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Feminist Theories of Law

The following responses to a request for articles on feminist
theories of law, including feminist theories of canon law or
shaaria, were offered on WMST-L in February 2002.  For additional
WMST-L files available on the Web, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2002 17:19:55 -0800
From: Ms. Cat <alanamscat @ YAHOO.COM>
Subject: ISO feminist theories of law
I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for articles
on feminist theories of law - and feminist theories of
canon law or shaaria would be extremely useful, if
such things exist.


Alana Suskin
alanamscat  @  yahoo.com

The one who increases knowledge, increases pain (Kohelet 1:18)
And what's this?
-It is worth it for a person to increase pain, provided that they
increase knowledge as well. Menachem Mendel of Kotsk
Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2002 23:37:07 -0500
From: Rosa Maria Pegueros <rpe2836u @ POSTOFFICE.URI.EDU>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
Hi Alana,

Are you familiar with the writings of Christine Littleton or  KimberlT
Crenshaw at http://www.law.ucla.edu/faculty/bios/ and the other "fem
crits"*? Also check on the writings of Catherine MacKinnon.  Since you
don't say what this pertains to,  I don't quite know what else to
recommend.  You mention Canon law: Are you looking for theologians like
Rosemary Reuther and Mary Daly? I know nothing about Shaaria (Moslem
law?)offhand but I do remember reading something recently; I believe it had
something to do with the Afghan women and the burka. I'll send you the
reference when I can dig it out of the dusty recesses of my brain.


fem crits = feminist critics of the law
Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2002 22:26:33 -0500
From: Eleanor Stein <stein.jones @ VERIZON.NET>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
Eleanor Stein, of the Womens Studies Department at the State University of
New York at Albany, writes:

There is of course an entire literature on this subject, but I suggest
starting with Catherine MacKinnon, Toward A Feminist Theory of the State,
Patricia Williams, the Alchemy of Race and Rights, Kairys, The Politics of

stein.jones  @  verizon.net
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 07:25:03 -0500
From: Deborah Louis <louis @ UMBC.EDU>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
i'd also recommend any of ursula le guin's novels, especially if the
material is for an undergraduate classroom?she essentially invents
societies structured on feminist principles (theories of law), which
both reflect traditional matriarchal systems and represent the
contemporary discourse in future settings...

debbie <louis  @  umbc.edu>
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 11:20:16 -0500
From: Janet Chwalibog <jchwalibog @ BERKLEE.EDU>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
Also look into Nan Hunter's work (including the legal textbook: Gender
Sexuality and the Law) . . . Patricia William's work (the Rooster's Egg, The
Alchemy of Race and Rights) and Judith Butler's Excitable Speech. All
terrific sources depending on what you're looking into.

Janet Chwalibog
jchwalibog  @  berklee.edu
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 09:33:08 -0800
From: "Ms. Cat" <alanamscat @ YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
Sorry, I should have been more specific - it's for
research purposes, not the classroom, and I need
articles (or non-fiction, scholarly, books) dealing
with feminist theory (i.e critical interp of the law
via or discussing feminist principles in action
within) of either American law (or other actual
existing nations) canon law or shaaria - and novels
and fiction will not do. Thanks.

Alana Suskin
alanamscat  @  yahoo.com
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 12:48:06 -0500
From: Molly Dragiewicz <mdragiew @ GMU.EDU>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law

Elizabeth Schneider's book _Battered Women and Feminist Lawmaking_ provides
an excellent overview and case studies of how feminist lawmaking collides
with bias against women and feminism in the courtroom in heterosexual
domestic violence cases.

