Special Issue "The Body Politic: Women’s Bodies and Political Conflict"

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X). This special issue belongs to the section "Law and Gender Issues".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Alison Gash
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Political Science, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Interests: legal advocacy; public policy; race; gender; LGBTQ+; disability; family/children

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

This Special Issue centers on the ways in which women's bodies serve as a narrative and frame for contentious politics. Judicial nominations, presidential campaigns, policy debates, and local conflicts—across a wide variety of policy contexts—focus on women's bodies as a platform for political contestation. Yet, despite the centering of politics on the subject of women's bodies, women continue to be deprived of basic protections and liberties. Even as their bodies are used to catalyze political momentum, women face an uncertain, and often hostile, audience from institutions and public officials. This is especially true for poor women, women of color, and women who identify as LGBTQIA. The politics of abortion and reproductive choice provide textbook examples of this relationship. In the United States, for instance, electoral battles and federal court nominations revolve around interpretations of and commitments to Roe v. Wade. Yet, poor women and women of color continue to bear the costs of restrictive reproductive rights policies—and at the same time are maligned by public debate. We see this at play in a range of policy arenas—health care, employment, and family planning to name a few—where women's bodies are the subject of policy campaigns, but where women's welfare is neglected or subverted. 

We are accepting manuscripts that interrogate these kinds of political dynamics in a variety of policy domains and locations. For instance, we are interested in manuscripts that explore the context for these conflicts; the ways in which these debates further exclude and silence minoritized women; the implications for governance, democratic participation, and the "rule of law," to name a few. We are hoping to catalyze important conversations both inside the academy and beyond about the problematic use of women's bodies as a political wedge and the continued erasure of women's experiences—particularly women who are vulnerable to multiple and intersecting forms of exclusion.

Prof. Alison Gash
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Laws is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • women
  • politics
  • policy
  • law
  • race
  • LGBTQIA

