No Male or Female
19 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2009
Date Written: June 17, 2009
For this, my contribution to the Feminist Legal Theory Projects's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Volume Beyond the Boundaries of the Law, I take the invitation to participants to be to speak very personally about how we came to feminist legal theory and what we made of it. I take my title from the New Testament, because I came to my own radical take on sameness feminism through teenage engagement with the Catholic Church's radical past and repressive future on matters of sex equality and through engagement in college and graduate school with arguments for the equality of the sexes made from the Middle Ages through the French revolution by otherwise conservative women defending their own right to participate in male-dominated enterprises and otherwise radical men willing to call all received ideas into question, even those concerning women's place.
The essay will be in part a reminder that there are far more generations than three who have sought to transcend the boundaries of the law through feminist theory: feminists, male and female, have been making their case for centuries. It will also be in part an elegy for potential alliances lost: though many of the women who in prior centuries sought to bring their sex beyond the boundaries of the law were self-described conservatives on other matters, in my lifetime feminism and conservatism have come to be seen as antithetical, something I dealt with on a daily basis as a faculty member in two of the nation's most conservative law schools, Virginia and Chicago. Also in my lifetime, the Church that brought me to sameness feminism at first repudiated sex equality and then turned to an embrace of difference, as official guardian of doctrinal purity Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in official pronouncements explicitly rejecting the sort of sex and gender theory to which I am committed, came close to suggesting that even souls have a sex.
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