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

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Summer Reading Lists? New(ish) in Print: Unpopular Privacy by Anita Allen

This book was published Sept. 2011 by OUP in the series “Studies in Feminist Philosophy” (see other books from this series here).

Author Anita Allen is the  Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Her faculty page is here.  She is also author of Why privacy isn’t everything: feminist reflections on personal accountability and many, many, many law review articles and other publications.

Click here to find Unpopular Privacy at OUP  (you can also find a speech she gave titled, Unpopular Privacy: The Case for Government Mandates; Allen, Anita L. published in the Okla. City U. L. Rev. in 2007 here [Heinonline link])

The publisher offers these blurbs, and you can find a video of Prof Allen discussing the book on the UPenn website .

It was reviewed harshly by Eric Posner (U Chicago Law) in the New Republic, here and more favourably on the American Association of Law Libraries blog, here.

Danielle Citron from U Maryland Law interviewed Allen about the book for the Dissenting Opinions blog, here:


Question: Your book is published in the Oxford University Press Feminist Philosophy Series, and yet there isn’t much overt discussion of feminism in the book after the initial chapter.  Do you regard this book as a feminist project?

This book subtly reflects insights gleaned from my encounters over the years with feminist scholarship about privacy, equality and freedom.  What I believe one learns from feminist philosophy and jurisprudence is why just societies must avoid imposing subordinating privacies on people simply because of their sex or race.

My book rejects the notion that there is a generic liberal or liberal feminist case for or against all coercive privacy mandates.  I offer contextually specific assessments of a variety of unpopular privacy requirements, informed by liberal feminist conceptions of privacy, freedom, and equality.

Two of the books eight chapters explicitly address women’s issues.  To explore notions of subordinating and liberating privacy, and voluntary and imposed privacy, I devote one full chapter of Unpopular Privacy to US Muslim women’s modesty attire, and another to US and Canadian Supreme Court nude dancing cases.

Hoodies (What not to wear, encore)

Osgoode’s Black Law Student’s Association put out a call for members of the Osgoode community to wear red/black hoodies in a photo today as a sign of “solidarity with Trayvon Martin and his family in their time of tragedy” (March 29, 2012 12:15pm Atrium).  The facts of Martin’s murder (which is, of course, a legal term of art that I’m using even though it’s pretty clear that Florida doesn’t think it applies) are egregious and covered everywhere in news and commentary (I particularly like Colorlines, and Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic for his incredibly thoughtful passion on a variety of topics).

Canada, of course, has very different gun laws and self defence laws.  A stand in solidarity with the family knows no boundaries or jurisdiction, but what other actions on this issue might be meaningful for Canadians?  Let us assume that a Zimmerman here would be in custody.  Is this a U.S. issue?  Of course, it is not, though the context here is different.   It made me think of three things, so I’ve just done a little roundup of links based on these different lines of thought.

First, of course, about state sponsored profiling, surveillance and violence against people, particularly young men, of colour.  Any who haven’t had a look at the Toronto Star’s recent series “Known to Police” about the incredible levels of police stops/documentation of black and brown people, particularly in certain city neighbourhoods, you can find it here.  Early last year, I did a few posts on profiling arising out of the case of Stacy Bonds, in Ottawa, because I thought these highlighted gender as a sometimes hidden issue in profiling – for both racialised women and men, gender is very relevant to the context and consequences of “profiling”.  These are critical issues for Canadian law enforcement.  If you’re interested, I recommend following the activities of U Windsor Law’s “LEAP” (Law Enforcement Accountability Project), hereDirector Prof. David Tanovich writes about and litigates in racial profiling cases.


[blackbirdpie url="!/OsgoodeIFLS/status/184670434384556033"]

Second, I thought about the clothing thing.  Hoodies, Hijabs, slutty clothes.  Too little, too much, scary, provocative.  I appreciate the importance of the hoodie protests, but I did love the one below, from Wake Forest students, which mixes hoodies and hijabs.  This blog has had a significant amount of stuff about the niqab, but mainly centered around the niqab in court case, N.S. (see here).  I haven’t looked at the cases of women who are accosted in public and assaulted by people who try to tear off their veil like this one, or this one, nor at more common incidents of discrimination against women wearing the scarf, the veil, niqab or burqa.  There is a recognition of the connection between these two items.

