Wendy Kaminer (born 1950) is a lawyer and writer. She has written several books on contemporary social issues, including A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight From Equality, about the conflict between egalitarian and protectionist feminism; I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions, about the self-help movement; and Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials : The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety.
Kaminer graduated from Smith College
in 1971. She earned her law degree from Boston University Law School
and practiced law as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society
and the office of the Mayor of New York City
Anti-pornography movement and anti-censorship movements
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kaminer was a member of Women Against Pornography
and wrote several articles on possible legal approaches to combating pornography, including a chapter to the influential anti-pornography anthology, Take Back the Night
. By the middle of the 1980s, though still a member of WAP, she had come to feel that the legislative approach to fighting pornography, as exemplified by the work of Catharine MacKinnon
, was a mistake. By 1990 she had come to view the "protectionist" feminism
of MacKinnon and WAP, as well as the "difference" feminism of Carol Gilligan
as mistaken approaches to the question of women's rights
. Kaminer's 1990 book A Fearful Freedom
criticised these approaches.
In 1992, in response to the proposed Pornography Victims Compensation Act before the United States Senate, she helped to found Feminists for Free Expression, along with Nadine Strossen and Marcia Pally
Kaminer was a member of the board of the American Civil Liberties Union
from 1999 until her term expired in June 2006 and she chose not to run for re-election. She has written a number of articles criticizing the ACLU's recent proposal (which was discussed but never adopted) that would limit public criticism of the organization's staff by its board members, and has actively opposed certain actions of ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero
and President Nadine Strossen.
Kaminer is an advisory board member of the Secular Student Alliance
as well as the Secular Coalition for America
Kaminer has written extensively about the intersection of religion and politics in America. Her latest book is Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today
. A former Guggenheim Fellow
, she is the author of six previous books: Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials
, I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional
, A Fearful Freedom
; True Love Waits: Essays and Criticism
; It’s All the Rage: Crime and Culture
; and Women Volunteering: the Pleasure, Pain, & Politics of Unpaid Work
Kaminer has been an ardent critic of "institutionalized whining" and protectionist forms of feminism. She's also criticized the self-help movement and the criminal justice system, including the death penalty.
On November 17, 2001 Kaminer married longtime companion Woody Kaplan. Kaplan, a former real estate developer, founded the Civil Liberties List (a political action committee) and is a full-time political and civil liberties activist. Kaplan is president of the First Amendment Foundation and an active advisory board member of the Secular Coalition for America.