Category Archives: Gender Issues

New Article: Bathrooms as a Homeless Rights Issue

New Article: Ron Hochbaum, Bathrooms as a Homeless Rights Issue, SSRN Mar. 2019. Abstract below:

Bathrooms are a bellwether of equality. Segregated bathrooms were at the center of the Civil Rights movement. Accessible bathrooms were at the heart of the Disability Rights movement. Now, gender-neutral bathrooms or bathrooms assigned by gender, rather than sex, are at the heart of the Transgender Rights movement.

This article is the first to examine the right to access bathrooms as it relates to the homeless community. The article explores the current paradox where cities, counties, and states provide few, if any, public bathrooms for the homeless community and the public at large, while criminalizing public urination and defecation.

To better understand this paradox, the article contains two original multi-jurisdictional surveys. The first reviews the prohibitions on public urination and defecation in the 10 municipalities with the most homeless individuals. The second explores the Freedom of Information Act and Public Record Act responses of those municipalities to requests for information regarding the public bathrooms they operate and potential barriers to use for homeless individuals (e.g. closing in the evenings or particular seasons, charging a fee for entry, being located in buildings requiring identification for entry, etc.).

The article contextualizes the paradox in relation to human dignity, public health, and the historical use of bathroom access as an exercise of power. It contends that the current scheme denies homeless individuals a basic sense of dignity, while undermining the health and safety justification for prohibitions on public urination and defecation by failing to operate public restrooms. The article further argues that government actors use bathrooms to marginalize the homeless community in the same way that they have used them to marginalize women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, and transgender individuals. In exploring this use of power, the article argues that prohibitions on public urination and defecation are part of a larger trend of criminalizing homelessness and the evolution of segregation.

Finally, the article evaluates potential solutions to the paradox. The solutions reviewed include increasing the availability and accessibility of public restrooms, leveraging private industry, and reforming or challenging the law. The article concludes that any long-term solution to the problem requires an examination of the paradox through the lens of the homeless community.

New Article: Re-examining and Re-defining Permanency from a Youth’s Perspective

New Article: Randi Mandelbaum, Re-examining and Re-defining Permanency from a Youth’s Perspective, Capital U. L. Rev. (2019).  Abstract unavailable.

New Article: Queering the Welfare State: Paradigmatic Heteronormativity After Obergefell

New Article: Matt J. Barnett, Queering the Welfare State: Paradigmatic Heteronormativity After Obergefell, 93 N.Y.U.L.R (2018). Abstract below:

Although lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people in the United States of America have experienced significant changes in their legal rights over the previous decade, they are still disproportionately likely to live in poverty. The Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges granted LGBQ individuals access to the institution of marriage and the attendant social benefits, but the safety net is still full of holes for low-income LGBQ individuals because of deeply rooted heteronormativity in the administration of welfare. Using three facially neutral examples— proof-of-paternity requirements for welfare recipients, work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid programs, and barriers to state support for low-income LGBQ youth experiencing homelessness—this Note elucidates and indicts enduring paradigms of heteronormativity in the welfare state. This Note also offers prescriptive solutions, advocating for the adoption of the perennial legislative proposal known as the “Equality Act” as well as state and federal executive action to ease the burdens on LGBQ welfare recipients in the near term.

New Op-Ed: Why Does Obama Scold Black Boys?

New Op-Ed: Derecka Purnell, Why Does Obama Scold Black Boys?, N.Y. Times, Feb. 23, 2019.

