February 2010 Archives

Week 7: Historical Perspective

When reading these three cases, each one addresses the historical perspective of each case/argument in a different way. Although they are different, all three have elements of historical importance are both valuable to the case and a danger as well. You cannot merely determine whose history is reliable. It is important however to point out the history behind the history, meaning who writes history and what effects law at that time in American history. For example, in the Loving v. Virginia, this case does a good job of tracing American history to prove that race is not something that is one, constitutional under the 14th Amendment to classify marriage relations and two, is viable to regulate if one looks at history. It states, "The argument is that, if the Equal Protection Clause does not outlaw miscegenation statutes because of their reliance on racial classifications, the question of constitutionality would thus become whether there was any rational basis for a State to treat interracial marriages differently from other marriages" (8). Here, Cohen and Hirschkop are trying to argue that in previous years, the government has attempted to regulate race relations through slavery and other laws, but overtime this has proven to be unconstitutional and therefore, cannot be practiced in law or life. If this is true, then interracial marriage should not be kept illegal and the Loving party should not be charged. Both lawyers here, see that one should be suspicious of all reliance on history because of who is writing it, creating it, and ruling over it (legally speaking.)

In the State v. Samuel, we see race relations again, except during the practice of slavery. Once again, it is important to take into account who is writing it (white, slave owners) who do not believe in acknowledging marriage in the slave community because that would one, give them the right to certain liberties and two, prove that they are at a human level. This history was written by those who did not want to give up their power, therefore, once again, it is important to be suspicious of who is writing history because of their personal, political, and financial ties to the influence it has (in this case, slavery relations.)

The same could be said in the Omolade reading. This reading gives a critical background to the history of African American women experiences and ties their experiences into the cultural assumption that all African American mothers are single. This is a problematic generalization, most certainly, but the article gives critical incite into this massive generalization and delivers evidence that demonstrates the greater societal influences that causes these assumptions. From this reading, the author takes into account history as being written by the patriarchal power order, therefore, by looking at it with a critical cultural feminist lens, one can see where these assumptions were made and how the stereotypes behind African American women are played up by this power.
All of these readings prove three different ways history can be read and demonstrate this well.

Week 7 Blog Assignmnent

All of the readings for Tuesday- State v Samuel, Loving v. Virginia, and the Omolade article, discuss the history of race and racism and legal regulations regarding race and marriage. One court uses a historical approach to justify racism; another addresses history in order to distinguish the present from the past; and Omolade provides a historical overview in order to argue for a particular way of understanding Black women's familial roles.
Given these three distinct uses of history, and keeping in mind the theoretical approaches that we have studied that call for awareness of historical specificity, I would like you to consider the value and the dangers of relying on history to support an argument. How can we determine whose history is reliable? Should we be suspicious of all reliance on history? What can we learn from an author's attitude toward history?

In Utah, Miscarriage is Homicide

http://community.feministing.com/2010/02/in-utah-miscarriage-criminal-h.html
http://jezebel.com/5479032/the-next-anti+choice-target-miscarriage

Mid-Term Project Topic

I will be writing a paper on the legal definitions of erotica and pornography, and touch on the reasoning behind the pro and anti feminist pornography movement.

Blog 6

Some of the other schools of feminist thought that we have looked at this semester are similar to postmodern legal feminist theory. Postmodern legal feminist theorists reject the idea that all women possess similar traits or that all women have the same experiences. This idea is similar to the beliefs of pragmatic feminist legal theorists and critical race feminists. Pragmatic feminists believe in embracing the views of subordinate and oppressed women. Matsuda writes that a "pragmatist says, 'listen hard. Consider all possibilities. In meeting other cultures and world views, try to enter them and to know them before judging them" (Matsuda 1777). This statement clearly shows that pragmatists believe in considering women from all walks of life and thinking about their situation before making any assumptions. Similarly, critical race feminists believe that we must look at all aspects of a person's identity. The chapter on different feminist legal theories in the book Feminist Legal Theories describes the views of critical race feminists by saying that "discrimination works differently depending on a person's combination of personal characteristics...it is the intersection of characteristics like sex, race, wealth, and sexual orientation the really suggest how people treat you" (Levit and Verchick 26). They believe we cannot just look at a gender group such as women, but we must look at other categories as well. Critical race feminist and postmodern feminists also possess another similarity; they both do not support the idea of biological differences. Frug writes calls the view of "male and female sexual identities as anatomically determined and psychologically predictable" inconsistent (1046). This is similar to the views of critical race feminists on biological characteristics. They believe that the "traits that define races are not biological or genetic categories with much scientific significance" (Levit and Verchick 28). Clearly, postmodern legal feminists, pragmatic feminists, and critical reac feminists also share the same disapproval for essentialism.

Comparing Postmodernism to other Legal Feminist Approaches

The postmodern feminist approach to legal thinking seems to me to share with both lesbian feminism and feminist pragmatism in that all three are concerned with how identity is constituted and the implications of unity and difference in identity for crafting law. They diverge in how they believe we should interact with identity.

Frug focuses in her work on identifying the ways in which law, rather than simply negotiating objective facts about the reality of groups of people, is actually implicated in the creation of those same distinct groups of people. In example, our society generally accepts the idea that being maternal is a distinguishing quality of the category "women", but part of the reason women are viewed this way is because the structure of law deliberately encourages women to be the primary child caregivers. For Frug, the solution is to challenge the manner in which law essentializes groups of people.

Robson is similarly concerned about the construction of identity in general, and through the mechanism of law in particular. This is evidenced by her discussion of what identity as a Lesbian means - who is excluded and who is included? She explores Rule 23 and class action suits for a similar reason. She finds hope in the terms by which these suits group people together and allow for their representation, serving as both an example of postmodern multiplicity while at the same time allowing for categorization necessary in moving forward with legal cases.

Matsuda, in defense of pragmatism, takes the same concerns of Frug but reaches a very different conclusion. She views categorization as necessary in our understanding of our world and in grasping the consequences of law. Yet for Matsuda, the solution to the problem of essentialism often inherent in the creation of categories (which postmodernism criticizes) is to focus on the intersections of identities and the ways in which oppressed people have analyzed their own oppression.

Week 6: Comparison

I think that this is a particularly a difficult question to answer. The main problem is that postmodern legal feminism tries to be different from preceding theories. By trying to be "non-essentialist", it almost has to deny the plausibility of other theories.
For instance, the anti-pornography stance is not entirely defendable from a postmodernist standpoint, because you first have to lay out a couple of maxims that I'm not entirely sure that a postmodernist would be comfortable with:
1) Pornography, in and of itself, is universally immoral/evil
2) Objectification of the human body is inherently wrong
3) Pornography affects everyone through the culture it develops

So it would seem that cultural feminism has the most in common with postmodernism, in that regard. Again, there is the issue that cultural feminism has to have some universals laid out, because in order to defend its (cultural feminism) position there are assumptions of common experiences.
What would best tie these two theories together is the usage of storytelling. There seems to be a good mixture of individual experience, implied commonality, and a need for the ability to understand subtext.
But this week's question seems to be concerned with the practicality of these various theories, to which I could not honestly answer. The problem with rejecting total objectivity is that there is no way to make sure that "justice" is distributed evenly if all evidence is unique, as well as all judgments and judges.

