Structures of Discrimination

Macalester International Journal, Vol. 28, pp. 33-60, Spring 2011

28 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2011

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 1, 2011


This essay argues that, in order for women and men to be fully equal, we need to understand the structures of discrimination; that is, the forms of the subordination that are deeply rooted in how we stereotype women and men in ways that deny them benefits or impose burdens. The essay explores how gender stereotypes have contributed to: the failure of the criminal justice system to investigate the disappearances of young women; women’s unequal access to reproductive health services; and discrimination in polygamous family structures.

Conditions for stratification and subordination of women exist when wrongful gender stereotypes are socially pervasive across sectors, and persistent over time. In understanding how restrictive stereotypes of women are pervasive and persistent in criminal law, health law and family law, one is better equipped to dismantle structures of discrimination more generally.

Keywords: discrimination, criminal justice, polygamy

JEL Classification: J7, J70, J71, K10, I18

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J., Structures of Discrimination (April 1, 2011). Macalester International Journal, Vol. 28, pp. 33-60, Spring 2011, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca J. Cook (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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