Tag Archives: feminism

A set of links offered without comment. On Feminism, the word and the creed.

First msmagazine.com is reporting that more than half of 2012 women voters identify as feminists.  And: “…the study found that women of color are more likely to call themselves feminists. Almost three quarters of Latin-American women and 66% of African American female voters self-identify as feminists.”  (i know, i know.  You want to know more about the polling method – can’t help you there, i don’t have a subscription and I couldn’t find a full report of the poll elsewhere.  I’m sure we’ll see it eventually,  because there aren’t many people who aren’t pretty surprised by this poll – whether happily or unhappily).

and then from the Ontario Bar Association (click for more on the news below):

The Feminist Legal Analysis Section of the OBA has changed its name to “Women Lawyers’ Forum”. The first group in the OBA/CBA to focus on women is celebrating its 20th anniversary and moving forward as part of the national women’s conference of the CBA.

and then, from  babesonbaystreet.com (the blogger and author, Janet Graham, has keynoted networking events for women law students….) this was rather unexpected:

I am a Feminist!! I am a feminist!! There I said it!! Let’s face it, for many, it’s the real “f” word!!  For me, declaring myself to be a feminist simply means I believe in equal rights and opportunities for all, regardless of sex, race, politics etc. What makes this belief so scary or offensive or so hard to acknowledge!!


h/t Mary Stokes for the OBA info.


"I literally couldn't give a…": Feminist fight on the web.

You don’t need an MA in gender studies to know that race matters to feminism | Chitra Nagarajan and Lola Okolosie | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk:



In their article “In defence of Caitlin Moran and populist feminism” , Rhiannon and Holly from the Vagenda magazine employ a heady mix of biographical context and anti-intellectualism to defend the indefensible: Moran’s dismissal of the representation of black women. They write that “feminism is, and to an extent always has been, a white, middle class movement”, which must be resuscitated from the “dust and the stuffiness” it has been cocooned within by reinventing itself. To do this the movement has to silence its most “academic [which] is almost incomprehensible” and express “its ideals in a way that thousands of women understand and identify with”.

Nagarajan and Okolosie refer to this piece from the Vagenda Team, in the New Statesman

It almost seems as though some educated women want to keep feminism for themselves, cloak it in esoteric theory and hide it under their mattresses, safe and warm beneath the duck down duvet. As long as that happens, though, the lives of many women and men in this country will remain the same. Feminism should not be a discipline far removed from the lives of ordinary people, but part of a larger social justice movement that strives to achieve a better life for everyone. Caitlin Moran may not be perfect, but she has come closest thus far. In the last few weeks some have been bandying about the oft-quoted phrase “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” We would suggest that anyone with an interest in genuine equality for all adapt that phrase to “my feminism will be comprehensible or it will be bullshit.”

Rhiannon and Holly wrote that Vagenda piece as a defence of Caitlin Moran (author of How to Be a Woman, columnist).  Assigned to interview Lena Dunham, whose show “Girls” has been both much feted for showing something real about the lives of young women and much critiqued for being relentlessly white, Moran was tweeted at by someone asking whether she addressed that lack in the interview.  She tweeted back, “Nope. I literally couldn’t give a shit about it” thus unleashing (come on, it’s the internet, what else could be unleashed) mainly a sh*tstorm but also some thoughtful commentary (see Guardian story which opens this post as one example).

Here‘s Jezebel on the story, here‘s Bitch Magazine.

One of the things I find really curious about the Vagenda “defence” (which they have of course had to defend through twitter now) is that their argument in some ways closely tracks the arguments made in Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism edited by Jessica Yee (now Danforth).  Until it diametrically diverges.  That book (see here for an old IFLS post) also took aim at the academy – but from a very different position.  Yee and her co authors were largely women of colour, deeply concerned about the silencing of particular experiences and concerns by academic feminism, not just the academy’s more general tendency to either exclude or pirate experiences into bodies of work made inaccessible to the subjects of study.

I don’t think the  Vagenda argument has much to it.  They slip between class and race in both their original piece and their defences, and to the extent that they are claiming that intersectionality is incomprehensible, I don’t think they can really run with that…it’s not that hard to understand. Operationalise, detail, capture, yes, but understanding the basic concept?    Please.

So that’s the story.  In other news, British papers are full of articles about the netmum’s survey (if you’re reading this blog, let me warn you that clicking through will probably really piss you off) that found feminism irrelevant and used FeMEnism to “reflect women’s personal choice”. Argh.  See here, here and here for examples of feminist responses.


Weekend Read: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay in the VQR

Roxane Gay, a writer I really like, in the latest issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, on being a bad feminist.