W6: Postmodern Feminism Compared

Postmodern feminism shares certain aspects of intent with some of our previously researched theories, but I believe the philosophy of approach is unique. I would argue that the fundamental anti-essentialism (especially when Frug references gender, sex and encoding the female body) of postmodern feminism goes even further in rejecting an essentialist view than have critical race or lesbian feminism.

Frug argues that language is the root of human experience, and the use of language determines how women are defined in a society. Because language is malleable, our world is susceptible to change. While I recognize that both pragmatic and postmodern feminists believe in the importance of language, I feel they approach it with different intentions. Pragmatic theorists see language as a tool with which to convey experiences, as in the case of story telling. Rhetoric serves to facilitate individual understanding of differences, inequalities, and political power. Postmodern feminists see language as almost an independent agent that society (by harnessing it's power) is able to use to subjugate women. If women realize this, and recognize the power within language, they can take control and reshape their world using the same techniques.

Equal rights feminism holds that the language of the law must be changed to create literal equality. Substantive equality, presumably, follows. The comparison lies in equal rights feminism's perceived need to change the language of the law, and postmodern feminism's idea of malleable language. While both of these underlying attitudes towards action may present with certain similarities, postmodern feminism deviates in its anti-essentialist theory, and rejection of gendered roles.

Radical feminism would agree with postmodern feminism that inequality and gender roles are pervasive in society, and shape the hierarchy of equality. Radical feminism might agree that there is a role that language has played in creating present inequalities.
However, I would question whether or not postmodern feminism would condone the radical view that a new social system needs to be started from scratch, and that the old system should be completely abolished. Postmodern belief in language as a tool for effecting change within existing structures might negate this need.

Postmodern feminism would be in agreement with dominance theory. At least, they would consent mainly in cases where subjective viewpoints elucidate how and why one comes to be dominated. Postmodern feminism can complement difference theory, like how a more female orientated writing can be celebrated over male dominance language. Pragmatism would relate well with postmodern feminism. Though, I wonder if all theories would relate well with pragmatism.

Pragmatism might be universal enough to encompass most, if not all, feminist theories. The main idea of pragmatism suggests that one can use it mostly universally. Margaret Jane Radin in FLT says that in using pragmatism, "We must confront each dilemma separately and choose the alternative that will empowerment the least and further it the most (34)." The core problems of pragmatic feminism, that it's short-sighted, tentative, and lacks concrete legal solutions, are all criticizing a form of pragmatism that doesn't agree with the foundation of pragmatism.

The problem with the interpretations of pragmatism is that it presumes that if we don't know every single detail of something, it's more practical to do nothing. Pragmatism encourages one to choose the better alternative in the matter of the current situation. What is deemed as the current situation is unjustifiably decided arbitrarily. Pragmatism doesn't have to be tentative. If one can reasonably say that implementing a more universal theory might improve a situation, then pragmatism encourages more universal theories. Even if one isn't sure, one can argue that pragmatism encourages testing out implementing universal theories in certain situations. In this light, it's very agreeable when Matsuda says that "pragmatism as a method is valuable as a method to an end, and the end of all human striving is justice (1769)."

blog 06 // postmodernism & co.

When thinking about postmodern feminism in conjunction with other feminist thought, I feel like the underlying force of radical feminism is startlingly similar. Both focus on power, though they might measure power differently. They, similarly, both explicitly address the subordination present through power dynamics, and I think that they each have the capacity to address that theory through individual interactions as well as power on the structural level.

The Matsuda reading frequently referenced postmodern feminist approaches to feminist legal theory, and together with pragmatism, established the ways that I think many of the approaches work together. For example, Matsuda pressed the question on page 1769, "Can one deconstruct law and use law at the same time?" Which I think is a really relevant question for many leftist ideological approaches. On the next page, though, she stated "The method of holding truth provisional does not, for me, mean there is no truth, no justice." This is personally what brought postmodernism back to our other feminist legal theories, down from this "perception is reality" separation.

With that background, I thought about the ways that postmodern feminism would or would not have worked with the anti-pornography battle. In an ideal situation, I think that postmodernist thinking might have illustrated the ways that pornography affects women. For example, a key argument was that it is precisely how women perceive pornography that makes it violent specifically to women (while in many cases it IS literally violent), and postmodernism addresses that value of construction and perception as reality.

Blog 6

As far as post modern feminisim goes, I do not think that it would have changed the anti-pornography battle because our government and country is ran by men and the pornography industry is perdominately ran by men, so it will never go away just by a small group of feminist women who feel that it is wrong. Because for them it is taking money out of their pocket.

In terms of post modern feminism, I did see a commonality with pragmatic feminism. Obviously, there will be minor overlaps and differences, but what I saw between the two was an emphasis on rhetoric and the power of the words. With pragmatic feminism, there is an understanding of someone having knowledge that you have never been exposed to before, Matsuda writes, "In my work I strive to learn from those who have access to a world I do not know, a world I cannot hope to imagine in full and telling detail (1766). Matsuda emphasizes the importance of every woman's differences and the elements that they bring to the table. With post modern emphasis, the one unique belief is the emphasis of sex being a socially constructed identity and therefore, is something that women as a whole cannot fully understand since it is the individual (and the individual's stories) that are unique. With pragmatic feminism, there is a lack of "access" to a person's perspectives, beliefs, understandings, etc. because of the individual identities we possess. With post modern, it is similar in regards to the lack of full knowledge, that we are never quite sure of the exact meaning behind a gender, a word, etc. Both are open to interpretation by the intrinsic differences that make up each of us.

With post modern feminism and radical feminism, there were some overlaps in arguments as well. Radical feminism views women as lacking any power within the current system. Post modern feminism sees society as putting restrictions on how women express themselves, speak to one another, etc. mainly through verbal communication. Language is open to interpretation (and always has been) according to post modern feminists, but this very nature of language can be damaging to women. Radical feminists would agree, for example, with the words used to describe women as being all derogatory, but paraded around the patriarchal world we currently live in as being socially permitted. Rhetoric is an important tool for feminism, but because of it's constant interpretation, can be dangerous as well.

Lastly, I will discuss post modern feminism and critical race theory. Critical race theory is concerned with the social construction of race; the direct influence that race has on an individual's role in society (specifically within a legal setting.) With post modern feminism, Frug emphasizes that sex is not biologically innate or natural, but something that is upholded and constructed by individuals. In regards to this perspective, critical race theory is similar in its perspective that race is a very important factor (in terms of marginalization of a group), but it something that should not be biologically defined according to legal proceedings. Society puts the emphasis on both race and gender, but both schools of thought see these as socially constructed fixtures that are used to define and encompass individuals, a very treacherous perspective.

Postmodern Feminism

I personally don't believe post-modern feminism would have influenced the anti-pornography debate, except to make it more muddled. Postmodern feminism seems to rely on not using classifications or solid definitions, thus opening it up to a wide, disorganized melange of ideas that differ based from proponent to proponent.

