This article uses my own experience navigating the law review placement process to reflect on the dynamics that shape intellectual life at American law schools. My recent work focuses on the legal relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive. At its heart, it is about the law’s role in shaping the precursor to pregnancy—heterosexual sex. When I began researching this topic what I was most curious about was how law and culture might conspire to foster connections that are more loving and less violent, more authentic and less alienated. Pursuing this topic—which would entail exploring big existential questions to which I still don’t have clear answers—seemed risky before tenure.
Part I recounts the turn I took instead: a proposal for incentivizing and rewarding “preglimony” through tax reform. Currently, ex-spouses get a deduction when they pay alimony. In my last article before tenure, I argued that the same treatment should extend to men who support their pregnant lovers.
Part II turns back the clock and revisits the lead I would have followed had I not been focused on producing a law review article within the conventional mold. This “road not traveled” explores a category of sex at the margins of mainstream definitions of what counts as “law”: sex that is consensual but not mutually desired, “sex against desire.”
Why describe the thread I abandoned here? Why include so much detail about a category of sex at the margins of what generally counts as “law” in a paper about authenticity in legal scholarship? Because the personal is political. Because like intimate partners who agree to sex they don’t truly desire, professors who adhere to conventions that don’t serve their deepest relationship with truth engage in a compromise that ultimately hurts not only them. It hurts students by breeding cynicism and depression. It hurts the practice of law by producing foot soldiers instead of visionary stewards. Ultimately, our compromise hurts all of society. Part III concludes with my vision of what a more authentic ethos might bring to faculty and students, to the profession, and to the world we help shape.
Shari Motro, Scholarship Against Desire, 27 Yale J. L. & Human. 115 (2015)