Law is ‘inherently masculine’ but women can help change it

Anne-Marie Rice in Lawyers Weekly writes:
I am tired because I am 44 years old, self-employed and the mother of two primary school aged children. Tired goes with the territory.
I am tired because I am a lawyer and the law is a jealous mistress.
But, most of all, I am tired from 20 years of doing a job through a prism that is inconsistent with who I am. A lens that I find fundamentally one dimensional and inherently aggressive. It is inherently masculine. The way the law is, largely, practised invites lawyers to solve problems by first making them bigger and by then aggressively holding a position until a decision is imposed or a compromised based on brinkmanship is reached.
I am exhausted from walking that walk. It affects who I am. It dims my light. And, looking around this room, I know I am not the only one who feels it.
But it also affects those who are NOT in this room tonight. The women who have left the profession. Not having retired after a full and fulfilling career but who have opted out. Early.
The responsibility for the change to make professional life sustainable for women, is mine. It’s ours. The responsibility to stop pretending that a flourishing legal career and committed parenting (or other) role is at all easy, realistic, healthy or sustainable, is mine. It’s ours.
We all know that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but that she did it backwards and in high heels. But puzzle me this: what might have happened if Ginger Rogers had been invited to turn around?

Australian teens as young as 14 vomiting, taking laxatives to stay thin

SBS News reports:
Australian teenagers as young as 14 are taking extreme measures including vomiting or taking laxatives to control their weight.
Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Sloane Madden said the demand for youth psychiatric services was increasing at an alarming rate.
“I am busier than I have ever been, certainly particularly young age we’re seeing people presenting with very serious eating disorders at a much younger age,” Dr Sloane said.
He blamed social media and an obsession with self-image as the cause of these worrying trends.
“There are a number of factors, certainly exposure to images of people who are thin and promotion of those images as being desirable and equated with success are everywhere you look,” Dr Sloane said.

Protect women’s rights and spaces: Submission on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registrati on Bill (NZ)

From Submission by Renee Gerlich:
To ensure that the BDMRRA does not breach Section 21(1a) of the Human Rights Act, section 19 of the Bill of Rights Act and CEDAW, I request that Section 28 of the BDMRRA be amended to include a necessary preamble: a definition of sex and a definition of gender with which the rest of the Act be made consistent. I suggest that these definitions are made consistent with the HRA and CEDAW: namely, that sex be defined as biological: persons can be either male or female according to standard definitions (chromosomes, gonads, genitals and secondary sex characteristics). I support the maintenance of an “indeterminate” provision for intersex persons under section 28 of the current Act.
Any definition of sex proposed to underpin the BDMRRA that challenges commonplace understandings of “sex” as biological, as well as definitions drawn on to prevent sex discrimination in the HRA and CEDAW, must not be legislated for without a full public consultation. This consultation should include every single service that will be affected by the institutionalisation of definitions of sex and gender that are not commonplace. Consultation must be carried out with rape crisis shelters, women’s refuges, sports teams, Corrections and within women’s prisons, any public facilities that include bathrooms and changing rooms, women in women’s representative groups and positions, all-girls schools, and other groups. I also propose that without the addition of a preamble clearly defining sex and gender, no amendments can be made to the BDMRRA. The BDMRRA is already at odds with Section 21(1a) of the HRA and CEDAW, and any changes made, if not underpinned by clear definitions, will remain weak and problematic at best and will become circular, illogical and increase harm to women at worst.

UK universities struggle to deal with ‘toxic’ trans rights row

Anna Fazackerley for The Guardian writes:
Transgender issues cut across many academic disciplines including law, gender studies, philosophy and history, and so the issues are natural ones for academics to discuss. Freedman is focusing on the Gender Recognition Act as part of her job as a law professor with expertise in human rights. “I am deeply concerned by how the conflation of sex and gender is leading to subjugation of women and is undermining the specific protections guaranteed to women under international and national human rights law,” she says.
As well as many abusive comments on Twitter, she has been shown a written request from an academic at another university asking for her to be blacklisted from giving any papers or attending events in their law school. Colleagues have also told her that Reading University has received written and verbal complaints about her views from its staff and students, and from people outside the university.
Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy at Sussex University, who has been critical of trans self-identification as part of her work on feminist philosophy, has been publicly labelled “transphobic” by Sussex students’ union. The union put out a statement about her saying: “We will not tolerate hate on campus, and we will do everything in our power to protect our students.” She says the union and some students have sent emails asking her head of school and other senior managers to condemn or publicly disassociate themselves with her views, and students have protested against her on campus.
Stock says she knows academics at other universities who are “terrified of being fired” for their views on this subject. She wants UK universities to follow those in the US that have adopted the “Chicago [University] principles” on free speech. This is a commitment to allowing free debate on campus, even if other people at the university think someone’s views are “offensive, unwise or immoral”.
Stock says: “I can deal with strangers behind pseudonyms saying horrible things on Twitter, and, up to a point, with young, inexperienced students condemning me. But what I can’t understand is academics going out of their way to shame me.”