Additionally, due to the arcane nature of postmodern feminism in general, it would give the movement as a whole a aura of intractability and alienation, leading others to spur it for it's heavy intellectualism.

Blog 6

Matsuda's take on pragmatism, first of all, is much less proactive than she alludes to. Her modified pragmatism theory lacks any solid plan of action. She brings up seeking justice and truth from subordinated groups but never speaks of where to go after that. Also, to an extent, I agree with her that categorization can be useful but she contradicts herself when she initially speaks of pluralism and intersectionality. Then in closing says that she wants to listen to all - insert subordinated group - but is especially interested in the group within that group that is self organized. To me, this is not taking advantage of groups; it is taking preference to them and denying the individuality she initially emphasizes. When compared to Equal Rights Theory, I think her theory is incompatible as it involves pluralism, attention to individuals, consciousness raising in search for self knowledge and the rejecting of a Truth. However, what it turns into is essentialist but emphasized to the point that I don't believe it could serve a pragmatic purpose. The emphasis on groups and labels paired with a lack of a clear cut plan of action makes her argument compatible with Equal Rights Theory feminism.

Postmodern feminism, as Frug discusses, I think could have to an extent helped the course of the anti-pornography campaign. Frug's main criticism's surround the campaign's emphasis on dichotomies both in the style in the campaign support and language used. Frug calls the campaign "gendered" (1073) and also points out that the campaign used normative speech surrounding sex instead of actively asserting and challenging those norms. Frug calls the campaign "dichotomized" and oversimplified (1074). Postmodern feminists attempt to deconstruct social norms, hierarchies and polarized gender norms. I don't believe Postmodern feminism is particularly useful outside academia but if some of its techniques would have incorporated I think the ordinance may have turned out differently but would have at least received a different reaction.

In Critical Race Theory (CRT), storytelling is a device used by, in this case oppressed women, to bring attention, specifically legal attention, to the realities of woman's lives. The belief is that these stories, or narratives, humanize the experience and make it more 'real' to the legal circuit. Frug discusses the historical and social contexts that define and inscribe women's bodies. Frug's article focuses on the way in which our legal system creates and reinforces the meaning and implications of woman. Her emphasis on the legal system's power which is imposed on the rest of society as well is based on the same idea as CRT's. One goal of CRT's storytelling is to bring to attention the ways in which individuals are affected by their own separate contexts. While CRT and Frug focus on different sources of this effect, the conclusion is the same; women's lives and bodies are inscribed with meanings that are imposed upon them by societal influences. Story telling is a tool to bring this phenomenon to surface and Frug attempts to uncover these effects by deconstructing these effects focusing on the historical and specific contexts that women are shaped by and enforced by law. Both use their own tools to bring attention to the oppression of women and its hidden complexities.

Week 6 Blog

As we wrap up the unit on feminist legal theory, I'd like you to address a question from Thursday's class: what other schools of feminist thought share characteristics of postmodern legal feminism? Which approaches that we have studied seem most compatible? For example, could postmodernist feminism have changed the course of the anti-pornography battle, as Frug suggested? How does the emphasis on storytelling in critical race theory relate to the emphasis on historical specificity and encoding that Frug discussed? Is the pragmatic approach that Matsuda critiques compatible with equal rights feminism and it's focus on eliminating barriers to legal equality?

You do not need to address all of these questions and theoretical approaches, but I'd like you to consider the interactions between at least three areas of feminist legal theory.

Suggested length: 175-200 words

Week 6 Blog

As we wrap up the unit on feminist legal theory, I'd like you to address a question from Thursday's class: what other schools of feminist thought share characteristics of postmodern legal feminism? Which approaches that we have studied seem most compatible? For example, could postmodernist feminism have changed the course of the anti-pornography battle, as Frug suggested? How does the emphasis on storytelling in critical race theory relate to the emphasis on historical specificity and encoding that Frug discussed? Is the pragmatic approach that Matsuda critiques compatible with equal rights feminism and it's focus on eliminating barriers to legal equality?

You do not need to address all of these questions and theoretical approaches, but I'd like you to consider the interactions between at least three areas of feminist legal theory.

Suggested length: 175-200 words

Blog 5: Extra Credit - Speak Up

I wanted to comment on my own entry for week 5 after thinking about the readings throughout this week.

I said that I was skeptical about the notion of placing emphasis on storytelling. I thought it was an exercise in futility because "story" is so broad and sweeping of a word. One can contrive anything as a story. That was what I wanted others to infer when I quoted the definition of story. Telling a story is just that-- telling. Why yes, we should communicate. Why is this an issue? Why are we reinventing the wheel? I have found three main faults with my line of thinking and have thus changed my mind.

The first fault in my initial view is one of a false analogy. When I say that I blame the creators of law of failing to be objective enough, I put the onus on lawmakers to better understand multiple views. In a perfect world, this wouldn't be that bad, but we don't live in a perfect world. There are existing hierarchies in the structure of law and society.

The second fault is the presumption that those in power will hear the voices of subordinate groups. A story is a narrative. If the narrative persuades or reinforces beliefs, then it has power. Therefore, stories themselves are a source of power. The subordinate groups are already silenced. Like in the case of Mrs. G, they are afraid to speak. If they are silenced, then those in power, even though it might be unintentional, might never hear those different views.

The third and final fault is that I presume that those in power will sooner or later reason out inequities in law. By placing that responsibility on lawmakers, I further perpetuate the structure of dominance. This encourages the class in power to do a better job, but neglects the possibility that someone with a different viewpoint might come up with a better argument or premise that someone has forgotten.

So, I slightly change my mind. Rather than feeling passively about storytelling, I encourage it. Speak up.

Storytelling

I believe storytelling, both as a narrative tool and for cultural transmission, are a double-edged sword. Stories, and the telling thereof, can help people and persons in many ways, the least of which is by creating unity and a common set of experiences for people to follow. By giving others who don't share the narrative of the storytellers a chance to see them, empathy between people can be enhanced.

Unfortunately, it is entirely possible to become -too- enamored with a story and narrative. Stories and narratives are inherently biased from the storytellers point of view, which can lead to problems when dealing with different paradigms. Also, the strength of a certain narrative can easily overpower that of a 'weaker' one, forcing those who wish to use narratives for a goal to rely on the 'stronger' one.

Storytelling

I think that storytelling has an important place in law as well as in other disciplines for expanding our knowledge of any subject. Storytelling does often come up in the context of expressing minority points of view, but I don't think this only applies to women of color. Women, while not a numerical minority, ARE a minority when it comes to the expression of relevant aspects of female life.

This debate seemed to surface a lot as a result of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, because of her comment in a speech that approximately said that her experience as a Latina offered her insight into the workings of law that a white male would not have. Many journalists and political commentators were outraged about this comment, wanting to believe that law is an objective practice. The debate brings up a lot of questions about objectivity. There is a school of thought, which I find persuasive, that says that minorities and underrepresented classes have broader access to knowledge, since they are able to understand a certain issue both through the eyes of their own demographic as well as that of the dominant demographic because academic programs socialize us to see issues through the eyes of that dominant class. And I think there is weight to this idea.

