Reckoning: The Epic Battle against Sexual Abuse and Harassment was published in 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Sexual Harassment Law’s Origins in A Diverse Grassroots Movement
Putting #MeToo in Context
Reckoning Makes It Plain
Linda Hirshman’s Epic Battle against Sexual Freedom
Short Takes: Provocations on Public Feminism, an open-access feature of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, offers brief comments from prominent feminists about a book that has shaped popular conversations about feminist issues. Short Takes is part of the Feminist Public Intellectuals Project.
Sexual Harassment Law’s Origins in A Diverse Grassroots Movement
Carrie N. Baker
In the latter half of her book, Reckoning, Linda Hirshman offers a valuable recounting and analysis of the emergence of #MeToo, but her history of early activism against sexual harassment in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States (the first four chapters) misses a lot of this important story. Hirshman argues that it was “mostly white intellectuals who started the movement” and she gives Catharine MacKinnon most of the credit for the development of sexual harassment law. As a result, she leaves out the significant efforts by many individuals and organizations across the country who were critical to the development of public awareness about sexual harassment and the development of the law, particularly women of color and working-class women.
As documented in my book The Women’s Movement against Sexual Harassment, a diverse grassroots social movement of people from varying racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds created legal prohibitions on sexual harassment in the 1970s and 1980s. Many were lesbians, frustrated by the assumption that they must entertain men’s sexual overtures in the workplace. Surprisingly absent from Hirshman’s account is any mention of important organizations in this movement, such as Working Women’s Institute in New York City; the Alliance against Sexual Coercion in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Organization of Black Activist Women in Washington, DC; the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund in San Francisco; or the Coal Employment Project in Nashville, Tennessee, to name a few. Also absent from Hirshman’s account is the critical role that Eleanor Holmes Norton played in developing the 1980 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines that courts heavily relied upon in developing sexual harassment law.
Hirshman notes that African American women brought a disproportionate number of the important early sexual harassment cases, discusses the importance of race, and admires the “incalculable courage of black women.” Nevertheless, Hirshman interviewed only white people for the history of this period in these four chapters. She did not interview any of the many African American women who contributed significantly to the development of sexual harassment law, such as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Michelle Vinson, or Sandra Bundy. Surprisingly, she relies on several white women, such as Danielle McGuire and Catharine MacKinnon, as sources for the perspectives of African American women.
While MacKinnon certainly played an important role in the development of sexual harassment law, Hirshman’s hagiographic account gives MacKinnon an oversized role in the movement. The first four chapters of Hirshman’s book read like an extended love letter to MacKinnon. Her adoration of MacKinnon sometimes goes over the top, like when she describes “the brilliance of MacKinnon’s gaze.” In her enthusiasm for MacKinnon, Hirshman downplays, and sometimes completely ignores, many people who played a critical role in naming and defining sexual harassment, in raising awareness about it, and in fueling policy changes on the issue.
Hirshman ends her book with #MeToo. Women of color have criticized #MeToo for ignoring the contributions and experiences of women of color, especially African American women. While Hirshman repeatedly notes that African American women brought many of the early sexual harassment cases, she misses an opportunity to meaningfully recognize the diverse range of people who made contributions to the early movement against sexual harassment, instead choosing to give most of the credit to white women, particularly MacKinnon. In so doing, she overlooks much of the richness of the early movement’s incredible story of resistance that transformed sexually coercive workplace behavior into a federal civil rights violation across the United States in a relatively short period of time.
Carrie N. Baker, JD, Ph.D, is professor and chair of the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College and writes on women’s social movements and legal rights. She recently published Fighting the US Youth Sex Trade: Gender, Race and Politics and has a forthcoming book, “Sexual Harassment Law: History, Cases, and Practice” with Jennifer Ann Drobac and Rigel Oliveri. She is currently writing a book on systemic reproductive coercion in the United States. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Putting #MeToo in Context
A critique, common in liberal op-ed pages and during Very Concerned lefty debates, that drives me up the wall: #MeToo should really focus on complicit systems. Taking down individual bad men isn’t enough.
