What are the most important trends/questions/ideas/theoretical moves in feminist legal theory since the year 2000?
That’s the question two friends and I discussed today as we were car-pooling to a conference. Here is a back-of-the-envelope list that comes out of that conversation. The items are listed in no particular order — I cobbled this together as my mind wandered during the conference.
Some of the items contradict each other; others overlap. They are all malleable.
(1) Are there classifications based on something other than sex that would explain persistent inequalities in American law and society?
(2) To what extent are identity-based classifications inadequate explanations for persistent inequalities that have been attributed by some 20th century feminists to sex and/or gender?
(3) How can/does/should feminist theory reckon with the challenge by transgender theory to gender binarism embraced by [some] transgender theory? [revisions in blue suggested by Darren Rosenblum and gladly accepted — au.]
(4) How does Lawrence v. Texas extend/inform/complicate/benefit a feminist (and queer) analysis of marriage, and what are the theoretical limitations and opportunities presented by current political battles over same-sex marriage?
(5) How and why have international human rights laws failed to protect women?
(6) What do the principal methods and ideas of third-wave feminism mean for the law?
(7) What is the nature and extent of the commercialization/commodification of human reproduction? What are the consequences?
(8) In applying feminist theory to more and more areas of the law, what do we learn about those areas of the law? What do we learn about feminist theory’s limitations?
(9) How can feminists overcome a post-modernist reductionism that results from an extreme application of anti-essentialism?
(10) Other than anti-discrimination, what models are there for understanding how to effect legal change?
I intentionally leave out the names of scholars or specific works associated with each item, because I thought that might distract from the questions themselves.
When I make a different mental list of the feminist legal scholarship that has compelled my attention in the last 9 years, each falls into at least one of these categories. Corrections? Suggestions? Refinements?