What’s Love Got to Do with It?: Stereotypical Women in Dispositionist Torts

Fernanda Nicola

in Ideology, Psychology, and Law

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737512
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918638 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

What’s Love Got to Do with It?: Stereotypical Women in Dispositionist Torts

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This chapter explores how ideology influences legal change. In particular, it discusses how feminist ideologies, often allied with social conservative ones, have changed how lawyers and judges approach interspousal torts. Those changes, though limited in scale, are apparent in doctrine and damage assessments. More generally, they are shaping how our society understands the relationships between men and women. While legal reformers are allowing women's stories of abuse finally to be heard, they tend to hear only stereotypical stories. Those stories are fueling a dispositionist perspective that reinforces stereotyped gender narratives in which women are either helpless victims of abuse or heartless perpetrators of emotional abuse. This dispositionist approach to tort law looks to individual choices and stereotyped narratives to attribute responsibility and blame in a rational and straightforward way, and overlooks the situational influences and constraints of each character in a tort lawsuit.

Keywords: tort law; situationism; dispositionism; feminism; social conservatives; interspousal torts; gender stereotypes

Chapter.  14610 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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