Catharine MacKinnon

Catharine MacKinnon

On November 14, 2013 at 12 p.m. in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom, Catharine MacKinnon, a principal architect of landmark sex equality laws in the United States, talked about “Trafficking, Prostitution, and Inequality.”

Catharine MacKinnon, JD, PhD, who holds distinguished professorships at both the University of Michigan and Harvard University, is focusing on her work as an internationally successful litigator against sex crimes and human trafficking.

One only has to summon visions of the television show Mad Men to understand that sexual harassment in the mid-20th century workplace  was a fact of life for many women. Without legal recourse, women were vulnerable to sexual assault by their bosses and co-workers.

Recognizing the need for such laws, MacKinnon helped form a groundbreaking legal theory that sexual harassment and sexual abuse violate equality rights, a theory the U.S. Supreme Court accepted in 1986, thus pioneering the legal claim that harassment in the workplace constitutes actionable discrimination.

She is also known, with Andrea Dworkin, for developing the legal argument that pornography can be construed as a violation of one’s civil rights under the law.

Her lecture addressed her more current focus on the litigation, legislation and policy development on women’s human rights in the international arena.

MacKinnon has served as special gender adviser to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and she successfully represented Bosnian survivors of sexual atrocities, winning legal recognition of rape as an act of genocide and securing a $745 million settlement on their behalf.