No shit. The movement against sexual harassment, which started long before 2017, has always been about dismantling misogynistic institutions in pursuit of justice and equality. Sometimes, yes, that means outing a Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer, but never as the end goal of feminist ambition. Linda Hirshman’s Reckoning is a corrective, illuminating #MeToo’s place as a critical moment in a complex history but not, as much contemporary coverage suggests, the whole story. That fuller, richer tale of a long civil rights movement, driven by intellectual heavy hitters and strategic organizers, is far more compelling.
Hirshman, whose deep knowledge and distinct viewpoint are undeniable, reminds us of another reason to be wary of arguments from the left that conveniently deflect attention from bad men: We are surrounded by “frenemies,” to use her word. Reckoning’s most important contribution, as I see it, is to highlight the ways harassment has been enabled not only by obvious antifeminists on the right but by our own so-called comrades in politics, law, and the academy.
On this point Hirshman is indisputably right. I disagree with her, though, about who qualifies as an enemy. In my view, Reckoning lumps together those who abuse women, like Bill Clinton, or hate them, like Katie Roiphe, with those who share the goal of gender justice but disagree with Hirshman about how to get there. Hirshman’s politics and tactics certainly differ from sex-positive third wavers and the anticensorship feminists who defended pornography, two camps she criticizes at length. But the debates that drive those distinctions are more difficult and interesting than, say, whether college women deserve to be raped, a la Roiphe. In other words, that some of your friends are in fact enemies does not mean that friends must always agree.
To this I would imagine Hirshman would stand strong that defenders of pornography are no truer friends than Clinton. That is her prerogative, and there is of course room for disagreement as to who is too far gone to remain in the tent. But an oversimplified narrative of historical feminist conflict results in a misdiagnosis of my generation and this moment. I deeply appreciate Hirshman’s recognition of blogging and youth organizing against school sexual assault—my feminist upbringing—as parts of that long history of resistance and as precursors to #MeToo. I think she is wrong, though, to see us as squarely on her side of intrafeminist conflict and to declare that recent #MeToo victories delivered the “libertine” parts of the movement to the “dustbin of history.” The historical divides between equality and libertarian camps no longer strictly hold, if they ever did. Much antiviolence work is led by sex workers or those who support decriminalization. Resistance to assault is understood as necessary for equality, yes, and also as protective of pleasure; after all, you cannot join the fun if the cost is rape. The organizing spaces and blogs I have navigated are full of diverse views on pornography, almost all more positive than my own, which is in turn more positive than Hirshman’s.
This is all to say that Hirshman is correct that the movement has embraced her camp’s prioritization of ending violence against women, but it has synthesized those commitments with other values championed by different feminist traditions. Perhaps Hirshman would see that as watered-down feminism. But I think it’s pretty exciting.
Reckoning Makes It Plain
Tara L. Conley
I’ll admit, when #MeToo comes to mind, I don’t think about legal precedents. I think about Tarana Burke and about the erasure of Black women and girls in public discourse. I think about revisiting Black women’s history during the latter part of the twentieth century to look for connections between past social movements and the current moment, when hashtags locate Black women’s stories. I care about these histories and stories because I want Black women and girls to be seen in the era of #MeToo.
Linda Hirshman’s Reckoning: The Epic Battle against Sexual Abuse and Harassment wants readers to confront not only the cultural history of sexual abuse and harassment in the United States but also the legal and political battles women waged against American institutions. The “war on three fronts” that Hirshman outlines in the book gives a multidimensional perspective on America’s sordid social history. At present, it looks like we are reckoning with this history as America’s most powerful people are being held accountable. However, Reckoning reminds us that the battle to win the war against systemic abuse rages on.
Reckoning works backwards to show how we’ve arrived at the current #MeToo moment. By telling the stories of Tanya Harrell and Anita Hill, Hirshman puts a human face on the litigation process and the justice system. Readers also learn about Paulette Barnes, a Black female payroll clerk who was first person in the United States to bring a sexual harassment case when she sued the Environmental Protection Agency in 1974. In telling these stories, Hirshman also narrates the impact of Catharine MacKinnon’s and Carol Moseley Braun’s landmark legal work across three decades. This early history of women’s advocacy marks a prelude to third-wave feminist activism. Toward the end of Reckoning, we understand how hashtag activism has become emblematic of a refreshed feminist movement.
