The Future of Legal Feminism
The result of men constantly, fervently and publicly thanking God
that they are not women has been to make it hard for women to
thank God that they are.
We’re not crazy. We’re just discouraged.
In the feminist law teaching business, there is an exercise all teachers and students eventually go through. It is called “How should the case have come out?” This exercise is not the usual law school class discussion about how doctrine and facts interact. This feminist exercise is about how legal disputes should come out in terms of the bigger pic- tures of social relations and systems of disadvantage. The exercise has become more complex as feminist legal theory has become more com- plex, drawing into question legal strategies that once seemed sound, and allowing for results to be reinterpreted in myriad ways.
Thus, for example, what of a case that forced a state-supported mili- tary college to open its doors to women, only in 1996, after a century and a half of producing male “citizen-soldiers” in a culture that can be described only as women-loathing?1 What of the fact that Justice Ruth Ginsburg, formerly a crusading feminist litigator, consistently referred to that institution in deferential, even glowing, terms?2 Is opening the college to women what a commitment to sex equality required? If it were technically possible as a constitutional remedy, shouldn’t the Vir- ginia Military Institute have been closed or deprived of any public sup- port? Wouldn’t it have been far better to seal over that particular abyss once and for all? As noted in chapter 5, militarism is a context where feminism focuses discussion in a particularly acute way.