If you spend any time on the blogosphere, you'll notice a collection of women lawyer bloggers who appear to blog a lot about women's issues in law. They blog about how hard it is to be a women lawyer, how hard it is to be a mom and a lawyer, and how hard it is to be a woman lawyer around all us asshole men. I don't engage in these discussions, mainly because I find the writers only want to talk about the issue as they see it, without any questions, debate, discussion, or of course - joking around.
So it was refreshing to run in to criminal defense lawyer Mirriam Seddiq's Not Guilty blog.
Mirriam isn't one of those female lawyers who sits around Starbucks and complains about how men have kept her from becoming a partner somewhere, or pretending that any man jokingly using the word "bitch" is evil. Mirriam, is a real lawyer, with a real career who concentrates on what's important - lawyering, advocating, writing, maintaining a thick skin, and not worrying about "the way things are."
Mirriam also has no problem referring to women as "chicks."
While searching for other female criminal defense attorney bloggers, Mirriam ran into a book: Emotional Trials - Moral Dilemmas of Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
She doesn't understand the dilemma.
If a person, in this day and age, asked me if I felt I was betraying my gender by representing men accused of sex crimes I think I might throat punch them. We all get the question "how can you defend those people" and there are some great answers to that question, from "I have no soul" (courtesy of Carol from Public Defender Revolution) to various discussions about the constitution, rule of law, etc. Those come at you from a, I guess you could call it a gender-neutral perspective, everyone wonders how you can defend someone accused of rape, or murder or whatever. Or, do people really think "oh, you are a guy, you totally GET rape so its easy for you to defend someone accused of that.
No Mirriam, you're not doing what I think you're doing - you're stepping off the reservation. You are not supposed to propose that male and female criminal defense lawyers have the same dilemmas. You are supposed to separate men and women in every possible way, real, or imagined. Are you really saying that men and women criminal defense lawyers are both against rape?
Mirriam is going to read the book though, because I'm curious to see what feminists think of what it is we do.
Then she seals her fate as not a female lawyer, but a lawyer:
But I will tell you this much, I don't have a moral dilemma. I am not suffering. I don't hold my head in my hands and fight back the tears over my failure to hold up my feminist views. I don't lose sleep at night because I choose (hopefully someday again) to represent people accused of horrible things and I certainly feel that I do my gender a favor by playing this game with the boys.
Mirriam wants to play with the boys. She doesn't want to spend her time, her career, looking for reasons why things are different for her. I've never met Mirriam before, but I assume she believes the difference between a male and female lawyer, is that one has a penis and one has a vagina. I believe if someone called Mirriam a "bitch," she would either say "thank you," or say something so vile and rude that her male accuser would throw up the white hankerchief. I don't believe she'd go crying into that good night.
I assume Mirriam is not the darling of her feminist colleagues, who she quickly walks by, on her way to defend her clients.
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.
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