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Law # 714                                                                                            Professor Nancy Levit           
Gender & Justice                                                                                          Winter 2002    







Sources:            You may use (1) the books assigned for this class; (2) any materials handed out in class; (3) your class notes; and (4) any outlines, notes, or other materials you have prepared. You must not do any outside research.


Help:               You may not discuss the examination question with, or consult with, any other   person.  This examination is to be solely your own work.  You must not do any research, either in the library, on the computer, or in any other form. Any questions about interpretation should be addressed to me. All questions should be written and given to Debra Banister, the Story suite secretary. The deadline for asking questions about the exam is Tuesday, April 23, 2002.   If I determine that the question requires a response, I will respond in writing and post both the question and answer on my door. It is your obligation to check my door several times during the exam period. Violation of the rules regarding consultation with others or research of outside materials will be considered Honor Code violations.  In addition, violation of any of these rules may lead to assessment of penalties in grading.


Deadline:            Your answer must be returned by noon on Tuesday, April 30, 2002, to Debra Banister in the Story suite. You may submit the exam earlier if you desire. Be sure to sign the check-in sheet when you turn in your exam. 


Format:            Your answer must be typewritten, double spaced, on 8.5" x 11" paper with 1" margins on all sides. Do not exceed the specific word limit provided.  Include a word count. (Use the word counter on your computer or count manually.) I will penalize papers that exceed the word limit, fail to meet minimum readability requirements (e.g., grammar), fail to appear on time, or that in my judgment reflect an attempt to evade the spirit of these rules. Please number the pages and staple them together.  Keep a copy of your exam answer.


Exam #:            Use your exam number. Make sure your exam number is on all pages of your answer.  You do not need to turn this exam in with your answer. Do not use a blue book.


Style:               Your answer should be concise, organized, and coherent. While references to assigned cases, empirical material in the book, and theoreticians are encouraged, quotations are discouraged—I want your words and analysis—and citations are unnecessary.



Substance:            I have included all the background material that I think you need to answer the question.  If you believe you lack necessary facts, make explicit any reasonable assumptions you are making and why, or indicate what facts need to be investigated and why, or both.  I encourage you not to make factual assumptions which unnecessarily raise issues not otherwise suggested by the questions, or which avoid issues reasonably raised by the questions. The greatest amount of points will be awarded for concrete examples used as evidence of your analysis and specific application of the course material to the questions asked.           





Anti-subordination jurisprudence—whether applicable to race or class or gender—seems to have followed a pattern historically. First is the fight to obtain recognition for the identity category (e.g., that the interests of women deserve attention).  Next is a concern, typically expressed by some members of the subordinated group, about essentialism—whether all members of an identity group have the same concerns (e.g., whether lesbian feminists share the concerns of straight feminists; whether the interests of feminists of color are united with those of white feminists).  Then the theoretical analysis seems to move toward “intersectionality.”


Beginning in the late 1980s, critical theorists began to develop concepts of intersectional analysis. On an experiential level, the idea was that one person might belong to several identity groups at once (gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, class, and sexual orientation), and that the individual’s experiences were those of several facets of identity intersecting at once. A black women, for instance, experiences not just racism and not just sexism, but the double burden of both racism and sexism, which is its own unique (and perhaps particularly virulent) form of discrimination. Intersectionality theory does not focus exclusively on women.  Some theorists, for example, have described the particular vulnerability of black men in the criminal justice system.


The next move—and the one this final focuses on—has been in the direction of post-intersectionality analysis. This moves beyond intersectional analysis in saying that systems of subordination—such as sexism, racism, and homophobia—tend to reinforce each other. Forms of subordination, says post-intersectionality theory, are interrelated.


            Question 1) In what ways do structures of oppression reinforce each other?  What concrete examples have you seen in the materials for this class that would support the ideas that where one sees sexism, one frequently can find racism; where classism exists, sexism often surfaces; or where there is patriarchy, there is often heterosexism, etc.? 


Assume for purposes of the next question that the “systems of subordination” thesis has some empirical support.  The political implication of this understanding of subordination would seem to say that it is difficult, maybe impossible, to eliminate one form of subordination without addressing all other forms of subordination.  This would seem to imply the necessity of coalitional politics—connections between and among disadvantaged groups for political reasons.  


Question 2.a.  Is there a concern that real world issues—such as abortion rights, economic or political inequality, sex segregated schools, divisions of domestic responsibilities, custody decisions, and so on—will become harder for the public to care about and understand if the discussion moves to the theoretical level of discussing systems of subordination? Or might the theoretical analysis assist people in seeing the systematic or patterned nature of discrimination?  Provide concrete examples. (You may use any of the above examples and/or choose your own from the class materials.)


            Question 2.b.  Do the class materials demonstrate any examples of either the usefulness or the dangers of political coalitions by subordinated groups? Under what circumstances do coalitional politics tend to work and when do they tend to fail? If you were advising a subordinated group about political activism, can you express in a general way when the group should build coalitions and when it should steer away from them?



            Word limit total for all questions (divide as you wish): 3000 words.