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by Julia

A good male friend recently asked me what percentage of the television shows I watch fit into the category of “Women Who for Some Reason Embrace the Patriarchy.” Avoiding the cop-out answer that “all popular culture reflects the patriarchy,” I realized that it’s a pretty large percentage. Anyone who has lived with me or spent any time in front a television with me knows that when I’m not watching The Wire or Ravens football, there’s a good chance that I’m watching TLC or MTV. I was into Jon & Kate plus 8 before Kate went blonde, I started watching the Duggars when they were at 13 Kids and Counting (now at 20, I think?), and I’m pretty sure my college roommate and I threw a watch party for the premiere of 16 and Pregnant (long before there were domestic violence awareness commercials at every break during Teen Mom).

Disregarding the fact that having articulated that list kind of makes me want to self-revoke my college and high school diplomas, I observe that all of these shows revolve around women reproducing, and either reproducing a lot or reproducing at a stigmatized age – both of which are categories of reproduction that I have neither experienced nor known anyone to experience. There are a lot of class observations to be made here (Kiera, I’m totally going write that post on dialectics and Teen Mom), but I want to focus this post more on the latest addition to my television line up (no, not Boardwalk Empire, though it is amazing): TLC’s Sister Wives.

Sister Wives documents the lives of Kody Brown, his three wives – (l-r) Janelle, Christine, and Meri -and their 13 children in Lehi, Utah. They lead relatively normal lives – all but one of the children attend public school, they wear conventional clothes, etc – except they all live in the same house with three separate apartments for each of the women, through which Kody rotates on a schedule, sleeping with a different woman each night. At first, it seems like Kody makes a real effort to spend equal time with each of the women (his meticulous schedule helps him – vomit). But as the show progresses, it’s clear that there is some serious inequality going on, all of which manifests in major jealousy among the wives. The show revolves around the major plot twist: 16 years since his last marriage (to Christine), Kody wants to add another wife to the family – Robyn (far right).

This show got over 2 million viewers for the premiere, and with such viewership comes, obviously, scrutiny. The scrutiny wasn’t limited to the Today Show, however: Utah police are looking into possibly prosecuting the Brown family for bigamy. Not really surprising given the huge media attention, and with this whole law school thing going on, I didn’t pay much attention to the progression of the story. That is, until my Torts professor announced that he would be representing the Brown family. My professor, a constitutional law scholar, explains his reasoning here.

So my fascination with the polygamist, patriarchy-embracing family took on a legal flavor. I hopped on my legal statute search engines and dug up the history of bigamy prosecutions in Utah. Turns out, there aren’t many. The ACLU gives a great summary here, but basically it comes down to this: “a person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.” In the case of the Browns, Kody is only legally married to Meri, his first wife, and he cohabits with the other three women, thereby falling under this statute. Historically, Utah courts have be hesitant to prosecute claims of bigamy unless there are allegations of other crimes in the relationship: rape, incest, child abuse, etc. (More on the definition of “crime” as construed under this statute in a bit.) The reason for turning a blind eye? The Fourteen Amendment and, ironically enough, the landmark civil rights case of Lawrence v. Texas (2003). In Lawrence v. Texas, a Texas law criminalizing sodomy  was found to have violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the court said “absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects, consenting adults enjoy the freedom to define their private intimate relationships within ‘the confines of their homes and their own private lives.’” This same legal principle contributed to the relative freedoms women enjoy under Roe v. Wade.

Is this a matter of “Bigamy! From the people who brought you anal sex and abortions!”? As you would imagine, it’s not quite that simple. But the protection of privacy (and, in this case, the expression of religious beliefs) is what allows consenting adults to partake in polygamist marriages, absent any other crimes. As the ACLU points out, these other crimes can and should be prosecuted under other statutes.

However, by criminalizing private, consensual, adult relationships that are motivated by sincerely held religious beliefs, we fail to live up to the constitutional promise that consenting adults be free to maintain and define their personal relationships without fear of government interference.

