Extra Credit week 14

Reading more through the entries in this blog I had a memory of my first job when I was 16 years old. It was in my neighborhood, in a small local grocery store that has long since been replaced due to the overtaking of the larger grocery stores such as Cub & Rainbow. Most cashiers were female and the grocery baggers were male. The lead manager was male and there was one female manager along with another male manager under the lead. This job came to mind mostly because it was the first time I had worked a job where my earned income had taxes taken out and also because I was made horribly aware of the assumptions people can make of others in society.
I had been there roughly a couple of months and I worked a evening & weekend cashier position. At the end of my shift, which was 10pm as this was before the laws were put into place as to how late a high school student could work on school nights, I was called into the managers office by a male supervisor I had never seen before in the store. It turned out that he was from the district office and wanted to ask me about the way the store handled the closing out of the registers at the end of the night.
Procedure was that the managers got the drawers ready and set them up. These were registers that were not secured or locked by a employee's code as they are today. Anyone who worked in this store knew how to open the registers. I was still "in training" and he wanted to figure out why my drawer had been coming up short on a few occasions. I let him know that I was never made aware that my register was coming up short and that I was not there to count the money before or at the end of the shifts. He continued to probe into any possibility of me being responsible for the unbalanced drawer and accused me of stealing money from the store. He made statements regarding "understanding the pressure of being a young single mom who came from a home with only one parent who is also struggling financially to pay the bills." I remember feeling like I could not believe this was happening to me. He asked if I took any money that evening and I again said I had not that evening or at any other time. I actually offered to remove my socks shoes and keep going if he needed any more proof that I had no money on me. Keeping in mind that it was only him and I in this office, but I was innocent and could not believe I was being looked at in that way. I was a high school student and a single mom. I did come from a one parent home as my father had raised me and while he did struggle on an accountants low wages to support his 2 daughters and granddaughter, we were honest people.
At this point, he must have realized that i had nothing for him to prove and I left the store. I informed my older sister, who had been waiting for me outside of this and she parked the car and went in the store and really laid into both of the managers and the guy from the district office. Needless to say, I did not return there to work. Had my family known more about discrimination laws in employment we may have taken this to a higher level as this was truly a horrible experience then for me and would be for anyone to have to endure. It truly spoke volumes to me that people saw me very differently because I was a teen mother. I was not seen in a positive way to many people. I was judged pretty harshly by those who knew only one thing about me, that I was a teen mom.

Reflections

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned and enjoyed the course content of this class. On the one hand, I was expecting this course to be heavy in legal terms, but was pleasantly surprised that it was kept to something of a minimum; it made understanding the course-work much easier.

The content and readings, even when they were heavy in legal terms, were quite interesting; I felt that my horizons were broadened by looking at how women are treated differently, and how varied feminism is.

I have no complaints about the class; if I had to choose a area that would be covered more, it would be English common law in regards to laws affecting woman. Of course, I'm something of a history nut, so that might affect my decisions.

Thank you, Professor.

Reflection

I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which the course was structured, and the wide range of readings that were used in class. Setting up the semester with a unit on the various theories of feminism provided me with a great background on the cases we read, and feminism in general. While I have more of a background in legal writing and constitutional law, I was primarily interested in this class because it offered a different perspective when approaching gendered laws and especially marriage rights. Never having taken a GWSS course prior to this semester, I did not have a strong enough theoretical background to approach what I did know about the law from a feminist perspective.
Personally, I enjoyed the unit on bodily integrity the most, and found the emphasis on legal history particularly fascinating. While it did not specifically address my own legal rights, it helped me put what we later learned about my rights into context. I found the real life examples, cases, and statues most helpful and interesting in this course. Of the other readings, which were richly varied, I most enjoyed the MacKinnon (because I was unfamiliar with certain aspects of radical feminism) and the Stanton (because of its historical significance).
I might suggest a little less time on the theoretical approaches, despite the great background that they provided. I feel like freeing up some of this time would allow the class to go more in depth on specific legal issues (or cases) and their social impact. I think that this dynamic was particularly interesting, and enjoyed the time spent on exploring it.
Lastly, I enjoyed the blog posting requirements and the way in which it helped us explore the readings. I was a little disappointed, however, in the limited functions of the blog posting, and would have appreciated a little more interplay between posts. However, in general, I found that the blog enhanced the course material.

Reflection

I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which the course was structured, and the wide range of readings that were used in class. Setting up the semester with a unit on the various theories of feminism provided me with a great background on the cases we read, and feminism in general. While I have more of a background in legal writing and constitutional law, I was primarily interested in this class because it offered a different perspective when approaching gendered laws and especially marriage rights. Never having taken a GWSS course prior to this semester, I did not have a strong enough theoretical background to approach what I did know about the law from a feminist perspective.
Personally, I enjoyed the unit on bodily integrity the most, and found the emphasis on legal history particularly fascinating. While it did not specifically address my own legal rights, it helped me put what we later learned about my rights into context. I found the real life examples, cases, and statues most helpful and interesting in this course. Of the other readings, which were richly varied, I most enjoyed the MacKinnon (because I was unfamiliar with certain aspects of radical feminism) and the Stanton (because of its historical significance).
I might suggest a little less time on the theoretical approaches, despite the great background that they provided. I feel like freeing up some of this time would allow the class to go more in depth on specific legal issues (or cases) and their social impact. I think that this dynamic was particularly interesting, and enjoyed the time spent on exploring it.
Lastly, I enjoyed the blog posting requirements and the way in which it helped us explore the readings. I was a little disappointed, however, in the limited functions of the blog posting, and would have appreciated a little more interplay between posts. However, in general, I found that the blog enhanced the course material.

Week 15: Class Feedback

To begin with, I found the book, Feminist Legal Theory, very helpful when looking at court cases and articles later on in the semester. It established a great dialogue around the different schools of thought in legal theory. The class discussions and weeks put into understanding this theory were also very helpful.

I found the discussion around marital rape and sexual harassment the most fascinating. I loved having a class where we could discuss not just the actual cases and what happened, but why certain decisions were made and how courts came to the conclusions they did. It is uncommon to have a class where you spend an hour and a half discussing marital rape law in the United States, but it was a pleasure to do so. I wish we could have spent more time with sexual harassment cases and discussing the details that go into the certain laws around sexual harassment protection in the work place. This confused me and I think with more time this would have made sense a bit more.

The progression of marital rights in American history was very helpful in understanding not really my current legal rights, but putting into context the current legal rights of loved ones around me. I know several people who are going through divorces and learning about the slow progression of women gaining economic and legal independence from their husbands has helped me understand the importance of marital rights and the potential damages it has on an individual.

Thank you very much for a great semester, Rebecca. It was truly a great one.

Response to hahnx136 comment in blog 15


I am not sure if you are aware of the GLBT Studies Program that is available here at the U. Here is the link http://gwss.umn.edu/studies/

There will most likely be a class that covers the topics you are interested in. You could complete a minor or just take some classes too.

I too have an interest in GLBT issues and am looking forward to being able to take classes from this program to broaden my GWSS major.

blog 15

First of all, I'm REALLY glad that we started the semester out with the different feminist theoretical approaches. They pulled all of our coursework together, and cleared up so many questions that I've had in general.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed our discussions and readings on postmodernism a whole lot. That and dominance theory were my favorite to explore. I would have enjoyed a little bit more work on lesbian legal theory and on pragmatism, but I think the bases we covered on each of them were certainly good enough for a basic understanding.


I was most confused and shocked by our section on coverture, marriage, and divorce. In a good, way, though, because it is something I've never studied before and likely wouldn't have studied. Now, however, I am sure I'll work with it and read about it more.

My favorite readings of the semester were those by Catharine MacKinnon, Lucy Stone, and Dorothy Roberts. It's good that we didn't spend too much time on any one author or area, though I think our textbook was the best possible background we could have found for any given topic we discussed. While I definitely found court cases to be dry and/or confusing at first, by looking at them repeatedly, I've gotten waaaaay more use out of them than I ever thought I would!

Legal theory has been so out of my comfort zone, but this course not only made me appreciate it, but really feel like I am capable of working with it... and more importantly, I enjoy it now :)

Week 15

When I was informed last semester that this course was being offered I had an immediate interest in taking it. I knew that it would be a class that I would learn valuable things in and honestly, as soon as I got the textbook, I started looking through the pages and becoming even more sure that this was going to be great class.
I honestly had not paid too much attention to the ways the laws have affected women throughout history. I have always known there was a huge gap in equality in many areas between women and men. We have achieved many positive landmarks such as the right to vote, own property and be regarded as an individual instead of property in marriage.
I have found myself using what I have learned in class within my own life as I have talked with female friends and family members about topics in this class. I have a cousin who has been dealing with a guy who makes sexual comments towards her at her job on a daily basis. She is married and does not enjoy or want his comments to continue but doesn't want to "cause trouble" by reporting him to her HR Dept. I find myself being able to be empathetic towards her fears, yet wanting to also push her to stand up for herself too. I have just continued to remind her that she is being sexually harassed and that he is breaking the law. I also have informed her of her rights to be protected if she does decide to turn him in. I really hope she does someday.
This course has struck some personal areas for myself as well. I have been dealing with my own pending divorce throughout the semester and have received an invaluable introduction into the laws of marriage within both the history and the learning of the laws themselves. During some of my lowest points this semester dealing with the stress of my divorce I have been able to find strength with what I have learned in this class.
With what I have learned, and also how I learned to research law, I am making sure that all bases are completely covered for my children's benefit and my own as their mother and provider. I have been shown an area that I may well want to pursue as a career too. I would like to be able to help others in my position of what rights they do have regardless of how little income they might make compared to their spouse or ex-spouse to be.
Although standing up for ourselves and for others who need support can be hard to do. Living in a way that is inhumane is something no one should have to endure.

