A 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?