Feminist jurisprudence is among the most exciting feminist work and theory
currently being produced. Check out the many journals that deal with the
issues you mentioned, for example:

American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law
Australian feminist law journal
Berkeley Women's Law Journal
Canadian journal of women and the law
Cardozo women's law journal
Circles: The Buffalo Women's Journal of Law and Social Policy
Columbia Journal of Gender and Law
Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy
Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law
Harvard Women's Law Journal
Hastings Women's Law Journal
Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice (Minnesota)
Law & Sexuality (Tulane)
Michigan Journal of Gender and the Law
Southern California Review of Law and Women's studies
Texas Journal of Women and the Law
UCLA Women's Law Journal
Wisconsin Women's Law Journal
William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law
Yale Journal of Law & Feminism
Canadian Journal of Law & Society

Molly Dragiewicz
Women's Studies and Cultural Studies
George Mason University
mdragiew  @  gmu.edu
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 16:28:06 +0000
From: "pauline b. bart" <pbart @ UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
I would suggest for your class Catharine MacKinnon's Feminism Unmodified,
for undergraduates and Toward a Feminist Theory of the State .
I have used both successfully..  One grad student said that reading
MacKinnon helped her with her Preliminary Exams.  And an undergraduate
African American Student said what  "Kitty" wrote was also applicable to
African Americans.  She would think that was the group about which she was
writing.Her early work Sexual Harassment of Working Women led me to take
law courses.  Feminist Jurisprudence is the socioology of knowledge applied
to law.  The changes in laws regarding violence against women furnish an
example of the results of such  campaigns.(I should add the frequently the
law is not enforcded-as the heqad of rape prosecutions in Chicago said to
me "You can put whatever you want in your laws.  What it comes down to is
common sense", presumably what the reasonable man believes)

I agree that looking at the  fem jur  (what its called) journals  will be
useful for your purposes.

Two other excellent Feminist Jurisprudence works are  Feminist
Jurisprudence:Taking Women Seriously by Becker, Bowman and  Torrey
2nd edition if it is out) and a feminist theory book by Mary Becker.
If you decide to use MacKinnon I will send you references for her critique
of post-modernism and her work on international law. if you want them.
Best, Pauline   PBart  @  ucla.edu
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 12:55:49 -0500
From: "Claire N. Kaplan" <cnk2r @ VIRGINIA.EDU>
Subject: Feminist theory and the law
I can recommend two very good articles concerning domestic violence
(commentaries on the Brzonkala v. Morrison case) written by feminist legal

Goldfarb, Sally F. (2000).  Violence against women and the persistence of
privacy.  Ohio State Law Journal, 61:1. 1-87.

Siegel, Reva B. (June 1996).  The rule of love: Wife beating as prerogative
and privacy. Yale Law Journal, 105:8.  2117-2207.


Claire N. Kaplan
Coordinator, UVA Sexual Assault Education Office
Doctoral Candidate, Curry School of Education
UVA Women's Center  *  P.O. Box 800588 *  Charlottesville VA  *  22908-0588
434-982-2774 (V/TTY)    434-982-2901 (Fax)
ckaplan  @  virginia.edu
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 12:19:59 -0800
From: Phillipa Kafka <pkafka @ LVCM.COM>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
Some works containing feminist theories of canon/shaaria law:

1. Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islan: Historical Root of a Modern
Debate. Yale UP, 1992.
2. Elizabeth Waarnock Fernea, In Search of Islamic Feminism: One Woman's
Global Journey, Doubleday, 1997.
3. Judith E. Tucker, ed., Arab Women: Old Boundaries, New Frontiers, Indiana
UP, 1993. (contains useful essays for your purpose)
4. Deniz Kandiyoti (anything by her). Gendering the Middle East. Syracuse
UP, 1996.
5.  Arlene Elowe MacLeod. Accommodating Protest: Working Women, the New
Veiling, and Change in Cairo, Columbia UP, 1991. (She published an earlier
essay-length version in Signs).
6. Anouar Majid, "The Politics of Feminism in Islam, " Signs 23 (2): 321-61,
1998 (that provoked heated exchanges between  him, Suad Joseph, Ann
Elizabeth Mayer, in the course of which  citations from the law and
discussions of different perspectives appear).
7.  Also anything by Fatima Mernissi.

