Women On The Frontlines

100 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2021 Last revised: 27 Jul 2021

See all articles by Michele Goodwin

Michele Goodwin

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: June 14, 2021


This Article takes aim at the troubling and persistent disempowerment and invisibility of women generally, and particularly marginalized women of color even one hundred years after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. It observes how the persistence of sexism, toxically combined with racism, impedes full political, economic, and social personhood of women and girls in society, sometimes to deadly effect. On the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, it speculates reasons for women’s labor being undervalued, even while on the frontlines of service to their families, employers, and our nation. It examines how women’s invisibility and sacrifice are particularly striking during the 2020 pandemic—a public health crisis so severe that nations besieged by the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 closed their borders, issued shelter-in-place orders, or imposed quarantines.

In the United States, COVID-19 exposes preexisting institutional and infrastructural social problems, laid bare by a suffocating, debilitating virus. Racism, sexism, and xenophobia are the preexisting social conditions that further exacerbate harms manifested by the disease. Written during the heat of a pandemic, this Article closely examines the unique ways in which centuries of stereotypes and stigma further undermine women and girls as laborers during the 2020 pandemic and as patients. Meanwhile, their suffering is obscured in news media and not sufficiently accounted for in political spheres.

Suggested Citation

Goodwin, Michele, Women On The Frontlines (June 14, 2021). Cornell Law Review, Vol. 106, 2021, forthcoming, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2021-36, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3866826

Michele Goodwin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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