Reckoning is also a reminder that the #MeToo moment has been brewing for quite some time. Hirshman presents a chronology of legal and cultural moments during the late twentieth century that builds up to the most notorious episode concerning sexual harassment in US history, Anita Hill versus Clarence Thomas. By chapter 5, we realize why Hill ended up as collateral damage in the American political spectacle of the 1990s. Historically, federal laws and institutional practices were not set up to protect Black women in the workplace. In fact, they ended up shielding men like Harvey Weinstein, whose predatory behavior was in plain sight for forty years. Weinstein is a mainstay in Reckoning. He has been eerily present in this history; his influence has been enmeshed in American liberal institutions for decades, and Hirshman wants readers to get that.
Reckoning also highlights the critical role of American journalism in exposing high-profile abusers who represent powerful institutions, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the White House to Hollywood. Ultimately, Hirshman shows that sexual abuse and harassment in the United States don’t occur in a vacuum.
Reckoning is timely but not necessarily timeless. It presents an aerial view of sexual abuse and harassment cases across contexts that have been widely covered in mainstream press. Reckoning is not a book that offers a deep critical analysis of race and #MeToo. Those books are still being written. But it does call attention to Black women’s vulnerability and how multiple aspects of their identities have historically positioned them precariously and pitted them against both the state and Black men (with powerful white lawyers). Reckoning makes a point of showing how white women in high privileged positions, including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, placed the burden of confronting systemic abuses onto Black working-class women. Hirshman doesn’t shy away from addressing white feminism’s betrayal of Black women in the twentieth century. In that sense, the book serves as a necessary blueprint of lessons to learn. And for that alone, Reckoning is worth the read.
Tara L. Conley is an assistant professor of communication and media. She’s published scholarship and produced media projects on Black feminist digital cultures and critical transmedia storytelling. In 2013, she founded Hashtag Feminism as a way to locate and archive feminist discourse across the web. For more on Conley’s work and projects, visit www.taralconley.org.
Linda Hirshman’s Epic Battle against Sexual Freedom
#MeToo erupted. We were thrilled. Until we remembered that feminists named sexual harassment almost fifty years ago and were organizing against it a hundred years before that. Why are we still dealing with this shit?
Hoping history might offer an answer, I turned to Linda Hirshman’s Reckoning: The Epic Battle against Sexual Harassment.
Instead of a credible answer, I got a morality tale: the story of an epic battle between two feminisms, the “libertines” (a.k.a. “pro-sex” or “sex-positive” feminists) versus those struggling for real equality. According to Hirshman, the libertines were winning—until now.
As Hirshman tells it, the picture looked promising in the 1970s. Cornell professor Lin Farley and her consciousness-raising group conceived the term “sexual harassment.” A few brave women, all African American, came forward about their mistreatment by male supervisors and coworkers (this is the most important historical contribution of Reckoning). The legal theorist Catharine MacKinnon appeared like Joan of Arc to lead a benighted judiciary to understand how sex-discrimination law could be deployed against harassment.
But just as women were about to gain dignity and equality at work, the libertines intervened. A conspiracy of pro-sex feminists, philandering male politicians, and First Amendment fetishists in pursuit of “easy access to sex” and unfettered free speech defended or ignored adulterers and harassers (moral equivalents, it seems) and, worst of all, pornography. So thoroughly did they pollute American political culture that harassment had free rein and gender equality no chance of survival.
Hirshman is harder on hypocritical Democrats (the “ass grabbing party,” she called them in a recent tweet) who vote for abortion rights yet cheat on their wives than she is on honest Republican woman-haters. Ousted Minnesota senator Al Franken gets four pages, Alabama judge Roy Moore, a half-sentence. And no one, not even Harvey Weinstein, comes across as more destructive than Bill Clinton.
A chapter on the Lewinsky scandal (Hirshman portrays Monica as both a ditz and a victim) is followed by a chapter called “Life among the Ruins of the Feminist Collision with Bill Clinton.” We’re still in those ruins, apparently: Bill’s shenanigans lost Hillary the election, but maybe Hillary deserved it for standing by her man. That cigar in the vagina (it seems) led to the Trump presidency.
