Body as Battleground: Why the Law Continues to Fail Women

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Women’s struggle for equality and empowerment has always been a deeply politicized narrative, and never more so than today. Indeed, in just the last two years, the liberal left has identified a war on women being waged by the forces of the conservative right. They point to the thousands of recent legislative initiatives around the country as evidence that the right has the liberated woman firmly in their crosshairs. From rolling back reproductive freedom, access to affordable health care, and protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, to undermining recourse for women facing workplace discrimination, and efforts to secure equal pay for women, the legislative right seems to affirm the allegations of the left.

Conservatives accuse the liberal left of being hyperbolic and disingenuous when it claims they are waging war. There are also some on the left who question the authenticity and motivation of the liberal establishment, which has enjoyed the energizing effects of this war on women on its base. But is this rhetoric simply a manifestation of political partisanship or is it the tip of an iceberg floating in the cold waters of patriarchy?

If there is indeed a war on women, what are its true dimensions and how many casualties will it leave in its wake?

Join us for the 17th Annual Conference on Race, Class, Gender, and Ethnicity as we invite legal scholars, activists, and practitioners to explore the reality beneath the rhetoric of the war on women. We will challenge panelists to reconcile the narrow scope of the political discourse surrounding that narrative with the breadth of what women face within our culture on a daily basis. This should entail an exploration of not only the legal battles fought by and for women in the twenty-first century, but also how discourse and disparity shapes women’s identity and people’s perception of woman.

If we wish to end this war, to which theory should we look? Should we rely on a concept of equality? One of difference? Is this a question of totalizing narratives that define absolutely? Or do we need to look how the identity “woman” intersects with other identities to understand the nature of our culture’s oppressive position?

Our goal is that this year’s CRCGE will successfully peel back the rhetoric of the war on women and look behind the veil to the unassailable realities and legal challenges still faced by women from all cross-sections of American society. We hope to conclude our Conference with a look forward. How can we shape our political and legal world if we desire women to be treated as if they are shaping force?

Additional Information

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106
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