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1 SOCI3085(Winter) 1. 1. Course Administration essays - are you still working on these? in-class current events presentations.

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Presentation on theme: "1 SOCI3085(Winter) 1. 1. Course Administration essays - are you still working on these? in-class current events presentations."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 SOCI3085(Winter) 1. 1. Course Administration essays - are you still working on these? in-class current events presentations

2 2 2. Shaffer - The Battered Woman Syndrome Revisited 1990 - R. v. Lavellee and the Supreme Court 1990 - R. v. Lavellee and the Supreme Court position taken that evidence of wife-battering position taken that evidence of wife-battering could be relevant in establishing self-defence could be relevant in establishing self-defence for women charged with murdering their for women charged with murdering their abusive partners abusive partners note concerns with this defence potentially note concerns with this defence potentially leading to depiction of women as ‘pathological’ leading to depiction of women as ‘pathological’ or to negative stereotyping as only a certain or to negative stereotyping as only a certain ‘type’ of woman being allowed access to this ‘type’ of woman being allowed access to this defence defence

3 3 background background - Lavellee in common-law relationship with Rust Rust - shot Rust in back of head as he was leaving bedroom to return to a party elsewhere in the bedroom to return to a party elsewhere in the house house - claimed she was only trying to scare him - long history of abuse - Rust had threatened to kill her after the party if she didn’t kill him first if she didn’t kill him first - case rested on interpretation of S. 34(2) of the Criminal Code Criminal Code

4 4 key questions/concerns around interpretation of key questions/concerns around interpretation of 34(2): (1) must the threat be ‘imminent’ in an 34(2): (1) must the threat be ‘imminent’ in an immediate sense, or is anticipation of an attack immediate sense, or is anticipation of an attack sufficient, given other evidence, and sufficient, given other evidence, and (2) the accused had no other reasonable means (2) the accused had no other reasonable means available to deter, defend against or escape from available to deter, defend against or escape from the attack the attack Dr. Fred Shane and the explication of Dr. Fred Shane and the explication of ‘battered woman syndrome’ - learned helplessness ‘battered woman syndrome’ - learned helplessness and prediction of the cycle of violence and prediction of the cycle of violence

5 5 Lavallee acquitted at trial, but acquittal overturned Lavallee acquitted at trial, but acquittal overturned by Manitoba Court of Appeal on technical grounds by Manitoba Court of Appeal on technical grounds that Shane’s testimony should not have been that Shane’s testimony should not have been admitted at trial, as a component of ‘self-defence’, admitted at trial, as a component of ‘self-defence’, which the Appeal justices did not believe was a which the Appeal justices did not believe was a reasonable defence given the circumstances, but reasonable defence given the circumstances, but recommended instead a charge of manslaughter recommended instead a charge of manslaughter (I.e. provocation) (I.e. provocation) Supreme Court of Canada restored Lavallee Supreme Court of Canada restored Lavallee acquittal, ruling Shane’s testimony admissable, acquittal, ruling Shane’s testimony admissable, and relevant to interpretation of S. 34(2) and relevant to interpretation of S. 34(2)

6 6 Shaffer - the Lavallee decision as a ‘conundrum’ Shaffer - the Lavallee decision as a ‘conundrum’ for feminists? for feminists? - positive in addressing the unusual nature of domestic violence, and women’s vulnerability domestic violence, and women’s vulnerability and limited means to deter/prevent severe and limited means to deter/prevent severe physical violence physical violence - e.g. R. v. Whynot (1983) - jane Whynot Stafford and Billy Stafford Stafford and Billy Stafford - brought attention to the whole issue of spousal/partner abuse spousal/partner abuse

7 7 however, the downside may be the portrayal of however, the downside may be the portrayal of battered women as suffering from a ‘syndrome’ battered women as suffering from a ‘syndrome’ or condition, undermining women’s ability to or condition, undermining women’s ability to portray themselves as rational and capable actors portray themselves as rational and capable actors the depiction of battered women as the depiction of battered women as ‘psychologically damaged’, as somehow ‘psychologically damaged’, as somehow responsible for the battering as a result of their responsible for the battering as a result of their condition condition the depiction of women as ‘helpless’ the depiction of women as ‘helpless’

8 8 Shaffer - researched 35 cases following Lavallee Shaffer - researched 35 cases following Lavallee in which battered woman syndrome used as a in which battered woman syndrome used as a defence or consideration in sentencing defence or consideration in sentencing 16 cases involved homicide 16 cases involved homicide Lavallee does not seem to have led to a dramatic Lavallee does not seem to have led to a dramatic increase in this type of defence; and there is increase in this type of defence; and there is some evidence that the ‘battered woman syndrome’ some evidence that the ‘battered woman syndrome’ is being interpreted by those in the justice system is being interpreted by those in the justice system to portray women as ‘dysfunctional’ and incapable to portray women as ‘dysfunctional’ and incapable of ‘rational’ action of ‘rational’ action