New Article: Unmothering Black Women: Formula Feeding as an Incident of Slavery

New Article: Andrea Freeman, Unmothering Black Women: Formula Feeding as an Incident of Slavery, 69 Hastings L.J. 1545 (2018). Abstract below:

Laws and policies that impede Black mothers’ ability to breastfeed their children began in slavery and persist as an incident of that institution today. They originated in the practice of removing enslaved new mothers from their infants to work or to serve as wet nurses for slave owners’ children. The stereotype of the bad Black mother justified this separation. This trope also underlies racial disparities in breastfeeding rates in the present. The mythical Mammy loved the White children under her care but callously neglected her own. Today, the Welfare Queen reproduces for the sole purpose of gaming the system. Collective belief in the existence of the bad Black mother leads to low or no investment in resources for Black mothers who want to breastfeed, and to laws and policies that inhibit their opportunities to do so. Black infants and mothers suffer from related health conditions, including infant mortality, at disproportionately and unacceptably high rates. Structural reforms grounded in constitutional principles are necessary to reverse this manifestation of food oppression.

New Article: Questioning Market Aversion in Gender Equality Strategies: Designing Legal Mechanisms for the Promotion of Gender Equality in the Family and the Market

New Article: Hila Shamir, Tsilly Dagan, & Ayelet Carmeli, Questioning Market Aversion in Gender Equality Strategies: Designing Legal Mechanisms for the Promotion of Gender Equality in the Family and the Market, Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Forthcoming, 2018.

Abstract below:

Post-industrial economies are at a crossroad. On the one hand countries are dealing with the crisis of unemployment and underemployment, developing strategies to increase labor market participation of all adults, and increase productivity. On the other hand, the same countries are responding to demographic concerns regarding an aging population and decreased birth ratios. These concerns, coupled with a growing demand for gender equality in the labor market, and better work/family balance, lead to the development of new tax and welfare policies around child care, as well as restructuring the workplace to fit the needs of workers with familial care obligations. A storm of new legislation, regulation and voluntary initiatives attempting to address child care, parental leaves, and the structure of the work day, are sweeping through developed economies, with significant innovation, variation, and experimentation.

The feminist policy and scholarly debate around these policies seem to presume that market based mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality are inferior to state based mechanisms, and that generally, those who care about gender equality should be suspicious of turning to the market for solutions, because it is an institution that tends to replicate rather than ameliorate gender inequality. In this paper we seek to question market aversion within these debates. In particular, we ask whether the theoretical premise of the discussion – the harsh dichotomy between market and state – is plausible at all, and particularly at the current moment in the development of the regulatory state. Using examples from the fields of welfare, tax and employment law from a variety of post-industrial “developed” economies, we seek to destabilize the dichotomy and explore the wide array of policy tools on the spectrum between pure market-based policies and strictly state provided benefits. We offer a systemic analysis that exposes the myriad possible legal and institutional configuration available to policy makers.

Our analysis is grounded in an explicit and multifaceted discussion of the normative considerations that underlie policies aimed as regulating both the labor market and care work: namely, Distributive Justice (including gender equality); Efficiency; and Autonomy (including personhood and community). Part I of the article offers a rich account of each of these normative considerations and explains the complex (both positive and negative) effects of both market and state-governed mechanisms on promoting them. Good policy, we argue, should not sweepingly reject market mechanisms nor should it abandon state governed instruments but rather mix and match the advantages of both state and market mechanisms focusing on their potential real-life consequences. We use some examples from our comparative study in order to illustrate the potential for such hybrid mechanisms. We model the complex implications, seemingly technical legal mechanisms entail, and explain the unique mix of normative goals supported by each mechanism. In part II, building on the previous part, we offer a framework to analyze and develop policy that promotes gender equality in the family and the market, in the fields of tax, welfare and employment. In order to methodically decipher the different mechanisms available, and to be able to match them with the normative goals, as well as creatively think about possible institutional options, we build on existing literature to offer a typology of policy solutions along four mechanism-design criteria: (1) universal v. Selective (2) fixed sum v. income dependent (3) cash transfers v. in kind services (4) which institution provides the service (family, state, market, civil society). Each of these criteria reflect tensions between the underlying normative goals, and each represents a distinction between ideal type mechanisms that can, and we argue that should be, broken up and understood as a spectrum of modular tools to be mixed and matched in order to support varying combinations of normative ends.


