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.

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Let’s Talk About Changing the System

On Thursday, June 16, three panelists, including our very own Janine Benedet, will explore the fallout from the Jian Ghomeshi verdict and discuss how legal, policing and community systems can better support survivors of sexual assault and violence. The panel discussion will begin at 6:15pm, following the YWCA Annual General Meeting.*

*Only interested in attending the public event? No problem! Feel free to arrive at 5:45 for refreshments.

See the poster for event details. Click here for more information on the panelists and to register!

The Ghomeshi Verdict: What's Next

The Ghomeshi Verdict: What’s Next


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by | May 20, 2016 · 10:40 am

Annual Celebration of Feminist Research 2016

Last Wednesday, March 23rd, the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies held its Annual Celebration of Feminist Research!

This year, the Centre was proud to launch the report, “Risk of Future Harm: Family Violence and Information Sharing Between Family and Criminal Courts”, authored by Donna Martinson (Former Justice, BC Supreme Court, and Honourary Visitor to the CFLS) and Margaret Jackson (Director, FREDA Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children, and Professor Emerita of Criminology at Simon Fraser University). The report can be accessed online here.



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Recording: Buttedahl Memorial Lecture with Shelagh Day

Buttedahl Memorial Lecture 2016

The 2016 Paz and Knute Buttedahl Memorial Lecture took place Thursday, March 10, 2016, co-sponsored by UBC’s Department of Educational Studies and the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies.

The lecture featured Shelagh Day, speaking on “The National Inquiry on Murders and Disappearances of Indigenous Women and Girls: What Is It? How Should It Work?”.

The recorded lecture is now available online and there is also a list of resources available for follow-up.

If anyone would like to contribute to the Buttedahl fund, you can donate online.


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An Intergenerational Conversation: the 2016 Equality Breakfast


By Professor Emerita Susan Boyd

Several members of the CFLS and Allard School of Law attended West Coast LEAF’s 2016 Equality Breakfast early on March 11th, including several at the Dean’s table. This breakfast is a great opportunity to celebrate women’s equality and to think about working together for equality. It’s also a chance for students, faculty and staff to meet up with Allard Law alumni, many of whom are involved in West Coast LEAF’s work. Of special note this year, the new Women’s Legal Clinic (a collaboration between Allard School of Law and West Coast LEAF) was proudly announced.

This year’s invited speakers were Michele Landsberg, renowned Canadian feminist journalist, and her daughter Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, a labour and human rights lawyer who is now Executive Director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which works on HIV/AIDS in Africa. The lively inter-generational conversation between Michele and Ilana was facilitated by Erica Johnson, a reporter for Go Public and EMCEE for the 2016 Equality Breakfast.

Michele and Ilana provided a passionate “reality check” for those who think or hope that having a Prime Minister who calls himself a feminist and who plans to put a woman on our currency is sufficient cause for celebration. They emphasized the urgency of holding the government accountable and pushing it to deal with the many difficult complex issues confronting women today, including the fact that public childcare is crucial and has still not been offered. These women were not afraid to use the word ‘socialist’ and to name capitalism as a key source of the systemic inequalities facing women that must be challenged. They also noted the disparagement of trade unions that has occurred and linked their demise to women’s economic inequality. Ilana spoke to the global crises facing young women, including climate change and economic inequalities. She applauded the ways in which young feminists and social justice activists fight across a range of issues and take the interaction of systems of oppression into account in their work.

Asked about the Ghomeshi trial, both women were sharply critical of a legal system where it seems that women complainants appear to be on trial rather than the accused man. While being pessimistic about the ability of the criminal justice system to deal with rape, Michele and Ilana were also inspired by the public conversation about sexual assault that has occurred. Michele noted that so many things have changed during her lifetime for the better, and this intelligent public discourse on rape is an example.

The conversation ended on a theme of the importance of finding ways to work across differences amongst feminists. Michele and Ilana emphasized that we cannot afford divisions any longer because the stakes are so high. Although debate and disagreement within feminist groups is healthy and inevitable, it needs to be conducted respectfully and in a manner that keeps lines of cooperation open. Michele spoke to the need for a national women’s organization. Finally, both women underlined the importance of more women being in leadership positions and the responsibilities that come with such positions, including the need to consult with the communities that are involved in the issues being tackled, such as the inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

Overall, we came away with a sense that much has been achieved but so much remains to be done. The need for feminist approaches remains clear, as does the need for feminists to raise children with feminist values and a commitment to social justice. Both Michele and Ilana are doing precisely that.

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