Have a great summer everyone and best wishes in all that you are pursuing!

Blog 15

I am immensely glad I chose to take this class. I learned a great deal about the law and its treatment of women. The unit I found most surprising was the coverage of marital law. I had known prior to taking this course that marriage was a tradition heavily burdened with patriarchal symbols (the father giving the bride away, taking the husband's last name, etc.), but I did not realize how greatly marriage was linked to state control and how marital law continues to rely upon and reference sexist legal concepts. That "during coverture" is still referenced in property law concerning marriage, and the degree to which coverture is still part of the popular conception of marriage, is a trend I find extremely disturbing.

I think the syllabus did a good job of covering a broad range of legal issues. While there are some side topics I'm interested in which we didn't really discuss in class, these tended to be chosen as presentation topics. Examples of such issues include incarceration of pregnant women, courtroom language (I was recently horrified to read an article about how a number of courtrooms have banned the word "rape" from sexual assault trials, forcing victims to refer to what happened to them as simply "intercourse" or "sex" for fear that rape is a loaded and biased term), and child pornography laws and the "sexting phenomenon. These are much more specific than most of the topics we covered in class though, and I think the more general approach helped greatly to illuminate the relevant issues to such cases.

In terms of my own legal rights, I learned the most in this last unit regarding sexual harassment/discrimination in the workplace, and would have been interested in greater coverage since I think this continues to be a commonly faced issue. For example, I found myself thinking a lot about the requirement that a woman make it clear that any sexual advances are unwelcome directly for the treatment to count as harassment, because this is something I have learned to do over time. When I was 16 and had my second job as a restaurant waitress, I recall being deeply uncomfortable about sexual comments which some of my coworkers made to me. The comments were all made by significantly older coworkers in front of a manager, who said nothing. At that time I wasn't able to directly turn to those men and say "I am uncomfortable with those comments and do not think they are appropriate for the workplace. Please stop." authoritatively - because I was a 16 year old girl, still unsure of herself as a sexual being anyway, and deeply socialized to be pleasant at all times. This last summer as a camp counselor I also dealt with unwanted advances from an older, more senior male coworker who sent me love letters and refused to stop, this time when I made it abundantly clear and directly asked him to cease more than once. I hadn't received any orientation, and although I spoke with supervisors I didn't receive any sort of information on a grievance procedure and none of my supervisors took it upon themselves to address my coworker about this issue. I would not return to work at this camp another summer because of my discomfort with this colleague was so great, and I think this is the sort of tricky scenario that really limits women in pursuing career opportunities. Too often the harassment is not of the quid pro quo variety and so is ignored by management, and instead of the harasser facing consequences women simply decide to seek work elsewhere. I really wish that legal rights with harassment were covered in some sort of high school course, because without effectively using the powers we have that same sort of subtle disadvantage will continue, and without this course I could have gone through all of college without learning my rights.

Week 15

I thought the course touched upon everything of pertinence satisfactorily. This is the first course that I've taken on both gender studies and legal theory, so I started the course with a relatively clean slate. I'm sure a more curious person or someone with more experience in these subjects would have a better idea of what to add or withdraw, but I felt pretty happy under your wing of instruction.


I'm confused about feminist pragmatism and feminist Marxism. I understand the core ideas of the theories, but I disagree with their implementation sometimes. I'm still not sure what the sarcastic postmodern way of writing is, but I think it might have something to do with using humor as a form of consciousness-raising. I suppose I would like to know more about the court's argument for and/or against battered women defense.

Blog 15

Overall, I really enjoyed this class, and I feel like I have a better understanding of some of the laws that we studied. I also feel like I have a better understanding of the different feminist theories.I found the rape laws to be surprising and shocking. I really liked studying the court cases; I feel like they really aided in my understanding of the laws and issues associated with them. The topics that were most useful to me were probably bodily integrity and property. I would have liked to learn more about same-sex marriage, and I would have liked to study transgender rights.

blog 15

Overall what I liked about this class is that it clarified a lot of things about the law that you here about all the time but usually isn't true. What I found most interesting, and disturbing, was marital rape exemption law. It was very shocking to find that it actually exists. What I found most surprising is all of the technicalities that are used in courtrooms. Especially in cases like Roe v. Wade where the focus is on the technicalities of words. Which is a part of what I found so confusing; the lack of common sense due to focusing on minute details and specific Constitutional words. Mostly, what I find so focusing is the lack of common sense. There does not seem to be on overall view on a situation or case but on strictly holding to precedent.