Dr. Phillipa Kafka
Professor Emerita
Kean University
pkafka  @  lvcm.com
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 12:46:41 -0800
From: Phillipa Kafka <pkafka @ LVCM.COM>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
Addendum: In my previous message I used references from my own and Therese
Saliba's bibliography, but excluded Palestinian-Israeli references entirely.
If you want further references, specifically Palestinian-Israeli references,
see Batya Weinbaum,  "Narrative from the Field" in Lost on the Map of the
World: Jewish American Women's Quest for Home in Essays and Memoirs, ed.
Phillipa Kafka, Peter Lang, 2000,
And especially see Therese Saliba, "Arab Feminism at the Millenium," Signs
(25:4), Summer 2000, 1087-1092, its special issue of Feminisms at a

Dr. Phillipa Kafka
Professor Emerita
Kean University
pkafka  @  lvcm.com
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 19:35:43 -0500
From: Clare Holzman <clare.holzman @ VERIZON.NET>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
I've seen references to and ads for  a book called Feminist Legal Theory.
You could probably find it by doing a search on Amazon.com. And then order
it from an independent feminist bookseller.

Clare Holzman
330 West 58th Street, 404
New York, NY 10019
phone 212 245 7282
fax 718 721 9313
clare.holzman  @  verizon.net
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 20:58:29 -0400
From: "L. Ryan Musgrave" <musgrave @ PURDUE.EDU>
Subject: ISO feminist theories of law
I'm not sure if these resources were already mentioned, but:

- Feminist Legal Theory:  Readings in Law and Gender. Katharine T. Bartlett
& Rosanne Kennedy, eds. Boulder, CO:  Westview Press, 1991. I've used it to
teach an advanced undergrad class, and students say they found it very
- any work by Drucilla Cornell.

One caveat:   I think someone mentioned that Feminist Jurisprudence was
"sociology applied to law." I'd suggest that this is certainly one thread
of feminist work in legal theory/jurisprudence, but not the only discipline
involved: courses on feminist jurisprudence can also frequently be found
listed as Political Science courses and Philosophy courses (Drucilla
Cornell is a good example of the latter, for instance).

Hope these are helpful!

best wishes,  Ryan Musgrave

Lisa Ryan Musgrave
Department of Philosophy
Women's Studies Program
Department of English
Purdue University
musgrave  @  purdue.edu
Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 11:00:59 +0100
From: Jutta Zalud <jutta.zalud @ nextra.at>
Subject: Re: feminist theories of law
For a feminist view on (public) international law:

Hilary Charlesworth, Christine Chinkin: The Boundaries of
International Law, 2000.

>From (not exclusively about) Australia: Ngaire Naffine et al.
(eds): Sexing the Subject of Law, 1997.

And plenty of interesting material and references can be found at

Hope this helps,

Jutta Zalud           Phone/Fax (home): ++43-1-272 99 02
Deublergasse 48/5     Phone (office):   ++43-1-712 10 01 16
A-1210 Vienna         Fax:              ++43-1-712 10 01 20
Austria               email:            a7400819  @  unet.univie.ac.at
                                        jutta.zalud  @  nextra.at
Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 08:03:20 -0800
From: Hollie Paine Dodge <hollie_esquire @ YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Re: ISO feminist theories of law
I teach a Women in the Law class at a law school and a
state university. I use Mary Jo Frug's Wom and the Law
for the law school class and Torrey, et al, Feminist
Jurisprudence for the college class. The college
students have struggle with some of the feminist
theory pieces in the books (I believe, primarily,
because the students don't have a substantive
understanding of the law). Pairing the pieces with a
few seminal cases tends to increase their substantive
understanding of the critical/theory piece.

Katherine Barlett, Catharine MacKinnon, Gloria FUchs
Epstein, Kimberlie Crenshaw, Robin West, Wendy
Williams, Angela Harris, Patricia Cain, Sylvia
Law...are names that come to me off the top of my
head. Please contact me privately at
hollie.dodge  @  lexisnexis.com if I can help you with
specific pieces on specific substantive areas of law.


Hollie Paine Dodge

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