Wendy Kaminer

Wendy Kaminer is a former senior correspondent for The American Prospect and a contributing editor at The Atlantic Monthly. She also serves on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A lawyer, social critic, and former Guggenheim Fellow, she writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion, and popular culture. Her latest book is Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. Other books she has written include Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety; True Love Waits: Essays and Criticism; It's All the Rage: Crime and Culture; I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions; and A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality. Kaminer's articles and reviews have appeared in many other publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and Newsweek, and her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio.

Before embarking on her writing career, Kaminer practiced law as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society and the New York City Mayor's Office.

Wendy Kaminer retains copyrights to all her articles.

Recent Articles

Mama's Delicate Condition

F emale politicians have not fared particularly well in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We have sent no women to Congress in recent years and have never elected a female senator, governor, or attorney general; the state legislature has never been led by a female senate president or speaker of the house. So as Republican Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift prepares to take over the office of governor from Paul Cellucci (who's resigning and awaiting confirmation as ambassador to Canada), she enjoys some cautious bipartisan support--either because of or despite the fact that she's pregnant. Swift, the mother of a three-year-old girl, is carrying twins. Is her pregnancy a matter of public concern? It's been the subject of discussion in the local press (and has gained a little national attention), but commentators generally seem loath to suggest that the impending birth of her twins makes Swift unfit to undertake the job of governor. It's not hard to imagine people suppressing their doubts...

Sexual Congress

Feminists have long regarded rape as a hate crime, like lynching. The view of sexual violence as a particularly vicious form of bigotry and social control may oversimplify the dynamics of any given sex crime (and overlook the historic use of rape allegations to justify lynching), but it resonates with many women. Both self-identified and closeted feminists, who differ wildly about the nature of equality and the means of achieving it, often agree that rape is an act of misogyny. So there is widespread feminist support for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which essentially adopts this view of sexual violence as discriminatory. Enacted in 1994 as part of an omnibus federal crime bill (in the immediate aftermath of Nicole Simpson's murder), VAWA is a comprehensive law that includes provisions expanding federal criminal jurisdiction over domestic violence involving interstate travel, amending federal rules of evidence in rape cases, and allocating federal funds...

Virtual Offensiveness

M ore than 15 years have passed since antilibertarian feminists declared "pornography" a violation of women's civil rights, alleging that it demeaned and objectified women. In the 1980s, the antiporn movement enjoyed a lot of publicity and a little local legislative success. But federal courts quickly struck down antiporn ordinances that classified some sexually explicit speech as discriminatory and offered women private rights of action against the producers or distributors of non-obscene pornographic material. In American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit stressed that government officials cannot prohibit speech because they disapprove of its perspective: In America people have a right to suggest that the sexual subordination of women is preferable to sexual equality. This was an important but limited victory for civil liberty. The model antiporn law once promoted by feminists did not survive legal challenges, but its underlying...

Will Class Trump Gender?: The New Assault on Feminism

"Goodbye, feminism," say some critics who insist that women can prosper as rugged individualists. Funny thing, the new antifeminists sound a lot like the old laissez-faire conservatives.

I 've long held the theory that when a woman wants to change her life, or some aspect of it that is bothering her, she first does something to her hair," writes Danielle Crittenden, in a stab at political commentary. As a young and conservative writer, Crittenden regularly addresses social issues with housewifely tartness, extolling Cinderella as a "role model" for little girls and chastising a woman who resists being addressed by her husband's name. Crittenden is a columnist for the Women's Quarterly , the journal of the oddly named Independent Women's Forum. The IWF, in the name of a postfeminist female autonomy, regularly espouses views that have traditionally rationalized, indeed demanded, women's dependence on men: The sexes are destined to inhabit different spheres (women belong neither in combat nor at the state-run Virginia Military Institute, now under court order to integrate); professional women should be prepared to sacrifice their careers to their husbands (particularly...

American Gothic

I t has long been clear to feminists that crusades against witchcraft reflect a primal fear of feminine power and aim to punish women, most brutally, for transgressing gender roles. But if accusations of witchcraft are useful as instruments of social control, they're not necessarily cynical; often, they're entirely sincere. As a casual perusal of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Web site and assorted right-wing Christian literature shows, some people believe in Satan, witches, and various evil spirits as fervently as they believe in God. (Why shouldn't they, after all; one belief in the supernatural is no stranger than another.) "The Bible makes it clear that there are demons, or evil spirits, in the world that interfere in people's lives," a CBN posting titled "Freedom from Demon Bondage" asserts. The symptoms of "demonic oppression" or "possession" include "involvement in occult practices (fortune-telling, Satanism, etc.)" and "seeking spiritual knowledge...