The Law Teacher vol 46(3) Special Issue on Feminist Judgements Project (UK)

Special issue on the Feminist Judgement Project (UK) includes introduction from Rosemary Hunter (Kent) (excerpt below) and four articles on using the judgements from the FJP in the classroom from Rosemary Auchmuty (Reading), Caroline Hunter  &  Ben Fitzpatrick (York) Anna Grear   Helen Carr (Kent) & Nick Dearden (Manchester): The Law Teacher – Volume 46, Issue 3.

The feminist judgments differ from their originals in a variety of ways, both substantive and methodological. Substantively, the judgments implicitly draw upon various aspects of feminist legal theory, particularly feminist critiques of liberal legalism. So, for example, several of the judgments view the subjects of law as relational and interdependent rather than as atomised, self-interested and competitive individuals, 8 and seek to implement an “ethic of care” rather than the more traditional, masculine “hierarchy of rights”. 9 Similarly, some reject the liberal dichotomy which sees subjects either as autonomous agents or as vulnerable victims in need of protection, and assert the possibility of occupying positions of both autonomy and vulnerability, victim and agent, at the same time – a common feature of women’s lives. 10 Others tackle the public/private distinction, and challenge the state’s refusal to limit the power of those who control the private sphere from engaging in abuse, exploitation and exclusion. 11 Others rethink problems of “clashing rights” 12 and bring a different perspective to bear on these dilemmas which often involves showing how differing rights and interests which were assumed to be incompatible can actually be mutually accommodated. And some, like the Women’s Court of Canada, advocate a more substantive interpretation of “equality”, while others continue to appreciate the value of formal equality arguments in circumstances where even this basic standard of equal treatment is lacking.
Another group of judgments draw upon Foucauldian critiques of medical or bio-power 13 to question the privileging of “expert” medical or welfare opinions, and the associated devaluation of the knowledge and experience of parents and carers, or the need for women to produce “expert” medical or psychiatric evidence to prove they have been harmed. The judgments also evidence the feminist theoretical concern with intersectionality – i.e. the need to acknowledge that women do not all share the same essential life experience, but that gender intersects with class, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and so on in different ways. 14 Thus, the judgments deal with the specific positions and experiences of older women, lesbians, and Muslim women in particular cultural contexts.
[From Rosemary Hunter’s Introduction – not quite sure this is all open source – if not, check this link to an earlier version: “originally published in the Onati Socio-Legal Series: Rosemary Hunter, “Feminist Judgments as Teaching Resources” (2012) 2(5), OSLS [online] 47–62, available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2115435.”

 

 

 

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