Marlee Kline Lecture in Social Justice

The CFLS is excited to announce this year’s Marlee Kline Lecture in Social Justice, presented by Constance Backhouse:

Canada’s First Lesbian Sexual Assault Trial

Canada’s first criminal prosecution to charge a lesbian for indecent assault contains many surprises. Find out why it took place in Yellowknife NWT, why it occurred in 1955, who was involved, and all the other details behind this riveting story from our historical past.

marlee_klineThe annual Marlee Kline Lecture in Social Justice honours the memory of Marlee Gayle Kline. This lectureship reflects Marlee’s belief in the central role social justice concerns must play in legal education and law. In recent years we have welcomed such esteemed presenters and Kim Pate, Coleen Flood, and Bonnie Sherr Kline, to name just a few.


We are fortunate and very excited to welcome this year’s speaker, Professor Constance Backhouse of the University of dsc_0173Ottawa. Professor Backhouse’s books on the legal history of gender and race have been recognized by the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the Governor General’s Person’s Medal, and several honorary doctorates.

Event details:

Wednesday, November 9th, 6:00pm

(one hour lecture, followed by reception)

DLA Piper Canada Hall (Allard Hall room 104)

*This lecture qualifies for 1 CPD credit.

Marlee G. Kline Essay Prize

heather1Congratulations to Heather Burley, winner of the 2016 Marlee G. Kline Essay Prize!  Heather receives this award in recognition of her paper entitled “Intersectional Feminist Legal Theory And Sexual Assault: Gender, Race and Class in R v Barton”. Check out the Allard School of Law’s profile of Heather to learn more about the Marlee G. Kline Essay Prize and this years winner:

The Centre for Feminist Legal Studies at the Allard School of Law gives out a number of student awards each year for feminist work and thought. This year’s winners – Heather Burley, Kaja Marinic (who both graduated in May 2016) and Rumana Monzur, (entering third year) – are all actively involved in feminist causes and passionate about their work. In this interview with Heather, we learn about what inspires her and her plans for the future. 

Introducing Professor Debra Parkes

Welcome, Professor Debra Parkes!

Welcome, Professor Debra Parkes

The CFLS is pleased to introduce Professor Debra Parkes, who has joined the Peter A. Allard School of Law as Chair in Feminist Legal Studies, as of July 1 2016. The Chair plays a leadership role at Allard Hall, as well as nationally and internationally, in fostering feminist research networks, mentoring JD and graduate students, and contributing to feminist scholarship addressing a range of issues. In this role, Debra will continue to build on the remarkable work of Professor Emerita Susan B. Boyd, the first incumbent of the Chair and Director of the Centre from 1997–2012. Professors Janine Benedet and Isabel Grant will continue as Co-Directors of the CFLS until January 1, 2017, at which time Professor Parkes will begin a three-year term as Director.

As a student at UBC Law School in the mid-1990s, Professor Parkes benefitted first-hand from the support of the CFLS. The Centre provided an opportunity to interact with academics, lawyers, and community leaders who were making a difference on feminist issues. In her time in practice following law school, as well as during the past 15 years as an academic, Professor Parkes has lent her expertise to such key feminist legal organizations as (to name only a few):

  • Canadian Journal of Women and the Law (as Editor-in-Chief from 2009-2013)
  • Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
  • National Association of Women and the Law
  • Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba

Professor Parkes’ particular research interests relate to the criminalization and imprisonment of women. She has published widely in this and other areas. She is a regular commentator in the media and contributor to judicial education and continuing legal education seminars. Students will be excited to know that Professor Parkes is looking forward to dropping into the Marlee Kline room regularly for tea and conversation, and that she is delighted to be teaching LAW 307 Women, Law & Social Change in Fall 2016.

The Centre is very much looking forward to this new chapter in Professor Parkes’ capable hands, and would like to extend a very warm welcome to her from our community!

To learn more about Professor Parkes’ background, specific research interests, and what she’s looking forward to at UBC, see here for a Q&A.

The CFLS Goes to Taiwan

CFLS Co-director Janine Benedet visited Taiwan in April 2016 at the invitation of Professor Chao-ju Chen of National Taiwan University Law School.  Professor Chen is one of Taiwan’s leading feminist legal scholars and a member of the CFLS International Advisory Board and former CFLS Visiting Scholar.  While in Taiwan, Professor Benedet presented two lectures at NTU on rape law and prostitution law reform in Canada.  She then traveled from Taipei to the city of Tainan and repeated her rape law lecture at National Cheng Kung University.  She also participated in roundtables and presentations at three leading NGO’s, the Garden of Hope Foundation, the Awakening Foundation, and the Taiwan Women’s Rescue Foundation.

Janine Benedet visiting the historic neighbourhood of Taipei.

Janine Benedet visiting the historic neighbourhood of Taipei.


Taiwan is grappling with many of the same legal issues as Canada, although there are some key differences.  With regard to sexual assault, Taiwan is currently very interested in reforming age of consent laws, which do not admit of close-in-age exceptions, an issue of concern to Garden of Hope, which focuses on the sexual exploitation of youth.  Adultery remains a criminal offence in Taiwan, something the Awakening Foundation, Taiwan’s oldest feminist organization, is campaigning to change, since the prohibition can be used by abusive men as a tool of coercive control against their spouses.  The Taiwan Women’s Rescue Foundation is currently working to raise awareness of the abuse of Taiwanese so-called “comfort women” as well as to combat the phenomenon of “revenge porn” which is not yet criminalized in Taiwan.  There was also much discussion of the election of Taiwan’s first woman President, and concern that she would not bring a feminist analysis to issues of concern to women.  The visit was an amazing opportunity and we look forward to continued collaboration with feminist legal scholars and activists in Taiwan.

Taiwanese students' temple prayers for good exam results.

Taiwanese students’ temple prayers for good exam results.

Special Issue – Canadian Journal of Women and the Law

Our dedicated readers may remember this blog post from June 9, 2014, which covered a workshop entitled “Men’s Groups: Challenging Feminism”. Two years later, we are excited to announce the product of that workshop! This special issue of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes et Droit, co-edited by Susan B. Boyd and Elizabeth Sheehy, Volume 28, Issue 1, April 2016 is entitled Men’s Groups: Challenging Feminism / Groupes masculinistes : défier le féminisme.


The workshop, organized by Susan Boyd, then Chair in Feminist Legal Studies, was held May 26-27, 2014 and the CFLS was co-sponsor, as was Allard Law. Feminist and pro-feminist scholars in multiple disciplines from Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, and Taiwan gathered at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC.

The objective was to address a modern source of resistance to feminism: organizations acting in the name of men’s and fathers’ rights and interests. These groups argue that men are discriminated against in relation to law (especially family law and laws on violence against women), education, and government funding. Another objective was to provide an opportunity for self-examination, update, and creativity to support the advancement of feminist theories and strategies. Two key issues explored were: (1) how men’s group actions in different countries and at the international level engage with, and discursively construct, feminism and (2) lessons for the feminist movement, nationally and globally; historically and currently, from the arguably growing the legitimacy of men’s groups. Not all such groups are conservative or overtly anti-feminist, but many are, some vitriolicly so, seeking a return to some perceived pre-feminist world of traditional gender roles and family values. They use various sites of struggle, including law reform debates, cyberspace, and the media, to present their views. They also appear at public venues such as courts and government buildings and often use banners and/or self-present as superhero characters. Complicating the picture, men’s rights and fathers’ rights groups often include women, who are sometimes the spokespersons.

The special issue features papers by a range of authors from Australia, England, Israel, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United States.  A companion special issue will soon be published as (2016) 5:2 International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy.