Category Archives: What we’re thinking/reading/doing (IFLS blog)

What’s interesting these days?

October 29 Deadline for Proposals for LSA Boston 2013 with Feminist Legal Theory CRN

Thanks to Jennifer Koshan (Calgary) for passing this along.


 …participate in panels sponsored by the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Annual Meeting in Boston, May 30 to June 2, 2013.


Information about the Law and Society meeting (including registration and hotel information) will be posted here:


Within Law & Society, the Feminist Legal Theory CRN seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. There is no pre-set theme to which papers must conform, other than that they relate to feminism in some way. We especially welcome proposals that would permit us to collaborate with other CRNs, such as the Critical Research on Race and the Law CRN or the Gender, Sexuality and the Law CRN. Also, because the LSA meeting attracts scholars from other disciplines, we welcome multidisciplinary proposals.


Our goal is to stimulate focused discussion of papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while proposals may reference work that is well on the way to publication, we are particularly eager to solicit proposals for works-in-progress that are at an earlier stage and  will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide.


Our panels will use the LSA format, which requires four papers, but we will continue our custom of assigning a commentator for each individual paper. A committee of the CRN will assign individual papers to panels based on subject and will ask CRN members to volunteer to serve as chairs of each panel. The chair will develop a 100-250 word description for the session and submit the session proposal to LSA before the upcoming deadline in early December, so that each panelist can submit his or her proposal, using the panel number assigned. Chairs will also be responsible for recruiting commentators but may wait to do so until panels have been scheduled later this winter.


If you would like to present a paper as part of a CRN panel, please submit a 400-500 word abstract, with your name and a title, on the Feminist Legal Theory CRN TWEN page (details provided below). If you would like to serve as a chair or a commentator for one of our panels, or if you are already planning a LSA session with four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please let Jennifer Hendricks know (


In addition to these panels, we may try use some of the other formats that the LSA provides: the “author meets readers” format or the roundtable discussion. “Author meets readers” sessions focus on a recently published book; commentators deliver remarks, and the author responds.


Roundtables are discussions that are not organized around papers, but rather invite several speakers to have an exchange focused on a specific topic. If you have an idea relating to feminist legal theory that you think would work well in one of these formats, please let Jennifer know, as well.


[emphasis added]


Proposals have to be submitted through the CRN’s TWEN page.


I think this is how you can register for the TWEN page, hope I’m right about this! SL


 If you haven’t yet registered for the TWEN page, signing up is easy. Just sign onto Westlaw, hit the tab on the top for “TWEN,” then click “Add Course,” and choose the “Feminist Legal Theory” CRN from the drop-down list of National TWEN Courses. Or, if you have a Westlaw OnePass as a faculty member, you can enter the Easy Course Access link below:


Easy Course Access Link:




To submit an abstract, go to the site, look to the left hand margin and click on “Law and Society 2013 – Abstracts.”


Please submit all proposals for paper presentations by Monday, October 29, 2012. This will permit us to organize panels and submit them prior to the LSA’s deadline in early December. If we cannot accept all proposals for the CRN, we will notify you by November 15 so that you can submit an independent proposal to LSA.


We hope you’ll join us in Boston to discuss the scholarship in which we are all engaged and connect with others doing work on feminism and gender.




Beth Burkstrand-Reid


Aya Gruber


Jennifer Hendricks


Linda McClain






IFLS presents Prof. Joanna Erdman on October 25: "New Ideas in an Age-Old Field": Regulating Reproduction

“New Ideas in an Age-Old Field”: Regulating Reproduction
Professor Joanna Erdman
MacBain Chair in Health Law & Policy, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University

Thursday October 25, 1230-2pm

Osgoode Hall Law School IKB 2003
Light Lunch Served, please RSVP to

Poster for emailing, printing, sharing, here.


suggested reading:

Reva Siegel, “The Constitutionalization of Abortion” in M. Rosenfeld & A. Sajó eds., The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law 1057-78 (2012).


Marie Ashe, “Zig-Zag Stitching and the Seamless Web: Thoughts on ‘Reproduction’ and the Law,” (1989) 13 Nova L. Rev. 355  (this is a hein online link and will require access to hein, e.g. through the York library system)

feminists@law Vol 2, No 2 (2012) now available: open access, the person-property problematic


awesome Stacy Douglas artwork

feminists@law has a new issue out, here.   This version of the open access feminist legal journal housed at Kent includes an Editorial: Why We Oppose Gold Open Access in which Rosemary Hunter, Donatella Alessandrini, Toni Williams take on the recommendation of the UK Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings,Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: How to Expand Access to Research Publications (the Finch Report) (June 2012):

The Report focuses on the publication of articles in peer reviewed journals. It recommends a move to open access publishing in order to make the results of research undertaken in the UK more widely available to academic researchers, public sector and industry research users, and the general public.  The model of open access publishing it advocates is so-called ‘Gold Open Access’, involving the payment of an article processing/publishing charge (APC) by authors.

The issue also includes “Persons, Property and Community” by Margaret Davies (Flinders).  Here’s the abstract:

The terms ‘persons’ and ‘property’, and the connections between them, have been analysed very thoroughly in several disciplines, including law, philosophy, cultural studies, and anthropology. Like many technical terms, the legal concepts of persons and property are embedded in social practice and reflect its gendered discourse and practices. There is often cross-fertilisation of ‘legal’ and ‘everyday’ or social meanings, as well as a certain productive tension between them. This article introduces and reviews the person-property problematic, and considers how the discourse surrounding these terms and their relationship is changing under increased pressures from a more community-focused (and less individualistic) ethos, influenced in part by feminist thinking about relationality. The article is divided into three parts. First, I introduce some of the difficulties with the concepts of persons and property, and consider what they refer to, and how they are used. Second, I explain what I see as the relationship between these two ideas – how they are supposed to be diametrically opposed, and how they are in fact inextricably linked. Up to this point the article essentially draws pertinent points from a mountainous literature on the topic. The third and more substantial part of the paper takes the matter in a new direction. Here I try to capture new ways of thinking about property which in some ways loosen the property-person nexus, without breaking it altogether. In essence, these new approaches introduce values associated with the community, the environment, and our material futures into our thinking.


Catherine Driscoll “Plastic Visibility, Visible Plasticity: On the Sexualization of Girlhood” Oct 17, 3pm

“Plastic Visibility, Visible Plasticity: On the Sexualization of Girlhood”
with Catherine Driscoll, Associate Professor (University of Sydney, gender/cultural studies)
Wednesday, October 17, 2012  3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Vanier College (Senior Common Room)
click here for a poster
The emergence of modern girlhood can be mapped onto changing ideas about sex. These changes are certainly always relative to new distinctions demarcating sexual difference and gender roles, but the modern idea of girlhood is not only a set of ideas about how one becomes a woman. And, as with girlhood’s legislative, pedagogical and psychological formations, girlhood as a popular cultural formation is very often centered on sex. This talk explores some fraught current public debates about the idea of girl sexuality and its developmental periodization.

Catherine Driscoll is Associate Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Girls (Columbia UP 2002), Modernist Cultural Studies (UP Florida 2010), Teen Film: A Critical Introduction (Berg 2011), and The Australian Country Girl: Image, History, Experience (Ashgate 2012) as well as numerous essays in journals and collections. Her research interests include modernity and modernism, cultural theory, popular culture, girls studies and youth culture, ethnography, and rural cultural studies.

What's coming up at the SCC? October crim law hearings on the legalities of birth and maternal responsibility

These struck me as a connected set of cases, although you may well disagree.

On October 10, a case from Ontario,  R. v. Levkovic 2010 ONCA 830 (Canlii). Watt J.A.’s first three paragraphs are a concise explanation of the core issue:

 [1]               Since July 1, 1893, concealing the dead body of a child has been an indictable offence in Canada.  The definition of the offence has always declared it to be immaterial whether the child died before, during or after birth.

[2]               On September 18, 2008, a judge of the Superior Court of Justice decided that the words “died before … birth” in s. 243 of the Criminal Code are unconstitutionally vague.  In the result, he severed the preposition “before” from the section, leaving it to read in its material part “whether the child died during or after birth”.

[3]               The prosecutor acknowledged that he could not establish either the cause or the time of death, thus he offered no evidence in support of the allegation contained in the indictment.  The trial judge acquitted Ms. Levkovic.

Those who have been following the recent debate in Parliament  over motion 312 (ultimately the motion did not pass) calling for a special committee to study the Criminal Code definition of “human being”, may see some resonances in Levkovic. Section 223 contains the definition (“A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother whether or not (a) it has breathed, (b) it has an independent circulation, or (c) the navel string is severed.).  This definition is cited in Levkovic (see para 112).  But the conclusion is:

[115]      For the purposes of establishing liability for an offence under s. 243 in cases involving death before birth or those in which the time of death in relation to birth is unclear, a foetus becomes a child when it (the foetus) has reached a stage in its development when, but for some external event or other circumstances, it would likely have been born alive.

[121]      The portion of s. 243 upon which the trial judge focused here cannot be uprooted from its context and subjected to microscopic scrutiny. This offence requires proof of knowledge of the character of the subject-matter disposed of, the dead body of a child, together with a purpose, or ulterior intention, of concealment of the birth. It is one of several offences, fatal offences against the person, that enjoin conduct that causes or contributes to the death of another.  A provision that renders investigation of death less difficult forms an integral part of this statutory scheme.

The Criminal Lawyers Association of Ontario is intervening, along with the AG Canada.

The next day brings R. v. A.D.H. 2011 SKCA 6 (CanLii) by leave from Saskatchewan. The facts involve a precipitous birth in a Walmart washroom.

[17]  The issues in this case are the mens rea required under s. 218 of the Code and whether A.D.H. had a defence of mistake of fact.  Section 218 reads as follows:

Abandoning child

218. Every one who unlawfully abandons or exposes a child who is under the age of ten years, so that its life is or is likely to be endangered or its health is or is likely to be permanently injured,

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.

Finally, on October 16, Rochon c. R., 2011 QCCA 2012 (CanLII), an as of right appeal from the QCCA (no, Wagner was not on the bench) that may strike a certain kind of fear into parents everywhere.  Also reminded me of Regina Austin, 14 Yale J.L. & Feminism 273 (2002)  Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back: Poor Moms, Myths of Authority, and Drug-Related Evictions from Public Housing – with clear contextual differences. But Austin’s discussion of “maternal authority” is interesting in this context.

The decision is in French, so here’s the summary available on the SCC website (“Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch) for information purposes only.”):

…. Whether complicity by omission under s. 21(1)(b) of Criminal Code requires existence of legal duty to act and whether failure to act by person who omits to exercise authority over another person or property can constitute actus reus of that offence.

Ms. Rochon entrusted her property to her son in her absence. When she returned to her property in the summer, she found that marijuana was being cultivated on her land. She asked her son twice to remove the crop, but she did not want to report him to the authorities. The trier of fact concluded from the evidence that Ms. Rochon had known of the situation and had therefore been obliged to call the police and report what her son was doing.

via Supreme Court of Canada – SCC Case Information – Summary.