Legal Values: Law in the #Me Too Era

Quick Info
(3593B.03)  Seminar
Professor H. Matthews
3 credit(s)  2 hour(s);
Community-based participatory workshops; mini-lectures; guest writing workshops; student presentations; in-class discussions. It is expected that this seminar will be taught in three-hour classes over a nine-week period beginning January 17, 2022.
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

Societies tell us a lot about themselves by how they struggle over sex. Over the last four years, the MeToo movement has inspired intense public discussion about cultural, institutional, and legal attitudes and approaches to questions of sexual misconduct, assault, and harassment. We are witnessing nothing short of the revaluation of the kinds of sex that are considered socially and politically valuable. These debates have had, and continue to have, profound legal effects, prompting calls for law reform and policy shifts in jurisdictions all over the world. From sexual assault reform to consent training to on-campus sexual violence adjudication procedures and beyond, we are in a moment of change. This seminar will examine and critically evaluate case studies of specific advocacy and activist projects and their impacts on public and private investments, law reform and adjudication. We will look at how MeToo has shifted how arguments are made in formal court and the court of public opinion. Starting from the position that law and social attitudes mutually influence and constitute one another, we will weigh the costs and benefits of the movement from the perspective of a variety of constituencies, asking throughout how – and to whom – power has been redistributed.

This seminar has been selected as an e-Learning Pilot at the Law School and will be delivered using an entirely remote format. Part of the seminar will pursue an innovative new methodology that will tie together the thematic focus of law reform and MeToo with a research creation process rooted in feminist epistemology. As part of this new approach, students will join actors in the MeToo movement to conduct virtual focus groups to create knowledge together. Using non-hierarchical methods that seek to de-centre discourses and practices of expertise this part of the course will critically engage whether the MeToo movement is advancing its transformational goals.