9 9 e.g. R. v. Whitten (1992) e.g. R. v. Whitten (1992) - Whitten 51 year old woman accused of murdering common-law spouse Sampson murdering common-law spouse Sampson - Whitten characterized as having a tragic personal history, abuse in previous marriage. personal history, abuse in previous marriage. husband marries sister, suicide attempt, husband marries sister, suicide attempt, psychiatric problems psychiatric problems - Sampson an alcoholic, relationship extremely abusive, controlling abusive, controlling - Nov. 10, 1990, fright breaks out over dinner, Sampson stabbed with steak knife Sampson stabbed with steak knife - Sampson refuses to go to hospital, wound apparently not serious apparently not serious

10 10 four days later goes to hospital, five days later dies four days later goes to hospital, five days later dies Whitten pleaded guilty to manslaughter - why? Whitten pleaded guilty to manslaughter - why? - alcoholism - psychiatric history - had previously stabbed Sampson “did not fit stereotype of abused woman”?

11 11 Pulkingham - Private Troubles, Private Solutions poverty among divorced women, and the politics poverty among divorced women, and the politics of support enforcement and child custody of support enforcement and child custody determination determination two main contemporary issues: two main contemporary issues: 1. in divorce, women are much more likely to 1. in divorce, women are much more likely to suffer negative economic consequences suffer negative economic consequences 2.the emergence of ‘joint’ custody as a legal 2.the emergence of ‘joint’ custody as a legal standard, which further compounds the negative economic consequences for women

12 12 the notion of the ‘primary caregiver’ as a new the notion of the ‘primary caregiver’ as a new standard - the parent with the primary responsibility standard - the parent with the primary responsibility for child care before the separation/divorce should for child care before the separation/divorce should be awarded sole custody be awarded sole custody Pulkingham - but is the ‘primary caregiver’ conceptPulkingham - but is the ‘primary caregiver’ concept really the solution? really the solution? - or, do the solutions to the problem lie outside the law, in societal notions about the the family, the law, in societal notions about the the family, parental responsibility, and male and female parental responsibility, and male and female roles? roles?

13 13 note rapid increase in the proportion of poor note rapid increase in the proportion of poor women who are single or single mothers - and women who are single or single mothers - and note that wives have incomes equal to about note that wives have incomes equal to about 46% of husbands in the pre-divorce family - 46% of husbands in the pre-divorce family - why? why? also: tendency to equate women’s deserving also: tendency to equate women’s deserving status in the case of divorce to their status as status in the case of divorce to their status as mothers of children, ignoring that, children or mothers of children, ignoring that, children or not, women are more likely to be poor, and to not, women are more likely to be poor, and to suffer negative impacts from divorce suffer negative impacts from divorce

14 14 and, family matters are still by and large treated and, family matters are still by and large treated as private matters by the state, to the extent that as private matters by the state, to the extent that family law is still based on the notion that family law is still based on the notion that women must demonstrate their deserving status, women must demonstrate their deserving status, and the male partner must pay - although less than and the male partner must pay - although less than 50% of support orders are paid fully, and on time 50% of support orders are paid fully, and on time note then: while it is the female partner who is note then: while it is the female partner who is negatively impacted, it is the children who are also negatively impacted, it is the children who are also impacted - should the state step in here? impacted - should the state step in here? note the tax advantages prior to May 1997 to note the tax advantages prior to May 1997 to fathers fathers

15 15 the primary caregiver issue: the primary caregiver issue: - until mid-19th century, custody and guardianship of children a paternal right of children a paternal right - mid-19th century, introduction of concept of ‘parens patriae’, giving, theoretically, the court ‘parens patriae’, giving, theoretically, the court jurisdiction over children under age 7, including jurisdiction over children under age 7, including the right to determine custody the right to determine custody - with the rising ‘cult of domesticity’ and middle- class prosperity, shift to considering females class prosperity, shift to considering females the most appropriate caregivers (males as the most appropriate caregivers (males as instrumental, females as affective - Parsons) instrumental, females as affective - Parsons) - now, a shift to gender-equality in the concept of joint custody - but ignores structural inequality of joint custody - but ignores structural inequality

16 16 - joint custody arrangements work to obscure the importance of much of the unpaid work women importance of much of the unpaid work women do as part of child-rearing do as part of child-rearing - however, still, statistics indicate that joint custody arrangements remain a small proportion of custody arrangements remain a small proportion of custody arrangements - why? arrangements - why? - the reality - old system, joint custody or primary caregivers, women still shoulder most of the caregivers, women still shoulder most of the responsibility for child care responsibility for child care

17 17 Pulkingham: in fact, what is needed is not a “re-politicization” of women’s status in the family, but rather a re-thinking of society’s responsibilities around the family and child-rearing beyond the context of the legal bond of marriage, a re-thinking of parental responsibility and expectations beyond legal obligations

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