Book Review: Decreeing Women’s Equality: Using Women’s History to Create Legal Parity

22 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2010

See all articles by Denise Roy

Denise Roy

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

G. W. Smith

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

This article critiques the feminist view Ute Gerhard offers in “Debating Women’s Equality: Toward a Feminist Theory of Law from a European Perspective”. Throughout Debating Women’s Equality, Gerhard appears to have three ambitious objectives in mind: (1) to decry the paucity of research into women’s legal history while beginning to do the needed work, focusing primarily on Germany but also broadly exploring European trends, (2) to demonstrate that German/European women’s legal history ultimately vindicates reliance on “equal rights” as a political strategy for women, and (3) to develop an understanding of legal equality that can serve as a meaningful tool in the struggle for women’s self-determination. Gerhard succeeds admirably at the first objective. But in our view, she falls short on the second objective: we found ourselves depressed rather than encouraged by her recitation of German women’s struggle for civil rights. As a work of history, however, her book will be valuable both to those in the know about women’s legal history in the United States and are interested in comparing the German/European experience, and to those who have not yet studied any kind of women’s legal history. But as a philosophical treatise or a blueprint for pragmatic action in the struggle for women’s self-determination, the book can be overlooked in favor of other more extensive, future-looking and specific treatments.

Keywords: Feminism, Germany, Equality, Women, International Women’s Rights, Equal Rights

Suggested Citation

Roy, Denise and Smith, G. W., Book Review: Decreeing Women’s Equality: Using Women’s History to Create Legal Parity (2003). William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 29, 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1703115

Denise Roy (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

G. W. Smith

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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