Feminist Theory and the Law

Judith A. Baer

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Feminist Theory and the Law


American feminists have identified law as an instrument of male supremacy since their first national gathering at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Critiques of law thus became an important part of the early feminist movement, which succeeded in eradicating the most blatant examples of legal sexism. The successes of the contemporary feminist movement might not have happened without one of those early successes: the opening of higher education to women. Contemporary feminism has had a profound and lasting impact on intellectual discourse. Many young scholars focused on gender in their research, pursuing the feminist goal “to question everything.” These scholars and their successors continue to realize the revolutionary potential of feminist thought. “Feminist jurisprudence,” as it came to be called, is law's equivalent of feminist history, feminist psychology, feminist philosophy, and their counterparts. Feminist jurisprudence has borrowed freely and fruitfully from these cognate disciplines. This article examines the premise and presence of male bias, feminist jurisprudence and gendered reality, and feminist legal reasoning.

Keywords: law; feminism; feminist jurisprudence; bias; women; legal reasoning; legal sexism; feminist psychology; feminist philosophy

Article.  6127 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law

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