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Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolutionby Serena Mayeri
"You've been in that room. We all have. The room that had the air sucked out of it because someone among the feminists present noted that their differences were not being addressed sufficiently, if at all. No conversation screeches to a halt as quickly as when someone raises the issue of difference, whether it's gender identity, class, ethnicity or religion — but especially when it's racial. For generations, feminists have struggled with these 'Ain't I a woman?' intermoments, bracing themselves for reactions that can range from hostility, guilt and defensiveness to responsibility and alliance building." Pamela D. Bridgewater, Ms. Magazine (Read the entire Ms. Magazine review)
Synopses & Reviews
Informed in 1944 that she was "not of the sex" entitled to be admitted to Harvard Law School, African American activist Pauli Murray confronted the injustice she called "Jane Crow." In the 1960s and 1970s, the analogies between sex and race discrimination pioneered by Murray became potent weapons in the battle for women's rights, as feminists borrowed rhetoric and legal arguments from the civil rights movement. Serena Mayeri's Reasoning from Race is the first book to explore the development and consequences of this key feminist strategy.
Mayeri uncovers the history of an often misunderstood connection at the heart of American antidiscrimination law. Her study details how a tumultuous political and legal climate transformed the links between race and sex equality, civil rights and feminism. Battles over employment discrimination, school segregation, reproductive freedom, affirmative action, and constitutional change reveal the promise and peril of reasoning from race--and offer a vivid picture of Pauli Murray, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and others who defined feminists' agenda.
Looking beneath the surface of Supreme Court opinions to the deliberations of feminist advocates, their opponents, and the legal decision makers who heard--or chose not to hear--their claims, Reasoning from Race showcases previously hidden struggles that continue to shape the scope and meaning of equality under the law.
Book News Annotation:
Mayeri (law and history, U. of Pennsylvania Law School) tackles a central and provocative subject. Arguments and legal strategies undertaken to achieve civil rights for Black Americans have been appropriated by feminist and gay rights movements. This study thoroughly analyzes the history of this phenomenon and how it functions today. By examining parallels, differences, paradoxes, and conflicts among the movements, the author brings out the nuances and clarifies ongoing efforts for civil rights and equality in various domains. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In the 1960s and 1970s, analogies between sex discrimination and racial injustice became potent weapons in the battle for women's rights, as feminists borrowed rhetoric and legal arguments from the civil rights movement. Serena Mayeri's Reasoning from Race is the first history of this key strategy and its consequences for American law.
2012 Littleton-Griswold Prize, American Historical Association
2012 Darlene Clark Hine Award, Organization of American Historians
About the Author
Serena Mayeri is Professor of Law and History at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
University of Pennsylvania Law School
What Our Readers Are Saying
History and Social Science » Law » Civil Liberties and Human Rights