The FLTP was founded by Professor Martha Fineman (below right) while she was in the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and it travelled with her as she progressed through her career at Columbia, Cornell (where she held the first endowed chair in feminist jurisprudence in the United States), and most recently, Emory. (photo credit) In a recent interview with our colleagues at Feminist Law Professors, available here, Martha explained her motivation for establishing the FLTP thus:
My tenure decision at the University of Wisconsin was delayed a year when one of the [liberal] senior professors pulled his letter of support from my file because I published an article arguing that formal equality was not the model to use for family law reform. He was outraged that I rejected liberal precepts. He later changed his mind and apologized. Another colleague condescendingly told me that even if I questioned formal equality he knew I didn’t want any “special treatment” simply because I was the single mother of four children. I told him I didn’t want special treatment, but perhaps deserved some recognition that I had managed to meet all the tenure requirements while balancing family circumstances that probably would have defeated many others on the faculty (I meant him, with his stay-at-home wife who not only raised the children, but also edited his papers). Those and other encounters taught me there was a real need for a supportive environment to encourage feminist work, particularly of the kind that challenged traditional assumptions and received wisdom, and was based on women’s lived experiences.For many of us--myself included--the Project and Martha have offered (and, indeed, continue to provide) a supportive and warm environment in which rigorous debate, scholarship and lots of writing have taken place. All the indications are that next week’s conference will carry on in precisely that refreshing, challenging and creative vein.