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Bodies in Confinement: Negotiating Queer, Gender Nonconforming, and Transwomen’s Gender and Sexuality behind Bars
Laws 2021, 10(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020049 - 17 Jun 2021
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Abstract
The criminal punishment system plays a critical role in the production of race, gender, and sexuality in the United States. The regulation of marginalized women’s bodies—transwomen, butches, and lesbians—in confinement reproduces cis-heteronormativity. Echoing the paternalistic claims of protection that have inspired “bathroom bills,” [...] Read more.
The criminal punishment system plays a critical role in the production of race, gender, and sexuality in the United States. The regulation of marginalized women’s bodies—transwomen, butches, and lesbians—in confinement reproduces cis-heteronormativity. Echoing the paternalistic claims of protection that have inspired “bathroom bills,” gender-segregated prison facilities have notoriously condemned transwomen prisoners to men’s prisons for the “safety” of women’s prisons, constructing cisgender women as “at risk” of sexual assault and transgender women as “risky”, overlooking the reality of transwomen as the most at risk of experiencing sexual violence in prisons. Prisons use legal and medical constructions of gender that pathologize transgender identity in order to legitimize health concerns; for example, the mutilation of the body in an effort to remove unwanted genitalia as evidence to warrant a diagnosis of gender identity disorder, or later gender dysphoria. This construction of transgender identity as a medical condition that warrants treatment forces prisoners to pathologize their gender identity in order to access adequate gender-affirming care. By exploring the writings of queer and trans prisoners, we can glean how heteronormativity structures gender and sexuality behind bars and discover how trans prisoners work to assemble knowledge, support, and resources toward survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Body Politic: Women’s Bodies and Political Conflict)
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Article
Just Mothering: Amy Coney Barrett and the Racial Politics of American Motherhood
Laws 2021, 10(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020036 - 13 May 2021
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Abstract
Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and confirmation featured frequent references to her role as a mother. This article situates these references within the trajectory of American political development to demonstrate how motherhood operates as a mechanism for enforcing a white-centered racial order. Through [...] Read more.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and confirmation featured frequent references to her role as a mother. This article situates these references within the trajectory of American political development to demonstrate how motherhood operates as a mechanism for enforcing a white-centered racial order. Through a close analysis of both the history of politicized motherhood as well as Barrett’s nomination and confirmation hearings, I make a series of claims about motherhood and contemporary conservatism. First, conservatives stress the virtuousness of motherhood through a division between public and private spheres that valorizes the middle-class white mother. Second, conservatives emphasize certain mothering practices associated with the middle-class white family. Third, conservatives leverage an epistemological claim about the universality of mothering experiences to universalize white motherhood. Finally, this universalism obscures how motherhood operates as a site in which power distinguishes between good and bad mothers and allocates resources accordingly. By attending to what I call the “republican motherhood script” operating in contemporary conservatism, I argue that motherhood is an ideological apparatus for enforcing a racial order premised on white protectionism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Body Politic: Women’s Bodies and Political Conflict)
Article
Why We Need a National CROWN Act
Laws 2021, 10(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020026 - 12 Apr 2021
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Abstract
Discrimination and intersecting forms of oppression directed at Black women influence how they look, live, work, interact with others, and even view their bodies and identities. Black hair has been and remains a target of this discrimination and oppression by obligating Black women [...] Read more.
Discrimination and intersecting forms of oppression directed at Black women influence how they look, live, work, interact with others, and even view their bodies and identities. Black hair has been and remains a target of this discrimination and oppression by obligating Black women to strive toward White beauty norms. Still under consideration in several states, the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act provides a legislative intervention to protect Black women (and men) from hair discrimination at work, during school, and as they go about their daily lives. This article examines the politics affecting Black hair. The data for this study came from semi-structured interviews with 22 Black women who define their hair as natural. The results indicate that racial history and stereotypes continue to create unachievable standards for Black hair; that Black women continue to encounter discrimination when embracing their natural hair; and that wearing Black natural hair is often an uplifting decision for the women who elect to do so. The fact that others continue to challenge and discriminate against Black natural in multiple venues confirms the need for a national CROWN Act. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Body Politic: Women’s Bodies and Political Conflict)

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Commentary
Threats to Women/Women as Threats: Male Supremacy and the Anti-Statist Right
Laws 2021, 10(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020041 - 20 May 2021
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Abstract
Throughout the Trump administration, media coverage of extremist factions of the American right grew considerably, as did the actual membership and numbers of those factions. Included among these factions, and operating on a spectrum that ranges from the center-to-fringe right, are white supremacist, [...] Read more.
Throughout the Trump administration, media coverage of extremist factions of the American right grew considerably, as did the actual membership and numbers of those factions. Included among these factions, and operating on a spectrum that ranges from the center-to-fringe right, are white supremacist, Christian nationalist, and militia/patriot/sovereign citizen (broadly termed constitutionalist) movements. While the American right is heterogeneous, most of these groups are composed of white men, and male supremacism is often a common ideological denominator. Based on historical trends, recent activity, and ongoing movement mobilizations, we should anticipate increased recruitment and activism on the part of anti-statist right-wing groups during the Biden administration. While much has been written about the threat of terroristic violence these groups pose and their varying levels of engagement with white supremacist beliefs, examinations of gender have largely focused on masculinity. This note takes up the relationship between anti-statist right-wing movements and women by sketching three key areas that warrant further examination: (1) how collective interpretations of the law leave women vulnerable by refusing the legitimacy of federal legislation; (2) the threat of militia violence against women, particularly those who hold elected office; (3) how racial and gender exclusions preclude women from having their claims to membership in anti-statist right-wing movements be fully recognized. As we take stock of the growing threat posed by these movements, it is incumbent on us to critically examine the threats to women’s rights posed by the anti-statist right. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Body Politic: Women’s Bodies and Political Conflict)
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