So that explains why my professor is representing them. However, this is the same professor who spent the first two weeks of law school talking about Hegel, Critical Legal Studies, Queer Legal Theory, and Feminist Legal Theory. So how does feminism fit into all of this? I believe it all comes down to whether or not something as nebulous as patriarchy can be criminalized (answer: it can’t…who writes and enforces the laws to begin with??). But should patriarchal exploitation be criminalized in relationships between (or in this case, among) “consenting adults”? It is clear that there’s some major inequality going on in this family. I think a lot of what I’ve observed is pretty easily surmised, so I’ll just include two select stories that epitomize the relationship.

On their twentieth wedding anniversary, Meri and Kody discuss some of the jealousy problems that arose when Robyn was added to the family. Meri asks Kody the question that I had been wondering throughout the series: “How would you feel about me taking on another husband, or having another male lover?” Kody’s answer: “The thought of you with another guy sickens me and seems wrong to me. I feel like you want me to admit that what I’m doing is unfair – and that’s just not an emotion I’m willing to address.” Wrong on so many levels, all of which come down to patriarchy.

The most disturbing quotation from that same scene came when Kody and Meri discussed having another child. Meri and Kody have one child together, a teenage daughter, and though Meri used to want to have more children, fertility issues have prevented that, and now she has decided she doesn’t want to try for more children any more. She tells Kody that she doesn’t want to do in vitro fertilization, at which point Kody smiles and turns to the camera and says, “I haven’t been told ‘no’ in a strong enough fashion for it to mean ‘no’ yet.” I think that pretty much epitomizes the problems encompassing the entire show. Consent in this relationship, it seems, is a one-time deal. All of these women did choose freely to enter into this relationship, knowing that they would take on more wives, etc. But when it comes time to add the new wife, there really isn’t any negotiation – it’s the Kody Show. And this type of inequality, writ large, is the Patriarchy Show. And guess what? It’s not limited to polygamist marriages.

I’ll leave the analysis on deconstructing patriarchy within heterosexual relationships to another time (or perhaps another person), but it is essential to recognize that inequality pervades all relationships if you don’t actively resist it. This doesn’t mean we should stop having partnerships, but it does mean we all need to work incredibly hard to live up to the name we give our interactions and truly act as partners. The clear problem in Sister Wives is not the polygamy, it’s the patriarchy. There is no negotiation, no consent-seeking, and, therefore, no equality. And that’s incredibly oppressive and detrimental to women.

But should the state be intervening to prevent exploitative, patriarchal relationships? I’m sure you could find some feminist legal scholars out there who would argue for the criminalization of polygamy on these grounds, but then how many monogamous relationships would crumble under similar examination? While it pains me to watch the jealousy that plagues these women in this incredibly unequal relationship, I can think of other reality shows that portray similar levels of misogyny within supposedly “normal” marriages – rife with cheating, deceitful husbands and crying women left at home wondering what she did wrong. And I can think of millions of monogamous, “real-life” relationships that lack communication and equality.

The answer, then, is not to try to criminalize inequality in marriages. From a constitutional perspective, it’s a complete invasion of privacy. From a practical standpoint, it’s impossible. And from a feminist standpoint, it’s just not the right route. We need to strive towards demanding equality in our relationships. This comes from empowering both men and women to seek and desire consent in every iteration of the word, and to desire equality in their relationships. Partnerships can come in many forms, and it’s not my role to judge someone else’s choice, how many partners they want to have, or whether they want to have any all. It is my role, however, to be concerned with the lack of consenting partnerships. A partnership is a grounds for constant renegotiation of boundaries. What one initially consents to should not be binding. What breaks my heart about this show, then, is not that these women are in a polygamist relationship, but that they are stuck, like so many other women, in relationships that no longer make them comfortable and no longer fulfill them. The way to rectify this situation is not to criminalize their partnership, but rather to empower women and men to strive for a world in which no one exists in a oppressive partnership, for at that point, it ceases to become a partnership at all.

