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Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Women Rethinking Equality" Explores Popular Culture, Rape Law

Just back from AALS "Women Rethinking Equality" workshop, a terrific, dense offering of thought-provoking talks.  My experience of it was shaped by two break-out sessions on gender & criminal law, attended by a group of folks who teach crim and family law, participating in various configurations as presenters, moderators, commentators, and audience-members.  Among other themes, this pair of workshops raised questions about how rape law might be altered by changing popular attitudes towards sexuality. 

Michelle Oberman and Katharine Baker presented a fascinating work-in-progress "'My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Yard': An Examination of Contemporary Sexual Norms on Women's Equality and Rape Law." Their paper contemplated the potential effects of "hook-up culture" on ideas about women's sexual availability, and how the concept of "consent" should be constructed in response to these cultural developments.  Deborah Tuerkheimer followed this up with a presentation about "pattern" evidence in rape shield law, examining how judgments that courts make about women's sexuality are complicated in an era of changing mores.  Cheryl Hanna completed the theme by presenting her paper, "Rethinking Consent in a 'Big Love' Way," which uses the popular series "Big Love" to consider ideas about agency and consent.   These themes were further highlighted through commentary by Bennett Capers, whose article on male victimization, "Real Rape Too," was the subject of one of my prior posts, and by Leigh Goodmark, whose  forthcoming book examines DV law, anti-essentialism, and the role of the state.  By the end of the workshop,  I was re-considering once again how I might approach the teaching of rape law.

Posted by GiovannaShay on June 23, 2011 at 03:03 PM | Permalink

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