Bankruptcy Reform and Financial Well-Being: How Intersectionality Matters in Money Matters

55 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2005 Last revised: 3 Jun 2010

See all articles by Kristin Kalsem

Kristin Kalsem

University of Cincinnati - College of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2005


After eight years of heated controversy, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was signed into law by president Bush on April 20, 2005. Proponents of the Act claimed that it would cure the bankruptcy crisis and that the wealthy would no longer be allowed to abuse the system at the expense of hard-working American families. Opponents cast the legislation as a dream come true for the credit card companies, claiming that it would serve only to enrich the rich at the expense of the poorest of the poor. One of the key issues that emerged from what became a battle of catchy sound bites was the impact that the legislation would have on women and this Article takes as its starting premise that all of this attention on the effects on women of bankruptcy reform and other economic issues is a very good thing. As this Article demonstrates, however, it is imperative to foreground the ways in which issues of gender, race, and class matter in considering financial concerns as women's issues. Otherwise, reform efforts made on behalf of women will, in fact, harm women. Specifically in the context of bankruptcy reform, this Article performs an intersectional analysis of the Congressional debates that reveals the privileging of certain women over others, as well as the construction of an ideal and unreal image of women that works to perpetuate economic insecurity for all women. The Article then proposes a re-envisioned reform agenda that takes into account how intersectionality matters in money matters and moves toward a goal of financial well-being for all.

Keywords: Bankruptcy, commercial law, critical feminism, critical race, women, intersectionality, class

JEL Classification: K19, K29, K39

Suggested Citation

Kalsem, Kristin, Bankruptcy Reform and Financial Well-Being: How Intersectionality Matters in Money Matters (September 1, 2005). Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 71, p. 1181, 2006; U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 05-19. Available at SSRN: or

Kristin Kalsem (Contact Author)

University of Cincinnati - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Clifton Avenue and Calhoun Street
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States
513-556-0866 (Phone)
513-556-0163 (Fax)

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