Tab Dump

by Julia

Many people warned me that I would have to abandon my google reader or even *gasp* facebook (not sure which one would be more traumatic to me) when I started law school. That I’m still keeping up with the news is probably not a miracle, and more likely a product of how I choose to spend my free time. I’m also lucky to have lots of friends who share links with me (or at least post them on newsfeeds), so I haven’t really missed anything too significant. (though there was an embarrassing moment when I thought the upcoming rally to “Restore Sanity” was hosted by Glenn Beck as a follow up to the 8-28 “restoring honor” rally. I was swiftly corrected by the Jon Stewart devotees in my early morning crim law class the day after the announcement…but now I’m kinda proud of my immediate association.) I hope you’ll forgive me, therefore, that some of these links are a lil old.

At any rate, here are some of the things I’ve been reading, and here’s to this not being an infrequent type of post!

Law degrees might be a dating liability for women, but I’m fine with narrowing the pool to people who don’t mind a woman who can support herself (and maybe her partner) financially.

Catharine MacKinnon’s name doesn’t usually sit well with me, but this piece on feminist jurisprudence which was cited in my Crim Law textbook is actually pretty neat.

Glad I’m not the only one who was kinda surprised by the whole Franzen fervor (especially in a feminist context).

This list reminded me how much I love non-fiction essays (and how much I miss reading the physical Sunday Magazine and New Yorker).

While watching Teen Mom (yea, I said it) a few weeks back, I saw this commercial for the first time in a while. And I sort of liked it at first. Until she says, “You should buy the same tampons as me,” poking fun at feminine product companies…and then tries to sell me her product. I can’t really sort out my ideas on it, so read this.

Some creepy new technology in which ads (and art) can track your gaze.

Aaaand the dance moves that women find attractive. Personally, they’re both pretty bizarre, and hopefully women and men alike will reevaluate their preferences.

by Elizabeth

I’m not usually one for public self-reflection, particularly on September 11th, where I fear the risk of over-sentimentalizing.  But this morning,  on the ninth anniversary, I found a poignant reflection in an unlikely place. From the Twitter of notorious over-sharer and occasional racist, John Mayer:

johncmayer: Why is it that the 9th anniversary of 9/11 feels more like the first? There was healing and then the stitches popped. #iloveNY

File this under #wordsIneverthoughtI’dwrite, but I think John’s got a point.  In light of the proposed Quran burning and Ground Zero Mosque, it is apparent that almost a decade later we’ve still got a long way to go in the grieving, remembrance, and understanding processes. I don’t believe that there is, or can be, any tidy collective experience for 9/11 (who is the “we”?), but I do believe in a common currency, particularly among members of my generation who delineate the pre- and post-9/11 world.

So, at the risk of over-sentimentalizing and over-sharing (publicly!), I’m posting a piece I originally wrote in 2006 and recently revisited. It is my best attempt at reflecting on what September 11 was and is, somewhere between a personal and collective lived experience.

I was laughing when the north tower of the World Trade Center was hit.  Eighteen minutes later, at 9:03, a second plane collided with its twin, and the boredom of having spent 22 minutes in Mrs. Lamato’s second period algebra had set in. I left the room no more aware than I was when I had entered it, although newly disappointed with a test grade.  In performing arts, we were fist-fighting, and while we shrieked and were taught to pull hair convincingly, a plane plowed into the Pentagon. We found it odd that our teacher ended the lesson early, making us sit quietly in rows.  Over the intercom the principal announced that “we had been attacked”; it took a few seconds for me to determine who “we” was.  Shushing the gossipers, I sat with legs crossed, trying to hear what wasn’t being said.  Flight numbers and times and locations were repeated slowly, as if what we were being told would be more comprehensible if uttered sluggishly, but our brains were already too saturated with breakups and invites and homework.  We were naive and still our September 11 was just another sunny Tuesday.

