The Gender of Judgments: An Introduction
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
August, 31 2009
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE: FEMINIST LEGAL DEBATES, pp. 262-282, Margaret Thornton, ed., Oxford University Press,1995
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/73
This discussion focuses on the gendered assumptions that underpin the activity of ‘judging’. Initially prepared for a forum on 'Will Women's judgments make a difference', the chapter asks whether, to use philosopher Lorraine Code's term, the 'sex of the knower is epistemologically significant'? It goes on to consider what judges know about the world, how they know the things they do, how what they know translates into how they judge, and how all of that is inherently gendered. The discussion also considers the place of 'common sense' or, in legal doctrinal terms, 'judicial notice'. The chapter asks what it is in legal discourses that shapes and constrains the process of constructing reality in such a way that women's lives are either ignored or distorted and concludes that something more is at work than the biological sex of the judges whose authority is able to construct the factual context of the world in our discipline. Finally, the chapter asks whether women's judgments might make a difference and concludes that until we disrupt this adherence to the common sense that reflects a partial view of the world, we will not be in a position to evaluate the potential of women's judgments.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: judging, gender, partiality, judicial notice, facts and fact finding, legal storytelling, feminist jurisprudence
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Date posted: September 3, 2009
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