Sex in Public: The Feminist Movement for Public Accommodations Law

Elizabeth Sepper, LAPA\Crane Fellow; Washington University School of Law

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 4:30pm
300 Wallace Hall
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LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract:  "This Article recounts the history of sex in public accommodations. Fifty years ago, restaurants and bars displayed “men-only” signs. Women held secondary-status in civic organizations, like Rotary and Jaycees, and were excluded altogether from many professional bodies, like press clubs. Sports—from the Little League to the golf club—kept girls and women from achieving athletic excellence. Insurance companies and financial institutions subsumed married women’s identities within their husbands. Over the course of the 1970s, the feminist movement protested, litigated, and secured legislation against discrimination in commerce and leisure. Sex equality in public came to signify the dismantling of separate spheres, freedom from sexual norms, and transformation of institutions. This history holds insights for today’s legal and political debates over sex in public, from same-sex wedding cakes to the bathroom wars."

Elizabeth Sepper
LAPA Fellow
Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law

Elizabeth Sepper is the John S. Lehmann Professor of Law at Washington University School of Law and the 2018-19 LAPA/Crane Fellow at Princeton University. She is a nationally recognized scholar of public accommodations, religious liberty, and health law. Sepper’s articles have appeared in top journals, including the Columbia Law Review, Virginia Law Review, and Northwestern University Law Review. She is a co-editor of Law, Religion, and Health in the United States (Cambridge Univ. 2017).  Sepper received her J.D. and LL.M. in international legal studies from NYU School of Law and her B.A. in history from Boston University. Prior to joining the academy, she clerked for the Honorable Marjorie Rendell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and practiced human rights law.