While I sat in the health room fourth period, the north and south towers collapsed from the top down, looking as though they had been peeled apart like an orange.  My teacher, having been given the okay to acknowledge the situation, logged online to print photographs of the wreckage, briefing us intermittently.

Rumors began for lack of any real knowledge, and over my usual turkey sandwich and lemonade, I was told by several classmates that planes were circling our state and that the White House was under attack.  My class size shriveled period by period as the names of my peers were called to the office where red-eyed mothers sat restlessly, waiting to escort their children safely home.  I was bewildered and scared- not of another attack, but of not knowing what was going on.  We forced diversionary discussions and attempted small talk through the remainder of the periods uncomfortably. Somebody complimented me on my shirt.

At home, my mom and I sat in front of the TV, our cheeks sticking together, slick and salty.  My sister called, then Dad, Grandmom, Nanny, the aunts.  Physically, we were all alright and accounted for, although every call consisted of “I just can’t believe it” and a brackish, wet receiver.  Later in the evening, I was confronted with a new unfounded fear.  As it grew dark, I began to feel increasingly unsafe; unsettled in the same way I had in August, when two convicts had escaped from the nearby prison.  Presumably, the escapees were hidden in my backyard, waiting for me just as I had pictured Bob Ewell attacking Scout in her ham costume. I had felt then that I was in danger, somehow vulnerable, and on September 11th, I felt similarly, that the felon pilots were evading police in a New Jersey suburb.

It was after 9/11 that I began to feel like an outsider.  While most of the nation needed to be given someone to blame, I had trouble being angry.  I did not—and still do not—possess the capacity to become enraged with the terrorists, no matter how many PBS documentaries I see or press conferences are held.  In the months and years that followed the eleventh, nationalistic fervor erupted among many- something that both frightened and worried me.  Just as I was saddened by the events of September 11, I was equally disheartened with, and perhaps envied, the reactions of my family members and peers who found it easy to hate. While I felt guilty and jealous and confused, I was mostly just sad.

My September 11 made me wish to stay protected, although in many respects I felt as though shelter did not exist.  The day itself differed only slightly from any other in my eighth-grade year, but gradually I’ve realized that I shouldn’t have expected it to.  In some ways I still have trouble fathoming it at all.  What’s most difficult to comprehend, what most are still tussling with, is how anyone could have a motive for killing 2,993 people.  But yet I still cannot hate those who did.

I don’t remember the twelfth of September, perhaps because it blurred with the following weeks of attempted normalcy and habitual behavior.  Most likely, my teachers and classmates and I pretended that we were alright, or that we understood, or that things were normal- and they were.  We realized that normalcy is arbitrary and slowly, sheepishly, continued with our turkey sandwiches and weariness of algebra, hesitant only because we feared seeming callous.  We settled for a new norm, and we were naive, and still our September 11th was just another Tuesday.

by Julia

This evening, the French Embassy in Washington, DC, along with L’Alliance Française, hosted an event honoring the new translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s watershed feminist masterpiece, The Second Sex. The appearance of the translators, Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier, drew an incredibly well-dressed crowd. On the first real fall evening in DC (finally!!), the women wrapped themselves in scarves and belted long cardigans, all sporting incredibly simple but striking outfits. (I’m not sure myself whether some of us chose to channel Simone, or whether we all just showed up emulating her because her influence on our lives is so great that it subconsciously permeates our habitudes.)

It’s hard to believe with such a significant work that it has not been translated into English since Howard M. Parshley attempted it in 1953. Parshley’s version, for lack of a better word, butchered the original text. He eliminated over 100 pages of text, most of which centering on examples of women in literature or Marxist-feminism. Parshley also deconstructed de Beauvoir’s grammatical structure by splitting up her paragraphs and altering punctuation for the benefit of appealing to larger English-reading audiences. By cutting out the difficulty and glossing over the philosophical concepts, Parshley deprived the English-speaking world of a just treatment of Simone’s largely philosophical musings on the female condition.

The significance of The Second Sex is well documented elsewhere, so I’ll just spend a moment highlighting the parts most relevant to the new translation. The Second Sex centers on the idea of this dichotomy of human experiences, specifically pertaining to men and women. The book is at its core a deconstruction of the myriad myths that cause women to be seen and see themselves as “other,” secondary, and dominated. (A lot of these myths stem, no doubt, from their perpetuation in her relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre.) The Second Sex was originally published in two volumes, translated respectively by Borde and Malovany-Chevallier as “Facts and Myths” and “Lived Experiences.” Both of these volumes analyze the myths surrounding women’s lives from every perspective: biological, psychological, economic, literary, philosophical, anthropological, linguistic, etc. This characteristic is one of the many reasons why The Second Sex remains such a wonderful entry point into feminist consciousness for many women and men.

The overarching myth that the translators wanted to maintain and emphasize was that of economic monism – the idea that men are better-suited to economic prowess than women. This myth is perpetuated through the aforementioned fields of human experience such that women are subjugated to men in every social (and even biological) encounter. This myth – that men are the producers and women are reproducers – rings true even today, when we see women playing into the same system that subjugates them, thereby reproducing.

(Side note – one of my favorite quotations works well here: “I don’t want to reproduce, I want to make something entirely new.”)

Borde said her most crucial task in this translation was putting the philosophy back in the text (M.A. Simons famously documented this silencing in her 1983 piece.) Simone was a student of Hegel and Heidegger, and her understanding of “subject” was much more nuanced than Parshley could recognize. His translation of “subject” bent toward the idea of “subjective” and “personal,” rather than that of the greater of the two states of being – the subject being the one with complete freedom of choice (rather than the object). This complete glossing-over of the philosophical significance of Simone’s etymology has ramifications for one’s overall impression of the text as a whole. After all, the modern feminist movement was largely built on this text – one wonders how the second wave feminists might have treated class difference and economics differently had the original intent of Simone been conveyed into the English translation (sigh).

The goal of the new translation was to discover the original intent of Simone de Beauvoir and convey her voice as written in 1949. The new version is completely unabridged – this means keeping Simone’s pages-long paragraphs and unconventional punctuation (mostly, the semicolon). (At the event tonight we all toasted, “Vive la point-virgule!”, a poke at Simone’s affinity for the oft-abused and misunderstood punctuation.) But this adherence to the original intent has extremely rewarding results, namely, conveying the logic of her grammatical choices, which have great philosophical significance.

In French grammar, words are assigned a gender (masculine, feminine, or neutral). Simone recognized that assigning genders to the very language we use probably was not an accident, and the translators did not gloss over the significance. (I should mention here that I’ve studied French my entire life. My mom taught French to high schoolers and is fluent, and I went so far as to minor in French in college.) The gender of words in French (or other languages) is something foreign to English-speaking students of the language. I remember coming up with mnemonic devices for French grammar lessons in middle school, most of which centered on the idea that the words en féminine that didn’t follow normal patterns were usually the “sad” words: la mort, la guerre, la bataille – death, war, battle (also, interestingly, all of the words for sex organs are female). Of course, there’s the obvious that for the majority of French words, the masculine is the default, and to make something feminine, one must somehow modify the word (usually adding an “e” to the ending). This is one pattern that English-speakers can recognize: Waiter/Waitress, Host/Hostess, and the most obvious, Man/Woman.

Thus, the treatment of Simone de Beauvoir’s famous quotation – On ne naît pas femme: on le devient – is critically altered in the new translation. The translation of this sentence hinges on the translation of the word “femme.” In French, “la femme” can mean “woman,” “the woman,” “wife,” or “maid.” Without the article, “femme” tends to convey more of the idea of “woman” as an institution – a construct of femininity as determined by society. Adhering to de Beauvoir’s intent is key to the significance of the phrase. H.M. Parshley’s translation reads:

One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”

Borde and Malovany-Chevallier translate the phrase as follows:

One is not born, but rather becomes, woman.”