What I would have like to have learned more about (and incidentally am doing my paper on) is sex education methods such as abstinence only programs and comprehensive sex education. A topic that I would have liked to spend more time on is transgender and transsexual rights

I think what I learned most about was just basic law and case information which, as I said in the beginning, is helpful information in everyday life. A topic that I think is especially relevant is reproductive rights.

Overall, great course =)

Week 15 Blog Assignment

Over the semester, we have studied a wide range of legal issues that impact women, some historical and some very current, and we have examined a range of feminist approaches to understanding and combating unequal treatment of women. In your blog post, I'd like to get feedback from you on the topics that we covered. What was most interesting, or surprising, or confusing? What legal issues, if any, would you like to have studied that were not on the syllabus? Which topics were most useful to you in terms of understanding your own legal rights? Are there topics on which we spent too much time, or not enough? Your honesty is appreciated; I hope to teach this course again, and your input will help me to improve the course going forward.

Blog 14

The nature of business encourages sexual discrimination and it can understandably be hard to judge whether something is discriminatory. The burden of proof in Price Waterhouse v Hopkins from Waterhouse can be evidence of this, that while maybe not all employers are being sexual discriminatory, people in the workplace or customers are. This reflects the employer's decision in hiring practices.

I used to work at Shinder's, a local book store chain that had a not too well known porn section in the back. My managers took it upon them to make me the new porn guy because they liked the idea of giving someone who could barely look at some of the content without blushing precious life lessons in adulthood. I was in a position where customers were comfortable with talking about porn with me. One of my managers was an attractive buxom girl in her mid-twenties. More timid customers have shared that they wouldn't go into the porn room if she was working. Conversely, the main porn guy there would have (almost disturbingly) in-depth conversations with customers, sharing his favorite pornstars and the like. He made the porn buying experience much better for most people. Since outside of the occasional bachelorette party or joke, most porn customers were male, I wonder about the discrimination going on in hiring a male over a female for porn "guy" position. Sure, a female can do the basic mundane qualifications of the job quite well, stacking DVDs and cassettes and updating labels, but it made sense that a male could do the job much better in a small friendly store like Shinder's where employee expertise was respected.

I have also experienced discrimination from customers having been the team lead for Apple iPhone and computers, which means that I get to listen in on customer service reps taking phone calls from other people. IT is a field where the discrepancy between females and males are huge. I would give advice and tips after and during the call for reps that wanted the help. There have been numerous times where a customer would hear a female operator and instantly question the expertise of her, requesting a different rep. Female agents were usually asked to just deal with it on a case by case basis. Though, I did recognize a case of reverse discrimination where customers gave similarly skilled female agents higher customer satisfaction marks because they were female, sometimes even noting that they did so on the survey.

I think the issue of discrimination is a burden that I wouldn't want to deal with as an employer. I agree that creating a floor in laws is useful for ending discrimination like Marshall says in California Federal v Guerra (280). I realize that businesses wouldn't profit in the short term, but it would have good long term effects in ending discrimination. A post-modern approach of treating the hiring process seems pertinent and useful.

Week 14: Work

Looking over the statistics, I can't say that I'm really surprised at the findings. I think that cultural and dominance theories could explain what we are seeing here.

First, the cultural feminist would say that by nature of how closely we tie together gender and sex, that we are seeing a manifestation of cultural beliefs about gender. The jobs were women are in the clear majority (E.G. Health services, social work) are areas that pertain mostly to an ethic of care, which is what is normally ascribed to women. Because these people are raised with what society says are feminine values, they are best suited for these feminine jobs that share those values (also a social construct) (...and very circular reasoning).

The dominance theorist would say that the Patriarchy has created these jobs for women where they cannot excel or be paid competitively with men. These jobs are valued less because they have been labeled effeminate, and are structured in such a way that they embody societal norms of femininity. This results in a power imbalance which favors men. The classic example would be nurses versus doctors. Even though nurses are equally as important as doctors, and have to go through approximately as much training, they are paid less and receive far less respect. Furthermore, between doctors and nurses, women far outnumber men in the field of health services, but are paid less.

The images conjured of the two occupations also show which society values more. The doctor is seen as a rich, white man who drives around a Porsche, and has beautiful house, and is an active member of society who betters everyone's lives. The nurse is made into a slutty halloween costume, or is portrayed as air headed, or in TV shows only exists to do the doctor's bidding.