Will no doubt resonate with many, and perhaps slightly reassure? Some of the beats i like are er, slightly misogynistic.  And in part because of that, I try not to be the feminist police.  But I don’t buy the argument that feminism means validating all the choices any woman, anywhere, ever makes as inherently feminist… Anyway, this is a nice weekend read.

My favorite definition of a feminist is one offered by Su, an Australian woman who, when interviewed for Kathy Bail’s 1996 anthology DIY Feminism, described them simply as “women who don’t want to be treated like shit.” This definition is pointed and succinct, but I run into trouble when I try to expand it. I fall short as a feminist. I feel like I am not as committed as I need to be, that I am not living up to feminist ideals because of who and how I choose to be. I feel this tension constantly.

Roxane Gay, via VQR » Bad Feminist.

When you are done and want to know, ‘Who is this Roxane Gay and where else can I read her work?’, she has a blog and here is a link to her writing at The Rumpus, where she is essays editor.  She seems far too cool to be a professor, but apparently not.  For those of you who discover your new best (writer-you-want-to-be-best-friends-with) through this post – you’re welcome! I will pass your thanks to @lawandlit who brought me to Roxane Gay through this article on trigger warnings.



Law, Feminism, [short] Fiction: A reading group at Osgoode (York)

a casual reading group looking at short fiction, assorted wednesday afternoons at 230

Please let us know of your interest by picking up readings from Lielle Gonsalves in the IFLS/Nathanson suite on the third floor of the law school — and putting your name on the Reading Group list.

Location TBA (watch this space/or if you put yourself on our list, we’ll send you a note)

Click here for a pdf poster to print or send.

Sonia Lawrence & Kate Sutherland


September 26

women lawyers
Margaret Atwood, “Weight” (1991)
Michele Martinez, “The Mother” (2009)
Ruthann Robson, “His Sister” (2000)

October 10

women & criminality, murder, prison
Laura Lippman, “The Crack Cocaine Diet” (2005)
Sharyn McCrumb, “A Predatory Woman” (1991)

October 17

classic feminist SF; reimagining reproduction,

gender, & gender relations;colonialism, dystopia
Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild” (1984)
Raccoona Sheldon (aka Alice Sheldon, aka  James Tiptree, Jr.),“The Screwfly Solution” (1977)
Lisa Tuttle, “Wives” (1976)

November 7

abortion; infanticide; class; race; immigration
Heather Birrell, “Frogs” (2012)
Nadine Gordimer, “Happy Event” (1952)

November 14

women lawyers; personal injury, negligence,


Judith McCormack, “The Rule of Last Clear Chance” (2003)

December 5

academia; illness; disability; sexuality; torts;

Ruthann Robson, “black squirrels” (2000)



a little bit new: Knop, Michaels and Riles, From Multiculturalism to Technique Feminism, Culture, and the Conflict of Laws Style”

Because I can definitely use help in negotiating the issues raised by Knop, Michaels and Riles.

“From Multiculturalism to Technique: Feminism, Culture, and the Conflict of Laws Style” By Karen Knop, Ralf Michaels & Annelise Riles, 64 Stan. L. Rev. 589 (2012) |


The German Chancellor, the French President, and the British Prime Minister have each grabbed world headlines with pronouncements that their states’ policies of multiculturalism have failed. As so often, domestic debates about multiculturalism, as well as foreign policy debates about human rights in non-Western countries, revolve around the treatment of women. Yet feminists are no longer even certain how to frame, let alone resolve, the issues raised by veiling, polygamy, and other cultural practices oppressive to women by Western standards. Feminism has become perplexed by the very concept of “culture.” This impasse is detrimental both to women’s equality and to concerns for cultural autonomy. We propose shifting gears. Our approach draws on what, at first glance, would seem to be an unpromising legal paradigm for feminism—the highly technical field of conflict of laws (conflicts). Using the nonintuitive hypothetical of a dispute in California between a Japanese father and daughter over a transfer of shares, we demonstrate the contribution that conflicts can make. Whereas Western feminists are often criticized for dwelling on “exotic” cultural practices to the neglect of other important issues affecting the lives of women in those communities or states, our choice of this hypothetical not only joins the correctives, but also shows how economic issues, in fact, take us back to the same impasse. Even mundane issues of corporate law prove to be dizzyingly indeterminate and complex in their feminist and cultural dimensions.
What makes conflict of laws a better way to recognize and do justice to the different dimensions of our hypothetical, surprisingly, is viewing conflicts as technique. More generally, conflicts can offer a new approach to the feminism/
culture debate—if we treat its technicalities not as mere means to an end but as an intellectual style. Trading the big picture typical of public law for the specificity and constraint of technical form provides a promising style of capturing,
revealing, and ultimately taking a stand on the complexities confronting feminists as multiculturalism is challenged here and abroad.