This key treatment of the lack of an article is crucial. Clearly, Simone was not talking solely about the biological evolution into a physically mature woman. No, she was focused on the idea of “woman” as shaped by society.

After the English translation was published in late 2009 (in England, early 2010 in the United States), critics came out of the woodwork to jump to pick apart Borde and Malovany-Chevallier’s effort (including this inane review from the New York Times Book Review). I’m sure some of the critiques are warranted. The translators had previously worked on cookbooks and textbooks – definitely nothing this philosophical. And Toril Moi has an excellent analysis in the London Review of Books. However, the bigger picture is significant to keep in mind. The translators told the story of an Iranian woman who approached them at one of their stops on this book tour. She thanked them for helping to share Simone’s words with a new generation of women, for, she said, “reading this book made me realize I wasn’t insane.” The Second Sex is applicable to all societies and all eras of women – la lutte continue (the struggle continues). If the most important thing is to be free, then to be free necessitates understanding one’s condition. No work better addresses women – as constructs, biological beings, mothers, wives, workers – than The Second Sex, and I have such great respect for these women for toiling to provide as authentic a translation as possible.

The last question of the evening came from one of the outnumbered men in the room who asked whether if, given the advances of women over the past sixty years, any parts of the original text perhaps felt dated or irrelevant. Malovany-Chevallier softly replied, after a long pause, “very little.” She then reminded us of the story included during one of Simone’s long biological analyses, that of the relationship between the ovum and the sperm. Both equal gametes, the ovum’s job is to lay in wait for the sperm, endeavoring to create the best home for the future union. Simone remarked, “It might be rash to say that a woman’s place is [from the very start] in the home, but some people are rash.”

Indeed, there are many many myths remaining regarding women and people working had to perpetuate them. The myth of a woman’s place in society as beneath a man is manifested in many of our daily interactions, and to have a new translation of The Second Sex available is wonderful. To have one that rightly emphasizes the nuanced ways in which sexual hierarchy dominates our interactions – particularly economic – is truly revolutionary.

Tab Dump

by Julia

Oh hey! It’s been a while. Since we last posted, Elizabeth and I have both moved to DC (living separately, but meeting up for at least a happy hour once a week). We’ll try to update on our newish lives – working at an awesome non-profit for Liz, surviving 1L for Julia – but for now, here are some tabs!

It seems that even Terry Jones’s evangelical (and racist and sexist and xenophobic, etc) book publisher wants to distance itself from him. Creation House removed Jones’s best seller from their page, but fear not! There are some awesome books up there. On my list: The Apocalypse of Bob and the uber-progressive sounding How to Submit to Your Husband Joyfully. (*that’s the sound of sarcasm, btw*)

The US Senate is holding a hearing on the disturbing trend of police mistreatment of rape victims, partially because of the conduct of the Baltimore City Police Department. Background here.

A really neat report on the effects of a losing baseball team on a city – economically, emotionally, and narratively. Go O’s, regardless.

On internet memes. lolz internetz etc.

Money can buy you a better ranking, but not a better education. A revealing study on George Washington University.

The New Yorker covers the bleak Russian landscape and the history of Stalinist labor camps.

On the prison note, is it possible to  have a prison without walls? (whether or not it’s a good idea is a whole separate question)

Why there’s a bit more to the Ladies Night legal controversy, especially for feminists.

Finally, the confluence of a bunch of things that make me really happy:

anarchist kitteh

Tab dump

by Julia

The Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism has some cool pieces up about a recent conference on Charismatic Financialism and unmasking the “ghost within the machine.” Neat stuff.

Speaking of capitalism and images, the cast of Jersey Shore rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange yesterday in what I think is a pretty damn perfect portrayal of our country in every sense.

The most comprehensive look at the importance of Vitamin D in Western society that I’ve read. This works nicely with the Hygiene Hypothesis. Read: people with less money to spend at Whole Foods/on SPF100 are better off in quite significant ways.

