Spring 2013

Professor Nancy Levit
UMKC School of Law

Required Texts:
Cynthia Grant Bowman, Laura A. Rosenbury, Deborah Tuerkheimer & Kimberly A. Yuracko, Feminist Jurisprudence: Cases and Materials (4th ed. 2010);
Supplemental Materials (designated as Supp. in syllabus - hyperlink); and
Nancy Levit & Robert R.M. Verchick, Feminist Legal Theory: A Primer (New York University Press 2006) (designated as FLT in syllabus)

Representative examples from prior final examinations and answer keys may be found on the web at 

No audio or video recording of this class is allowed, except by authorization under Section 240.040 of the Collected Rules and Regulations.

1. Introduction and Historical Background pp. 1-16
  Constitutional Equality and the ERA pp. 17-25
  Feminism and Law FLT pp. 1-7 
  Barbara Ehrenreich, Why We Lost the ERA Supp.
2. Constitutional Standard pp. 25-45
  California Federal Savings & Loan v. Guerra FLT p. 21
  United States v. Virginia pp. 68-80
  Single-Sex Education FLT pp. 92-98
  Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation:  
  Equality Foundation v. City of Cincinnati Supp.
  Lawrence v. Texas Supp.
  Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality and Relationship Recognition Laws
3. Feminist Theory  
  Varieties of Contemporary Feminist Legal Theory FLT pp. 8-16
  Methodology pp. 96-102
    FLT pp. 45-54
  Difference Theory (Carol Gilligan) pp. 103-106
  Cultural Feminism FLT pp. 18-22
  Dominance or Inequality Theory (Radical Feminism) pp. 119-129
    FLT pp. 22-26
  Formal Equality (Sameness) Theory pp. 115-119
    FLT pp. 16-18
  Relational Feminism (Difference Theory II) pp. 132-144
  Anti-Essentialism pp. 150-65
            Lesbian Feminism  
            Critical Race Feminism pp. 165-70
    Notes 173-76
    FLT pp. 26-31
            Rosin, The End of Men  
4. Intimate Violence I: Intimate Partner Violence pp. 214-217
pp. 238 (bottom)-242
    FLT pp. 179-181
    FLT pp. 189-202
  The Battered Woman: Learned Helplessness and Survivor Theories pp. 242-254
  The Constitution and Police Response pp. 261-269
  Battered Women Who Kill Their Abusers pp. 226-238
  The Debate Over Mandatory Prosecution pp. 269-281
  The Violence Against Women Act pp. 281-285
  (Documentary in class: Defending Our Lives)  
5. Intimate Violence II: Rape pp. 293-317
  Marital Rape pp. 317-322
  Todd Akin, “Legitimate Rape” Victims Rarely Get Pregnant 
  Todd K. Shackelford & Gregory J. LeBlanc
Courageous, Compassionate, and Scholarly
  Hilary Rose, Debating Rape Supp.
  Objectivity, She Said Supp.
6. Reproduction  
  Birth Control pp. 402-413
    FLT pp. 145-148
  Abortion pp. 419-63
    FLT pp. 128-140
  Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Supp.
  Oklahoma and South Dakota Informed Consent Statutes Supp.
  Missouri Laws Regarding Abortion
  Lawsuit Challenges Georgia Abortion Ban
  Voices Brief, Amicus Brief of the National Council of Negro Women, and Brief of Women Injured by Abortion pp. 463-471
7. Intimate Relationships  
  Heterosexual Marriage, Power & the Politics of Housework pp. 548-569
  Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships pp. 569-601
    FLT pp. 163-168
  Childrearing pp. 633-36
    Note 11, p. 643
  Lesbian and Gay Parents pp. 644-653
  The Family and Medical Leave Act pp. 654-662
  Parenting Leave Notes, pp. 670-672
    pp. 673-681
  Custody of Children pp. 729-737
Notes 5-6,
pp. 745-746
  Child Support pp. 746-754
Note 11,
pp. 756-57
8. Gender in the Workplace I  
  The Model Worker pp. 847-50
    FLT pp. 57-61
  Maternity Leave and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act pp. 850-863
    FLT pp. 61-63
  Sexual Harassment pp. 880-900
  Nelson v. Knight  
    FLT pp. 66-73
  Employer Liability pp. 906-912
9. Gender in the Workplace II  
  Sexuality, Stereotyping, Femininity & Professional Appearance pp. 912-922
  Jespersen v. Harrah’s Supp.
  “Too Hot for Citibank?” 
  Intersection of Race and Sex pp. 929-top of 931
    pp. 938-942 up to note 9
  “Choice” and Equal Work Supp.
    FLT pp. 63-66
10. Pornography pp. 373-383
  Anti-Pornography Ordinance pp. 383-386
  American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut pp. 387-392
  Mock moot court exercise  
11. Gender and the Legal Profession  
  Introduction pp. 961-964
  Women and Legal Education pp. 964-979
  Bias Against Women as Attorneys pp. 979-986
  Catalyst, Women in Law in the U.S. July 2012
    Notes pp. 989-994
12. Gender Differences in Perception and Language [if time permits]  
  Cross-Gender Conversations No readings
          Tape in class of Robert Bly and Deborah Tannen  
13. Global Feminism and Equality pp. 1035-1045
  Barbara Stark, Women, Globalization, and Law Supp.
    FLT pp. 212-227
14. Gender and Popular Culture Your materials
  Susan J. Douglas, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media Supp.
  The Lawyer in Popular Culture: A Bibliography (optional reading) 

