Category Archives: Gender Issues

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.

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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.

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It): 7 posts you should have seen this week but probably didn’t

In a week dominated by tragedy in Greece, Michael Cohen, and the aversion of trade war with Europe, there’s a lot that got swept under the rug. ICYMI:

(1) Tamar Haspel, The true connection between poverty and obesity isn’t probably what you think, Wash. Post, July 20, 2018.

(2) Myrna Pérez, How the Midterm Elections May Be Compromised, NYTimes.com, July  19, 2018.

(3) Charlotte Graham-McLay, New Zealand Grants Domestic Violence Victims Paid Leave, NYTimes.com, July 26, 2018. In a shocking reminder of what is possible when individuals in crisis are treated humanely and afforded a small measure of decency…

(4) Dylan L. Scott, Why Trump’s attacks on preexisting conditions are an attack on women, Vox.com, July 26, 2018. women_afford_care

 

 

 

 

 

(5) Dara Lind, Americans are stepping up to show reunited migrant families there’s more to their country than Trump, Vox.com, July 26, 2018. An informal welcoming committee is offering support — with everything from plane tickets to birthday cupcakes.

(6) Julia Carrie Wong, A year after Charlottesville, why can’t big tech delete white supremacists, TheGuardian.com, July 25, 2018.

(7) Tal Kopan & Nick Valencia, Exclusive: Listen to separated moms beg for their kids in court, CNN.com, July 24, 2018.

New Article: Intersectional Barriers to Tenure

New Article: Meera E. Deo,  Intersectional Barriers to Tenure, Cal Davis Law Review, Vol. 51, 2018.

As the title suggests, this article dissects the problems rife within law schools which present barriers to a more diverse academic legal community.

New Article: Advocacy in Ideas: Legal Education and Social Movements

New Article: Monica Bell, Tanya K. Hernandez, Solangel Maldonado, Rachelle Holmes Perkins, Chantal Thomas, Olatunde C.  Johnson, Elise Lopez, Advocacy  in Ideas: Legal Education and Social Movements, Columbia University Academic Commons, 2018. Abstract below:

Panel moderated by Professor Olatunde Johnson, featuring Professors Monica Bell, Tanya K. Hernández, Solangel Maldonado, and Chantal Thomas. Introduced by Elise Lopez. This panel is really an opportunity to explore the role of women of color in shaping ideas in the legal academy and in legal discourse more broadly. Everyone on this panel today is a professor and has joined legal academia, but what I think we really want to emphasize through this is that for many of us it begins in law school, where you can engage in shaping ideas through the writing that you do in your courses and in journals, in taking leadership positions in journals, and in organizing conferences like this.

New Op-Ed: The situation on the streets

SF homelessness

New Op-Ed: Kevin Fagan, The situation on the streets, San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2018.