By now you may be asking, “If libertines created the culture that condones harassment, why is sexual violence more prevalent in repressive cultures? Where are the libertine Taliban? Why are the Russians beating up queers? What about the abuses of women workers during the Victorian Era, a century before the Sexual Revolution was a twinkle in Hugh Hefner’s eye?”
You may also wonder, “Can’t women have both sexual liberation and equality?”
No, says Hirshman, because sexual liberation—in fact, sex—is the manifestation of masculine domination and feminine subjugation: “The male sexual role. . . centers on aggressive intrusion on those with less power,” Hirshman quotes MacKinnon. “Such acts of dominance are experienced . . . as sex itself. They therefore are [sex itself].”
If sex is aggressive male intrusion, then more and “easier” sex means more intrusive aggression—like sexual harassment. And if sexual harassment is the natural behavior of Homo erectus, then there’s nothing to do but contain men’s sexuality (ban pornography) and lock the miscreants up.
For a lawyer, Hirshman is disturbingly unconcerned with the politicization of the courts and dismissive of civil libertarian worries about due process. She praises the successful recall campaign against California judge Aaron Persky, who gave what critics perceived to be too lenient a sentence to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student convicted of sexually penetrating a woman with his fingers while she was passed out drunk. “Why should the judiciary be immune from politics?” she asks rhetorically. She applauds New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s preemptive strike against Franken, in which she lobbied Democrats to pressure him to resign before an ethics committee hearing could be held—a move a number of those erstwhile allies later regretted.
Hirshman clearly thinks the law lets sexual harm doers off too easy, but also clearly has no idea—or perhaps concern—about how harsh sex-offense penalties are. Turner, for one, must register as a sex offender for life. She has suggested elsewhere that sexual self-discipline is the only route to equality. But abolitionist feminists like Angela Davis exhort us to challenge the violence of the punitive state as vigorously as we challenge gender violence. And, as feminists from Emma Goldman to adrienne marie brown have insisted, there is no gender equality without equal sexual freedom and no worthy social revolution without space for pleasure.
To end sexual harassment we need strong labor unions committed to the rights of women, queers, and people of color; restorative justice; and a culture of sexual mutuality. We can’t get justice for women at the cost of injustice to men. And we can’t end harassment by ending sex.
Judith Levine is a writer and activist whose work focuses on sex, gender, justice, and pleasure. Her fifth book, “The Feminist and the Sex Offender: Confronting Harm, Ending State Violence,” coauthored with Erica R. Meiners, will be published by Verso in 2020.
Thank you, commentators, for engaging with Reckoning. Although unstinting praise would have been more welcome, I’m used to resistance. When I wrote, in 2004, that educated women should not quit their jobs and stay home with their children, my critics made a website, “Everybody Hates Linda.”
Whatever the mistakes, the best starting place is how essential the history and analysis is. Abolition did not start at Fort Sumter. Gay rights didn’t start at Stonewall. #MeToo did not start in 2017 with the New York Times. Denying the decades of movement history discourages the activism that makes real social change. Alexandra Brodsky says it right: “Linda Hirshman’s Reckoning is a corrective, illuminating #MeToo’s place as a critical moment in a complex history but not … the whole story. That fuller, richer tale of a long civil rights movement, driven by intellectual heavy hitters and strategic organizers, is far more compelling.”
There will be lots of #MeToo books. But only Reckoning tells the whole history. As Tara Conley describes it, Reckoning “wants readers to confront … the legal and political battles women waged against American institutions” and serves as “a reminder that the #MeToo movement has been brewing for quite some time.” Meet McDonald’s employee Tanya Harrell, the 1970s heroines, Paulette Barnes (the black payroll clerk who was the first sexual harassment plaintiff), Catharine MacKinnon and Carol Moseley Braun, Anita Hill, and the journalists from 1972 to last week.
Along the way, the “long civil rights movement” we call feminism moved through history, fighting, among other battles, against sexual abuse and harassment. In that history, the movement faced a deep divide between individual sexual freedom and collective gender equality. Any movement in the Enlightenment West is going to face some version of that tension. That’s why the individualistic branch of liberalism is called “classical liberalism” and the egalitarian branch, a version of utilitarianism, is called just “liberalism.” In liberalism, we have nondiscrimination versus affirmative action, free markets versus progressive taxation. In feminism, sexual revolution versus sexual regulation.
