“From Rigobertu Menchu to Anne Frank, the testimonials of women and girls are often seen to have particular authority in ‘speaking truth to power’ and bearing witness to vulnerable communities’ experience of genocidal violence and their fortitude in resistance. Feminist celebration of ‘narrative truth’ has rendered truth commissions a particularly important site of feminist engagement.
At the same time, feminist analysis of the politics of knowledge and their mobilization in the commission of truth has drawn attention to the fraught stakes of categories such as victimhood, voice and injury. This talk will engage in the debate by thinking with Paulina in Ariel Dorfman’s play, Death and the Maiden.
Bethany Hastie of Allard (UBC) Law has just published Workplace Sexual Harassment: Assessing the Effectiveness of Human Rights Law in Canada (available here, open access). Hastie analyzes decisions in workplace sexual harassment at each of the BC and Ontario Human Rights Tribunals from 2000-2018. She’s particularly focused on “whether, and to what extent, gender-based stereotypes and myths known to occur in criminal justice proceedings arise in the human rights context”.
For instance, one finding: “the requirement that a complainant establish that the impugned conduct was “unwelcome” provides the most direct and expansive space for gender-based myths and stereotypes to influence the analysis and outcome of sexual harassment complaints”.
The Report concludes with 8 recommendations. An important resource.
Professor Davina Cooper, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College
Are there good reasons to retain a system in which people have a formal legal sex/ gender? What might change involve? And what are the challenges, risks and benefits of radical reform? This talk draws on a British, feminist, law reform research project, currently in its second year, to explore these questions. It approaches decertification, where the state no longer stands behind people’s sex/gender, from two primary angles: the politics of moving from gender-as-identity to gender-as-network (or something similar); and the politics of prefiguring what the law (and its options) could be.
If you would like to learn more about the research project this talk draws on? See here for the project website, and/or read this fascinating blog post from one of the Researchers, Dr. Flora Renz. It is up at the UK Socio Legal Studies Association blog.
” Part of the challenge of a prefigurative law reform project, is to think through what such options would look like. If we want to imagine and anticipate different ways of dealing with gender as a legal status, one useful starting point may be to think about how other identity statuses or categories are currently dealt with in social, policy and legal contexts. Disability as a category may offer a particularly rich source both for comparison, but also to think about how future changes to gender could be approached from a different starting point. In thinking through these issues I am using disability or chronic illness not as a direct comparison but rather as a prompt for considering some aspects of gender that are less prominent in current discussions, such as gender as a legal category whose intensity and relevance may fluctuate in different times and places.”
"I want to draw attention to two features in this short review. These features are not tied, given this more general audience, to the tax context of the decisions. That’s worth underlining: this is a volume that is worth reading for scholars in any area of law with an interest in feminist legal theory and practice and how feminists approach legal and factual questions."