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LWSO 201 - Feminist Legal Theories_8.doc

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Law and Society
LWSO 201
Marywyatt Sindlinger

Feminist Legal Theories 1) Feminist Legal Theories i) Links the material conditions of women’s existence with the idea that the law both constructs and maintains those conditions ii) Historical position of women as property of men iii) Push for formal equality for women 2) Broad Themes a) Equality – originally mostly formal equality but later also substantive equality b) Androcentric nature of law –law reflects male culture and ways of doing things and trivializes important aspects of female experience c) Questioning whether the law is neutral, objective or rational 3) Critiques: a) Backlash effect – over exaggeration of the assumption of male dominance b) Need to look at oppression of men as well 4) Readings: a) Women’s Rights as Human Rights i) Violence against women results from and is enabled by structural relationships of power, domination and privilege between men and women b) Feminist (Mis)Use of the Public/Private Dichotomy in Nixon v. Rape Relief ii) The public private dichotomy 233. Infanticide 233. A female person commits infanticide when by a wilful act or omission she causes the death of her newly-born child, if at the time of the act or omission she is not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth to the child and by reason thereof or of the effect of lactation consequent on the birth of the child her mind is then disturbed. Feminist Legal Theories • theories of law from a feminist perspective • and how the law links the material conditions of women's existence with the idea that law both maintains and constricts those conditions • makes a link b/w law and those circumstances in life • basic idea: for most of NA law has been dominated by men (enforced, enacted and interpreted) • another basic idea: men have done that to the benefit of men and to the disadvantage of women • make visible the invisible assumptions of legal systems • History: 17 and 18 hundreds - women were property and existed as non wage earning labourers (farm labour, wives) • exchange of labour for subsistence and law facilitated that by denying women personhood, the ability to enter employment contracts w/o men's consent, can't own property; therefore, can't get wealth, no recognized legal custody of children, can't hold public office (be a jury), rape is considered trespassing on someone's property • early 1900's - right to vote and participate in elections, child custody • 1929 - women became legal persons • 1970 - rise of the feminist movement • some girl - ideology of male supremacy - political and legal theory are male centred and say that men are superior to women -> led to the rise of feminist movement • negative aspects of laws on women - can't vote & own property, BUT ALSO benefits of continuing those practices to men • 1982 - Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms • where it started - women wanted formal equality with men • Now a days - set a standard • the way that everyone should be - like men • if women become like men and are treated like men • why the male standard? why are women aspiring to be that? • women -
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