Week 5: Storytelling

I don't know if storytelling would constitute as consciousness-raising. I feel that consciousness-raising is more about making people aware of an issue, or (and I hate to use this word due to the baggage, but its applicable)an empowerment technique. Storytelling to me seems to be about argument through resonation.
What I mean by this is that storytelling is not really about finding a story to fit a situation, but for the listener to understand the story by relating to certain elements. It seems to me, that by being able to relate to certain aspects of a story that the listener should then be able to understand, or at least be sympathetic to, the rest of the context. Or they may walk away with some other idea or thought.
In other words, consciousness-raising is about the self and storytelling is about others. Both are affirmations of issues in the world, and both are aiming to be inclusive. In consciousness-raising everyone starts off on the same foot, but storytelling is an argument. I think all the writers would agree that storytelling is important, but certain authors, like MacKinnon, would disagree on the effect.

On a side-note: Reading MacKinnon, I was under the impression that her tactic was to compete by the rules of the Patriarchy, and then introduce new elements after being accepted. Trying just to use something like storytelling in an empirical courtroom probably would fly if there was not someone credible behind it.

Week 5

By sharing experiences through storytelling, groups and individuals pass on beliefs, values, and explanations relating to their personal life: experiences the listener might otherwise never experience. Stories can be useful in supporting legal arguments, and yet, as with the case of John Henry in the Delgado article, must be taken in context. Stories can change depending on who is speaking, and one cannot rule out the possibility that an account might be a complete fallacy. While some stories can be verified, founding a legal argument or change on hearsay can have a negative impact even if the intentions are good.

The White article attempts to use story telling as a vehicle for reform. In an attempt to change what she refers to as "the negative cultural imagery of gender, race and class" (p.55), she uses storytelling almost exclusively as a tool for consciousness-raising on the particular issue she was covering. Matsuda argues that this type of storytelling provides necessary examples for lawmakers. She makes a strong argument about how having multiple levels of consciousness is the most effective way for an individual to acquire a broader understanding of possible social or legal injustices.

While all three articles told stories about racial minorities, I do not believe that the approaches described by the authors should be exclusively applied to marginalized groups. Storytelling can also be effective in creating feelings of solidarity among people who are members of the 'majority' and lead them to action. Fundamental to all the reasons that Matsudo, White and Delgado give for storytelling is the belief that it can effect change.

I think that MacKinnon would agree that storytelling is necessary when bringing women's issues to the attention of those who are not directly affected by them. I am not certain, however, whether or not she would assert that storytelling is particularly effective in the case of securing women's equality. She might concede that telling stories could create a unity among women, but argue that even armed with examples of discrimination, women would still be at the mercy of male influenced lawmakers.

Blog 5: Lack of Objectivity

Like a lot of other Feminist Theories, storytelling questions the current system. I'm skeptical about the notion of placing emphasis on storytelling. At least, I believe that putting emphasis on storytelling is just shifting semantic sand. Rather than placing emphasis on storytelling, I suggest placing more emphasis on better objectivism. According to the dictionary at wordnetweb.princeton.edu a story is defined as:
narrative: a message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of events; presented in writing or drama or cinema or as a radio .
report: a short account of the news; "the report of his speech"; "the story was on the 11 o'clock news"; "the account of his speech that was given on the evening news made the governor furious"

A story is a sort of persuasive argument in this context. Since it's a persuasive argument, it follows that one should take into account all sides of a story to be objective in deciding on a viewpoint. Storytelling can be useful, but I disagree with Delgado saying, "The supposedly objective point of view often mischaracterizes, minimizes, dismisses, or derides without fully understanding opposing viewpoints." Instead of those writing law being TOO objective, I would say that they are LACKING in being objective by not taking into consideration other viewpoints.

Delgado also says, "Implying that objective, correct answers can be given to legal questions also obscures the moral and political value judgments that lie at the heart of any legal inquiry." Delgado places this in such a way that it would be natural for one to conclude this, but he doesn't seem to have any premises to this assertion. Why can't we have objective, correct answers? Or (since one can argue that that is an impossibility), why can't we have the most possibly objective, correct answers?

Blog 5

I believe, and the articles support, that the ways in which stories are told do shape and construct our values and norms in society. Matsuda, Delgado and White reiterate and give examples of how stories have shaped our laws and worldviews. While each of the authors strongly support consciousness raising their opinions as to where to go from there vary. Matsuda focuses on a forward but practical use of consciousness raising. Her theory consists of what she calls multiple consciousness. This refers to not only bringing the realities of oppressed populations but also realizing the importance of working within the current law system and resisitng ideological goals. On the other hand, Delgado adamantly pushes the importance of consciousness raising especially within the realm of law but her plan of application is lacking.

MacKinnon, I believe, would lean on the side of Matsuda's argument because while it is not a plan of radical activism it does admit the male dominated field of law. MacKinnon is much more for some sort of action than theoretical and ideological ideas and plans because they do not directly effect the women who need it. I

I think that story telling or consciousness raising can be a very useful tool for any group of people who are struggling to find a legal voice. Delgado's article makes a really good argument but I just feel that there is no practical use for it while it is a good theory.

Week five

I think the power of storytelling is great, for the one telling the story and for the people listening. when you are good at telling a story you have a way of captivating your audience which connects the both of you in a different way or in a deeper way. The three authors all have their way of structuring their storytelling but their main goal is to connect with some one and be able to reach out to them. wheather the audience is aimed towards women or people of color you are going to reach someone other than your focul audience.

So for me that is the power of telling a story, because you can create a beautiful picture, or a sad, pitiful story with just the action of using words. Another thing that is very interesting with storytelling is that the story teller can reached that opressed group, that hardly mentioned group and so many other groups by just telling what is real. in this case storytelling is not speaking for others and representing them in a manor that they might not agree with but talking for that group or individual that can not, will not speak for themself. As a classmate mentioned about rape victums. if a story is told and it reaches that rape victum they may feel compelled to tell their story and express their own pain.

So again storytelling is very powerful in my book, especially they way that you deliver your message. You can tell a story in sooo many ways, it just depends on the method that the storyteller feels best fits them emotionally.

Blog 5

Storytelling in jurisprudential contexts as discussed in the readings by Matsuda, Delgado and White is something that I feel can be supported from both sides of cultural and radical feminist viewpoints. Each of these theories rely heavily on the stories and experiences of women to show where they stand.

In Jurisprudence and Gender,page 64, in section 1, titled, "The Narrative and Phenomenological Critique", West states "The way to do this--the only way to do this--is to tell true stories on women's lives."

I think that MacKinnon would agree to the usage of stories being an important element in the practice of law and useful towards resisting social inequality. We all have our own stories, these are our life experiences which form our own personal perceptions of the world around us. This is not a matter of seeing things in black and white. There are too many variables in the areas of race, class & gender that need to be taken into consideration. A man will not see women's issues the same way as a women nor will a woman see things from a man's point of view. Simply because they each have their own perceptions and experiences that have formed them. Through conscious raising and a development of multiple consciousness one can understand more fully where another person is coming from in their own thoughts and views.