New Book (and Book Talk): Ensuring Poverty: Welfare Reform After 20 Years

epovertyNew Book: Felicia Kornbluh & Gwendolyn Mink, Ensuring Poverty: Welfare Reform After 20 Years (2018). Book talk in DC, Nov. 4, 2018 at 5 pm. Overview below:

In Ensuring Poverty, Felicia Kornbluh and Gwendolyn Mink assess the gendered history of welfare reform. They foreground arguments advanced by feminists for a welfare policy that would respect single mothers’ rights while advancing their opportunities and assuring economic security for their families. Kornbluh and Mink consider welfare policy in the broad intersectional context of gender, race, poverty, and inequality. They argue that the subject of welfare reform always has been single mothers, the animus always has been race, and the currency always has been inequality. Yet public conversations about poverty and welfare, even today, rarely acknowledge the nexus between racialized gender inequality and the economic vulnerability of single-mother families.

Since passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) by a Republican Congress and the Clinton administration, the gendered dimensions of antipoverty policy have receded from debate. Mink and Kornbluh explore the narrowing of discussion that has occurred in recent decades and the path charted by social justice feminists in the 1990s and early 2000s, a course rejected by policy makers. They advocate a return to the social justice approach built on the equality of mothers, especially mothers of color, in policies aimed at poor families.

Supreme Court news: Kavanaugh’s dissent questions Roe v. Wade

Find the full Garza v. Hargan decision here, in which the potential Justice Kavanaugh opens the discussion on the validity of Roe v. Wade.

New Article: “The Women Feminism Forgot: Rural and Working-Class White Women in the Era of Trump”

New Article: Lisa R. Pruitt, The Women Feminism Forgot: Rural and Working-Class White Women in the Era of Trump, forthcoming Toledo L. Rev. (SSRN July 2018). Abstract below:

This article, based on a keynote address delivered at the University of Toledo Law Review Symposium “Gender Equality: Progress and Possibilities,” takes up the task of theorizing gendered aspects of the current chasm between progressive elites on one hand and rural and working-class whites on the other. Pruitt offers observations that aim to cultivate empathy and ultimately temper elite derision toward these populations. The article also lays the groundwork for robust consideration of how feminist legal theory has failed rural and working class white women. Perhaps most importantly, Pruitt begins to think practically about what progressive feminists can and should do to bridge the current divide and, in so doing, cultivate a broad, inclusive sisterhood that better transcends spatial, racial, and socioeconomic differences.

The article proceeds by outlining evidence of our nation’s burgeoning metro-centricity, as well as our ongoing denial of and inattention to issues of socioeconomic disadvantage when they intersect with white skin privilege. Pruitt offers these observations with special attention to the context of the legal academy and legal scholarship. Part II discusses how this neglect of white working-class and rural populations evolved into disdain during the 2016 election season and has hardened into contempt in the era of Trump’s presidency. Part III is a brief overview of socioeconomic and public health trends among these increasingly vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on what has been happening to rural and working class white women since Pruitt began writing about them more than a decade ago. Part IV summarizes what we know about the female vote in election 2016, with some attention also to gendered voting patterns in the special election for the Alabama U.S. Senate seat in 2017. Part V digs into media profiles of female Trump voters, which reveal some themes Pruitt has addressed in prior work, including the understudied and widely ignored tension among various strata within what is broadly perceived as a monolithic white working class. This part also scratches the surface of a major issue in the wake of the 2016 election: the liberal elite tendency to label as “racist” anyone who voted for Trump, as well as the disconnect between this usage and many communities’ far less capacious understanding of the term. Before concluding with thoughts on how to bridge the divide between elites and the white working class, Pruitt uses a personal story (à la Hillbilly Elegy) in an effort to humanize female Trump voters. The postscript holds up the successful West Virginia teachers’ strike of 2018 as a model for cross-class coalition building.

New Report: Women’s Student Debt Crisis in the United States

New Report: Women’s Student Debt Crisis in the United States, American Association of University Women, Updated May 2018.