Petition Open Letter to the AAP

Please sign a petition addressed to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asking them to reconsider their recently released policy statement on the care of transgender youth.
The AAP’s policy statement essentially rubber-stamps the gender affirmative approach to working with transgender youth. The gender affirmative approach affirms a child’s belief that he/she is transgender at any age, regardless of other possible causative/related factors (such as autism, social contagion, or same-sex attraction). As part of gender-affirmative care, youth are often prescribed puberty-blockers and synthetic hormones that have not been approved for this use by the Food and Drug Administration. Under-age youth and young adults are also undergoing major gender-confirming sex reassignment surgeries.
The petition is being circulated by the Gender Critical Support Board, an online forum of over 1,100 parents and loved ones of trans-identified youth and young adults who are seeking a thoughtful and cautious approach to the treatment of their gender dysphoric children.

These Kenyan widows are fighting against sexual 'cleansing'

Louise Donovan and Hannah O’Neill for Pri write:

While issues like female genital mutilation (FGM) often hit headlines, widow abuse is a huge, largely overlooked, problem. According to the Loomba Foundation’s 2015 Report, there are more than 258 million widows worldwide, and nearly 10 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prejudice against widows plays out in different ways all over the world. In India and Nepal, for example, a woman is often accused of causing her husband’s death. She isn’t allowed to look at another person as her gaze is considered bad luck, like a literal death stare. Many widows, like Atema, are forced to have sex with a stranger, while in some Nigerian communities, the widowed wife has to drink the water her dead husband’s body was washed in, or sleep next to his grave for three days.

Ritual cleansing has been reported in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The stigma stems, says Karen Brewer of Widows Rights International, from the notion that men are stronger than women.

“If a man dies, it can’t just be because he’s old,” she said. “The woman must have done witchcraft against him. It’s superstition but people who are educated in these communities realize things can be done differently.”

Lawyer calls out ‘flawed’ child abuse redress scheme

Emma Ryan for Lawyers Weekly writes:

According to Bennett & Philp Lawyers director Mark O’Connor, the scheme’s maximum payout falls “well short” of the recommended payments.
In addition, Mr O’Connor said some victims “will have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to be compensated”, particularly when “the redress scheme as created has a $50,000 shortfall on the recommended payouts, and is maddeningly vague on defining terms such as ‘penetration’,” he said.
In conclusion, Mr O’Connor acknowledged that while the national redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse is one long overdue and welcome, he noted there needs to be a broader interpretation of the various categories of abuse.
“For example there’s no general interpretation of the term ‘penetration’. We would argue it should include oral sex but apparently it does not cover that so victims in that category could be denied their full entitlements,” he said.

Transgender politics focuses on who determines someone’s gender – The body of law

The Economist writes:
WHO DECIDES your gender? The rights of transgender people stem from the seemingly simple question of how to define someone’s gender in law. Yet this week, in two countries where transgender politics and rights are most rooted, the question has received radically different answers. There is nothing simple about it.

Labour members ‘punished’ over transgender Facebook debate

Lucy Bannerman for The Times writes:

Labour supporters have criticised a “sinister” decision to freeze them out of a Facebook group for sharing an article by the former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
In the article for The Times, Mr Phillips, a long-time Labour member, urged ministers not to give in to “trans zealots” over proposals to allow people to self-declare their legal gender.
Within 25 minutes of making the post, Ms Lush was told that she would be muted by administrators for sharing the allegedly “transphobic and offensive” material.
When another female member tried to share the article, the group moderator muted her and asked her “not to share that kind of stuff in the future”.
The member, who declined to be named for fear of harassment, criticised the hypocrisy of the administrators. The woman, a party member for 30 years, said: “The policy has never been debated amongst members, and Labour politicians are colluding with intimidation and silencing. Many women I know are leaving and have left (the party) over this issue.
“I was silenced for sharing an article explaining that the rights and protections of marginalised groups that were fought for for half a century would be destroyed if the push for self ID was successful. I had been perfectly polite and respectful, simply presenting the article for discussion, as I believe the points are valid and important. The silencing of anyone questioning these proposed reforms is not democratic.”