Storytelling is done in various ways. The methods used to express and share the experiences of those who are or have been oppressed and/or marginalized is done through writings, poetry, music, art etc. All of these methods make this persons story available to both outsiders and insiders within society.

Blog 5: Storytelling

In regards to storytelling, I do view this as a crucial aspect to understand in order to fully realize an argument or belief that is discussed, presented, etc. in the court. Storytelling is a piece of our lives that we don't even think about, it is one the of the most common ways that we communicate and what is crucial to notice is how one story will be completely different when told from numerous stories. As Delgado states, "We participate in creating what we see in the very act of describing it" (Delgado 2416). What Delgado is trying to say is each individual constructs a reality that is partial to their own. A person will view an event differently depending on their socioeconomic stance, gender, race, etc. Not only will this person view an event, crime, person, etc. differently, but they will tell others differently (i.e. storytelling.) Taking into account the "creating" of a story and how different it is to each individual, understanding these differences in storytelling therefore are crucial to studying legal cases and theory. For example, Catherine MacKinnon, taking into regards her individual feminist legal standpoint and personal history, I would argue would view the idea of storytelling as being evident in our court system and an element of the court that is crucial to understand. MacKinnon might argue that because women are inherently different from men, their stories will be different and would not be fully understood by an all male jury or male judge. Since there is an inherent misunderstanding, there will be issues in the case because the story is coming from a female perspective that men can never and will never fully understand.

I see Delgado, Matsuda and White not looking to story telling as a repeat of consciousness raisings, but instead bringing attention to storytelling as a crucial way of understanding social inequality (not necessarily a cathartic experience as consciousness raisings are.) The social inequality, as stated before, can deal with race, gender, socioeconomic stance, etc. Although the three authors mainly dealt with racial stories and the impact these had on their cases, these stories could differ in many different ways that would lead one to further understand social inequality in a patriarchal society. I found all three articles very interesting and I must admit that I had never considered storytelling as an element to look further into when studying a case. I understood that people have different perspectives and therefore stories will shift, but I didn't understand the impact this could have on how an individual is view in and out of court.

Blog 5

I found the readings on narrative very interesting. I believe the method of storytelling can be very powerful as it can give voice to those who have been silenced or oppressed. I think this approach corresponds to other theorists we have read. I believe that Catharine MacKinnon would find this approach useful. In her article, she writes about rape and how it is defined in society and in law. Storytelling or the use of narrative could be useful in discussing rape and law; it would allow victims to share their experiences with the legal system when it comes to rape and other sexual misconduct crimes. The sharing of these stories may help feminists to look at the current state of rape laws and to search for ways to change them. The approach that Matsuda, Delgado, and White describe in their articles seems similar to the consciousness-raising method that Levit and Verchick outline in their chapter on feminist legal methods. The method of consciousness-raising encourages women to tell their stories in order to make an effort to create social change and equality. Matsudo, Delgado, and White expand on this idea by looking at who is telling the stories, how they change from different perspectives, and the language used during the story-telling process. Although these theorists focus on storytellers from minority groups, I believe that the storytelling method can be applied generally. I think that any group of people that is oppressed or silence by the law or society in general could benefit from storytelling. Storytelling would allow their voices to be heard and may help their experiences to be better understood. Although I thought each reading was interesting, I particularly liked the White article. I found the sections on speech very interesting, and they helped me to better understand the narrative and storytelling approach.

week 5 // narrative

Storytelling gives life to identities in ways that cannot be replicated, and that as a way of changing law is entirely realistic. The authors who discuss narrative may write about race specifically, but I think it would be applicable to what we have been talking about. As far as Catherine MacKinnon goes, I think that the overarching method of narratives is something she would agree with. As women are largely ignored in law, consciousness raising would, in effect, combat that. On the other hand, narratives could not be a cure-all. They could simply exist to serve the interests of the majority (white males) which is already represented in law. Mackinnon addresses this briefly, about how male understanding of consent is used in rape cases and how commonly women's stories may be rejected as reputable. In this way... narrative works against women. Though I think that does bring up a few complications with narratives - whose narrative do you listen to at the cost of others? The author in our West reading was the one giving the narrative - was it to serve Mrs. G or to serve as a description of how troublesome it is to be an aid lawyer? Another thing I found to be confusing was the way that Mrs. G was described as heavily changed by the welfare system. She was constantly in fear, and had very trained methods of understanding the system. With narrative, it is difficult to fish that out without just tossing aside what someone says as being brainwashed, because it is never so simple. Anyway, I'm excited to discuss the power of narrative in class, as it is something I have been looking at more and more lately!

Week 5 Blog

This readings by Matsuda, Delgado, and White all discuss the operations of storytelling in jurisprudential contexts, focusing on the ways in which storytelling by dominant and subordinate members of society differ in purpose, structure, reception, and impact.

We have all been in situations in which outcomes are determined by who is telling the story and who is listening. Whether the situation is two siblings each trying to convince their parent that the other started the fight, or politicians trying to convince people that they deserve to hold elected office, or parties in court trying to convince a jury of guilt or innocence, we tell stories to convey our understanding of the world and our place in it.

For this blog post, I would like you to consider the notion that storytelling constructs our social realities and that those involved with the law should thus be attentive to storytelling. Does this approach concur with or dispute the other theorists that we have read? Would, for example, MacKinnon agree that the ways in which we tell stories is an important element of the practice of law and a useful strategy to resist social inequality? Are Delgado, Matsuda and White expanding on feminist uses of consciousness-raising, or do they have a different purpose in calling for attention to storytelling? All three authors specifically discuss people of color and storytelling; are their approaches only applicable to storytelling by minorities, or are they generally applicable? What else about these readings struck you as particularly enlightening or confusing or dubious?

Suggested length: 200 words

Mid Term Project/Topic

I have decided to do a written paper for the mid term assignment. The topic I am focusing on is women's lives while incarcerated. I am interested in the areas of pregnancy, labor/delivery and parenting/custody issues/rights of incarcerated women.

I will be looking forward to teaming up with anyone to do a presentation for the final project.

Since I could not comment

Katie A. and myself discussed in class the other day if we could team up together and do a presentation on human trafficking and prostitution. We have not discussed the specifics, but I have several connections that could help us in researching and preparing for this project. I work for the Aurora Center on campus and have a vast knowledge in sexual violence. I also worked for Amnesty International a couple of years back and worked within researching international human trafficking. Lastly, I am in touch with "Breaking Free," a local nonprofit that helps women and children getting off the streets and participating in prostitution. They provide schooling, counseling, free housing, etc. With all of these resources, I know that this presentation would be very rewarding and interesting.

Mid-Term Project Topic

I plan on doing my topic on marriage law in the United States in the 19th century. History is a topic that greatly interests me, and with the continuing debate on non-heterosexual marriage, I believe it would be important to discuss the nature of marriage, and how it used to be seen.

topic

I am interested in doing something with prostitution and rape law. I believe that Meredith and I will be working on that topic together for the presentation which perhaps we could do at midterm?