There is also significant recognition of the ways in which placing the blame on the hoodie replicates the narrative which sees rape as a consequence of women’s clothing choices (see here for all the IFLS posts on slutwalk and related issues).   So lest you wonder whether Hoodies are a Feminist issue, there are, in my view, at least 4 solid central reasons that the answer is yes.  Audre Lorde puts one of the reasons better than I ever could:

Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying  .
Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”

My last thought was that I don’t need to analogize Zimmerman to police in order to get into the Canadian context. I can look to private security companies, particularly in malls or even the security provided at Universities and Colleges and schools, and the ways that these entities engage with the racialized public.  See here for the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s info sheet on profiling – it goes far beyond police, and beyond security guards.  The OHRC’s 2003 Report, the Human Cost of Racial Profiling, isn’t purely law enforcement focused.  It takes testimony from those members of our community who have been directly affected, and is worth a read:

“It would be interesting if the powers that be would at least listen to the comments coming out of the affected communities. An entire community cannot have the same impression and … all [be] deluded.” (R.M.) (The Human Cost of Racial Profiling, p13)

“This situation actually scares me because I have teenage children and I have an older son, and I fear when they go into a mall … I constantly counsel my son because of issues like this that occur about going out into the public and how to conduct yourself and what happens if something like this happens, the reaction is anger, the reaction is frustration, at their young age, if they react, then the situation escalates even further.” (L.V.) (at p21)

“My friends who are White are bewildered because their sons do not get stopped, and my friends with Black children are afraid, because they have already had their own teenaged sons stopped, or they have young sons coming up who they know will experience the same treatment. … “(D.W.) (at p25)

I include these testimonials because I wonder what I should along with standing in the photo (if they let me, my hoodie isn’t the right colour, i had only brown and orange, not red or black…).  Trayvon’s case seems, to so many, such an obvious miscarriage of justice – a true travesty, so egregious.  But the reality is that profiling is normalised, that blaming people for the misfortunes they experience because of what they wear, for the suspicions that fall upon them because of how they look, is so ordinary as to be an organizing factor in our daily lives.  It’s true for me that, hoodie or not, these days I could probably walk around Mount Dennis (one of the neighbourhoods the Star focused on in their Known to Police series) for days without getting stopped.  It’s been a long time since the last time I think my partner was racially profiled (he speeds, so not every stop is suspect).  Even the cousins and friends are aging out of the bad years.  I don’t have as much time as I used to have to hang about in the mall with my friends, and the suspicions of sales people about who has enough money to be where feel insulting but not dangerous to me because of class/professional privilege.  So what should I be doing?   I don’t wear the hijab.  And I’ve kind of aged out of certain kinds of reactions others might have to my clothes.   How should I be demanding accountability from our police forces? How should I be challenging the daily, non police, profiling that goes on?  What political and personal actions can I take?  I’ve got some ideas.  I could use more.


As a postcript, this morning on CBC a caller pointed out the way that the word hoodie itself brings in the notion of “hood” – bad guy.  Check out Law Prof Antony Paul Farley’s poetic riff on the word here, at SaltLaw,  Or revisit David Cameron’s so called “hug a hoodie” speech: “For some, the hoodie represents all that’s wrong about youth culture in Britain today. For me, adult society’s response to the hoodie shows how far we are from finding the long-term answers to put things right.”.  One of my colleagues told me that the hoodie, in Saskatchewan, is called a Bunny Hug.  And not that I was checking up on her, but I googled it, and I found corroboration in … the Miami Herald?   The piece closes with a clear hit:

Humans give fashion its meaning. Not the other way around.




NIP: Constitutional Labour Rights in Canada: Farm Workers and the Fraser Case :: Irwin Law Inc.

Join in at the launch of Constitutional Labour Rights in Canada: Farm Workers and the Fraser Case, edited by Professor Eric Tucker (Osgoode), Judy Fudge (UVic) and Fay Faraday (Osgoode adjunct, equality/labour law specialist).

The Fraser case 2011 SCC 20, which “inspired” the collection, is here.

Sponsored by the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights.

