Reflecting on Twenty-Five Years of Duke Journal of Gender & Law

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In 1994, Professor Katharine Bartlett founded the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy to solidify gender law as an intellectually disciplined and complex field of legal scholarship. Despite women’s ongoing struggle to achieve equal rights and treatment in nearly every aspect of the law and society––the workplace, the school, and the home, to name a few––gender law remained “shunned as a political activity inappropriate to institutions committed to academic rigor, objectivity, and neutrality.”

At the time of the Journal’s inaugural publication, gender law scholars and their work remained largely overlooked by other law reviews. But because of fierce advocates like Professor Bartlett and strong publications, including the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, feminist scholarship thrived and earned long-overdue respect. Today, gender law remains both a disciplined, rigorous area of jurisprudence and a source of passionate discourse. Its wide applications, from sexual violence and harassment to family structure and children, continue to impact each person today, regardless of their sex. 

In the past 25 years, the Journal has published insightful scholarship on a breadth of gender issues, such as the paternalism of “informed consent” and abortion, the treatment of women soldiers in the military, and reexamining the First Amendment under Title IX and the equal opportunity to education. The Journal has also been privileged to print outstanding Articles, Essays, and student Notes that explore intersectional critiques on transracial adoptions, race and gender in criminal law, queer theory and feminism, the social realities of HIV law, and racial identity and gender performance. We are proud to be a law review that has pushed convention and remained committed to equality.

In my application to Duke Law, I wrote about how I wanted to become a part of the Journal, not only because it was one of the most cited publications in its subject area, but also because it earnestly championed issues that are important to oppressed groups. I wanted to become part of a tight-knit community of Duke Law students who also felt that gender, race, sexuality, and class would always matter because these make up the fabric of our identity. It is no surprise that these very issues compelled many staff members to go to law school in the first place.

The Journal will conclude in 2020 with its 25th anniversary issue. I have no doubt that with Professor Kathryn Webb Bradley as our faculty advisor and with my phenomenal editorial team, we will produce an excellent final publication.

Gender scholarship’s movement into mainstream law reviews shows that the issues the Journal has published are now becoming more accessible and recognized. This movement also shows that the issues we have had the opportunity to publish will continue to generate conversation, controversy, and action.  As a society and legal community, we still have a long way to go in the fight for equality. As the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, we hope that we have laid the groundwork for even more meaningful change to come.

-Denise Go

Editor in Chief, Volume 27

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