Possible Paper/Presentation Subjects

For my presentation topic, I am very interested in dealing with a topic related to how the law deals with rape. I'd particularly be interested in looking into the way that commodification of womens bodies shapes the way in which rape law is structured. I'd like to work with a partner on my presentation, and would be willing to be flexible about the topic.

Regarding the paper, which I would prefer to do at the end of the semester, I am particularly interested in international feminism (which is usually western feminism) and how it has shaped laws in other countries. There are a number of issues with colonialism and feminism that I'd like to explore in this regard, which I think highlight the complexity of changing legal issues. I spent last semester in Jordan, where honor killings (while rare) still occur. King Hussein has submitted legislation to change the law which allows fathers or brothers to suffer very little punishment for such crimes, yet they have repeatedly failed to pass. Another interesting example in this same vein would be looking at the way international actors interacted with Hamid Karzai in response to his passing of the Shia Family Act, which legalizes marital rape (by making it law that women have sex with their husbands at least once a week). I remember when this occurred watching one of the male pundits refer to this as "barbaric" (which it is) and expressing his shock at a people that could allow that - while thinking that marital rape was not a crime in all states until around 1992. Obviously this isn't a focused idea yet, but these are the thoughts I've been turning over.

Week 4: Topic

For my final project, I was thinking about discussing presuppositions about a person's ethics based on their sex, how gender affects ethics, and how these two things work in tandem to maintain normativity.

Week 4: topics

I have a few topics that I'm interested in. I have no preference as to what topics in particular I would rather use as a presentation or paper.

- the arguments on the side that would like to censor pornography more

- if postmodern feminist theory is realistically applicable, and if so, how

- Miscegenation laws. Maybe more specifically the role of Japanese war brides. How they came to be known as perfect wives and how they came to be acquired by the opposing faction

Post 4: Possible Paper/Presentation Topics


My first topic of interest is a somewhat more specific than my second subject. I would be interested in researching the "Sex Wars" of the early 1980's. While the anti-pornography movement is widely documented by writers such as MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, I would be interested in contrasting their writings with the sex-positive feminist approach. More specifically, maybe, looking at how pornography potentially propagates sexual violence in society, or whether it should be termed free speech under the Constitution. Otherwise, I would be open to perusing this issue from another angle, maybe focusing on how the pro-sex feminist's approach regarding rape and rape laws would differ from that of a radical feminist such as MacKinnon.

As a second potential topic, I thought about looking at the shift of feminism's focus over time from economic equality to sex-role equality in the law. While I don't feel that there is necessarily a line that defines one to the exclusion of the others, I think comparing Marxist, Socialist, and Radical feminist approaches to class and gender roles could provide some specific insight into this topic.

topics for paper and presentation

My ideas for my topic and presentation are not fully developed so I am not sure about what I want to do yet, they might change as I further my research.

For my paper topic I want to dicuss something along the lines of how the law has an effect on African american women verses other women. How laws effect a certain group of people rather than people who may commit a crime. i f that makes any since at all. I have not fully developed the ideas in my head yet.

For my presentation I want to talk or argue some of the issues we talked about in class, like women ( specificly African American women) in higher positions of the law. How things differ for women and men but also women of color and other women.

Blog 4

Two topics that I am interested in include rape laws and the change of marriage laws over time. These ideas are pretty tentative; they may change as I do more research and as I do more class reading. For the first topic, I would like to look more closely at the MacKinnon piece we read last week, and I would like to read some other feminists approach to rape and rape laws. I want to look at the language used in rape laws and how it reflects the information I find in my research. I would like to investigate how radical feminists and cultural feminists view rape and perceive rape laws. Also, it might be interesting to look at rape law from the perspective of a critical race feminist. For the second topic, I am interested in the history of marriage law. I took a course on the history of women, and we only touched on the rights of women when it comes to marriage and divorce. I would like to learn more about marriage law and how it has changed over time. My interests include coverture, divorce, division of property, custody of children, and same-sex marriage.

Blog 4--research topics

Two topics that I thought might be interesting are "incarcerated women" and "women and pornography."

I am interested in researching how incarceration for women differs from that of men. I have not had much personal contact with people who have been in prison but I am sure there are many differences in how the penal system treats each due the gender differences. I have seen documentaries about women who have children while they are in prison. I have never heard of a man having his newborn child in a prison while he was an inmate so I was thinking about looking at this dynamic and exactly how this works out.

As for the women in pornography topic, it's not so much about the pornography itself but there are some women who have become actually very successful directors and producers of pornography. This is a curious thought. What is it about this industry that has made these women decide to become director and producers?

I'm not sure which one I would rather do as a presentation or a paper. If anyone of these topics is interesting to anyone else, feel free to let me know.

blog 04 // research ideas

As of right now, both of my projects are incredibly tentative!

For my paper, which I prefer to complete at midterms, I plan to explore the way that laws play out in cases of domestic violence. Firstly, I'm going to research arrest policies, and the racialized nature in which they are actually carried out. Then I will examine sentencing policies.I'd like to look at this issue in conjucture to what Catherine Mackinnon claims about the state and rape or sexual violence - that is does not address it as systemic, and is hence perpetuating it.
Similarly, I would like to research who is left out of these policies, specifically how immigration issues complicate domestic violence. Though... that would possibly be an entirely different paper?
At this point, I have too much that I would like to cover, so I'll be narrowing it down quite a bit in order to get at my main argument.


Right now I'm less sure about what exactly I want to work on for the presentation.

One topic that I would possibly like to research is how post-conviction laws for serious drug offenses, specifically the penalties banning things such as welfare, disproportionately affect women of color. Critical Race Feminism approaches would particularly be of use to me here.

Of the theories we have explored, I think the approach that I will find most useful is Dominance Theory. Though I would certainly be interested in working with someone on an issue related to EcoFeminism. I've done a few readings on the particular effects of environmental destruction policy to American Indian women, and the movements that fight against it.

Week 4: Paper and Presentation Ideas


These are my two topics of interest:

This first topic I would like to do as a presentation if someone has a similar topic in mind.One, human trafficking and prostitution laws. I would like to look at this topic from a cultural feminist perspective and specifically look at the legal approaches taken when dealing with the initial arrest of a trafficked victim, the resources (if any) given to them, and the effects this has on their overall well being, both legally and emotionally. I think it would be interesting to investigate the rights given to these victims, the types of laws that the victims would be in violation of ,and how these violations would work within a cultural feminist perspective.

The next topic I am interested in is looking at Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin's legal work on making pornography illegal in Minneapolis. I do not know a lot of detail around this, but I have heard many references to their work with pornography. I would prefer to look at this through a radical feminist perspective and look at their legal arguments made against the 1st Amendment.

Week 4 Blog

This week, please describe ideas that you have for paper and presentation topics. Are you interested in using the theoretical approaches that we have examined thus far, or do you think that those that we have yet to get to will prove more useful?
To start your research, I suggest going to the U of M library list of databases and trying some searches in JSTOR and Hein Online. The first contains general academic journals; the Hein database allows you to search law journals.
Blog posts are due by noon on Tuesday. After this time, please come back to the blog and read your classmates' posts and comment on at least one post. Are you interested in a similar topic? Has your preliminary research or prior academic experience turned up any sources that might be helpful? These comments should go beyond "Interesting topic" and offer substantive feedback that will help your classmates to refine their topics.