Sheridan Centre Hotel Conference Room F (Mezzanine Level) 123 Queen Street West, Toronto Thursday, April 12th, 2012 4:00 – 6:00 pm 

Please RSVP to:

You can pre-order the book from Irwin law here: Constitutional Labour Rights in Canada: Farm Workers and the Fraser Case

and here is the table of contents:



Chapter One
Introduction: Farm Workers, Collective Bargaining Rights, and the Meaning of Constitutional Protection
Judy Fudge

Chapter Two
Farm Worker Exceptionalism: Past, Present, and the post-Fraser Future  

Eric Tucker

Chapter Three
The Roots of Organizing Agriculture Workers in Canada
Wayne Hanley

Chapter Four
Development as Remittances or Development as Freedom? Exploring Canada’s Temporary Migration Programs from a Rights-based Approach
Kerry Preibisch

Chapter Five
Envisioning Equality: Analogous Grounds and Farm Workers’ Experience of Discrimination
Fay Faraday

Chapter Six
Harvest Pilgrims: Migrant Farm Workers in Ontario
Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Chapter Seven
The Fraser Case: A Wrong Turn in a Fog of Judicial Deference
Paul JJ Cavalluzzo

Chapter Eight
What Fraser Means For Labour Rights in Canada
Steven Barrett and Ethan Poskanzer

Chapter Nine
Labour Rights: A Democratic Counterweight to Growing Income Inequality in Canada
Derek Fudge

Chapter Ten
The International Constitution
Patrick Macklem

Chapter Eleven
Giving Life to the ILO —Two Cheers for the SCC
KD Ewing and John Hendy, QC



"Natural Born Females"

Yesterday morning on my way to work (I was running late) I heard a segment on CBC’s The Current about  Jenna Talackova, kicked out of Miss Universe Canada because of “a long term relationship with a Y chromosome”.   Open the Audio here  Starts at about 130.  The show starts with a great interview with Jillian Page who blogs at Trans Talk, then moves on to Michelle Weswaldi Executive Director of the Miss Teen Canada – World Contest (who seems to think that pageants can have any rules they want because they are franchises and the franchisor (I think it might be Trump) sets the rules (11:55); argues pageants have changed a great deal and aren’t what we might think they are; thinks that other contestants might think allowing Talackova would be unfair because there is judging of “physical aspects” – and she is 6 feet tall.  She caps it off with,  “It’s a privately owned company that can set forth whatever rules and regulations they want,” she says (14:57).  That may not be a safe bet, Donald (see Queens U Law Prof Kathy Lahey in this newspaper article re: the application of anti discrimination laws to beauty pageants).

Saving the best for last, Gender Studies Professor at Carleton Patrizia Gentile is an assistant professor of sexuality and gender studies at Carleton University.  She was really superb and so interesting.  Wry, serious, scholarly, and she certainly didn’t let the issue define her conversation, getting in a variety of important points about the relationship between nationalism and beauty contests.  She’s the co author of The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation (UBC Press 2010, with Gary Kinsman) (link is to Yorku libraries).  She has another edited collection forthcoming from U of T Press with Jane Nicholas called Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming).  Best of all, you can see her on the web as part of Humber College’s President’s Lecture Series.  Her talk was titled: Tiaras, Bikinis & High Heels:Beauty Pageants & the Myth of the “Perfect” Citizen and was recorded March 31, 2011. Click here to watch (sorry, cannot embed it here).  Gentile’s contribution to The Current made me feel better about caring about discrimination in the context of a beauty contest.  I mean, a beauty contest! It is more than a little bit difficult for me to disentangle my issues about this story.  Still working on it.  Happy to have help from the media, and the academy, though.


NIP: Policing Pleasure: Sex Work, Policy and the State in Global Perspective

Policing Pleasure: Sex Work, Policy and the State in Global Perspective

Dewey and Kelly, eds.NYU Press, Dec. 2011

Mónica waits in the Anti-Venereal Medical Service of the Zona Galactica, the legal, state-run brothel where she works in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico. Surrounded by other sex workers, she clutches the Sanitary Control Cards that deem her registered with the city, disease-free, and able to work. On the other side of the world, Min stands singing karaoke with one of her regular clients, warily eyeing the door lest a raid by the anti-trafficking Public Security Bureau disrupt their evening by placing one or both of them in jail.
Whether in Mexico or China, sex work-related public policy varies considerably from one community to the next. A range of policies dictate what is permissible, many of them intending to keep sex workers themselves healthy and free from harm. Yet often, policies with particular goals end up having completely different consequences.
Policing Pleasure examines cross-cultural public policies related to sex work, bringing together ethnographic studies from around the world—from South Africa to India—to offer a nuanced critique of national and municipal approaches to regulating sex work. Contributors offer new theoretical and methodological perspectives that move beyond already well-established debates between “abolitionists” and “sex workers’ rights advocates” to document both the intention of public policies on sex work and their actual impact upon those who sell sex, those who buy sex, and public health more generally.
[From the introduction]