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.