Bodily Privacy, Toilets, and Sex Discrimination: The Problem of "Manhood" in a Women's Prison

In Olga Gershenson Barbara Penner (ed.), Ladies and Gents. pp. 90 (2009)
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Unjustifiable assumptions about sex and gender roles, the untamable potency of maleness, and gynophobic notions about women's bodies inform and influence a broad range of policy-making institutions in this society. In December 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit continued this ignoble cultural pastime when they decided Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections. In this decision, the Everson Court accepted the Michigan Department of Correction's claim that “the very manhood” of male prison guards both threatens the safety of female inmates and violates the women's “special sense of privacy in their genitals” and declared that sex-specific employment policies for prison guards is not impermissibly discriminatory. I believe that the Court's decision relies on unacceptable stereotypes about sex, gender and sexuality and it significantly undermines Title VII's power to end discriminatory employment practices

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Jami L. Anderson
University of Michigan - Flint


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