Week 3 Blog

In reading these three articles I found that there were aspects of each that I agreed with, and portions that I was directly opposed to. Most of the terms I was unfamiliar with from the previous two weeks were reviewed or at least touched on in these articles. The only significant new questions that I had were in reference to Marxist and post-Marxist feminism, areas I was slightly confused by, and have little background in.

The way that West described the underlying concept of the "connecting experience" provided me with a better understanding of cultural feminism. While cultural feminists see the intrinsic connectedness of women to others as a benefit and something to be embraced, Radical feminists view women's connected nature as the underlying causation for the inequalities in society.

The main problem I had with the theory of cultural feminism was its tendency to lump all women into general categories. While West addresses the possibility of women not having children, she maintains that they are then connected to society through their mothers. I feel that this essentialist view of differences between genders could eventually lead society down a 'slippery slope' towards a justification for inequalities in the law. However, this then suggests that all differences must be ignored in favor of laws that are gender blind, a situation that I do not believe is possible, let alone advantageous to women.

I appreciated, in the Ginsburg article, that she addressed the abstract nature of many feminist legal theories. I agree that maintaining a practical application of feminism is important in furthering the goal of what I perceive as eventual gender equality. While I agree that there has to be a certain level of equality before women can advocate for gender specific rights, I believe that the literal equality she references cannot change the inherent biological gap between the generalized groups of 'men' and 'women'. I find that the humanist approach is more convincing, as it subsumes both categories in the larger concept of 'people', and then allows us to focus on societal and cultural differences.

While I have never labeled myself a radical feminist, I found that the McKinnon article was rather compelling in its dominance/submissive categorization of male/female relations. I also thought that her argument regarding the inability of idealism to effect change was important in forming a working feminist theory. While I do not necessarily agree with all of McKinnon's assertions regarding rape, I was interested in the general concepts she presented, and would be interested in reading more about them in greater depth.

Week 3 Blog Assignment

When I first began the texts for this class about various approaches to feminist legal theory, I was confronted by a familiar problem: everyone seemed right. Yet the chapters from Feminist Legal Theory seemed persistently to proclaim this could not be so. Proponents of various strands of feminist legal theory disagreed. In many cases, they supported opposite sides in court hearings regarding issues such as pornography and pregnancy or family leave. "Pick a side," the text seemed to say - "you can't agree with everyone."

Thus I found sincere confirmation and reassurance that I wasn't simply missing something when I read Robin West's work on Jurisprudence and Gender. Her third-way explanation, where she posits that it is possible that the various theories are contradictory because reality is contradictory made a great deal of sense to me. I also enjoyed discovering this interpretation because I think it allows for feminist theory to negotiate with the way things are without believing that the current state in gender relations is essentially or necessarily true and therefore immutable.

This was my original difficulty with both radical and cultural feminism. While I could recognize truth in the fact that men and women are, as things stand, different, I found some of it's claims entirely too generalized. For example, the claim made by cultural feminists that women are more empathic because they are raised by women may indeed be a factor - yet as a woman who was at home with her father during her childhood and whose father still is the one who does all of the family cooking, some of it's generalization about the state of the matter seemed rather rigid in a world with rapidly changing gender roles and greater acceptance of non-heterosexuality. Roles which are probably changing in great part because of liberal feminists success in increasing male access to typically female roles and vice versa.

The question obviously raised by such an interpretation is how to strategically balance the truths and advantages supplied by each theory. That is a big question.

Week 3: Reflection

Last week, I stood in direct opposition to Dominance Theory. It struck me as too confrontational, and too accusatory. However, after having read the MacKinnon article, I feel that I have a better understanding of Dominance Theory. It didn't really strike me until the end, when MacKinnon was talking about how rape does not work because of the point of view from which we see the rape, that I had been making some of the mistakes that she was talking about.
Reading about how the law is not gender neutral, but everyone operates under the assumption that it is, it was easy to infer how law is male-centric. Furthermore, I feel that I may have erred when I said that "The government is the government, and made up of people", and said that in opposition to Dominance Theory (as a testament to the asexuality of an institution). Precisely because the government is made up of people, and because those people are generally men (who think nothing of that fact, and that we are partially products of our environment, it is not possible for the government to be gender neutral (as it stands).

Blog 3: "You" and "Them"

I feel like dominance theory makes a little more sense, and it's raised more questions than the suggested brevity allows. I feel like I've never really grasped dominance theory. My lack of understanding the issue sheds some light as to why it's hard or maybe even impossible to grasp the logistics of it because the core idea of dominance theory itself suggests sexism, or as West would argue, that it's patriarchal. Feminism is both an structural, objective problem and a subjective problem.

Take the IT field for instance. There are roughly three times more men than women acquiring computer science degrees according to the National Science Foundation. I have 5 years of experience working in the IT field. Anecdotally, and I really don't think it's that big of a logical stretch, everything that could be done by a man in the IT field can be done by a woman just as well. The head of the IT department for Apple's technical support in Minnesota is actually a (brilliant) woman. I believe the discrepancy mostly exists because of cultural ideas structurally passed down from previous generations.

Subjectively the problem exists in our presumptions passed down mostly from previous generations and exacerbated from our own notions . It's the difference between saying "you" and "them," between saying "feminism" instead of "humanism." This is why in almost all of feminist theories that I looked, I could find the equivalent of an ethical or moral code. Feminist theory says "them" instead of "you." We are stuck at an impasse of an objective and subjective problem. As the dominant sex, I cannot help but be a sort of sexist. MacKinnon, while most of what I read I disagreed with, profoundly said, "If women had consciousness or world, sex inequality would be harmless, or all women would be feminist."

I reject West's argument that women are justifiably different epistemologically because of things like physical penetration and pregnancy. If I physically live inside of a tree, eating its nutrients from the inside, I don't somehow take the tree's thoughts. If I wear the skin of another man, I don't become a part of him, nor him of me; I'm just really creepy. The same can be said about any organism. I might sympathize better with the organism as I am sharing its physical space and biological functions, but to some extent, that can happen WITHOUT the physical oneness, like in the case of women syncing periods.

Week 3

The West article helped to clarify the differences between cultural and radical feminism. It also elaborates on the differences between men/women and the connection/seperation theories. Cultural feminism emphasizes the natural connection that women have with the world around them; they value intimacy and connection. Since these feminists view connectedness as their identity, any seperation can hurt their self-identity. On the other hand, radical feminist's approach to women's inherent connection is that of adversity. These women see any connection as intrusive, including pregnancy and intercourse. Also, this theory lends itself to the idea that a women is defined by her vagina and the consequences inherent not necessarily social implications. This helped me to clarify each camp's view and reasoning behind the theory of connection. I believe that each theory has both a positive and negative side. Cultural feminism does discuss the supposed natural connection between women and the world which can explain women's "inherent" qualities of of love and nurturing but it can also cause a lack of autonomy which can become harmful. Critical feminists' argument that autonomy is the only healthy value seems to become extreme when they seem to vouch for other women that even though a woman may think she wants a baby, she really does not.