On the sensation of cat/dog internet memes. Oh yea, and a catdog may have been born in Georgia …which I found out about via youtube videos of said species (and not by watching reruns of this show). #signsoftheapocalypse

Framing children’s deviance, in which the coverage of Latarian Milton (the seven year old of “hoodrat stuff with my friends” fame) is contrasted with that of a white child’s similar car-driving spree.

Finally, David Brooks Haiku. This is really all the time one needs to devote to his columns, anyway.

by Julia:

So I’m less than a month away from starting law school. In the tradition of other law school bloggers, I’m gonna withhold (for right now) where I’m attending in the fall for the sake of related Google searches. If you’re really curious, any of the clues I give away in the Top Five will easily lead you to the answer. Rest assured, I’ll reveal this information soon, and anyone who knows me even remotely knows where I’m going. Anyway, I’m obviously excited to start this new chapter in my life, so I’ve been spending a fair amount of time recently perusing the site of my law school for various fun tidbits – course offerings, clinics, student organizations, etc. These factors were huge in deciding where I would ultimately attend school (location and $$$ were obviously up there, too), so it was a nice reminder to return to these traits that led me to choose my school a couple months back.

For fun, I also decided to look at the sites of some of the other schools I considered, but ultimately turned down, and compare their student programs/curricula. Some of the juxtapositions were too good, and needless to say, I’m super pleased with my decision.

Top Five Reasons My School is Better (at least for me):

5) Five of the professors featured on one of my favorite blogs, Feminist Law Professors, teach at my school. This is cool not only because of celeb status, but also because these profs offer some awesome classes and bring an ever-needed feminist perspective to the law. I’m happy that my views will not just be tolerated at my school, but hopefully welcomed with such a feminist-heavy faculty.

4) I have some great clinical opportunities in front of me. From immigration to domestic violence to older prisoners to vaccine injury to public justice, I’m confident that a lot of my interests in legal practice will be nurtured and guided by these clinical offerings.

3) My school has a large criminal justice reform project which aims to encourage re-entry programs rather than incarceration. With the US per-capita incarceration rate rivaling China (not to mention the mass incarceration of black men), this is a problem that needs to be addressed from both inside and outside of the legal fields.

2) Most large law schools have pretty diverse course offerings, especially when you reach the upper-level elective courses. Indeed, course offerings at one of the other contenders on my list were certainly enticing (so many Critical Legal Studies courses!) Nonetheless, my school’s size allows for a great diversity of courses. Hopefully I’ll be able to take some of these:

Feminist Legal Theory, Law and Literature (I’m looking at you, Dostoevsky/Kafka/Morrison, and others), Law and Psychiatry (Kevorkian!), Comparative Constitutional Law (mm, Scandinavia), Space Law and/or Law of the Sea, Seminar in Government Procurement of Intellectual Property, Law in Cyberspace (I’m really starting to get into the whole Intellectual Property field…), Employment Discrimination Law, Sexuality and the Law, Gender Discrimination and the Law, The Law of Democracy, White Collar Crime, Consumer Protection Law, Campaign Finance Law, etc.

1) My school has an active Anarchist Collective. A neighboring school has University-sponsored clubs for enthusiasts of beer, bridge, chess, board games, wine, Gilbert & Sullivan (actually…?),  and militia-building, but the only club which doesn’t receive funding from the University or the Student Bar Association is the club advocating reproductive justice. Law school fail. Meanwhile, my school fully funds the AC (mentioned above), a Feminist Forum, (a separate!) Law Association for Women, (and yet another “lady org”!!) Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Students for Drug Law Reform, The Innocence Project, and the Equal Justice Foundation, among many others.

But yea, we’ve got an Anarchist Collective. At the very least, this will provide me an insta-group of like-minded peers. I’m 100% ready to bridge the gap between my activism in college and my legal studies – can’t wait to forge ahead with that combination of skills.

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