Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Women as decisionmakers

This article argues that women make better decisions under stress and, therefore, they should be given prominent roles in leading organizations. The article also describes the phenomenon of "glass cliff," that is, when women are brought in to an organization only after things started to fall apart. While I instinctively dislike the essentializing implications of studies like the ones mentioned in the article, these studies actually defy stereotypical depictions of women leadership.  I like that!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yes means yes: Consent is erotic

Last year, the King Hall Women's Law Association held a lunch time event highlighting heightened issues of rape. During the Question and Answer period, one student voiced his opinion that he thought seeking consent for each sexual encounter was burdensome and unrealistic.

This debate is now happening in the greater public in reaction to California's "Yes Means Yes" legislation. On August 28, Californian lawmakers passed a law requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex. This has sparked a commentary on the ability to police consent in such a defined manner.

I have been surprised by the number or persons who have expressed feelings similar to that student; that this legislation goes too far because express consent is burdensome and stales sexual energy. So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this KQED listener's perspective from  Dr. Leslie Bell, a sociologist at UC Berkeley, eloquently articulate the opposite:
When both partners feel comfortable talking about sex, some pretty sexy things can happen. "Can I do this?" "Yes. Yes. Yes."

But when we're uncomfortable talking about sex, lots of unsexy things can happen. Sexual assault chief among them.
Even while sitting in early morning traffic, Dr. Bell's chant of "Yes. Yes. Yes." was a turn on. I think most people would agree. That is evidence enough that consent doesn't close sexual possibilities, but opens them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mobile courts: Taking justice to rural places--in Congo, no less

NPR reported yesterday on a conference in London about rape as war crime and what can be done to stop it.  This is a very important event, as this issue is near and dear to my own heart.  Indeed, just a few hours before I heard the story, I was interviewed by Film at 11 about some work I did in 1996 for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, investigating sexual assaults that occurred as part of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.  The feminist in me is very excited about this conference.

But the story also intrigued and pleased the ruralist in me where Ari Shapiro reports:
Karen Naimer, who directs the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones with Physicians for Human Rights, recently saw how the attitudes toward this issue have changed. She was in Congo, at a mobile court that brings justice to remote villages. 
"We were in this small town of Kahele, and 19 female survivors came. And they were waiting for their day in court," says Naimer. 
Two militia members were on trial, accused of holding 400 women in the bush as sex slaves for a year. Women showed up with babies they had borne in captivity. Naimer sat with the victims as they waited to testify. 
"And what was so striking to me as I spoke with them quietly was their deep desire to face their perpetrators and to demand justice," says Naimer. "That cathartic process comes at such a cost for them. The kind of community, rejection, stigma they face, they were willing to endure that because this moment in time is so necessary for their personal healing."
I have written some about the issue of access to justice for rural people (and have a piece on that topic forthcoming in the South Dakota Law Review), and sometimes the struggle is for literal, physical access to a court.  It is about getting to the courthouse.  So I am intrigued by this idea of a mobile court.  I guess one could liken it to the judges who still "ride circuit" in a number of rural areas in the United States, going from courthouse to courthouse over a region or district to hear motions and conduct trials.  But I guess I didn't expect something this novel and innovative to come out of the Congo.  I'm impressed.

Cross Posted to Legal Ruralism.