Judith Levine pejoratively calls my report a “morality tale.” Partly because I don’t equate all morality with traditional sexual morality, I don’t think “morality” is scary. Political morality asks real questions: Do social arrangements enable humans to realize their capacities? Do they allow enough freedom to make life worth living? Do they do more good than harm?
At the outset, the sexual revolution looked both freer and more egalitarian than entrapment in the single-family dwelling, so the stresses were masked. But being liberated into a lawless sexual world with men—larger, stronger, and richer—women and girls found they were not just liberated. They were also oppressed, harassed, and abused in the free new space. (Since most, but not all, of the reckoning involved sex between men and women, I am focused on that relationship. Some of this applies to LGBTQ relations and some does not.)
In the seventies, the sexual revolution coexisted with feminism, a movement for equality that challenged the abuse. The secular solution is often law, so early developments were legal initiatives to expand the Civil Rights Act and the laws against rape. As part of the sexual revolution, pornography—some of which portrayed women being harassed, abused, and raped—had just started to filter into the mainstream. Unsurprisingly, the forces concerned with women’s equality turned to the law to push back. But unlike the initiatives against sexual harassment and rape, the use of law to regulate pornography jet fueled the freedom branch of feminism.
Applying ordinary political analysis to these arguments, I concluded at the time that pornography was a bad fight to pick because it invoked legitimate concerns with freedom of expression. As I foresaw, the liberationists won handily. But the legacy of the porn wars looked a little different to me as I revisited it in Reckoning. The freedom-loving opponents of regulation did not stop at the free speech issue; some feminist pornography defenders framed sex as immune to political analysis. To quote the ACLU’s Nadine Strossen, as I do in Reckoning, “violent pornography expresses something about the sometimes extreme nature of sexual ecstasy and the fantasies we experience in having sex.”
The liberationists were parroting the arguments against laws like the Civil Rights Act. The trial judges in the first suits were explicit about sex being immune from law. What was this complaint about a boss asking for sex doing in federal court? the trial judge asked in the first case. Sex is a private relationship, unrelated to issues of gender discrimination. After upholding that the law applies to sexual harassment in the first successful Supreme Court case, the court then decided, five to four, that the employer was not automatically liable for its employee’s harassing behavior. Washington, DC, Circuit Judge Robert Bork (yes, that Bork) had teed it up for the Supreme Court. Sex is an inherently lawless arena of human conduct, Bork suggested, that cannot be shoehorned into the rule of law. We cannot, the Supreme Court then ruled, stick the employers with keeping this volatile realm of behavior under control in the workplace. In defending pornography, some feminists of good will lent their voices to the argument that sex is beyond social judgment.
In 1998, feminism again confronted how to treat liberated sex under conditions of inequality when the president undertook sexual relations with a twenty-two-year-old intern. I do not think that women like Gloria Steinem, who led the defense of Bill Clinton, are in the same category as Bill Clinton or as date rape denier Katie Roiphe. However, Steinem did write suggesting Clinton’s treatment of women was no different from insensitivity toward an imaginary “environmentalist,” a mind-boggling obliviousness to the content and meaning of sexual politics. What, exactly, might a president privately do to an environmentalist like the radically unequal transaction with Monica Lewinsky? Fill their tank with high-leaded gasoline? Worse, she continued, Clinton’s other requests for sex—from a grieving political supporter or a random state employee to whom he showed his penis—were not “sexual harassment” but rather “gross, dumb and reckless pass[es].” So I am unwilling to give her a pass.
What did she do wrong? She defended defecting liberal allies. I am not interested in Ken Starr. I am not even interested in Donald Trump. I agree with Judith Levine that Bill Clinton is better than the Taliban. Congratulations, Bill. The Taliban. Are. The. Enemy. The Republican Party attack abortion rights and dropped the Equal Rights Amendment from its platform in 1980! They need to be defeated, not mollified. When we turn to our allies, liberal men like Joe Biden or Bill Clinton or Al Franken, they are not the enemy but, as Princess Leia said to Obi-Wan, our only hope. Hauling them across the line to women’s freedom—and equality—is the necessary condition of the feminist movement. Every time liberal men let us down, the movement dies a little. We need to conscript them, not protect them.
