Feminism and the Power of Law

Feminism and the Power of Law

Feminism and the Power of Law

Feminism and the Power of Law

Synopsis

Carol Smart presents a new gendered analysis of the power of law and argues for a feminist, post-structuralist approach. She comments on pornography as well as discussing recent research on rape trials and abortion legislation.

Excerpt

Since the early 1970s we have witnessed a major growth in feminist scholarship in the fields of law and criminology. This work has begun to challenge the content, as well as the parameters, of knowledge in these areas. Hence we have historical analyses of legal regulation, ethnographical studies of the lives of ‘criminal’ women, empirical studies of the operations of the criminal and domestic courts, philosophical critiques of traditional masculine understandings of justice and equality, and many more equally significant contributions. We can begin to talk of a feminist library in this area of research. It is one that demands attention from mainstream scholarship and, indeed, proposes one of the most sustained challenges to conventional thinking.

This book builds upon this tradition; extending many of the insights which have developed within feminist thought and drawing together the main debates to make them accessible to a student or new readership. Feminism and the Power of Law achieves three goals. First, it breaks down the rigid division of issues within law and takes the relevances of feminism, rather than the traditional structure, to be its starting point. Hence the reader will not find chapters on family law or criminal law. Rather the focus is on issues identified as significant by the women’s movement and contemporary feminist theorizing; for example how law regulates women’s bodies, how law silences feminist discourse, and how the rhetoric of rights is becoming problematic for feminist politics. So this is not meant to be a textbook in the sense that its aim is to be a fully comprehensive coverage of what lawyers might consider to be the basic tenets of law. Neither is it meant to be a textbook in the sense that it is only for students. On the contrary the organizational priorities of the book and the way in which it . . .

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