I find MacKinnon very interesting. Her view and theories are quite radical and do expand on the radical feminist theory.She especially clarifies the radical feminists view of the body and it's individualistic form. MacKinnon focuses on the idea that the law is not neutral at all but is actually rooted in our patriarchal society. She argues that socially, women's identity consists of her sexuality. Since men exert power over women's sexuality, the state is male. Shey says that rape and intercourse are difficult to seperate because the influence of male dominence has blurred the lines of desire and control. MacKinnon's theories are a little too extreme for me in some instances but I do, however, agree with her argument that "point-of-viewlessness" will only result in law reflecting what already exists. Because of this, I agree with her that the reason rape and intercourse have become so hard to distinguish, legally anways, is because the law we have is determined by heteronormative forces that reflect societal norms. Her idea that sex and violence need to be mutually definitive, while, as she points out, can be helpful in a legal arena, implies metaphysics more than it does practicality.

Ginsburg's article gives a nice summary of Equal Rights Theory. She states that she believes engaging both sexes is important in women's advancement. The cases she exhibits show examples of literal equality which she hopes will challenge assumptions and stereotypes of sex classifications and gender norms. With met with the criticism of not being forward enough she says that it was important to make the first move to educate. Also important, I agree with her when she says that it is important to keep these ideas comprehensible and not too abstract, as say, postermodern feminism. She also raise the question of whether gender neutral laws can bridge the gap between biological and cultural differences. I do not think that this is possible. While it has been shown and theorized that standing behind women's differences can ultimately further subordination, it has been also shown that androgony is neither possible nor is it necessarily desirable. Ginsberg also presents the possibility of reducing values placed on gender norms, while perhaps a bit idealistic, this seems, to me, to be the best route.

Blog 3

The Ginsberg/Flagg reading helped me to better understand how the Equal Treatment Theory has been played out by using the three cases discussed in the reading. I still feel that while this theory is a step in the right direction, it is still had it's limitations.

Personally, I really appreciated the graphs that are included in the West reading which give a visual comparison of the various theories and the ways they differ from one another along with their main points.

I would not exactly call myself a radical feminist but I can see the points of radical feminism when it comes to intercourse and pregnancy. Both are an invasion of a woman's body, whether it's consensual/wanted, non-consensual/unwanted. Both radical feminism and cultural feminism view women's connectedness to nature and with the "other" to have a profound effect on patriarchy within society and law. Radical views it as being the cause of womens misery and oppression and cultural embraces the connectedness and sees it as bring natural and good.

Both the "connection thesis and separation thesis" for myself is pretty easy to understand. On page 25 of the West reading, Marilyn French states, " Women of course, do the caring, both before both and immediately after it, but we have all had the experience of being cared for. We have all, that is, women as well as men, had the experience of "connection."

This statement brings me to where on page 54, the author suggests considering the "fundamental" experienced contradictions between the material and the actual state of connections women have with others. This may be a step towards closing the gap between the cultural and radical feminists theories.


I was asked by Ben on Thursday if, as a mother, did I agree with the general thoughts of the connection thesis and separation thesis? In part, I do. I also believe that for whatever reason there may be, it goes both ways. A man may not be able to carry a child and give birth, but through his own cultural and/or family upbringing or even though his own choices, he can parent children just as many women do knowing that raising a child takes much more than covering the financial costs involved. As for women, there are some who just know they do not want to have children. Despite what society thinks a woman's role is or a man's role, it is the individual who really needs to listen to themselves and do what's best for them.

In regards to feminist jurisprudence vs modern or masculine jurisprudence, according to the Rule of Law, masculine jurisprudence does not value connectedness/intimacy but separation/autonomy. Masculine/modern jurisprudence is about men, not women(pg.60).

The author has closed the article with a view of re-constructive feminist jurisprudence working towards a Utopian world-view of being.

blog 03 // legal approaches

What I gained the most out of the West reading was the exploration of how to handle contradictions. The reading built up to this great difference between cultural feminism and radical feminism, and approaches to feminist theory/activism that are incredibly conflicting in the ways that we use them. She brought them together, though, and really effectively so. While she uses legal terminology throughout the reading, it is still incredibly clear both in theory and practical usage when she explains how intimacy and invasion interact. Plainly, I think she sums it up best with, "Alternatively, we can start to think about the possibility that the contradiction in women's lives is experientially felt and materially based." (56) This specifically brought the issue back to a comprehensive reality, placing the theories we discussed in real terms.

Her solutions specifically entail the use of "unmasking" instances of invasion, which is a term I posted in the first week and could better understand the usefulness of in this context. I connected specifically with the description of her own experiences reading things like Dworkin and Gilligan, feeling the utter truth and power of each work. And, being able to pull from both approaches. This is something that I have felt frequently, most directly when I read Intercourse, but have never been able to explain so clearly. This, in turn, addresses my questions last week about the different approaches and how to understand them together, as well as how the shifts even take place.


Blog 3

Reading the Ginsburg article really helped me to better understand the equal treatment theory. The court case examples that she used, such as Weinberger vs. Wisenfield, really helped me to how the equal treatment theory comes into play in the law. It also helped to better understand terms such as strict scrutiny. Although I found it very informative, the Ginsburg article did no change my opinion on equal treatment theory. I share a similar opinion of the equal treatment theory as the cultural feminists as explained in the readings from the book. I feel that although the equal treatment idea helps women gain equal rights by law, it bases its whole idea on male norms. Also, the equal treatment theory assumes that all women are treaty equally and does not consider the many different experiences of different women around the world.
Although I found the MacKinnon article interesting, I think it complicated things for me rather than clarify them. The first half of the article was a little confusing for me. I don't really understand Marxist feminism and post-Marxist feminism. I thought the second half about rape and law was very interesting. MacKinnon talks about sexuality and gender in relation to rape. She talks a lot about heterosexuality, but she doesn't say anything about homosexuality. I was just wondering what MacKinnon or the law would have to say about men raping men or women raping women. I was also wondering what she would have to say about women who rape men. These were just some things that crossed my mind when I was reading. I also thought about marital rape. I would like to know what rape laws say about marital rape. It seems like marital rape is not part of rape laws. I think it would be interesting to read some rape laws to see what they say.
Reading the West article helped to better understand radical feminism. Before reading the West, I think I had a basic understanding of radical feminism as wanting to change the whole system, but I did not really understand radical feminist views on specific topics such as sex and pregnancy. I now understand that radical feminists view intercourse and pregnancy as invasions of the body. Even though I can see where they are coming from, I guess I don't agree with most of what radical feminists say. I can see how they would consider intercourse to be an invasion of the body, but I'm not share about a fetus. I think it would be helpful to read more about radical feminism and their views on these topics. I found the cultural feminists arguments about connection very interesting. I think that I agree with most of what they are saying, but I think they fail to consider women who do not have children, women who adopt, and women who do not grow up with a mother. Also, I don't think I agree with the way cultural feminists paint men. It seems as if they believe all men have a fear of intimacy. I think West should consider the fact that some men have no problem with intimacy.