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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA Journal of Gender and Law

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The UCLA Journal of Gender & Law (formerly the UCLA Women's Law Journal), established in 1989, is dedicated to the critical analysis of gender as it is structured and reinforced by the law and legal institutions. Integral to this mission is the promotion of scholarship that attends to the ways that race, class, ability, sexuality, nationality, religion, and other forms of marginalization constitute and intersect with gender as a lived and legal reality. We strive to incorporate critiques of the law as a tool of oppression, as well as solutions for collective liberation that operate within and beyond the law.


On the Basis of Childbirth: How the Federal Clerkship's Lack of Parental Leave Fosters Gender Inequality

This Essay argues that the lack of paid parental leave for federal law clerks enables pregnancy discrimination, restricts women's reproductive choice, and perpetuates gender inequality within the legal profession.

This Essay is organized as follows. Part I demonstrates how the lack of parental leave leads to an implicit prohibition against childbirth, thereby enabling pregnancy discrimination and restricting women's reproductive choice. Part II shows how the lack of parental leave fosters gender inequality within the profession by allowing men, but not women, to build their career and family simultaneously. Part III explains why the clerkship's unique structure is no justification for denying parental leave to term clerks.

Stolen Voices: A Linguistic Approach to Understanding Implicit Gender Bias in the Legal Profession

While implicit gender bias may attach multiple aspects of one's gender, this Article examines gender bias solely through the lens of communication and language use, which the hope that this allows for a more focused understanding of the lack of gender parity of law.

Part I of this Article reviews the studies and statistical data indicating that women in the legal profession lag behind their male counterparts in traditional indicators of success. Part II discusses the role that implicit bias may play in preventing women from achieving parity in legal employment. Part III addresses the sociolinguistic studies documenting gendered differences in communications styles as well as the feminist theories that suggest why women experience barriers to success based upon these differences. Part IV examines the social science literature documenting how women are penalized for their communication style in the workplace and courtroom. Part V charts the "linguistic minefield"—how women conform their language practices to the masculine norm and suffer the penalizing consequences of such accommodation. Finally, Part VI discusses the individual and organizational repercussions of communication bias. It also suggests how interdisciplinary partnerships could go beyond tradititional implicit bias training to help law schools and legal employers craft a targeted response to address gendered communication bias in the profession.

Rethinking Rhetoric in the Asylum Context: Lessons From #MeToo

Women face greater difficulties than men in establishing asylum in the United States. This is due in part to the fact that the Refugee Act situates asylum primarily in forms of persecution associated with the male experience. Women who seek asylum in the United States because they flee gender-based violence must establish that their persecution occurs on account of their membership in a particular social group. Such a showing is challenging, both in terms of the test to establish membership in a particular social group and because this form of harm is positioned in gendered notions of activities that are societally considered as operating in the private sphere. This Article therefore draws on existing scholarship, but also expands the lens to encourage advocates in this space to consider effective rhetorical strategies employed in the #MeToo movement. It then offers suggestions for how those strategies might be directed at advocacy in the asylum context.

Limitations of Current Menstrual Equity Advocacy and a Path Towards Justice

Since 2015, legal strategies to end period poverty and achieve menstrual equity have increased dramatically across the United States. Current advocacy for menstrual equity is concentrated in three main areas: litigation based on sex discrimination claims, legislation to end additional taxes on menstrual products, and legislation to increase access to menstrual products in schools. This Article outlines and analyzes the history of menstrual equity activism in litigation and legislative initiatives to understand the progress that advocates have achieved. This Article then argues that the framework of sex discrimination limits current menstrual equity legal strategies and, therefore, lawyers and activists should adopt are productive justice lens to meet the needs of the most marginalized menstruators. Lastly, this Article argues that to advocate for true menstrual justice, advocates should shift their attention and resources to administrative and policy changes that would work to eliminate period poverty for the people most in need, such as low-income, unhoused, and incarcerated menstruators.

Black Women Victims of Police Brutality and the Silencing of Their Stories

Black women in the United States have endured centuries of race- and gender-based violence, unable to find refuge in neither their communities nor the law. This paper will discuss police violence through the lens of Black feminist theory by first giving a historical review of state-sanctioned violence in Black communities; then, examining violence done to Black women through a Black feminist framework; followed by an exploration into why Black women’s experiences of police violence are largely overlooked and what can be done to bridge the gap between advocacy for Black men and women victims of police violence.

What's Love Got to Do with It? Anti-Love Jihad Laws and the Othering of Muslims in India

The humble aim of this Article is to provide a fresh analysis of recent legislative and jurisprudential developments relating to the so-called counterattack on love jihad through the lens of nationhood and the control and conquest of the female body. This Article argues that the instrumentalization of the Hindu woman’s marriage as the territory for Hindutva prosperity serves to cast out non-Hindu communities, notably Muslims, as non-Indian, while further entrenching the patriarchal notions of sexuality and paternalism that have enabled the enactment of anti-love jihad laws in the first place. The remainder of the Article is structured as follows. Part II provides a brief overview of the purported preoccupations behind the anti–love jihad campaign. Part III lays out notable legislative initiatives in India aiming to combat coerced conversion through marriage as a response to the love jihad conspiracy. It also highlights important ideological similarities between such laws and the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 (CAA). Part IV dissects the seminal Hadiya case, while setting out a feminist constitutionalist analysis of Justice Chandrachud’s, as he was then, judgment. Finally, Part V concludes the Article with the contention that more political and academic attention must be given to the politicization of women for supremacist goals in today’s India.

Self-Defense, Responsibility, and Punishment: Rethinking the Criminalization of Women Who Kill Their Abusive Intimate Partners

This Article’s argument proceeds as follows. Part I examines the capacity of the existing criminal law landscape to accommodate survivor-defendants by applying available defenses and mechanisms to these cases. Part I concludes that none of the current legal doctrines adequately respond to the unique pressures and circumstances that victims/survivors experience. In Part II, the Article questions the moral legitimacy of the state to criminalize and punish survivors for killing their abusive partners. After exploring the numerous ways in which they are entrapped in abusive relationships concurrently by their abusive partners and the state, Part II suggests that battered women cannot be held responsible by the entrapping state for their resulting criminal actions. Part II then further justifies the decriminalization of survivors by invoking the prevailing theories of punishment and establishing that they do not provide a reasonable rationale for incarcerating survivors. In Part III, the Article considers and weighs the effectiveness of several possible alternatives to the existing criminal legal framework, in search for a model that would adequately recognize the systemic conditions that lead victims/survivors to commit such crimes.