What Is “Feminist” Legal History?

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Stanton and AnthonyA  student  asked  me this  question: may legal history scholarship properly be categorized as “feminist” because it includes (or even centers) women in an otherwise conventional narrative?   I think the answer is no, not any more.   Writing about women’s experiences at one point may have been a “feminist” act, but that is  no  longer  true.

Pat Cain has described feminist legal scholarship as work which “seeks to analyze the law’s effect on women as a class…[T]his analysis is formed by a distinctly feminist point of view, a point of view that is shaped by an understanding of women’s life experiences….[L]egal scholarship is not feminist unless it is grounded in women’s experience.”  

I agree that sensitivity to women’s experiences is a necessary precondition to feminist scholarship (whether legal history or not).   I would add, however, that the same sensitivity, standing alone,  does not make scholarship “feminist.”  

Thoughts from others?

-Bridget Crawford

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0 Responses to What Is “Feminist” Legal History?

  1. Ann Bartow says:

    I think it is making women the center and focus of legal analysis, rather than leaving us at the “othered periphery,” where law typically positions us.