Student Responsibilities

Each student is required to:

1. Attend seminar class sessions and participate in discussion. You may ask to “fly free”(attend class but not participate) twice during the semester. Otherwise, please come to class having read the day’s assignment and be prepared to be called on. See criteria below for assessment of class participation.

2. Submit a two-page experiential paper by Thursday, March 7, 2013. The experiential paper seeks your reaction to any social, cultural, or political event as an experience about gender. In the past, students have described the gendering in events ranging from viewing movies (“The First Wives Club, ” “Thelma and Louise”) or plays (“The Vagina Monologues,” “Oleanna”) to attending a men’s movement group meeting (mythopoetic, Promise Keepers, profeminist, men’s rights), a political caucus, or a seminar to obtain a home loan. The purposes of the paper are (1) to encourage you to seek knowledge about gender outside the walls of the law school, and (2) to make gender visible in everyday life. This paper will not be graded separately, but the quality of the experiential paper will factor in to my consideration of class participation grades. If the paper is late, your overall grade for the class will be reduced by one half grade. The paper may be no more than two pages.

3. Bring in something from the mass media—a newspaper article, cartoon, song, magazine advertisement, photograph, etc.—on the last two days of class (be ready for either day), to share with the class. Be prepared to introduce your material to the class and lead a five-ten minute class discussion of your material. Please tell me your topic by Tuesday, March 19, 2013.

4. Take a final exam or write a 20 page analytical (not merely descriptive) paper, which will constitute between 75%-100% of your grade. Class participation will constitute between 0-25% of your grade. If I cannot meaningfully distinguish among all class participants, I will choose to have your exam or paper comprise the entire grade. I do reserve the right to bump students up for exceptional class performance and to reduce grades for lack of preparation.

Criteria for Evaluating Class Participation

The following evaluation factors are intended to encourage you to make each seminar session a valuable experience for you and your classmates:

1. Your ability to analytically evaluate and use the assigned readings to enhance discussion—Do the comments exhibit reflection about the material assigned (vs. “top of the head” comments)? Does your discussion demonstrate that you have studied the reading material both receptively and critically: Does it show that you have been willing to accept (at least tentatively) the author’s assumptions and values and to recreate the thought process that led the author from those assumptions and values to the his or her conclusions? Does it show that you have then rigorously—but fairly—tested the author’s assumptions against objective data (including your own experience), decided whether the author’s values are morally acceptable to you, and evaluated whether the article’s arguments rationally leads from author’s assumptions and values to his or her conclusions?

2. Your ability to relate the readings to real life experiences (your own or others’)—Are the comments anchored in the material for the day?

3. Your spontaneous responses to questions and comments from other students—Is there an effort to make the comments connect to the flow of the conversation?

4. Your ability to defend your viewpoints and your openness to considering and exploring alternative points of view—Do the comments indicate a willingness to suspend judgment, possibly modify positions, and tolerate diverse views?

5. Is the comment concise, cogent, original, and to the point? This is the “don’t talk just to hear yourself or take up airtime” category. Uninformed pontificating or musing will not count as a contribution to class discussion.

6. All students are expected to act with professional respect for others.

7. Class participation will be an integral part of this course. Daily attendance counts, but regular class attendance by itself does not constitute good class participation
revised 01/17/2013