Continuing to Push to the Margins: Treatment of Intersectional Identity in Recent American Discrimination Law and by the International Criminal Court

By Jessica Lanoil.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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In 1994, Maivan Lam, a woman of Vietnamese and French ancestry sued the University of Hawaii on charges of race, national origin and gender discrimination after being denied a position as a director in the Richardson School of Law, which was eventually filled by a white woman. The case Lam v. University Hawaii can be seen as an achievement, in that the court recognized Lam's claim of interactive discrimination based on the combination of two factors, as an Asian woman. While Lam has been viewed as an achievement in creating an intersectional definition for individuals in United States domestic discrimination law, the recent creation of the International Criminal Court in 2002 has been hailed by women's groups as an achievement in terms of equity in procedure. As Crenshaw's recent scholarship for the World Conference Against Racism shows, both domestic discrimination law and international law, which deals with the gravest crimes, must carefully consider its inclusion of people who live at the margins of normal categories of identity. Lam provides the newest interpretative tools through which to consider the recognition of identity, with which organizations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may then create a procedure, while the Rome Statute, the statute of the ICC, is completely committed to creating an equitable procedure. This paper performs a comparison of two different spheres, two different bodies of law, critically approaching the treatment of those most marginalized by the law created for their protection. Using the theoretical tools provided by theories of sex-plus, wholist and anti-essentialist theorists I consider the future implications of the Lam decision and the Rome Statute. Both the Lam decision and the Rome Statute may continue a system of a single-axis framework for law, despite their grand promulgations for being agents of change.

Keywords: International Criminal Court, Discrimination Law, Intersectionality, Marginalization, Gender, Race

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.297-308. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 586.932KB).

Jessica Lanoil

Undergraduate, Department of Philosophy, Politics and Law, Department of Women Studies, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY, USA

I am an undergraduate at Binghamton University, State University of New York in the interdisciplinary Philosophy, Politics and Law department, as well as the Women Studies department. I am particularly interested in theories of intersectionality, as introduced by Kimberle Crenshaw, and its implication for political and legal bodies. I have worked for the National Organization for Women in New York City, as well as a New York State Legislator, and so have seen various aspects of feminist theory in action.


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