When feminists exonerate the guys because “it’s only sex,” or because sex should not be judged by ordinary political morality like prohibitions on unwanted touching, they do more harm than when nonfeminists do. Steinem was the closest thing feminism had to an official spokesperson. Suddenly, my welcome criticism of Clinton made me the turd in the punch bowl.
I hope Brodsky is right that the next generation of feminists can finesse the conflict between sexual freedom and gender equality. But that divide is not so easily bridged. The background social power of men operates in the arena of sex the same way it operates in pay or promotion. And if you recognize the role of men’s superior power, then sexual relations with them always poses an equality problem. It can be overcome or ameliorated, but bracket pornography and you’ll just find the inequality problem popping up somewhere else.
My long life in American political philosophy also tells me that you can never overestimate the credit due to women of color. So if I have failed to convince Carrie Baker, it’s on me. I opened and ended with Tanya Harrell, the black low-wage employee in the lawsuit against McDonald’s brought by TIMES UP. I spent an entire day with Kimberlé Crenshaw, and the section on “Sex and Race” was heavily informed by our conversation. I will make this more explicit in the paperback. Similarly, I describe the incomparable Eleanor Holmes Norton as “the liberal black feminist … who had been following the sex harassment movement from the early 1970s to her agency’s [the EEOC’s] recent guidelines.” I was conversant with fugitive slave narratives, and I put Harriet Jacobs’s classic Life of a Slave Girl front and center. I tried everything to get Paulette Barnes to sit for an interview. She would not. Similarly, Mechelle Vinson, who had not spoken to the press in decades. I hope my extended portraits of them did them justice. And when I could not pin down the individuals involved in the litigation themselves, I thought that providing the social history of black migration to DC would add an unexplored element to the story.
Obviously in such a short book I could not possibly explore the whole widespread and brilliant world of resistance. Concentrating on what jet fueled the movement kept me focused on the Cornell Supreme Court cases, presidential elections, and the like. One key development was MacKinnon’s creation of the legal theory of harassment that was used the landmark Barnes decision. I will never apologize for chronicling her role in this history.
Levine tags me with “ending sex” because I think the ordinary legal protections against unwanted physical contact and discrimination should apply to sex, like any other human transaction. Levine has a lot of good things to say about, for instance, effective sex education. But in the book Harmful to Minors, which put her on the public stage, she praises a (short-lived) Dutch law that lowered the age of consent to twelve (though it allowed twelve- to sixteen-year-olds to seek legal recourse if they felt exploited). Most of the space in her argument is devoted to an anecdote about of a happy thirteen-year-old with her happy twenty-one-year-old boyfriend. Stories do not qualify as evidence in making a public policy argument for allowing sex with thirteen-year-olds.
The actual data she cites does, of course, turn up some happy teens. Libertines always make the same preemptive argument: if one person is harmed or deterred from sexual satisfaction, the fate of the protected class counts for naught. It’s a move mainstream philosophers rejected centuries ago. That it still gets made doesn’t mean it’s right, it means that the person making it does not adequately count the suffering of the victims.
So, with Monica Lewinsky, I think I was right in being against feminist orthodoxy even while criticizing other women or our liberal so-called allies. I always keep my eye on the most important element in women’s lives and their dealings with the men, amongst whom they ineluctably must live: Who has the power here? How did that quitting and depending on powerful, wage-earning husband work out for the women of “Everybody Hates Linda?” Check the literature on men and housework.
The “Epic Battle” of my subtitle was, indeed, a battle. It’s not over, but it can teach us a lot about how to win. It’s history: pace Santayana, read and repeat.
Linda Hirshman is a lawyer, a cultural historian, and the author of Reckoning: The Epic Battle against Sexual Abuse and Harassment. She also wrote the New York Times and Washington Post bestseller Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World and other works of social history, including, Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. Sisters in Law the play, adapted from her book by Jonathan Shapiro, is now playing at the Wallis Annenberg Theater in Los Angeles.
She received her JD from the University of Chicago Law School and her PhD in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She practiced law for fifteen years and was part of three cases decided by the Supreme Court, including Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (1986). She has taught philosophy and women’s studies at Brandeis University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Time, Slate, Newsweek, the Daily Beast, and POLITICO. She lives in Arizona and New York City.