal limits on abortion.

-Lolita Buckner Inniss

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CFP Grounding Cosmopolitanism: Theory and Practice Through the Prism of Women’s Rights

Grounding Cosmopolitanism: Theory and practice through the prism of women’s rights – Extended call for papers

The project will explore the outstanding question – both theoretical and practical – of how to live together in diversity through the prism of women’s activism in polarized societies. In so doing, we will engage cosmopolitanism which has become a major framework for meeting the challenge of managing difference. At the heart of the cosmopolitan framework is a dilemma to which women’s issues speak in multi- faceted ways. On one hand, it is argued that we can live together by recognizing our common humanity; on the other,particularities, thick solidarities, and conflict mark everyday politics, calling into question our capacity for engaging the ‘Other.’

Recognizing this, we pose a crucial and underexplored question with regard to the cross-cutting cleavages and aspirations that mark women’s movements: How is mutual recognition negotiated? By seeking to understand the modalities of mutual recognition in practice, our agenda builds on burgeoning research at the nexus of theory and praxis. In so doing, we aim to  address one of the most serious criticisms faced by cosmopolitanism – that it does not have much purchase in reality. Specifically, we are interested in the way cosmopolitan aspirations and grounded commitments unite and clash with respect to women’s rights which are often cited as a core component of an emerging cosmopolitan canon. Yet, the way(s) they are understood, enacted, and indeed the forms of resistance they generate are deeply informed by particularistic positions. Women’s rights therefore represent a promising foil for exploring the tensions involved in the cosmopolitan framework, at once presenting a universal challenge and conjuring up thick significations.

To this end, we are convening an international conference to 1) identify cutting-edge work at the interstices of theory and empirics; 2) learn from empirical studies about how women’s rights are practiced, contested, and negotiated; 3) generate insights for theory building and reflect on implications for extant theoretical frameworks; and 4) facilitate dialogue between leading theorists, scholars conducting fieldwork, and activists. Inthis way, we aim to establish a sustained network and platform to explore the relationship between women’s rights and cosmopolitanism in our shrinking, fragmenting worl

Select conference proceedings may be published in a special edition of Women’s Studies International Forum following a second event in the United States.

The events are being realized in collaboration with the Istanbul Policy Center, the Center for the Study of the Middle East, and the University of Tennessee College of Law. The conferencewill take place in Istanbul, Turkey on 18-19 March, 2013 at Bahcesehir University. 

The themes that will be explored in the conference include but are not strictly limited to:

        What are the experiences of women’s movements in polarized societies (e.g. Turkey, Spain, northern Ireland, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Bosnia- Herzegovina…) In such contexts, what are the sources of cleavages? In what instances do they become more pronounced? How does it impact women’s mobilization?

        What do we learn from the dramatic mobilizations in the Arab world and the CIS in recent years in terms of women’s rights and roles in the process of democratization? How much do women’s rights figure in public debates and election campaigns? How are women’s issues constructed? Are there any explicit or implicit references to cosmopolitan ideas and the universality of women’s rights?

        How do women’s groups position themselves vis-à-vis ethnic, cultural, religious and national ties and commitments?

        To what extent do women’s rights groups perceive European values about gender issues as universal? Are they contested? Are they empowering?

        What strategies do they use to engage the global/European women’s movement? How do they establish and use transnational links?

        What resistance do women encounter? What kinds of patriarchal strategies exist? How is patriarchy manifested differently in different contexts? What are the implications for understanding tensions between particularistic attachments and cosmopolitan commitments?

        How is mutual recognition possible? How is it negotiated in practice?


18 January: Abstract Deadline (extended for those who will present a scholarly paper) 

4 February: Abstract Deadline (for civil society activists who will make a presentation; if you do not wish to present, please submit a brief personal statement) 

25 January: Notification of paper authors 

14 February: Notification of presenters and other participants

18-19 March: Conference

Hande Paker (Assistant Professor of Sociology)

Nora Fisher Onar (Assistant Professor of International Relations)

Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bahcesehir University

Please send abstracts to:

-Valorie Vojdik

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Gerda Lerner, Pioneering Feminist and Historian, Dies at 92

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.

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Think Pink

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

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.

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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”

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.

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Dating the State: The Moral Hazards of Winning Gay Rights

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

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

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”

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

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

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

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