Can Secular Feminists and Catholic Feminists Work Together to Ease the Conflict between Work and Family?

45 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2007

See all articles by Susan J. Stabile

Susan J. Stabile

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)


Anti-essentialist critiques of feminist legal theory have led to a broadening of feminist theory to reflect the voices of women of color, those of different classes and those of homosexual orientation. However, despite both the insistence on the need to include other voices and the growing development of Catholic feminist theologians, mainstream feminist legal thought has paid insufficient attention to what a religious perspective might add to the secular feminist dialogue about the law. This paper represents the first step in a broader project to explore a Catholic feminist legal perspective.

The Article begins by exploring the theoretical underpinnings of what may be called a Catholic Feminist Legal Theory to see what such a theory adds to secular feminist legal theory. It then considers how that theoretical framework speaks to the relationship between work and family. Work and family make a good starting point for this inquiry in that secular feminists and Catholic feminists share a concern about issues that affect women both generally and in their ability to participate fully in the workplace. They also share a concern about family, albeit not always in the same way. That is, while there are places secular and Catholic feminists can walk together in promoting a restructuring of the workplace to accommodate family, there are also areas in which they part company. This Article represents an effort to see where those points of convergence and divergence lie.

Keywords: Catholic social thought, feminist legal theory, Catholic feminism, feminism, work and family, workplace accommodations, labor law, employment law

Suggested Citation

Stabile, Susan J., Can Secular Feminists and Catholic Feminists Work Together to Ease the Conflict between Work and Family?. University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 2008; U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-39. Available at SSRN:

Susan J. Stabile (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

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